Star Trek: Picard Episode 3 Recap - Engage!
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 3 of Star Trek: Picard, "The End Is the Beginning," now streaming on CBS All Access.
In the ample preseason press for Star Trek: Picard, star Patrick Stewart and the creators said the first three episodes served as the "first chapter" of a 10-episode story. With this week's "The End Is the Beginning," that chapters come to a close, as the wayward spaceman is finally among the stars again, elbow deep in perhaps his biggest mission yet.
Before we can look forward, however, we have to go back to the past. For the second episode in a row, Picard starts with a flashback to 14 years earlier. This time, the brutal synth attack on Mars is in the rear window, and we see the aftermath of a talk Picard had with Starfleet regarding the Romulan rescue mission. The results are dissected in a debrief with Raffi Musiker, his first officer and expert on the Romulan people. Picard's adamancy to get the mission off the ground despite the circumstances has had him bristling with Starfleet, and not for the first time. But this time, he came out on the losing end; when he makes an ultimatum that the Federation either accept his plan or his resignation, they called his bluff. To add insult to injury, Picard's dismissal prompted Raffi's firing, with Jean-Luc unintentionally ending the Starfleet career of his closest confidante.
That pain is still pouring out like Chateau Picard wine as Picard sits down with Raffi decades later to once again give a dire pitch about a high-stakes mission. Spending years stewing in anger and snake leaf, she feels an intense cocktail of despair at how far she's fallen, fury at Picard's action and subsequent lack of contact, and admittedly piqued interest in the idea of the secret Zhat Vash organization. Michelle Heard plays Raffi's debut scenes beautifully, letting the audience into her character and all the complicated feelings she has towards our protagonist. Though Picard gives a belated apology for the pain he inadvertently caused her, Raffi refuses to go down another rabbit hole with her former supervisor. She does, however, grant Picard one request: a pilot.
That pilot is Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera), who gets a drop-in visit from Picard on his ship. Blunt and cocksure, Rios is a former Starfleet officer whose time in the Federation has been erased from the record. He keeps to himself, save his collection of cigars, liquor bottles, good books, and a group of holographic personalities, played amusingly by Cabrera putting on a variety of accents. Despite Picard's resume, Rios plays it cool when first meeting him. The admiral's reputation, much like the piece of tritanium shrapnel sticking out of the pilot's shoulder, barely seemed to make a dent. Though Rios agrees to help Picard, a conversation with his navigation system reveals a tragic past with a previous captain, perhaps the reason why he keeps the former admiral at arm's length.
As Picard works to advance his mission on Earth, the subject of said mission in Soji is furthering her career aboard the Borg Cube. Last episode, we saw how her interest and empathy in the former Borg had separated her from her Romulan co-workers. That distinction did not get past the formerly mechanical eyes of Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco). The TNG character and alumnus of the Collective is now the Executive Director of the Reclamation Project. However, his position of power hasn't seemed to change any general Romulan objectification of the Borg.
Hugh allows Soji access to a room of formerly assimilated Romulans. Once they get past the doors, the cinematography transitions to something out of One Flew Over of the Cuckoo's Nest. The room's inhabitants are keeping to themselves, focusing manically on solving a Rubik's cube or drawing mysterious symbols. Soji sits down with Ramdha, tinkering with some triangular tarot cards, to discuss the idea of a "shared mythical framework" among the Romulans (though, according to Ramdha, they just call it "the news"). The visit gets cut short, though, when Ramdha ominously asks Soji which sister she is, staring at a card of two mirror-like figures. She suddenly holds her at phaser-point, calling her "The Destroyer" and claiming she will end them all. Though Ramdha is quickly subdued, the tension hangs in the air with the other Romulans, showing that perhaps a connection still exists across them despite the lack of Borg implants.
With a pilot booked, Picard makes the final preparations for his trip back into space. His fond goodbyes with Laris and Zhaban, though, are cut short when the Zhat Vash drop in for a surprise attack. After being a mere witness to Dahj's fight in Episode 1, Picard leaps to the forefront of the action. He and his Romulan housekeepers, formerly of the Tal Shiar, subdue their opponents quickly, in a pulse-pounding sequence brilliantly scored by only the hits, blasts, and slashes of the brawl. The last kill surprisingly comes at the hands of Dr. Jurati, who drops in for a visit. She informs Picard that she told Commander Oh--revealed last episode to be part of the Zhat Vash--about his plan. But what she didn't disclose: She'll be a part of said plan, offering her services and a resume built on robotics.
After a less-than-successful session with Ramdha, Soji gets a visit from Narek in her quarters. She seems less anxious about the whole "Destroyer" accusation, more so with the random facts about Ramdha she was able to list off despite never having studied them before. Could this be Soji's version of "waking up" to access her android qualities, as we saw with Dahj in the premiere? The revelation has undoubtedly piqued Narek's interest, as he tells his sister Rizzo after another romantic tete-a-tete. The conversation between the Zhat Vash siblings mirrors the end of last episode, this time even more claustrophobic and secretive.
The last scene of the episode functions as an arrival point for Trekkies once information came out about Picard's "crew" this season. Jurati's pitch evidently worked with Picard, as she beams onboard Rios' ship with him. Raffi is surprisingly present as well, though she insists she's only hitching a ride to Freecloud, which she discovered was the last known location of Bruce Maddox. Despite the unfamiliar people around him, Picard feels right at home as everyone gets settled in. With a smile and a finger point, Rios mans the control, and the ship jumps into warp, officially off on a new adventure.
The final act of Picard's first chapter was lighter on exposition than the previous two installments. But the episode was still filled to the brim with action and intrigue. The assembling of the crew came surprisingly late, and it seems there are more characters yet to join the fray. But Picard introduced Michelle Heard and Santiago Cabrera seamlessly into the ensemble, and this ragtag quartet is quite the exciting bunch to head into Freecloud. And it's not a moment too soon, as the Zhat Vash appears to be closing in on Soji, with her new title showing why her existence is so dangerous to the Romulans. Though it seems we've sadly said goodbye to Zhaban, Laris, Number One, and Chateau Picard for the time being, as Laris says in this episode, it was inevitable. Picard has always had one eye on the stars. And damn, does it feel good to see him in space once again.
Star Trek: Picard stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera and Harry Treadaway. A new episode arrives each Thursday on CBS All Access.
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