Amazon UK TV review: Star Trek: Picard: Season 1, Episode 3
Chris Bryant | On 10, Feb 2020
In another tense outing for Jean-Luc and co, Picard begins Episode 3 by building his crew of mysterious misfits, while Soji begins to unravel the secrets of the former Borg.
This third chapter varies little from the format of the two that have preceded it. We are drip-fed information about the new world they find themselves in, piecing together glimpses of the present and past to understand exactly what menace our beloved Captain is facing.
Picard’s liaison with Michelle Hurd’s Raffi leads him to the rough but likeable Captain Chris Rios – a troubled former Federation Captain who retains his training but not his loyalties for Starfleet (sound familiar?), and who is often humorously betrayed by his own, far more polite, Emergency Hologram.
On the Borg Reclamation Project, Treadaway’s Narek gives little away continuing to surveil Soji, while keeping his sister at arm’s length. Their inclusion in the episode is more a reminder than a progression, with Isa Briones’ Soji doing the arc’s heavy-lifting; given the chance to interview some of the Romulan/Borg survivors, Soji raises eyebrows with her knowledge of their past lives, and has hers raised by Ramdha’s seemingly supernatural knowledge of future events. It’s one of the high points of the season so far – a subtle, well-crafted scene of Tarot-esque cards, offsetting camera angles, and increasing suspense on both sides.
The only action scene of the episode also serves as a major highlight, and offers a closer look at two characters who hold real interest in their motives and histories. Picard’s Romulan friends and advisors, Zhaban and Laris (Jamie McShane and Orla Brady, respectively), reveal a little about their former training when a black-ops team are sent after Jean-Luc. Having stashed weapons around his cabin, the two protect their friend ruthlessly, and their performances elevate the scene from standard action sequences to an adrenaline-inducing peak in an episode otherwise filled with whispers and secrets.
The episode may end with that long-awaited “Engage!” from the trailer, but it’s the only signal towards forward movement in the show. While the scene-by-scene events are intriguing, the lack of development on the whole is beginning to risk becoming frustrating. It may be the juxtaposition of a week-by-week release with such a dense and enveloping world, but one third of the way through this first season, the questions are increasing exponentially and the answers are nowhere to be seen.
Star Trek: Picard is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription. Episodes arrive every Friday, within 24 hours of their US debut.
Captain’s Log (Spoilers)
– Narek is terribly underused this week. His superior knowledge of what is going on limits his involvement, but his moody, knowing drawl leaves the episode filled with often-confused good guys.
– Former-Borg Romulans give away a further hint that they’ve had a glimpse into the future. Which, while fascinating, could be a little too reminiscent of Discovery’s second season, and the added complexities of the plot would further draw focus from some of the excellent new characters.
– Soji also ‘activates’ her bio-android nature when faced with a weapon, but her speed and agility are noticed yet not addressed, especially by her. Is she more aware of her biology than Dahj was?
– To reiterate, Zhaban and Laris are excellent and we should all dream of having friends like them.