Retired Admiral Picard returns to a Romulan Re-settlement on the planet Vashti in the Beta Quadrant to make something right and find a fighter for his quest.
” Absolute Candor” is my favorite episode of Star Trek: Picard Season One partly because we finally get to see Seven of Nine (though she is only in the episode for about a minute). Based on the promo, I get the idea that Seven of Nine will be featured heavily in the next episode when the crew finally makes it to Free Cloud (a gambling planet) where Dr. Bruce Maddox is hiding. I also favor this episode because it in we learn more about Romulans, particularly the order of Romulan Warrior Nuns called The Koat Milan, who fight against the Tal Shiar. Before I get further into my opinions on the episode, I am going to point out all the Easter Eggs.
There are several scenes where Picard and the Romulans on Vashti speak Romulan to one another. The phrase “Jolan’tru” translated to “Hello” in English is used a couple of times. The Romulan’s word for “Hello” references the usage in the two-part episode ” Unification” when Data and Picard go undercover to Romulan to find Spock who is trying to unify Romulan and Vulcan. Another tasty Easter Egg is when the Warrior Nuns mentions that Picard doesn’t like children, which is widely known by everybody who has seen Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Seven of Nine, who rescues Picard’s crew from a Romulan Bird of Prey operated by pirates, is an Easter Egg. Jean Luc Picard knows the Ex-Borg, which is new information; however when Picard reads The Three Musketeers to a Romulan orphan boy named Elnor (being raised by The Koat Milan) is an Easter Egg to the episode when Barclay created a hologram program with representations of Picard, Data and La Forge acting like the three musketeers. We have seen Picard fencing a couple of times in TNG, including once with Guinan.
I have two issues with this fourth episode of Star Trek: Picard. Narek’s sister Rizzo has now returned to her original Romulan form, but I am still puzzled about how she can get around the Borg cube without anybody catching her. I also find their whole relationship bizarre; especially the way Rizzo is exceptionally physical with Narek. Based on this depiction, I am picking up some incest vibes in their relationship.
My second issue with this episode is with Rios and all of his Emergency Holograms. First off, they all look like him, which takes me out of the story. Why would anybody want a bunch of holograms who look like them? The first Emergency Hologram had an Irish accent which made sense since he took care of both medical and mechanical issues. But then in the fourth episode, we see an emergency hologram that is an Emergency Hospitality Hologram, which makes zero sense.
I am pretty sure that Picard could program a holodeck to show his Chateau, I don’t think he needs a hologram to do that for him. There is no such thing as a hospitality emergency. I find the Navigation Emergency Hologram that speaks Spanish, and who has long hair and tattoos inconsistent with the timbre of the show. He doesn’t even seem to have any skills that Rios doesn’t already have. If Rios sometimes runs his ship with all these holograms, why not have them all look different, so it’s not confusing. Is Rios this damaged? Can he only trust himself?
My favorite parts of the show are the flashback when Picard visits Vashti to see the young Elnor and The Koat Milan Nuns, then returns to ask for help from the Nuns. The first time around, Picard is dressed in this stylish British Safari suit, and everybody treats him like a hero. We see all different types of Romulans hugging the Admiral and speaking to him in their native tongue. Before this episode, I had not realized that Admiral Picard was able to save a whole population of Romulan. Now we know there was at least one colony that he was able to help establish before Starfleet shut him down.
Picard then visits The Koat Milan’s monastery, where a young Elnor has been living since there have been no suitable guardians found for him. The Warrior Nuns are not just great sword-fighters, but also known for their bluntness. The Nuns say whatever they think of at the moment and pledge themselves to lost causes. They helped Picard with his plans to evacuate all of the Romulans off their planet.
Picard has bonded with Elnor even though he usually doesn’t get along with children. While he stays in the monastery, he reads to Elnor and plays with him. The Admiral is forced to return to his starship when Raffi tells him that Mars was attacked. Then the flashback ends. We don’t see the instant aftermath, but Picard abandons Vashti when he resigns from Starfleet. Elnor never finds a new home and grows up in the monastery.
When Picard returns to Vashti, nobody, but The Koat Milan are happy to see him. The fact that he is welcome to the monastery is lucky because he needs their help. The retired Admiral learns that the Romulan settlement has become impoverished and a hotbed for criminals after Starfleet abandoned them. Rios and Raffi have to bribe officials to allow Picard the ability to transport down. The Mother Nun of the Monastery asks Picard to take Elnor away on the mission since he can never become a real Koat Milan. She lets the retired Admiral know that the young man is one of her strongest warriors, and suggests that Picard will need him for protection.
At first, Elnor refuses to go on the quest since Picard abandoned him, but eventually decides that he will go with him. The quest for finding Doctor Maddox and rescuing Soji from the Zhat Vash is hopeless, so it fits the order’s mission. The young man saves Picard from a mob of Romulans led by an ex-senator right before they are transported back to Rios’ starship. Elnor kills the ex-senator, which leads to Picard, making him promise to never do anything violent again without a direct order. Picard holds to his principles that killing is a last resort. He is a speechmaker and diplomat.
Picard has added one more crew member to his mission with his new Romulan bodyguard. I’m left with a couple of questions after viewing this episode. What will Picard find on Free Cloud? Why was Seven of Nine near Vashti? Does Soji know why she is on the Borg cube and so obsessed with the Romulan myth expert? Is Narek falling in love with the android? I can’t wait to find out more next week.