“Ghosts In The Machine”
After the initial buzz from the opening episode, it’s here where Picard starts to piece its various puzzle blocks together and prepares for the journey ahead. The methodical pace returns this time too and with a much more deliberate feel to proceedings, there’s a good mystery building here that looks set to bubble up to a more thrilling portion of the series to come. It’s something that definitely suits Star Trek a lot more than the bombastic action in Discovery but whether die-hard Trekkies will take to this new style or not remains to be seen.
We begin 14 years ago with the synthetics on Mars. All appears well until something happens with one of the androids and it seemingly appears to have been hacked. It kills all of the humans in the control room before turning the gun on itself. Was it hacked? Did it go rogue? Clearly something happened but right now, those questions remain unanswered as we return to present day Earth.
Back at Picard’s vineyard, he checks the security footage from the moments of the explosion but finds nothing. However, he does learn about a secret police force and whispers of something stirring in the shadows. As Picard continues to investigate, he learns that a lot of the data surrounding Dahj on her computer has been wiped and deleted. As he keeps looking, he stumbles upon a break-through given the two sisters are identical and learns that there was a phone call coming from somewhere off-Earth. This may well be where Soji is and Picard senses this too.
On-board the Borg Cube (which they’ve now named “The Artifact”), a good dose of exposition fills us in on the background surrounding this ship. Soji sleeps with her Romulan colleague Narek before getting back to work. While we don’t see an awful lot of them through the middle portion of the 45 minutes, there’s certainly something shady about Narek that’s exposed later in the episode.
Back on Earth though, Picard meets with Doctor Benayoun and after sharing some stories of old times, he encourages his friend to make him fit for action and available for Starfleet. After an ominous warning, Picard arrives back at HQ with the familiar theme song playing for a good burst of nostalgia. He sits and talks to Admiral Kirsten, requesting a temporary reinstatement and a small crew to go and investigate the signal. Incredulous, she throws his request back in his face, especially after his comments about Starfleet on-air. As he mentions the Romulans and their plan on Earth, a disgusted Kirsten mentions the future of the species he was tasked with killing and didn’t, before being told to go home.
Using his contacts, Picard desperately tries to secure himself a ship, eventually flying over to a remote location and meeting up with Raffi Musiker.
The Admiral meanwhile, checks in with Commodore Oh to see if there’s any semblance of truth to Picard’s stories. As she sets to work putting her plan into motion, she tasks Lieutenant Narissa Rizzo with making sure it’s successful. The woman teleports up to The Artifact and speaks to Narek about his plan for utilizing the cube. Something is brewing in the shadows and these two appear to be pulling the strings. Before we can find out what however, the episode ends.
Could they be responsible for the androids going rogue 15 years prior? Are they trying to use the Borg Cube to destroy every other race other than the Romulans as an act of genocide and revenge? Big questions hang over this one but for now though, these remain unanswered. The slow pace is a really welcome sign too and much like Star Trek of old, a lot of the interest and intrigue here comes from the political power-struggles and talking rather than the action. The moments involving Admiral Kirsten and Picard disagreeing about the Romulans is arguably the highlight of the entire episode and hopefully we see more of these sort of tense moments peppered throughout the season.
So far so good though and Picard is shaping up to be a decent entry to the Star Trek universe. Whether others will share the same optimism and hope however, remains to be seen.