Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 6 review: “Fast-paced, extremely quotable, and infectiously fun”

Warning: This Star Trek: Picard season 2, episode 6 review contains major spoilers – many of them set to stun. Boldly go further at your own risk…

The Borg Queen was a controversial addition to Star Trek canon when she debuted in 1996’s First Contact. Why, the fan argument went, would a race of cyborgs who’d eliminated all sense of self install an individual being as their figurehead?

Writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D Moore believed, however, that although the zombie-like drones of the Borg were great antagonists for a TV show, a movie plot required a more tangible villain – a villain that Alice Krige quickly established as one of Trek’s most memorable antagonists. 

As the Queen (now played by the similarly brilliant Annie Wersching) continues to make mischief more than a quarter of a century later, it’s increasingly difficult to argue that her introduction was the wrong call. Yes, from a logical point of view, she’s such a contradiction that her existence makes zero sense – although she’s claimed in the past that she “brings order to chaos”, she spends the entirety of ‘Two For One’ looking for an excuse to party, before telling Agnes Jurati that “I’m trying to get you to understand that good things happen when you lose control.” But now that she exists as part of Agnes’s consciousness, the Queen’s become an incredibly entertaining devil on her shoulder with a penchant for stirring things up.

A more accurate analogy, then, may be Venom, two separate, bickering consciousnesses vying for control of the same body. Both Jurati and the Queen – it trips off the tongue like a great comedy double-act – pretend that they’re top dog in the relationship, but it’s increasingly clear that Jurati is only in charge when her cybernetic guest allows her to be. Even though Jurati’s mission to infiltrate the high-security Europa Mission pre-launch party would have floundered without the Queen’s influence – giving her super-strength, confidence, and the sudden desire to perform a show-stopping song on stage – it’s unlikely she’s helping out of any loyalty to her host.

Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 6

(Image credit: Paramount Plus)

The Agnes/Queen hybrid doesn’t quite wink at the camera when they wander into LA in the episode’s closing shot, but in a season as beautifully and lovingly crafted as this one, they could probably have carried it off if they had. Like the season as a whole, this latest installment is fast-paced, extremely quotable, and infectiously fun. There’s also a healthy dose of tension, thanks to the episode kicking off with Picard fighting for his life, before jumping back 34 minutes in the timeline. (Clocking in at under 40 minutes, ‘Two For One’ near-as-dammit plays out in real time, the clock gradually ticking down to the accident that leaves Jean-Luc in urgent need of medical attention.)

While the mission’s principal objective is ensuring Picard’s ancestor, Renée Picard, doesn’t quit her high-profile space flight, La Sirena’s crew – even those who aren’t being egged on by the Borg Queen – are keen to take advantage of 21st-century hospitality. Rios, in particular, is feeling high on life, getting disproportionately excited about a box of matches as he gets starry-eyed over Dr. Ramirez. Not even Raffi – who’s still seeing visions of Elnor – can put downer on his mood when she rightly points out that, “When you meet someone from a different century, the relationship is kind of built on lies.”

Picard, meanwhile, is getting to know Tallinn, who – as a skilled observer of human behavior – isn’t likely to fall for his line that her Romulan doppelganger, Laris, is “no one of importance”. After intercepting Renée’s messages to her therapist, Dr Q – “We all do that,” she points out, when Picard observes that Renée is spending a lot of time staring at her mobile device – she realizes something is wrong. While it’s not enough for her to abandon her non-interventionist policies, however, Picard wastes little time turning his back on the Prime Directive that has governed his entire career, diving straight in to alter (or preserve, depending on your point of view) the course of history.

Luckily Picard’s performance as P. Trotter – an “up in years” security guard who possesses remarkable wisdom – is rather more convincing than his turn as a comedy Frenchman in season one episode ‘Stardust City Rag’. Rolling back the years to his time in the Enterprise-D’s ready room, he delivers the perfect pep talk for the moment, reminding Renée of the importance of “looking up” – a key theme of the season – and not reading too much into the very natural fears she’s feeling about her impending launch. This beautifully underplayed scene is one of the highlights of the episode, as two Picards separated by centuries find common ground – Patrick Stewart plays Jean-Luc like the grandad everybody wishes they had.

Although Renée eventually decides to stick with the mission, there is an inevitable spanner in the works – and said spanner looks so much like Data that it’s no surprise Jean-Luc acts like he’s seen a ghost when he bumps into the episode’s Big Bad.

Now in league with Q – who sits out this episode, presumably using the extra time to work out his next Machiavellian project – Adam Soong is getting busy removing a Picard-shaped obstacle from his new associate’s path. Having kept the identity of Q’s target ambiguous last week, it now becomes clear that removing Renée from history is the superbeing’s objective – though Soong clearly didn’t count on the ever-noble Jean-Luc sacrificing himself to push Renée out of the way of his speeding sports car.

As the storyline catches up with that tease in the cold open, Jean-Luc is rushed to a hospital that won’t ask questions about the patient’s lack of ID – that it’s also run by the woman Rios fancies is clearly just a bonus. 

For all her experience in emergency medicine, Dr. Ramirez has never dealt with a synthetic body before, and is as surprised as anyone when her patient threatens to overload her defibrillator. Even though his heart is fixed, Picard’s brain is behaving particularly weirdly, locked in a perpetual flashback to a traumatic event from his childhood involving his mum. With 21st century medicine unable to help, the only solution is for Tallinn to use her Supervisor tech to initiate a “jerry-rigged mind-meld” and fix the problem from within. 

With Picard’s survival assured, however – after all, we already know he’ll be back with the Next Generation cast in the show’s third season – the episode’s most intriguing mysteries are reserved for Adam Soong. As his ‘daughter’, Kore, dives into his archives, it becomes clear that there’s more to their relationship than we initially assumed. She’s actually just the latest in a long line of experiments to genetically engineer a human being, and his protective feelings towards her are less about paternal instinct than his desire to have something to show for a life’s work.

As well as adding a ruthless extra dimension to the latest Soong iteration – and a tragic element to Kore’s locked-up existence – it opens up an intriguing wormhole to previous Treks. The most famous “Augment” in Trek lore is one Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered tyrant who played a major role in Earth’s late-20th century Eugenics Wars. Could Picard’s writers be tying season 2 into the origins of the franchise’s greatest villain? Are the similarities between the name of Data’s creator, Noonian Soong, and the vengeful Khan more than just a coincidence?

Then again, the fact that the timelines of this era in Trek ‘history’ don’t quite add up may provide a hint that this vision of 2024 isn’t everything it seems. With Soong’s ‘daughter’ looking identical to Soji, Tallinn being the spitting image of Laris, and the most important person in history being a Picard, everything in this world feels like it’s been built around Jean-Luc and his experiences. Indeed, when Q said that Picard was “the board on which the game is played” in episode 2, he may have been giving us a bigger clue about the nature of this season than we thought…

New episodes of Star Trek: Picard season 2 beam onto Paramount Plus (US) and Crave (Canada) on Thursdays. Viewers elsewhere can watch the show on Amazon Prime Video on Fridays. For more Trek action, check out our reviews of Star Trek: Discovery season 4.

The Verdict


4.5 out of 5

Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 6 review: “Fast-paced, extremely quotable, and infectiously fun”

This fast, fun episode keeps the focus firmly on the show’s present. With Picard trapped in limbo, Kore contemplating her entire existence, and the Agnes/Queen hybrid striding purposefully into the night, the last four episodes of the season are beautifully poised. As Raffi so eloquently puts it, “Statistically, odds-wise, given everything that’s happened to us since we crashed into this bullshit time period, how much worse could it possibly get?”

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