The Q Hits the Fan with Star Trek: Picard’s, “Penance”

When last we left Picard and his band of rogues on the USS Stargazer, he blew up his own ship to keep it out of the hands of the Borg. Rather than just settling for the shortest season of Star Trek in history, Picard wakes up in an alternate universe where the Earth is a fascist empire that delights in genocide of alien races. After verbally sparring with the omnipotent trickster, Q, Picard must assemble his crew and escape this nightmarish reality by journeying to the past to fix the present.

I have a theory that I died last week, went to heaven, and this is the series I get to enjoy every week. While last season of Picard was slow and methodical in its execution, this season has jumped head first into action, adventure, and philosophy. The Picard of last season, the regretful and bitter old man, is gone and we have good old Jean-Luc, a little older, a little wiser, and a little more curmudgeonly.

I cannot write about this episode without mentioning how wonderful it was to see John de Lancie again as Q. In this particular episode de Lancie brings an extra air of danger and hostility to the classic character making old things new again and, of course, he’s just so good at being Q in the first place. The scene with him was perfect, it was tense, it was mysterious, and you can tell that something isn’t quite right about him.

I can’t wait to see more.

“Penance” was an episode that saw the crew thinking on their feet and quickly adapting to new situations on the fly and, perhaps it’s just me, but that is one of my favorite types of stories. Raffi and Elnor, in particular, have such a fun chemistry together and their teamwork is definitely something to marvel at. I also enjoyed the usually irksome Jurati coming up with a cover story for her and Seven of Nine on the fly. Annika Seven Shots was truly inspired.

I also can’t believe it took so long to get Patton Oswald on Star Trek. I want more of this character. Please give us more of Spot 73.

Also, major props to Annie Wersching for her portrayal of the Borg Queen. To take over a character like this after such iconic performances that were given by both Alice Krige and Susanna Thompson must be daunting, but Wersching brings her own spin to the character and creates something new — a Borg Queen who is lost, confused, frustrated, and yet continues to plot and scheme behind her own eyes. Krige and Thompson were scary… Wersching is a completely different type of scary and, given that she is also an uneasy ally, it brings all kinds of dimension and possibility to this Queen.

The unnecessary cliffhanger was eye rolling, but on the whole it was another immensely satisfying and entertaining episode of this series. Star Trek: Picard has blown past all expectations with these first two episodes, virtually assuring that I will be glued to my television for this rest of this season.

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