Star Trek Picard Penance Television 

Five Thoughts on Star Trek: Picard‘s “Penance”

By | March 16th, 2022
Posted in Television | % Comments

On Star Trek: Picard season 2, part 2, Admiral Jean-Luc and the rest of the former La Sirena crew found themselves — thanks to Q — in a horrifyingly altered reality, where the Federation of United Planets is instead the xenophobic Confederation of Earth. As they reconnected and retraced their new lives, they set about uncovering and undoing what Q did in the past to create this dark new world.

1. Q Must Be Going

It’s not the ’90s anymore, and I guess there are no longer any self-contained episodes of a live-action drama either, but it was still a little jarring that Q was only in the first ten minutes of this episode. However, given Picard’s age and Q’s apparent emotional instability, I guess it was unlikely we were going to get an hour of them bickering like an old married couple again, and their respective swearing and striking at each other was an appropriately upsetting introduction to this dystopian setting. Why Q chose to rescue Picard and his closest new comrades this horrible way is the big question, but I would imagine learning to trust the Borg Queen (which they completely failed to do last time) is central to his current test of humanity, and so far they seem to doing OK — albeit after remembering she’s necessary to achieve time travel.

2. A Mirror of a Mirror

Star Trek revisited the mirror universe’s Terran Empire fairly recently in the first season of Discovery, so the strongly similar Confederation of Earth filled with me with some trepidation. I can understand in these troubled times — where war, climate change, and COVID-19 means the utopian dream of the Federation feels more distant than ever — that preventing a dystopian timeline’s existence was a very tantalizing prospect to the writers, and sure, we’ve never seen Mirror Picard in canon, but it’s been done so many times. Still, seeing Seven of Nine wake up as President Annika Hansen was a funny poke at the notion having women in power alone will solve the world’s problems, so that was worthwhile at least.

3. Jurati Steals the Show

Even in a nightmare world, it’s nice to know Agnes Jurati would have the temerity to create an animated A.I. cat (voiced by the one and only Patton Oswalt), who questions how barbaric the Confederation is. Our Jurati frankly stole the show in this episode when she had to bullshit her way around Annika’s husband, the Magistrate (Jon Jon Briones), to cover for what they were doing: she did great for someone still dealing with the trauma of being brainwashed into murdering her ex. I can only imagine how hard it was for Patrick Stewart and Jeri Ryan to keep a straight face filming that scene as well: as Stewart might say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Alison Pill!”

4. All Kinds of Terrible

As great as Jurati did this week, she struggled transporting the Borg Queen, Seven and Picard quickly enough from the Confederation ceremony, forcing them to dispatch some security guards (and I don’t think those phasers were set to stun): likewise, Raffi and Elnor had to kill some guards to defend themselves quite brutally. I’m guessing, in a non-Federation setting, the gloves are off and you can’t be idealistic: this is a world that should never have existed, and once Picard and friends have undone Q’s tampering, everyone they’ve been forced to kill will be alive and well, and no longer fascists. Nevertheless, it is terrible they have to do that, and it must be especially jarring for Elnor, who just became a Starfleet officer.

5. Where’s Soji?

In case you didn’t know, Jon Jon Briones is the father of Soji’s actress, Isa Briones, which is something that probably helped maintain a bubble against COVID-19 during filming. It does raise the question: where is she is this universe? Does she even exist? Q mentions Picard also has a synthetic body here, and we see a hologram of Brent Spiner as Adam Soong, so it’s possible androids like her did come about in this reality as well. We’re only two episodes into a ten-part season, so we must be patient, but it is surprising how little screentime she’s had for someone Picard considered the daughter of his best friend.

Continued below

Other Observations:

– 2024, the year Q went to L.A. to screw with history, should be a familiar year to Trekkies: the crew of Deep Space 9 went back to San Francisco that year, during the Bell Riots, in the two-part episode “Past Tense.” (It’s also the year Ireland reunifies in Trek lore!) Imagine if Q had gone there instead — Sisko would’ve definitely hit him again.

– Seven’s so smart, or at least incredibly quick on her feet: how many nightmares have you had, not knowing they were nightmares, and not remembered to check by smelling or touching something?

– Like the Klingons on Discovery, the newest Borg Queen has sensory pits dotted along her head, which is a neat way to make her feel more alien.

– Q’s getting very meta in his old age: in his dialogue, he references the titles of the episodes “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and “In a Mirror, Darkly.”

– This is the second time in a row where Picard mentions Spock: now given the theme of alternate realities, should we be bracing ourselves for an appearance from a CGI Leonard Nimoy?

That’s all for now, until tomorrow’s installment, “Assimilated.” (Jeez, we really did become the Borg here huh?)


//TAGS | Star Trek Picard

Christopher Chiu-Tabet

Chris is the news manager of Multiversity Comics. A writer from London on the autistic spectrum, he enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, and games, plus history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic.

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