Amazon UK TV review: Star Trek: Picard: Season 1, Episode 4
Chris Bryant | On 17, Feb 2020
Picard’s journey for truth continues this episode with an adventurous detour that manages to capture exactly what’s excellent about Star Trek: Picard, and leaves the frustrating mysteries in Episode 3. Opting to visit a colony he’d previously saved, Picard is forced to confront his past failures while Soji begins to ask Narek some difficult questions.
Allowing Sir Patrick Stewart a little more room to inhabit the more bitter, betrayed Picard that made the first episode so different, Absolute Candor takes the audience to Vashti – a small Romulan community that Jean-Luc and Raffi managed to save from the supernova. Among them, a convent of warriors who speak their minds – alien even within Romulan life. Attempting to convince them to fight for his lost cause, the audience is rewarded with an episode of sobering reflection from Picard, as he spends his time looking into the past, rather than unravelling the future.
Written by sci-fi master Michael Chabon, and directed by Star Trek legend Jonathan Frakes, Episode 4 is a collaboration that ensures the emotional attachment to Jean-Luc is the main event. Worlds are introduced and alliances made, but the lasting feeling is of a more pained Captain being forced to revisit his greatest failure and not a new story of his chasing a new mystery. It’s brilliant television on all fronts, sure to satisfy those wondering where the conspiracy leads next and those tuning in to see Stewart inhabit this legendary character once more.
Even outside of Picard’s pained pleas, Absolute Candor has emotional intelligence to spare. Soji begins to question Narek on his rank and reason aboard the Borg Cube. After three episodes of his scheming, she questions his loyalty and goals. It also gives a rewarding amount of screentime to Harry Treadaway, who has been battling against somewhat two-dimensional scripting to bring Narek’s duality to life.
Overall, a triumph of character-focused storytelling: Chabon, Frakes, and Stewart have a chemistry that keeps the plot moving forward through character rather than clues. It’s the first truly impactful episode of Amazon’s Star Trek series, putting empathy towards Picard front-and-centre, and delivering something that really does engage.
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)
– Picard’s unique relationship with Elnor will hopefully continue to yield some emotional results. As cool as it is having the ultimate warrior on-board seeking out unwinnable fights, Elnor is of much more use as an anchor for Picard’s warmth and regret towards his people.
– While Treadaway and Briones (Soji) have more depth this week, the same can’t be said of Peyton List’s Narissa. So far, Narek’s sister-boss turns up for one scene each episode to scold, doubt, and put pressure on him. If List’s past work is anything to go by, she can handle much more.
– Santiago Cabrera’s Chris Rios introduces another hologram into his team. Having already met his Hospitality counterpart, the new member arrives during some exciting evasive flying, solely speaks Spanish, is heavily tattooed, and appears to be more annoyed about being woken up than being in mortal danger. Give him a spin-off immediately.
– Concluding the episode, the audience is treated to an expected cameo, that loses none of its impact: Seven of Nine, a former Borg drone and Starfleet officer. Jeri Ryan has previously stated in interviews that Seven is a little more human now, having lived on Earth the past 18 years. The possible addition of Elnor and Seven to Picard’s crew of misfits is exciting in itself – their varied experiences and skillsets are sure to get them into, and out of, some tight corners.