Thursday, February 23, 2023

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Makes a Massive Realization While Trapped by a Mysterious New Villain in 'Disengage'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 3.02 "Disengage"

Aided by Seven of Nine and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan, Picard makes a shocking discovery that will alter his life forever - and puts him on a collision course with the most cunning enemy he's ever encountered. Meanwhile, Raffi races to track a catastrophic weapon - and collides with a familiar ally.

"Disengage" was written by Christopher Monfette & Sean Tretta and directed by Doug Aarniokoski

After a look of yearning from Beverly Crusher, Picard realizes Jack is his son. In that moment, he is finally ready to accept reality. Up until that point, he was just trying to find a way out of this situation. He didn't want to deliver Jack to Vadic simply for the U.S.S. Titan to fly away unharmed. He was looking for a reason. Nothing immediately presented itself. The only reason why Picard makes that fateful choice is because Jack is his son. It's obvious to the people around him. Riker sees the similarities. However, Crusher is unconscious and receiving medical treatment. As such, she can neither confirm nor deny the importance of this relationship. Captain Shaw pulls up Starfleet's file on Jack. He is a criminal. He isn't worth endangering the lives of 500 crew members. Shaw was reluctant to take action when Jack, Picard and Riker were in danger. He was still ultimately convinced to do so. That simply put him in a trap where Vadic had complete control over the outcome. Escape was impossible. The crew has an hour to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, Vadic delights in taunting them about how vicious and calculated she'll be if she is forced to attack. She may be more than a bounty hunter willing to collect the prize on Jack's head. Right now, that's how she is presented. She has a ship armed with every weapon in the known galaxy. And then, she completely breaks the rules of physics to show off her might. The Titan can't compete with that. Picard still refuses to hand Jack over. He feels certain in his convictions. At least it didn't take an entire season to come to this massive realization. The second season focused on Picard's guilt from childhood. He was forever positioned as the son who couldn't save his mother. And now, the story shifts to present him as the father who had no influence on his son whatsoever. He insists that he knows Crusher. She would never engage in the behavior that is so common for Jack. And yet, Jack insists that he and his mother are a team. She trained him. They fought back for righteous causes. Picard doesn't believe people can change. Instead, they reveal more of their true selves. Picard receives a glimpse into that world. The connection is still present between him and Crusher even though they haven't seen each other in twenty years. He was the only person she could trust. Everyone is still trapped in this situation. They choose to make a run for it hoping limited visibility will help avoid detection. They don't have the time to actually delve into the complexities of these dynamics and the choices they make. They simply trust their instincts. They are flying outside of Federation space. The typical rules of engagement no longer apply because Vadic has her own objective and the power to do whatever she wants. This world is always expanding. Plenty of Starfleet crews have faced this dilemma before. Now, it's more personal because it focuses on what the next generation means for these iconic characters.

Meanwhile, Raffi is desperate to prove that Starfleet's theory on the recent attack is wrong. She couldn't save hundreds of lives in time. She had all the clues. She simply couldn't assemble them and warn the people on the ground. She's told to disengage. She should no longer be investigating this conspiracy. A reason more than likely exists for why Starfleet believes this intelligence. It's destructive for her to go rogue believing she knows better. Starfleet hasn't given Raffi a reason to trust them. Her relationship with her handler is so impersonal. It's just words on a screen with no emotion. She begs for the truth. She's flailing around essentially ruining every relationship she has left. She has always chosen the life of adventure above all else. That was dangerous when she was in the throes of addiction. She believes she has overcome those vices. She's level-headed and focused. When she's tested, she's still willing to break every rule to get the information she so desperately craves. It leaves her vulnerable and in need of saving. That allows the show to produce another big moment with the grand return of a beloved character. Worf is the mysterious warrior who storms into the room and easily kills the goons ready to execute Raffi. That moment reveals how the Next Generation cast is the basis for the many plot developments currently happening. They are more dependable than the other characters who are struggling with their issues. In fact, it's easier to live in that bliss not having to worry about offering complexity. That burden can instead be given to Picard, Seven and Raffi. They are the ones with series-long journeys on this particular show. Right now, the Next Generation cast pops up to fuel several exciting cameos. They aren't the ones driving the story forward. It's all in relation to the characters this show has always focused on. It's a keen distinction. One that still resonates because Picard is at the center of it all. This isn't returning to the storytelling of the former show. It's still designed around a season-long mystery. Picard and Crusher should probably sit down and talk at some point. Right now, they are distracted by the action. That provides the excitement the audience so desperately needs. That allows the show to essentially cover up its various misgivings that reveal how thinly-veiled all of these characters currently are. It works because the season is still in the early going. The mystery is just meant to pique the interest of the viewer. Actually delivering on the promise is what's ultimately needed. This show has never prevailed with that. So, it's mostly enjoyable to keep watching because of the returning faces as well as the excitement that comes from Amanda Plummer's casting as Vadic.