One of the things I find most interesting about Star Trek: Picard is the show’s ability to introduce new elements to established characters. Episode Seven, titled “Monsters”, delves in to Jean-Luc Picard’s childhood, which has been hinted at periodically throughout the second season. With Tallinn joining him, we learn more about the primary focus of Jean-Luc’s life: the relationship between his parents.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Episode Seven of Season Two.
I loved that the series brought in James Callis to play the Betazoid therapist/Maurice Picard. Callis, most well known for his time as Dr. Gaius Baltar on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series on the SyFy Channel, is one of those actors that you can plomb down in a role and be guaranteed a good performance. Look no further than his turn at voice acting for Netflix’s Castlevania animated series, where Callis brought his throaty yet haughty accent to the character of Alucard. Seeing Sir Patrick Steward and Callis verbally spar for much of the episode was a treat, particularly once the reveal occurs toward the tail end of the episode.
The focus of the episode is Picard gaining an understanding of what occurred with his mother. As Picard sees it (and stated as such during Star Trek: The Next Generation), his father Maurice was distant at the best of times. Through the rose-colored glasses of youth, Jean-Luc saw his mother as a victim of his father’s abusive behavior. More than anything so far in the series, I think this episode is pulling a significant portion of its narrative from Sir Patrick Stewart’s own life story. Stewart has talked about the troubles his own father displayed, such as alcoholism and the abuse that the elder Stewart inflicted on his family during those bouts of drinking. There’s nothing more harrowing to experience than parental abuse, be it physical, emotional, or psychological. It was only later in life that Sir Patrick discovered his father suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by his father’s experiences during the Second World War.
We see a similar revelation for Picard in this episode. We soon learn as Picard is telling the story of a queen and a young prince being chased by monsters in underground tunnels that his mother Yvette suffered from delusional behavior (possibly as a symptom of bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia). In the example we see, Yvette took the young Jean-Luc into the tunnels beneath Chateau Picard during one of her episodes where Jean-Luc became stuck in the floor, only to watch his mother run away without helping him. Hours later, Maurice found his son by happenstance (Jean-Luc had dropped his journal near the entrance to the tunnels). Maurice has to drag Yvette back out of the tunnels with her screaming through the episode. The young Jean-Luc doesn’t understand why his father locks his mother away in a closet but the elder Jean-Luc understands fully. While his father Maurice may not have been a good father, he did the best he could in the untenable situation of having a spouse who was mentally ill and refused to accept treatment to combat that mental illness. From the position of someone who has dealt with mental illness all his life and grew up in a family that had its fair share of mental illness, it broke my heart to watch those scenes play out.
In a story this dark, there needs to be moments of levity to break the mood and prevent the audience from drowning in the melancholy. Thankfully, we had some excellent scenes between Rios, Teresa, and her son Ricardo. Rios and Teresa have been dancing around each other since the third episode when Rios was brought in to her clinic. Knowing full well the consequences of altering the timeline, Rios not only admits to what he is but also takes Ricardo and Teresa on to the La Sirena. It was inevitable this was going to happen but I still found it to be a heartwarming moment. The fact that Santiago Cabrera and Sol Rodriguez have such an easy chemistry between them helps their scenes together immensely.
The Borg subplot is something I’m still on the fence about. In my last review of Star Trek: Picard, I remarked that the writers this season have really given Jeri Ryan nothing to do, despite the fact that as the other main character with a deep connection to the Borg, she should be center stage with that story. Sadly, we’re given too little here to really do much, other than postpone the storyline for another episode. I really wish the writers would give Ryan and Michelle Hurd something juicier to work with in these last three episodes.
Lastly, we have the final scenes of the episode, with Picard returning to 10 Forward to seek the assistance of Guinan in summoning Q. This felt a little out of left field but not completely. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Q Who”, Q and Guinan had a brief confrontation, with Q alluding to the two having an encounter with each other two centuries before the events of the episode. Star Trek: Picard lays out the notion that the El-Aurians and the Q Continuum have a truce, which Guinan uses to attempt to summon Q but fails in the process. This is most likely another illusion to the fact that Q has lost his powers, possibly due to interference from the Continuum not approving of his recent activities. Instead, we see an FBI Agent (portrayed by Jay Karnes from The Shield) arrive at the bar and promptly arrest Picard and Guinan after showing them video footage of Picard beaming in to the area around 10 Forward.
With Jurati on the loose and the Borg Queen pushing her to engage in more and more risky behavior to facilitate a faster assimilation, this turn of events couldn’t have happened at a worse time, which is the point of good storytelling. How this will play out is up in the air at this point but I’m interested to see how Jean-Luc plans to talk himself out of FBI custody.
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