Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 7 Recap and Review: Nepenthe
A spoiler-filled recap and review of Nepenthe, Star Trek: Picard S1E7, starring Patrick Stewart
(Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard S1E7 and the franchise prior to it)
If you thought last week's episode of Star Trek: Picard was long, wait till you see this one. Nepenthe, Star Trek: Picard S1E7, is now the longest episode of the season, clocking in at just under an hour. And like its predecessor, it's another good one.
When Picard chose a planet to flee to, given we already knew guest appearances from his former Enterprise crew and friends, Will Riker and Deanna Troi, were to come, I should have guessed that was whom he'd go to. But, I didn't and so it was a pleasant surprise when Patrick Stewart shared set photos on Twitter ahead of the episode's premiere. Riker and Troi's presence and their camaraderie with Picard truly brought back a sense of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And drove home again, how this new show's cast doesn't quite have that — something Picard himself comments on in the episode when he calls his new crew "motley at best."
This week, we start with a flashback once again. But it's a short flashback, to just three weeks ago when Commodore Oh visited Dr Jurati. Oh mind melds with Jurati and shows her the devastation that would be caused by synthetic life, thereby winning Jurati over to their (the Zhat Vash?) cause. We don't get to see exactly what Jurati is asked to do once she joins Picard on his mission, but killing Bruce Maddox was clearly part of it. She is also asked to bug herself so they can track her wherever she might go.
Using this tracker, Narek follows the La Sirena, which now only has Jurati, Raffi and Rios. They try to shake him off but he keeps finding them. Rios tells Jurati that Raffi might be the one helping the Romulans, since she's the one who went down to Freecloud and returned without giving any explanations. He must know better since Raffi did tell him about her son. And he can't be so stupid as to miss the obvious signs that Jurati gives of her involvement. So I hope he's just trying to coax it out of her (though the scene where he looks suspiciously at Raffi and tells her he has a way to find their tail does seem to suggest otherwise). Whatever his intention, it works in their favour because a conscience-stricken Jurati puts herself in a coma, thus blocking out the signal from the tracking device and shaking off Narek.
While Narek is following La Sirena, his sister Narissa interrogates Hugh to find out where Picard and Soji went. She doesn't get her answers and so, like the moustache-twirling villain she is, she kills a whole bunch of xBs just because. Once she leaves, Elnor arrives and decides to stay and help Hugh because he is needed there. Hugh resolves to take back the Borg cube from the Romulans by using the Queen Cell, but Narissa pops right back and kills him. A pity because he's one of the few sympathetic characters on this show. Narissa doesn't kill Elnor when she has the chance because of some Romulan honour code between the Zhat Vash and Qowat Milat. And she just beams out after killing Hugh leaving Elnor to roam free on the cube seemingly. Very odd. Elnor sends off an SOS to the Fenris Rangers using the beacon Seven of Nine gave Picard. I guess we'll be seeing more of her, and any return of characters from the old shows are always welcome.
Speaking of which, the heart of this episode of Star Trek: Picard is the reunion of our Admiral with Riker and Troi on Nepenthe. And how they help him gain Soji's trust. After her betrayal by Narek, Soji is unwilling to trust anyone. She even repulses the kind advances and sympathy of Deanna. She does, however, make friends with the Rikers' daughter, Kestra, who tells her a bit about her 'father' Data. Picard doesn't quite know how to win her confidence and makes missteps. Troi tells him off for this and Riker warns him he can't go around ordering and making plans for Soji like he's on the bridge of the Enterprise.
Riker and Troi also offer support to Picard who admits that his plan for this mission wasn't even half a plan. Troi asks him to pretend that their dinner table is the Ready Room on the Enterprise. Picard does just that (it's a joy to hear him say "Thoughts," to Riker, in the old manner). He also takes Soji's wishes into account. She wants to go to her home planet. After some initial hesitation, which Picard overcomes by being completely honest, Soji tells them about her dream and gives a description of her home planet. Riker warns Picard it might be too much of a risk to go there since the Romulans are probably on their way there in full force. He suggests reaching out to Starfleet. Picard tells him he may be right but they first need to identify this planet of the synths. Kestra, who has meanwhile been texting under the table, promptly provides the location of this planet and says it has no name, only a number. She's found this out from her friend, Captain Crandall.
There are multiple mentions of this Captain Crandall, but we never get to see this character. Kestra, in fact, says Picard and Soji can approach him for help if their ship doesn't show up. But La Sirena does make it and the duo beam up to it. After a hearty threeway hug between Picard, Riker and Troi, and Kestra giving Soji a parting gift.
The next episode of Star Trek: Picard is called Broken Pieces. It could refer to Soji seeing herself as a doll with broken pieces lying on a laboratory table in her dream. Will we see more such broken pieces when we go to this planet without name? Not long now before we find out.
(Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is currently streaming in India on Amazon Prime Video on a weekly episodic basis)