Picard Recap s2e2: “Penance”

Q (John deLancie) is here, and that can’t be good. And judging by the state of the planet in the opening shot, it isn’t: A hexagonal grid activates over Earth to sweep what pollution it can from the atmosphere.

Q and Picard (Patrick Stewart) step out into the courtyard and later the vineyard, where Picard desperately asks after the Stargazer and Q charmingly obfuscates his purpose, as usual. But this time Picard notes that Q seems unstable, and at one point Q loses his temper and slaps Picard across the face hard enough to give him a bloody nose. He tells Picard that this is not a lesson, but a penance, as the song from the Stargazer’s auto-destruct (“No, I Have No Regrets” by Edith Piaf) plays on a phonograph.

Back in the house, things get REALLY dark. Picard’s kitchen is staffed by Romulan slaves, and his study is full of the spoils of war: a Klingon Torchbearer suit of armor, weapons of all sorts, and SKULLS OF FALLEN ENEMIES. From Gul Dukat to General Martok to Director Sarek, all were killed by “the greatest general the mighty Confederation of Earth has ever seen:” Picard.

Q tells Picard that he is being offered atonement here, maybe even forgiveness, but that he won’t let him do this alone. Picard refuses to play his game and Q disappears. Harvey the Synth (Alex Diehl) walks in but he didn’t see Q and says no one has been there all morning.

After the opening credits, Picard is watching a holo of his evil self. It’s a recruitment video full of fascist propaganda with the catchy slogan “A safe galaxy is a human galaxy,” and Picard can’t help but cringe. Note that his ship here, instead of the USS Stargazer, was the CSS Worldrazer.

Harvey the Synth brings him his usual Columbian roast, black (“This really is the circle that Dante overlooks.”) Picard asks him about Laris, but she was never at the chateau. Instead, she and her husband were leaders of the Free Romulan movements, and were killed at the gates of Romulus. There may be pictures of them at the Museum of Conquest. Harvey reminds him that a shuttle is coming in two hours to take him to the President’s palace for Eradication Day.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, Seven (Jeri Ryan) wakes up with no Borg implants but a ring on her finger. She may not have her tech, but she tests her new reality manually and confirms that yes, this is real. The door beeps and she blurts out, “Raffi?” (my heart) but instead her HUSBAND (Jon Briones) walks in to wish her a “Happy Eradication Day” and go over her speech – turns out Annika Hansen is the President!

Seven is in shock but quickly acclimates and when she sees that Rios is a Colonel in the Vulcan War, requests a brief from a Federation – oops, Confederation – officer. Her husband offers to get GENERAL SISKO but she demands Rios instead.  Rios (Santiago Cabrera) finds himself on La Sirena, winning a battle against the Vulcans when Seven hails and recalls him to Earth.

In a major city at night, a building is destroyed and Elnor (Evan Evagora) is knocked to the ground. His friend tells him that the rebellion is underway and they’re destroying the buildings for their allies: one for Cardassia, Andoria, Qo’noS, Vulcan, and Romulus. “Soon, we’ll be free.”

Security forces shoot his friend and Elnor runs but is quickly surrounded. The leader of the security team draws their weapons, but shoots the goons instead. She lowers her hood and of course it’s Raffi (Michelle Hurd), taking care of her space kid! They have a moment to hug (my heart) but more security shows up and Raffi puts on a show of holding Elnor prisoner, which goes right over Elnor’s adorable head. The security forces take them in.

Back at the President’s palace, Seven tricks her husband into spelling out the situation. “Eradication Day” is the day the Confederation executes political enemies, but today is special because they are eradicating their greatest enemy. And Jurati should have finished prepping her by now.

Agnes (Alison Pill) wakes up in a lab, with her cartoon cat (Patton Oswalt) talking about how public execution is barbaric. So the evil Agnes wasn’t actually evil, but she still worked for the fascists? The cat tells her it’s her domesticat “Spot 73, your best friend” which is a little sad. Agnes adorably babbles about her situation until Seven and Hubs walk in and Seven barely stops her from blowing their cover.

Hubs want to know if the prisoner is ready so Agnes calls up her pod, and it’s the creepiest incarnation of the Borg Queen yet (Annie Wersching). The top half of her, anyway. She seems to be mad and is talking about other realities (and calls Agnes “you fragile teacup”). Seven explains that the Queen has trans temporal awareness, and hears echoes of her other selves, and Agnes realizes there must have been a corruption to the timeline. It is announced that Picard will be docking shortly.

Outside, a synth arrives to escort Picard to Seven. He sees Raffi and her security goons, who throw Elnor to the ground. Another officer says she’ll take him to psycho-interrogation, but Raffi says she’s authorized to interrogate him herself. “Authorized by whom?”

“BY ME, SOLDIER!” Picard saves the day and walks off with Raffi and her “prisoner” (who thankfully has kept his absolute candor to himself.) Picard tells them that he will get them home, together, and by the way Seven is president. If Raffi had been drinking, she would have done a full-on spit take.

Seven and Hubs are in a courtyard where he is notifying her that Evil Picard has petitioned for a new title: Borgslayer. (You can just see our Picard facepalming if he ever hears this.) Our Picard, Raffi, and Elnor arrive on the scene and Raffi has some sass when she finds out Annika is married. Hubs is dismissed and the gang catches up:

Picard: Is everyone all right?
Seven: I’m the human president of a xenophobic authoritarian regime.
Raffi: You’re also married, looks like someone worked out their commitment issues.
Elnor: I’m a rebel! (If you read that in Ralphie’s voice from the Simpsons, I forgive you)

Seven tells Picard that the Borg Queen thinks there was a divergence in time, and Picard realizes that Q must have gone back and changed something, and he won’t undo it until they pass a test. Also the omnipotent being seems to be losing control, which isn’t at all terrifying. Elnor doesn’t get a joke. Rios warps into orbit.

The Queen is babbling to Agnes when the gang transports in. Elnor’s reunion with Agnes is much cuter than Picard’s with the Queen, who recognizes Locutus. He asks the Queen when and where Q made his change, and she tells them it was in LA in 2024. Also that there is someone there to help, and they should “seek the watcher.”

But how to time travel? Like they did in The One With the Whales? But they had Spock and all Picard has is…a trans-temporally aware Borg Queen. Seven offers the Queen a deal, which she accepts, but when they try to beam out they find that heightened Eradication Day security measures have dropped into place in the last few minutes. The Queen is suddenly pulled back into the transport system, to be moved to the stage for her execution. At Picard’s hand.

The La Sirena crew quickly hatches a plan to Borgnap the Queen and GTFO. A very suspicious Hubs arrives in the lab with backup, but Agnes talks their way out of trouble and Seven and Picard reluctantly head to the stage.

We pause for a brief WTF moment as a giant holo statue of “Adam Soong” (Brent Spiner) rotates next to the Golden Gate Bridge, spouting the “A safe galaxy is a human galaxy” nonsense.

The Eradication Day ceremony is taking place in the same auditorium where Elnor just graduated, now dressed in red, black, and white for a Nazi – I mean, Confederation – event. Seven steps to the podium and introduces Picard, who does a marvelous job of standing there looking fascist.

Agnes furiously works on restoring their communications as Picard steps forward and the Queen is theatrically delivered through a hole in the stage, to the bloodthirsty delight of the human audience.  Agnes succeeds with the comms and reaches Rios. Raffi lets Elnor get beaten up as a diversion while she lowers the shields.

Seven continues to speak: “Tonight we eradicate the Borg.” (What are they, Daleks?) She lowers the field around the Queen and Picard draws a gun.

Agnes and Rios have a “we’re definitely exes” argument.

Raffi is just about done with the shields, so she gives Elnor the go-ahead. Still in handcuffs, he takes out the guys he’s been allowing to beat him. As in he kills them with their large and apparently razor-sharp comm badges. Sweet child.  Raffi gets the shields down, but only for a minute, so Agnes has to hurry to boost their signals.

It’s taking too long so on the stage Picard has no choice but to start shooting guards. The Queen is rather amused by this. Agnes manages to boost the signals at the last second and they all beam out, to the dismay of Hubs.

There’s a lovely moment when they arrive on La Sirena to strains of the TNG theme song. Agnes quickly moves to connect the Queen to the ship so they can go, but she’s definitely creeped out by her. Ships are approaching and Hubs and team beam onboard. And shoot ELNOR. I am not okay with this. Hubs asks Picard, “I wonder what your skull will say?” and they leave us on a cliffhanger.

Interesting choice not to end with them escaping to the past! And I have to say, I like the surprise. See you next week for Episode 3, “Assimilation”!

  3 comments for “Picard Recap s2e2: “Penance”

  1. So many great callbacks like Martok, Spot, Sarek and Skull Dukat. Alison Pill was phenomenal in this episode especially her monologue about ‘Seven Shots Annika’. Especially intrigued by Q’s ‘illness’, the identity of ‘the watcher’ (smart money on Brent Spiner) and wondering where Soji will fit in moving forwards?

  2. I thought the cat was Spot 73 not Spock. Also I believe the actor who played the husband was Jon Jon Briones, Isa’s dad!!

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