When he does make it to the cube, Jean-Luc’s reunion with Hugh is everything it should be. When we first were reintroduced to Hugh a few weeks ago it was frustrating because the episode barely acknowledged him as a character from Next Generation’s past. But here, his connection with and affection for Picard is clear, and actors Jonathan Del Arco and Patrick Stewart are great together. “A new name can be the first step to a new identity,” Hugh says, referring back to how he broke free from the Borg thanks to Picard and the Enterprise crew. They even hug! It makes perfect sense that Hugh would now be doing for others what Picard once did for him.
The cube also feels like a creepy place finally, even though one has to wonder why Hugh doesn’t just turn up the lights a bit. But the presence of the ex-Borg who wander the halls of the ship provides an almost ghostly reminder of what the place once was. And Picard is clearly haunted by it, and them, who perhaps remind him a bit too much of himself. He starts the episode off saying the Borg are a cancer and by the end of the hour is reminded that they are just victims, as he once was. It would’ve been nice to give this sentiment a bit more room to play with here, but hopefully the show will continue to flesh out this idea and more of Picard’s Borg issues over the rest of the season. (Indeed, it now feels like it will be anti-climactic if we don’t return to the cube eventually, which is ironic considering how the Soji/Narek story had made it kind of a drag to visit thus far.)Speaking of which, Narek determines that Soji’s recurring dream about her “father” from when she was a child is actually a manifestation of her synthetic “subconscious” trying to reconcile her true nature. Her neural pathways, he explains to his still Evil with a capital E sister, must be bumping up against her belief that she is a human being. And that “cognitive dissonance” must go somewhere… like into her dreams. It’s a pretty clever idea, both for Narek and the show’s writers.
So he convinces Soji to use the Zhal Makh — a “Romulan form of meditation” that is somewhere between Deep Space Nine’s Allamaraine walk and a life-sized board game — to get to the heart of her dreams, and in so doing find out on what planet the rest of her Synthetic conclave is hiding. That he also reveals his true name to Soji, which we’re told is something a Romulan only gives to the person they love, feels like a genuine gesture, despite Narek’s plan to kill Soji once he gets the info he needs.
Too bad (or is that good thing?) then that he messes up that plan so badly. Yes, he learns from Soji’s dream that the Synthetic homeworld is likely on a planet with two red moons and electrical storms, but why does he leave that red gas stuff to kill her slowly, knowing what she’s capable of once she “activates” just as her sister did in the premiere episode? The whole reason he’s been tiptoeing around her all season was to avoid making that happen, and then he blunders into it here at the last moment.
Still, it means that Soji is now in kick-ass android mode, tearing through the floor to escape the deadly gas. And it also means that the dynamic between her and Narek has now been fundamentally changed. He tried to kill her! And whether he was crying or not about it, she knows he did. And now she’s off with Picard, who is going to fill her in on everything, including her true nature.That things culminate in a serious deep-cut from Star Trek: Voyager’s first season — yes, that 40,000 light-year portal is from the all-but-forgotten episode “Prime Factors” — is just another cool reminder that this show is as buttoned up as any Trek show can be in terms of continuity.
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- The guy who yelled “Locutus” wins this episode.
- So what is going on outside of the reclamation section of the cube? Are there still a bunch of active Borg hanging around?
- RIP the Sikarians.
- I’m glad that we’re being shown the connection between Rios and Raffi, who knew each other before this whole Picard adventure began. Raffi’s addiction issues are another matter, however. How does she swing between perfectly sober when negotiating on a viewscreen to passed out within minutes? The show doesn’t seem to be willing to fully commit to her addiction issues and uses them more as a crutch so far. Michelle Hurd deserves better.
- Picard taking a stroll down Borg memory lane in his holo-office was cool, complete with images from past Next Generation stories.
- Nice shout-out to the Borg Queen. Could she still be out there somewhere…?
- Can someone explain how Elnor was able to beam to the cube but Picard and Soji couldn’t beam off?
- Rios and Agnes? O.K…