Despite the completely disparate storylines, separated by both location and apparent motivations, Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 3 does a pretty good job with shaping a cohesive plot, clearly leading towards the reveal of a deeply disturbing truth.
What that truth actually is currently being debated at length on the Trekker forums.
And, without a doubt, the entire Soji-triggers-Ramdha scene is going to provide rocket fuel for the fire.
However, the most important element for me was seeing Picard's crew together for the first time.
Everyone, but everyone, in this motley collective has a backstory and a whole heap of issues.
A pilot who spends his downtime -- quite literally -- talking to himself. A navigator with recreational/medicinal drug-induced paranoia. A science consultant with some questionable intentions. A captain haunted by his past.
I never dreamed that Starfleet would give in to intolerance and fear.Picard
Lined up in the other corner are a team of serious opponents including the active interference of the Zhat Vash (note the official canonical spelling); the insidious influence of Commodore Oh and the Romulan siblings, Narek and Narissa; and the mysterious M.I.A. Bruce Maddox.
Well, folks, it looks like we have ourselves a ballgame.
A fourteen-year-long ballgame.
There'd be no opening move without the starship and Captain Rios and his EMH are instantly the most eye-catching addition to the team.
Seriously, who programs an EMH to look exactly like oneself and then just HEAPS abuse on it at every chance?
Arguably, the epicly-quotable EMH is written to be the soft, squishly heart of the team, appealing to Rios' heavily-guarded emotions.
Picard is a good man, Captain Rios. He's on the side of the angels. It's been a long time since you helped out somebody like him. A very long time.EMH
It's also a wonderfully novel way to get Rios' exposition fleshed out quickly and seed the questions we want answered about him.
Who was his previous captain who met a grisly death?
Why was his ship scrubbed from Starfleet records?
Seriously, why does his EMH look like him?
Meanwhile, I'm more than halfway in love with Raffi. She's simultaneously the most stable and the most erratic player in the game.
Even in the flashback of the day Picard resigns and she gets fired, we can see that she has a fervor for the mission to evacuate the Romulans that borders on fanatical.
Synths don't just wake up one morning and turn homicidal.Raffi
She's methodical, thorough, and well-prepared with contingencies for every predictable outcome.
Which is why she is instantly suspicious when the outcome is completely unpredictable. She senses other forces at work that weren't factored in, that a logical tactician would never have dreamed of factoring in.
Hence that over-arching paranoia and that instinct to stay out of the game.
Knowing there's evil at work and having the proof of it in hand are two different things. One is an academic exercise. The other is soul-crushing.
What Raffi brings to the table is an incredible intellect paired with a huge heart and the combination of the two could kill a person who hasn't become as jaded as she pretends to be.
Picard was probably drawn to her initially (and even in the present-day) because he recognizes in her the ridiculous optimism that he wants to find again in himself.
Raffi: There has to be something. Some last, desperate, wild solution, J.L.? That's what you do!
Picard: My resignation was the last, desperate, wild solution. I never believed that they would accept it.
The question of Raffi's reliability is paramount to the information she is able to provide. So whether or not the snakeleaf use heightens or distorts her intel (or both!) is still to be seen.
However, her instinct to vet Dr. Jurati feels pretty on point.
Face it. If anyone is going to turn out to be a double agent on this crew, Dr. Agnes Jurati rings a lot of warning bells.
She's the only crew member who has worked closely with Maddox. In fact, everything we know about Maddox's research has come from her.
Although it was great that she took out the Zhat Vash operative before he could fire on Picard, Laris, and Zhaban, I wonder how she got her hands on a disruptor to begin with.
Dr. Jurati: Maybe it was on stun.
Laris: Romulan disruptors don't HAVE a stun setting.
Dr. Jurati: Oh god.
Mind you, it was super bad-ass exactly how many weapons Picard's house has stashed under the antique table tops so she might've armed herself in a similarly equipped room somewhere else in the chateau.
Still, the last time we saw her, she was being approached by Commodore Oh. We only have her account of how that encounter went down.
And her intensely uncomfortable facial expressions in Picard's study could be interpreted as shock from killing a guy... OR they could indicate what she openly admits: she's a terrible liar.
She's a scientist whose whole area of study has been declawed and banned. A scientist who wants to create something real but is confined to theoretics.
Commodore Oh, from her position as an ally to the Tal Shiar/Zhat Vash, may have had something to offer a scientist deprived of her science.
A speak of the synth, how meta is it to watch Hugh of Borg chat with Dr. Soji Asha?
There are a few reveals that surprised me though.
Why in the world would the Romulans recruit an anthropologist to work the Reclamation Project?
When Narek first meets her on Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 1, he refers to her as a healer of broken things. How does that fit in the job description of either anthropologist or X-B reclamation tech?
Soji: Usually I find that if I ask people for help, they're happy to give it.
Hugh: That has not been my experience. In particular, with Romulans.
She's also got an incredibly naive sense of the good in the world considering she's spent so much time with the Romulans.
Of course, she may have been covering (instinctually?) for the fact she's been able to access deeply buried information or that she simply knows a lot of stuff she shouldn't.
Ramdha definitely sees through to the heart of her although, unfortunately, the X-B's ability to communicate that is "disordered" in that she speaks in reference to a core text that no one else gets.
I'll own that I have a suspicious mind when it comes to television series narratives. I had several theories that were disproved here.
One was that Soji and Dahj weren't actually each other's twins. That was disproved when Soji reached out to her mother to check on Dahj.
(Her mother's lies and ability to knock her out are a far more complicated theory but basically, I think her mom is an A.I. holographic handler.)
Another theory was that we are not actually seeing synchronized timelines, that what was happening on The Artifact happened before or after Picard's mission launch.
That was disproved by Narissa. She connects Picard's timeline (specifically the events immediately following his visit to Admiral Clancy) to Narek and Soji.
Ah well, I'm rarely able to out-think a show but what I enjoy most about the series is that it makes me think in the first place.
Going back to the Data connection, mysteries abound in the series and the game is well afoot now.
It's well worth it to rewatch Star Trek: Picard online because the juxtaposition of Soji and Ramdha's meeting and Picard interrogation of the Zhat Vash operative actually impresses even more on a second watching.
We have some learning to do!
What/where is Freecloud?
What exactly has Raffi been doing for fourteen years besides smoking snakeleaf and wallow that she knows pilots with unregistered starships?
Finally, and this may be just me, but I still cannot see how ANYONE would fall for Narek's romantic approach.
Please, please, please let Soji be playing him.
Either that or she activates on both him and Narissa and takes some of the overt melodrama out of the equation.
What's on your wishlist as the show starts to hit its stride?
I'll admit that I'll miss Laris and Zhaban now that Picard's left the chateau. I'm assuming they won't be showing the harvest.
Which mystery has you most "engage"d? (See what I did there?)
And we sure would appreciate a follow of our new Twitter account as we work to rebuild our audience!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.