Look at you Dixon Hill!
At the beginning of Star Trek: Picard – Watcher we find our team on the ship. Picard is trying (unsuccessfully) to make contact with his crew. But without the relays, their coms can’t reach far enough. Without life-support, Picard & Juratti decide to cloak La Sirena and take shelter on the abandoned Chateau Picard where they can light a fire and warm up. Picard shares a bit of his family history with Jurati. During WWII, when the Nazis occupied France, they used Chateau Picard as a base of operations. The Picards survived by hiding in the tunnels below before fleeing to England. While looking at the ruins of the Chateau, Picard has flashbacks to his childhood and, more specifically, his mother.
Picard and Juratti warm in front of the fireplace while she tries to recall all of the details she stole from the Borg Queen – specifically when the rift in time will take place. He tries to get Juratti to rest, but she insists on exploring and finds a bottle of wine for them to share. Picard points out that in her explorations, she has been pulling out the number “15.” They determine that it refers to the date of the divergence (in three days): April 15, 2024. Just three days away.
The Watcher is the Only One Who Can Help Us
Back on Earth, Raffi and Seven are trying to track down Rios. They find the clinic where they learn he was arrested by ICE. They hop on public transport where a man with a mohawk is listening to punk loudly on his boombox. It’s a nice homage to the Voyage Home when Spock and Kirk have a similar run-in. However, Spock has to use a Vulcan neck pinch to stop the music, Seven just has to ask nicely.
Back on La Sirena, Picard decides that he needs to go to Los Angeles to try to find the Watcher. They follow the Queen’s coordinates and he beams to downtown Los Angeles, leaving Agnes to deal with the Borg Queen.
Picard finds himself on Forward Avenue, right in front of Guinan’s Bar. He walks in to find a very young, beautiful, and rather buff Guinan who has no idea who he is. She is packing and preparing to leave Earth. When he tells her that he knows she’s an Alorian, she pulls a gun and starts to interrogate him.
Why Does the Past Hurt So Much?
At LAPD, Raffi and Seven continue their search for Rios. Another person in the waiting room tells Raffi that they need to find Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The clock is ticking if they ever want to get him back. If he’s deported, they won’t find him.
In the meantime, Rios is processed and detained by ICE. He tries to defend one of his fellow detainees but gets tased for his efforts.
Back at Ten Forward, Guinan and Picard continue their conversation. When her dog warms up to Picard, Guinan decides he is not a threat and tells him he’s free to leave. Picard continues to beg Guinan for her help. When he tells her that he is looking for a Watcher, she is taken aback. Before she can respond, they are interrupted by Guinan’s friend Dale, who is there to take Luna. She tells Picard that the Earth is destroying itself, income inequality is destroying civilization, and we are poisoning the planet. Picard responds by saying: “The problem isn’t time, it’s you, it’s not too late;” hearing her own words (from the future) spoken back to her causes Guinan to suffer time sickness. When she tells him she is still leaving, Picard responds that distance will offer her no protection.
What the Hell Happened to No Phasers?!
Raffi and Seven break into a police car in order to use their computer to hack into ICE’s system. At the same time, Juratti is able to establish communication with them. They ask her for help getting to ICE detention with the (not yet working) transporters. Unsure if the transporters can be repaired in time, they steal the police car (with Seven behind the wheel) and the cops in pursuit. Juratti continues to work on getting the transporters up and running.
At Ten-Forward, Picard accompanies Guinan as she drops off donations at the local mission. She points out to Picard all of the sufferings that surround them and that Earth has squandered its potential with hatred and anger. Picard tries to convince her to stay, telling her that there is still potential for change. That he needs her help.
In ICE detention, Rios says goodbye to Dr. Ramirez when she is released by ICE. The ICE officer that tased him tells him that they are ready to put him on the bus unless he can provide them with documentation of who he is. Rios then tells him the truth: that he’s a Captain of a spaceship from the future, who came back in time with a team to fix the future. Not surprisingly, his story does not get him released but rather put on a bus across the border.
Betrayal is Just an Anagram for “Believe Me”
Back in the police car Raffi and Seven are trying to get to ICE detention before Rios disappears forever. On La Sirena, Juratti bargains with the Borg Queen that she will stay and talk with her if the Queen can get transporters up and running. The Borg Queen agrees to help. Raffi and Seven are beamed (to the shock of surrounding police) out of the police car and onto the road where they can intercept Rios’s bus. Back on La Sirena, Agnes walks away from the Borg Queen, breaking her promise and leaving the Borg Queen miserable in her loneliness.
I Can Get You a Face to Face… Sort of
Back in Los Angeles, Picard finally tells Guinan who he is in an attempt to get her to stay. It’s his last card to play. She tells him to get in the car and that she is not the Watcher, but that she knows who is. She drives him to Echo Park where they are approached by a child with white eyes. Picard is led through the park by various “white-eyed” entities before he finally meets “the Watcher” who looks just like Laris (without the ears). She puts her arm on Picard and they disappear into a doorway of smoke… somewhat like a Guardian of Forever?
The episode finishes at a patio in what appears to be the 24th century, with Q narrating a sinister story to a young woman, who is reading a book. He proclaims “you can’t do it… people are going to die… and your fear, your doubt is the loudest voice in your head.” He snaps his fingers, and the girl laughs. Q is surprised… his powers aren’t operating how they should.
This episode of Picard continues to move the plot forward but has a little less excitement than previous episodes. The search for Rios felt a little like time filler, something to intersperse between Picard’s chats with Guinan and Juratti’s relationship with the Borg Queen. At the same time, I really loved the development of Agnes’ character alongside the Borg Queen and Picard’s quest for the Watcher. It also had some playful moments with fan service. I especially loved watching Raffi and Seven parallel a scene from Star Trek IV with the punk on a bus. Although a little obvious (who the heck even owns a boombox anymore), it made me laugh. Rios quoting the opening mantra from TNG was a nice little Easter Egg. And let’s not forget the quip about Picard being “Dixon Hill.”
Juratti was a difficult character to watch in Season 1 as she had been so clearly manipulated by the Romulans and forced into actions against her will. This season has done an excellent job of fleshing out her character – a lonely woman who feels more at home with machines than with people. It also highlights that Agnes has a streak of cruelty to her. She keenly manipulates the Borg Queen, playing on their mutual loneliness. However, she then betrays her instantly – abandoning her to plight.
Picard’s interactions with a young Guinan are telling. Guinan has always been a fascinating character. Her relationship with humanity stems back at least 400 years. The timeline here, however, feels a little off. Picard originally met Guinan in the 19th century when she was living in San Francisco (Star Trek the Next Generation: Season 5 ep 26, and Season 6 ep 1). Guinan should have recognized Picard but she doesn’t seem to know who he is. Is this a writer’s oversight or a result of what is messing with the timeline?
We still don’t quite know who the Watcher is. The Watcher appears to Picard as Laris (is Laris the Watcher)? They disappear into a vortex that looks a little like it belongs to a Guardian of Forever. We don’t know much about the Guardians other than that they do have a relationship with space-time. In both encounters we’ve had with Guardians of Forever (Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever and Star Trek Discovery: Terra Firma), they were crucial in correcting problems with the timeline.
Q’s reappearance was rather disturbing. It’s unclear if this is the same Q that was taunting Picard (physically he looks the same – not the young Q we saw in episode 1). What is wrong with his powers?
Tell me what you think will happen next in the comments below!