A Quiet Trip To Nepenthe
Following Doctor Who’s capitulation earlier this week, Picard’s run has seen a similar turbulent road over the past few months. While I’m not suggesting everything we’ve ever known about Star Trek has now changed or Picard is secretly an android, the series itself has dipped and peaked through its various episodes with little consistency as a whole. After last week’s dramatic dash to save Soji, we slow down again this week for a trip down memory lane as Picard visits some old friends and the final fight looms on the horizon.
After Soji’s dramatic rescue last time out, we begin episode 7 of Picard at the Daystrom Institute 3 weeks prior to this rescue as Agnes is visited by Commodore Oh who informs her she needs to accompany Picard when he travels up to the stars. As she touches Agnes’ face, she projects visions of what could be to pass. Oh gives her a blue tracker and tells her to chew it, which she reluctantly agrees to do.
Meanwhile, back in the present the crew find themselves scrambling on-board the ship while Lieutenant Rizzo takes control of the Borg Cube and holds Hugh up at gunpoint, demanding he tell her where Picard and Soji have gone. When she fails to get answers, she kills the workers, leaving Hugh to stand and watch. At the same time, Narek gets in a ship and hurries away in hot pursuit of Picard’s crew.
Picard and Soji touch down on Nepenthe where Picard immediately recognizes a child called Kestra and asks him to bring them to his parents. As he approaches the house, he comes face to face with Deanna Troi and Will Riker. Warm welcomes ensue, and after hugging they put the defenses up around the house and discuss the past, with Deanna showing him a picture of a smiling Picard from the Starship Enterprise holding a baby.
Out in space, Raffi and the others realize they’re being tailed and contemplate what to do next. Narek remains a safe enough distance away not to be spotted while Raffi takes Agnes away from the bridge after commenting on her erratic behaviour. Together, they sit and eat cake but as Raffi mentions Bruce Maddox, Agnes vomits on the floor.
Back on Nepenthe, Soji talks to Deanna about how she feels but as Picard arrives, she runs away. Deanna talks to him about Soji’s feelings and tries to make him understand what she’s going through. Soji informs the others about what happened on the Cube with Narek at dinner and, hesitant to reveal the truth, Soji eventually tells him she doesn’t trust him. Picard tries to get through to her though, telling her he’s on her side and this family set-up does go some way to change her mind.
Back on the Borg Cube, Hugh and Elnor work together to try and find a way to stop Rizzo but unfortunately it turns out she was listening the whole time and stops them in their tracks. Elnor stands his ground though and the two start fighting. With Elnor’s guard down, she stabs Hugh through the neck before teleporting away, allowing him to watch helplessly as Hugh dies right infront of him.
On-board the ship, Rios takes Agnes aside and discusses the possibility that Romulans are tracking them and suspects it’s Raffi, especially given her mysterious trip away from the group recently. Consumed by guilt, Agnes looks at him and whispers “It’s not Raffi”. Before she can reveal the truth however, he’s called back to the bridge. Meanwhile, Agnes sacrifices herself and slips into a coma.
Picard and Riker sit together and discuss Picard’s “condition” while admiring the tranquility of the lake before them. Soji awakens from her slumber to find Kestra drawing her and as the episode closes out, Soji and Picard leave this beautiful planet before beaming back up to the ship, leaving Riker and his family in peace.
Aside from character reunions and a couple of well-placed bites of drama, there really isn’t a whole lot going on this episode. The story itself has slowed, predictably, but the lack of plot development hurts the story. Beyond Hugh dying a soft death and the crew being tracked by Narek, there just isn’t a lot of substance here – especially for an episode clocking in at around 54 minutes. While I understand this was deliberate to allow us to get our breaths back and allow some humanity into Soji’s character – it’s also something that reinforces the stop/start nature of the pacing in this series.
Still, the preview for next week looks like we’ll be returning to the fast-paced action from before, and while the reunions this week were certainly a nostalgic blast from the past, it ultimately doesn’t change the topsy-turvy course Picard has been going.