Season 2, Episode 6: ‘Two for One’
Let’s start with the main “Picard” news of the week: the show will bring in most of the original “Next Generation” cast next season. This is incredible, exciting news! It’s always nice to look forward to more content with your favorite show.
That is, until you consider that most outings after the “Next Generation” for the crew have not been well received by the public. Of the four films the cast was involved in, only “First Contact” was considered a hit. But it remains exciting. We haven’t received any real update on what these characters have been up to since “Nemesis,” and I wonder if next season’s reunion fun will also rekindle the romance between Picard and Dr. Crusher will include.
Let’s put that and any further speculation on the table for now, though, as we have to talk about something much less exciting: the current season, which seems to be off the rails. This episode was the shortest of Season 2 to date, 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 will give “Picard” so much: they are willing to break convention. But some choices seem shortsighted, and this week a choice the writers made last season came back to bite them.
The episode’s biggest subplot is that the Borg Queen implants her consciousness (or something) into Jurati. It is unclear why the Queen is so fascinated by Jurati. She seems eager to make Jurati a confident person; to bring her out of her shell. It’s a noble goal, but the Borg Queen who cares so much about a person is not up to what we know about the Borg. Even the Queen’s fascination with Data in “First Contact” can be explained by Data locking out the main computer and the Borg needing access to those codes.
Regardless, Jurati continues to put herself in positions where she needs the Queen to do some super-techy stuff to save the crew. This allows the Queen to push Jurati to live her best life, including kissing her passionately Rios in public. (Side note: It feels like the show is heading towards Rios and wanting to stay in the 21st century to be with the doctor who treated him when they arrived in this century.)
There is also the constant presence of the Watcher, who tells Jean-Luc that she has never spoken to or communicated with Renée thanks to some sort of Watchers ‘code’. This again raises the question of what the Watcher actually does, or why the public should care about her presence. (The Watcher says this is the best way to keep Renée safe. Don’t ask why. Just go with it.) If anything, spying on Renée — reading her text messages, watching her therapy sessions – its a very unsympathetic character.
Renée doesn’t seem ready for this mission, but Picard and his crew want her to go through with it, based on what they assume will save their original timeline. (The later conversation between Renée and Picard comes across as tone-deaf and manipulative rather than a pep talk to get Renée on the run.)
Adam Soong blames Picard and has him kicked out of the event. A wealthy benefactor to the Europa mission, Soong has enough juice to whisper to someone and have Picard removed. Later in the episode, Soong’s daughter discovers a lot of headlines that call her father a “mad scientist” known for illegal genetic experiments. So why does Soong have so much influence on an event like this? Why would money of such a toxic figure be accepted by the institution behind the launch? (It’s unclear if this is a private expedition or something NASA is funding.)
Still, Picard must be rescued from Soong.
This leads to one of the more mind-boggling moments in “Star Trek” history, which is saying a lot. The queen makes sure the lights go out and Jurati begins to sing. No, really: sing. She sings Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night” and the band joins in, as if this was all just part of the set list. (Alison Pill has a great voice!) The correct response from the people around Jurati would be to have her escorted outside because she was causing a nuisance. Instead, the band says, “OK, I think we’ve got a vocalist now. Thank goodness we know Pat Benatar’s song in this exact key, just in case something like that happens!”
Jurati bows with the Borg Queen and talks to herself all the time. None of this seems strange to anyone in the audience!
Not content with kicking him out of the event, Soong decides to hit Picard with his car. Here’s where some of the uneven writing undermines the plot: The show tries to build suspense by suggesting Picard’s life is in danger, but we know from last season that isn’t 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 bleeding anyway? When the Doctor examines Picard later, she should be wondering why the human she’s examining looks like a machine 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-optical interceptor to get inside Picard’s mind and rescue him from the coma. (Here’s another idea: You could just fix Picard later. Because he’s a machine.)
The episode ends with Jurati running away from the event, apparently now completely possessed by the Borg Queen. Maybe she was on her way to do karaoke.