I really wanted to like Episode Eight of Star Trek: Picard’s second season, titled “Mercy”, but I just can’t bring myself to like the overall product. There were some fine moments in the episode but I felt like this episode was treading water in a big way, postponing events not for good story reasons but simply to pad out the plotting of the season.
Spoilers ahead for “Mercy”, Episode Eight of Star Trek: Picard.
Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first. We finally get some substantive scenes with Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine and Michelle Hurd’s Raffi Musiker. These two women really have been on the back burner for much of this season and it was nice to finally have some one-on-one time with them where they worked through the fractured relationship they have developed. Seven calling out Raffi for being manipulative seems harsh at first, until Raffi’s flashback shows her pushing Elnor into joining Starfleet, despite wanting to go back to his people for a time. This prodding directly led to Elnor’s death this season, which explains why Raffi has been consumed by guilt for much of it. The scenes between the two actresses were subtle and a joy to watch.
Watching Isa Briones as Kore Soong call out Adam Soong for his blatant narcissism and manipulation of her was also a joy to watch. Kore leaving him puts Adam into such a state of despondency that when Jurati, now almost fully consumed by the Borg Queen, he’s willing to sign on with her to mend his wounded ego. And make no mistake about it: Adam Soong is a malignant narcissist who seeks to prove his intellect is superior. The Borg Queen seeks to retake the La Sirena, using the ship to jump start the assimilation of Earth a couple of centuries early. Through Soong’s contacts, she’s able to get access to a group of mercenaries, who she immediately begins assimilating.
My last moments of enjoyment from the episode involved the biggest revelation yet for the season: Q is dying. The formerly omnipotent and immortal god-creature Q is nearing the end of his existence, something that John de Lancie conveyed brilliantly in his scenes with Ito Aghayere’s Guinan while Guinan and Picard were being held by FBI Agent Wells (I’ll get to that later on). Aghayere’s Guinan has been a treat to watch, particularly because the actress is able to convey so many of the traits Whoopi Goldberg brought to the role originally. There is warmth and understanding in abundance (at least at this point in the season) and this feels like a younger version of the being that would become a key member of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Q, on the other hand, is staring down his own mortality and it frightens him, something that I never thought would be an emotion Q would show.
The “penance” Q is inflicting on Picard this season is the all-too human characteristic of holding on to our past and not moving beyond it. Picard made strides in that respect in the previous episode, delving in to the troubled history of his mother and father’s relationship. While it did not change him overnight, it has given him a better understanding of his past, which is the first step in making lasting changes to what remains of his life. This harkens back to the role Q played in Star Trek: The Next Generation: a harsh teacher that uses object lessons to hammer home an important point.
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Unfortunately, this episode really did feel like a filler episode, much like “Two of One” did. The scenes with Agent Wells (which Jay Karnes did the best he could essentially playing a Star Trek version of Mulder from The X-Files) were okay overall but did nothing to really move the story forward. This felt like a pit stop that kept Jean-Luc Picard out of the way while the Jurati story arc progressed. Looking back on the episodes up to this point, I’m pretty convinced at this stage that the writing staff for Star Trek: Picard decided to give Agnes Jurati the Idiot Ball just to reach this point in the season. There’s no other reason I can think of for why the Borg Queen was allowed to reach this point other than the writers didn’t have a better idea of how to facilitate this conflict. I hope the final two episodes of the season are better than this because “Mercy” left a bad taste in my mouth.
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