Star Trek: Picard 1×5 Review: “Stardust City Rag”
Here we are, at the halfway point of the season. Are we poised for some major revelations and galaxy-shattering reveals?
Warning: spoilers ahead.
So, uh, no.
Picard is content with drip-feeding us the big secrets pushing the narrative behind the scenes. This episode almost could feel like a bit of fun filler – a Star Wars-esque casino and heist job – but the strong plot threads around Raffi and Seven keep the episode on another level
But this was a gritty one, wasn’t it? It feels like more and more, this post-supernova Trek universe is a deconstruction of the ideals the franchise was originally built upon. Seven’s story arc here, beautifully crafted in the flashback and current-day story, is really the star of the episode. Thankfully, Jeri Ryan here is given way more latitude and depth to portray Seven, and we get a more nuanced approach to the character in one episode than Seven received in her entire run on Voyager. That’s not the fault of the actress; that comes down the stark contrast in production teams between both series.
In a sense, Seven’s arc in this episode is a microcosm of where Trek (and in-universe, tbe Federation) is at: disillusioned, shaken, and reacting to the real world. It is tragic in a sense how Seven resolves her dispute with Bjayzl. Compare to how Seven, under Janeway’s guidance, would have reacted or handled that situation, and look ahead many years later. So much has changed and broken Seven (her words about losing the closest thing she had to a child hit hard) that, realistically, most people would have reacted the same way. Her lie to Picard as a way to maintain his illusion of hope is touching but unsettling.
And honestly, the more the series progresses, the more Picard appears to be naive. Is he really a relic? Are his ideals even realistic in a Federation that has dialed back on its promise and foundation? Given Jurati’s actions at the end (what a twist!… yeah, we totally saw that coming), is there some stark reality that even Picard’s ideals will fail when confronted by it?
At this point, I don’t know.
And that’s the intriguing aspect of the show. I can’t tell if I’m going into it with the wrong expectations. The writing is excellent. The acting is on point. It’s diversifying the storytelling and tropes we’ve typically seen in Trek. Just as in Discovery, we had over-arching story arc for the season that’s intriguing. In a way, Picard feels like a mash-up of The Next Generation and the grittiness of Deep Space Nine with modern sensibilities. It’s all good stuff, but it takes some processing.
My only complaint this week is that I feel we didn’t get enough of Raffi’s story with her estranged son. What we had was heartbreaking and good, but not as fleshed out as I would have liked to have seen.
We’re moving more firmly towards the endgame now, but so many questions remain. Most immediate: how does Jurati explain that?