PICARD: S1 – E5: Stardust City Rag

Each episode is better than the last, including Stardust City Rag. That is one thing that I can say about the first season of Picard. They are all building on one another. Some fans may have been expecting The Wrath of Khan right out of the gate. But this is a different kind of show… a different type of Star Trek. Picard is working the edges to solve a problem. He is not seated on a Galaxy-class starship with hundreds of crew waiting for his command. 

The show begins with the camera’s slow descent onto Planet Vergessen, which on-screen captions tell us is a part of the Hypatia System. We are also told that this compound is known as the Seven Domes, and it was 13 years ago. 

Inside we see a poor xB being harvested for his parts. In a bloody, brutal scene that will make the viewer turn away, they show us how the Borg gets his mechanical eye ripped out. Then suddenly, phaser blasts ripped through the room. It’s Seven of Nine, and she was on a rescue mission.

The guy on the table is Icheb — not played by the original Star Trek: Voyager actor, Manu Intiraymi, but a different guy, Casey King. This caused a bit of a stir on subspace chatter among Trek fans, but let’s move on.

Seven realized that Icheb was going to die, and killed him with a phaser blast to the back. A mercy killing from a woman to her adopted “son.”

The scene changed to a piano player at a bar at Stardust City on Freecloud, which is in the Alpha Doradus System. A huge, crocodile-like man approached a beautiful woman with very interesting shoulder decorations. He tells her that Bruce Maddox is “here.” She laughed and told the lizard man to kill Maddox, but stopped him.

Bjayzl, played by actress Necar Zadegan. Courtesy of CBS
Bjayzl, played by actress Necar Zadegan. Courtesy of CBS

“New plan,” said Bjayzl (played by actress Necar Zadegan).

She walked into a room where Maddox sat, rubbing his hands together nervously. 

NOTE: We have another recasting to point out. Brian Brophy originally played Maddox in the classic TNG episode, The Measure Of A Man. For Picard, actor John Ales portrayed Maddox.

He told Bjayzl that he’d been hiding, and he thought the Tal Shiar destroyed his lab. She offered him some tranya (which is the same stuff Kirk and McCoy drank in TOS’s The Corbomite Maneuver). He told her due to the destruction of his lab and equipment; he was not sure how he would be able to repay Bjayzl. As he sipped his drink, he became violently ill, passing out on the carpet. 

“What the hell are you doing out here, Picard?” she asked. “Besides being in way over your head?”

“Making a deal with the Tal Shiar is always such a pain in the ass,” said Bjayzl.

As the La Sirena approached Freecloud, a bunch of 3D animated holograms popped up on all the ship’s displays. They were obnoxious advertisements. One ad announced that there was both gaming and high security for your money (sort of like a Las Vegas in Switzerland).

“Freecloud keeps your secrets,” the voice said.

Seven visited Picard in his holo-study. He offered her tea, but she asked for Bourbon. 

“What the hell are you doing out here, Picard?” she asked. “Besides being in way over your head?”

He explained that he was looking for someone, and possibly saving the galaxy. Seven told him that the Fenris Rangers keep their money on Freecloud. Picard said that he admired the Ranger’s goals, but he didn’t like that they were taking the law into there own hands. 

“What law?” Seven asked. She told him that “ranging” was now her job, and she wanted to help those who can’t help themselves. Seven told him that he could drop her off at Freecloud.

On the bridge of the La Sirena, Raffi and Rios discussed Seven’s ‘notorious’ reputation and how both Picard and Seven are former Borg. Meanwhile, Agnes was in her cabin watching old videos of her with Maddox cooking… and kissing. 

AH-HA! It appears that Dr. Agnes was not honest with Picard. She is a bad guy… sort of. 

When the La Sirena gave orbital control to the Freecloud systems for landing, more “pop-ups” appeared. A boxing robot hologram began to attack Jurati. Rios told her to punch it, and she did, reluctantly. After that, she flirted and pretended to box with Rios. Hmmm!

Rios on Freecloud. Notice Quark's Bar and Mr. Mott's "Hair Emporium" in the background. Courtesy of CBS
Rios on Freecloud. Notice Quark’s Bar and Mr. Mot’s “Hair Emporium” in the background. Courtesy of CBS

Raffi scanned the Freecloud network and found that Bjayzl, who was looking for someone to make a deal between her and the Tal Shiar, was holding Maddox. Seven walked in and told them that Bjayzl was wanted by the Rangers for butchering former Borg for parts. 

They learned that Bjayzl had a small army of private security who surround her, including a Beta Annari (the sentient lizard-man we met earlier). Seven suggested a trade with Bjayzl for Maddox. She suggested trading herself for Maddox. 

Raffi created a fake ID for Rios, and dressed him as a … pimp. She said that he would be a “facer,” which was someone known, but not too famous. Rios was to go to Bjayzl and strike up a trade for Maddox. As he walked through the “strip,” Rios passed a few Easter Egg-worthy spots, like Mr. Mot’s Hair Emporium and Quark’s Bar.

Raffi dressed the Picard in a beret and eyepatch, and he began to use a hilarious French accent! It was so much fun. We’ve seen this starship captain on seven years of shows and four films, and he had never spoken in a French accent like this before! 

Space Pirate Picard and Elnor, who was just Elnor. Courtesy of CBS
Space Pirate Picard and Elnor, who was just Elnor. Courtesy of CBS

Poor Elnor, who grew up in a culture of Absolute Candor, did not understand what was happening. He even, hilariously, tried to imitate Rios’ accent. They told him that he would not be pretending to be anyone. He would be Elnor, and he would be quiet. 

“Rios, you seriously, really need to sell this,” said Raffi, as she adjusted his ridiculous outfit. “You can’t do your broody, existentialist spaceman routine. Your personality needs to match your clothes.”

Rios walked into the bar, which was dark and full of aliens. He ordered a drink with two umbrellas and asked to see reptiloid, Mr. Vup (Dominic Burgess). Vup walked up behind Rios and asked not to waste time. Vup said that Rios’ references all checked out, especially from Quark of Ferenginar (YES!), who gave Rios high marks for the way Rios handled the Breen.

Rios told Vup that he was there to offer Bjayzl a deal for Maddox, different from the one from the Tal Shiar. Vup said that was surprising. As he drew his disruptor, he said that he hated surprises. 

Mr. Vup and Rios. Courtesy of CBS
Mr. Vup and Rios. Courtesy of CBS

Vup told Rios that he could smell lies, which was true because the Beta Annari have 1,200 olfactory receptors. Before Rios left the La Sirena, Raffi gave him a shot of beta-blockers, anxiolytics, and other stuff, which would make it difficult for Vup to detect anything unusual. It worked!

Rios held up a hologram image of a humanoid body, packed with Borg implants. Vup said that a living specimen with that many implants was “impossible.” 

Another thing: Raffi gave them a transporter pattern enhancer so they could easily beam in and out without the Freecloud system from stopping them. The Freecloud shields prevent Borg from beaming in. Raffi also put fake cuffs on Seven and told her that she appreciated Seven’s help. Seven said that she was helping out of “habit.”

“I don’t think you understand just how much it sucked to be your kid,” Gabe said. 

They left Agnes in charge of beaming them out. 

Picard and Elnor beamed down with their prisoner (Seven). They got past Vup, as Picard did his hilarious fake-French accent. Picard needed to see Maddox before he would complete the trade.

While the “team” was trading Seven for Maddox, Raffi caught up with her long-lost son, Gabe, who was at a Freecloud fertility clinic. Gabe was there with his pregnant Romulan wife, who was having a girl. Raffi begged Gabe to let her back in his life, who claimed that she was clean now. Gabe yelled at her and brought up her obsession with the attack on Mars and “the Conclave of Eight” and all the conspiracy theories she talked about years ago. She pushed back and said that there was a conspiracy surrounding what happened on Mars.

“I don’t think you understand just how much it sucked to be your kid,” Gabe said. 

Gabe’s Romulan wife, Pel, came out as Raffi was reeling from that comment. He said that she was “just leaving.”

NOTE: It was cool to see that Pel had the “traditional” Romulan haircut and clothing, similar to what we had in TNG. More on Pel, and the actress who brought her to life.

Back at the bar, Picard presented Seven to Bjayzl; they immediately glared at each other.

“I thought it might be you,” said Bjayzl. “It is good to see you again, Annika.”

Picard looked back between them with a stunned look on his face (which was hilarious). Vup and the other security raised their disruptors at Seven. From out of site, Rios watched.  

On the La Sirena, Agnes was so nervous about her role in the job, which an emergency medical hologram (EMH) popped up and asked her what her psychiatric emergency was. Rios called while she was talking to the EMH, who attempted to tell Rios that Agnes was freaking. She shut the EMH down before he could. 

“Something’s not right — we may have to abort,” said Rios. He asked if she had a lock on the party. She did.

“I thought it might be you,” said Bjayzl. “It is good to see you again, Annika.”

Bjayzl asked if Seven was upset because they killed Icheb. Bjayzl mocked Seven, who said that she was the “one who got away.” Bjayzl said that Seven no longer was that. As soon as Bjayzl spoke, Seven broke out of the cuffs and grabbed Bjayzl by her throat. Bjayzl ordered her troops to put down their guns.

“What the hell is going on here?” asked Picard. Seven said that she had not been completely honest with him. Elnor asked if they were still pretending. Picard said that everyone has “finally stopped.”

Elnor picked up the weapons, and Picard spoke to Maddox. Bjayzl realized that she was dealing with “the famous admiral.” She told Picard that Seven “played” him and asked if he knew that Bjayzl and Seven’s “close, personal relationship.”

NOTE: Most took this to mean Seven and Bjayzl were lovers. 

Seven threw the pattern enhancer on a table and told Picard to take Maddox and leave. Picard asked what she meant, and Bjayzl said that Seven meant to kill her. 

Seven told Picard how Bjayzl killed Icheb and stripped him for parts. Bjayzl also posed as a collaborator with the Fenris Rangers.

Picard told Seven that she had her humanity restored, and she should not squander it by killing Bjayzl. As they spoke, Vup slipped a mini-phaser out his sleeve. POW! Rios blasted Vup before he could use it. Rios said it was time to go.

Seven told Rios to take them. Rios told Seven that if she killed Bjayzl, then there was a bounty on Picard and Elnor. Bjayzl proposed a trade — her life for Maddox. Seven agreed. They beamed up.

Agnes took to Maddox, who called her “Aggie.” Picard thanked Seven and offered her a ride. Seven said the Rangers sent a Corsair to pick him up, but she would take a few phaser rifles. He agreed. She gave him her card (which was some kind of electronic device, the size of a stamp) and told him to call her if he eve needed a vigilante again. 

She then spoke quietly to Picard about his time with the Borg. She asked him if he regained all of his humanity after he returned. He said, “No. But we’re both working on it. Aren’t we?”

“Every damn day of my life,” she said. 

Former Borg, Former Starfleet… current badass. Courtesy of CBS
Former Borg, Former Starfleet… current badass. Courtesy of CBS

Seven beamed back down to the bar and shot two of Bjayzl’s guards. Everyone else ran. It was just the two of them. Bjayzl tried to talk her way out of the situation, but Seven knew she was stalling. 

“He was a son to me, Jay,” said Seven, as she raised the phasers. “This is for him!”

She shot Bjayzl, who disintegrated.

NOTE: This disintegration effect reminded me of when Commander Kruge shot his tactical officer for his “lucky shot” in Star Trek III.

Seven then turned to the security team who were running toward her and began to fire indiscriminately. 

Back on the La Sirena, the ship’s medical bay systems tended to Maddox, who was in bad shape. Maddox asked if Dahj was dead. Picard said that she was, but she had found him.

Maddox said that he figured she would be dead after the Tal Shiar blew up his lab. Picard asked about Soji and her location. Maddox told him that she was on the Borg Artifact. Maddox said that he sent Soji to the Artifact to learn the truth about the synthetic ban. 

“They’re perfect,” said Maddox. “Perfectly imperfect.”

“There are lies upon lies,” said Maddox. “They’re hiding something.”

Picard asked, “who?” But Maddox did not know. He said it’s the same people who sent the death squad to kill Dahj. He said it was both Romulans and the Federation. 

Agnes shooed Picard out, telling him Picard that Maddox needed to rest. 

Picard told Rios that they needed to go to the Artifact. Rios said that would double his fee, as it was in Romulan space. Picard then went to see Raffi, who would not come out of her cabin.

In sickbay, Maddox asked Agnes if she met Dahj. She said that she did not.

“They’re perfect,” said Maddox. “Perfectly imperfect.”

As he laid on the gurney, he told Agnes that he did it, with the research of Dr. Noonian Soong and from Agnes as well. He said that Agnes’ contribution was essential to making Dahj and Soji. 

Agnes said that was “one more thing” she had to atone for. She then turned off the medical equipment that was keeping Maddox alive. The EMH appeared again, and she turned him off, again. 

“I wish you knew what I know!” she said to Maddox, as he cried out to her for help. “I wish I didn’t know what I know. I wish they hadn’t shown me. I’m so sorry.”

Maddox died.


Oh no! Maddox is dead! The season is half-way over, and the guy with all the answers is dead! Why did Agnes kill him? What does she know? 

I’m starting to think that Agnes is involved with the Tal Shiar and not just Commodore Oh. She must have been threatened by both organizations and is acting as a mole. 

That aside, I loved Mr. Vup. I hope that he survived Rios’ shots and will appear in upcoming episodes. I also enjoyed Picard pretending to be the French space-pirate, and Elnor’s reaction to all the pretending. It was all so much fun. 

ALSO: Raffi’s son mentioned “The Conclave of Eight.” What is that? I bet we’ll hear more about that group in upcoming epsiodes.

RATING: 4 out of 5


Patrick Stewart
Allison Pill
Evan Evagora
Michelle Hurd


Santiago Cabrera


Jeri Ryan

Casting by … Liz Dean, C.S.A.
Music and theme by … Jeff Russo
Costume Designer … Christine Clark
Edited by … Andrew Coutts, C.C.E.
Production Designer … Todd Cherniawsky
Director of Photography … Darren Tiernan, I.S.C.
Consulting Producer … Jenny Lumet
Supervising Producer … Ralph Gifford, Kirsten Beyer, April Nocifora, Jason Zimmerman
Co-Executive Producer … Damani Johnson, Samantha Humphrey, Doug Aarniokoski, Dylan K. Massin, Aaron Baiers
Executive Producers … Eugene Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, James Duff, Patrick Stewart, Heather Kadin, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Alex Kurtzman

Based upon “Star Trek: The Next Generation” created by Gene Roddenberry

Created by … Akiva Goldsman & Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer & Alex Kurtzman
Written by … Kirsten Beyer
Directed by … Jonathan Frakes

Unit Production Manager … Francesco Tignini, Dylan Massin
First Assistant Director … Matt Sheets
Second Assistant Director … Alex Russ
Associate Producer … Robyn Johnson

Dominic Burgess
Necar Zadegan
John Ales
Mason Gooding


Chop Doc … Landry Allbright
La Siera Computer … Kay Bess
Pel … Ayushi Chhabra
Nightbox Piano Player … Casey Childs
Icheb … Casey King
Bartender … Sam Marra

Executive Story Editor … Nick Zayas

Theme from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE by Jerry Goldsmith
Lullaby #2 by Jay Chattaway

Set Decorator … Lisa Alkofer
Set Decorator Coordinator … Stephanie Feinerman
Property Master … Jeffrey Lombardi
Property Master Assistants … Michael Vines, Lexi Fry
Supervising Art Director … Iain McFadyen
Art Director … Joe Comeau, IV
Assistant Art Directors … Dylan Bocanegra, Shannon Walsh
Art Department Coordinator … Marina Abramyan

First Assistant Art Directors – Set Design … Alan Farkas, Forest P. Fischer, Scott Herbertson, Noelle King, Robert Andrew Johnson, Steven M. Saylor, Ron Yates, Adam Gelbart

Script Supervisor … Linda Leifer
A Camera Operator … Kenny Brown
B Camera Operator … Jess Cannon
Sound Mixer … Peter J. Devlin
Boom Operator … David Raymond
Supervising Location Manager … Peter Martorano
Location Manager … Scott Trimble, LMGI
Assistant Location Manager … Jonny Ramos
Permit Coordinator … Mike Taris
Security Supervisor … Chuck Tony
Key Assistant Location Managers … Jimmie Lee Acre, Nick Carr, Phillip Fracassi, Will Jorgenson, Jun C. Lin, James Parker, Morgan Patterson, Tommy Woodward

Lead Creature Designer … Neville Page
Department Head Make-Up and Prosthetics … James Mackinnon
Assistant Dept. Head Make-Up … Silvi Knight
Prosthetics by … Vincent Van Dyke
Key Prosthetic Make-Up Artists … Richard Redlefsen, Alexei Dmitiew
Make-Up Artists … Robin Beauchesne, Peter De Oliveira
Costume Supervisor … Mitchell Ray Kenney
Assistant Costume Designers … Alexandra Casey, Anthony Tran
Key Costumer … Amy Arnold
Department Head Hair … Maxine Morris
Assistant Department Head Hair … Maria Sandoval
Production Accountant … Anna Keeper
First Assistant Accountant … Jeff Steck
Key Second Assistant Accountant … Kathryn Igarashi
Second Assistant Accountant … Nicholas Lau
Payroll Accountant … Adam Boucher
Assistant Payroll Accountant … Jimmy Vasquez

Chief Lighting Technician … Ross Dunkerley
First Company Grip … Walter ‘Bud’ Scott
1st Assistant A Camera … Jamie Felz
2nd Assistant A Camera … Casey Muldoon
1st Assistant B Camera … James Barela
2nd Assistant B Camera … Luis Gomez
2nd Company Grip … Maxwell Thorpe
Assistant Chief Lighting Technician … Buzzy Burwell

Digital Imaging Technician … Marc Clancy
Computer Playback Supervisor … Marc Garner
Lead Engineer … James “Vinny” Visconti
Playback Tech … Don Johnson
Lead Playback Designer … Chris Kieffer
Playback Graphic Designer … Andrew Jarvis
Video Assist … Scott Crabbe
Fixtures Designer Supervisor … Mike Visencio
Best Boy Fixtures … Dave Theirlhart
Rigging Gaffer … Sean Higgins
Rigging Key Grip … Josh Drew
Rigging Electric … Scott Ballew
Rigging Grip … Paco Rodriguez
Digital Loader … Samar Kauss
Digital Utility … Kyle Jacobs
Utility Sound Technician … Chris Hall

Production Supervisor … Matt Sagona
Production Coordinator … Nicole Orefice
Script Coordinator … Carrie Gutenberg
Assistant Production Coordinators … Brooke Appelbaum, Stephanie Barnes
Office Production Assistants … Pearce Lawrence, Joanna Monfreda, Justin Nickels, Evan Throop

Lead VFX Supervisor … Jason Zimmerman
VFX Supervisor … Ante Dekovic
VFX Producer … Aleksandra Kochoska
VFX Project Manager … Sunny Ye
VFX Lead Artist … Charles Collyer
Compositors … Greg Wadsworth, William Marker
Senior VFX Coordinator … Marina Abramyan
VFX Coordinators … Shawn Ewashko, Chelsea Wynne, Ricky Macks

Stunt Coordinators … Scott Rogers
Special Effects Coordinators … Jeff Khachadoorian, Andy Weder,
Leadperson … Jason Bedig
Construction Coordinator … Tomas Sallvin
Transportation Coordinator … J. Smith
Transportation Captain … Rick Kelleher
Transportation Co-Captain … David Lee Haggerty

Post Production Supervisor … Ruben Michael Molina
Assistant Editor … Preston Rapp
VFX Editor … Kevin Laneave, Bernardo Rodriguez, Ericka Edgerley Robbins
VFX Assistant Editor … Fransico Ramierez
Post Production Coordinator … Sydney Hoffner
Post Production Assistant … Nikki Elmer
Casting Associate … Jennifer Brooks
Researcher Consultant … Anthony Maranville
Writers’ Assistants … Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, Kiley Rossetter
Dialect Coach … Trent Pehrson
Craft Service … Nathan Marcuccio
Craft Service Assistant … Rodney Fields
On Set Caterer … Mario’s Catering
Catering Supervisor … Christian Gonzalez

Assistants to Mr. Kurtzman … Monica Shapiro, T’Essence Minnitee
Assistant to Mr. Chabon … Elize LaPlante
Assistants to Mr. Goldsmith … Leah Gebler, Skylar Ojeda
Assistant to H. Kanin … Tallinn Keeifer
Assistant to A. Baiers … Maggie McFarren
Assistant to Mr. Aarniokoski … Jimmy Moreno
Assistant to D. Massin … Grace Gregory
Writers PA … Eamon Hartnett

Sound Services by … Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services
Sound Supervisor … Mathew E. Taylor
Sound Designers … Tim Farrell, Harry Cohen, M.P.S.E.
Sound Effects Editor … Michael Shapiro
Re-Recording Mixers … Todd M. Grace, C.A.S., Ed C. Carr, C.A.S.
Mix Techs … Charles Hamilton, Mike Jimenez
Dialog & ADR Editor … Sean Heissinger
Foley Editor … Clay Weber
Foley Artists … Alyson Dee Moore, Chris Moriana,
Foley Mixer … Darren Mann
Sound Assistant Editors … Deron Street, Damon Cohoon
Music Editor … Stan Jones
Score Engineer and Mixer … Michael Perfitt
Scoring Assistant and Additional Music … Tracie Turnbill
Orchestra Editor … Sam Lucas
Score Wrangler … Matea Prljevic
Music Supervisor … Liza Richardson
Dailies Services provided by … EC3
Post Services provided by … Company 3
Company 3 Producer … Giovanni DiGiorgio
Sr. Online Editor … Heydar Adel
Final Colorist … Stefan Sonnenfeld
Additional Color … J. Cody Baker
Editing Systems … Pacific Post
Main Title Design by … Prologue
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