“The End is the Beginning” is designed to be the last page of the first act of Picard, and that’s exactly how it feels. Many disparate plot threads are aligning, and a goal has formed. Picard gets a new crew and sets a course for adventure.
This recap of Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 3, “The End is the Beginning”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Star Trek: Picard Episode 3, “The End is the Beginning,” wraps up the opening act of this story. The first two episodes – each directed with great deftness by Hanelle Culpepper – drew us into this new post-Nemesis world, reacquainted us with Jean-Luc Picard, and set up a new mystery. That’s a tall order. I complained last week (while still liking the episode a great deal) that there was a ton of exposition just dumped right on us, and that’s still true. But I’m not sure they had another option–and, let’s face it, Picard exposition is my kind of exposition! With “The End is the Beginning,” however, we really get started with this adventure, and I’m ready to go.
Star Trek: Picard Episode 3 begins with further flashes of the destruction of Mars, bringing us back 14 years earlier to Starfleet HQ. We see the moments after Picard resigns from Starfleet. Picard (Patrick Stewart) has just come out of a meeting and his former first officer Raffi (Michelle Hurd) suspects the Tal’Shiar are behind the synthetic attack, which seems counterintuitive because Starfleet is mounting a rescue mission to save their species from extinction. She calls him JL, and there’s a true camaraderie between them. Starfleet has pulled the plug on Picard’s rescue plan, and he’s offered his resignation.
“Mars is burning. Tens of thousands are dead. And nobody is thinking; nobody is listening. They’re just reacting… they said that our plan was unfeasible. Half of them never wanted to rescue the Romulans in the first place. The rest are just frightened. I never dreamed that Starfleet would give in to intolerance and fear... My resignation was the last desperate, wild solution. I never believed they would accept it.”
In the present day, 2399, we return to Vasquez Rocks where Raffi has pulled a phaser rifle on Picard and does not want to hear what he has to say. Raffi is wrecked, a paranoid hermit with addiction issues. “My life over the last 14 years has been just one long slide into humiliation and rage. Also, a fair amount of snake leaf induced paranoia.” Picard’s resignation devastated her and left her in the cold. He hasn’t contacted her in the post 14 years, hasn’t reached it. Who else has he not been in touch with?
What is this utopian future like? Picard can retire to his chateau while she lives in a hovel. What is this disparity? Are her paranoid tendencies responsible? She refuses to go along with Picard, though she gets him an off-the-books pilot. This pilot, as multiple people point out, is up for hire–isn’t money a thing of the past in the Federation? Star Trek: Picard Episode 3 isn’t the first time that Star Trek has attempted to walk back their own utopic economics (Deep Space Nine had gold-pressed latinum), but Picard himself has given a speech about money being a thing of the past. Maybe this is just a further sign of the 24th century’s decay, along with the heart of Starfleet.
But this highlights what has happened to Picard’s character. He has been, to an extent, Luke Skywalkered. He is not himself. He’s broken and disillusioned with the organization to which he’s dedicated his life. He’s sequestered himself on his vineyard, leaving those he loves behind to nurse his wounded pride. One major symbol of this: on Captain Rios’ ship, Picard bypasses the captain’s chair–he’s no longer the captain we knew. But he’s looking for him. Picard tells Laris, “I tried my best to belong to this place. But I don’t think I ever truly felt at home here.” He’s at home in the stars, and it’s time he returned to them.
On the Reclamation Site, we meet Soji’s boss, Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco). He’s the executive director of the Reclamation Site, and we last met him in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s season 7 premiere, Descent, Part 2. He’s heading up the reclamation of the Borg, and this is perfect. How did I not see that coming? He’s sympathetic to the Borg plight, desperate to help them, and he’s willing to submit himself to the Romulans to get this done. “There is no more despised people in the Galaxy than the ex-B’s. All they see is property to be exploited. Or as a hazard to be warehoused. Our hosts, the Romulans, have a more expansive vision. They see us as both.” He and Soji (Isa Briones) seem to have taken their mission aboard the Reclamation Site as more than just a job; it’s a calling. Soji wants to see Ramdha (Rebecca Wisocky), an ex-Borg. She was the foremost expert on ancient Romulan myth. Soji, an anthropologist, wants to meet her. She’s interested in a shared mythology that might somehow help rehabilitate the Nameless.
Picard pays a visit to Raffi’s contact, Captain Rios (Santiago Cabrera), in “The End is the Beginning”. He sizes Rios up immediately as disillusioned ex-Starfleet, but still with the heart of a Starfleet officer. Rios asks Picard if they’re going to do anything illegal, and Picard replies, “I’m not in the habit of consulting lawyers before I do what needs to be done.“ They’re going to get along well.
We get a bit of a glimpse into Rios’ past in a conversation he has with an EMH. ”I already had one grand, heroic captain in my life. The last thing I need is another one. Ten years on I can’t close my eyes without seeing the last one’s blood and brains splattered all over the bulkhead.” He’s got some good pain that’ll make for a good angsty relationship with Picard. Don’t worry, good ol’ JL will fix him and everyone else.
Back on Chateau Picard, another Romulan team attacks. Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane) have disrupters stashed all over the chateau, which I love! Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) steps in, killing a Romulan by accident. She reveals that Oh came to see her (a cut scene we saw the beginning of). Zhavan wants to kill one but Laris stops him—“We’re not like them anymore.” Following this, in alternating scenes that cut back and forth, Soji interviews Ramda while Picard the captured Tal’Shiar agent. They both begin saying that Soji and Dahj aren’t what they think. They’re destroyers, the end of all. Then, the agent kills himself using the acid capsule that killed Dahj, and Ramda attempts to kill herself with a disrupter to the temple. These woven-together scenes drive the tension forward so smoothly, bringing us to a peak, a tipping point that demands enterprise.
This is the ultimate call to action that Picard needs in Star Trek: Picard Episode 3. He beams aboard Rios’ ship, the La Sirena. Jurati hitches a ride with them, and so does Raffi. She reveals that Maddox is on Freecloud, whatever that is (we saw this embedded in a data file she was exploring). We have a destination for this ragtag group to head.
“The End is the Beginning” ends with “Engage” and the familiar swell of the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme. I am in.
I still ask that this streaming service sheds the fetters of the 42-minute format. It doesn’t need them! From a storytelling standpoint, I think we could’ve gotten a two-hour premiere that brought us to this point. I think it’d have been tighter and more focused to get us here. However, I’ve had three weeks with Picard, so I’m not all that bothered, in the end.
- I want a Laris and Zhavan as spies spinoff.
- Raffi isn’t afraid to pull a gun on Picard. I like this lady.
- Still don’t like the uniforms…
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