Last week on Star Trek: Picard’s season 2 premiere, “The Star Gazer,” Jean-Luc’s former crew from the La Sirena find their paths crossing after more than a year apart. Romantic relationships have not stood the test of time. Rios and Jurati are no longer together. Raffi wishes Seven would be there for her as much as she is for people in trouble. And finally Laris and Picard pine for each other but poor Jean-Luc has a severe mental block when it comes to love.
All but Soji find themselves facing the Borg Queen at an anomaly and fighting erupts as the Queen tries to gain control of the fleet. Admiral Picard self-destructs the Stargazer along with the fleet only to find himself alive in a seemingly different and darker timeline. His other great nemesis, Q, is there to greet him and give Picard yet another trial.
This week’s episode, “Penance”, cements the themes of time, regret, and chances not taken as Picard tries to figure out just what the hell is going on.
Ready to travel the road not taken? Let’s engage.
Through a Mirror Darkly
We’re now in the year 2400 and this Earth has not done well with climate change. The planet has hexagonal atmospheric shielding. Picard (Patrick Stewart) demands to know where the Stargazer crew is and Q (John de Lancie) remarks, “How yesterday’s Enterprise of you.” This is a nod to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode of the same name where a temporal rift may change history. A Q clue, perhaps? The nod also makes me think that we may be seeing more of Guinan soon.
Picard tells Q to cut to the chase. In a very un-Q move, he loses his temper. He barks, “The chase is cut…The chase is bleeding. The chase is dying in your arms and I am but a suture in the wound!” Whoah. Picard, truly astonished and, in all seriousness, asks if he is unwell. There’s almost fear in Q’s face before he snaps and they’re in the vineyard with a gramophone nearby.
Picard is over Q’s patronizing but then Q loses his cool again and strikes JL. STRIKES HIM! He’s tired of Picard’s insistence on changing in all ways but the one that matters. He tells Picard, “This is not a lesson, it’s a penance,” before snapping once again making an Edith Piaf song play on the gramophone. It’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien and we heard the same tune in the season premiere. That translates to “I regret nothing,” and we know that isn’t true for Picard. Once in Picard’s flashback to his childhood and mother and also with the Borg Queen before the self-destruct. Another clue that Picard’s going to have to dig into his childhood trauma this season.
Once back in the chateau, Picard sees that his servants in this timeline are Romulan slaves. They are petrified. What kind of man is he here? Q shows him by bringing him to a room and says, “Through a mirror darkly, and here the man who holds the glass is darker still.” He’s once again implying that there are parts of Picard’s life that Picard has either refused to explore or blocked out.
The room is JL’s trophy room. And by trophies, I mean skulls. One by one Q lists who these skulls belonged to and how they were killed in this timeline under Picard’s authority: Gul Dukat, General Martok, Sarek. The latter was executed on Vulcan in front of his son, Spock.
Q continues to wax poetic about Picard’s bloody reign of terror in this timeline and that Picard may want forgiveness. Picard asks why and Q responds with a cryptic, “I think you know.”
Later, after Q vanishes as he is wont to do, Picard finds out who he truly is in this timeline. He’s a xenophobic monster. He sees himself in a holo speaking about the “pure universe” and espousing that “a safe galaxy is a human galaxy.” He then finds out from Harvey, his synthetic, that Laris and Zhaban were executed at the Gates of Romulus during the Romulan Uprisings.
Picard finds out he’s due to give a speech at the Presidential Palace for Eradication Day. That sounds horrible.
Seven (Jeri Ryan) wakes up in this timeline to find out that her Borg implants are gone. She runs a psychological self-check and finds, she’s not dreaming. She notes her wedding ring and a man (Jon Jon Briones), not Raffi as she hopes, walks in. At that moment she finds out that she is President Annika Hansen, the leader of this totalitarian hellhole and the man is her husband and underling, the First Magistrate.
She deftly picks up clues around her like there is no Federation here, it’s the Confederation. She asks for a briefing and her husband offers General Sisko, but she asks for one from someone in the field. Rios.
Meanwhile, Rios (Santiago Cabrera) arrives in this timeline on his ship and in the middle of a battle above Vulcan. As he tries to figure out what’s happening, he gets an incoming transmission from Seven. It’s a secure channel. They feel each other out until they know for sure they are both from the same other timeline. They compare notes and she recalls him back to Earth.
Back on Earth, we see explosions in San Francisco. Elnor (Evan Evagora) is running in the streets when he comes to. His Romulan friend says the rebellion is finally happening. As explosions happen, she says, “One for Cardassia. One for Andoria. One for Kronos. One for Vulcan. One for Romulus.” She’s then shot. He tries to escape before he’s surrounded.
An officer arrives and shoots all the soldiers that have him surrounded. It’s Raffi (Michelle Hurd). They hug quickly before other soldiers arrive. She announces that she wants Elnor alive for questioning.
Seven is with her husband who notes her distraction. She gets tough with him, as dictators do, to throw him off guard. Then we find out about Eradication Day and it’s just as horrible as it sounds. In talking about Seven’s agenda for the day, we find out that on this day, they “eradicate” dissidents, alien sympathizers, and terrorists. In other words, it’s Public Execution Day. He says today is special as they are eradicating one of the Confederation’s greatest enemies and that Jurati is prepping the prisoner.
We now see Jurati (Alison Pill) wake up in a lab. Literally. She has a holographic talking cat that she obviously made herself. The cat’s name is Spot 73 and says it’s her very best friend. She too does a psychological self-check and wonders if she’s in a mirror universe. Right then, Seven walks in with her husband. Seven pretends they are old friends. Jurati definitely doesn’t have Seven’s game and bumbles.
They then see that the prisoner is the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) in a force field. Her hive is dead and she is scared. She speaks in nonsequiturs but they actually make sense. She sees Seven and rambles about “Hanson, Annika” being assimilated and escaping. She alludes to things in the other timeline before saying that Jurati is accustomed to this “unbelonging.” Ouch.
The Borg Queen then says that reality has been split. There is division. Time has been broken. Seven has an a-ha moment and quietly tells Jurati that a Borg Queen has a transtemporal awareness that can bridge adjacent times and realities. This is when Jurati realizes there’s been a corruption to their timeline.
A Temporal Recision
Meanwhile Picard has arrived at the palace. He sees Raffi arguing with a soldier as she tries to keep Elnor alive. Picard intervenes and takes the two. They all compare notes.
Elsewhere, Seven’s husband is telling her that General Picard has petitioned to be called “Borg Slayer.” Hilarious. Right then, Picard, Raffi and Elnor approach her much to her husband’s disapproval. Seven excuses him. Now they all compare notes.
Picard declares he knows what Q did. “This is not another reality. This is our reality.” Q went back in time and changed the present. He knows very well that Q won’t undo something until he’s sure they passed some kind of test. He also shares that Q seemed unstable.
Rios arrives above Earth as the three transport to Jurati’s lab to talk to the Borg Queen since she also recognizes that time has been altered. She has a lot to say and begins by locking eyes with Picard and saying, “You are Locutus and you are not.” Picard asks her what Q did to the past that “turned our world into a polluted totalitarian nightmare.”
The Borg Queen says there was a temporal recision. Q made a single change in the year 2024 in Los Angeles. She says to seek the “Watcher” there for help. They brainstorm how to go back in time. Picard suggests a slingshot maneuver that Kirk’s Enterprise did but Jurati says Kirk had Spock. What they need presently is an intelligence to isolate the… Okay, you know where this is going. They going to need the Borg Queen. Seven is able to talk the Borg Queen into but not before rightfully insulting her.
Rios is unable to beam them up because of Eradication Day heightened security measures and then they lose comms. The Borg Queen is swept away to the ceremony. Seven informs Picard that he is supposed to be the one who executes her. They split up. Raffi and Elnor go to take down those security measures, Jurati stays to fix comms, and Seven and Picard head the ceremony.
The rest of the episode is in quick, action-packed cuts.
Seven reads a speech at the ceremony to a rabid-for-blood audience as Jurati struggles to fix the comms. The Borg Queen is presented on stage.
Raffi takes a handcuffed Elnor down to security and tells then he uploaded a virus. To distract them, she says they can beat him up while she fixes it.
Picard stalls by rallying the crowd. Seven disengages the Borg Queen’s shielding. Picard takes out his phaser as if to execute her.
Jurati has comms with Rios. Raffi takes down the transporter shields and lets Elnor take out the soldiers.
Seven and Picard’s stalling tactics stop working and her husband is suspicious. He sends guards up on stage and Picard shoots them. Right when things are about to go South, Jurati is able to get a lock and they are all beamed up to the La Sirena.
Jurati immediately takes the Borg Queen to get her connected to the ship and Rios is not down with that. Picard tells him they need to go back in time and to get to the bridge because the fleet is after them. Jurati successfully plugs the Borg Queen in. It’s all working out. Until it’s not.
The ship’s computer announces, “Presidential override,” and the ship stops. Seven’s husband transports in. He shoots Elnor. They are caught. The episode ends with him smugly saying to Picard, “I wonder what a trophy of your head will say. How about Jean-Luc Picard, traitor. Killed while rescuing a borg.”
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 streams on Paramount Plus.