by Alan Yudman
The second episode of STAR TREK: PICARD titled MAPS AND LEGENDS continues Jean-Luc Picard’s struggle with his fractured legacy. Can he live up to it or repair it? That remains to be seen but it isn’t going to be easy.
Now the Maps referred to are more metaphor than real. Picard’s path to finding Dahj’s sister Soji is being laid out. In a remarkably revealing scene, his request for a ship to go find Bruce Maddox is turned down by Starfleet Command. He isn’t just turned down though he is humiliated by an Admiral who calls his request “fucking hubris”. That forces Picard to take another route on his journey. Picard is also dealing with his legend. The Admiral gets into a debate about the reasons behind his divorce from Starfleet. Picard has always believed in being the ultimate human, helping anyone in trouble. But the Admiral reveals a shocking truth, Starfleet is omnipotent. It gets to decide who lives and dies. It is a shocking revelation from a society believed to be a moral guidepost. You can see how it rattles Picard as it goes against his own principles.
The other legends dealt with are those of the Romulans. Their history as operators and schemers is revealed in new disturbing ways. The Tal Shiar seems resurrected. They have agents operating on earth and within Starfleet. But we also learn about an ancient Romulan agency called the Zhat Vash… described as the keeper of secrets only the dead can truly keep. One of those is the Romulan distrust and outright hatred of synthetic life forms. Now their beliefs begin to align with those of Starfleet since the destruction of Mars. Starfleet intelligence seems to be working with Romulans to find Soji. The legend of this secret agency seems real.
The shocking reveal at the end of REMEMBERANCE is explained. The Borg cube we see is really something run by the Romulans called The Artifact. They are exploiting it by mining its technology for profit (where are the Ferengi?). We also learn more about Soji, her work. She helps remove Borg technology from drones who are being “unassimilated”. We get more hints about her humanity and her knowledge as she seems sympathetic to one drone who she speaks to in his native language.
Picard’s map to finding Soji requires him to get in touch with a former Starfleet officer Rafi Musiker who seems none too happy to see the Admiral. That’s where this episode ends.
The knowledge of Star Trek history is satisfying. Picard’s diagnosis of Irumodic Syndrome from “ALL GOOD THINGS” is brought up. He had received a physical by his former doctor on the Stargazer in order to be cleared for space travel. It seems the disease is progressing, and the prognosis is dire. But Picard would rather die among the stars than withering like a vine at his vineyard. We also get a glimpse of the destruction of Mars and how very Data-looking synths made it happen.
STAR TREK: PICARD continues to be a satisfying watch, even when it is just setting up the plot for future episodes. It deals with life, death and finding your true place in the galaxy.