We're now three episodes into Star Trek: Picard, and only now is one of Starfleet's greatest captains finally getting back to the final frontier. As with the first two episodes, "Remembrance" and "Maps and Legends," the third episode of the series struggles with pacing and reliance on info dumps--but at least things are starting to pick up as the show finally gets Jean-Luc Picard back where he belongs.
The last episode of Star Trek: Picard concerned Jean-Luc's continued investigation into what happened to Dahj (Isa Briones) and the people who were hunting her. In the third episode, "The End is the Beginning," the captain starts to put together a crew to track down Soji (also Briones), Dahj's sister, before the agents of the Romulan Zhat Vash can find her. Most of the episode has Picard (Patrick Stewart) convincing various people to help him out as he prepares to leave Earth, and honestly, the captain's return to space can't happen soon enough.
The upshot of "The End is the Beginning," despite Star Trek: Picard's slow-burn approach so far, is that it puts a lot of time into developing the other characters who seem like they'll be a major part of the show going forward. We get the backstory of the relationship between Picard and Raffi (Michelle Hurd), his former first officer on the USS Verity who lost her career because of Picard's resignation, and who harbors a lot of resentment because of it. We meet Rios (Santiago Cabrera), the pilot who'll carry Picard back to the Final Frontier, who has become a brooding loner because of some Starfleet tragedy in his past. We see the fresh-faced Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) as she realizes that she has a chance to continue her life's work by joining Picard's team. And we're re-introduced to Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco), the former Borg drone Picard and the Enterprise crew met during The Next Generation, who has a major role working with Soji on the Borg Cube known as the Artifact.
Up to now, Star Trek: Picard has done some solid work updating Picard's character with this new take on his story, but the first two episodes were a little thin on development of other characters. We know there's a Romulan conspiracy that's targeting Soji, but we have almost no information about the people involved or their motivations. And we know Soji is working with former Borg drones on the Artifact, but not exactly what she's trying to accomplish there. "The End is the Beginning" puts a lot more effort into adding to the cast beyond Picard himself, and that work in establishing other characters feels like it should start to pay off shortly.
The trouble is, we're still waiting. Episode 3 is yet another chapter that feels like it's putting all its effort into setting up the rest of the season's story arc, without a lot happening in the here and now. The bad guys continue to have menacing but mostly detail-free conversations with each other, while Picard and his allies continue to uncover spare tidbits about what they should be doing next. It's the same pacing problem that we've seen in the first two episodes of Picard, although Episode 3 is a little better about pushing characters into action--eventually.
The problems of the early episodes persist in Episode 3, however. A lengthy scene with Soji provides a little more context about what her job is on the Artifact: She's specifically attempting to work with Romulans who were freed from their Borg assimilation. The scene expends a lot of effort on more Trek technobabble, though, with Soji saying she's attempting to study how a "shared mythological framework" might help former Borg recover--whatever that means. The scene's real function is to add an element of dread to Soji's character as the Romulan former drones react to her as if she's some prophesied evil figure, which suggests deeper undertones as to why the Zhat Vash are after her--but the details remain extremely thin, and the scene itself is more confusing than edifying.
In fact, it all remains pretty slow. As an important part of Picard's history involving the Borg, Hugh is potentially a big addition to the ensemble, but it doesn't seem like the show has much of a plan for him at the moment. The captain's meeting with Rios sets up the pilot's personal angst, but we'll have to wait for it to come to fruition. Agnes is visited by Starfleet's Commodore Oh (Tamlyn Tomita), but any seeds that'll lead Picard and his team to the conclusion that she's on the wrong side are only just being planted. It seems Narek (Harry Treadaway) might be getting too close to Soji even as he tries to use her to find more androids, but we'll have to wait to see how it affects him. There's a lot going on in Picard, but none of it is happening right now. The show is all dramatic tension since we know much more about what's happening than most of its characters, and unfortunately, we're spending all of our time waiting for everyone else to catch up.
The good news is that the foundations are laid, the context is in place, the players are in position, and the captain has returned to the bridge. Things are about to start happening in Star Trek: Picard. Too bad we have to wait another week for them.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company