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Stardust City Rag

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Title :
Stardust City Rag
Series :
Picard
Rating :
4
Disc No :
Episode :
5
First Aired :
20 Feb 2020
Stardate :
Unknown
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
Ayushi Chhabra as Pel
Casey Childs as Nightbox Piano Player
Casey King as Icheb
Dominic Burgess as Mr. Vup
Douglas Tait as Tellarite
Jeri Lynn Ryan as Seven of Nine
Jessie Graff as Bjayzl's Bodyguard #2
John Ales as Bruce Maddox
Kay Bess as La Sirena Computer (voice)
Landry Allbright as Chop Doc
Linda Kessler as Bjayzl's Bodyguard #1
Mason Gooding as Gabriel Hwang
Necar Zadegan as Bjayzl
Sam Marra as Nightbox Bartender
YATI :
We see an advertisment for "The Red Bolian", we have never seen a red Bolian in the whole of Star Trek, so this is either a cunning advertising ploy or YATI.
Great Moment :
Picard trying to put on a fake French accent. Sacre bleu!
Body Count :
Three. Icheb, during a flashback segment. Killed by Seven of Nine in an act of mercy, after he was mortally wounded by Bjayzl's "chop docs" removing his Borg parts without anaesthetic.

Bjayzl is killed by Seven of Nine for the brutal killing of many Borg and primarily Icheb, who she had come to think of as her son.

Bruce Maddox was killed by Agnes, his lover and colleague.

Rios shot Bjayzl's two bodyguards, but we see them alive later. Seven shoots them but it doesn't look like it does when she shoots Bjayzl, so I'm assuming she was using a stun setting. We also see Seven shoot some of Bjayzl's security forces that come to her rescue too late, but we don't know if they die.
Factoid :
In Stardust City we see an advertisement for a Quark's bar, a connection to Deep Space Nine. The fake bio produced for Rios also mentions a Mr Quark of Ferenginar, and his trouble with the Breen.

There is also an advertisement for Mr Mot's Barber shop, with a bald blue head floating above it. Mr Mot was a bald Bolian barber on board the USS Enterprise-D under command of Captain Picard. Being a Bolian he was blue. Picard once pretended to be Mr Mot, during the episode "Starship Mine", in order to avoid giving away his identity to the terrorists who had taken over the ship.

Tranya is a drink we've seen before, back in the days of TOS episode "The Corbomite Maneuver".

This episode is a nominee for the DITL "Best of Trek" award.

Plotline

After the inevitable recap we find ourselves on a planet called Vergessen, in the Hypatia system. We move in to find a location called the The Seven Domes and it is 13 years ago, 2386. Moving inside we find Icheb, strapped to a trolley and in pain, surrounded by blood. Some sort of medieval tool is being used to extract his left eye. A doctor all in white with a white mask is performing the operation. Icheb is completely awake and most certainly not enjoying the procedure. The doctor continues, extracting the eyeball and throwing it in a dish. The doctor wants to know where his cortical node is, she says it has to be in there somewhere. The problem is we know that it isn't there, Seven of Nine's cortical node malfunctioned in Voyager episode "Imperfection". Icheb donated his to allow Seven to live. The doctor doesn't know this and is intent on finding it. She picks up what looks like a drill and prepares to drill into his eye socket. Before she can start she hears a noise and shouts out "Bjayzl?". Seven of Nine enters and kills the staff. She approaches Icheb and tells him everything will be OK. She starts unfastening his bindings. Icheb says she has to go, but Seven won't leave without him. He indicates that he's too far gone, so she says she will stay with him. He begs her to stop his suffering. She's reluctant, but, eventually hugs him and shoots him with her phaser, apologising and crying as she does. Borg body parts are hanging in various places around the room, Icheb clearly isn't the first ex-Borg that they've done this to.

Cut to a bar with someone playing piano. We're in Stardust City on planet Freecloud, in the Alpha Doradus system it's 2399, two weeks ago. A large heavy set reptiloid male in a suit walks over to a woman with two female bodyguards dressed in white. The woman motions to him to wait until the music has finished. The reptiloid is Mr Vup, he has news of Bruce Maddox. The woman is Bjayzl, she wants to know if Maddox is here? Vup confirms. Bjayzl says how the mighty have fallen. She tells Vup to kill him. He starts off to do so and she stops him. She has a new plan.

Cut to elsewhere in the club. Bruce Maddox is sitting and suspiciously looking around. Bjayzl comes over and says hello to Bruce, his visit is so unexpected. She says he has looked better. Bruce says that he has been in hiding. He says they destroyed his lab. Bjayzl says, she heard. She offers him some Tranya. He pours himself a glass and takes a drink. Bruce says they used some sort of molecular solvent to destroy the entire facility, there was literally nothing left. They nearly got him. He says he is so sorry. Bjayzl asks, for what. He doesn't know how he's ever going to repay her loan. Nonsense she says. Does he know who did it? Who is after him? Bruce thinks it was the Tal Shiar. Bjayzl says that chAgnes things a little. Bruce suddenly spasms, drops his glass and collapses on the floor. He's obviously been poisoned. Bjayzl says making a deal with the Tal Shiar is always such a pain in the ass.

Back on the ship in the chateau holoprogram. Picard is watching an infomercial for Freecloud. It's advertising itself as a place for maximum security, financial and information services or minimal restrictions on personal liberty. Freecloud keeps your secrets. Someone comes in and Picard closes the video. It's Seven of Nine. Picard asks if she is well? She says she is "Functional". Picard offers Seven a drink, tea? A glass of Wine? She asks for Bourbon, straight up. Seven looks at the room and says that "it's something". Picard says that it wasn't his idea. Seven points out that he liked it enough to keep it. Picard gives her the drink. She downs it in one and asks Picard what he is doing out there, besides being out of his depth. Picard says he's looking for someone, does that surprise her? She says she assumed it was some sort of misguided diplomatic mission. Saving the galaxy. Picard says there may be some of that too. She says he's going to Freecloud. Picard asks if she knows it? She says she hates the place. We, the Fenris Rangers that is, keep our money there. What little we have. Picard says he hears it's a tough time on Fenris. Seven asks if that makes him happy. He says he admires the Rangers' goals, their courage, their tenacity, but they are taking the law into their own hands. Seven asks, what law? Picard agrees, point taken. Nevertheless, to appoint yourself judge, jury... Seven cuts him off saying, she's not here for a lecture. If he thinks of her as a vigilante, fine. Ranging is her job. It's not saving the galaxy. It's helping people who have no one else to help them. It's hopeless and pointless and exhausting, and the only thing worse would be to give up. Picard nods his head. She says Freecloud works for her, he can drop her there. As she is leaving she turns to ask who he is looking for. Picard replies, someone who has no one else to help her. Someone who will likely die if I don't. Seven returns and says she will take another one of these, lifting her glass and sitting down.

On the bridge, Raffi is looking at some details. The person is called Gabriel Hwang. Rios comes in and says, she's in with him. Raffi is confused. Rios says, The Ranger, she's in the chateau with Picard. Raffi wonders what those two have to talk about. Rios says, it seems like they know each other. Raffi doesn't think so. Not back when she knew him anyway. Raffi says, she used to be a Borg like he did. Rios says, oh wow. Raffi says, Hmmm... Rios says, ah, she's that Ranger. She's notorious 99 or 11 or... Raffi says, she goes by Seven. Rios says, the ex-Borg Fenris Ranger. He heard she's from the Delta quadrant. Seven the ex-Borg Fenris Ranger from the Delta Quadrant. Rios says, he somehow forgot that Picard used to be a Borg, too. He must have happily blocked it out. Rios says that this is some strange cargo she brought him this time. Raffi agrees.

Agnes is watching a video in her quarters, Bruce and her, cooking. They replicated the raw ingredients but are going to actually make cookies. In the video Agnes is asking why he didn't just replicate the cookies. Maddox says he doesn't like the replicator's cookies. He makes her taste the cookie. He kisses her. Agnes ends the video and starts crying.

Sometime later, they arrive at Freecloud, Rios, Picard, Raffi, Agnes and Elnor are on the bridge. Orbital control gets into contact and Rios confirms transfer of conn. They're going to be remotely controlled. As soon as control is handed over holograms start appearing on the bridge. One pops up in front of Rios. It's an advertisement for something called 'The Red Bolian', a starship repair facility. They've noticed that his power conversion efficiency is only 91%, they say nobody knows their way around The Kaplan F17 Speed Freighter like the Red Bolian. Rios flicks the hologram and it disappears. Next up is Picard. His holo is a woman dressed in a sort of Victorian outfit offering him a cuppa, at Freecloud's Grand Hotel's afternoon High Tea. He shakes his head and it disappears. A chunky fighting robot appears in front of Agnes, saying that the Freecloud Institute of Entertainment Robotics is now hiring. It's pretending to punch her and she doesn't know what to do. Raffi says she has to punch it. Rios says to punch it as hard as she can. Agnes says she doesn't hit things. Raffi says she has to knock its head off. She punches the hologram, it's head comes off and it vanishes. Raffi's holo now appears. It's a drug dealer, it wants to know if she's looking to get snakebit? It wants her to slither into Freely's Venom Garden and pick her poison. She looks angry and pushes him away and he disappears. Elnor is looking confused, he didn't get a holo, now he is upset. Raffi says they've found him. Picard says, you found Maddox? Raffi confirms, yes, but... Oh my goodness. She is on a jobs noticeboard for Interfacers, a go between for hire, big-business for competing corporations, rival criminal gangs, thieves and their victims, especially on Freecloud. She just sent herself an invite to join the local 'facers guild, an old Starfleet intelligence trick. OK, a party named Bjayzl, is holding him. They're looking for someone to broker a deal with the Tal Shiar. Seven has entered she knows the name Bjayzl. Raffi asks if she knows him. Seven corrects, her. She butchers ex-Borg for parts. She's been high on the Rangers' wanted list for years. Agnes suggests that they could outbid the Tal Shiar. Raffi doesn't think so. If she's prudent enough to use a 'facer, this is a pretty substantial deal. Picard says, that they must extract him. Raffi says, not with the security that Bjayzl's got. Occluded payroll shows she has got a little army of private contractors, and a Beta Annari. Agnes asks what a Beta Annari is? Rios says, it's a sentient reptiloid. Nasty pieces of work. Picard says without Maddox they don't have a chance of finding Dahj's sister. He asks for options. Rios says that if they can't grab him and they can't buy him... Raffi says they're out of luck. Seven says, not quite. They can trade, give Bjayzl something she wants in exchange for Maddox. Something she will find irresistible. Rios asks, like what? Seven says, her.

[The following segments show scenes from two different times. The scenes on the planet are set chronologically after those on the ship. They are presented here in the order shown in the episode]

On the planet. Rios beams down, he is dressed in a green jacket and hat. There are holographic advertisements everywhere. One is for Mr Mot's hair emporium. Another for Quark's Bar

On the ship, in the chateau, Rios is dressed in a horrible green jacket and is wearing a bright orange hat with a white band. Raffi says, she has setup a pretty foolproof ID for him. He is now a 'facer. Famous but not too famous. Rios questions the pretty foolproof part. Raffi says, they're not working with a whole lot of time. Picard is dressed in black leather and is wearing an eye patch over one eye. He asks Raffi if she is seriously going to send them down looking like this. Raffi says, that 'facers tend to dress very flamboyantly. It's protective colouration. You're playing go between, you want to stand out, you don't want anyone mixing you up with the other side. Rios asks Agnes what she thinks. Agnes thinks he's killing it. Elnor asks, if he really is a 'facer. Rios says no. Raffi says that he is licensed and paid up on his guild dues and that he has a meeting with Mr Vup. Rios repeats, Mr Vup, in his usual sullen way. Raffi says that he has to sell the role, he can't do his usual broody existentialist spaceman routine. His personality needs to match his clothes. He needs to give it some panache. Seven says, he needs a feather in his hat.

On the planet, Rios walks into a club. It is busy and one guy is dressed like Thor, except that he has huge holographic angel wings on his back. Rios half walks, half dances his way to the bar and asks for a Tembiti Lagoon, with two umbrellas and a gaming tablet. He asks the barman to tell Mr Vup that he is there. He says his name is Rios. The barman says that Mr Vup knows he is there. Rios turns around to find Mr Vup, who asks if he is feeling lucky.

On the ship, Raffi puts a large feather in his hat band and says he needs to stay away from the lizard, Beta Annari can smell when you are not telling the truth. Agnes says, seriously? Raffi continues, also what you had for dinner and the last person you had sex with. If they're not the same thing. Agnes looks worried and says, because that's not disturbing.

On the planet. Mr Vup introduces himself. Rios says, of course you are, Salutations. Mr Vup says his references are sound, Mr Quark of Ferenginar was especially satisfied with his handling of his trouble with the Breen. Rios says, yes, that was quite a foofaraw. Vup asks if he knows the identity of the other party in the negotiation? Rios confirms. Vup wants to know if he has had dealings with the Tal Shiar before. Rios says he's tried hard to stay out of their way. They are treacherous, violent, ruthless and subtle. Their sense of honour is routed in the skill of deceit. Vup wants to know why he is representing them now. Rios says he's not. He's here on behalf of another interested party. He's come to offer his employer alternative renumeration for Dr Maddox. Vup says, surprising, and pulls a gun on Rios. He says he's not a fan of surprises. Rios says, he gets that. Mr Vup asks, what could possibly be worth reneging on a deal with the Romulan secret police. Rios says he can explain. Mr Vup says that maybe he isn't aware that we Beta Annari have 1,253 olfactory receptor genes, which means amongst other things I can smell a lie. So, Mr Rios proceed with caution.

On the ship. Agnes injects Rios with a hypo gun, apologising as she does. Raffi, explains that it's beta blockers, anxiolytics and benzos delayed release, Raffi's home cooking. Rios asks why? Raffi says, just in case he runs into the lizard, it should kick in just about the time he needs it.

On the planet, Rios' eyes glaze over slightly, the drugs have kicked in and he's very relaxed. Rios shows him a holographic schematic of Seven of Nine. Vup is impressed, that many implants in a living specimen. Impossible he says. Rios asks how he smells. Vup smells him and says, truthful. You also had some sort of smoked meat for breakfast. So many intact functioning parts in a single specimen, she would be extremely valuable. Rios asks for a transporter window.

On the ship. Raffi isn't really worried about Rios, looking at Picard and Elnor she says, it's you two. Picard says he thought he looked, switching to a bad french accent, appropriately sinister. Raffi says, no comment. She continues, assuming Rios doesn't choke and mess things up. She hands a transport enhancer to Seven explaining, once you get inside their shields, it will create a stable tunnel to transport in and out. They won't be able to differentiate it from your implants on the scan. Raffi asks for Seven's hands. Seven turns around and Raffi attaches cuffs. Raffi wants to know why Seven is helping Picard. Seven explains, when the evacuation ended and the Neutral Zone collapsed, someone needed to maintain a semblance of order. She supposes at this point it has become... habit. Raffi says she admires what she does out there, with the Rangers, she explains how Seven can remove the cuffs by pressing them together. Raffi continues, once you get Maddox activate the enhancer and Agnes will beam you out. Raffi has one more thing for Seven, a bag for her head. Agnes is worried about being the one to beam them out. Elnor suddenly realises that it's a lie. Everyone is behaving as if they are someone else. He was brought up in the house of truth. He realises that everyone except him, knew and was playing their part. Raffi says that Agnes is on transporter duty. Agnes says, how hard can it be. Rios says piece of cake. Elnor has changed his jacket. He tries a bit of Spanish but says Alcohol. They are not impressed. Elnor says, he doesn't know how not to be him. Picard suggests that he be himself, but an Elnor that never talks.

On the planet. Picard, Seven and Elnor have beamed down and been scanned... Picard looks at Seven and removes the bag from her head. He says, disgusting thing, in his bad french accent. Once they get Borg inside them, there is no coming back, no matter what they think. Defiled is what you are. Damned, cursed. Mr Vup says, quite a prize. So rare to find one with so many implants, still fully operational. Picard says that, she is not one of the new ones. When the Borg entered her, she was a jeune fille. You are going to have to dice her up to get it all out. A little squeamish are we? I can take my trade elsewhere. Vup says, no, not squeamish. Not at all. Picard tells Rios his work is done and pays him. Rios asks if he can have another drink. Picard says that it is a free planet. Mr Vup says, let's see if there is a deal to be made. Picard says, that's the kind of talk he likes, but one last thing. He needs proof that his bounty is alive. I need to see Maddox.

On the ship, Raffi is scanning the planet, looking for someone. She locates Gabriel Hwang. He is in the Stardust city medical district. Raffi tells Picard to make sure that the kid sticks to the script and to watch his back. She says farewell to Picard. He says it's going to be much harder without her. Raffi says it was almost like old times for a moment there, she hopes he finds what he came here for. Picard wishes the same for her. Rios beams Raffi to the surface, Agnes is watching and learning how to do it... Raffi beams down outside of Stardust City Reproductive Health Services. She enters and finds Gabriel inside. She says, hello and he looks up at her. He says, wow, here? He wants to know if she put a tracker on him, or just hunted him down. Raffi says, she still hears things. Perhaps she hunted him down a little. He just kind of crossed her path. He is angry and asks, path to where? She replies, to Freecloud, to you. Gabe, I'm clean. I feel good. She continues, I was not there for you. Even when I was there, I wasn't there. He says, especially then. Raffi says, but I'm here now, if you let me be, and my little grand... she doesn't know. Gabe says, it's a girl. Raffi says, Oh. Gabe says, there was a time when it would have meant the world to hear you say that. She tries to touch him and he rejects it. He asks, so you've changed? You're different now? Raffi says, yes, she's making a start. She's putting her life back together. That's why she came all the way out here for him. Gabe says, so the attack on Mars, tell me how it wasn't really the synths. Tell me about the Conclave of Eight. Tell me it was worth ignoring me and Dad until we hardly recognised you. You abandoned us for some crackpot, tin hat conspiracy. Raffi shouts, it wasn't crackpot. That attack was not what it seemed. Baby, there's a conspiracy, and it's bigger than anybody knew. There were lives at stake. Gabe shouts back, our lives, Mom. Our lives mattered, too. Just not to you. I don't think you know how much it sucked to be your kid. A pregnant Romulan walks in, and Gabe gets up to go to her. She is Pel, he introduces her to Raffi. He says she was just passing through. He guesses she had a second. Pel says, hello it's wonderful to meet you. Will you be staying a while? Gabe says, no, like he said, she is just passing through. Raffi says, it's so nice to meet you. Good luck with the baby. Goodbye Gabe. Gabe says, goodbye, Mom, and he and Pel leave. Raffi is very upset.

On the planet. Back at the club, Picard is looking at Maddox. Bjayzl is there and asks to see the Borg. Picard removes the bag from Seven's head and says that they won't see many more like her. When they get assimilated as kids, more of the hardware remains inside them. Vup says, ears, eyes, neck, chest, spine, kidneys, hips, various bones. Bjayzl says she thought it could be Seven. Correcting herself, "Hoped may even be the word" and chuckles. She always knew she was impressive. She just didn't know she was that impressive. She says it is good to see you again, Annika. Picard looks surprised. Bjayzl nods and both her body guards and Mr Vup pull out guns.

[Timelines are now syncronised and the ship is contemporaneous with the planet]

On the Ship, Agnes is worrying about working the transporter. She's reciting to herself that it will be OK, over and over. Suddenly, the EMH appears and asks "What is the nature of your phychiatric emergency" She's surprised at his sudden appearance. He says her pulse and blood pressure are significantly elevated. She says it's because he scared the hell out of her. The EMH says he wants to give Agnes a sedative. She says she doesn't need a sedative, just as she does Rios' voice comes over the comm, startling her even more. The EMH really thinks she needs treatment. Rios wants to know who she's talking to. Agnes says, you, no not you. The EMH starts talking. Agnes says, deactivate EMH and he vanishes. Agnes says, I'm here. Rios says, the operative terms are "copy that" and "go ahead". Rios says, something's not right, they may have to abort. He asks if she has a transporter lock on them. She says, yes, but then says it's showing red. Rios says, they haven't activated the pattern enhancer yet. He asks her to let him know the moment that they do. Agnes says, yes, copy, affirmative, um, whatever. She wants to know what's going on down there.

Back on the planet, Bjayzl asks Seven if she is still angry that she carved up her little friend for parts, or is it because she trusted her. She was so noble then. Save the outcast, rescue the forgotten. You were so easy. Seven says, was I Jay, then how did I get away. How did I escape the great Bjayzl. A fortune in Borg tech and... you lost it. You lost me. No one has ever been worth more to you than me, and I slipped right through your fingers. I'm the one that got away. Bjayzl walks towards her and says, not anymore. Seven says, wrong Jay. She slips her cuffs and grabs Bjayzl by the throat. She tells Vup and the bodyguards to drop their weapons. Bjayzl tells them to listen to her, and they put the guns down. Picard asks Seven in his regular voice, what the hell is going on here? Seven says she was not entirely candid with him. Picard says sarcastically, really? Elnor asks if they are still pretending? Picard says, no Elnor, I think everyone has finally stopped.

Elnor picks up the guns and holds them on the bodyguards. Picard asks Maddox how he's doing? Maddox says, Picard?, recognising him. Bjayzl says, the famous Admiral Picard? It appears that you thought you were playing when you were being played. Admiral, I take it you had no awareness of Annika and my close, personal relationship. Seven says, shut up, and pushes Bjayzl down into a chair. She retrieves the pattern enhancer. She tells Picard to take Maddox and go. Picard says, what do you mean? Bjayzl says that Seven means to kill her, but hero to the end, our Annika, she wants to save your lives first. Seven tells Picard to just go. Picard says to Seven, you know you were right. This is not saving the galaxy. This is just about settling an old score. Seven says he has no idea just what this is. Picard says she should tell him. What is it? Seven releases her grip on Bjayzl. She starts telling Picard the story. When the rescues ended, some of us tried to maintain order on the worlds the Federation left behind. We were based on Fenris, one of us was a young science officer on leave from the USS Coleman. He was out doing recon near Diamanta when his ship received a distress call. It turned out to be an ambush. He was the closest thing I will ever have to kin. Like me Icheb was a former Borg, rescued and reclaimed by Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. That's why she wanted him. His parts were... good business. Bjayzl had his implants stripped out. Without anaesthetic. Without even the minor mercy of death. I had met her on Fenris. She was posing as one of us, as someone trying to help. She knew about Icheb from me. Picard says, but... murder is not justice. There is no solace in revenge. You have had your humanity restored to you. Mr Vup is quitely preparing a concealed weapon. Picard continues, don't squander it now. Weapons fire hits Vup and he falls to the floor. Rios fired the weapon, he asks if they're ready to go yet. Seven says, take them, activate the pattern enhancer and get them the hell out of here. Rios agrees, got it... revenge I understand the impulse, but you do this you put a bounty on us all. Seven says she doesn't give a damn. Rios says the kid and the old man don't stand a chance out here with a price on their heads. Bjayzl says that Rios has a point, lets do a deal. Maddox for her life. Seven grabs her and Rios tries to calm her down. He asks her to look at the math of it. You found her once, odds are you'll find her again. Picard says, five to beam up and he, Maddox, Elnor, Rios and Seven all beam up.

On the ship Agnes is delighted that she was able to beam them up. She sees Maddox and the state he is in. He's in bad shape. Exposure, dehydration, maybe other things. best get him to sickbay, quickly. Agnes and Elnor help him to sickbay. Picard says, Captain. Rios replies, getting us the hell out of here, sir. Picard and Seven are now alone, he says he's glad of the choice she made. It seems like a lift is the least he can offer her. Seven says that the Rangers already sent a corsair for her. It should be there by now, but she will take a couple of phaser rifles, if that's OK. A vigilante could always use a couple more. Picard agrees. Seven gives him something incase he ever is in need of a vigilante. He thanks her. Seven collects the rifles. She asks Picard, after they brought him back from his time in the collective... does he honestly feel that he regained his humanity? He says, yes. She asks, all of it? He whispers, no... but we're both working on it. Aren't we? Seven says, every damned day of her life. Picard beams Seven down to the planet. She materialises back in the club behind Bjayzl. She shoots both bodyguards and they fall to the floor. People run in all directions, others beam out. Bjayzl backs away from Seven looking scared, she says, frankly I was surprised when you left. I thought you would bet on shooting your way out. Seven says, she is. Bjayzl says, it's sentimental of her to risk her revenge on saving the others. It almost reminds her of the Annika of old. Seven agrees, saying that Picard still thinks there's a place in the galaxy for mercy. She didn't want to disillusion him. Someone out there ought to have a little hope. Bjayzl says, like you used to have... before I took it away from you. Seven says, something like that, you are stalling, your second security wave will be here in less than five seconds. Bjayzl says, Annika and rushes towards her. Seven raises both phaser rifles and she stops. Seven says, he was a son to me, Jay. This is for him. She fires both rifles and Bjayzl erupts in an explosion and dissipates. Security forces start entering the room. Seven starts firing at them and calmly walking towards them.

On the ship in sickbay. Maddox is on a medical bed being scanned. His breathing is difficult, Picard is looking down on him. The computer reports that he has massive abdominal haemorrhaging. It increases his clotting factors by 12%. Agnes says that they really worked him over. Maddox says that Dahj is dead, isn't she? Picard confirms and says she found him... and then he lost her. He's profoundly sorry. Maddox says that when the Tal Shiar came for him, blew up his lab, he knew... that her embedded Mom AI wouldn't have activated her unless she was in grave danger. Picard asks if she has a sister. Maddox confirms, Soji, she's on The Artifact. Picard questions The Artifact? Do you mean the captured Borg Cube? Maddox nods. Picard asks why? Maddox says for the same reason he sent her sister to Earth. To find the truth. Picard asks, the truth about what? Maddox responds, the ban, there are lies upon lies. They're hiding something. Picard asks, who, but Maddox doesn't know. It's the same ones that are hunting her. Picard says, the Romulans? Maddox says, not just them, he thinks the Federation are involved. That's what he sent them to find out. Agnes says he is barely stable and needs to rest. Picard agrees and says he'll leave it to her and leaves.

On the bridge. Picard is discussing the information with Rios, who says that the Artifact is in Romulan space. Flying into Romulan space doubles his fee. Picard smiles and nods. Rios says, OK, jefe. Picard feins disgust saying, old man indeed (the translation of jefe). Rios asks if they are going to talk about their stowaway?

Towards the rear of the main deck Picard approaches a door and knocks, saying Raffi? Raffi's voice from inside says, leave me alone. Picard says quietly, welcome back and walks away.

Back in sickbay sometime later, Maddox comes around. He's looking a little better. He says, Aggie. He thought he was dreaming. Agnes says, it's me. She never thought she would see him again. Maddox asks if she saw Dahj. Agnes says, no. Maddox says that they're perfect. Perfectly imperfect. He did it Aggie. Soong and I, and you. Your contribution was... essential. Agnes says, one more thing I have to atone for. Maddox asks, what she means? Agnes does not respond but starts adjusting the settings on the Biobed. The EMH suddenly appears asking Agnes what the nature of her psychiatric emergency is. He says her blood presure and cortisol levels... The biobed alarm stops him. He now asks what the nature of the medical emergency is? Saying that there is a high risk of critical organ failure, unless haematic microrepair treatment is resumed. Agnes deativates the EMH. Maddox starts to convulse and says, Aggie? Agnes says, she wishes he knew what she knows... She wishes she didn't know what she knows. She wishes that they hadn't shown her. Crying she says she is so sorry. Maddox gets worse and worse, his blood vessels distend and he dies. Agnes starts crying.

Analysis

This episode is by far the best so far. It is a strange mixture of horror and comedy, with a little pathos mixed in. In an early comedic scene we find out that targeted advertising is still a thing, at least on Freecloud. One such advert for "The Red Bolian" provides us with the class name for La Sirena, Rios' ship, we also discover that the engines are running at 91% efficiency. Once again a surreptitious way of making data available to website creators without using a cabbage*. We start with Icheb in a pretty gruesome position and poor Seven having to kill him, pretty nasty for a teaser segment.

On a lighter note we get to Freecloud, an anarchic planet full of less than scrupulous people. Here we meet Bjayzl, a woman with a suitably demonic name, which we soon find to be completely deserved. We find Bruce Maddox has borrowed money from her and has lost any way of repaying her. Her initial reaction was to kill him, but then she sets out to drug him and sell him to the Tal Shiar, which will effectively lead to the same thing. Picard and crew hatch a "Cunning Plan" to rescue him and save the day.

There is a strange balancing act going on during this episode. On one side we have the almost comic book team Picard, with its flash clothes and crazy French accent, and on the other team Bjayzl, with rampant evil ex-Borg surgery without anaesthetic. The two things that shouldn't really go well together but the director, our very own Jonathan Frakes, seems to just about pull it off. Seven's journey in the episode take us from one extreme to another, killing someone she thought of as a son, to her part in the pantomime and seeming rescue from darkness at the hands of Picard and Rios, only to fall back into said darkness again by killing Bjayzl.

You do have to wonder, once again, about Picard and his French accent. This guy is supposed to be French. He was brought up in France and has spent the last 14 years in France on his family vineyard. Why then can he not put on a French accent. Out of universe we know that Patrick Stewart is infact from England and that's why he has a British accent, but in universe it has always been one of those questions and this episode makes that even worse for the poor French. Clearly in 2399 people still know what a French accent roughly is, but it would appear that even a French man, who has been in darkest France for nearly a decade and a half, can't seem to put on a decent version of one, which leaves one wondering if the accent still exists? Without it can the language even exist?

* Cabbage. A character who only exists to have things explained to them. They are the opposite of a Mr Exposition character as they are the target of the exposition, rather than the source of it. TV Tropes has this down as "The Watson" and even explains that "this role could be played by a head of cabbage", thus the name.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 1,768 Last updated : 1 Jan 2022