We’re still setting up the chess pieces this week in Star Trek: Picard. We’ve got to get Guinan and Picard away from the FBI, find Queen Agnes of Borg before she assimilates all of 2024, help Kore pick up the pieces of her fractured reality, figure out why exactly Rios thinks he can break every aspect of the temporal prime directive and get away with it, and figure out what the heck is going on with Q and Dr. Soong. Let’s dig in with episode 2×08 of Star Trek: Picard, “Mercy.”
Let’s Break out of The X-Files, I Mean…
“Mercy” opens with a flashback to a young boy who has a chance meeting with Vulcans, then we cut to Picard and Guinan sitting in what looks like the X-Files storage/interrogation room. I’m a big X-Files fan, so the comparison is hard to ignore, not to mention the tired persistence of Mulder that Agent Wells gives off. There are a few things about this interchange that I think it’s important to note.
First, I am always happy to own it when I’m wrong. And I was wrong about Agent Wells being Lt. Ducane. That’s too bad though! That was a perfect opportunity to bring in another legacy character and it would have accompanied all the “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey” stuff we’ve been dealing with very well. Unless it’s very important for Wells to be Wells in the last 2 episodes of the season, then I don’t see why they couldn’t have done it.
Second, the flashback we get with Agent Wells as a young boy is interesting. I can’t be the only person who got “Carbon Creek” vibes from this, right? For the uninitiated, “Carbon Creek” is one of the best episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise where a Vulcan landing party is stranded and they are forced to hide among humans in 1957 while they wait for rescue. Either way, this isn’t “Carbon Creek,” but we’ve got a young boy who grew up to be a man who can’t forget something he shouldn’t have seen growing up.
Third, “All humans are stuck in the past” is a particularly poignant statement. Star Trek: Picard has been focusing on mental health this season, and Guinan nails it. First, think of our nostalgia-obsessed generation. Think of the irony of saying that line in a show that is a sequel to a series that many people will argue is the best Star Trek series (I love all Star Trek. Don’t @ me). But it hits differently here. Wells is trying to understand something unexplainable he experienced growing up. It seems in this scenario, helping him unpack his past will also allow Picard and the gang to correct this past. We’ll see what happens next week!
Jurati Gone Wild!
Queen Agnes of Borg is all about leaving a trail of destruction in her path. The failed connection with Red Beard Guy (his actual name in the credits), the row of car batteries, and now we’ve got her assimilating an entire SPECIAL OPS FORCE! This is bad. This is really bad. And to be frank, going into “Mercy,” I was pretty afraid that Agnes was gone. BUT, we see her pushing through and taking control back, even just for a moment, sparing Raffi’s life. As Seven says, “Mercy isn’t a Borg quality; it’s a Jurati quality.” Agnes is still in there, and we’re going to have a showdown between these two personalities soon.
There’s something interesting going on in this hunt for the Queen. When Seven describes what she would do if she were the Queen, she’s also describing her own state of loneliness, the feeling that she’ll never fit in with their society because she’s an Ex-B. When Seven calls Raffi on her own defense mechanisms, it takes her a minute, but she owns them. Regardless, they both fear the same thing–being alone, and being rejected. Seven fears rejection by society. Raffi fears rejection from anyone she’s close to, be that her son, her pseudo-son, or her partner. But we don’t have time for emotional realness right now; we’ve got to stop the Borg Queen.
Q is Dying
We’ve not been able to explain away or even make some sort of sense of Q’s behavior this season. We know he’s not able to snap, but it’s much more than that. Guinan’s figured it out via her El-Aurian empathic nature–Q is dying. A dying Q is a desperate Q. What is he trying to accomplish with all of this? We still don’t have a clear answer, but we do know that he’s still trying to get in Picard’s way, one way or another, thus him mobilizing Kore away from Soong, and him trying to get Soong to take out Picard.
Speaking of Kore, Q’s handed her a dose of whatever formula he gave Soong before. It’s labeled freedom, but am I the only person who finds it disturbing that it came in a vial the shape of a bullet? Q doesn’t do anything without reason and I doubt he does things without a price. I won’t be surprised if that bit of “freedom” that Kore has comes back to bite her.
Temporal Prime Directive? What Temporal Prime Directive?
Rios is still all about breaking the temporal prime directive. He’s replicating cake for Teresa and Ricardo and finally, we get that little shipper moment that we’ve seen coming from a mile away–a kiss. Catching up on my podcasts this week, I heard some interesting speculation on an episode of Mission Log Live that Rios might stay in 2024. He loves the food, and the real cigars, and is clearly smitten with Teresa. I don’t know about that because if that’s the case, how did he get back there in the first place?
There’s a lot of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimeyness going on with this and I really don’t know how this will all turn out. What’s surprising me more than anything is that we’ve not seen any kind of temporal crackdown. This happens plenty in other series. Why hasn’t this happened here? We’ll have to see if something becomes of it before the season’s end.
With only 2 episodes to go, I’m kind of surprised that there wasn’t more action in “Mercy.” In fact, just to be honest, I was a little bored. I can’t believe we’ve spent an entire episode just setting pieces up when there’s so little time to wrap things up. I feel like we could have added a few more minutes to previous episodes and have gotten here faster. I’m concerned that we may run out of time to do a good wrap on the season. Here’s hoping the last two episodes do a good job with wrapping.
What did you think of “Mercy”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Picard will air on April 28, 2022, on Paramount+.