The following contains Star Trek: Picard spoilers
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 9
Well, the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is a thing that we have all now watched. Plagued by many of the same problems that have repeatedly cropped up throughout the rest of the season—poor pacing, ill-timed flashbacks, and a bizarre disregard for the basic rules of time travel—”Hide and Seek” is an hour that has plenty of action, but a deeply messy and often pointless plot, as Picard and friends face off against the Borg Queen, a bunch of random paramilitary types she’s assimilated, and Adam Soong, who is also there for some reason.
If you were hoping this episode had any more answers about Q, his apparent impending death, or why he chose to set Picard the test that has ultimately led to this mess of a story we are all watching, you are out of luck, and by the time this hour is over it seems glaringly obvious that the crew has botched the timeline so thoroughly that whatever future they go back to isn’t going to look much like the one they left. Which, given that most of them couldn’t manage to make even the smallest effort to preserve that future in the first place, is probably what they deserve. (Sorry Elnor, I guess.)
The Borg Queen wants to steal the La Sirena along with Agnes Jurati’s body to give herself and her people a 400-year head start on avoiding their wholesale slaughter by the time the Confederation of Planet’s love of genocide begins to push out into the galaxy. But the much-ballyhooed battle for the ship is almost laughably simple, as Borg Jurati takes it over almost immediately and sends her nameless minions out to shoot at its former crew.
This all results in a race through the ruins of Chateau Picard, which is an idea that absolutely feels like it should be incredibly compelling on paper, but one that in reality can’t overcome the fact that this season simply does not seem to know how to tell its whatever its larger story about Picard’s inner demons is in a compelling way. Every time it seems as though something exciting is about to happen, the moment is undercut by another poorly timed flashback about his childhood, and as much as it pains me to admit this, at this point I no longer feel confident that this emotional narrative is really going anywhere worthwhile.
Look, am I interested in digging into Jean-Luc’s past? Aways! Do I wish that the show had been clearer about how these childhood experiences still inform the man he is today in combination with everything he went through on Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond? Yes! And would I love for literally anyone to tell me why there’s been no sign of Picard’s brother in any of this? Please! But there is a time and place for those sorts of conversations, and stopping dead to have lengthy explorations of repressed childhood trauma while you’re essentially running for your life is…not it?
Every time Tallin and Picard casually stop to observe the various rooms that will eventually hold such life-altering moments for him as though people trying to kill them are not on their heels, it basically brings the rest of the episode’s story to a screeching halt. (And makes the stakes feel laughably thin.) As tragic as the revelation is that young Picard found his mother’s body after her suicide and that he blames himself for giving her the freedom to carry out her plan, I just can’t understand why right now is the appropriate moment for the show to tell this story or how we’re meant to see it as part of the season’s larger narrative. What are we, as viewers, supposed to be learning from this? Is this what Q rewrote reality to force Picard to face? Why? (Also: Picard has got to be pushing 100 by now. Are we seriously meant to believe that he’s never thought about any of this stuff over that long a lifetime?)
Anyway, as someone who likes Agnes, it was fun to watch her mentally battle the Borg Queen after seemingly having so little control of their shared body last week, and her creation of an Elnor battle hologram was a rather inspired way of actually giving Evan Evagora something to do. I’m not sure that I fully buy her impassioned speech about essentially being the same as the Borg Queen just because they’re both beings that are lonely, but her bizarre connection to this creature is one of the few things about this season that has actually worked for me, so I’m willing to go with it.
If this is the last we see of Allison Pill’s Agnes Jurati, it’s a worthy send-off for her character as she basically merges with the Borg Queen to save her friends and centuries of future victims of assimilation. (Maybe? I’m not super clear on that last point. How else do the Borg grow as a collective if not through essentially absorbing other cultures and species? Is the process somehow better or more ethical if they’re being really nice about it? Who can say!) But, I suspect we’ll see Jurati at least one more time, when it’s inevitably revealed that she is the cloaked and hooded Borg Queen from the season’s first episode, trying to guide her new people to the Federation and a different kind of life.
Seven gets her Borg implants back as the cost for the Jurati Queen saving her life, and Jeri Ryan’s face looks so devastated about it, that I’m annoyed all over again that Picard Season 2 has done so little by way of exploring what it’s been like for her to be fully human again for the first time since she was a child. It’s a thing that has been mentioned in an offhanded way a few times, but since Seven hasn’t really had much of what you might call an arc this season, it’s just yet another example of how Picard Season 2 has counted on viewers to do the emotional heavy lifting required to give these moments any kind of real meaning. (See also: Raffi’s reunion with Hologram Elnor and Rios’s entire relationship with Dr. Teresa.)
And with the La Sirena now gone and just one episode to go, it feels almost impossible that Picard will manage to tie up most of Season 2’s loose ends in a satisfying way. The suddenly manufactured “two Renees” mystery (which maybe would have been something worth introducing, say, two episodes ago!) and the fact that our friends suddenly have no way to get back to their own time would be problems enough for the finale to solve on their own. But there are so many dangling plot threads still out there—-How does poor Kore fit into the Soong family legacy of genetic and cybernetic experimentation? How much have the activities of the former La Sirena crew changed the future? What about the Q of it all? The heavily hinted Picard and Laris romance? —that it seems impossible for a single episode to ever address them all.
More importantly, what does a satisfying ending even look like for this season? Perhaps the thing that’s most disappointing is that at this point, I honestly have no idea.