On the second season finale of Star Trek: Picard, Jean-Luc, Tallinn, Seven, Raffi and Rios moved quickly to stop Adam Soong from sabotaging the Europa Mission, and from creating the Confederation of Earth timeline. Let’s get into it:
1. Goodbye Tallinn
The episode swiftly resolves the Europa Mission story in its first act, with Tallinn disguising herself as Renee Picard to fool Soong into believing he poisoned her, while Seven, Raffi and Rios manage (in the nick of time) to destroy the drones he had programmed as a back-up plan. Tallinn dies in Picard’s arms, while Renee embarks on her historic mission de ella, ensuring the future will go back on course. I must admit, Tallinn had fooled me at first (I genuinely believed Renee had grown uncomfortable meeting this stranger who claimed to have been at her mother’s funeral), but I think the effort that went into that twist showed there wasn’t as much thought into what else was going on: wouldn’t the flight have had to be delayed because quarantine protocol was broken? Still, it was an appropriate end to Tallinn’s story of her, finally meeting, and dying to protect the woman she’d spent a lifetime watching out for.
After deleting her father’s files, Kore receives an invitation to meet… the man formerly known as Wesley Crusher (the one and only Wil Wheaton), almost three decades after leaving Starfleet to join the mysterious Traveler on a journey through time and space. Wesley, who strongly implies Tallinn also worked with the Traveler, invites Kore to join him in safeguarding history as well, and she accepts. My strong takeaway is this is a set-up for a potential spin-off, since Soong is the ancestor of Data’s ancestor, and who else would be the next ancestor but Kore? There’s certainly something afoot here, especially with the long close-up of Adam looking at a file for “Project Khan” that’s especially gratuitous for an Easter egg.
After Picard places back the skeleton key that he will one day use to open his mother’s bedroom, Q appears to congratulate him on accepting he cannot change the past, and for finally forgiving himself for indirectly causing her death — he comments that, unlike him, perhaps Jean-Luc will be able to find someone to be with him when he passes away. When Q decides to snap his fingers and return him, Seven and Raffi to their time, he discloses it will probably the last thing he ever does on this plane of existence. When Picard hugged him goodbye, I guffawed, not only because of how sentimental it made me, but also as I was shocked Jean-Luc would show so much affection towards someone who’s been such a pest over the years: I’ve heard the phrase “trauma bonding” a lot lately, but gosh that was unexpected.
4. Another Noble Sacrifice
Rios decides to stay in 2024 with Teresa and Ricardo, an incredibly noble decision: think about it, he’s sacrificing the perfect future of the Federation, with no disease, internal strife, or money, for our mediocre era? He must truly love Teresa to give up all that, and let her continue to help undocumented people in the 21st century; his sacrifice from him also gives Q the energy needed to resurrect Elnor, instead of just creating a back-up version with the future’s restoration. During the ending, Guinan informs Picard Ricardo became a brilliant scientist who helped use the organism Renee discovered to stop pollution and climate change; Teresa passed away from old age; and Rios died during a fight over medical supplies in Morocco. Well, we all have to go sometime, and at least it was under similarly honorable circumstances.
As should’ve come as no surprise to anyone who watched the previous episode, Picard realizes on returning to his own time that the new Borg Queen is Jurati. After he orders everyone to stand down, Jurati explains she needs the fleet’s help to stop an anomaly that’s shooting out Death Star levels of destructive energy, and Picard allows her to direct them into generating a huge deflector shield that transforms the anomaly into a transwarp conduit . Jurati then requests the Borg be given provisional membership in the Federation to safeguard the portal, and Picard gives Seven a field commission so it’ll be easier for Starfleet to negotiate with them. Wow: the Borg as members of the Federation? Now that, I did not see coming.
(Such a shame the Borg still look so pale and sickly though.)
6. Well, This is Strange
Jean-Luc meets with Laris in the conservatory, where she announces she’s planning to leave, but he (presumably) persuades her to stay. I assume from the final shot of them holding hands that they’ve decided to take the next big step in their relationship, which brings me to my point: how weird must it be for Laris to learn she had an identical ancestor, who died helping her time traveling employer preserve history, and that he now wants to be her boyfriend? For years, I read the “Captain America” comics not thinking it was weird Steve Rogers dated Peggy Carter and then her niece Sharon, until I saw the movies and realized, yes, it is odd — while there is a nice bit of kismet in how Laris’s ancestor saved Picard’s, he’s still essentially treating her as the same woman.
7. What a Weird Round Trip
I got on with Picard season two amiably enough after each week, but it always bothered me how, after the great potential season one set up — ancient machine entities, the philosophical implications of Picard’s new body, and more Romulan intrigue — that the writers seemingly settled for a rehash of The Voyage Home and First Contact (a movie whose theme is, incidentally, reused here). As a final Q story, I was let-down by the lack of screentime between Patrick Stewart and John de Lancie, and as a continuation of the first season, I was disappointed by how Jean-Luc’s surrogate children Elnor and Soji — the characters I most connected to — were completely sidelined, or written off. Then there was the reveal over Yvette Picard’s death of her, which Sir Stewart has quite candidly admitted was undermined by the production’s inability to show how her death of her affected the man we saw in The Next Generation.
Essentially, Picard season two was trying to do too much at once, and while I think it came together satisfyingly, I can’t help but wonder what season one showrunner Michael Chabon would’ve done, or how it might’ve been if the writers had held off on using the Borg for another season. It all felt like it was marking time, and ticking off a few boxes off the checklist (Q, Borg, the supporting cast who needed to be written out), before the rest of The Next Generation cast could return for season three. Well, at least season three should be a lot simpler, and the nostalgia should feel a lot more natural when it’s released.
As always, live long and prosper in the meantime my fellow Trekkies.