Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Star Trek: Picard” Season 3, episode 5
So far, Douglas Aarniokoski and Johnathon Frakes have shared the directorial duties of “Star Trek: Picard” equally, but this week is the turn of a gentleman named Dan Liu.
In fact, Liu is also at the helm of next week’s installment, an interesting two-episode-per-director approach. Liu was also responsible for a singular episode of “Strange New Worlds” — S01, E04, entitled “Memento Mori” — and two episodes from Season 3 of “For All Mankind.” And it’s worth noting that the directors in a show like “Picard” are very often selected because they’re deemed suitable by the showrunner for particular types of episodes.
The quality dipped a little in last week’s episode, but this remains the best season of “Picard” so far without a doubt. And it should come as no surprise then that this week sees the return — and subsequent send-off — of another of “The Next Generation’s” favorite B-characters, Ro Laren, played once again by Michelle Forbes.
While Forbes’ debut on TNG was actually playing a character called Dara in “Half a Life” (S04, E22), she then appeared as the series semi-regular Bajoran Ensign in a total of eight episodes, with six in Season 5, one in the sixth season and then the most notable one, which preceded the series finale, “All Good Things.” Even Q only appeared in eight episodes.
Related: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ season 3 episode 4 is fun, but not at the warp caliber we’ve seen so far
Forbes made a name for herself in television science fiction and was even offered the chance to play the same character in “Deep Space Nine.” However, she declined, and the character was rewritten as Major Kira Nerys and played by Nana Visitor. But she rocked our worlds once again in 2005 playing the reimagined Admiral Cain in arguably three of the very best “Battlestar Galactica” episodes. Lest we forget, the original character, Commander Cain, was portrayed by Lloyd Bridges in 1978.
Laren was a female Bajoran national who formerly served in Starfleet aboard the USS Enterprise-D under the command of Jean-Luc Picard before finally sympathizing with, and later defecting to, the Maquis. This was a resistance group who organized against the occupation of their homes after their colonies were ceded to the Cardassian Union by Federation-Cardassian Treaties in the late 2360s. Starfleet considered them to be traitors, while Cardassia considered them to be terrorists.
So, you can imagine then, fans gasping with delight as such a potentially interesting character makes her “Trek” encore and then, within the same episode, makes her “Trek” exit. Who’s going to get wheeled out next week? Keiko O’Brien perhaps, or how about Lt. Reginald Barclay? Given we already know of the return of Lore, the other son of Soong, plus the return of the holodeck character Professor Moriarty (played once again by Daniel Davis), who appeared as the antagonist from the Sherlock Holmes stories in the TNG episodes “Elementary, Dear Data” (S02, E03 and “Ship In A Bottle” (S06, E12), quite frankly, at this point, anything is possible.
Jason Bourne Jack Crusher is turning out to possess sleeper agent-style, long forgotten or preprogrammed skills in hand-to-hand and close quarters combat. You know, like we’ve seen in so many movies and television episodes — such as “A History of Violence,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” even “Nobody” to a slightly lesser extent, and “The Man From Nowhere” — that it practically has its own sub-genre.
However, despite cruising quite close to a couple of colossal clichés, this remains a well-written installment and that, in association with good dialogue, well-thought-out character interplay and effective, even pacing, make it reasonably enjoyable.
Ro’s death, though, is spectacularly underwhelming, and despite efforts to be creative, like making her Worf and Raffi’s handler, you really have to wonder: If the technology exists to create hard light that feels like it’s solid and has mass and can fill hard-light-generated receptacles with replicated matter, rather than just having a damn bar onboard, surely something could be done for Ro. Why couldn’t she just use the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator?
This season remains entertaining and is a vast, vast improvement on the previous two. It is very far from the very best of “Star Trek,” however. So far, the cast reunions have been well handled, but if we’re going to get a token return appearance only for each one to disappear or die after just one episode, it will ultimately prove to be a wasted opportunity. Also, why isn’t teleportation used more frequently as a torture device?
“Star Trek: Picard” and every episode of every “Star Trek” show currently streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US. Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the U.K. and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream exclusively on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.
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