Jonathan Frakes directs his first episode of Star Trek: Picard as Rios’ La Sirena ferries the crew to find a new recruit for their mission.
Picard finally has a ship to kickstart his mission, but he still needs to make a detour on his way to Freecloud. His new destination is Vashti, a system run by Romulan warrior nuns. Picard has a debt to repay and a fighter on his side to save the life of Soji in the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard.
The Qowat Milat
As reported earlier, Amirah Vann debuts on Star Trek: Picard as Zani of the Qowat Milat. She is the leader of this religious order of warriors and 14 years ago, when the Romulan world was destroyed, her people aided Picard and Raffi in the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of refugees to several planets. Vashti was one of the worlds where refugees were given a home.
One of the refugees included Elnor, a male child taken in by the order. Picard promised to find a new, more suitable home for the boy, but he never kept that promise. While spending the day with Elnor – who was clearly very attached to Picard – the former Enterprise captain got a call from Raffi about the synth uprising on Mars.
As we know from the previous episodes on the show, Picard then had a falling out with Starfleet and resigned his commission, leaving the evacuation in limbo. Elnor was stranded with the Qowat Milat and Vashti fell into disarray.
Journey to Vashti
In the present, poor Captain Rios has to put up with Dr. Jurati’s inability to respect personal space. She finds Rios on the bridge reading his book (he’s a slow reader since it looks like Rios has hardly moved further on since the book was introduced in the previous episode of Star Trek: Picard) and proceeds to babble about being bored. Rios doesn’t have much entertainment on his ship – only Klingon operas. A weird choice of entertainment, but there’s a ‘long story’ behind it which I’m eager to learn about. All signs point to the showrunners forcing a romance between Rios and Jurati, but I really hope it’s a case of two such different people working together as colleagues. That’s more Star Trek than a stupid romance.
Raffi learns that Picard has decided to head to Vashti and rips into him for the decision. She is apprehensive about going to Freecloud, but Raffi is also aware that time is of the essence to save Soji. Picard, now feeling at home in a holo projection of his chateau, explains that he needs one of the Qowat Milat on Vashti to help him. Surprisingly, Picard seems less concerned when Rios informs him that Vashti is now a virtual gangland and very dangerous because of the Romulan Rebirth movement run by the order. Rios assumed that Picard knew all this, but Picard didn’t.
Picard is sure that the Qowat Milat, whom he had a great rapport with before, will find his cause worthy. And if they don’t, their motto of Absolute Candor – speaking their minds – will let him know.
Onboard the Borg Reclamation Site, Soji reviews tapes of Ramdha and comes across the term ‘the Destroyer’. This creature appears on Ganmadan, the Day of Annihilation, to destroy everything. As Soji looks over Ramdha’s sedated body, Narek attempts to cheer her up. His actions are so suspicious that even Soji doesn’t trust him. She’s noticed that he struts about the site with no credentials or rank, which makes her wonder if he’s Tal Shiar. If only! As was revealed in episode two, Narek is actually part of a greater threat, the Zhat Vash. Soji hopes that Narek can locate some information pertaining to Ramdha’s past.
While Narek and Soji frolic about, he interrogates her about her arrival in Seattle several years earlier. She professed to being on a ship that has no record of her. This is Narek’s idea of ‘sowing a seed’ of doubt in Soji’s mind about her reality. We find this out when Narissa questions Narek about his progress with Soji.
Narissa is weirdly tactile with her brother and everything about her character is regressive and outdated. Peyton List deserves a better role than to play a femme fatale with a disturbing interest in her brother’s love life. Though Narissa wants Narek to push Soji harder, he’s afraid that she’ll activate and become a destroyer like Dahj. He can’t risk it and is, therefore, hoping to slowly make her realize her true state and thereby reveal the location of all the other synths (assuming there are any) created by Bruce Maddox.
Let’s be honest about how poorly planned this Soji mission is – Narek is bad at his job. He introduced himself as overly emotional and attached to family, and has since proceeded to be closed off to Soji while declaring undying love for her. None of Narek’s actions seem genuine or authentic, and it makes Soji look particularly silly that she keeps falling into his trap.
A New Recruit
Picard arrives on Vashti and the world has changed. Where there was once a bustling, vibrant society, there’s now rampant poverty and devastation. Xenophobic signs like ‘Romulans only’ hang by a bar. No one greets Picard. On La Sirena, the crew is at the edge of their seats. They will be attacked if spotted.
When Picard’s presence is noted by the local Romulans, Raffi picks up a lot of angry messages threatening Picard’s life. But Picard refuses to leave. He meets Zani and asks for her help. She offers to send Elnor (Evan Evagora), now grown into one of her best warriors. After the evacuation was canceled, Zani was unable to re-home Elnor and he got stuck as the only male member of the Qowat Milat. Elnor has no future with them, so joining Picard is his only hope for living life to the fullest, even if it means Elnor is going on a suicide mission.
When Picard tries to convince Elnor, his request is thrown back in his face. Picard abandoned Elnor and has only returned because he needs him. Elnor rejects his quest. Despondent, Picard waits for La Sirena to come and get him. He decides to barge into the bar, removing the ‘Romulans only’ sign on his way. No one serves him, but one of the Romulans confronts Picard for abandoning the evacuation. When Picard is unable to reason with him, the Romulan challenges him to a duel.
Let’s take a moment to marvel at the optics of this scene. Segregation is a horrifying part of America’s past, and the foundation of it still lives on in modern racism. Many countries around the globe also have some form of segregation against genders and races. To have a black actor lead the pack of racist Romulans picking on poor, helpless old Picard is the exact reason being woke in Hollywood is only lip service. This is not the kind of diversity and representation we’re looking for. And this episode is guilty of bad representation in more ways than one.
Which brings us to how Picard escapes this fight. Picard refuses to duel the Romulan, but he’s surprisingly rescued by Elnor. Elnor decapitates the attacker and declares that he has bound himself to Picard as qalankhai, which means he has deemed Picard’s mission worthy enough to join it and no one can stand in his way.
Picard apologizes to the Vashti people, but some of the Romulans still attempt to attack. La Sirena arrives just in time to beam him and Elnor out of there. But they are not out of the woods yet. There’s a Klingon Bird of Prey on the crew’s tail and they aren’t able to shake it.
Rios brings Emmett online, his rogue-ish Spanish speaking tactical hologram. It’s no wonder Rios doesn’t need company – he has an EMH, a hospitality hologram (the one who is star-struck by Picard), and Emmett. Emmett’s good, but the ship is in a bind.
In the nick of time, an unfamiliar ship shows up and disables the Bird of Prey. The pilot is incredible but they also get hit. As their ship careens into the planet’s security net, the pilot hails La Sirena asking to be beamed aboard. Though this is Rios’ ship, Picard keeps giving the orders and deferring to Rios after the fact. One of these days Rios is not going to agree with Picard, but today is not that day.
Rios beams the pilot aboard and it’s Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). The episode ends with Seven’s ship being destroyed and her informing Picard that he owes her a ship as she falls into a dead faint.
As exciting as the crew of La Sirena is, the rest of the characters still hold no sway on me. They aren’t fleshed out enough for us to care… yet. Rios is still the most arresting character in the cast, though Elnor seems intriguing. But one has to question the decision to add a male character to an all-female order and then select that character to join the mission. Elnor might deem Picard’s quest a ‘lost cause’, but what is the point of building up the idea of this clan of female warriors if you’re going to hero-worship the only male one. One wonders why gender still plays any part in the Star Trek universe, especially one set in the future of all the other shows. Star Trek: Picard continues to be regressive with writing that hasn’t moved on from the era that birthed this universe.
What did you think of this episode of Star Trek: Picard? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!