Thursday, March 5, 2020

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard and Soji Rely on Old Friends to Find Strength and Protection in 'Nepenthe'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard - Episode 1.07 "Nepenthe"

Picard and Soji transport to the planet Nepenthe, home to some old and trusted friends. As the rest of the La Sirena crew attempt to join them, Picard helps Soji make sense of her recently unlocked memories. Meanwhile, Hugh and Elnor are left on the Borg cube and must face an angered Narissa.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard.

"Nepenthe" was written by Samantha Humphrey & Michael Chabon and directed by Doug Aarniokoski

What is a life worth living? When does a place feel like home? Those are the questions the protagonists are grappling with as their lives are in perilous danger. Picard had that security when he was captain of the Enterprise. He walked away from that life by sticking to his principles. That flung his life into a lifelong journey for that sense of belonging and purpose again. It was a decision forced onto others as well. Picard isn't always the best at figuring out what people need in any given situation. He is too caught up in his own personal dilemmas. He confirms that Soji is a Synthetic android in such a casual way here even though that is a massive realization for her. She is grappling with what in her life is actually real. She was committed to her research aboard the Artifact. She thought she was developing a genuine connection with Narek. But that reality was built on a false premise. She was sent to the Artifact for a reason, which still remains mysterious. Meanwhile, Narek was manipulating her for information about her home world. As soon as she no longer served a purpose, he had no problem trying to kill her. Her survival instincts are strong. That isn't always enough though. Dahj had them too but she died because she didn't understand what was happening to her. Soji seeks these answers even if they lead to even more danger and peril. That may be the truth of what life is like for these characters. Picard was so reluctant to reach out to his former crew members from the Enterprise. He didn't want to disrupt their lives knowing that they have found peace and happiness. He thought he had that too for a long time. And yet, life on the family vineyard wasn't fulfilling for him. He needed a mission. He assembled this new crew of misfits who are also dysfunctional. They want to keep their struggles internal. But each of their actions has a dramatic impact on the other. Jurati is turned by the Tal Shiar when a series of images are projected onto her mind. It's not something she wants to see. It's just traumatic enough for her to immediately go against her scientific research believing it's for the good of human civilization. Synth technology cannot be readily available throughout the system once more. But William Riker and Deanna Troi can make a vastly different argument. They lost their son because the technology wasn't allowed to save his life. The artificial nature of the world around these characters doesn't have to be a barrier. It can improve their lives should they choose to accept it. Soji doesn't know what to believe at the moment. Her entire life has imploded on her. Picard believes that his word should be reassuring enough. It isn't. Soji isn't operating with some sense of grand reverence for him in the same way that Dahj was. She is skeptical. Everyone is encouraging her to find her own path. That eventually points her back to her home world. That offers her the grand sense of purpose that she has long sought out in this life. Picard will guide her there despite the threat this new planet is under by those who seek to destroy anything relating to synthetics. He can do that for her because this journey has been important for him. It has to be more than just honoring the memory of Data too. It has to be reinvigorating as well. A way that can ensure a better future. That isn't always the case though. Hugh dies on the Artifact because he helped Picard escape. Elnor does his best to protect him. In the end, he has to send out a signal for possible salvation. Jurati poisons herself into a coma knowing that she is the cause of even more pain and uncertainty. These secrets are so harmful to the main characters. They are broken in their own unique ways. They may come together on a collective journey. But they may implode as well because the weight of it all is too much to bear or overcome at any given moment. Right now has to be good enough in order to keep moving forward. Picard and Soji feel enlightened in that way. They are just two people on this journey into the unknown. They chase after a place to call home and find peace. That may eventually elude them. Or those answers can provide salvation. Only the future will reveal which to be true if the characters can embrace them completely.