Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 4 Recap and Review: Absolute Candor
A spoiler-filled recap and review of Absolute Candor, Star Trek: Picard S1E4, starring Patrick Stewart
(Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard S1E4 and the franchise prior to it)
Star Trek: Picard S1E4, Absolute Candor, begins like the previous two episodes — with a flashback to 14 years ago, when the mission to rescue Romulans from the supernova was abruptly halted by the synth attack on Mars. This time, we see a planet called Vashti where a sizeable Romulan population has been relocated. Picard visits an order of Romulan warrior-nuns called Qowat Milat, who have been working with the Federation on the rescue mission. This group, though exclusively consisting of women, has taken in a Romulan refugee boy named Elnor. Picard brings the boy a copy of The Three Musketeers, and reads it to him and teaches him fencing. But midway through the fencing lesson, he gets a call from Raffi about the synth attack and is forced to leave. He promises to come back and find Elnor a suitable place elsewhere. As we already know, this wasn't to be as Picard resigns and the rescue mission is called off.
Cut to the present and Picard and crew are on their own rescue mission to find Bruce Maddox and Soji before the Zhat Vash get to the latter (though they already have in the form of Narek and his sister Rizzo). Dr Jurati is bored and annoys Rios, who is trying to read his book on the existential pain of living with the knowledge of our mortality. Jurati is also a rather boring audience surrogate so far, but it is to be hoped that she has a better purpose by and by. Luckily for Rios, Raffi breaks in demanding to know why they've changed their route from Freecloud. Rios reveals that Picard wants to stop at Vashti. Picard's avowed reason is that he wants to get himself a qalankhkai — a warrior who binds their blade to a cause, provided it is judged worthy — but Raffi rightly guesses that he really wants to go there because he feels guilty about having abandoned Elnor. No points for guessing that Elnor himself becomes Picard's qalankhkai. Not, however, before Elnor tells him off first for not caring about him until he needed him.
Picard also finds that Vashti has changed from the peaceful place he left it to one filled with poverty, crime, and racial strife. He throws out a 'Romulans only' sign and gives the people of Vashti, who are already quite pissed off with him, a chance to challenge him to a duel. We get to see Picard assuming his fencing posture again but he throws down his sword and refuses to fight. That doesn't satisfy his Romulan opponent who claims Picard and Starfleet colluded to scatter Romulans across the galaxy in order to make them powerless. Elnor appears and kills the man, saving Picard. But the man's associate is about to hit him with a blaster (bringing up a good point about the value of a swordsman, no matter how skilled, in a time when advanced weapons like the blaster exist), when Raffi beams Picard and Elnor aboard Rios' ship (La Sirena, wiki tells me though I don't recall it being mentioned on the show yet).
They come under attack from a warlord on an old Bird-of-Prey, but are unexpectedly assisted by an unknown ship. This ship breaks up in the process of saving them and its pilot requests permission to beam aboard. This pilot turns out to be Seven of Nine, the second famous xB from canon after Hugh (who, you'll recall, is now the Project Director of the Romulan reclamation project on the former Borg cube). Seven of Nine was a regular on Star Trek: Voyager.
And speaking of the Romulan reclamation project, Soji is trying to understand what happened with Ramdha and why she called her the Destroyer. Narek uses this opportunity to plant a seed of doubt in her mind by pointing out that her name was not on the passenger list of the ship she thinks she was on to get out of Earth. She gets annoyed but he keeps her hooked by telling her he can find out what happened Ramdha's ship. His way of finding this out is by asking his sister Rizzo, who has a way of surprising him by popping out of nowhere and teasing him in a way that I can only describe as very similar to what Sarah Michelle Gellar does to her step-brother in Cruel Intentions. Not sure what the deal is with all that sexual tension between the siblings here. Aside from that, she just goes on to threaten again that she'll use her way of violence if Narek doesn't find out the location of the other synths soon. Yawn.
There is one thing to note though, Narek and Rizzo also refer to Soji as Seb-Cheneb, the Destroyer. And in an old holo that Soji watches earlier in this epsiode of Star Trek: Picard, Ramdha says the Destroyer's call will be answered by the shackled demons on the Day of Annihilation. The shackled demons are, of course, the other synths. So Soji is going to activate them somehow at some point. This is also a lot like what happened on Mars, when the synth labour force suddenly turned rogue.
Another point worth noting is the criterion that determines the worthiness of a cause that a qalankhkai will support. They will only support a lost cause, Picard tells Jurati. Also, the title of this episode of Star Trek: Picard, Absolute Candor, refers to the Qowat Milat's Way of Absolute Candor — they speak exactly what they think and feel without any reticence. Does this mean Picard's rescue mission is doomed from the get-go? We won't have to wait too long to find out as Star Trek: Picard Season 1 has only six episodes left to go.
(Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is currently streaming in India on Amazon Prime Video on a weekly episodic basis)