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The End is the Beginning

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Title :
The End is the Beginning
Series :
Picard
Rating :
3
Disc No :
Episode :
3
First Aired :
6 Feb 2020
Stardate :
Unknown
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
YATI :
We're on board the ship in orbit around Earth and we can see a pretty massive nebula out of the front window. We are certain it's Earth because we could see Italy when we saw the outside of the ship.
Great Moment :
Finally seeing Jean-Luc Picard back in space again.
Body Count :
Six Romulans. Five Romulans killed by Laris, Zhaban, Picard and Agnes, one killed himself.
Factoid :
Jonathan Del Arco who plays Hugh in this episode is the same actor who played him in the TNG episodes "I, Borg" and "Descent, Part 2". The name Hugh was given to him by Geordi La Forge.

Plotline

After a recap of the destruction of Mars we are now on Earth in 2385, our location is Starfleet HQ and Picard is coming out of the building. An officer approaches him and asks questions. She turns out to be Lieutenant Commander Raffaela "Raffi" Musiker, who is working for Picard. He has been discussing the Romulan evacuation with Starfleet Command and they've been trying to avoid going ahead with the mission. Too few ships, not enough manpower. He provided answers for it all, they could use Synthetics. They are now banned throughout the Federation, effective immediately. All active units are to be dismantled and all research halted. She thinks it's crazy. They say that the androids had a fatal code error in the operating system. Raffi thinks something is off and "Smells" the involvement of the Tal Shiar. Picard can't see why the Romulans would attack a fleet built expressly to rescue them. She doesn't know, but she does know that there are billions of people in the burst radius of the supernova and it's not their fault that a bunch of A500s went rogue on Mars. Picard agrees, but Mars is burning and tens of thousands of people are dead. Nobody is listening, they're just reacting. Raffi wants to know what happened in there. They said that the mission was unfeasible. Half of them never wanted to rescue the Romulans in the first place and the rest are just frightened. Picard never thought that Starfleet would ever give in to intolerance. He said they had to accept his revised evacuation plan or his resignation. They went for the latter. Raffi is shocked. She wants to go ahead on their own. She wants him to come up with a last desperate wild solution, it's what he does. He said his resignation was that last solution. It didn't work. She asks what's next, is he going back to his chateau and write is memoirs. Raffi gets a message that the CIC wants to see her. She says it's typical, he retires and she gets sacked.

Back to the present day at Raffi's shack. Picard has been explaining about Dahj and Soji. He says he needs a ship and a pilot. "Wow", she says "I don't know what to say. 'You've got some god damn nerve' comes to mind, but I gather you've already heard that from your buddy Clancy". She loads up what appears to be a vape pipe and starts smoking. "Top tip for the future, on your next super secret, unauthorised synthetic girl rescue, try not telling the CIC exactly what you're planning on doing.". She saw his TV interview. He says, unmitigated disaster. She says her estate is a lot less grand than his chateau, hers is more of a hovel. Showing him around would be humiliating. Her entire life for the last 14 years has been a slide into humiliation and rage, a fair amount of snakeleaf-induced paranoia, referring to the drugs she is smoking. It may have been nice to hear from him once or twice, and not just because you think I know an off the books pilot with an unregistered ship. Just to say Hi. She walks off. He attempts to follow.

Back at the Artifact. Deep in the heart of the Cube someone is reviewing recordings of Soji's work. We will later discover that this is Hugh, the Borg from TNG. He has had lots of his implants removed. He goes to see Soji. He doesn't know what to say, her work has always been excellent, but speaking to a Nameless in his own language was outstanding. She says that he had taught her that even a few words in their own language can be soothing. Hugh says that there are very few more despised people in the galaxy than the xBs. He says that people either see them as property or to be exploited, or even as a hazard to be warehoused. Their hosts the Romulans have a more expansive view, they see them as both. Hugh has decided to grant Soji's wish to interview Ramdha, an xB. She's very pleased. He wants to know why she wanted to interview her. Soji asks how much he knows about Ramdha, has he read the Romulan dossier on her. He hasn't and is surprised she has, how did she manage that? She just asked someone for help and they seemed happy to help. Hugh hasn't experienced that, especially of the Romulans. Ramdha was the foremost expert in ancient Romulan myth. She wrote books about it. Hugh wants to know how that relates to her work now. She says there's ample evidence for therapeutic utility of a shared mythical framework. Hugh says she can have 30 minutes. They'll see how it goes after that.

Back at the Vasquez Rocks. Picard finds Raffi. He says that it's right that she is angry. He disappointed her and neglected her when she needed him. He's sorry. She doesn't care. He explains again, that there's a group of Romulan synth hunters operating in the open on Earth, they couldn't do that without Federation complicity. She had always said that there were Human-Romulan connections he didn't see. She was talking about Mars. She claims to have concrete evidence that a high-ranking Starfleet official conspired to allow the attack to go ahead to put an end to the Romulan rescue, which they opposed. Picard says that the Romulans had no reason to sabotage their own rescue. He says that's why he needs her help, because of her ability to see what others don't. She doesn't want to go down another rabbit hole with him. She's not having it and asks him to leave. As he walks away she says she has a pilot for him. His name is Rios. He'll be in touch. He thanks her and leaves.

At the Daystrom Institute. Agnes is eating her lunch and we find Oh behind her. Oh introduces herself to Agnes. She wants to talk to her about her visits with Picard.

Cut to the Artifact, Hugh and Soji are walking through the Cube. Hugh tells the check point guard that they are there to see patient 4822/2. He says he needs authorisation. Hugh explains that the unit is operated by the reclamation project, which is under the direct authority of its Executive Director, himself. The Guard lets them in. We enter a room with quite a few ex-Borg, all of whom seem somewhat disturbed. Of the ex-Borg, all the "The Disordered" are Romulans. They are the only Romulans that were ever assimilated, as far as Hugh knows. Hugh points out Ramdha. She is sitting at a table playing with some sort of triangular cards. Soji says Hi and Ramdha looks up but then goes back to her cards.

Back at Vasquez Rocks, it's night time, the lights are on in Raffi's shack. Raffi answers a video call from Picard. He asks if she's doing the research, she denies it. He says that he is sending everything that he has on Maddox. She says she doesn't want it. Picard says carry on and hangs up.

In Earth orbit we find a ship, a style we haven't seen before. It doesn't resemble a Federation ship. It's red and has sled style nacelles, slung below. Picard beams onboard. It's a very large space and at one end is a large transporter pad, behind it is what looks like a warp core. Picard calls out for Captain Rios. Someone walks in and says Hi. Picard introduces himself. The new person says of course you are, you may be too late, which confuses Picard. They walk to the front of the ship and there's another person there, lighting a cigar, he has a wound on his shoulder with a large shard of metal sticking out of it. He looks identical to the first person, except for the clothing. The chap with the wound is Captan Rios, the first person is "Just an EMH". Picard attempts to introduce himself but Rios knows who he is, he read one of his books at one point. Picard wants to know what happened to him? He says "It didn't die". Rios calls for "Aguardiente" and what looks like a full bottle of pisco brandy appears. He pulls the cork and pours a glass. Offers one to Picard, who declines, and then throws the contents over is wound, wincing slightly. Rios tells the EMH that what he wants to do is take the giant chunk of titanium shrapnel out of the hole in his shoulder. Rios asks Picard to sit down. He walks across the bridge and hesitates at the Captain's chair, before sitting in another seat. There's a book in the seat called "The Tragic Sense Of Life" by Miguel De Unamundo. Rios says to toss it anywhere. Rios asks where are they going, Raffi says you have no idea. Picard says he's working on it. Rios asks when they are leaving. He wants to go as soon as possible. Rios wants to know if they're breaking any laws or are intending to? Picard doesn't know. He says he's not in the habit of consulting lawyers before he does what needs to be done. Rios says he's not in the habit of consulting anyone about anything. The EMH removes the metal and attempts to seal the wound. Rios stops him and asks for the metal and tells him to leave. The EMH says Rios doesn't get any better. Picard says Noted. Rios deactivates the EMH. Picard says he needs a pilot and Raffi says he's the best around. Rios says he never argues with Raffi. Picard says, wise man. Rios was apparently the XO on a heavy cruiser. The USS ibn Majid. He says we won't have heard of it because it doesn't exist. Starfleet erased it from the records. Picard asks if he detects a certain bitterness to Starfleet? Rios says they parted company a long time ago. Picard says the ship is impeccably maintained. Everything stowed in Startfleet regulation order. Picard doesn't know what happened to Rios or the USS ibn Majid but after five minutes on the ship he knows exactly what he's looking at. He's Starfleet to the core. He can smell it on him. He says it's just his tragic sense of life and that Raffi warned Picard that he was a speech-maker. Rios says to either hire him or find someone else. Don't try and get inside his head.

Back with Raffi. She's working on the data Picard sent her. She identifies a location called Freecloud, apparently something to do with gambling.

Back on the ship Rios is now drinking the brandy in his room, the bottle is half empty. A new hologram appears, once again it looks like Rios. He says that the navigation sensors are back at maximum range. Whatever it was it scraped off pretty easily. The holo asks if Rios is excited or intimidated? Maybe a little bit starstruck? "Jean-Luc Picard, chief contact with the Q continuum, Arbiter of Succession for the Klingon Empire. Savior of Earth from Borg Invasion. Captain of the Enterprises D and E. The man even worked alongside the great Spock." Rios points out that he is an emergency hologram and that we no longer have a navigational emergency. The ENH responds "Well, someone is experiencing an acute moodiness overload". Rios tries to go back to reading his book, the ENH pops up from behind it. He points out that Picard is a good man. He says he's on the side of the angels and it's been a long time since you helped out someone like him. A very long time. He says he already had one grand heroic captain in his life and doesn't need another. Ten years on I still can't close my eyes at night without seeing the last one's brains and blood splattered all over the bulkhead. Rios deactivates the ENH.

Cut to the chateau. Picard is outside and looking at the stars. He's joined by Laris. He's reminiscing about the grape harvest. Laris asks Won't you miss it, any of it? He says he will miss her, Zhaban and Number One, the dog. He tried his best to belong to this place, but he doesn't think he ever truly felt at home there. Laris said he always did have one eye on the stars.

Back at the Artifact. Ramdha is still playing with her cards. Soji and Hugh are watching. Soji says that one card looks like a door. Hugh says that's close, it's actually called shaiqouin, which means false door. Soji says that traditional Romulan houses always have a false front door that is never used. You have to go around the back. Hugh says "You're kind of a know-it-all, aren't you." Soji gets a chair and puts it behind Ramdha sitting on it. She starts talking to Ramdha. "If certain people requested entry... would it be granted?". Ramdha responds "You may sit".

Switching back to the chateau. Zhaban brings Picard a bag for the road. It has bread, Roquefort and Madame Arnaud's terrine d'oie. Better than a replicator can do. And lastly... Zhaban drops the last item and they bend to pick it up, suddenly the lights go out and weapons fire starts. Laris and Zhaban start fighting Romulan assassins as they enter. A fight ensues. Picard gets involved. Eventually all the Romulans are dead and Laris, Zhaban and Picard are OK. One final attacker comes running in and is shot, they don't know by whom, until Agnes Jurati comes into view. She hopes the gun was on stun. Romulan disrupters don't have a stun setting. Upset she puts the rifle down. Zhaban and Laris gather the bodies together. One is alive, they strap him to a chair and remove his mask. From the rifle count there were six of them. Picard gives Agnes a glass of wine. She starts talking about her visit from Oh. Picard knows of Oh and says she's good at her job. Oh wanted to know why Picard came to see Agnes. She told Oh. It seemed too important not to and besides she's a bad liar. Picard doesn't mind. There's one thing she didn't tell Oh. Agnes notices that Laris and Zhaban are Romulans. Laris says not to worry, they're not like them anymore. Laris wakes the surviving Romulan. Picard goes over and says Lets talk.

Switch back to the Artifact. Soji is now sitting in front of Ramdha and tells her her name, explaining that she works with Hugh. She says she's an anthropologist by training. Soji apologises for intruding on Ramdha's time. Hugh says she has good days and bad days. Soji asks about the cards, she calls them pixmit. She asks if you can tell fortunes with them. Soji asks if they're a form of mandala. Do the Images have a connection to Romulan mythology. Ramdha says she hates the word mythology. She says that Romulans don't have such a word. Soji asks what a better word would be, suggesting scriptures, sacred stories, legendarium. Ramdha says The News. Soji says that she loves that a former Borg might be able to create a mythol... a shared narrative framework for understanding their trauma. Rooted in deep archetypes, but as relevant as the day's news. Ramdha suddenly looks up and seems to notice Soji for the first time. She says I know you.

Back at the chateau. Picard wants to know why the Tal Shiar is on Earth. Laris asks if he is Zhat Vash. Picard says that if he answers the questions he will be released. Laris says it's pointless because the Romulan is a stubborn northerner like Zhaban.

Back once again on the Artifact. Ramdha says she recognises Soji from tomorrow. Soji says that they have never met. Ramdha gets a little worked up at that, so Soji asks what she was doing when they met tomorrow. Soji says that one of the things that makes Ramdha so special is that she was on the very last ship to be assimilated by the Borg Cube. Hugh asks if that is true and how Soji knows that? Soji continues saying that Ramdha was on the Imperial scout ship Shaenor with 25 other passengers. They encountered the Cube and were assimilated, but then something went wrong. Other xBs in the room are starting to get worked up. Ramdha puts another card down, but Soji takes hold of her hand. Asking Ramdha what happened. Does she know what caused the sub-matrix collapse on the Cube. Ramdha pulls her hand away.

Back at the chateau. Picard asks why they killed Dahj. The Romulan says she's not a girl.

Back at the Artifact. Ramdha picks up another card and looks at it. It appears to have two figures on it, facing each other, they look alike. Ramdha asks which one Soji is?

Back at the chateau. Picard asks the Romulan to help him understand what's happening. The Romulan says she's not what he thinks she is.

Back at the Artifact. Ramdha asks which sister are you.

Back at the chateau. Picard asks why did you kill her. Is there another one like her?

Back at the Artifact. Ramdha repeats the question which sister are you? The one who dies or the one who lives.

Back at the chateau. Picard asks, where is she, where is the other one. The Romulan replies You'll never find her before we do, qezhtihn. Laris punches him to the floor.

Back at the Artifact. Ramdha jumps up and grabs a pistol from one of the guards. She starts shouting I know who you are, you are Seb-Cheneb. You are The Destroyer. She is the end of all.

Back at the chateau. Zhaban is holding the Romulan down. The Romulan bites a tooth and spits acid on Zhaban. He jumps up and removes the clothing, getting out of it before it dissolves. The Romulan also dissolves. Agnes is horrified. Laris is shocked.

Back at the Artifact. Ramdha turns the gun on herself. Soji runs over and takes the gun from her before she can fire, knocking the table down in the process. Romulan guards rush in and grab Ramdha. Hugh takes her from them and says that the guard is the one that should be disciplined, get him out, and make sure your side arms are fully secured. The guards leave. All the other xBs stare at Soji, they don't look happy.

Sometime later on the Artifact. Soji makes a call to her mother. She's upset and asks her if Dahj is OK? Mother says she is and she heard from her today. She says she sounded great and was thinking of adopting a puppy. Mother says she didn't think it was a great idea. Soji, immediately falls asleep during the call.

Sometime later she wakes up, still in bed. Someone is at the door. It's Narek, he looks stern. He asks if she is OK. He asks what happened. She says she doesn't know, if he had asked 5 mins before hand she would have said she didn't know anything about a Romulan ship. She would have said she had never heard of the Shaenor or that Ramdha was on it. Narek asks if that was the truth. She says he's probably read every unclassified document that there is in the history of the Cube. It must have been in there somewhere. Even Romulan censors have to slip up sometimes. She wants to know if he believes her. He sits and holds her hand, saying can she keep a secret. He may be falling in love with her. He hugs her.

Switch to a new location. We find Rizzo but she's different. She has pointed ears and has a different uniform, this is Narissa. We discover that we are on the Artifact. Narek goes by and she grabs his arm. She says, I'm back. He says so are your ears. She says she can smell her on him, referring to Soji. The smell is remarkably carnal. She really is a remarkable piece of machinery. What has she told you. He says nothing yet, he's not sure what she consciously knows, but he's sure she has no idea of what she really is, and given what happened on Earth, he thinks they should keep it that way for as long as possible. Narissa says that Earth was a miscalculation. He says her miscalculation. Narissa says, which is why she let him pursue his method here. She wishes him good luck and tells him not to fall in love. He says it's nice to see her looking herself again.

Back at the chateau. Picard confirms that Agnes told Oh what had happened, except for one thing. What was it. She says that she didn't tell her she was going with him to look for the girl, Dahj, the other Dahj. You are going to look for her right? That's what Oh thought, you were planning on getting a ship and a pilot and go off looking for the second synth. Are you?

Cut to La Sirena. Rios is talking to Picard, asking if he's ready. He says his sources say it's about to get very hot down there. Picard says it's already hot. Rios says it's going to get hotter. Agnes lays down her case for coming along. Picard says it's time to go and he and Agnes beam up to the ship. Raffi is onboard. She says she found Maddox. She'll tell him if he promises to take her with him. He would be honoured. Raffi says she's not joining the mission she just wants a lift to Freecloud. Agnes wants to know why Raffi wants to go to Freecloud. Raffi doesn't know who she is. Agnes introduces herself. She's not impressed that Picard is letting her come along. Picard says she's Earth's leading expert on Synthetic life. Raffi is worried that he didn't run any sort of security check. Picard asks why she wants to go to Freecloud. Raffi refuses to say. Once they get there he's on his own. Agnes wants to know who Raffi is. Rios wants to leave and Picard says "Engage" and they warp out of orbit.

Analysis

I hate the fact the Raffi is smoking, or even vaping. Has the world not suffered enough without Star Trek making an unhealthy pass-time appear "Cool" again. Raffi is clearly a rebel character by Star Trek standards but attempting to mark her out as such in this way is sad. Sad for a franchise that is meant, at least until now, to show the best of mankind and a positive future and we're given this. We now meet Rios and guess what, he has a cigar in his mouth. Oh, dear. Rant over moving on...

On the whole this episode is starting to move the story on. The setup seems to be complete and we've actually managed to get into space for the first time. We've put together a rag bag assortment of a crew. Rios, ex-Starfleet with some dark secret from the past. Raffi, a conspiracy theorist, perhaps drug addict. Agnes an expert on Synths (as we are now required to call them) and Picard. Slightly bitter and a lot older but still principled. Not the sort of group we are used to but we'll have to see how they pan out.

The ship doesn't appear to be anything special. It looks like a cargo ship. One large space on the upper deck, transporter, engine at the rear, bridge area to the front. There are rooms off that area and a lower deck. Again one of those "wait and see" parts.

The story as outlined so far. The Romulan star was about to go supernova, as seen in Star Trek 2009. Picard was to lead a mission to help save them, however, Mars was attacked by synths leading to a ban and the end of the rescue mission. Someone, likely Bruce Maddox, has made human synths. They don't seem to know what they are. The first, Dahj, was attacked by Romulans, which we're now told hate artificial life. She then felt an urge to contact Picard, but was eventually killed. Picard thinks that they are related to Data. The second is on a Borg Cube captured by the Romulans when it failed and was cut off from the Borg. They've been mining it for tech and attempting to rescue its crew. Romulan spies are trying to get close to the second synth Soji in an attempt to get information from her on her origin. Picard and his band of misfits are off on a mission to rescue her.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 1,933 Last updated : 1 Jan 2022