Retired Admiral Picard becomes a rebel again.
In “Maps and Legends,” we see the true spirit of retired Admiral Picard awaken. All the actors bring their A games again in the second episode, but Sir Patrick Stewart proves why he is one of the most loved Captains in Star Trek. I first want to talk about some of the Easter eggs I spotted in this next chapter of the serialized story of Star Trek: Picard.
The major one was when retired Admiral Picard entered Starfleet headquarters to visit Admiral Kirsten Clancy; there are holographic models of Starfleet Starships above the lobby. One of the starships is the Enterprise D, which was the ship that Picard commanded for all seven seasons of Star Trek: Next Generation. The next is a reference of Tal Shiar, which is the Romulan secret military police, which is first mentioned in Star Trek: Next Generation. A fun Easter egg is when Dr. Agnes Jurati asks for Earl Grey tea, and Picard says he knew that he liked her as everybody who has watched even a couple of episodes of Star Trek knows that Jean Luc Picard loves Earl Grey. The last Easter egg I noticed was Dr. Benayoun, who talked about how he served with Picard on the USS Stargazer. The USS Stargazer was Picard’s first command.
This last Easter egg leads me to my next point about an emotionally powerful scene with the two old friends, the retired Admiral Picard and Dr. Benayoun. First, I want to discuss how cool it was to see a Star Trek archetype of the Doctor/Captain friendship on the small screen again. The model started with Bones and Kirk, the doctor on board has always been an advisor to the Captain. Somebody who will be brutally honest since their medical authority can overrule the Captain during emergencies. I wish that the doctor that Picard called was Dr. Beverly Crusher, but I understand they couldn’t get everybody back. The archetypical friendship is something I feel like Star Trek: Discovery missed the mark on, so I am happy that Star Trek: Picard returned to tradition.
Anyway, in this scene, Picard had a remote medical scan so that the doctor can clear him for interstellar service. The retired Admiral wants to go into space to find Dr. Maddox and the android twin. Dr. Benayoun tells Picard that he has an abnormality in his brain that will eventually kill him. Admiral Picard insists that the doctor clears him for interstellar service. Dr. Benayoun reminds him of the adventures they had back in the day. Essentially telling Picard that he has already lived a full life. Then the doctors delivered a brilliant line, “You want to go back out into the cold?” Picard says, yes. Dr. Benayoun wishes with whatever mission his old friend goes on kills him before the deadly brain syndrome does. So now we know that the Admiral’s mission to save Soji will be one of the last actions he will do in this life. These two talented actors show an incredible bond even though we have never seen them on screen together before. At least as these two characters.
My second favorite aspect of this episode is the scenes of Laris, Picard, and Zhaban as they figure out why Dahj was murdered. We learn a lot about Romulan culture in this storyline. First, we learn that Laris and Zhaban used to be part of the Tal Shiar before they moved to Chateau Picard. They are Picard’s protectors, as well as his caretakers. Next, Zhaban’s parents trained Laris to be a spy. Laris believes that the Tal Shiar is a cover-up for an even more secretive organization called the Zhat Vash made up of Romulans assumed dead who monitor Romulan and Federation worlds. The Zhat Vash’s primary mission is to derail any A.I work since the Romulan people hate advanced intelligent technology.
Laris explains that Romulans don’t study artificial intelligence, and the only computers they use are numerical. Laris and Picard go to Dahj’s apartment to figure out everything they can about her past. The pair find no physical trace of her boyfriend’s murder. Laris uses the Federation outlawed Romulan forensic technology to reconstruct all the events that happened before the attack. Picard learns that Romulan forensic technology is more reliable than the Federation knows. But Laris confirms that the Zhat Vash wiped all traces of the attack to the point that even their advanced technology can not holographically reconstruct the attack itself.
Laris hacks into Dahj’s computer and finds the one trace of the android that the Romulans did not erase. She finds video messages that the sisters sent each other, which the Romulans didn’t destroy because they cannot tell the twins apart. This is how Picard learns that Dahj’s identical twin ( Dr. Soji Asher) is off-world, but he doesn’t know her name or that she is stationed on a Borg cube.
That brings me to my one minor issue with Star Trek: Picard. The romantic relationship between Soji and the Romulan Narek is not believable. The Romulan refuses even to tell the scientist his job on Borg cube, but she still seems so in love with him. The implication seems to be that they slept together after Narek and Soji first met, which seems too fast to me.
Borg’s are my favorite Star Trek “Villian,” so the storyline on the Borg cube excites me. Soji’s job seems to be to help the ex-Borg drones find their individuality again. I assume that she is going to help by talking to them because she doesn’t help physically remove their Borg machine parts but does speak to one of the ex-drones in his or her language.
In the pilot, the implication is that Narek is some time of spy. “Maps and Legends” confirms that Narek works within the Zhat Vash with his sister Lt. Rizzo, whose undercover in Starfleet. She is a Romulan in a human disguise who works under Commodore Oh in Starfleet headquarters. The Commodore appears Vulcan, but could also be a Romulan. Commodore Oh’s mission is to keep Picard from investigating the android twins’ further by going in space. Something that she thinks that Admiral Clancy took care of by refusing the retired Admiral Picard’s request for Starfleet assistance in helping stop the Zhat Vash from murdering Soji. But Clancy has not stopped Picard at all from finding a starship and crew on his own. We learn that Lt. Rizzo and her team are the ones who killed Dahj and her boyfriend in a failed attempt to capture her for interrogation.
Narek is on the Borg cube to trick Soji into telling him where a nest of Androids is hiding though we don’t even know if she knows that she is a synth. Lt. Rizzo is traveling to the Borg cube to make sure her brother doesn’t fail.
My favorite alien featured in this episode was the new Borg cube employee, the Trill scientist Tough Fuelie. The Trill host Jadzia Dax from Star: Next Generation is one of my favorite characters, so I’m always thrilled to see those spotted aliens. I hope we see more of her.
The episode left me with a couple of questions. Since Laris and Zhaban are not going with Picard to find Soji, will we see them again? Other than his ex-first officer, Raffi Musiker, will Picard have anybody else on his crew? Does Narek have real feelings for Soji? Were the synths hacked into during the Mar’s colony attack? I cannot wait for next Thursday to find some answers.