Season 2, Episode 6: “Two for One”
Let’s start with the most important The “Picard” news of the week: The show will bring in most of the original cast from “Next Generation” next season. This is amazing and exciting news! It’s always fun to look forward to more content involving your favorite show.
That is, until you consider that most of the post-“Next Generation” releases for the crew haven’t been well received by audiences. Of the four films involving the cast, only “First Contact” was considered a success. But it’s still exciting. We haven’t received a real update on what these characters have been up to since “Nemesis,” and I wonder if next season’s reunion fun will include rekindling the romance between Picard and Dr. Crusher.
Let’s leave that and all other speculation for now, though, because we have to talk about something much less exciting: the current season, which seems to be going off the rails. This episode was the shortest of Season 2 so far, lasting just over half an hour. It’s also the rare “Trek” episode that takes place almost entirely in one room and in real time.
I’ll give “Picard” this: they’re ready to break convention. But some of the choices seem shortsighted, and this week a choice the writers made last season came back to bite them.
The episode’s biggest subplot involves the Borg Queen implanting her consciousness (or something) into Jurati. It is unclear why the queen is so fascinated by Jurati. She seems determined to make Jurati a confident person; to bring her out of her shell. It’s a noble goal, but the Borg Queen caring so much about an individual seems out of place for what we know of the Borg. Even the Queen’s fascination with data in “First Contact” can be explained by the fact that data locks down the main computer and the Borg need access to those codes.
Regardless, Jurati continues to put herself in positions where she needs the Queen to do super-tech things in order to save the crew. This allows the Queen to push Jurati to live her best life, including having her kiss Rios passionately in public. (Side note: It feels like the series is heading towards Rios wanting to stay in the 21st century to be with the doctor who treated him when they arrived in this century.)
There’s also the continued presence of the Watcher, who tells Jean-Luc that she never spoke to Renee or interacted with her thanks to some sort of “code” from the Watchers. This again raises the question of what the Observer actually does or why the public is supposed to care about its presence. (The Observer says it’s the best way to protect Renee. Don’t ask why. Just go ahead.) In fact, the Observer’s spying on Renee – by reading her text messages, watching her therapy – makes him a very unsympathetic person. character.
Renee doesn’t seem ready for this mission, but Picard and his team are determined to see her through, based on what they assume to save their original timeline. (The subsequent conversation between Renée and Picard comes off as tone-deaf and manipulative rather than a pep talk to get Renée on the flight.)
Adam Soong blames Picard and has him kicked out of the event. Soong is a wealthy benefactor of the Europa mission and has enough juice to just whisper to someone and have Picard removed. Later in the episode, Soong’s daughter discovers a bunch of headlines calling her father a “mad scientist” known for illegal genetic experimentation. So why does Soong have so much influence at an event like this? Why would money from such a toxic character be accepted by the institution behind the launch? (It’s unclear if this is a private expedition or something NASA is funding.)
Even so, Picard must be saved from Soong.
This leads to one of the most confusing moments in “Star Trek” history, which is saying a lot. The Queen has the lights turned off and Jurati begins to sing. No, really: to sing. She belts Shadows of the Night by Pat Benatar and the band joins in, like it’s all part of the set list. (Alison Pill has an amazing voice!) The appropriate reaction from those around Jurati would be to have her escorted away for causing a disturbance. Instead, the band is like, “OK, I guess we have a singer now. Thank goodness we know Pat Benatar’s song in that exact key in case something like that happens!
Jurati bows to the Borg Queen and talks to herself all the time. None of this sounds strange to anyone in the audience!
Not content with having him kicked out of the event, Soong decides to run over Picard with his car. Here’s where some of the uneven writing undermines the plot: the show tries to build tension by implying that Picard’s life is in danger, but we know from last season that’s not the case. Picard is literally no longer human. He died last season and was brought back to life as a synthetic being. Why is he even bleeding? When the doctor examines Picard later, she should be wondering why this human she is examining looks like a machine on the inside! (Another question: how did the crew get Picard to the doctor’s office?)
The explanation seems to be that the Watcher will use something called a Neuro-Optic Interceptor to enter Picard’s mind and save him from a coma. (Here’s another idea: you could just fix Picard later. Because he’s a machine.)
The episode ends with Jurati walking away from the event, seemingly now fully possessed by the Borg Queen. Maybe she was on her way to karaoke.