Star Trek loves all time journey, however maybe the type of time journey it loves most is an opportunity to take a sideways step into our current moment. From The Voyage House to Voyager and DS9 episodes like “Future’s Finish” and “Previous Tense,” Star Trek can’t assist at instances however to wrest itself from its future to play with our modern time—and Picard is proving to be no exception.
“Assimilation,” the third episode of Picard season two, is extra of a center chapter than it’s a actual progressive step ahead in Picard’s present, scattershot journey, smashing collectively each Q’s time-fiddling antics and, effectively, a literal journey again in time. Instantly choosing up from last week’s escape from the fascist Confederacy that has changed the Federation on this altered timeline, issues begin unhealthy when poor Elnor will get shot. Then, they worsen when Picard informs Rios that to ensure that them to search out out simply how and the place the timeline was tweaked by Q, they’ve to present over La Sirena to the Borg Queen (or what’s left of her) to plot a slingshot across the solar that can tear a gap again to the previous, and the situation of a mysterious “Watcher” who will present crew Picard with the following steps.
And should you thought Elnor dying after La Sirena’s energy fails following a crash-landing in La Barre (he may get higher in the event that they repair the timeline, TBD, TBD) was unhealthy, issues are even worse for the crew: they need to go to Los Angeles! Oh, and it’s 2024, so, as diehard Trek followers will know, the U.S. of this time was not in a very good place by way of, effectively… something, actually. It’s not mirrored a lot on-screen—though Raffi, who pushes apart her grief for Elnor to steer a mission to scan for traces that would expose one thing not of the present time to assist monitor the Watcher, does promptly beam close to one in every of Sanctuary Zones styled like these seen in “Previous Tense,” and almost will get mugged for good measure. However as a substitute Picard makes use of the prospect to be in a future fairly close to our personal to look at extra explicitly modern themes and struggles.
Whereas Seven and Raffi go on a meet-cute at a close toby statement tower hoping to get an correct scan of the world, this examination is generally centered by means of poor Rios’ expertise of 2024. Which actually begins tough—the not-quite-operational transporter beams him out mid-air, leaving him to face a bloody exhausting touchdown—and will get rougher when he’s compelled to confront each the state of latest American healthcare and the lengthy, prejudicial arm of U.S. legislation enforcement. Taken in at a close-by medical centre run by a younger physician named Teresa (visitor star Sol Rodriguez), Rios finds himself not simply shocked at having to hazily adapt in an try to hold his nature as a time traveler secret, however after a raid by U.S. immigration officers on the middle results in the arrest of each Teresa and himself—his combadge left behind. He’s left to confront the extra specific concept of what it means to be an immigrant and specifically an individual of colour at this second in time, a component that Star Trek’s previous sojourns into “trendy” intervals have brushed upon however not often had the prospect to heart like Picard does right here, albeit briefly.
The entire modern motion in LA in the meantime is contrasted with one other menace from the previous that Jurati and Picard are left to cope with aboard the crashed La Sirena: the Borg Queen, herself momentarily knocked out by the facility fluctuations and crashed touchdown, is now much less of a frenemy and extra of simply effectively… a plain previous enemy. A dangerous plan by the 2 to jack into the queen’s central methods—one deemed too dangerous for Picard given his historical past as Locutus, regardless that his new physique has no direct connection to his former assimilation—sees Jurati expose herself to potential assimilation by means of a hyperlink to the queen, within the hopes she will acquire entry and at the very least partially revive the Borg matriarch and let her inform them the data they should know. It’s an extremely intense sequence, taking part in off the rapport that Picard and Jurati had all through season one: a sport of cat-and-mouse between the 2 to be taught extra about one another, however on this case a sport that builds on that connection to maintain Jurati rooted in her humanity. We get to be taught extra about her previous and her actual emotions concerning the folks she now surrounds herself with in matches and begins, nevertheless it’s all laced with the stress that, the extra human and open she will get in an try to floor herself, the extra the Borg Queen may probably overwhelm her.
It’s arguably essentially the most threatening the Borg have been in Star Trek in a really very long time, and even in victory—when Picard snatches Jurati out of the hyperlink at simply the final second, and he or she lords over the now-reactive queen that she has no energy over both Jurati or Picard, with all the data they want inside her head—the queen’s whispered menace that the true hazard is that Jurati has impressed her makes for a suitably chilling second. (And, in fact, an inevitable hook for when issues go much more horribly flawed for the crew sooner or later later within the season.) As Picard himself is aware of, nobody goes mind-to-mind with the Borg and comes away unscathed—a previous lesson discovered that, like so many classically Trek parts that Picard is relishing in embracing right here, goes to grow to be vitally vital as this story progresses. Hopefully it might probably hold this playful development of lovingly homaging Trek’s previous adventures going, with out all of it feeling a bit of nostalgic for its personal sake. But for now, even because the stakes slowly increase, it’s good to see Picard is having a bit of enjoyable with itself within the second.
New episodes of Picard arrive Thursdays on Paramount+.
Questioning the place our RSS feed went? You possibly can pick the new up one here.