Release Date: March 4, 2020
Network: CBS All Access
Genre: Science Fiction
It turns out all the “moving forward” that was done in Star Trek: Picard episode six was done so that we could once again stand still in episode seven. Even though the story did indeed come to a halt once again, there was at least the bonus that we got to see some of our favorite characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Will Riker was always the yin to Picard’s yang, and he was in this episode as well.
Picard and Soji are on the run from the Romulans, who are trying to find out where the synthetics are hiding out. Picard’s new crew is busy trying to get to Nepenthe in order to pick him, and the android up and the Romulans are doing Romulan things in order just to be the worst people in the universe. The problem with the episode is that none of the story beats we see in “Nepenthe” make all that much sense. In fact, a series that has worked quite hard to get Picard to betray the character TNG fans loved so much continued to do so. I’m starting to wonder if Star Trek: Picard wants us to believe he’s just a pretty bad guy.
Does Picard Actually Care About Anyone?
The genesis of Picard’s character from the season’s first episode to this one has certainly been interesting. The season premiere showed us a man who cares so deeply for the innocent that he single-handedly tried to rescue the Romulans from certain death. He’s someone who went on a quest to save a young girl he knew for about 10 minutes.
Now, seven episodes into Picard, it’s possible he just wanted a mission and didn’t care at all about the people involved. A few episodes ago, we saw him applaud after Raffi basically ended a friendship in order to get onto the Borg cube. It seemed a rather odd reaction, especially when you consider she had to take a puff of a drug she’s admitted to being addicted to and a slug of whiskey. She was quite literally killing herself, and he was just happy she was able to pull the right strings to help him.
In “Nepenthe” after he reunites with Troi and Riker, they both, in their own way, tell him that while they’re happy to see him, don’t really want him there. That stems from the fact that they’ve already had one child die and are terrified of losing another. Picard says he understands their concern and then continues just to hang out and act as though it was never said at all.
There is also his apparent complete and total understanding as to why Soji might not be all that trusting of an older man who showed up out of nowhere, telling her here’s there to save her just when she needed saving. He even hears her telling Deanna how and why she feels as though she can’t trust anyone. He had talked to her sister enough to have some kind of understanding before now. And he still makes a sarcastic comment that could only be thought of as “douchey.”
Jean-Luc Picard has always been a little prickly. That was mostly discarded as the captain of a vessel needing to keep himself at arm’s length from his crew for obvious reasons. It appears the show wants us to realize he’s just a jerk. I’m pretty close to being convinced.
Setting Picard Straight
While Picard’s lack of humility or actual compassion is getting more annoying by the minute, Riker’s speech to him as they are preparing dinner might be the single best moment of the entire series so far. There are few people in the universe this program has created that needed to be put in their place more than Picard did after refusing to tell his friends, who were granting him a place to hide, what exactly was going on.
Riker’s lecture about how not telling them why they were in danger, was not keeping them out of danger was absolutely something he needed to hear. Of course, once again, it didn’t seem as though he really cared about after the fact. He nodded knowingly and looked contrite. He then continued to beat around the bush. Then it was Troi’s turn, and even though she actually said “you had that coming,” it still felt like he didn’t understand why. It was still highly therapeutic to watch two people who spent an entire series and a few movies, taking orders from Picard, make it clear that wasn’t a thing that was going to happen anymore.
Picard Not The Only One Betraying Their Character
Remember when Elnor pledged his life to Picard and his quest? Did anyone else think that was a pledge that was supposed to last more than a couple of weeks? His almost immediate pledge to Hugh and subsequent failure was among the worst and most confusing turns in the show. Yes, it was sad to see Hugh die, though the way he did was almost comical. That Elnor shrugged off something that had some religious overtones to help the guy he just met felt like something designed to tug at the heartstrings. It did not.
Verdict: It might be time to simply accept that Star Trek: Picard is not that good a show. We’re now seven episodes in, and we’re no closer to finding out why the synthetics did what they did. The pact of the show would hint we won’t really know until season two. That will be a miscalculation by the writers if it turns out to be true. On its own, this episode had plenty of enjoyable moments, but as part of a whole, it adds to a growing list of “hard to take” story beats.