In Star Trek: Picard Episode 6, “The Impossible Box,” Jean-Luc Picard returns to a Borg cube and faces his past self while Soji faces the reality of her true, hidden self.
This recap of Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 6, “The Impossible Box”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Just before the untimely death of Bruce Maddox at the end of Episode 5, Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) discovered that Soji (Isa Briones) is on the Artifact–the reclaimed Borg Cube. Picard is going to have to return to the Borg cube–something he hasn’t done since his rescue from the Collective in “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II.” Star Trek: Picard Episode 6 is the one that should bring most of the elements of the series to a head: Picard must deal with his traumatic past as a Borg while also finding Soji before the Tal’Shiar. Moreover, Soji begins to discover her true identity as a sleeper-Synth (an android) at Narek’s insidious urging. At these tasks, “The Impossible Box” is successful. It’s just too bad that we have copious amounts of Jaime and Cersei, er, Narek and Narissa (Harry Treadaway and Peyton List), with heavy dashes of Narek creeping on Soji. The good news: it looks like that aspect of the storyline is out of the way.
The most successful bits of “The Impossible Box” dealt with Picard wrestling with his past as Locutus of Borg. He knows he must return to the Borg Cube; he knows that the Borg Cube is cut off from the Collective, that it’s not even called a Borg Cube any longer. And he successfully returns, albeit with crushing flashbacks and paranoia. This leads to a touching reunion with Hugh (Jonathan del Arco), the director of the Reclamation project. Hugh comforts and protects Picard, reassuring him that he’s no longer Locutus, no longer in danger on the Cube. His life’s work is to return the gift that Picard and the Enterprise gave him: his freedom and identity. This is one thing that Picard (unconsciously?) seeks in this season: his identity. He left his life in Starfleet behind, leaving a trail of brokenness in his wake. Who is he now? Who should he be?
This mirrors the Soji storyline in Star Trek: Picard Episode 6. We first see Soji’s dream of her younger self (Ella McKenzie) walking through a corridor on a dark and stormy night, entering her father’s lab, and jerking awake at his reproof. Narek–in bed with Soji–continues his incessant, unsubtle interrogation of her. Seriously, this brilliant scientist cannot see that he’s so obviously a spy. She directly questioned it two weeks ago, yet she’s fine to keep sleeping with and confiding in him? I have never bought their relationship, and I’m happy it looks to be over. He lets her know that her nightly calls to her mother last exactly 70 seconds–she always happens to fall asleep while talking with her mother. She tries this out and it happens again: she begins talking to her mother and is forced asleep. When she awakes, she starts scanning the age of her personal effects and sees that everything she owns is just about three years old. Her life is manufactured. Just then, Narek arrives and says he’ll help her to meditate to find the source of her dreams.
We spend a great deal of time with an inexplicable meditation/memory retrieval technique. The idea is interesting: there’s a twisting image on the floor, a path you walk as you try to remember. But it’s not fleshed out or explained or executed believably. Maybe this is due to the utterly unbelievable relationship they have that I just don’t buy anything they do. However, the plot moves forward, regardless of my belief! They work through her dreams and Soji walks through her dream, finally getting to the end when she sees herself on a lab table in disassembled pieces like a doll. She also looks out the skylight and sees her location, which she reveals to Narek, who promptly kisses her then locks her in the room with his Romulan Rubix cube that he’s always playing with. It opens up and gasses the room. This activates Soji’s android nature and she begins breaking through the floor with her fists, landing on a lower deck right in front of Picard and Hugh. Picard essentially says, “Come with me if you want to live,” and Hugh helps them escape through some sort of portal, telling the La Sirena to meet them at the planet Nepenthe (where I believe Riker and Troi are waiting).
I really appreciate Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 6 for bringing us the long-awaited convergence of the Picard/La Sirena and Soji/Artifact storylines. They didn’t draw it out too long, and I’m excited to see this propel us through the back third of the season. I just didn’t appreciate the Narek heaviness of “The Impossible Box.” He’s always felt shoehorned into the show, awkwardly seducing the inexplicably naive synthetic scientist. He’s the most obvious spy any show has ever seen, and I have never bought that anyone would believe he was anything else. Now that’s dispensed with and we can move forward with the show! For Picard to wrestle with his identity so thoroughly, only to be met by Hugh and reassured by the former teen Borg he rescued decades earlier, this show has my undying affection and applause.
- Elnor is becoming criminally underused. He’s funny; his absolute candor brings levity to awkward situations. Yet with all the gravity lent toward bringing him aboard the La Sirena, he’s just shunted to the side like most other young adults Picard works with.
- Next week we’re definitely meeting Troi and Riker! I cannot wait!
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