In a narrative as complex as this season has aspired to weave, we were bound to hit an hour like Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 8, where odds and ends of various threads are thrown together to move the plot along.
On the one hand, we learn a lot about the people directly affected by our time-traveling heroes. Wells, Ramirez, and Adam Soong suddenly leap into three-dimensional character roundness.
But on the other hand, with only two episodes left in the season, do we really need to spend ten minutes role-playing a get-to-know-you-again couples' trust exercise?
Bet you're not even sure which couple I'm talking about. There's just THAT much going on.
Raffi and Seven spend a good part of their search for Jurati (and recovery after they find her) pushing each other's buttons.
Raffi's good-natured assumption that Seven can tune into her Borg self whenever she likes to intuit the queen's intentions may be accurate, but it rubs Seven in all the wrong ways.
Raffi: Wow. That's incredibly spot-on.
Seven: Can you not? That I can access her, it's not impressive. Could you be a little less happy that I'm defective?
Seven's retaliation about Raffi's manipulative nature then opens our trying-to-be-good Commander Musiker up regarding the depth of her guilt over Elron's death.
It bears remembering that as awesome as these women are together, they come to the table with a lot of baggage and trauma. They are used to doing for themselves, and trusting each other is probably a freaky sort of prospect.
Meanwhile, Guinan and Picard bond through shared anxiety as Agent Wells hammers them with accusations of being extraterrestrials in a less-than-glamorous FBI basement.
Being an extraterrestrial, Guinan might actually be worried about being dissected. Picard is more concerned that Wells could cause the Europa mission to be scrapped.
Wells's fixation is a challenging obstacle to overcome. Even Guinan's excellent people-reading skills don't faze him.
Guinan: Tell me, Agent Wells, what makes you the man for this job?
Wells: Think of me as just a good old-fashioned dedicated civil servant.
Guinan: Work a lot. Don't sleep. Comes in all wrinkles with your huge mug of coffee. I'm a bartender. I've seen your kind before. This is personal.
Interestingly, her read on Wells sounds a lot like a Fox Mulder profile from The X-Files.
I wonder if Wells also forgoes a bed in favor of sleeping on his couch. He doesn't look like a well-rested investigator.
The fact that his childhood encounter with the Vulcan surveillance team is the teaser scene here indicates that Guinan's belief in the immutability of some moments in time might be worth considering.
It's a bit of a mind-twister, though. Wells isn't old enough to have been a Carbon Creek resident during T'Mir's crashed survey mission in the 1950s, so his encounter with the (really poorly concealed) Vulcan team is yet another pre-First Contact first contact incident.
And since it happened before the time tampering Picard is currently trying to fix, it would mean Wells probably spent his entire career chasing proof of aliens in the timeline before La Sirena returned to 2024.
Wells: Kind of a waste of a life though.
Guinan: Maybe not. My species, we believe in an ebb and flow to things. That our destinies run apart and together. And that time is not what we think it is. And that some moments are meant to happen even at great cost. Perhaps you had to be that boy ...
Wells: So I could be this man here, letting you go? Something to think about.
Furthermore, Guinan's character development is even more scrambled now.
Before the time break, she and Picard would've met in the 1800s, and she would've happily bided her time through and past 2024, knowing they'd meet in a few hundred years.
The time break precludes the adventures of "Time's Arrow," and therefore, part of her disenchantment with humanity in 2024 is that she has no beacon of hope.
However, after her chat with Q, she's reminded of humanity's weird little quirks, and now she's in love with us again. Whew.
Guinan: Q was talking about you, but he was talking about all of you. It's what's special about humans.
Picard: Yeah, our inability to escape the past.
Guinan: The opposite. When something inside you is broken, it stays with you. You live in the past until you're able to reconcile it, even if it's painful. You do the work because you want to evolve. I almost forgot how unique that is in the galaxy.
As I said, a lot is going on, and there is the danger of many significant developments crowding out equally essential reveals.
For example, how the heck does a Q die?
When I first felt it, I thought to myself, 'This is good. This is new.' Infinite life, after all, has its drawbacks. And so, I prepared myself to be enveloped in the warm glow of meaning. Now that moment has yet to come. Not even a glimmer. Dying stars burn brighter as they spin towards extinction. I, on the other hand, seem to be simply disappearing into nothing.Q
John de Lancie never fails to deliver his lines with the dramatic flair of Shakespearean tragedy. It's why Q feels omnipresent when one thinks of Star Trek: The Next Generation despite only appearing eight times in seven seasons. The actor fills his space and then some.
It must be fun writing for the character knowing that every syllable will land like a clap of thunder.
I'll repeat here my theory that we are still seeing Qs from two timelines, working at cross-purposes.
The Q who provides Kore with her Freedom vial is not the Q with whom Guinan speaks.
Kore: Who the hell are you?
Q: A friend. A firestarter. A simulacrum. A living program, planted here when I hacked into your father's system, waiting for you to appear at this very moment. So close to the answers you seek.
There is a 2024 Q who interferes with Renée Picard, propositions Adam Soong, and cures Kore. I suspect he is the architect of his own demise.
Then there is a 24th C Wake-Up World Q who slaps Picard, witnesses the time jump, and spars with Guinan. He is the one paying for the shenanigans the former sets in motion.
Where does this leave Picard and his team?
Well, once he and Guinan are sprung, it's incredible how quickly they reunite with Raffi and Seven, get caught up, and make a plan to return to La Sirena.
They'll probably be surprised to find Dr. Teresa and Ricardo Ramirez playing Happy Families with Rios and the replicator.
Of all the disbelief I have suspended, this one is the limit.
What possible purpose could Rios have in mind for transporting his little 21st-century family to France to tour his spaceship?
I get that we're meant to draw a parallel between Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gillian Taylor from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but could we not be so utterly ridiculous about it?
Taylor traveled back to the future with the Enterprise to take care of the whales. What possible reason would Ramirez have to uproot herself and her son and time travel to the 24th century, abandoning everyone who depends on her and her clinic?
None. Zip. Nada. Which can only lead us to conclude that Rios will remain in the 21st century, probably getting deported by ICE on a semi-regular basis.
It's a cute homage but a needless complication to a pretty full slate of plot twists.
My main gripe with this offering is that there are three, possibly four, moments where they could've rolled credits and called it a satisfying cut. For instance, the moment Kore walks away from Soong.
But they just keep going. Again, when Jurati appeared at the top of Soong's steps, I thought we were done. Nope.
Picard revealing his mission to Wells and asking for help? It even had an appropriately climactic swell of music. It fooled me again.
And unquestionably, watching Jurati assimilate a mercenary is a compelling moment to end on, but after so many fake-outs, I didn't trust it to be the actual closing scene which lessened the impact considerably.
So what was your major takeaway from this smorgasbord of exposition?
Will the assimilated mercenaries manage to take La Sirena?
Will Adam Soong succeed in securing a legacy by disrupting the Europa mission?
Where did Kore go? She has no ID, no friends, no contacts with the outside world besides a holographic gift-giving Q.
Hit our comments with your thoughts and theories? The wilder, the better. After all, the end is nigh.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.