Season 2, Episode 5: ‘Fly Me to the Moon’
OK, kids: The word of the day in this week’s “Picard” is Ancestor.
The newly discovered lineages of some very famous “Trek” characters are more common in the plot as this season progresses, which isn’t much different from what happened last season. This has been an ongoing theme of the show – an in-depth exploration of how our histories, both personal and political, shape the world we live in.
The Watcher – who looks like Laris but isn’t? – reveals that Renée Picard, the ancestor of Jean-Luc, is about to take off for a groundbreaking spaceflight – the Europa mission – that indirectly leads to the first encounter with an alien organism and the Federation as we have come to know it . (Is it just me or is this pretty much the plot of “Star Trek: First Contact?” If so, you’d think Picard would cite his past experience by going back in time to deal with something similar? to go.) The Watcher is a Guardian of the Galaxy type, and a Supervisor at the same time, a reference to the original series episode, “Assignment: Earth”, another classic time travel tale.
Something else goes unmentioned: Picard had a young cousin, René, who dies in “Star Trek: Generations.” He is probably named after Renée.
Picard is told by The Watcher that she “watches” Renée, but is never seen. (A Milford Academy alum, it seems.) She’s also responsible for protecting the tapestry of the universe, but somehow doesn’t make contact with her or seemingly anyone else. (So what would you say you’re doing here?) She’s eerily tracking Renée’s therapy sessions, and it’s revealed her therapist is Q—with a German accent! (We’ve got some Watcher here. Looking so good at it and not realizing there’s something wrong with the Doctor.)
To be honest, it was a little off-putting to watch Picard and the crew conspire to control Renée’s fear so she can make the Europa flight. She really seems to be so anxious that it’s not safe for her to take off. So why is Q assumed to be wrong in telling her not to? How is Jean-Luc qualified to comment in any way on Renée’s mental health?
We meet another Soong played by Brent Spiner. Spiner is an actor with a limitless range – that he plays another ancestor of Data with a new twist is impressive. Here’s Dr. Soong a geneticist with a dying daughter. He conducts uncontrolled, illegal genetic experiments on soldiers in an attempt to save his daughter, who cannot tolerate sunlight. The daughter seems to be who Soji and Dahj are made after. This was a nice challenge to get Isa Briones back into the herd. It’s easy to imagine a world where Data finds an old Soong to model his daughters on.
(Side note: The Soong appears to be the father of Arik Soong, whom we meet in “Star Trek: Enterprise.” If this episode is any indication, generations of problematic genetic engineering by Soongs will begin.)
But what is the purpose of Q? This has been a lingering question all season. Here he seeks out this Soong to present him a cure for his daughter. In return, he wants Soong to help him get rid of Picard. This seems like a strange approach. Even though Q’s powers seem limited, he’s still strong enough to change entire timelines. So logically he shouldn’t need a human like Soong to achieve his goals unless they are completely unexpected. The Watcher himself brings this up and Picard has no answer.
Here’s a thought: What if the 2024 event that changes the timeline isn’t Renée’s flight, but rather Q giving this Soong a genetic cure that didn’t exist before?
We also check in to Operation Rescue Rios, where Rios is in a detention van waiting to be rescued by Seven and Raffi. Seven comments: “If we beam him out in front of a dozen eyewitnesses, who knows what effect teleportation could have on the 21st century?”
Raffi’s stunned response was the same as mine: “Time travel rules?!”
Time travel episodes in “Trek” always involve a character arbitrarily moralizing about the effects on the timeline. But such concerns feel a little strange to the seven we got to know in “Picard.” She is a riotous bounty hunter type. Raffi is the Starfleet officer – she is the one who has to take care of the temporary first directive, a real Starfleet policy. (Frankly, by just transporting to the 21st century, they changed the timeline. And Raffi already recklessly fired a phaser in the last episode, so that horse got out of the barn.)
Finally, Seven pushes a button on a tricorder that brings the bus carrying Rios to a stop. Somehow this doesn’t violate Seven’s standards for influencing the 21st century, but let’s move on. Rios has been rescued and our brief look at the inhumane immigration system has come to an end.
It’s still unclear what exactly the Borg Queen’s plan is, though it appears that Jurati will be hired as a partner, similar to what she tried to do with Data in “First Contact.” Like Q, the Queen is totally unpredictable, meaning Picard is fighting on multiple fronts. All we know is that she wants to resurrect the Borg as a force. The revelation at the end that Jurati is a bit assimilated was a solid blow to close out the week.
This season has spent a lot more time in 2024 than you might expect, giving the show less of a science fiction feel. Yet there is enough material and enough quality performances to keep the season interesting.