Star Trek: Picard 1.06 The Impossible Box
"Every part of that guy that's not ego is rampaging id.".
One of the absolute delights of Star Trek: Picard is its ability to deconstruct the might Admiral Picard, his greatest strengths and his greatest flaws, while still holding great affection for him. His legacy in Starfleet is as great as his predecessor Kirk; as Raffi jokes, he continues to remain the face of the Federation even after his career has ended. And it remains an undeniable fact that Jean Luc Picard remains, as ever, the figurehead of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era. Could anyone else really have taken up the mantle of bringing back the era we all loved?
Picard remains a fascinating figure in Star Trek lore because of everything that shaped him in the series and movies. The legacy of the Borg are as much a part of Picard as the Romulans and I love how the Artifact acts as a fusion of both. As the former admiral and the crew of the La Sirena made it to the Borg cube this week, we saw how raw those old wounds were. Stewart delivered some fantastic moments this week as he confronted once again the horrors inflicted upon him way back in Star Trek: The Next Generation's The Best of Both Worlds. From that phenomenal pre-title shot of Picard overlaid on the image of Locutus (the cinematography in this series really is exceptional) to his conversation with Agnes, it seems time really isn't a healer when it comes to the Borg.
The arrival on the Borg cube was packed with some powerful drama . Flashes of the Borg, courtesy of Star Trek: First Contact, saw Picard as a haunted old man terrified of past spectres. The twist of the former Borg reaching out to stop him falling was a nice touch, opening him up to a world where the former drones really could be rehabilitated, After all, if he could continue his as Captain of the Enterprise even after Wold 35f, why couldn't others find a way back to their individual lives? Hugh represents that rehabilitation, a Borg turned member of the Federation now working to free other drones. The reunion between Picard and Hugh, one twenty four years in the making, that hug so wonderful to watch.
After dragging the narrative down, and being blessedly absent from last week's episode, the romance of Narek and Soji finally became essential viewing as his manipulation of her exposed his nefarious scheme. Given how quickly Dahj discovered the truth about her identity (admittedly having your boyfriend shot dead is one hell of a trigger), that fact that it has taken Soji this long has been a source of frustration in an otherwise strong series. Isa Brones gave her best performance since the pilot as she discovered that every childhood possessions and photographs were just 37 months old.
The trauma of her discovery played right into Narek's hands. "Do you feel like you are in control?" asks Narek, in a delicious moment of tragic irony. The scene where he tried to get her to confront her dreams through a Romulan mediation, all watched over by Narek's sister Narissa, offered plenty of surprises for Soji and the viewer, not least the location of a possible synth homeworld. Her manipulation Narkek's hands has been particularly cruel and we saw her faced with the truth in the most horrible way possible. Narek calmly telling her she wasn't real was nasty stuff; trying to kill her with his death cube was a real gut punch. I really felt for her in her betrayal. Activating her abilities to escape, we finally got the meeting with Picard that been promised since episode one. Hugh, Soji and Picard's escape to the Borg Queen chamber was thrilling stuff and the timely arrival of Elnor was lots of fun. The Romulan Legolas really is providing some great humour to the series.
The rest of the crew were a little side-lined this week. I'm not convinced by the hook of Captain Rios and Agnes. There wasn't much chemistry there (not that it has really stopped Narek and Soji) and I'm a little concerned for him after what she did to the last love of her life. Some brilliant take downs of Picard aside, Raffi was limited to wallowing in her grief following her bitter reunion with her son last week. I'm hoping we see her start to move beyond her enduring sense of rage and despair as we head towards the end of the season.
The Impossible Box certainly raised the stakes again in another dramatic episode that paid off on everything that has been built up so far. The team of Hugh and Picard to save Soji was superb, Narek's schemes came to fruition in the most brutal ways possible and there were some powerfully emotional moments as Picard found himself haunted by his assimilation and Soji's discovered her life was fake. The gateway was a nice Star Trek: Voyager call back to the Sikarians from way back in season one. I'm fairly certain that the trip through the portal is going to lead to an even bigger reunion next week...