TL;DR – This episode starts with a deeply emotional moment, then goes into high farce, and then back again without missing a beat.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
There are moments in TV that you never knew you want right up until the moment they air and then you wonder why it is that you had not wished for that before. In today’s episode, we get that but also we get something I never wished to pass and it still pains me to think of it.
So to set the scene, we open in on the Seven Domes on the planet Vergessen in the Hypatia system … and well that is all I can really say without hitting spoilers so far it would make your head twist. Now we will be looking at the episode as a whole so you better believe that there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
There was this moment in the episode that I can still feel, as we dived down into the Seven Domes I was really excited, this was a new world, what wonders could be there, but there was only pain. As we paned into the chop shop and saw the Starfleet uniform, in my gut I knew who it was, even if I didn’t want to believe it. As his eye was removed, I was in shock, when the missing cortical node was mentioned, I could not ignore it anymore and when Seven (Jeri Ryan) arrived I was in grief. Icheb (Casey King) while not being a main cast member on Voyager was still one of my favourites from the show and it hurt to see him in pain. But then when Seven said “I’m so sorry… my child.” it was like a wave of trauma even before the phaser. Killing off a character is something that has to be done with real care and here the slap in the face could have been too much, but the actors make it work. Indeed, Jeri Ryan gives a performance this episode that they better push for an Emmy nomination.
Tonally the episode shifts dramatically during its run, as you are still processing the loss we finally get to Stardust City on Freecloud and we get a little weird. The crew find out that Bruce Maddox (John Ales) had been captured by a local gangster Bjayzl (Necar Zadegan) and is in the process of being traded to the Tal Shiar. At this point, the episode shifts into a heist mode, with each player having a role in the gambit to trade Seven for Maddox because Bjayzl would not be able to resist all of Seven’s Borg tech. It is here where we get Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) having a literal feather in his cap as he pretends to be a broker. Even more than that for the first time the very French Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) actually talks with a French accent in the guise of a pirate with an honest to goodness real eye patch. There was an air of silliness to it, almost an air of Farscape if I am too be honest. You would think the silliness would not work in the episode but it does, first because we need to emotional relief, and second because Seven uses it for cover for her real mission.
I have to give the show real props for not pulling back at the end, even when they hinted that they might. What we witnessed at the start of the episode, Icheb being dissected without being killed or even having any anaesthetic first, was unforgivable. So when Picard did his big speech and everyone beamed up to the ship I was feeling a bit deflated. However, I was happy to have Seven and Picard have a heart to heart about being former Borg, which is not something I think they have ever had Picard do. However, the moment she beamed out of the ship I thought “wait no, they’re not” but they did. The pain in Sevens voice, the back and forth with Bjayzl had a real undercurrent of two people who once knew each other intimately. Even then I was shocked when Seven killed her, even if I was not surprised. Picard needed to have hope in mercy, but Seven had lost hers, and I hope this is not where that story ends.
This was such a full episode, that we have not even talked about Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and the pain she is going through as someone that is trying to kick an addiction and the brutal, but the not unfair response from her son Gabriel (Mason Gooding). Nor, how the episode used a little bait and switch around Agnes (Alison Pill) being concerned about being in charge of the teleporters when she was actually nervous about what she was planning to do to Maddox. Heck, I completely missed that they name-dropped Noonian Soong during the first viewing or that we sort of get a good sense of the post-Romulan landscape with this episode.
In the end, do we recommend Stardust City Rag? Yes, absolutely yes. This is the best episode or what was already a strong season. The acting was superb, the episode was handled with real care, and it packed an emotional punch from start to finish.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek: Picard
Directed by – Jonathan Frakes
Written by – Kirsten Beyer
Created by – Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer & Alex Kurtzman
Based on – Star Trek: The Next Generation created by Gene Roddenberry
Production/Distribution Companies – CBS Studios & Amazon Prime
Starring – Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Evan Evagora, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera & Harry Treadaway with Jeri Ryan, Casey King, Dominic Burgess, Necar Zadegan, John Ales, Mason Gooding, Landry Allbright & Ayushi Chhabra
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