Star Trek: Picard’s “Stardust City Rag” is Part Caper, Part Comedy, Part Tragedy

Probably Star Trek: Picard’s best outing yet finds mon capitan crossing paths with Seven of Nine, who is now serving as a ranger in the former Romulan Neutral Zone, keeping the peace in an area more akin to the old west than the final frontier. When the two of them realize that they have a mutual opponent, they team up and, with the crew of the La Serena, stage a caper to get their hands on Bruce Maddox and the location of Data’s daughter, Soji.

First of all, seeing the internet explode over the fate of a “beloved” Voyager character is kind of laughable. I mean, I had nothing against Icheb or the actor who played him, but I’m old enough to remember when Voyager was on the air, fans were calling him Borg Wesley and everyone moaning and griping about how he was annoying and wishing that he would leave or get killed off. Ironically, in the episode where Icheb donated his cortical node to Seven (reference very slyly in this episode, by the way), there was a very very large contingent of online fans who actively complained that Icheb should have died right there instead of giving Seven a happy ending.

So, yeah… “Beloved character?” Give me a break. Twenty years ago, they were begging for him to be killed off and now it’s almost like they’re lamenting their old fishing buddy. Just goes to show how against the new that Star Trek fans can be.

As I said, though… this was a great episode. Probably the strongest yet. Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine was such a welcome Trek alumni to bring on board the show and, ever since I saw her in that first trailer all those months ago, I have been looking forward to her appearance. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Ryan is the old Seven of Nine: Cold and detached, but her hint of humanity we enjoyed on Voyager has grown like a glowing ember. This Seven is more passionate, angry, and cynical but, rather than completely flipping her personality switch to something more edgy, Ryan plays Seven of Nine as a more tragic evolution of the character. Seven has seen some terrible things, experienced a lot of pain, and it has damaged her. What’s more, given my history of watching Star Trek all these years, I care about Seven… seeing her so pained was painful to me. I love this character and seeing her become so embittered was hard to watch.

Beyond that, this episode was not all doom and gloom. There was a lot of fun and energy on the planet of Freecloud. The crew going undercover with their overly extravagant costumes was a lot of fun and seeing Patrick Stewart, probably the greatest actor that Star Trek has ever been blessed with, purposely act like a bad actor was, for lack of a better word, superb.

Michelle Hurd had quite an episode as well. Separated from the crew for the most part, Raffi was given quite a bit of tragic development herself, revealing that she is about to become a grandmother and she’s been estranged from her family both because of her theories about a conspiracy about the Mars attack and her substance abuse problems. The scene with her son was heartbreaking as Hurd communicated very poignantly that Raffi is being completely serious in that she is clean and wants a relationship with her son, a notion he angrily brushes off.

Star Trek: Picard has been methodical in its approach, enfolding into a grand mystery and conspiracy with little by little being exposed every episode very organically and entertainingly. I’m concerned about some things that seem to be unfolding a little too predictably — Jurardi being a turncoat… I called that weeks ago — but there is still more than enough mystery to keep me interested. “Stardust City Rag” was packed not only with all of the fun and character tragedy and Seven of Nine goodness that I mentioned above, but it was also stuffed full of Easter Eggs in every corner. I noticed, for example, Mr. Mot’s Hair Emporium and Quark’s Bar which now appears to be a franchise… given that Quark is the brother of the Grand Nagus, I would imagine he would be somewhat of a celebrity now. He even gets name-dropped which was very lovely.

I loved this episode. Loved every exciting, silly, sad, and gruesome moment of it. It’s been the best episode so far and I sincerely hope that this is not the last we see of Seven of Nine on this show.

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