Star Trek: Picard - Broken Pieces - Review: Picking Up the Pieces By DJRiter (March 14, 2020, 10:30 pm)
*NOTE – This review may contain spoilers.
Wow! I’m not even sure where to begin to discuss the sheer magnificence of episode 1x08 of Star Trek: Picard-Broken Pieces. Previous episodes have given us great individual character moments as we get to know Picard’s new crew. This one puts them together in one compelling episode that drives the season’s story forward at warp speed toward what is sure to be an explosive first season finale. This episode, from an award-worthy script from Michael Chabon and exquisitely directed by Maja Vrvilo, has a little bit of everything - humor, dramatic confrontation, emotional moments and revelations, and intense action sequences. But more important of all it features incredible performances all around from Michelle Hurd, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Evan Evagora, Santiago Cabrera, Peyton List and especially a return visit from Jeri Ryan. I’m saying again, if one of the next Star Trek series planned doesn’t involve the interstellar adventures of Ryan’s 7of9 Ranger Annika, fans may riot.
This talented crew shines in taking the broken pieces of their characters and putting them together to discover the story behind the synth attack on Mars and why the Romulans are determined to wipe all synths from existence. And who has been behind events unfolding for thousands of years. The race is now on between Picard and his crew, and the Romulans to the Synth homeworld, one racing to save it, the other to destroy it. It was a masterful piece of storytelling that everything, including orchestrating the Synth attack on Mars has been a designed plan by the Romulans. They left very little to chance even going to far as to insert one of their own and guide her to becoming the head of Security for Starfleet. As Picard states late in the episode, “Starfleet betrayed itself, it gave way to fear.”
There was hardly a moment in the episode that wasn’t standout like Picard and Soji’s quiet talk about Data. In a beautiful piece of writing Stewart and Briones connect as I expected them to as he explains to her Data’s childlike wisdom. It was a classic Picard moment when he admits that Data’s way of processing and expressing emotion was limited, only to realize that it was something he had in common with the Android. Briones’ topped that moment when her response to him, as though to offer Picard some sort of comfort was that in his way Data loved him.
Briones also gets to excel in another exceptional scene where Agnes (Alison Pill), who has been awakened from her coma to face a judgmental Picard, comes face to face with the very thing that both fascinates and frightens her, a living, breathing Synth life form. Their conversation was so powerful as the excited scientist in Agnes was almost giddy in questioning how Soji reacted to things like fear, sadness, and thirst. But it was one simple question from Soji that elevated this scene so many levels. After enduring all of Agnes’ seemingly scientific inquisitiveness, she turns the table by asking her, “Do you see a person when you look at me?” For a moment Agnes doesn’t quite know how to respond. Both actresses nailed their character’s responses in this scene.
I’ve been concerned about Hurd’s use so far in the series, but this episode more than makes up for it. When Rios (Santiago Cabrera) reacts oddly to Soji’s arrival she turns detective to help her friend. This quest provides both some of the more humorous yet deeply moving parts of this episode. As far as the humor, watching her superior work with all 5 of the Rios service holograms is fun and touching, easily some of Hurd’s better work on the series. Cabrera is brilliant in portraying each hologram giving them their own distinct personalities and characteristics, each one representing a broken piece of Rios. Yet, it’s their heart-breaking scene together where Rios reveals to his friend that his former Captain, whom he considered a father, committed suicide after killing two synths with whom they’d just made first contact because of a Black Flag directive from Starfleet. He admits he covered up the suicide and the deaths and that the memories were haunting him now because one of the synths/emissaries they met was another of Data’s clones called Jana and the arrival of the identical looking Soji brought that pain all back.
That brings us to what is happening on The Borg Artifact in the meantime. Rizzo, the deliciously driven Peyton List is tearing the ship apart in search of El Nor (Evan Evagora) who has summoned help via a Ranger disc he found. Just as Rizzo’s team has found him and is about to overwhelm the young warrior, help arrives with guns blazing in the form of Jeri Ryan’s heroic Seven of Nine, aka Annika. What evolves from then is an edge of your seat battle of wits between Rizzo and Seven. We learn the background and purpose of her mission, including a somewhat surprising familial connection. List continues to chew the scenery as she blasts her way through the cube killing still assimilated Borg before they can be activated. Yet, never is she more chilling than when she utters that menacing Borg refrain, “Resistance is Futile.” In the end, she is subdued by some of the free Borg on the ship, I sincerely hope she is not dead as I would love to see her live to do battle with Seven of Nine again.
Ryan matches her scene for scene as Seven blasts her way in to rescue then comfort El Nor, then calmly takes command and reactivates the Borg cube to stop Rizzo. She is the action hero we all want on our side in this episode, but it is that moment where she makes the almost ultimate sacrifice to reconnect herself to the ship only Borg collective she has created to guide them to safety. That moment where she stands there stoically as the computer connects her to the new collective and her eyes go from nearly teary-eyed to flat then black as the collective takes over will go down as one of THE iconic moments of this series. Then, she takes it up several notches, when after appearing to defeat the Romulans, she is released from the collective with the comment, “Annika still has work to do.” From here on out to me, Seven of Nine is gone and we should refer to this space heroine as Annika. I cannot say it enough that both this character and actress that deserves a Star Trek series of her own, there are so many more stories there to tell.
There were so many amazing moments in this episode that it was difficult to include them all in this review but I would be remiss to also mention a very subtle powerful moment near the end of the episode when Picard instinctively took command by finally sitting in the Captain’s chair of the La Siena. What made the scene even better was him realizing that he couldn’t drive the ship and this mission alone, he needed his team. Without question, Broken Pieces will go down as one of those episodes that fans in the future will refer to with awe and respect. It was clearly the best episode so far of the first season of Star Trek: Picard. What were your thoughts on the episode? Share them in the comments below.