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Absolute Candor

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Title :
Absolute Candor
Series :
Picard
Rating :
3
Disc No :
Episode :
4
First Aired :
13 Feb 2020
Stardate :
Unknown
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
YATI :
None
Great Moment :
The appearance of Seven of Nine at the end of the episode was a nice tie in to Voyager.
Body Count :
One. Tenqem Adrev who was killed by Elnor to prevent him from killng an unarmed Picard.
Factoid :
The ships seen in Mars orbit in the second episode are Wallenberg class, one of them is called Nightingale.

Plotline

After the usual recap of past events, we find ourselves looking at the planet Vashti in the beta quadrant and it's 2385. Down on the planet, some Romulans are playing Zhamaq. People are shopping at a small market and children are playing. A young child runs past a fruit stall and steals a fruit, the stall holder calls after him saying "Run, sisterboy.", this is Elnor. Picard beams down to the planet and people start running towards him. People are asking Picard questions and he assures them that the Federation and Starfleet are there to help them settle. Elnor also sees him arrive and runs off shouting "He's coming!". Picard and the boy arrive at much the same time and Picard greets the occupants saying "Greetings Sisters". All the occupants are female and all dressed the same way. They respond "Jolan Tru". The boy is hiding behind one of the sisters, Zani, and is prompted to let himself be seen. He comes out from behind the sister into view. Zani says that Elnor hasn't stopped talking about Picard since he left. What has he got to say to him now. The boy asks what has he brought him. Picard looks around and takes a book from his bag, it's The Three Musketeers. Elnor hugs Picard and Zani says he is making Picard feel uncomfortable. He dislikes displays of emotion and he's not very fond of children. Not at all, says Picard, and then stops. One day he will get used to the Way of Absolute Candor. Elnor wants to know why he doesn't like children. Zani says because they are demanding, distracting and interfere with duty and pleasure alike. Elnor says his feelings are hurt. He actually did think Picard was fond of him. Picard says he was right, he likes him very much. The sisters in Southeast Station said that things went well there. Picard says that 10,000 new refugees have arrived. He says that the help of the sisters was invaluable and that the Federation owes a debt to the Qowat Milat. Zani asks how long he can stay, as always their house and hearts are open to him. Elnor wants to read the book. Picard agrees, but says that he has to be in Central Station in three days to meet the next convoy. Elnor says that last time he promised... and is cut off by Zani who reminds him that a promise is a prison, he must not make himself another's jailer. Picard says he made Zani a promise last time he was there, that he would try and find some Sweet Hanifak, but he forgot that promises are prisons, so... and pretends to take the package back. He gives it to Zani.

Later, they are having a meal, Elnor is collecting dishes. Picard says that it can't be easy for Elnor in a house of women. He must get lonely sometimes. Zani says, yes, he is loved but he does not belong with them. Picard says it was good that they took him in, but that he will find a more suitable place for him soon.

Elnor and Picard are practicing fencing using bamboo sticks. He is also reading the book to him. Raffi calls him on the Comlink. Picard says that he is busy. He hears something over the link and stops fencing. He asks "What do you mean synths have attacked Mars".

Picard tells Zani what has happened. She wants to know what it will mean for their mission. Will it continue? Picard says it must. He asks her to tell Elnor he's sorry they didn't finish their fencing lesson, but he'll be back soon. Picard beams up.

Back in 2399, on board La Sirena. Rios is reading his book, Agnes comes in and wants to know what he's reading. She says that space turns out to be super boring. Rios asks what she was expecting. She doesn't know. It's so empty, obviously. It's there in the name, it's not like it's called stuff. She says that there are over three billion stars in our galaxy alone, and it is one of two trillion galaxies. There are a septillion known planets. Maybe it should be called "Vast quantities of stuff", why focus on the negative. She says she had caught up on two years of back issues of the Journal of Theoretical Cybernetics, including the Festschrift for Prof. Kwok. She watered his plants, she was going to watch a holo, but oddly he only has Klingon Opera onboard. Rios says it's a long story. Agnes says she used to like a guy who liked paper books and she bothered him too. Rios puts his book away. He wants to know what he used to do about it. She says he was her dad, he had to put up with it. She asks what is his book about. He says it's about "The existential pain of living with the consciousness of death and how it defines us as Human beings." She says "Well that's not a conversation killer at all, she totally wants to talk about that.". Raffi walks in and says she's been examining the navigation logs. She wants to know where they are going. Rios says Picard asked to make a stop. Raffi wants to know where? Rios says it's Vashti. Raffi says that Picard can't even take a guilt trip without using a starship.

We appear to be back at the chateau, Picard is looking out of the window. Picard says Hold and the scene freezes. A computer voice says "Holomatrix paused", a quiet spoken man resembling Rios asks if there is an inaccuracy. He is the ship's Emergency Hospitality Hologram, also known as Mr Hospitality. Picard says that everything seems to be exactly correct. Mr Hospitality says he rebuilt his study to exact specifications. Picard agrees. Mr Zhaban provided the holoscans, he thought you may feel more at home. Picard says that it seems a little odd that a working ship should have a hospitality hologram? He says he came with the basic installation, but Picard is right, hospitality emergencies are rare on the ship. The captain generally keeps to himself. Raffi enters and asks why he wants to go to Vashti. Is he out of his mind? Rios enters and the EHH disappears. Rios says he hates the EHH. Raffi is upset that Picard is even suggesting going to Vashti. The idea, she claims isn't just bad it's insane. He says that Dahj's sister is in grave danger, she may already be dead, he's as eager to get to Freecloud as she is. Raffi never said she was eager to get there. Rios says she seems more apprehensive about it. Raffi says she's going to be straight with them. Picard says it would make a refreshing change. Agnes walks in. She wants to know if it's a secret meeting or is she now part of the crew. Picard says it's fine for her to stay and that Raffi was just questioning his sanity. Raffi gets defensive and says OK lets go to Vashti. They can check out the big statue of him, that they surely must have built by now. Rios says that if they did, someone has likely stolen it by now. Qiris sector is sketchy nowadays. There's a serious power vacuum, smugglers and petty warlords like Kar Kantar basically run the show. Raffi is upset that Rios didn't already tell Picard this. Rios says Picard said to lay a course for Vashti, so he did. Rios assumed he knew. Picard says that Qiris is in the Fenris Rangers' territory. Rios says that it was, but the Rangers don't have the resources to keep up with the chaos. Raffi says that Vashti is also a hotbed for the Romulan Rebirth movement, but that's OK he can just pop in and pick up a nun. Agnes is confused, what are they talking about. Raffi says that he wants to pick up an assassin. Picard says that they're not assassins, you can't hire them. The Qowat Milat must choose you. Rios says they're Romulan Warrior Nuns. Agnes wants to know that that's a real thing. She thinks it's bizarre. Picard says that he knew some Qowat Milat. On Vashti alone they helped Picard and Raffi relocate more than a quarter of a million refugees. They are also the most skilled single-combat fighters he has ever seen and they're the most feared enemies of the Tal Shiar. Rios says, it sounds like you owe them more than they owe you. What makes you think they'll help. Picard says they have their own criteria to help or not. Agnes asks what that is. Picard says that he's confident that they will help. If they don't then the Way of Absolute Candor means that they won't hesitate to tell him. Agnes asks what the Way is. Picard says it is their primary teaching, total communication of emotion without a filter between thought and word. It runs totally counter to everything the Romulans hold dear. Picard resumes the holoprogram. Raffi says she thinks losing Dahj has him thinking of Vashti and the kid, Elnor. He confirms that. Raffi reminds him what they used to say. Picard says "One impossible thing at a time". Raffi says that they have to stick to the plan and go to Freecloud. He says he may never pass this way again and goes to his quarters. Agnes asks if anyone else thinks that the Way of Absolute Candor sounds potentially annoying.

At the Artifact. Soji is watching a video of Ramdha prior to assimilation. She's asked what she can tell them about Ganmdan. Ramdha explains that Ganmadan is what the ancestors called The Day of Annihilation. Interviewer asks Annihilation of what. Ramdha confirms, of all life everywhere. It's when all the shackled demons break their chains and answer the call of The Destroyer. Soji pauses the video.

Back on the bridge of La Sirena, they're in orbit around Vashti. Rios asks Picard if it used to be home? Picard says sort of, for a moment. He asks what the security is. Raffi confirms that it has a standard Romulan planetary defence system that they bought second hand. The Fenris Rangers helped them install it. It is primitive but effective. Your basic impenetrable shield of orbital killer drones. Every 30 minutes a transit zone opens up in a random spot in the network. If the system clears you, you have a minute to pass through. Try and come or go without clearance and you're met with immediate kill-fire. Picard asks if they have clearance. Raffi says no, but she's working on a number of angles. Picard says to call Central Station and tell them it's him. Raffi says that's the first thing they did. Frankly they were not impressed. Picard looks bemused but says, very well, and asks for suggestions. Rios says that a cash gift is always appropriate. Picard smiles.

Picard materialises on the planet in the same village he beamed into 14 years before. This time nobody runs over to him. They just keep going on their way. Picard says hello to some passers by but they ignore him. Lots of people are wearing an armband on their left arm. Once again Picard attempts to say hello to people. Once more he is ignored. As he walks off, a Romulan sitting in the social club taps his combadge.

Picard reaches the Qowat Milat house and walks in. Zani turns and sees him. Picard says Jolan Tru, Qowat Milat. Zani and the others say Jolan Tru. Zani says You got old Admiral Picard. He says, she didn't. She reminds him that this is a house of truth. She didn't think they would ever see him again. Picard says he doesn't have the right, but he needs their help one last time. A man wakes and stands up, he looks at Picard and looks surprised. It is Elnor, grown up.

Back on the Artifact, Ramdha, is laying unconscious with sensors attached to her face. She is being monitored. Soji looks at her and says, poor Ramdha. Narek is there and says that she has always been a bit of a tormented soul. Soji asks if he knew her. She says she's not surprised she tried to take her own life. She doesn't know why but she feels drawn to her, but it's my fault something about me set her off. Narek says it's not Soji's fault, she's disordered. A drone floats into the room and scans Ramdha. Soji continues, when she looked at me I felt... seen. Even though she didn't like what she saw. Narek says I see you Soji.

Soji and Narek are in a recreation room drinking Romulan ale. Soji says that she's a trusting person, but Narek challenges her paradigm. Narek asks for another chance. Soji wants to know how he knew she was going to the Disordered Ward just now. He says he didn't. Soji asks if he's been watching her. Narek says not in the way she thinks. Soji says that he has no uniform, no insignia and no rank. He goes where he likes on the Artifact and he knows things. Soji asks if he is Tal Shiar. He says no. Soji points out that if he was Tal Shiar he would also say no. He says yes. Soji asks if he knows what happened to Ramdha's ship, the Shaenor. She says no. She asks who does. He doesn't know but imagines there are some records in the Borg databases on the Artifact. Soji says they are classified. She asks if he has access to them? He says no, but he may know someone who does. He asks how her paradigm is now. Soji says paradigmatic. He finishes his drink and asks her to go with him. He wants to show her something.

Elsewhere in the Artifact Narek is walking fast and Soji is trying to keep up. Narek says he's going to teach her an ancient Borg ritual. Soji says that the Borg didn't have rituals. Narek says that is what everyone thinks. Narek says the program she watched, the one with Ramdha, it was in Romulan. Soji says it was a talk show called Yrrh Mnrrh. Narek asked who taught her such excellent Romulan. She says it was an old friend of her father's. A professor at the U. Narek says, Seattle, sometime before May 12 2396, when she shipped out for the beta quadrant, aboard the Ellison. Soji says, so you have been watching me. Narek stops walking and says here we are. The ventilation return. Take off your shoes. Soji asks why, he says Borg ritual, shoes off. Watch this. Narek takes a few deep breaths and runs down the corridor. Sliding along the icy floor. Soji laughs and does the same. They play on the ice for some time. When they stop they kiss. He points out that Federation passenger lists are a matter of public record, which is shocking to a Romulan. Strangely however, he points out that she was never recorded as a passenger on the Ellison that day. Soji says she was. She asks if he is calling her a liar. He doesn't respond. After a while she says To hell with you and runs off. Narek says what about the Borg data files. She stops. The ones that may explain what happened to the Shaenor, to hell with them too? Soji asks what he is doing. He says the same as she is, feeding an insatiable curiosity.

Raffi is drinking coffee on La Sirena. She's monitoring a computer, she notices that someone ID'd Picard. There's a lot of comm traffic mentioning him. Rios asks if it's good blowing up or bad. Raffi says bad, catastrophically bad. Rios says they should get him out of there. Raffi calls Picard who says he needs more time. Raffi points out that the communications aren't love letters. There's quite a lot of anger. Picard says he is safe where he is. Rios points out that there's an incoming ship, just at the limit of scanner range. It's moving kind of slow. Looks like that old Bird of Prey. Raffi says she's glad he's safe, but, that they're about to get a visit from Kar Kantar. Picard says for them to do whatever they need to do, he still needs more time. Picard out.

Down on the planet. Zani explains that they do what they can to maintain peace. Half the sisters serve as qalankhan, freeblades, patrolling roads and waterways, helping travellers, defending Romulan and Terran alike. Picard asks if they still bind their blades to a singular cause? Zani confirms that they do, if the cause is judged worthy. Elnor offers Picard bread and he turns it down. Elnor throws it on the table. Zani says that Picard feels shame seeing Elnor. Picard says he always imagined that they had found a suitable place for him. Zani says that a lot of things they imagined back then never came to be. Picard says, it's not just Elnor, it's everything there, the poverty, the degradation, the ethnic strife. When he left, there was none of this. Zani says because you could not save everyone, you chose to save none. Picard confirms that he allowed the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Zani asks what his purpose is? She infers that is why he came to obtain the services of a qalanjkkai. Why? Picard says he is taking on the Tal Shiar on his own. Zani says, that his case then is a desperate one. Picard says it's up to him. Zani asks, another rescue? Picard says if it's not too late. Zani says he's not too late to rescue Elnor. He doesn't belong there, once the evacuation ended we simply never found a better home for him. Picard asks if he completed his training. Zani confirms it was last spring. Picard asks if he is really a Qowat Milat. Zani says no as a man he never can be. But, he is open-hearted and apart from his display of reticence you always seemed to inspire him. His fighting skills are truly formidable. Picard asks if they would send him away. He may find himself in serious danger. He may die. Zani says that he will, before that comes to pass it would gladden her heart to see him alive.

Picard asks Elnor if there is any sort of protocol when one binds his sword to someone. Does he go on his knees? He hopes not, his knees are not what they once were. Elnor says you tell a story and I listen, simple. They sit down and Picard starts. He had a friend called Data. Elnor says it's usually a sad story. Picard says he died. He gave his life to save his, and he's missed him ever since. Elnor asks if he ever missed him. Picard says of course he did. Elnor says he can continue. Picard says, he recently learned that Data... it's complicated... but that he had two offspring. One of them called Dahj, was murdered in front of him. He believes the other is in serious danger. He has to find her before the Tal Shiar does. Elnor is interested at the mention of the Tal Shiar. Picard confirms it. Elnor asks if the other sister is an android. Picard confirms. Elnor says Picard told him stories about Data. He had an orange cat named Spot. Picard confirms. Elnor says he's still never seen a cat. Picard says that if he comes with him, he just might see one or two. Elnor asks why he is needed. Picard says he failed to protect the sister. Elnor says that he doesn't know where she is or if she is still alive. What about the man who built her. Picard says they have a guess where he is. Elnor asks if he is being pursued. Picard says it's likely, even anticipated. Elnor says that all that is why he needs someone, but why does he need him. Picard says because he is old and Elnor is young and strong. He is one of the best fighters that Zani had ever seen. It seems to him that his quest has the appropriate criterion. Will he come with him, will he bind his sword to his quest. Elnor is angry that Picard has only come to him when he had a need for him and wants something from him. You left me on my own old man. Picard says he never meant to. Elnor walks away.

Picard says he is ready for transport. Rios confirms and says that the next window will open in seven minutes. Picard starts walking to the transport site, back at the village. As he walks in he notices that there is a sign on the social club saying Romulans Only. Picard removes it, throws it on the floor and steps on it. Patrons in the club look around at him. He walks up to the social club and says hello. Nobody replies. He walks in and takes a seat. The person already sitting at the table leaves. Picard calls for the waiter, but is ignored. One of the patrons stands up and starts talking to Picard. He says his name is Tenqem Adrev, they have met before, once. Picard apologises, he doesn't remember. Adrev says it was another lifetime when he was another man. A Romulan senator. He had the honour of being present the day he addressed the Hall of State, the very embodiment of Starfleet, making such eloquent and generous promises on behalf of the magnanimous Federation. The great saint Picard. Picard interjects Senator..., but the Senator continues. He found it extremely moving. How very touched we all were. There were tears in my eyes. Thank you... and then you went away... and when you returned you brought those great ships. Wallenburg-class transports. We all packed aboard the Nightingale, five generations of parents and grandparents, siblings and spouses and children. The Nightingale brought us here, to Vashti. Picard says that they had so little time. There were so many of you to save. Adrev says, and so little to be expected from Starfleet. Picard counters, I did everything I could. Adrev says, and then you gave up. Adrev calls on Skantal and Bidran who come over with others. Picard says, he grieves. Again he is cut off by Adrev, no one asked for your pity, Picard. Just as no one asked for your help. You and Starfleet had no understanding of Romulan ingenuity, resolve, self-sufficiency. You took advantage of us at the very moment where we doubted ourselves, enticed us with your empty promises, and did everything in your power to scatter, confuse and divide us. Picard shouts, that is not so. Adrev says to Bidran to give Picard his sword. Picard refuses to take it. Adrev takes the sword and throws it to Picard, who catches it. They grab him and move into the open. Ardev and Picard start to fight. After a single parried exchange, Picard steps back and throws the sword to the ground. Elnor says Please my friend. Choose to live. Adrev moves to strike Picard. Someone else moves to attack Elnor, who strikes the attacker and then beheads Adrev in a single stroke. The head falls to the floor before the body. Elnor says he regrets Adrev's choice. He says he has bound himself to Picard as qalankhkai, Anyone who threatens him will be choosing to die. Picard tells Elnor that it's enough. He addresses the crowd, The Federation has failed you all. I have failed you all. I... broke faith with you, and the result was terrible... pain and loss for you all. And I am sorry. Rios says he's ready for transport. Skantal says that Elnor's tan qalanq is no match for a disruptor sisterboy. Raffi calls and says ready? Picard says, yes, now. Picard and Elnor are both beamed up.

On the ship. Picard tells Elnor that Adrev did not deserve to die. Elnor says that he chose to die. Fight a Qowat Milat, and the outcome is not in doubt. Picard says, listen to me, carefully. I will benefit by your skill and courage, but if he binds himself to his cause, I will tell you when to fight and when to refrain. Is that understood. Elnor agrees. Picard asks him to swear it and he does. Picard introduces Elnor to Raffi and Agnes. Raffi is not impressed, calling him a boy with a stick. Picard asks Elnor what made him choose to help. He said it met the requirements, and it seemed like you needed me after all. Agnes asks what the requirements are. A qalankhkai will only bind herself, himself, to a lost cause.

Back at the Artifact. Narek is asleep in bed. A hand strokes him and he wakes, it turns out to be Narissa, she asks if he thought it was Soji, is she anatomically correct. You've been studying her kind your whole adult life. Waiting for her. Planning for her. Wondering what it would be like when you finally saw her. Now here she is. Narek asks, why she has an obsession with Ramdha. He asks what happened when the Cube assimilated Shaenor. Why did its crew and passengers lose their minds when they were assimilated. Why were they. Narissa asks what he as achieved on her behalf. He says he's planted the first seed of doubt. Sarcastically she says, really one whole seed, impressive. Narek insists he knows how to handle her. If he presses too hard he may activate her, and then they'll have another situation like on earth. Then they'll both be dead. Narissa says that is the goal, to kill them. Narek says, yes, all of them, which is something we can't do until we find out where she came from. Narissa says that in the meantime you slide ever deeper into your obsession. Have you ever entertained, even for a moment, that she may be the one handling you. She was sent to the Cube for a reason She has a plan. Don't forget that. Narek says he knows full well. Narissa asks who is she? She starts strangling Narek forcing him to answer. He says Seb-Cheneb. The Destroyer. Narissa lets go. She says she will give him and his seed one more week. If they don't have the location by then they will go back to good old pain and violence. She leaves.

In orbit around Vashti, La Sirena is seen trying to run, but the Romulan Bird of Prey is shooting at her. Rios activates the computer's auto-evasion protocol and the ship starts to weave about. He says that the heap's targeting system is primitive but the security net worries him. The security net opens fire on them too. The ship continues to dodge and the computer says that the shields are at 89%. Raffi asks if he can go faster than the BoP. Rios says, perhaps not outrun him but I can certainly outfly him. He calls for Emmet, who materialises. The weapons come online and they return fire on the BoP. Emmet points out that the BoP is pushing them towards the security grid. They will come in range of the drones in 9.4 seconds. Rios asks what happened to shooting them. He then attempts some drastic manoeuvres which end up bringing them closer to the security grid. Suddenly a small ship comes flying in. Emmet describes it as a hideous ship, Rios counters with magnificent pilot. The ship turns and both La Sirena and the new ship fire on the BoP. The new ship manages to cut a nacelle off the BoP. The BoP manages to get a last shot off hitting the new ship, which starts drifting towards the grid at high speed. Raffi says that the pilot is hailing them. Picard says to open hailing frequencies but then realises that he's not the Captain. Rios says that's fine open the comms. Raffi says that the pilot is asking permission to beam over. The ship is breaking up. Picard says to beam him over. Rios confirms. Picard tells Elnor to stand ready. They beam the pilot over just as the ship crashes into the planetary defence shield. Seven of Nine materialises on the bridge. Picard says, Seven of Nine? She says he owes her a ship, and then passes out.

Analysis

Like most of the episodes so far this one is very heavy on dialogue. There's quite a good amount of information gained from the discussion, or should I say argument, with Adrev. It's almost dialogue that a Star Trek website writer would dream about. Rather strangely Adrev, not only tells us the name of the ship that they all come to the planet aboard, he provides the class name, but stops short of providing crew complement, gross tonnage and names and addresses of each crew member. Graham and I used to joke about dialogue like this. Perhaps someone had us bugged. Despite this the dialogue doesn't actually feel forced.

I think I'm with Raffi, with the urgency of their mission, why are they stopping off to catch up on old times. Picard's excuse of not getting back this way again seems a little weak to Raffi, but, obviously we know about his discussions with Dr Benayoun and she doesn't. Still you would think his priority would be with Data's offspring, rather some child he only got to know 14 years before.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 1,756 Last updated : 1 Jan 2022