The Past Becomes The Present – Review of Star Trek: Picard Season Two, Episode Three “Assimilation”

Another week, another episode of Star Trek: Picard. Time travel storylines are old-hat for Star Trek, largely because science fiction writers always tend to think they’ve got a new idea for a tired trope. Thankfully, “Assimilation”, the third episode of the second season for Star Trek: Picard doesn’t waste any time in getting to 2024 or put our main cast of characters in dire circumstances.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard.

Picking up immediately where episode two left off, the crew of the La Sirena quickly managed to subdue and kill the Confederation of Earth members that beamed aboard the ship but not before Elnor was critically wounded. Unfortunately, during the time jump and subsequent crash landing, Elnor dies from his wound. On the one hand, I think the death of Evan Evagora’s character is the right story beat to hit, since it sets the tone for the remainder of the series. On the other hand, I have the sneaking suspicion that Elnor’s death will be wiped away when the timeline is reset, which I feel cheapens his death. I would have liked to see Elnor interacting with 2024 Earth, if only to see how they would handle a Romulan with pointed ears walking around Los Angeles. Given that body modification is absolutely a thing in our universe, we would thankfully not have to endure Evan Evagora wearing a headband ala Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I’m pretty sure most people would think Elnor got his ears surgically altered so he could cosplay as an elf.

The greatest impact of Elnor’s death is on the character of Raffi, portrayed by Michelle Hurd. Carrying herself with wounded determination, Hurd propels Raffi through the screen. Her grief, anger, and resentment are palpable. Raffi clings to the vain hope that resetting the timeline will save Elnor but the death of her surrogate son seems to have driven a permanent wedge between Raffi and Jean-Luc Picard. I’m intrigued to see how this plays out over the course of the season and if Raffi will hold Elnor’s death against Picard for the duration.

Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill). Source

By far, my favorite moments in the show deal with the Borg Queen and Dr. Jurati. Alison Pill had some excellent moments during the first season of Star Trek: Picard, but she was not given too many character-centric scenes to really chew on. In “Assimilation”, with the ship stranded in 2024 and the Borg Queen rebooting after the massive power drain of propelling the La Sirena through space/time, Jurati hits upon the idea to connect with the Queen and begin the process of assimilation. Picard, to his credit, is against the idea initially but realizes that it’s the only way to get the information they need from the Queen on the Watcher, the figure that is connected to the temporal divergence in the timeline.  Agnes is nearly assimilated by the Queen but Picard manages to sever the connection.

Annie Wersching as The Borg Queen. Source

In true Borg fashion, the Queen tries to barter for the La Sirena in exchange for the information on the Watcher. Annie Wersching (probably best well-known for her stint on Fox’s 24 as Renee Walker) nails the Borg Queen, particularly once she’s back to full lucidity. Going back to Alice Krige’s first appearance as the Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, there’s a playful ferocity to the Borg Queen that Wersching sinks her teeth in to. Much like Q in the second episode, the Queen is not a creature to bargain with lightly unless you have the upper hand, which Jurati later shows she has. While the Queen was attempting to assimilate Agnes, Agnes rooted around and found the coordinates for where the Watcher is in Los Angeles, which leads to probably the most bone-chilling line in the episode: the Borg Queen is impressed by Jurati, which is a truly dangerous proposition for the young doctor.

The remainder of the episode is spent with Raffi, Seven, and Rios as they transport in to Los Angeles from the La Sirena, which doesn’t go well for Rios. Setting up that the transporter is working without computational power, the three of them are scattered around Los Angeles, with Rios getting teleported a story up and landing hard on the concrete. Getting dragged to a make-shift clinic that works with undocumented immigrants, Rios befriends on the doctors but loses his com-badge in the process. When the police raid the clinic for undocumented people, Rios attempts to pass himself off as a doctor, which would have sold better if it weren’t for the fact his fingers are taped up after being dislocated. We see Rios getting carted off to jail because without documentation, the police think he’s an illegal immigrant.

With the third episode of Star Trek: Picard, the past for the characters becomes their present, allowing them to comment on our present day with the foresight of what our world could become. The next few episodes should provide some interesting thrills as the adventurers from the future try to avoid the nightmare they just left while also making sure to not leave too much of a footprint in the past to alter things any further. It should be a fun experience, if they can manage to keep the same energy of the first three episodes moving forward.

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