Amazon UK TV review: Star Trek: Picard: Season 1, Episode 7 (Nepenthe)
Chris Bryant | On 08, Mar 2020
Following their dramatic escape from The Artefact, Picard and Soji find a much warmer welcome on the titular Nepenthe in Episode 7 of Star Trek: Picard – while Rafi, Rios, and Agnes try to outrun Narek, who always seems one step ahead.
Having rescued Soji from the Romulans, flying under the radar isn’t an option this episode, as Picard and co. burst back onto screens in a hail of evasive manoeuvres, single combat, and nostalgic climax. Remaining on The Cube, Elnor and Hugh face Narrissa’s vicious, direct way of doing things in a brutal escape that keeps your heart racing, even if it further confirms that Mad Men-alum Peyton List is playing a generic antagonist and nothing more.
Her more three-dimensional brother, Harry Treadaway’s Narek, lays low this week, his pursuit of the La Sirena all that matters. On the ship, however, Rios begins to suspect that Narek has an inside-man, and Agnes is seemingly overwhelmed by guilt at endangering the crew. The arc allows both to engage in some emotive dialogue, and Alison Pill’s ever-present pain dominates La Sirena’s portion of the episode, ensuring the tension doesn’t drop, even when the focus is elsewhere.
While the scattered groups fight to survive and reunite, Picard and Soji have made their way to one of the only places Picard knows is safe – and so sets up the focus of the episode, a glowing, note-perfect reunion between Jean-Luc, Deanna Troi and William Riker. The Enterprisers’ functionally give Picard a way to express his worries and problems about the mission, while Kestra Troi-Riker (an unsurprisingly adventurous and resourceful Lulu Wilson) gives Soji a chance to open up.
Michael Chabon’s writing once again not only serves a purpose through the balanced plot progression, but uses the nostalgia to immense effect as the life-and-death rescue missions fade away to allow Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart and their sincere chemistry to become the high point of the series so far.
Plot-wise, Nepenthe provides very little movement for the show, but emotionally, Chabon and director Douglas Aarniokoski serve up the exact cocktail of tear-jerking warmth, humour and organic friendship that fans have been waiting for since Picard was announced nearly a year ago.
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)
– While Elnor’s single-minded goodness doesn’t make for particularly exciting television, Hugh’s decades-long arc from mindless drone to self-sacrificing hero is a tough juxtaposition to face, as the episode is dominated by old friends hugging and joking together. Hugh represents a huge step for the Enterprise crew in the battle against The Borg and losing him after he finds salvation is a real blow.
– Agnes’ guilt surrounding Maddox’s death and her apparently pre-emptive betrayal of Picard forces her to take action to save Rios and Rafi, placing herself in a chemically induced coma to possibly dull the effects of her ingested tracking device. Whether Agnes will admit her existing deal with the more ruthless side of Starfleet remains to be seen – especially considering the short scene in which she is drafted by Commander Wu, she is given no real instructions, leaving us to wonder what her mission truly is.
– With Narrissa’s massacre aboard The Artefact seemingly above-board, it’s seems like all parties are past the point of stealth, and with the race to reach Soji’s nameless home planet now on, audiences are certainly ready for more of Star Trek: Picard’s emotionally driven action as the conspiracy is fully uncovered.