Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard's Crew Escapes One Threat Only to Become Stranded 400 Years in the Past in 'Assimilation'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 2.03 "Assimilation"

Picard and the crew travel back to 2024 Los Angeles in search of the "Watcher," who can help them identify the point at which time diverged. Seven, Raffi and Rios venture out into an unfamiliar world 400 years in their past, while Picard and Jurati attempt to gather information from an unlikely, and dangerous, ally.

"Assimilation" was written by Kiley Rossetter & Christopher Monfette and directed by Lea Thompson

Across the franchise, Star Trek has always served as an allegory for issues facing the real world at the time. And now, Picard and crew actually arrive in a present-day setting. They have to figure out the best way to blend in. It also makes the drama much more blunt with its criticisms of the world. They see it as a failing ecosystem set for destruction. They approach the situation with hindsight and contempt. Rios is overjoyed upon eating a cookie with actual peanut butter in it. However, Raffi is confused as to how a society built on so many contradictions lasted for as long as it did. The perils of the environment are all around. And yet, no one is focused enough on the problems to ensure they are all saved. The atmosphere is breathable but a climate crisis looms. The effects of that peril are already on display. The team can't alter anything. They have to seek out the Watcher in the hopes they can reveal what exactly Q did. One simple action carries repercussions that play out for centuries. All it took was this one deviation to create an authoritarian world where the main characters rise to power with such vicious identities. It's all seemingly meant to display how every situation Picard embarks on turns out the same way. People are always shooting at him because they fail to see the unique perspective only he can bring. He views it all with the best intentions. Raffi sees the loss. She has to experience it most viscerally. Elnor is a member of her crew. As his captain, she is charged with protecting him. She cannot do that. In the continuing game between Picard and Q, Elnor is the collateral damage. Raffi is motivated by the possibility that by resetting the timeline he will be revived. That's the hope she must believe. It's the only way to keep moving forward. She can't be blinded by anything else. Those distractions are apparent. Seven is still struck by her unassimilated body. That absence drastically changes perceptions of her everywhere. That's freeing. That burden is no longer directly placed on her at all times. Meanwhile, Rios is caught up in the most topical and on-the-nose storyline, which threatens to be the most disruptive to the timeline. It's perfectly fine. It's based on brutal assumptions instead of offering something truly unique and informative. It's important for the audience to reckon with the reality this story presents. This isn't science fiction. It's reality. The hope is simply for a future where people survive and can make first contact with countless alien species in the galaxy.

The threat of assimilation from the Borg Queen always remains present. She wants that stranglehold once more. Right now, she exists in a quiet space. The Borg no longer operates as a collective. It's easy for her to warp through the mind of any individual. Jurati has to surrender herself to such an examination in order to even keep the Queen alive. Picard is willing to engage with these antagonistic figures who offer nothing but pain and suffering no matter where they pop up. Again, it's the continuing examination of his personal failings. He has always been devoted to the mission. That has kept him focused on the game just as much as the villains who have threatened the galaxy over and over again. Even the attempt to stop the Borg Queen has given her plenty of possibilities. Q presents himself as the savior. He ensured Picard and his crew didn't die. That self-destruct sequence was Picard's decision supported by the fear of what the Borg are capable of doing. It was easy for the Queen to overpower the Stargazer. And now, she is required to pilot the Sirena as it travels through time to the destination of the disruption. The fates have been turned. Not everyone is comfortable with that trade off. It's easy to once again place the entire stakes on whether or not to kill the Borg Queen. Picard can't let that happen. She still has a role to play. In doing so, he may simply inflict more harm onto others. Jurati does prove herself. The Borg Queen is impressed after originally seeing her as an enviable target for assimilation. That information may only go so far. The show is building up a mystery. One that doesn't make any immediate progress. And so, Picard's crew may truly be stranded in this time for awhile. The longer they stay the more likely their actions will also have ripple effects for the timeline. That's the precarious nature of their mission. They have such noble intentions. They have identified a problem and crafted a solution. Implanting it is much more dangerous than they have anticipated. That's the nature of their work. They are tasked with solving the greatest problems across the galaxy. They create plenty on their own too. Rios is injured because of the unreliability of the transport technology. That separates him from the team when they need to stand strong together. Elnor dies. That loss already has a deep impact. And now, even more effort will be made on saving the lives of people out of place in time.