Warp Factor Trek

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I’ve found that, in the darkest circumstances, there is a light, sometimes only a glimmer. Trust that light. Find the way back, no matter what it takes.” – Jean-Luc Picard

Reaching the apex of this rollercoaster ride with episode five last week, Star Trek: Picard begins the slow – though pretty fast – descent to the bottom with episode six: “Two of One”. It’s thirty-eight minutes of non-stop action (with a few subtle violations of the Temporal Prime Directive along the way). Unlike last week, the minutes of runtime are worth it this time.

“Two of One” is an episode that time jumps, from the present time to less than an hour beforehand. Thirty-four minutes before Jean-Luc is found unconscious, he’s waiting outside the Europa Mission Gala, awaiting Jurati’s coding to add the crew to the guest list so they can observe Renée unnoticed.

Jurati is meanwhile in handcuffs, waiting for two security guards to detain her. With the Borg Queen’s consciousness in her mind, she manages to free herself, by utilizing the Queen’s superhuman strength, and adds the crew to the guest list. While this moment was interesting, it felt kind of odd that a person’s consciousness can add such superhuman strength. Unless you were imbued with the power of the Q – which was the case with William Riker and Amanda Rogers in two separate incidents during TNG – this superhuman strength seemed to come out of nowhere. To me, this part of the plot just didn’t make much sense.

Picard and Tallinn at the party (Paramount)

Over the observation of Renée, a tender moment takes place between Tallinn and Jean-Luc. Tallinn is observing the fact that Jean-Luc is continuously calling her “Laris”. She also notices that, when he mentions Laris’ name, his voice changes. Tallinn is implying that maybe Picard has actual feelings for Laris, a situation that was alluded to in the season premiere. Tallinn also notes to Jean-Luc that, in the twenty-four years she has observed Renée, she never once has made contact with the young prodigy – a decision made not by Tallinn herself, but by her benefactors – and Jean-Luc says maybe she should.This tender scene is wonderfully acted by both Orla Brady and Patrick Stewart. Although the coupling for these two felt a little off during the season premiere, seeing how Jean-Luc has felt alone without Laris around – during his adventure in the Confederation of Earth timeline – and watching him now with Tallinn, I am on-board with this coupling. The chemistry between Brady and Stewart is excellent and flows naturally.

Panic ensues when Tallinn deduces that Renée is currently texting “therapist” Q – relating doubts she’s having about the Europa mission – and that, of course, Q’s trying to talk her out of it. Jean-Luc makes the highly unusual decision to talk with his ancestor, hoping to convince her to maintain the timeline. Although it’s not regarded as such in the episode, his decision to speak with her is obviously a potential violation of the Temporal Prime Directive.

Before Jean-Luc can approach Renée, however, Dr. Adam Soong intervenes, confronting him. Soong immediately recognizes Jean-Luc, saying they have a common friend in Q. Picard counters by saying Q isn’t his friend, though Soong claims that Q told him otherwise. Soong makes it clear that he’s trying to prevent Renée from going on the mission. He says this with a modicum of subtle anger, perfectly acted by Brent Spiner, which yet again demonstrates his brilliant range of emotions.

Soong is then whisked away by a member of the board of directors for the Europa mission. Establishing that Soong is one of the donors to the project, she thanks him for his generous donation and asks if, in return, there’s anything he needs. Just then, Picard notices that a couple of the tuxedoed security guards are closing in on him; Soong has requested that Picard be dealt with.

Jean-Luc asks for his crew to do something so that Renée can be cornered and talked to. Enter Agnes Jurati, who cuts off the lights to the banquet hall and creates a distraction for the assembled crowd and security officers. Alison Pill delivers a delightful vocal performance at this point in the episode, singing beautifully and powerfully. I was wowed by this part of the episode and the fact she can sing, amazingly so.

Jean-Luc speaks with his ancestor, Renée Picard (Paramount)

With the distraction in full swing, Renée and Jean-Luc Picard finally meet for the first time, another subtle violation of the Temporal Prime Directive. Renée explains to her long-distant descendant that she’s scared about what’s going to happen while she’s on the mission. Endeavoring to convince Renée into feeling otherwise, Jean-Luc recalls what his mother always told him about fear. This triggers him to experience another horrible and painful memory of his mother – a continuing thread this season – but he regains his composure. Having persuaded Renée not to give up hope, he begins escorting her back to the festivities. Based on promotional photos Paramount issued prior to this episode’s release, I was looking forward to this scene. It’s wonderfully acted by both Patrick Stewart and Australian actress Penelope Mitchell, who plays Renée. Just brilliant all around!

The mission to restore the timeline becomes further jeopardized when Adam Soong leaves the festivities, gets in his car and runs over Jean-Luc, missing his intended target – Renée. Picard’s crew, in the aftermath of this incident, rescues him.

Meanwhile, Soong gets home, blabbing about how he has done everything in his power for his daughter Kore. This represents another feat of fabulous acting by Brent Spiner. Kore then discovers what Soong has done. She realizes she’s the result of a genetic engineering program he undertook, and that she isn’t the only “daughter” he has had. The shock factor of this scene was fantastically acted.

Tallinn discovers that Picard’s brain is very active, even though he appears comatose. His mind is stuck in the past, with the abuse Yvette Picard went through when he was a child. Despite objections from Raffi, Tallinn plans to enter his mind, a procedure that is fraught with danger.

Rating: 4.5/5

“Two of One” is rather short, but the short runtime actually serves the story. Even though it is the second shortest Star Trek episode of the Kurtzman era (the Discovery Season 1 episode “Vaulting Ambition” is shorter), this episode, aside from some very outlandish plot points,  does hold up rather nicely.

The rollercoaster ride of Star Trek: Picard‘s second season is nearing its end, and I can’t wait to see how it all ties together. My hope is that, once the timeline is restored, Jean-Luc will finally be able to express his harboring feelings for Laris and let her know how he feels about her. What would we call this coupling – “Picaris”? “Licard”?! I don’t know… but more scenes with actress Orla Brady, please.

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