Do Androids love Mars?
Star Trek Picard 1.2: “Maps and Legends” |(W) Michael Chabon & Akiva Goldsman (D) Hanelle Culpepper
The episode opens in the year 2385. A group of workers start their day at the Utopia Planitia shipyards on Mars. Things seem normal until one of their android “Synths” is seemingly hacked. It goes to the computer terminal and disables the defenses. The Synth then kills the workers and shoots himself, as the android attack on Mars commences.
We then move back to 2399 where Picard and Laris go to Dahj’s apartment to try to find clues to her sister’s location. They discover that the place has been scrubbed of evidence with advanced technology. She tells Picard about the Zhat Vash, an ultra secret organization within the Romulan Star Empire that has existed for thousands of years and has a hatred for artificial life. They find a clue and learn that Soji is somewhere off world, which creates a problem for Picard as he is grounded on Earth.
Back on the Borg Cube, we learn that Soji has started a love affair with Narek, the Romulan. The Romulans are harvesting Borg technology, directly from deactivated drones. The ultimate purpose is unknown, probably for profit. Soji has some weird connection to the Borg.
Picard travels to Starfleet headquarters, which strongly resembles the Anaheim Convention Center, and meets with Admiral Clancy. Picard requests to be reinstated to find the girl and stop the Romulan plot. With a wonderfully place f-bomb, Clancy tells Picard to buzz off. He left the service and then bad mouthed Starfleet in a TV interview. There is no way they are helping him. After Picard leaves, Clancy contacts Commodore Oh to let her know about Picard’s actions. Clancy is just reporting the information, she’s not evil. It turns out Commodore Oh is working with the Zhat Vash and that they are the ones that killed Dahj. Oh orders Lt Rizzo, a Romulan in disguise, to handle the Soji matter personally. She will deal with Picard.
The episode ends with Picard going to visit his old first officer, Raffi Musiker, to find a ship and search for Soji himself. On the Borg Cube, Rizzo makes contact with Narek, her brother, and fellow Zhat Vash operative. Rather than kill/torture Soji, he is bedding her so get the information the Romulans want: The location of more Synths like her.
Picard is back in action and hitting roadblocks everywhere he goes. The revelations of Doctor Benayoun add a new wrinkle to the story.
The great character actor David Paymer is Dr Benayoun, whom Picard served with on the Stargazer. He asks his old friend to clear him for space travel. While he passes all of the minimal physical and mental requirements, there is an abnormality in Picard’s parietal lobe. This is pretty much a death sentence. The specific disease is not mentioned, but in “All Good Things”, we see Picard (around this time period) suffering from Irumodic Syndrome. It is implied that this is what is happening.
Laris and Zhaban continue to be excellent supporting characters, particularly Laris. She is quickly becoming something of a fan favorite. I know she is not a part of the crew this season, but provided she survives I hope we see more of her. She and Zhaban have death marks on them by the Tal Shi’ar.
Isa Briones continues to be something of an enigma as Dr Soji, Dahj’s sister. She develops a romantic relationship with Narek (creeping behind her) and has some strange affinity for the Borg. As far as we know, she is unaware of her android nature, but perhaps not.
Ann Magnuson, and her potty mouth, is the Commander in Chief of Starfleet. She is portrayed as a hard ass, but not the bad guy. She and Picard are clearly adversarial, but she does bring up an interesting counter-point for Starfleet’s reason for abandoning the Romulans. Member worlds were threatening to secede from the Federation over it.
Tamlyn Tomita plays Commodore Oh. Memory Alpha is currently saying that she is a Romulan in disguise, but following some dialogue between Rizzo and Narek, it is implied that she has been a useful ally, not a part of the Zhat Vash. She’s your normal Vulcan. Definitely a bad guy though.
Peyton List is Rizzo, Narek’s sister. She does a pretty good job here as a surgically altered Romulan spy INSIDE the Federation. That is one of the cooler aspects of this story for me. They’ve infiltrate Starfleet. I think she will be our main baddie for the season.
Alison Pill drops in for a spot of tea this week. lol.
We briefly meet Raffi when Picard travels to her home (at Vasquez rocks of course) for help. It has not yet been revealed why she hates Picard so much. They seemed pretty chummy in the Picard Comic. I like this character. Her introduction was great.
Things slowed down this week, and they definitely leaned into the exposition, but it was still very good. This was clearly a “setting up” episode. Next week we are looking to meet the new captain and see the ship they will be travelling on this season. Overall, I think Picard is off to a wonderful start. Is it Thursday yet?