Star Trek: Picard review, Episode 209: “Hide and Seek”

As the beginning of the end for Star Trek: Picard season 2 gets underway, “Hide and Seek” throws us straight into the action as Rios, Teresa, and her son find themselves threatened by primitive Borg aboard La Sirena. They’re soon joined by the rest of the crew, and things just keep heating up from there. It’s a suitable opening for an action-packed episode that sets up next week’s finale.

The green lasers contrasting with the Borg’s red ones is a nice touch, and the scenes at Chateau Picard are excellently done, with the violence of Seven stabbing one of the Borg showing how far Star Trek has traveled into the realm of adult television. Longtime Star Trek fans might be horrified, as many were with the throat-cutting earlier in the season. Still, it’s worth remembering that Picard is aimed squarely at mature fans who experienced The Next Generation some 30 years ago. Equally, Star Trek offering a range of tones for different audiences is good, and hopefully Strange New Worlds will take more of a classic approach to keep things balanced.

Brent Spiner’s Adam Soong leading the troops is also a nice touch, with the very human Soong hunting down the very synthetic Picard. Spiner has been one of the season’s highlights and, as we’ve seen before, plays a wonderful villain. Elnor also returns during the episode, albeit as a hologram.

“Hide and Seek” raises some unavoidable questions

However, as fun and exciting as these scenes are; however, they fall into the cliche of “bad guys always miss.” It’s popcorn movie stuff at odds with Picard‘s more profound and thoughtful tone. It also brings up questions. For example, how can holo-Elnor possibly have missed Raffi and why are these deadly holograms not standard on all starships?

As exciting as Elnor has always been, it’s a shame that the show never explored the morality of his immense kill count or contrasted it with that of an “enemy” like the Borg. While all of the character’s violence is seen as done in the name of self-defense, the lack of remorse or analysis makes it seem out of place at best, and far from the Star Trek tradition.

Meanwhile, we finally get the resolution to the Picard origin story, with the young Jean-Luc blaming himself for his mother’s death. It adds a new tragedy to the character; he created an idealized version of his mother in his mind rather than the loving but deeply unwell person she actually was. The story has touched on plenty of heavy themes, including grief, mental illness, and the lingering effects of suicide, and done it exceptionally well. Patrick Stewart is excelling in the role.

An evolution for the Borg

Much like last season with the Romulans, “Hide and Seek” begins the process of setting up a new scenario for one of Star Trek‘s most prominent groups, the Borg. Still retaining some of her humanity, Queen Agnes, clearly the Queen from the premiere, is determined to forge a whole new type of Borg open to individuality and cooperation. As entertaining as that sounds, it brings up the question of why Agnes, who has never been portrayed as the most mentally strong of characters, can resist the Queen, the most powerful Borg of the entire collective, this well.

Queen Agnes manages to save Seven, yet her argument seems utterly illogical. If the Borg Queen truly is sensitive to other timelines as we established earlier in the season, timelines that Agnes defines as “infinite,” then she would surely know that the argument the Borg “always lose” cannot possibly be true. If there are infinite timelines, there are endless possibilities, and it’s therefore impossible that the Borg lose in them all.

Equally, the wisdom of making such a drastic change to the Borg is debatable. While there are only so many times you can tell the “Borg kill everything” story without it becoming repetitive, the unrelenting and unstoppable war machine of the totalitarian Borg makes them one of the most frightening groups in the canon. As cybernetics, AI and automated weapons systems advances in the real world, so too does the pursuit of war, top-down groupthink, and the long fight between industry and nature. The Borg have become ever more relevant in their original form.

As Queen Agnes takes La Sirena and heads for the Delta quadrant, which again doesn’t bother anyone too much and cheapens sacrificing Elnor, the stage becomes set for the finale. There are plenty of questions still to be answered surrounding Q’s health and motivation, the connection between Tallinn and Laris, what Adam Soong plans, and now, just how everyone is possibly going to get home.

Rating: 8.0

“Hide and Seek” is a thoroughly enjoyable 45-minutes of Star Trek, heavy on action and with some nice nods to the show’s history. In many respects, the episode is a cross-section of what works in the modern show, and what doesn’t. The deeper and more thoughtful themes are excellently done, while the necessary action is perhaps a little too over the top and stylized. While the plot moves quickly and the overall narrative holds together, there are smaller moments that really don’t stand up to scrutiny when you actually think about them.

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