A Calm Moment in the Storm – Review of “Star Trek: Picard” Season Two, Episode Four “Watcher”

After three episodes of constant rising action, Star Trek: Picard finally takes a breath with the fourth episode of the second season, titled “Watcher”. The crew of the La Sirena are still reeling from the events of the season and trying to find their way through 2024 Los Angeles. We also get an excellent series of scenes between Jean-Luc Picard and a young Guinan (portrayed by a different actress). The stage is also set to discover how Q mangled the timeline to produce the Confederation of Earth universe the characters are trying to prevent.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode “Watcher” from Star Trek: Picard.

Breather episodes are a necessary party of any serialized drama series. Unless you’re dealing with a mini-series (and even with those), there needs to be an episode or two where the audience can catch its breath after two or more episodes of rising action and tension. With the death of Elnor in the previous episode and the team splitting up to find out how the timeline had been altered, it was important to take a step back and allow the characters (and by extension the audience) a chance to catch their breath (while still advancing the plot of the story).

The episode bounced around quite a bit, which I’m normally not a big fan of. There’s a tendency among writers and showrunners with an ensemble cast to separate the cast too much, leading to separated storylines that sometimes take a while to converge. In “Watcher”, we find Seven and Raffi tracking down Rios’ com-badge at the clinic he visited, only to discover he was detained by ICE. The pair try unsuccessfully to reach him, which includes a nice callback to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where the same punk rocker (who is played by the same actor from the film) is playing his music too loud. When Seven chastises him, he subconsciously grips his neck and apologizes, turning the boombox down. I liked the moment where Seven comforts Raffi over Elnor’s death. Having gone through something similar with Icheb in the previous season, Seven knows full well the guilt that is eating away at Raffi. It’s a quiet, tender moment between the two actresses where hardly anything is spoken but the scene is carried by their facial expressions and body language. The car chase later on is quite hysterical as Raffi side-seat drives while Seven barely manages to drive the stolen police SUV (with Agnes offering sarcastic commentary).

Speaking of Agnes Jurati, I’m not sure Picard leaving her on her own in the La Sirena with the Borg Queen is such a good idea. The Queen has already shown at this point that she is deeply duplicitous. Given Jurati’s history from the first season, where she spent much of it as a mind-melded double agent for the Zhat Vash, leaving her alone with the Queen after the assimilation attempt is going to end badly for all involved. Of all the characters, Jurati’s journey this season appears to have less to do with fixing the timeline and more to do with an internal voyage, something that could lead to devastating consequences. I’m enjoying this particularly character arc but I’m not sure where it’s going to go at this point.

Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and Guinan (Ito Aghayere) reunite in 2024. Source

Which leads me to Jean-Luc Picard and Guinan (portrayed in this episode by Ito Aghayere). I hadn’t seen any of Aghayere’s work before (her most prominent credit being the show Carol’s Second Act) but she did exceptionally well assuming the role of Guinan (particularly after seeing Whoopi Goldberg return to the role in the first episode). Initially, Guinan wants nothing to do with Picard or his mission, stating that she’s been on Earth long enough to have given up hope for humanity’s future. Her scathing condemnation of humanity is biting and dripping with disappointment. I can’t say that I blame this version of Guinan for thinking this way, since I share many of her sentiments. Seeing Sir Patrick Stewart and Ito Aghayere play off each other was a treat, particularly once Picard revealed his identity to her, pulling Guinan in to helping him find the Watcher.

Through Guinan, we get a bit more information about the Watcher. Apparently, there is a nebulous group of alien beings known as Supervisors who take it upon themselves to watch over the “destiny” of important individuals. And from the scene in the park, Watchers are able to separate their consciousness from their physical being, as the Watcher shows by possessing first a young girl followed by a food vendor and then a man in the span of a few minutes. The fact that the Watcher is also played by Orla Brady (the actress who plays Laris) is a good turn of events, particularly because of how things ended between Picard and Laris in the first episode. Unfortunately, we’re left with a cliffhanger as the Watcher whooshes Picard away in a strange teleportation moment.

Q makes an appearance in 2024 Los Angeles. Source

The real kicker of the episode, though, is the closing scene before the credits. Q watches over a young woman exiting a NASA facility. The newspaper shown prominently in the scene reads that a mission to Europa is underway and Q is wearing a lab coat with a Europa patch on it, insinuating that Q has made himself part of the team. But when Q snaps his fingers, nothing happens, which Q was not expecting. This leads me back to an observation from the second episode of the season: there’s something wrong with Q on a fundamental level. The only other time Q has been powerless is when the Q Continuum stripped him of his powers. It’s possible that by restructuring the timeline to teach Picard a lesson, Q has overstepped the Continuum’s boundaries again. It remains to be seen what this lack of omnipotence portends but Q has always shown that he is a devious individual. Making Q powerless is a way to even the playing field for the La Sirena crew and make Q more dangerous.

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