Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 2 Recap and Review: Maps and Legends
A spoiler-filled recap and review of Maps and Legends, Star Trek: Picard S1E2, starring Patrick Stewart
(Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard S1E2 and the franchise prior to it)
With only 10 episodes planned for the first season, Star Trek: Picard wastes no time to get right into the thick of things. With the season premiere having set up the plot adequately, this week's epsiode, Maps and Legends, throws us into the deep end trusting we will be up to the task of following the story. Star Trek: Picard S1E2 begins with a prologue of sorts that shows us what happened on the Utopia Planitia Shipyard in Mars (alluded to in Picard's holo interview last week) where a group of rogue synthetics dropped the planetary defense shields and killed nearly a million people. One of the synthetics on the shipyard, called F8, seems to be compromised and starts reprogramming other synthetics, drops the shields, goes on a killing rampage, and finally commits suicide. Before this, we see how most of the people treat the synthetics as less than human. Whether it was this mistreatment or some external cause that made them go rogue, remains to be seen.
Back in the present, Picard, Laris, and Zhaban go over security footage of the murder of Dahj and find that all trace of her has been removed. The thoroughness of the operation fits the MO of the Romulan Secret Police, the Tal Shiar. But Laris thinks it's too brazen a move to have been the Tal Shiar. She suspects that it's the work of the Zhat Vash, the original cabal that uses the Tal Shiar as a mask to hide behind. Zhaban doesn't believe the Zhat Vash exists, but Laris is insistent and says they operate outside of the Romulan worlds as well, including the Federation. She says they are driven by a deep loathing for all forms of artificial intelligence (which would explain why they wanted to destroy Dahj and find out where the other synthetics were), the cause of which is unknown to anyone outside the Zhat Vash. Laris and Picard transport into Dahj's apartment where her boyfriend was murdered, but find the place has been scrubbed, leading Picard to start believing this might be the work of the Zhat Vash. They do, however, manage to find incoming call records from Soji (which makes it clear that Dahj is definitely the sister she referred to in the last episode), and Laris is able to identify that the calls originated from somewhere off-world.
Soji, meanwhile, now appears to be in a relationship with Narek on the Borg Cube, which she says is just an Artifact now since it has been severed from the collective. True to his Romulan nature, Narek gives away very little about who he is or what he is doing there. He later observes Soji at work, as her team takes apart a Borg (referred to by the team as Nameless, though Soji objects to this) on the Artifact. They appear to be studying the technology as guests of the Borg Artifact Research Institute. When they remove its ocular implant, she goes over to what was the Borg and says, "You are free now, my friend." It is unclear what her true objective is here. Before entering the research zone ("grey zone"), Soji meets another researcher from Trill Polytech, who is concerned that they are releasing the former Borg. Soji says they are not releasing but reclaiming them and Narek remarks that Soji pins her hopes on resurrection.
Back on Earth, Picard wants his old friend, Moritz Benayoun, to certify him fit for interstellar service but there's a hitch. The doctor finds that while Picard is in excellent shape in every particular, there is an abnormality in his parietal lobe and Picard makes a reference to the final episode of TNG where Dr Crusher told him this might cause a problem in the future. Dr Benayoun attributes Picard's outburst on the interview to it and says there is only one outcome possible. Picard still wants his certification, and the doctor agrees to provide it. In parting, he tells Picard that he hopes the mission kills him first. How this abnormality in his brain will affect Picard, we'll have to wait to find out. It is surely significant.
The mission Picard has in mind involves tracking down Bruce Maddox, who has most likely created this new batch of synthetics, including Dahj and Soji, using Data's neurons. He goes to Starfleet Headquarters (a variation of the classic Star Trek theme playing in the background is a lovely touch) and approaches Admiral Kristen Clancy, who flatly denies his request for a ship. What's more, she tells Commodore Oh about Picard's allegations of secret Romulan operations on Earth and asks her to look into it without realising that the latter is a Romulan operative herself. Oh, in turn, calls Lieutenant Rizzo, another Romulan operative passing for human (with her ears modified and everything) and warns her to not squander the one other opportunity they have — a reference to Soji, implying that Rizzo was behind the destruction of Dahj. Rizzo assures Oh she has her "best man" on the mission. Oh expresses reservation about this operative, who turns out to be Narek. He is also, we find out, Rizzo's brother. Rizzo appears in holo form in his quarters on the Romulan Reclamation site and warns him that he better find out some information soon — about where the other synthetics are, in particular — or she will take matters into her own hand when she gets there.
Meanwhile, Dr Jurati visits Picard and brings over whatever of Maddox's work was left behind (and gives us another Earl Grey nod). She also tells him that she looked into Dahj Asha and found that her entire identity was created just three years ago, though by whom and why remains in question. Picard makes up his mind to find another way to carry out his mission without Starfleet's help. He reaches out to someone called Raffi — using an old Starfleet communicator, which suggests she was part of Starfleet at some point — and asks for a ship. He later goes to meet her and after initially turning him away, she relents when he tells her about the secret Romulan operation on Earth. Laris is completely opposed to Picard going out on his mission, but he is determined. She says no one but the Tal Shiar can protect him against the Tal Shiar, to which Zhaban agrees and says that's why they (former Tal Shiar members) must go with him. Laris tells him to do whatever and take Zhaban with him for good measure. Picard, however, does not want to put Zhaban or his former Enterprise crew at risk. Zhaban then says, "Okay, so you need someone who hates you and has nothing to lose." This person, it would seem, is this Raffi.
The next episode will likely see Picard getting together a crew for his ship and heading out. How he plans to track down Maddox and/or Soji remains to be seen. One thing's for sure, Star Trek: Picard will keep moving at a brisk pace. Till next week then.
(Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is currently streaming in India on Amazon Prime Video on a weekly episodic basis)