Star Trek: Picard’s season 2 opener, “The Star Gazer” does not disappoint. The season starts a year after the Federation lifted its synthetic ban. Most of the crew has reconciled with Starfleet and Picard has a pep in his step. What could go wrong? So, so much. Let’s get to it!
The episode starts with an alarm and we hear a Starfleet ship’s computer announcing, “Intruder Alert.” Explosions rock the ship as Starfleet crew members arm themselves. It’s all hands on deck. The computer also announces, “All security teams report to the bridge immediately.”
We follow a three-member security team as they run to a transporter. Once in, there is a moment of eerie silence as they look at each other. The fear is palpable. The transporter opens to a bridge in chaos. There are cables inserting themselves into computers and green phaser fire. That’s an ominous combination.
Picard’s voice asks for a status report. We hear Rios’ (Santiago Cabrera) voice say “Stop firing!” The computer announces, “Bridge control transfer 40% and we see a nonhuman on the bridge with cables coming out of them. It’s a Borg. Borg. Jurati (Alison Pill) says she’s gaining access to everything. Picard has only one option and initiates a self-destruct sequence. A countdown begins.
Time Is on My Side
We then go 48 hours earlier. As “Time Is on My Side” plays, it’s harvest day at Chateau Picard and he’s beaming. He sees Laris (Orla Brady) and takes her in. She looks at him as he looks away. The two are definitely pining for each other. Where’s her husband, Zhaban?
After a busy harvest day, Picard and Laris lounge outside with wine. Picard toasts to Zhaban. He’s died. Laris says she and Zhaban were promised to each other at birth and they learned to truly love each other. She also pointedly says that “Romulans don’t suffer losses as humans do. We love deeply and then we honor that love by loving again.” This makes him uncomfortable.
Laris touches on his life and wonders if he’s been seeking the stars or running. And, what he would find if he were to stop. Laris is definitely going for it. They both lean in for a kiss but he just can’t do it. Rejected, she finds an excuse to leave and to say there is sorrow and regret on his face would be an understatement.
He has a flashback. What we are seeing is a Jean-Luc Picard origin story. He’s running through the chateau as a young boy. He finds the sunroom. We see quick cuts between the Present Picard and Young Jean-Luc. Present Picard is in the sunroom at night and it looks like he doesn’t visit it at all anymore. He picks up a piece of glass with a rose on it.
Young Jean-Luc looks at the room and his mother enters saying, “My little Magellan.” They’ve just moved and she tells him that he’s never seen the beauty of “skies like this at night. I promise you. There’s magic here.” She promises that the room will be their special place.
Sadly, he asks if the move means “they” will fight less, assumedly referring to his parents. We then see Picard remember violent scenes of his mother being grabbed and one where she’s dragged across a floor. We see Young Jean-Luc throw a rock through the sunroom window which may be how that broken glass got there for Present Picard.
We hear his mother tell Young Jean-Luc that they will fight less but when they fight, she wants him to look up and “imagine how tiny our voices are out there….Look up at the stars Jean-Luc. Look up.”
At the same time, out in space, we see the USS Avalon come upon a giant green spatial anomaly.
The next morning, Picard is looking for a book. Laris finds it immediately. He wants to chat about the night before but that spaceship has sailed. She says it’s awkward walks away.
Let’s See What’s Out There
Picard gives a speech to cadets at Starfleet Academy. The scene continues the themes of time and regret that we’ve been seeing in this episode. He tells the cadets that “The true final frontier is time.” And, that in command, as in life, what we do in crisis often weights on us less heavily than what we wish we had done. “Time offers many opportunities but rarely offers second chances.”
He then gives props to Elnor (Evan Evagora), the first fully Romulan Starfleet cadet. Elnor is still his adorable, killing machine self. We also see Raffi (Michelle Hurd) in a Starfleet uniform. He goes on to say, “May you all go boldly into a future free from the shackles of the past.”
There is quite a bit of internal and external foreshadowing in this speech. To finish, he talks about being the last Picard in his line and how his forebears were explorers, too. He leaves them with the words of his mother, ones that we heard earlier. I’m sure we’ll be hearing them again, too. “Look up Jean-Luc. And let’s see what’s out there.”
Appropriate Relationship Skills
Next, we visit La Sirena. Seven (Jeri Ryan) is holding a wrench as a weapon while two pirates are stalking her. She swings the wrench at a person however it’s one of La Sirena’s many holograms, Emmet. She swings right through him. He says there is an issue outside — in space — but she’s too busy for that. One of the pirates says, “Show me your ugly Borg face.” What a jerk. The pirates are trying to take med supplies from the Fenris Rangers. Seven deactivates Emmet’s safety protocols and they both handily take them all out and send them on their way.
Emmet comments that she doesn’t have a flesh and blood crew and that her lifetime of humans reacting negatively to her Borg enhancements has affected her relationship skills. She’s not amused. They go and take a look outside. It’s the anomaly.
The Pressure of Legacy
Meanwhile, on Raritan IV in the Beta Quadrant. Soji (Isa Briones) is making a toast at a dinner table of Raritans on behalf of her people. It’s been a year since the ban on synthetics was lifted. Her hosts are loving it. Jurati is there too. However, she’s over at the bar completely plastered. A Raritan flirts with her and her response is magnificent. She gets real with him and says, “I’m half in the bag anyway so I’m going to give you a little advice. My longest-lasting intimate relationship, including the one I just ended, is less than a year. I was recently cleared of murdering my previous boyfriend due to alien-induced temporary insanity so I’m not exactly dating material. You know?”
A relationship she just ended? So, she and Rios have split. After she drunk word vomits, guess who hails her? Rios. He gives her some snark, “Confused. Never talk again was literally the last thing you said to me.” I guess she drunk hailed him.”
Jurati tells Soji she has to go. Soji is going to stay and continue her diplomatic mission. Before Jurati leaves, Soji tells her that Rios’s new job comes with pressure. Jurati is not impressed.
Jurati beams up and Rios is now a Starfleet captain and he is multitasking like nobody’s business, giving orders left and right like he was born to it. They are on their way to the spatial anomaly. They set a course and he says, “Make it so” as his “Engage.” A snide Jurati says, “The pressure of legacy. No one told you to accept a command with baggage.” What does she mean? We then see the ship. Oh. That’s what she means. His command is the USS Stargazer!
Back at Starfleet, cadets are getting assignments. Picard is now Chancellor of the Academy. He asks after Seven. (At the end of Season 1, Raffi and Seven got together). Raffi basically says she wishes it was something more but Seven is always out there saving folks in trouble. She looks at Picard and says he and Seven are alike and wonders if either of them gets lonely.
Picard gifts Elnor a book written by Spock about the challenges he faced as the first Vulcan in Starfleet. A sweet Elnor says he will cherish it. Elnor has been assigned Raffi’s ship. She wants to look out for him because “that boy’s absolute candor can get his ass kicked.”
On the Stargazer, Rios has his ever-present cigar when they are hailed. It’s Seven. Rios teases Seven because La Sirena doesn’t look as nice as when he gave it to her. All of a sudden a horrible screeching signal is heard. A still tipsy Jurati does an analysis and the signal is actually many languages overlaid and pleading, “Help us, Picard.”
On Earth, Picard transports to Forward Avenue, Historic District. Hmmm. He walks toward an establishment with the number “10” over it. I see what they did there. It’s 10 Forward avenue. We’re about to see a reunion.
Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) feels Picard’s presence as soon as he walks in. They embrace. He gifts her a bottle of Chateau Picard’s finest. She mentions that she’s pushing a century. El-Aurians age slowly but only if they want to. She’s noticed humans don’t like to be reminded of their mortality so she tries to keep up. There’s that time theme again but it’s also a nice way to justify why Guinan looks older.
Guinan notes that she’s never seen Picard looking so rough. She tells him that he always chooses love that is temporary, love that he knows won’t take root. His problem isn’t time, the problem is him. She asks what’s happening in there, pointing to his heart, that we’ve never talked about. Picard’s face fills with pain but he won’t talk about it. It’s obvious that he suffered major trauma before.
She dispenses some true Guinan wisdom, “I think your answers are not in the stars and never have been.”
At the chateau, Picard is visited by Admiral Whitley (April Grace). She tells him of the spatial anomaly and the “Help us, Picard” message. Then shares with him that there was more to it. The message was the entirety of Article 15. It’s an entreaty to join the Federation. So, an incredibly powerful entity wants to join the Federation and needs to talk to Picard.
Picard leaves for the anomaly. Laris enters the chateau and sees the ship take off. That man didn’t even say goodbye and she feels it.
On the Stargazer, Picard reunites with Seven. He says he’s come full circle as the Stargazer was his first command. She’s apprehensive. The latest Stargazer is a new class of ship that has Borg technology garnered from the Borg Artifact. She says for some, she sparks fear and paranoia.
On the bridge, Picard announces himself to the anomaly. We hear a very scary “Picard” and the entire ship starts to glitch. Something is coming through that anomaly. Red Alert! A giant ship comes through. Picard and Seven share a look and she nods. It’s the Borg.
Starfleet ships start to arrive including Raffi’s Excelsior. Rios tells Picard, “Right now, we’re the tip of the spear, you’re the ranking officer and the devil is calling your name.”
Picard and Jurati take one side. They believe the Borg joining the Federation can be a good thing. Seven and Rios are on the other with Seven adamantly opposed. She reminds Picard that the Borg assimilate. They don’t ask to be assimilated. Rios is called to the bridge.
The Borg want to send the Borg Queen to negotiate with Picard. Yes. The Borg Queen. Rios says not on his ship and tells the fleet to put their shields up. The Borg ship, which is not a cube, opens and an incoming transport signal starts to penetrate the Stargazer’s shields. Rios tells his bridge crew to get their hand phasers ready. He calls, “Security to the bridge,” and we are now in the moment when the episode started.
The Queen comes through and looks scary as all get out. It’s not the Queen we are used to seeing. There’s a black-like mask on her face that has tiny gears and tech. She creepily states, “We wish for peace but first…power.” Uh-oh. Cables come from her body and start plugging into the ship.
Seven can’t help herself and fires at the Queen. A nervous crew member follows suit and gets shot by the queen. The entire bridge fires at her and we see the gears of her face turn and click and she is able to shoot many at once. Rios yells to stop firing.
Seven notes the queen is stunning them, not killing. Jurati yells that the Queen is accessing the Borg modifications on the ship and getting access to everything. The Queen is assimilating the fleet.
With hope fleeing, Seven tells Picard that we can’t give her the armada. But then the Queen says they are out of time. Picard activates the auto-destruct. We hear Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien over the countdown. As we get closer to “one” the Queen tells Picard, “Look up” and the screen goes to white.
Picard wakes up in the sunroom at the chateau except everything is different. There are hexagonal energy shields in the sky. He walks through the home, the lighting fixtures and art are all different. There’s also an unfamiliar portrait of himself that he’s never seen before.
He calls for Laris but a synthetic walks in. It looks like F8 from Season 1. His name is Harvey. He asks if Picard wants, “his morning beverage on the veranda. The solar shields are holding well this morning. The sky is delightfully clear.” This isn’t right.
Picard asks what’s happening and then we hear it. The ultimate uh-oh. We hear a voice say, “An excellent question, Jean-Luc. My Capitan, how I’ve missed you.”
Picard says we are all thinking, “Goddamn Q.” Q (John de Lancie) asks if Picard remembers what he said the last time they saw each other. He said, “The trial never ends.” Q notes that Picard has been talking a lot about second chances lately. Then, in all his smug glory, Q says, “Well, my friend. Welcome to the very end of the road not taken.”
Goddamn Q, indeed.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 streams on Paramount Plus.