Part three of this ten-part first season digs a little deeper into Picard’s past with Raffi and the events that led to their falling out. The End is the Beginning also gives us even more questions that need to be solved — see my lists in the recaps of Episode 1 and 2. The lists grow long!
The show begins with more scenes from the attack on Mars, 14 years before the present (2385). At Starfleet Headquarters, we join Picard and Raffi Musiker in a courtyard, both dressed in their crisp looking uniforms.
This brings up a good point — how often does Starfleet change their look? The original Trek’s uniform was different from the crushed velvet from “The Cage.” Kirk’s first movie look in TMP lasted just one film; then, they switched to the more militaristic all-red unis. By the time we got to TNG, Jean-Luc and company switched twice, from no collar to collar, to reverse-color-grey-turtleneck.
Anyhow, Picard told Raffi Starfleet shut down the evacuation of the Romulans, even after they had figured out to make it work with mothballed ships and ‘synthetic’ labor. All of those units were now shut down, Picard reported, due to the Martian attacks. Starfleet blamed a “fatal code error” on the attacks.
“Something’s not right about this, JL,” said Raffi. “I smell the Tal Shiar.”
NOTE: Raffi’s new nickname for Picard has caused a stir in some circles, but it should not have. Her name for the admiral was revealed in the Picard comic book series that was released before the start of the show.
Picard scoffed, saying that it didn’t make sense for the Romulans to be behind an attack on Mars, which would end their rescue. Raffi couldn’t prove it.
Starfleet told Picard that the plan was unfeasible. “I never thought that Starfleet would ever give in to intolerance and fear,” said Picard. Then he told Raffi that he resigned in protest. She exploded and said that he could resign, but she would get fired.
Back at the Vasquez Rocks, we join Picard as he explains to Raffi why he needed her help. As he spoke, she picked leaves off of a vine and pushed them into her electric cigarette.
“Raffi, I need a ship and a pilot,” he said. “And I need to find Bruce Maddox.”
She cursed at him, telling him that he had a lot of nerve asking her for help. She also was angry that he told Fleet Admiral Clancy his plans. Raffi poured the wine he brought her and sarcastically asked him about his performance on TV.
“My entire life for the past 14 years has been one long slide into humiliation,” said Raffi, as she cradled the wine glass. “And rage. Also, a fair amount of snakeleaf induced paranoia… so some things never change.”
She shamed him for not calling her once in all that time. She got up with the wine bottle, and he chased after her.
Yikes! It seems like Picard was an incredible diplomat and starship captain, but not good at personal relationships. The CNC of Starfleet and now an old friend have cursed him out.
On the Romulan / Borg ship, we see Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco) watching Soji on security monitors. Yes, that same old Hugh, who first appeared on the TNG episode “I, Borg.” He’s back, and apparently, he’s working for the Romulans.
He then went to see her in person and praised her work, especially how she would speak to the reclaimed Borgs (now called xB, or ex-Borg) in their own language. He said that there were no more despised people in the galaxy than xBs.
“People either see us as property to be exploited or as a hazard to be warehoused,” he said to Soji. “Our hosts, the Romulans, have a more expansive vision. They see us as both.”
“I hate it,” said Soji. Hugh said she was different.
He told her that she would have the interview with Ramdha (Rebecca Wisocky), one of the reclaimed xBs. Hugh asked Soji why she wanted to interview Ramdha.
Soji did not answer, instead of asking Hugh for details about Ramdha from before she was assimilated. She wondered if he’d read the Romulan dossier on Ramdha. He hadn’t and was shocked that she had. Soji said that she asked, and someone showed it to her. Hugh said that had not been his experience with the Romulans.
“Ramdha was the foremost expert on ancient Romulan myth,” said Soji. “She wrote books about it.”
Soji said that there was therapeutic evidence for a “shared mythical framework.” He gave her 30 minutes with Ramdha.
On Earth, old man Picard huffed and puffed once he reached Raffi. She sat, drinking wine as he apologized. He explained, again, what happened to Dahj and the Romulan death squad. She said that she had evidence of Romulan involvement in the attacks from 14 years back. Raffi noted that a high-ranking Starfleet official was involved as well.
Picard disagreed again but said that he needed her ability to see what others did not. She told him that she would not and told him to leave. As he walked away, she told him that she found him a pilot named Rios, and he’d be in touch.
At the Daystrom Institute, Dr. Agnes Jurati sat outside eating her lunch, when Commodore Oh, Director of Starfleet Security, walked up and startled her. Oh was wearing SUNGLASSES! This may be some sort of clue that Oh is not a Vulcan, but rather, a Romulan.
Oh asked Agnes to talk about the two recent visits with Picard. Agnes swallowed.
Back on the Cube, Hugh walked Soji to the holding chamber for the interview with Ramdha. The guard said she could not have access… but Hugh said the Reclamation Project ran the operation, and he was the Executive Director.
She passed into the cell and encountered all sorts of strange Romulans who had once been Borg. One was playing with a Romulan Rubix Cube! She asked if all the “disordered” were Romulans. Hugh said that they were, and they were the only Romulans assimilated. Soji sat down with Ramdha, who was organizing her Romulan Tarot Cards (they were triangular shaped).
On Earth, Picard sent Raffi all data on Bruce Maddox.
He then beamed aboard Captain Chris Rios’ ship. A British assistant of Rios, who told the admiral that he might be too late, first greets Picard. He walks onto the bridge to see Rios with a large piece of tritanium shrapnel lodged in his shoulder. Rios looks up and introduces himself, and tells Picard that the British guy is an EMH (emergency medical hologram — like the doctor on Voyager)!
As the EMH operated on Rios (both played by Santiago Cabrera), he told Picard to have a seat. The old man looked first at the captain’s chair but settled for a different position. A book, “The Tragic Sense of Life” by Miguel de Unamuno, was in the chair. Rios told him to toss it anywhere.
Rios asked Picard where they were headed. Picard said he was “working on it.” Rios asked if they were going to break any laws. Picard said that he was not in the habit of consulting lawyers before “doing what needs to be done.” Rios said that he did not consult anyone about anything.
The EMH pulled the shard out of Rio’s wound and warned Picard that Rios did not get any nicer.
Picard said that he needed a pilot, and Raffi said that he was the best around. Rios said he never argued with Raffi. Picard chuckled.
The admiral asked if Rios was the executive officer of a heavy cruiser in Starfleet. Rios said that he was — the ibn Majid. But Starfleet erased the ship from the records (just like they did to the Discovery).
Picard said that Rios’ ship was kept in ship-shape, and he could smell the “Starfleet” on him. Rios said that Raffi warned that Picard was a “speechmaker.”
“Look, admiral, hire me or find another pilot,” said Rios. “Do not try to get inside my head.”
NOTE: Right before Picard beamed onto the ship, we got a pretty good look at it. It is unlike most Starfleet ships that have appeared on film or TV before. I saw some ships in the Martian flashbacks that had similar colorings (orange and white) as Rio’s ship, the La Sirena. Perhaps there is a connection.
Meanwhile, Raffi was hard at work on Earth. She found the word “Freecloud” in her online research.
On the La Sirena, a hologram with an Irish (played by Santiago Cabrera) accent told Rios that he’d fixed the navigation sensors. The image then asked Rios if he was a bit star-struck to have Picard onboard. It listed off the many achievements from Picard’s career, including when he “worked alongside the great Spock.”
Rios tried to ignore the hologram, who told him that it had been a very long time someone “like him.” Rios told the ENH (emergency navigation hologram) that he’d already had one hero captain in his life, and he could not get him out of his mind. Specifically, his “blood and brains splattered all over a bulkhead.”
NOTE: Another little morsel of a backstory from Rios. I wonder how many of these sorts of hints we’ll get and if we’ll ever hear the whole story. I bet Raffi knows what happened.
After he scolded the ENH, Rios deactivated him and gazed at the stars.
On Earth, Picard and Laris talked about his trip and how he’ll miss everything.
“I tried my best to belong to this place,” said Picard. “But I don’t think I ever … truly felt at home here.”
“I suppose you always had one eye on the stars,” said Laris.
Back in the Cube, Soji and Hugh watched Ramdha deal out her cards (the pixmit). One card was the ‘false door,’ and Soji said that all Romulan homes had the traditional false door.
That’s cool… but I bet it made things hard for the Romulan mail carrier.
Hugh said she was a know-it-all. Soji sat down behind Ramdha and spoke to her in Romulan. Ramdha said that Soji “may sit.”
In France, as Zhaban helped Picard pack up some essentials for the big trip, phaser fire ripped through the study. Laris and Zhaban jumped into action and took out all of the attackers (who were dressed just like the guys who killed Dahj) except for two. It was Jean-Luc who used a hidden pistol under his desk which ended one, while the final was shot down by Dr. Agnes!
People, this was an awesome fight scene! My words don’t give it credit. You’ve got to see it.
Anyhow, Agnes freaked a bit after realizing that she had killed someone, so Picard gave her a glass of wine. She told him about Commodore Oh’s visit. “A Vulcan,” Picard said. Agnes said that she told Oh everything, except for one thing.
Laris and Zhaban tied up a survivor and tried to ask him questions. Zhaban wanted to kill him, but Laris would not let him. She said that they were not “like him” anymore.
The Romulan told Picard that Dahj was not what she appeared to be. He added that Picard would not find “the other one” before they would. He also called Picard a “qeshtihn.” Laris punched him in the forehead, and he fell back. He said that Soji was the end of all, or “The Destroyer.” He then spit at Zhaban with that same green explosive-poison pill and disintegrated. Zhaban shed his jacket and was OK.
Back on the Cube, Soji introduced herself to Ramdha, saying that she was an anthropologist by training — shouldn’t she be a Romulupologist? She told Ramdha that she was working with Hugh, and apologized for her intrusion.
Ramdha said that these did not connect with mythology, but rather the “news.” Soji enjoyed this term, saying that this aligned with her mythical archetype theories. Ramdha then looked straight at Sohi and said: “I know you.”
“I remember you from tomorrow,” said Ramdha. Soji tried to make sense of that comment and added that Ramdha was on board the last ship assimilated by this Cube.
Hugh stepped in and asked Soji how she knew these details.
“You were on board the imperial scout ship, Shaenor, with 25 other passengers,” said Soji. “You encountered this Cube. You were assimilated.”
Ramdha started to cry, buy Soji continued to ask questions. Ramdha picked up the card, which had two girls on it, mirror image.
“Which one are you,” asked Ramdha. Her hands shook, and she asked, “Which sister are you? The one who dies, or the one who lives?”
Ramdha leaped up and grabbed a disruptor from the guard and screamed, “I know what you are — Seb-Cheneb. The Destroyer!” She aimed the gun at her temple, but before she could pull the trigger, Soji disarmed her (at super-speed).
Hugh yelled at the guard who let Ramdha steal his gun and laid Ramdha down. All the other xB Romulans stared at Soji.
Later, Soji called her fake mom and asked if Dahj was all right. Mom said that she was. While mom was talking, Soji fell into a sudden sleep. After some time, Narek walked in and asked her what happened earlier.
Soji said before the incident; she knew nothing about the Shaenor or anything else. She guessed that she must have read it in some declassified documents.
Narek leaned close and told her that he might be falling in love with her. What a crock. Narek is one helluva subject changer. I guess that he said that to calm her down.
Later, Rizzo grabbed Narek in a corridor and asked what he knew thus far. He said he knew nothing yet. While she appeared to be impatient for information, he pointed out that she was the one who killed Dahj on Earth.
In France, Picard asked Agnes what that “one thing” was that she didn’t tell Commodore Oh.
“That I’m going with you,” said Agnes. “To look for the girl. The other Dahj.”
She explained that Oh said Picard was getting a pilot and a ship. His combadge beeped, and Rios told Picard that it was “about to get hot,” and they needed to go. She listed off a bunch of reasons why she ought to go, but this was the most compelling one:
“I’m Agnes P. Jurati. I’m the Earth’s leading expert on synthetic life, and I promise you, if you take me with you, I will more than earn my keep.”
Picard and Agnes beamed aboard the La Sirena, where Raffi was waiting. She announced that she found Maddox. Raffi said that she was not “joining” Picard, just hitching a ride. Maddox was on Freecloud, and she wanted to go there as well but refused to say why.
Raffi then noticed Agnes, who introduced herself.
Rios asked if they could get started. He sat in the captain’s chair and waited for Picard to say something.
Agnes chucked. Raffi sighed. Rios put the La Sirena into warp. And the TMP Jerry Goldsmith theme played. Goosebumps.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
I loved that Rios had all of these hologram clones walking around with different accents. It’s a ton of fun. I almost wanted to see which EMH would pop out next, and what accent he’d have.
Many fans want Jean-Luc on the Enterprise-E (or perhaps F) and not the La Sirena. But I’m fine with it. It’s a different kind of story now. He’s done with Starfleet. I am interested in what type of ship the La Sirena is.
Now, here are the new mysteries opened by this episode:
- Is Agnes a spy? Why did she show up right with the Tal Shiar fighters attacked?
- How do the xBs sense that Soji is not human?
- Is Soji some sort of Romulan AntiChrist? Why do they think she will bring an end, so “all?”
- What is Freecloud? Is it a planet, city, ship … or what?
- Why does Oh wear sunglasses?
Still more questions. We’re one-third of the way through this saga, and there are so many questions to be answered. I hope that we can get to the bottom of them by season’s end… or perhaps some of them will be left for Season 2. That would be OK too.
RATING: 4 out of 5