a review by the Crow.
After all, how often is it that you hear me say that
The Impossible Box
SPOILER LEVELS at RED ALERT
This is more like it.
The Impossible Box opens with a nightmarish memory of Soji’s. This memory serves as the key to the episode’s core plot, as Narek — somehow back in Soji’s good graces following his disastrous attempt at planting “seeds” in her mind — uses it to further the Zhat Vash’s nefarious schemes.
Narek is not the only one who escapes punishment. Dr Jurati’s murder of Maddox has not been exposed by La Sirena‘s EMH, and the scene immediately following Soji and Narek’s bedtime tête-à-tête stars her being “debriefed” by Picard — who accepts her explanation. And so my frustration with Picard — the character — continues. Elnor comes “in-butting” into the conversation, and Picard exposits a little about the Artifact — setting to rest most questions one might have had about its status within Romulan-Federation affairs.
The episode then sets up the inevitable collision between the two opposing parties: Picard’s personal mission, and the Zhat Vash’s agenda. Of course, this leads to much ire from Picard (albeit with none of the aggressive lunacy shown in First Contact), and follows into screenshots of both Hugh and Locutus of Borg. Cue more nightmares for Picard.
Jurati and Rios finally resolve their tension, which Elnor just-as-quickly makes awkward the following day, Rizzo and Narek continue their… interesting moustache-twirling conversations, and Raffi pulls some strings to reinstate Picard as a diplomat visiting the Artifact on a “personal mission”. How Picard hasn’t been blacklisted following his last run-in with Starfleet is beyond me, although Raffi does get quite a snide dig at Picard in while pulling her strings. Picard then instantly reveals himself to be just as tone-deaf as he was in Absolute Candor, and it is beginning to get tiresome how detached Picard continues to behave around others. Bitter old man or not.
In Absolute Candor, the “bar” scene could be chalked up to his being a stubborn old man, but here — as with the scene in which he is reunited with Elnor — Picard utterly misreads the situation Raffi puts herself in; frustrating, to say the least. It doesn’t help that after his gaffe, Picard sits in his chair with a smug look of satisfaction on his face, and a good old theme tune from Star Trek of yesteryore plays.
Rios picks up some of the pieces which result from Raffi, and his character does continue to grow on me. I expect Rios to have quite a bit more oomph to show by the end of the season, but so far, he’s been the most consistent character in the show. With all signs green and La Sirena within transporter range of the Artifact, Picard beams over to experience his own nightmares about the Borg. Why he is beamed to the location he appears in is a question I’d like an answer to — since it appears to be for little other reason than drama. Some background ex-Bs stop Picard from paying a visit to wherever the laws of artifical gravity and momentum shall take him, and we are treated to possibly the sweetest meeting in Picard yet: him being reunited with Hugh.
Before I go on to speak of Hugh, I would like to point out that the brief use of clips from First Contact is handled rather well, and they don’t stand out much from the rest of the aesthetic of the scene, but it is only upon Hugh’s arrival that the episode begins to pick up some major steam. It feels that six episodes in — and at long last — we have finally completed the first act of our narrative, because it finally grants us a return to something akin to family. Captain Rios — the most loyal of Picard’s crew of space pirates — has gone above-and-beyond whatever his initial arrangement with Picard was (while hopefully being compensated in very handsome fashion; with “two umbrellas”). Raffi is… well, Raffi — drunk, and hard-to-deal-with. Jurati is a plant working for Admiral Deal-With-It. And Elnor is a child with super-ninja abilities. But it isn’t up until Picard reunites with Hugh that we finally see a sense of fierce loyalty return to the show. Picard has been missing that sense since we left Laris and Zhaban behind to take care of the grape harvest and handle the production of terrines d’oie.
It helps, of course, that Picard states that to drive the point home to newer audiences.
Hugh acts as both guide and therapist to Picard following their meeting, and the scenes featuring the former Borg and the Reclamation Project are very good, wholesale. However, it is important to note that following Picard’s introduction to the Reclamation project, Hugh asks him how he can help, and a lot of the urgency of the situation is taken away from the episode. While Hugh cannot be blamed for his more laid-back approach to the Soji situation, given that he sees no immediate danger to her person, Picard has spent quite some time (see: Absolute Candor) dilly-dallying about on his way to her. Especially after hearing mention of the “dashing Romulan spy”, Picard should be barrelling forward towards her general direction. As happy as I am with the scenes of Picard and Hugh taking a walk through the recovery bays of the Reclamation Project, it does lead to our “dashing Romulan spy” stealing Soji away.
Narek doesn’t do any of this by design; rather, it’s sheer coincidence that his plans line up so well with Picard’s little stroll. Earlier in the episode, Narek sowed great doubt in Soji’s mind — with evidence — about her true nature; a doubt reaffirmed with more evidence, of Soji’s own finding, in the form of some type of futuristic carbon dating. Once she uncovers these uncomfortable pieces of evidence pointing to her life possibly being a lie, she throws a tantrum and messes her room up. While I make that sound quite childish, the scenes are quite well-handled, and Ms Briones does a solid job of selling the performance.
Following her tantrum, Narek invites Soji to take part in a Romulan meditation ritual (the Zhal Makh) — one which somehow helps her access hidden parts of her memory. Soji’s dream ends with a clear suggestion that she is synthetic, but reveals a major hint at the location where the memory/nightmare might be set/have taken place. With evidence of the location where “the rest of them” are — although there is little to go on — Rizzo/Narissa leaves to gather further intel on where it might be, and Narek finally reaches a decision to kill his lover. Before Soji can “activate”, Narek abandons her in the room, leaving behind his tan zhekran — a Rubik’s cube-esque plaything which may be used as a tool to aid one’s thinking — which doubles as a Reman-esque weapon intended to murder her. Of course, Soji escapes the murder attempt via her super-robot abilities, leaving a distraught Narek to engage in a seek-and-destroy mission with his fellow Zhat Vash operatives.
This results in Soji running into Picard, after Hugh and Picard discover the unrest in her room. Hugh, Picard, and Soji are thereafter on the run, after Picard offers her his aid. Picard and Soji are “trajected” to Nepenthe — the planet which will serve as the basis of the next episode, after setting up a rendezvous with Rios and Raffi. Elnor — on the other hand — beams over to the Artifact and both he and Hugh prepare for a last stand to cover Picard’s escape. Of course, this won’t be the last we see of Elnor, and hopefully not of Hugh, but Picard’s slightly lackadaisical acceptance of the current state of events is a little disappointing, given how much Hugh and Elnor stand to lose, as well as how long Picard has been absent from both of their lives.
All-in-all, however, The Impossible Box is the best episode of Picard yet, despite its flaws. It manages to smooth over its little mistakes by kicking the overarching plot into second gear. Questions about the nature of these “others” are still to be answered, and now we must know what Raffi figures abour the Romulans’ interest in Soji. The episode suffers from little of the technical errors which have appeared in previous episodes, and manages to link to previous events in Star Trek in ways more profound than we have seen so far — managing to tie photos and clips together in ways which skip no beats. It’s a fine pivot point for the series, and ends in a way that serves as both a cliffhanger and a “reset” button. With Riker and Troi on the horizon, as well as the resolution of Elnor and Hugh’s stand, there is much to be excited about following this episode, and while I will be leaving any speculation out of this post, I will point out that any form of “mercy-killing” to end Hugh’s character arc would sadden me greatly.
The Impossible Box is the best episode of Picard yet, flawed as it is, and comes as highly recommended watching. I might write a speculation post about what is going on in Picard following the Oscine Awards, but I’m making no promises. A starship is imminent, as is some variation Data (as I am beginning to suspect), but like I said — I’m saving all speculation for a later date.
For now, let us be excited for what will happen in Nepenthe, and draw our own conculsions about where the show has taken us so far.
Until then, LLAP
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 7.5/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 8.5/10
THE SPOTTED NUTCRACKER: NA/10
- Star Trek: The Next Generation — S05E25: The Inner Light
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — S05E06: Trials and Tribble-ations
- Star Trek: Picard — S01E01: Remembrance
- Star Trek: Picard — S01E02: Maps and Legends
- Star Trek: Picard — S01E03: The End is the Beginning
- Star Trek: Picard — S01E04: Absolute Candor
- Star Trek: Picard — S01E05: Stardust City Rag
- Star Trek: Picard — S01E06: The Impossible Box
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E01: The Vulcan Hello & Battle at the Binary Stars
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E02: Context is For Kings
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E03: The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E04: Choose Your Pain
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E05: Lethe
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E06: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E07: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E08: Into the Forest I Go
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E09: Despite Yourself
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E10: The Wolf Inside
- Star Trek: Discovery — Episodes 11 — 15 Round Up
- Star Trek: Discovery — Short Treks
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E01: Brother
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E02: New Eden
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E03: Point of Light
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E04: An Obol for Charon
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E05: Saints of Imperfection
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E06: The Sound of Thunder
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E07: Light and Shadows
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E08: If Memory Serves
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E09: Project Daedalus
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E10: The Red Angel
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E11: Perpetual Infinity
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E12: Through the Valley of Shadows
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E13: Such Sweet Sorrow Part One
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E14: Such Sweet Sorrow Part Two
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
- Star Trek: Generations
- Star Trek: First Contact
- Star Trek: Insurrection
- Star Trek: Nemesis
- Star Trek (2009)
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Star Trek Beyond