Amazon UK TV review: Star Trek: Picard: Season 1, Episode 6 (The Impossible Box)
Chris Bryant | On 02, Mar 2020
Picard’s sixth episode sets about putting the final dominoes in place and in the final 10 minutes begins toppling them. A somewhat functional episode, it still manages to keep the viewers’ attention with story, struggles, and a warming guest appearance from Hugh the Borg – a former project and friend of Jean-Luc’s that some may recall from The Next Generation.
With their destination set for The Artefact, Picard must confront his own tormented past as a member of the Borg Collective; and with Seven of Nine off probably doing amazing mercenary-type things, it falls to Hugh to comfort and distract him from his pain.
Amid all the gritted-teeth reminiscing, Picard is attempting a rescue mission. Having located Soji, he must get to her before Narek finds his prize – the bio-android base. The highlight of the episode is Narek searching Soji’s dreams for answers via a kind of kinaesthetic Romulan hypnotherapy. Harry Treadaway’s secrecy-bound antagonist finally gets a chance to shine, wielding his emotional compromises and titular puzzles with mastery and the unpredictability that could only come from being a secret agent for a secret order for an infamously secretive race.
Isa Briones’ contribution is one that mirrors Picard’s pain – forcing herself through dream-like memories (or memory-like dreams?) in order to find answers. It’s a brutal joyride through her reality, and is presented in an arrestingly intriguing fashion.
Outside of android therapy, the episode follows the series’ notable over-reliance on technology. Much of the expositional dialogue is spent introducing one deus-ex machina after the next, when the nostalgic weight of the characters and the thrill of the setting eclipse any need for explanation, particularly in a world rife with technological marvel.
The writing also takes an awkward turn early in the episode, thrusting Santiago Cabrera’s uncaring Captain and Allison Pill’s shy scientist together in a romantic match that seemingly has no adherence to either’s characterisation. It’s a striking scene, but feels far too manufactured to truly endorse, even if the liaison was intended as suspicious – considering Agnes Jurati’s recent murderous turn.
Overall, the episode opens on shaky ground, but by the time Picard and Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco) begin torturously exploring the maze-like Cube, and Narek talks Soji through her dreamscape, any faux pas is long forgotten; the visual excellence and heart-pounding plot-progression will capture even the most sceptical of fans.
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)
– Thank God (or Q, or Kahless, or whoever you believe in) that Picard has finally caught up with Soji. The inevitability of their union meant the first six episodes felt like preamble to a more unpredictable adventure.
– That adventure may just be seeking Soji’s home world, or base. With Narek and co. a step ahead in finding such a planet, the mismatched (and apparently, often drunk) crew have their work cut out for them if they want to find out why Synthetic life was outlawed.
– Will we see Hugh and Elnor again? Facing down a multitude of attackers, Elnor seems confident, and his loss would seem premature. However, so far Elnor’s role has been to unsubtly coax emotions out of those around him, and Evan Evagora has been unavoidably flat and somewhat irksome as the samurai-esque Romulan bound to Picard’s cause.