by Alan Yudman

Last week I mildly complained about the formulaic nature of episodes 2, 3 and 4 of STAR TREK: PICARD. Well, the whingeing is over. STARDUST CITY RAG broke the mold in several ways.

There was a brief flashback to give us a little of Seven of Nine’s recent backstory. It involves Icheb from STAR TREK: VOYAGER and a group of, I suppose you could call them pirates led by a woman named Bjayzl. They find released Borg and harvest their technology. Similar to what the Romulans are doing on the Artifact, but much more cruelly. And we don’t see any sign of Soji, Narek and Narek’s menacing sister. Those are all pluses until they move that story forward in a more dramatic fashion.

I enjoyed this episode and then had a slightly disturbing thought. Did I like it because there is less Picard in PICARD? The story lines focus on Seven, Raffi, Agnes and Maddox. Picard seems to be there just to keep the larger mission in our minds. But Jean-Luc is largely a supporting player in this episode. Did that make it better? Maybe. I was so excited to see Patrick Stewart live in this role again. I tried to temper expectations knowing that an actor nearly 80-years-old could not do the same things he did on THE NEXT GENERATION. But the expectations were sneaking in the more I watched. Now I am approaching disappointment that the creators have dialed back his Picard-ness to a level that he seems almost like a doddering old man.

Everyone is on this mission for their own reasons and we are discovering more and more about those reasons. Raffi it seems has a grandson. Agnes and Maddox were more than work colleagues. Seven is out to avenge Icheb. Those are all interesting stories that play out in interesting ways. But they don’t involve Picard (other than doing a hilarious French accent to pass himself off as some kind of smuggler.. wait… he’s French.. shouldn’t his French accent be better?).

I’m still all-in. But I am waiting for a really good episode that makes me care more about Picard as much as I’ve begun to care about the other characters.

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