Star Trek: Picard season 1, episode 5 recap: Stardust City Rag

Seven of Nine has arrived on Star Trek: Picard! Looks like they’re going to need her help as they close in on Bruce Maddox’s location on Freecloud.

Seven of Nine saved the crew onboard La Sirena at the cost of her own ship. Now she joins Picard and his mission to rescue Bruce Maddox on Freecloud, but Seven has an agenda of her own. Getting to Maddox is a little more complicated than the crew hoped for. They’re going to need to work together and outside their comfort zone if their plan is to succeed in episode five of Star Trek: Picard.

A Painful Memory

Every episode of Star Trek: Picard begins with an incident that took place in the past – 13-14 years ago. This episode steers clear of Picard’s history, and dives into that of a different character. The opening scene is graphic, and should have come with a content warning. But the nature of the visuals is hardly the most disturbing aspect of the scene.

We see a Starfleet science officer being butchered by a masked scientist. His eyeball is torn out of him revealing this character was once Borg. It’s evident the officer is an unwilling participant in this experiment – he’s being tortured without anesthesia. The scientist goes after his cortical node and she’s close to getting it when someone barges in, all phasers blazing. It’s Seven of Nine.

More: Star Trek: Picard season one, episode 4 recap

Though Seven is able to stop the butcher from proceeding, the man on the table is too weak to move. Who is he? We soon find out. The young man is none other than Icheb (played by Casey King in this episode and not Manu Intiraymi), who many Star Trek: Voyager fans will recognize as one of the Borg children that Voyager liberated from the Collective after their ship had been irreparably damaged.

The impact of this scene may be lost on anyone who hasn’t watched Voyager or had a deep connection with the characters. Seven of Nine was very close to Icheb and he became an integral part of the crew. Seeing Icheb tortured is horrifying. Seeing him wordlessly plead with Seven to end his suffering because he’s had too many Borg implants removed and is obviously in severe pain, is devastating. Seven apologizes to ‘my child’ before she shoots Icheb dead.

Seven Has Changed

Pictured: Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pictured: Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Seven and Picard have never met, yet they are aware of each other by reputation. Seven is a vigilante with the Fenris Rangers, a group of Freedom Fighters she joined following the chaos of the Romulan evacuation. There had been a brief mention of the Fenris Rangers as the protectors Vashti. That group had fallen into disarray without resources, but apparently, have not given up hope.

Picard is too straight-laced to condone Seven and the Rangers taking the law into their own hands, but Seven refuses to give up and doesn’t care for a lecture. I honestly think the group was a good cover for Seven to vent her latent anger while being a hero. Seven’s reputation as an ex-Borg Fenris Ranger is widely known; both Raffi and Rios are incredibly awestruck by her.

Seven has changed a lot since we last saw her on Star Trek: Voyager. Her mannerisms are very human, as is her syntax and intonation. Only on occasion does Seven slip into her quintessentially clinical vocabulary. She’s also taken to the drink – Seven asks for Bourbon on the rocks. I’m unsure if the Doctor would be surprised or glad that Seven can down any alcohol at all. There was a time when Seven got drunk on one glass of synthahol!

The Fenris Rangers keep what little money they have on Freecloud, so it makes for a convenient drop off for her. But Seven is a valuable asset on Picard’s mission, and on hearing more about Picard’s wish to save Soji, Seven decides to stick around and help.


On Freecloud, an alluring woman named Bjayzl (Necar Zadegan) offers Bruce Maddox (recast as John Ales instead of Brian Brophy) save haven. When Bruce reveals that his laboratory has been destroyed by the Tal Shiar, Bjayzl is annoyed that she has to deal with that lot. But she’s got Bruce where she wants him and sets her plan in motion.

The La Sirena crew close in on Freecloud and are bombarded by… holographic advertisements. Everything about Freecloud has a touch of Blade Runner to it, which isn’t necessarily a compliment. Would it have hurt to have a holographic male dancer enticing guests to the planet? Especially since Bjayzl is introduced in a somewhat risqué outfit and coquettish demeanor. Rios, Raffi, Picard, and Jurati all get personalized ads, which leaves Elnor wondering why he didn’t get one when none appear for him. He’s adorable!

Raffi, the character who has been written solely to spew exposition (Michelle Hurd deserves so much better) discovers that Maddox is being held by Bjayzl who wants to broker a deal for the Tal Shiar. If Picard is going to extract Maddox, the crew has to come up with a better trade. Seven has the answer – she is going to go as bait.

The Trade

Bjayzl was behind the butchering of ex-Borgs. She sold their implants for profit and is high on the Fenris Rangers’ wanted list. Seven hates her with a vengeance. We feel you, Seven.

To get the trade underway, Raffi sends Rios to initiate proceedings. He has to dress and act flamboyantly, which is clearly not Rios’ strong point. After Rios gets his foot in the door, Picard and Elnor beam down with Seven as their bargaining chip. It’s clear that Elnor takes things very literally since his upbringing with the Qowat Milat meant no one ever lies, so Seven tells him to keep shut throughout the away mission. Seems like Elnor’s character is supposed to represent those on the autism spectrum, but here’s hoping he’s handled with care.

When Bjayzl and Seven meet face-to-face it becomes abundantly clear that the two of them have history. Seven calls her Jay, and Bjayzl knew Seven under her human name Annika Hansen. They worked together with the Rangers and Seven trusted Bjayzl. Enough to tell her about Icheb. A fatal mistake, as it were. Bjayzl faked a distress call and led Icheb into an ambush, and then had him tortured for his Borg parts. Bjayzl has no remorse for her actions and that angers Seven even more.

Though Picard isn’t able to get through to Seven, Rios does. He respects Seven’s anger and doesn’t belittle her motives. Instead, Rios appeals to Seven’s humanity. He reminds her that killing Bjayzl will put the entire La Sirena crew in danger, so she must put her revenge aside and bring Maddox back to the ship.

Once aboard, Seven and Picard bond over their unlikely connection – their shared history as former Borg. Seven asks Picard if he felt he had regained his humanity following his time as Locutus of Borg. He says he did, but Picard strives every day to regain all of it. So does Seven. Irrespective of finding her humanity, Seven’s sense of justice is unwavering. She grabs two phasers from La Sirena and returns to exact her vengeance. To Seven, Icheb was the closest thing she had to a child, and Bjayzl killed him. Honestly, Bjayzl deserves to be disintegrated. Seven’s arc ends with all guns blazing. Will we see her again on this show? Seven was such a breath of fresh air and we’re going to miss her.

More Surprises

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Freecloud, Raffi’s mission becomes clear. She’s come to see her son, Gabriel Hwang (Mason Gooding) and make amends. Apparently, her addictions drove a wedge between her and Gabriel and his father. So did Raffi’s insistence that a Romulan conspiracy led to the synth uprising on Mars. Gabriel hates his mother and he doesn’t forgive her, even though she claims to be clean. Unfortunately, she still believes in the conspiracy and that ends any hope Gabriel has for his mother. Raffi is able to meet Gabriel’s wife, a Romulan woman, and congratulate them on the imminent birth of their first child, but she returns to La Sirena without her family.

If you’re wondering what Dr. Jurati has been up to, you’ll be shocked. Turns out, Jurati didn’t just revere Maddox as a mentor, the two were a couple. She appears to have loved the man, but when Maddox reveals to Picard that Soji is aboard the Artifact, Jurati sends Picard away and kills Maddox in the medical bay. La Sirena’s EMH tries to interrupt her, but Jurati shuts it down. Perhaps the EMH will play a hand in revealing Jurati’s actions later on in the show. It’s obvious the showrunners are pushing for Jurati and Rios to get together, so it’ll be interesting to see how Rios reacts to Jurati killing Maddox. As per Jurati, she’s doing it because the Zhat Vash have shown her something frightening. But what it is, we do not know as yet.

Next: Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager

This episode was so much better because of Seven of Nine. She brought with her a wealth of history and backstory, even though not all of it was revealed or re-told. But it’s still strange to tie every single female character to the men in their lives – even Seven, for whom Icheb was important but not entirely essential to her character. Did Raffi need a shunned mother storyline? Did Jurati have to be Maddox’s love interest, especially given the huge age difference? In so many ways Star Trek: Picard continues to be old-fashioned. Every episode is a reminder that the show has forgotten to move forward with the times. How many more reminders do we need?

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