Thursday, April 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Remains Haunted by the Past Even as the Borg Queen Strikes the Ship in 'Hide and Seek'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 2.09 "Hide and Seek"

Picard and his crew fight for their lives as they come under attack from a new incarnation of an old enemy. But to survive, Picard must first face the ghosts of his past. Seven and Raffi have a final showdown with Jurati.

"Hide and Seek" was written by Matt Okumura & Chris Derrick and directed by Michael Weaver

The Borg Queen has assimilated an army. She launches her offensive to take control of La Sirena. Gaining access to 24th century technology will make conquering life in the 21st century all the more easier. It's not something Picard and his crew can let happen. And yet, Picard is continually distracted by memories of his past. It remains such a weird creative decision. It robs so much agency from this entire story. It places the burden of every plot beat with true consequence onto the other characters. Meanwhile, Picard is simply off on his own adventure. It's tangentially connected. It's meant to have personal significance. Its appeal simply pales in comparison to the interesting things being done elsewhere. Even then, it's clear the show spent way too much time in the past in the hopes of saving the present for these characters. They haven't even completed their mission. Dr. Soong still has the potential to keep Renee from flying. Plenty of uncertainty still exists heading into the finale. This episode simply wants to wrap up the immediate threat from the Borg Queen. Jurati has enough awareness and abilities to make this mission more difficult for the person who has taken over her body. She can use the rush of emotions to fuel her actions too. It's still building to the conclusion of Jurati being the first person to ever convince the Borg Queen that her tactics have never led to a desirable outcome. It's all meant to infer Jurati has gotten inside the mind of this great villain to the same extent as assimilation has invaded countless lives thanks to the Borg. It reverses the concept. It's done to create a new entity all together. Jurati has the potential to make her impact now by inviting the Borg Queen to build a community around the choice of this life. People have been forced to accept the Borg. This entity took over completely simply because the queen never wanted to be alone. She was destined to fail in every version of the timeline. She has a much more extensive connection with time. That has made her a powerful asset throughout this season. It has made her a nefarious foe too. She has always been needed. And now, she leaves with the precise thing she wanted. Jurati makes a deal to trade the ship for saving Seven's life. It ensures Seven is always destined to be part Borg. That's her identity. Only now is she willing to accept it. Of course, that reduces her down to being a character who forever limited herself because she was ashamed of embracing what was possible. Seven is a great character. Here, she is used as a bartering chip with the intention of some profound statement.

The show loves presenting these revelations as massive. It's consequential when Seven asserts herself as feeling whole after the Borg Queen saves her life. It's meaningful when a composite of Elnor tells Raffi that his final moments were of love towards her. It's an epic moment of release when Picard can finally remember seeing the tragic image of his mother's death. And yet, all of these moments ultimately feel empty. It's a case of the narrative thinking it's clever even though the audience could see these various twists coming. Teresa wonders if Rios' future actually lies in the past. Picard sends him away to keep him safe after he's injured. He wants to be in battle. He's captain of this ship. He risks losing everything. He can still make a crucial save. He's part of the team. His relationship with Teresa only has value if he decides to remain in 2024. That's a decision dictated by the plot instead of him feeling more at home in this place in time. It's a rushed story. One meant to reveal more of his humanity. In the hopes of providing thrills though, it's all positioned as background noise. Meanwhile, Raffi and Seven resign themselves to the likelihood of dying on this mission. And then, it's relatively easy for them to get to the ship and make the final confrontation with the queen. Sure, that still requires a change of heart from their enemy. That's possible only because of Jurati's connection to the rest of the crew. That makes sense on the surface level. However, the narrative also wanted to talk up Jurati's overall loneliness. That built the connection between her and the Borg Queen. And now, she will risk everything to save her friends. It makes sense. It's still the show trying to keep every option open instead of committing to one specific path. It proves how the insight from the Borg Queen isn't as great as has always been perceived. That makes Jurati's logic more sensible when the time comes. It sets up an unknown expectation when the crew inevitably returns to the 24th century to deal with the mysterious anomaly. Everyone will have learned a lesson thanks to what Q made them endure in the past. It's suppose to be the most personal for Picard. It's simply distracting to see him wander this space knowing it has more emotional resonance. He has to force himself to remember the truth. He can no longer rely on the images from his childhood. He has to challenge those notions. His family was much more complicated than he was willing to accept. He can no longer live in denial. It simply sidelines him when the urgency is so pronounced in every other moment. It's so dominant that it undercuts all the work being done with the other storylines.