TL;DR – This week’s episode had me on the edge of my seat for the entire runtime
Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.
Star Trek: Picard Review –
There is an art to naming an episode. You want it to be relevant, and the more esoteric, the more disconnected you leave your audience. Indeed, Chuck famously titled all their episodes a version of Chuck Versus the Colonel for that reason. However, you can’t be too literal with the title because why watch a show when you already know what will happen. The goldilocks of episode titles are those that are relatively straightforward but then can have multiple meanings. This is what we get this week with Surrender.
So to set the scene, well, things are actually at the darkest [I hope] for the crew of the USS Titan-A. Because in last week’s Dominion, Seven (Jeri Ryan) didn’t sacrifice Shaw (Todd Stashwick), Vadic (Amanda Plummer) was able to storm the bridge and take over the ship. She is looking for Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) and is now using the crew as pawns to lure him out of hiding. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Crusher (Gates McFadden) do not want him to turn himself in, knowing they will destroy the Titan once they have their prey. But that is easy to say but hard to do when you hear the voices of the crew being killed around you. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Tension is a complicated emotion to pull off, especially in a moment like this. You have to fight a knowledgeable audience’s rational side that knows, thanks to Star Trek Discovery, that The Federation does not fall here by bringing them into the moment so they can’t escape it. Watching the crew get cut off and slowly exterminated had all the hallmarks from a sequence in Star Trek First Contact. Only swap out the Dominion with the Borg, and it works. The dark hallways, the closing doors, the sounds of death. All while the bridge crew sit there and listen to the friends dying as Vadic luxuriates in the torment. It is all profoundly compelling and has you wondering if they can escape this predicament.
The second part of the surrender comes from the Data (Brent Spiner)/ Lore (Brent Spiner) sub-plot running through the episode. After killing Data off twice in Star Trek Nemesis and then Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2 in Star Trek Picard’s first season. I wondered where they would go this season with Data 3.0, but I liked where we are going. Well, at least so far. The scene where they removed the partition and Data and Lore fought it out was an interesting one because you kind of knew where it was going, but you were still brought along for the ride. The writers understood what was at the core of both Lore and Data, so the trap that Data set for Lore felt compelling rather than a cheap reversal.
As things started devolving further, I found myself being shocked by the show when it had so many redshirts sitting there that I thought were there for cover only to kill Lt. T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski). This was an audible gasp moment. At that moment, I was reminded that this was the last season and probably the last ride for The Next Generation crew, and suddenly jeopardy was raised across the show. It could have been overwhelming with all that was happening, so I am glad they cut back to Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis) and gave them a proper reunion. It also doesn’t hurt when you have the comedic timing of Michael Dorn on show as well. Once again, this didn’t feel forced because they had already established the cloaking device, and if anyone was going to solo a Dominion ship, it would be Worf.
All of this leads to the conclusion of the episode, which might be the point that has left me in two minds about Surrender, and where we are going for the rest of the season. I did love the final confrontation between Vadic and Jack, which had been building since we were first introduced to them in Disengage. Jack using what looked like a grenade or a nod to the thermal detonator from Star Wars, but for it to be a purely defensive shield bubble felt like the most Star Trek element of the show so far. I think it is telling just how good Amanda Plummer was in the role. That part of me is sad that this might be the last we see of Vadic. However, we get funnelled once again to that red door, and as the episode closed, I had but one thought: ‘What is behind that door better be worth it, or it could torpedo this season’.
In the end, do we recommend Star Trek: Picard – Surrender? Absolutely. This was some of the best tension that Star Trek has ever put on the screen, and you can’t help but be caught up in emotion when you see the whole cast back together again in those closing shots. However, there are two episodes to go, and I hope they can stick the landing.
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 – Deborah Kampmeier
Written by – Matt Okumura
Created by – Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer & Alex Kurtzman
Showrunner – Terry Matalas
Based on – Star Trek: The Next Generation created by Gene Roddenberry
Production/Distribution Companies – CBS Studios, Amazon Prime & Paramount+
Starring – Patrick Stewart, Jeri Ryan, Michelle Hurd, Ed Speleers, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis & Brent Spiner with Todd Stashwick, Amanda Plummer & Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut and Mica Burton, Stephanie Czajkowski, Joseph Lee, Jenson Cheng & Amy Earhart
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