Thursday, March 9, 2023

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard and Jack Seek to Know Each Other While the Titan Sinks Into the Nebula in 'No Win Scenario'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 3.04 "No Win Scenario"

With time running out, Picard, Riker and crew must confront the sins of their past and heal fresh wounds, while the Titan, dead in the water, drifts helplessly toward certain destruction within a mysterious space anomaly.

"No Win Scenario" was written by Terry Matalas & Sean Tretta and directed by Jonathan Frakes

The U.S.S. Titan is dead in the water. The ship is flying deeper into the Nebula. It has a dwindling power supply. The Shrike is no longer pursuing it because the situation has grown so dangerous. It's a volatile situation that ends in certain death. It's time for everyone aboard to get their affairs in order. Of course, this isn't the end for the characters. They find a way to survive. In fact, it's quite beautiful because it balances the fear of death with the wonder of life. It was noted previously how this Nebula has a biological component. That's what increased the threat. That metaphor continues as Crusher realizes the energy blasts are occurring at the same interval. Because she makes that realization, a plan is created to ride the wave to freedom. That energy is being transformed. This Nebula produces a miracle of the galaxy that has never been experienced before. It was wise for every Starfleet crew to avoid it in the past. The Titan had to rely on the mystery to evade the Shrike for as long as possible. Vadic was determined to rip them apart. She has the firepower to destroy everything. And yet, she too is just following orders. She is the immediate antagonist Picard and company have to contend with. She seeks to capture Jack alive. That's the whole reason why the Changeling saboteur aboard the Titan doesn't seek to destroy the entire ship. When the time comes, it wants to power the ship enough to get out of this precarious situation without being able to activate the warp drive once more. Life is still precious and must be maintained. That's valuable above all else. It's endangered because of the specifics of this environment. Picard and Riker argue because they know each other better than they are willing to admit. Riker has grown cold and distant because he's depressed over the futility of life. He sees no reason to believe in something beyond death. That makes the dark isolation of his son's death hit much harder than any previous dire situation he has been in. In all of this cases, he had the trust and determination of the crew. They could prevail because they had the skills to find a solution. Death has no answers. It's isolating and brutal. His family has suffered as a result. He has pushed them away. That's what makes him so determined to get Picard to spend time with his son. Picard largely wants to know why Jack chose not to know him. It doesn't take Jack offering an explanation for that clarity to come. Picard is only newly able to accept the beauty and wonder of having a family outside of Starfleet. He has placed his trust in this organization for so long. He didn't need anything else. And yet, that was just a convenient story he told himself to hide from the suffering he was enduring internally.

All of this works because the storytelling is trapped in one specific area. Sure, it breaks away at one point for Vadic to receive orders for what to do next. That apparently needed to happen before the Shrike was suddenly seen again when the Titan was making its elaborate escape. It could have been just as powerful without it. That confrontation shows how Riker has learned and adapted to the enemy he's facing. Again, it requires the trust and determination of the crew. The ship is led by strangers. Those who serve all have to collectively believe in something greater. Picard offers that generous spirit. Jack accepts being alone because that's all he's ever had. He's made a difference. He learned that it wasn't worth trusting anyone else. And yet, he too has to take up that mantle from his father to navigate successfully out of the Nebula. The asteroids are just as dangerous as whatever transformation is happening in this space. The ship could easily be torn apart by something science already understands. The crew has the skills to navigate that. It relies on communication. Shaw details how his animosity towards Picard has nothing to do with questioning his decisions as captain of the Enterprise. Instead, it's the loss of life from a personal story where Picard's actions had ramifications throughout the galaxy. Shaw was chosen to survive. He became irritable as a result. He still has purpose. He can't sit on the sidelines and allow others to dictate the outcome of this adventure. He's required to step up and use his skills to save the crew. That includes Seven. He needs to respect her as she is. Her identity is meaningful and sacred. He has to see her as his trusted commander and not a potential Borg threat. It's hard to adapt to life as it changes. Shaw is forced to be enlightened and accepting very quickly. It's cathartic when he explains things. He inspires others to action. That's a key sign of good leadership. It forges trust. Seven knew how to identify the Changeling based on one conversation she had with La Forge. That was all it took. La Forge revealed her humanity. Seven appreciated that. As such, she could recognize when the story didn't line up. That's how trust is formed. It's all about people letting their guards down and letting others see their vulnerabilities. Picard has long recognized that he wouldn't have become a legendary Admiral without the support of his crew. He owes his fame to each of them. He's bought into that myth a little bit as well. It's humbling to see him cope with the past in the hopes of making a better future. He feels the personal urgency to save his son. That shapes his entire motivation now. He has that clarity. He'll need it to help Jack escape his personal torture. That's a daunting thought. One that places more emphasis on Jack as his own unique individual and not as the son of the famed Starfleet officer always being targeted in these conflicts. Everyone survives to fight another day. The trust is earned. The personal horrors still reside ready to strike at a moment's notice.