If last week’s installment was about checking in on some of the faces from Picard’s former crew, this week’s installment is about building his newest crew. After weeks of hints, we finally get some answers and payoffs about the past of Rios and a look at what made Agnes eliminate Bruce Maddox.
I just wish that this hadn’t felt quite so heavy-handed and coming out of what is little more than Picard talking to his new crew around this ship’s version of the conference table. (Certainly, we saw a lot of conferences during the TNG run and it was a time to have huge exposition dumps. But somehow those didn’t feel quite as obvious as this one did here).
So, it appears the Romulans are dead set against synthetic life forms emerging due to a thousands-of-years-old prophecy that warns about some type of Destroyer. And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that synthetic life forms don’t come to pass (though why they didn’t try harder to eliminate Data during the run of TNG doesn’t seem to add up much). They’re playing a long game by infiltrating Starfleet and planting agents in place if someone gets too close to creating synthetic life. (Again, how Noonian Soon survived as long as he did seems like a legitimate question).
So, Admiral Oh is part Romulan, part Vulcan and has no qualms about mind-melding and creating sleeper agents who will carry out her orders, whether they want to or not. At least to a certain point since see that Anges will kill Maddox but won’t kill Soji (unless it’s some kind of long game in place to get to the planet full of Sojis and eliminate them all at once). I do find it interesting that the Romulans are willing to sacrifice a lot of their people to the natural disaster of their sun expanding in order to eliminate the synthetics. How deep and far this hatred goes is something that could be explored in future seasons, assuming this storyline continues — or maybe moves over to Discovery as I’ve heard rumors might happen.
It’s interesting to see that you’ve got two characters making forced into roles they don’t want — Agnes as well as Seven of Nine. Seven returns and is forced into the role of the Borg queen after Narissa decides to take the Cube for herself and eliminate all the Borg on it. It was kind of chilling to see the sheer numbers of drones Narissa is willing to sacrifice because of her hatred of synthetic life and her commitment to whatever her part in this unfolding drama is. I can’t help but wonder if she wanted the Cube to more easily travel the trans-warp conduits that we see referenced in the episode.
Meanwhile, we see that Rios has a reason as well to be skittish — going back to one of his first assignments with the captain who was like a father figure to him. The issue of his captain being forced to kill the synthetic life forms and then taking his own life is interesting, but it does bring up some deeper questions about just who is connected to this conspiracy and how. We saw on Voyager that there was a directive to explore certain particles if they’re detected and that it overrode other mission concerns. I can’t help but wonder just which Starfleet captains have been programmed for this response — and if Picard wasn’t because of his contact and close proximity to Data. Or did he miss that day in training?
So, with two episodes left, we’ve got a lot on the table and hopefully some answers on the horizon.
Oh, and I did love the Easter egg from canon where Rios’ first captain knew Marta, Picard’s friend from the Academy that we met in “Tapestry.”