Star Trek: Picard (CBA All Access)
Season One, Episode Three – “The End is the Beginning”
Written by Michael Chabon & James Duff
Directed by Hanelle Culpepper
Space finally becomes the primary setting of Picard but only in the final scene. This episode finishes up the first act of the season by having the captain wrap up things on Earth and get together a makeshift crew. I am looking forward to what comes next, but this was still a bumpy ride that feels uneven and underdeveloped. Picard relies on so many new characters that it feels disconnected in many ways from The Next Generation. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build a unique story and focus on some new faces, but the lack of people that I would assume Picard considers his family is odd.
We know that Picard had a falling out with Starfleet; in fact, we see it happen in this episode. He exits Starfleet headquarters and confides in his good friend, Raffi? There’s no explanation yet as to how he and Raffi are connected. They both seem to be putting their careers on the line to argue for Federation aid in the Romulan refugee crisis, and both suspect the Tal Shiar are behind the synthetic revolt. There’s familiarity between these characters but no mention of exactly how they are connected. I hope at some point we learn if she was his new Number One after Riker left or if they served in some other capacity. The show has kept the fate of the Enterprise-E under wraps, so I will assume this is a big reveal coming near the end of the season.
I am getting a bit annoyed with the lack of nuance in the dialogue and plotting. The Next Generation was not always a sophisticated show, but the best episodes were written cleverly, and the dialogue was pointed. The exposition comes heavy and frequently in this episode. The analogy between our present and the 24th century continues, and it becomes pretty cloying at times. The inconsistency with how the Federation operates is on display when Raffi points out the economic differences between herself and Picard. TNG always made it very clear that economic class was eliminated at this point in the future with money being extinct. I am still confused about what exactly Raffi is comparing then unless the writers are being sloppy and ignoring established tenents of this future.
The most interesting parts of this episode take place on the Reclamation Cube, where we finally catch up with former Borg, Hugh. He cites his rank as executive director of this program, and it becomes clear that the Romulans are working with whatever organization Hugh is a part of. It’s also clear that there is tension between them and that some information is being kept from Hugh. The Romulans apparently have military or economic plans for the freed Borg, but details are vague. We also get a glimpse of the only Romulans to have been assimilated, now released, and they have broken minds as a result. Soji is attempting to connect with a woman who used to be a mythology scholar, but it’s hinted that the Borg are aware of Soji’s synthetic nature. Additionally, she most definitely seems to be a threat to them.
The new addition to the cast is Rios, a friend of Raffi’s the pilot of the ship that is going to take Picard to Soji. Of course, he has his own complicated backstory hinted at that I’m sure the show will go into. He was the executive officer on board a Starfleet ship that was wiped from the records after an undisclosed incident occurred. He has an interesting quirk of all his emergency holographic crew looking like himself. Other than that, we don’t learn much about Rios, but I assume more will come later in the series.
These three episodes mostly make up what would have been a pilot episode, setting up the main characters and the core plot. So far, I am entertained but not overly impressed. You can definitely tell that these are different writers than TNG, and we will never get that feeling back. But I still don’t quite understand what Picard is. There’s the Romulan conspiracy. There are some prophecy elements. You have Picard traveling through space. I’m not quite sure how all these things will gel together and hope they amount to something worth it all.