Star Trek: Picard launched us into Freecloud for episode 5, Stardust City Rag. Honestly? I had a lot of fun with this one. Let’s look at why.
Leverage. In Space.
That’s what I’m referring to the brunt of this episode as. I’m a big fan of Leverage – and not just for the absolutely yummy Christian Kane – and the way this played out reminded me of it a lot in principal. You see, Bruce Maddox had been kidnapped by Bjayzl, a woman known for extracting parts from ex-Borg for profit. It’s not a nice process either, as we saw in the opening scenes (featuring Icheb of Star Trek: Voyage origin).
Bjayzl has been on the Rangers’ wanted list for a while too, which happens to be the organization that Seven of Nine is working for. So, she’s willing to play a part in the rescue to get her hands on her. And that involves some cosplay.
The crew of La Sirena head down to the surface in disguise, complete with them absolutely hamming it up in their roles. There, Rios proposes a trade with Bjayzl’s bodyguard, Mr. Vup. He’s a species called a Beta Annari, a reptilian who can smell a lie. And what you had for dinner. And who you last had sex with. If those last two aren’t the same thing. Things go well, until it’s revealed that Seven had her own agenda.
Seven worked with Bjayzl before, not knowing what she did. She unintentionally led her to Icheb. Now, she wants vengeance. Things get really tense, and Rios talks her down. The crew escape and the ruse is over. Sort of.
Honestly, this was a lot of fun. The plan made sense, and though the acting was intentionally over the top, it did just add to the fun. With the lingering darkness of the series so far, that’s so important. It needs to balance it out to achieve that TNG feel for me. While I’d like the general feel to lean a little closer to the serious, this was still decent.
Characters And Roles
We got to see the cast create some really memorable moments here. I want to start with Elnor for that. With the complete lack of lies in his nature, he was basically a fish out of water here. His little comments about lies and pretending were so wonderfully timed. I loved how he fit the comedy relief role this week.
Meanwhile, Jurati got to reveal herself as more than we thought too. She also had some comic relief moments, such as when she had to punch the boxing hologram, but mostly played her role as nervous about using the transporter tech. This came across mostly as her worry that she’d screw up and doom them all. In the end though, we learned that her previous meeting with Starfleet obviously had an effect on her. Once Picard has learned what he needed form Maddox, Jurati spoke with the Doctor on her own. Once she realized that her input was irreplaceable when it came to Dahj and Soji’s creation, she said it was one more thing she had to atone for. And she killed Maddox, all the while crying that she wished they hadn’t shown her what they did.
Jurati is absolutely working for Starfleet it seems. At the same time though, she’s growing a really genuine connection with Rios, which is actually really sweet and fun. There’s going to be some soul searching to come I think. It does put her in a position to be a really complex character though, which is excellent.
Raffi it turns out is a mother. She went to Freecloud to hunt down her son, who left – with his father it seems – when her insistence that the attacks on Mars were not down to the synths. Her theories about the Federation and the Conclave of 8 drove her family away. And now that they’ve reunited? He wants nothing to do with her. She ends up returning to the ship. Her situation sucks, but I am glad she’s going to be sticking with the crew. Her link with Picard is a good grounding for him and provides him an instant ally.
Finally, we have Picard and Seven. In a way, they’re two sides of the same coin, both having been Borg and neither feeling like they ever truly recovered their full humanity. It’s Seven that spells out the difference between them though. Before executing Bjayzl, she says that Picard still thinks there’s a place in the galaxy for mercy. She didn’t want to disillusion him, as someone out there still has to have hope.”
This is basically showing Picard as the optimist, seeking to find the good that still exists out there. Seven though is a cold realist, blinded to the hope that exists, and stuck in the cycle of seeing -and acting with – the darkness she’s seen. I hope she comes back because they’re a good pairing and play off each other well.
I really enjoyed this, more so than last week’s episode. The silliness of the rescue provided a good mix of humour and character building, and the serious scenes set up the layers of ruses that are running throughout the series. When Maddox described it as ‘lies upon lies’, that’s a good summary of the story overall, I think. Everyone has reasons to do what they’re doing, and it would seem that many have hidden agendas too. Discerning the truth of what is happening may well prove to be the most fun part.
So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Are you watching Picard’s solo series? Did you enjoy this episode? Let me know in the comments below.
Previous Episode Reviews
- Star Trek: Picard – Episode One
- Star Trek: Picard – Episode Two
- Star Trek: Picard – Episode Three
- Star Trek: Picard – Episode Four