Thursday, March 24, 2022

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Lands in a Familiar Face With an Ally Who Can Lead Him to the Watcher in 'Watcher'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 2.04 "Watcher"

With time running out to save the future, Picard takes matters into his own hands and seeks out an old friend for help. Rios ends up on the wrong side of the law. Jurati makes a deal with the Borg Queen.

"Watcher" was directed by Lea Thompson with story by Travis Fickett & Juliana James and teleplay by Juliana James & Jane Maggs

The Watcher's identity is treated as some grand mystery. Agnes could retrieve details from the Borg Queen while she was fighting off assimilation. She could provide Picard with precise coordinates to find this mysterious figure. He ends up at a familiar location. He is back at Guinan's bar. He is reunited with his old friend. They've never met before at this point in time. Nor does Picard wish to upset the timeline. He views all of this as crucial. His past is continuing to play out in the present. He can't hide from the emotions and memories that have long been buried deep within him. Guinan has always been a phenomenal and compassionate listener. She challenges him to do better. The exploration within himself may be harder than any other journey he has embarked on. Q has challenged him with this puzzle through time. Even the antagonist seems struck by things not going the way he plans. The show itself wants to treat this as a mystery being slowly unraveled. The start of the season offered episodic flourishes in a way that honored the spirit of storytelling that was once so evident with Picard. The first season featured him in a dramatically new way that signaled the overall flourish of what the franchise now requires. Every season demands intense serialization. That can still occur while offering episodic delights. However, this episode too closely mirrors the one before it. Everyone is struggling to adapt to the limits of 2024. Picard can see the various connections. They are all within his grasp. He has to reveal himself fully in order to be trusted with the honor of meeting the Watcher. And then, the show treats that as the big twist to lure the viewer back in next week. He's puzzled while walking through this life. Guinan is struggling. She is failing to see the change that is inevitably being built. She has the time to experience it in all its glory. Right now, the hatred and animosity is so profound. It's hard to see the brightness of the future. Picard hopes to preserve that as well. He doesn't want to return to an authoritarian world. The mechanics are already present in 2024 to fall down that tragic path. He hopes to avoid it. He has seen how wondrous the world can be. It's full of mysteries. That's basically what the show wants to be. And so, Laris is the Watcher. It's baffling to Picard and the audience. It provides new purpose for her while suggesting none of the characters can ever be trusted to be one thing. They are always one twist away from complete evolution.

The Borg Queen notes how cruel Agnes can be. She sees her current condition as confinement and torture. She is made to suffer. It may all be a performance. She is acting out because the Collective is gone. She has no one else to control. She only has Agnes. They both yearn for greater understanding. That doesn't make either of them trustworthy. Agnes is a necessary member of the team. She has to fix the equipment to help everyone else navigate this new world. Otherwise, Seven and Raffi are on their own trying to drive. That proves to be quite the challenge. They don't even succeed in freeing Rios from ICE custody either. That daring rescue will have to wait another week. That further signals how the various details of the plot this season are blending together. Again, everything should build to something more rewarding by the end of each hour. Every episode should bring the characters closer to that achievement. It's still a prioritization of plot over character. Agnes is told how she feels. She reacts based on those assumptions. She may ultimately confirm that she is cruel. She can't make any deal with the Borg Queen. She can't be trusted. She will manipulate anything in order to get what matters to her. Agnes is left behind to deal with her. Everyone else stands out in a world where they don't belong. They were warned not to create any ripple effects. Any action from them could alter the timeline as well. It doesn't matter what Q does because everything has already shifted. They are placed in stories that reflect the time period they are in. But they also exist outside of it too. It's all about convincing others that better days are ahead. They just need to wait a little longer. Picard asks Guinan to trust him. She shouldn't leave Earth yet. She is still needed here. He trusts her. His name means something to her and the Watcher. His destiny apparently must be protected against any threat to the timeline. That makes him important. But again, it all must pivot back around to that quest for internal clarity and peace. It does center around Laris. That relationship means something to Picard. It's a journey he must explore even if it's also placed in these extreme stakes around the fate of the future. It's all quite ambitious. The seams are starting to fall apart though and reveal the stalling techniques the plot is enduring.