The first episode of season two opens with a Starfleet ship in disarray. The ship is on red alert, an intruder alarm is sounding, and the crew is clearly in a panic with weapons drawn. We see Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) on the bridge with Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill, American Horror Story, and The Newsroom). Picard activates the auto-destruct and just before it blows up, we hear a Borg voice say “Picard…”
Why Have you Chosen to Be Alone?
After the title sequence, we find ourselves at Château Picard during harvest time. No sign of a ship or uniform. At the end of the day, Picard toasts with Laris (Orla Brady, American Horror Story), his Romulan Tal Shiar companion. Since season two, it appears her husband Zhaban has died. Laris shares with Picard that she and Zhaban loved one another deeply. However, he reminds him that Romulans do not suffer loss the way humans do. Instead, they love deeply and honor that love by “loving more deeply still.” She is clearly referring to Picard – an infamous bachelor (aside from a short stint married to Beverly Crusher). Picard awkwardly rebuffs Laris’s advances, in spite of the fact that he is clearly tempted.
That night, Picard has a dream about his childhood; he wanders into a greenhouse where he is greeted by his mother. She tells him that “there is magic here” where the two of them can create their own world. The dream falls apart into a macabre stitch of his mother being stolen or attacked begging Jean-Luc to find her. She tells him to “look up at the stars.”
The next morning, Laris awkwardly greets Picard with a cup of “earl gray cold,” the night before clearly troubling her. Picard attempts to talk about it, but it is clear that their relationship has been irrevocably changed.
The Last Picard
Picard goes to Starfleet Academy where he is giving a speech to a new class of cadets, including the first Romulan in Starfleet – Space Legolas, also known as Elnor (Evan Evagora). In his speech, he states that he believes that time is truly the final frontier and while it offers many opportunities, it rarely offers second chances. This feels prescient as time has been a theme in all of this season’s teasers and trailers.
What the Hell is That?
We next jump to space, where Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is aboard La Sirena trying to protect medical supplies in her role as a Fenris Ranger with the assistance of Santiago’s leftover holograms. The hologram alerts Seven to a spatial anomaly (one reported earlier by the USS Avalon to Starfleet) and the two go to investigate.
Next, we are at a diplomatic dinner where Soji (Isa Briones) is serving as a diplomat for synthetics. She is accompanied by a drunk Juratti who is standing by the bar with a glass of wine rebuffing one of the aliens. We quickly learn that her relationship with Rios (Santiago Cabrera, Big Little Lies) ended poorly, apropos as Juratti then answers a hail from Rios.
Soji pops up and tells her she will stay behind to further their diplomatic mission while Juratti meets up with Rios. She beams up to his ship, where we are greeted by Captain Rios, wearing a Starfleet uniform (but still smoking a cigar). He tells Juratti that there is a subspace anomaly that Starfleet wants them to investigate and that he could use her help. As they head at warp speed towards the anomaly we see that the ship is the USS StarGazer, which Star Trek fans will recognize right away as Picard’s first command!
Back at Starfleet Academy, Picard is walking with Commander Raffi (Michelle Hurd, Hawaii Five-O, Blind Spot) who is also wearing a Starfleet uniform and she tries to pry into his personal life. He volleys the conversation back to her by asking about her relationship with Seven. She tells Picard that like him, Seven is happiest wandering the stars and likely never gets lonely. Picard goes to wish Elnor well as he is about to accept his first assignment, under Raffi’s command.
Help Us Picard
The StarGazer arrives at the anomaly and is hailed by Seven of Nine. Suddenly, the anomaly springs to life. Juratti examines the signal and determines that it is saying “Help us Help us, Picard!”
Top Shelf or Hooch?
Picard beams into Los Angeles and walks into a bar labeled “10” where he finds Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), his old confidant and friend. The two comment a bit about their age; as an Alorian Guinan is centuries older than Picard yet the two of them look the same age. Picard shares with Guinan his troubles with Laris, and relationships in general. Guinan points out to Picard that his problem with love is that he has never taken it seriously and has never risked his heart.
After his evening with Guinan, an Admiral drops into Château Picard to tell them they need his help with the anomaly. She asks him to investigate the anomaly and, of course, Picard agrees. He leaves just as Laris arrives home without so much as a word between them.
Admiral on the Bridge
On the StarGazer, Picard is greeted by Seven who has joined the crew. Picard greets Rios on the bridge and admires the new StarGazer, which he comments is sleeker than the one he commanded decades ago. He then proceeds to hail the anomaly; it answers and the ship is hit by an energy surge. A Borg ship then emerges through the anomaly.
After the StarGazer sends an alert to ships in the area, an armada responds, including Raffi’s. The team assembles in the ready room to discuss their options. Seven is adamant that the Borg are a threat and should be destroyed. Juratti is cautiously optimistic, arguing that the Borg could be a new ally. The Borg interrupts and tells them that there is no time they will send their Queen as an emissary to negotiate with Picard.
In spite of Rios’s attempts, the Borg are able to penetrate their defenses and transport their Queen (a dark figure unlike any Borg Queen we’ve seen) to the ship who tells them “we wish for peace, but first we require power” and begins to draw power directly from the ship. It appears that the Queen is assimilating not only the StarGazer but the entire fleet. We suddenly find ourselves back to a scene similar (but not quite identical) to the opener – Red Alert, chaos, and Picard activating self-destruct.
The Trial Never Ends
After the self-destruct activates, we find Picard back home in the greenhouse at Château Picard, confused by his surroundings. He cries out for Laris but is greeted by Harvey, a synthetic servant. Picard asks about Laris but Harvey seems to not know who she is. He demands to know what is happening and the response is not from Harvey, but Q (John de Lancie). Picard is livid (as he always is) to see Q and demands an explanation. Q simply tells him that they are at the very end of the road not taken.
Analysis – Star Trek Picard – The Star Gazer
The first episode of this new season serves to catch us up on everyone while positioning players for the story. We know that Picard has gone back to his Château and continues to grow wine. Laris still lives with him, but her husband Zhaban has died. We can also see that there is a romantic attraction between the two of them. Raffi is back in uniform and has regained her command; we can assume what this means.
Raffi and Seven seem to still be a couple of sorts, but with some distance between them as Seven has resumed her role as a Fenris Ranger. Rios has also rejoined Starfleet and serves as Captain of the Stargazer. Elnor is now the first Romulan in Starfleet. Dr. Juratti was apparently acquitted of the murder of her ex-boyfriend. She and Rios’s relationship also ended… by all accounts badly. Soji is a diplomat for synthetics and rather adept. She has far more confidence than the young woman we met in Season 1.
At the end of the first episode, we have also assembled all of the characters (with the exception of Soji) at the anomaly. Picard, Seven, and Rios are aboard the StarGazer. Raffi and Elnor are aboard Raffi’s ship in the supporting armada.
Just like we saw in season 1, this first episode of season 2 is also full of fan service. And I’ll be honest, as a fan, I freaking love it. From our glimpses of Château Picard, Guinan’s new 10 (Forward) Bar in Los Angeles, the reappearance of the StarGazer (or a new version of it), to the younger version of Q, I love it when StarTrek rewards its fans. It may be a little much at times, but I will certainly allow it.
The theme this season will definitely be “Time” as we hear it referenced again and again in Picard’s speech at the academy, his discussion with Guinan, and his own reminiscing over his time in Starfleet. Q’s appearance at the very end only solidifies it when he tells Picard that this will be the end of the “road not taken.” It won’t be the first time that Q has allowed him a second chance at the choices he has made in life.
In Star Trek the Next Generation Season 6, Episode 15, Q allows Picard to change an event in his youth in order to save his life in the present. However, in doing so, Picard does not become the same man. It forced Jean-Luc to accept the hot-headed young man he once was as it made him the Starfleet commander that he became. It seems that Q is about to teach Picard another lesson about life.
I’m eager to see how this season unfolds. Q and Picard have always been an engaging duo and I’m excited for the rest of season 2!