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Nepenthe

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Title :
Nepenthe
Series :
Picard
Rating :
5
Disc No :
Episode :
7
First Aired :
5 Mar 2020
Stardate :
Unknown
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season :
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
YATI :
You do have to wonder how a Silicon based virus could even replicate in a Carbon based lifeform. Surely the mechanisms for it to function wouldn't be available. There would be no silicon to make new copies of the virus for one thing. I'm also quite disturbed by the thought that you have to culture the affected cells in a positronic matrix. Surely they don't mean that you have to cut them out and stick them in an android's brain? What next, presumably you put them back in the infected person? If they could get them out in the first place couldn't they simply replace them with some cloned healthy cells. I know Riker doesn't like clones but a few cells doesn't seem too over the top to save your son. Surely the transporter could lock on to the Silicon and beam it out? Regenerative soil seems a little odd too, were they hoping that when he was buried he would be returned from the grave, Spock style?
Great Moment :
Seeing Riker and Troi once again, even with their painful back story, it was a joy.
Body Count :
Seven xBs while Hugh is being interrogated by Narissa.

A Bunnicorn gives its life for dinner.

Elnor kills at least three of Narissa's henchmen.

And last but not least poor old Hugh gets killed by Narissa.
Factoid :
We hear lots of classic trek music snippets in this episode, most noticeably the TNG fanfare at the end as they pan up into the mountains. Not quite the Paramount mountain though.

Viridium makes a return also. We last saw it in Star Trek : The Undiscovered Country, when Spock stuck a patch on Kirk's jacket. Here Agnes has to eat some, and it takes some extreme measures to rid herself of it.

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

Plotline

Is there a recap at the start of this episode, of course there is. Following that we open with a scene in Okinawa, Japan, three weeks prior to the main timeline for the episode. Agnes is eating her lunch and is approached by Commodore Oh. Agnes is wearing headphones so doesn't hear Oh coming, she turns and notices her and says, oh! Hi., not in recognition but surprise. The visitor says, Doctor Jurati, Commodore Oh. Director of Starfleet Security. I'd like to talk to you about your two recent visits with Admiral Picard. Agnes is confused and says, def... Definitely. Sure. Oh continues, during your first meeting, you discussed his belief that he interacted with a synthetic life-form. The work and whereabouts of Doctor Bruce Maddox. And fractal neuronic cloning. Agnes says, you have me under surveillance? Oh continues, following that meeting, you transferred 300 gigabytes of material relevant to Doctor Maddox to your personal access display device, data which, presumably, you provided the Admiral in the course of your second meeting at his residence in La Barre, France... I take your silence to be confirmation. What else did you and he discuss the second time? Agnes is shocked and says, um... The works of Asimov. I told him I was sorry. Oh says, oh. What for? Agnes corrects, Not sorry "for," sorry "that." Sorry that I didn't get a chance to meet... the synthetic life-form. Oh says, That would have been the culmination of a lifelong dream. Agnes says, I'm sorry. Am I in trouble? Oh says, not at all. I'm here because we need your help. Admiral Picard notified Starfleet that he intends to travel off-world in search of Bruce Maddox and a functioning synthetic life-form. We'd like you to accompany him. Agnes says, off-world? Um, I've never... If it's just my expertise you need, maybe... Oh says, we need far more than just your expertise, I'm afraid. Let me show you what will happen if synthetic life is allowed to exist. Agnes says, oh, okay, but... Oh begins a mind meld, my mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts. There are then flashes of images. Oh standing wearing a hood... a circle of people and a bright light expanding, possibly an explosion... A planet with multiple large explosions... people screaming and green blood coming from their heads... a massively large explosion on a planet, a quarter the radius of the planet... a person tearing at their own face... a city in flames... the same city exploding over a huge area... a Romulan shooting themself in the head... the city again with almost all of it exploding into the sky... a planet crazed with cracks exposing the core and erupting into a planet wide explosion... the planet completely explodes. Oh breaks off and Agnes turns away, shocked and throws up on the ground. Oh looks on. Agnes is upset, she stares at Oh for a while and then says, what do you need me to do? Oh holds out a purplish blue triangle and says, first, take this. Agnes takes it and puts it in her mouth. Oh continues, it will allow us to track you. It must be chewed. What I'm going to ask you to do will require terrible sacrifice. The camera pans away and the scene ends.

On the bridge of La Sirena still along side The Artifact. Rios shouts, get us back online, Raffi! Raffi replies, I'm trying, I'm trying. The tractor beam has completely scrambled our systems. Rios continues, well, try harder, goddamn it. I blame you for this. Raffi says, me? How is this my fault? Rios parroting Raffi says, "Chris, baby, he's an old man. How far is he gonna get?" Now Picard's en route to a planet that's days away at maximum warp. Don't ask me how. And I'm tractor-locked to a Borg Cube full of Romulans! Damn it! Can't you hack the traffic control system? Raffi! Raffi replies, I'm trying! The underlying code's all freaky Borg machine language. Agnes says, just ask them to let us go! They don't want us. They want her. I mean, wherever Picard took her, they'll hunt her down and destroy her. Just tell them we want to go home. Rios and Raffi stare at her and then at each other.

On The Artifact, there is a line of ex-Borg, Narissa is holding a disruptor on Hugh, there are several Romulan guards also there. Narissa asks Hugh, where have you hidden Picard and the synth? Hugh refuses to answer. A Romulan shoots one of the xBs, Narissa says, I said, tell me where I can find Picard and your little protégé. Narissa put the pistol under Hugh's neck. She continues, we know you led them into sub-sector 11 and that only you returned. The bodies of four heavily armed guards were afterward found in sub-sector 11, and that will definitely be my second question. But for now, please answer the first. Hugh says, they're gone. Narissa says, and what was their destination? I strongly advise you do not say you don't know. Hugh turns to face her defiantly and remains silent. Narissa says, I'm bored. Kill them all. Hugh says, no... The Romulans open fire on the remaining xBs.

Narek is walking purposefully through the hanger bay. He approaches a small ship and enters closing the door behind him. He sits in the cockpit and powers up.

Hugh falls to his knees, upset over the death of the xBs. Narissa says, I hate this vile Cube. It's obscene. As are you and your... "xBs." But that isn't why these things died. She grabs Hugh by the hair holding a Reman knife to his throat and continues, they died because of you. Because you helped Picard and the synthetic escape. Because you ruined years of patient work by dozens of operatives across hundreds of star systems. Because you may have doomed a trillion souls across half the galaxy. I would kill you too, but you're Federation... and you're protected by that asinine treaty. She throws him to the floor and starts to walk away. She opens a communication channel and says, are you ready?

Narek in his ship confirms, leaving now. Signal lock's strong.

Narissa says, Then I'll let our guest go.

Narek's ship takes off and leaves the hanger bay.

The tractor beam disengages from La Sirena and the ship jumps forward. Inside Raffi says, systems back online. Ship stabilisers reactivated. Engine status, normal. Rios is happy, he says, you did it! Raffi replies, wasn't me. It has to be a trick. Rios says, maybe. They still have to catch me. They start to depart and Agnes says, what about Elnor?

Inside The Artifact, Elnor is running, he arrives and puts his hand on Hugh and turns to see the xBs. Hugh says, Your friends. They're worried. Rios's voice comes over the conn saying, hermano, it's time to go. Elnor says, Go without me. This will not happen again. My help is needed here. Rios says, everybody here thinks you're crazy. Agnes says, and brave. Rios agrees, and brave. Elnor helps Hugh to his feet. Rios says, adios, kid. La Sirena leaves the proximity of the Cube and goes to warp. Narek's ship is seen following.

We see a planet from orbit. A caption tells us it's Nepenthe. On the surface the camera pans down and we see a Bunnicorn, a rabbit with a unicorn style horn. Picard and Soji appear and Soji trips, falling. Picard starts to help but a hooded figure appears on the ridge above them. The hood appears to have rabbit ears sticking up from it. The figure has a bow and arrow. Picard stands up. Soji sees the figure and stands raising her hands. Picard does the same. He says, you might want to point that thing at my head. Uh, my heart is solid duritanium. The bowman is walking towards them and raises the bow to point at his head. The figure appears to be a teenage girl, with markings on her face. Soji says, you said this was a safe place. Picard says, are we safe here, Kestra? The girl lowers the bow, Picard lowers his hands saying, your mom and dad about?

The three are now walking through the woods. Kestra asks Soji, is he your grandpa? Soji says, no. Kestra continues, your dad? Soji says, I don't know him at all. He told me he was a friend of the man he called my father. Kestra asks, but you don't believe him? Soji says, I don't believe anyone. Kestra is holding something in her hand, Soji asks, what's that? Kestra says, it's called a compass. It finds north. I got it from my friend Captain Crandall over at Infinity Lake. He's even older than Picard. So... do you believe me? Soji says, have you told me any lies yet? Kestra says, well, kinda. I mean, this is just a costume. It's, like... like a game my brother made up. Yeah, I'm not really a Viveen, Wild Girl of the Woods. Soji smiling says, you had me fooled. Kestra continues, my arrows are real, though. But I would never shoot you, because I'm a pacifist, but I could. Soji says, I'll keep that in mind. Kestra says, also, this compass is broken. She turns to Picard and asks, who was her father? Picard says, well, I imagine that you've heard of Commander Data. Kestra says, whoa. You're an android? Soji looks upset, Picard moves in to talk to her, Soji, no. It's all right. No, no. Easy. Easy. Soji pushes his hands away. Picard continues, I know it must be very hard. Everything you believed in. Your memories, your identity. Soji says, my dreams, my body, my parents, my sister, all of it was fake. Picard continues, no, no. Not Dahj. No, Dahj was real... I am so sorry. Your sister is dead. She was murdered by those people who nearly killed you. Soji says, whatever. None of this is real. Just get on with the mind game. Soji walks off along the path they were following. Kestra runs off along the path ahead of them, calling, Mom! Dad! We see a house. Soji asks Picard, so, who are these people? Picard replies, we were... They're old friends. Come on. They walk towards the house and Deanna Troi comes out, she starts tending to a planting bed on the patio. Kestra shouts, Mom! and she looks up. She sees Picard and walks over holding her arms wide and hugs him. He kisses her on both cheeks. Deanna says, you're in trouble. How bad? He replies, bad enough. She puts her hand to his head and looks sad, he says, I'm fine. She has clearly read his feelings about his medical condition. They hug again. Picard says, I'm fine. Really. And I am very, very glad to see your face. Deanna looks around and sees Soji, she says, welcome. Picard says, this is Commander Deanna Troi. Doctor Soji Asha. Soji says, just Soji. Picard turns to Deanna and says, long story.

Inside the house someone is grating cheese. Kestra's voice comes from outside, Dad... He shouts back, what? Kestra shouts, come out here! Riker says, stop yelling! Kestra still yelling, it's Jean-Luc Picard. Riker turns around and says, quietly, pause music. He opens a window and shouts, say again. Inside the house Picard says, hello, Will. Riker says, oh! Oh, man. He rushes over and hugs Picard. He looks at Picard and says, oh... You need a place to hide out? Picard gives a knowing look. Riker says, shields up. Perimeter scans to max. We've had a little trouble around here lately with the Kzinti. Picard says, best to run anti-cloaking scans too. Riker says, Romulans? Picard says, mm-hmm. Riker says, initiate anti-cloaking scans. That time you were flying off to Romulus to plan the great supernova rescue, do you remember what I said? Picard says, "So, you want to be ass-deep in Romulans for the rest of your life?" Riker says, I believe I also reminded you of Newton's Fourth Law of Thermodynamics. Picard states, "No good deed goes unpunished." Riker confirms, right. Troi walks in and says, I told Kestra to show your friend how to find the shower. Picard says, thank you. Riker asks, she's a friend? Troi says, Soji. She appears fully human. Her face, her voice, her body language, all express clear emotion. The poor thing seems traumatised. Picard nods saying, mm. Riker says, but? Troi continues, I sense nothing. I can't read her. Picard says, I think I'm in over my head. When I left Earth, I had a plan. I had a ship. I even had a crew, of sorts. Now I've lost them all. My plan turns out to be, well, half a plan, at best, and the girl's life is still in danger. Riker says, it sounds like you need a new plan. Picard agrees, yeah. Troi says, one that starts with a nap. Picard says, oh. Troi continues, you're exhausted. You can lie down in Thad's room and rest while Will makes us dinner. Riker says, Pizza, in the wood-fired oven. Tomato and basil from our garden. Kestra walks holding some meat, Riker says, behold, a Wild Girl of the Woods. Nicely done. Troi says, you cut out the venom sacks? Kestra says, nope, I left them in, so we can all spew black bile and die. Riker says, Pizza with tomato, basil, and nonvenomous Bunnicorn sausage. Picard says, sounds wonderful. Thank you. Riker says, stay as long as you need. Whatever it is. We can handle it. Troi agrees, of course. Absolutely. The introduction to The Next Generation music plays in the background.

A shower starts and water pours down. Soji is showering, she turns it off and Kestra is there asking, do you play the violin? Soji says, no. Kestra asks, do you like Sherlock Holmes? Soji says, I guess so. Kestra continues, can you run super-fast and jump really high and, um, bend steel with your hands? Soji says, turns out, yes, I can. Kestra says, weird. Soji says, tell me about it. They walk to the bedroom and Kestra is asking more questions, so, okay, you have blood. Do you have spit? Soji says, I do. Kestra, mucus? Soji says, yes, I have mucus. Kestra says, Data did not have mucus. Soji says, you know a lot about Data. Kestra says, my parents served with him in Starfleet until he died. A long time ago on a ship called the Enterprise. Picard was the captain. My Dad said he was the greatest Starfleet captain ever. Seems weird to make an android with mucus and saliva, but... I guess Data would do it like that. Soji says, I don't see how this Data could be my father. I mean, if I was made, it was probably about three years ago. Wait, why would Data want to make an android with mucus and saliva? Kestra explains, well, he was always trying to be more human. He could do all these amazing things, but all he ever really wanted to do was, like, have dreams and tell jokes and, like, learn how to ballroom dance. Are you like that? Soji says, actually, until you said the word "android" back there, I was still clinging to the idea that I was human. Kestra says, oh. Are you okay? Soji starts to cry, Kestra says, no, no, no. Don't cry. I think you're amazing. Soji says, because I have mucus? Kestra says, and because you're three years old, so I get to be the boss of you.

Troi opens a door to a room. She enters apprehensively. Picard says, Deanna, the language that Kestra was speaking... Troi says, Viveen. Spoken by the Wild Girls of the Woods. You know, the first time that I met Thad... he was speaking some sort of invented language. He couldn't have been more than five. Troi says, that was the second time actually. She picks up a photograph and shows Picard. It's him holding a baby in his arms. Picard says, oh, Lord. A long time ago. Troi says, last week would have been his 18th birthday. Picard looks at Troi she says, we're fine. Really. Kestra still aches for him. But with every day, the ache fades a little bit more. Picard says, but seeing that happen must be a different ache for you. Troi says, it's wonderful to see you, Jean-Luc. I'm so grateful you came to us. Picard says, now, I didn't just come here in the hope of refuge. I also wanted to... Troi says, I know. Picard says, we're not going to stay. Uh, I'm not gonna put all of you in danger. The minute that I get the next move sorted, Soji and I will be gone. Troi says, don't be silly. You heard Will. Stay as long as you like. It's just that, if something were to happen to Kestra... Picard says, of course. Deanna, I understand. Troi says, I'm not as brave as I used to be, Jean-Luc. Picard says, then you're getting wiser. Troi leaves and Picard looks at the photograph one more time shakes his head and puts it down.

La Sirena is stationary in space, behind it we can see Narek's ship. Inside, Raffi says, damn it. I told you, Chris. Agnes says, what does it mean? Rios explains, it means somebody's tailing us. Must be since we left the Cube. He's good. Keeping just at or beyond the limit of Sirena's scanners. Agnes says, what kind of somebody? Raffi says, small. Fast. A scout ship. Romulan, probably. One of those little snake ships they got. Rios says, Snakeheads. Double sub-thrusters. Massive firepower for their size. Raffi says, can you shake him? Rios says, take a seat. Raffi says, Agnes. Take a seat, honey. Rios asks Agnes, you okay? Hold tight. Rios jumps to warp and then exits almost immediately. Raffi asks, now what? Now we just wait till he... Whoosh! Overshoots us. At the rate he was travelling, he'll be light-years away before he figures out we're not in front of him anymore. Then I just lay in an alternate course for Nepenthe, in case he doubles back. Agnes says, I'm sorry, I wanna be the fun crew member who says "Let's hide in that comet," and it turns out to be a giant Gormagander or something. But can I ask a maybe dumb question? Do you guys actually wanna go to Nepenthe? Raffi says, this isn't an outing, honey. Agnes says, no, I know... Raffi says, we're going to Nepenthe to pick up Picard and the synth chick. Agnes turns, Raffi says, wow. I remember you the night we left Earth. Standing there in your cute little blue coat. So excited about going out into space and meeting a real live sentient synth, like you've always dreamed of. But it seems like the closer we get to finding her, the less you wanna be there. Agnes says, I just wanna go home. Okay? I want you to turn this ship around, point it at the Earth and push play. Picard can look after himself, and somebody else can find that fucking synth. Why does it have to be me? Rios says, I got a paying client, Agnes. You just came along for the ride. Raffi says, and now, you come along for a ride with Auntie Raffi. She's gonna hook you up with whatever you need. Okay? They walk off towards the back of the ship. Agnes says, is it cake? Raffi says, you bet it's cake. La Sirena goes into warp.

On Napenthe Riker is tending his pizza oven, Picard comes out to join him. Riker says, You get some rest? Picard says, oh, I tried. I'm worried about my pilot, that... he didn't make it. Riker asks, what have you gotten yourself into, Jean-Luc? Can you tell me? Picard says, no. I never wanted you to get involved in any of this, Will. Coming here was a desperate impulse. I regret it already. Riker says, copy that. I'll stick to making pizza. I was just thinking how great it would be if ignorance of danger was all it took to keep it away from the people we love. Picard says, that's not what I was saying. Riker holds up a herb and says, smell that. Antarean basil. Picard says, mm. Riker says, grows like weeds around here. Everything does. The soil has regenerative powers, which is why we came here, of course. Kestra starts to approach with Soji following behind. Riker shouts, Wild Girl of the Woods! Kestra says, I'm taking her to see the garden. Kestra says something to Soji in Viveen, Soji answers also in Viveen. Kestra explains to Riker, she read Thad's Viveen dictionary. All of it in, like, two minutes. Riker says, two minutes? That thing's 300 pages long. Soji is looking at the food being prepared, she's never seen real food before, her head tilts to the side slightly. Riker introduces himself to Soji, we haven't met, Soji. I'm Kestra's Dad, Will. They shake hands. Soji says, hello, Will. Riker says, hi. Picard explains, Commander Riker and I served together on the USS Enterprise. Soji says, and you were the greatest captain ever, I heard. Riker says, "The greatest captain ever"? Where'd you get that nonsense? Kestra says, from you. Riker says, from me? I must have been drinking at the time. Could you tell your Mom we could use some more tomatoes? Nice to meet you. Soji and Kestra leave. Picard sees a bottle of wine and says, speaking of drinking, may I? Riker says, please. Picard says, thank you. Riker says, so I'm just gonna speculate and say out loud what I've been saying in my brain. You don't have to tell me anything. How's that sound? You're worried about cloaks. That says Romulans. And the level of anxiety and fear for our safety... tells me Tal Shiar. Next, you're not the one that's on the run. It's her. But why? What has poor Soji done to incur their wrath? Could it have anything to do with the fact that she's clearly an android? And not just any android. I recognise that head tilt... anywhere. The kid's got Data in her DNA. And that's why you're here. How am I doing? Picard says, not bad... for a pizza chef. Riker continues, now I understand why you wanted to keep it a secret. Classic Picard arrogance. Picard looks hurt. Riker continues, you get to make the decisions about who gets to take the chances and who doesn't. And who's in the loop and who's out of the loop. And, naturally, it always ends up with you. Picard says, Will... Riker interrupts, uh, that's fine. On the bridge of your starship, Captain. But now you're dealing with a teenager, more or less. That can be an extremely humbling experience. Frankly... I'm not sure you're up to it. Picard admits, perhaps I'm not. Riker says, there you go. Baby steps. Picard agrees, baby steps. They chink glasses and take a drink.

Over in the garden Soji is staring at a tomato. Troi asks, have you ever seen a real tomato? Soji replies, I've never had any food that didn't come from a replicator. Troi offers her one and says, try one. Soji takes it and holds it to her mouth saying, like this? Troi says, take a bite. Soji is amazed, mm. Troi asks, good? Soji says, it tastes so... real. Real is so much better. Troi says to Kestra, take those tomatoes to Daddy. And then set the table for dinner, please. Kestra complains in a new language. Troi replies in the same language, Kestra leaves. Soji says, that wasn't Viveen. Troi says, Harpanthi. Spoken by the Mind Witches of the Southern Ice. I never managed to learn much Viveen. Soji asks, how many languages did Thad invent? Troi says, eleven. Twelve if you count Pahlplah, the language of butterflies. But it doesn't have words, only wingbeats. Soji responds, I love that. Troi explains, Thad was born and raised on starships. From the time he was very little, he was fascinated by the idea that people had homeworlds. Troi points at herself and says, Betazed. She then points at Picard and Riker, Earth. He wanted a homeworld of his own, so he invented one. Ardani. It means "home." Soji repeats, Ardani. Troi continues, when Thad got sick, we came here to Nepenthe. He loved it here. This became his homeworld. Soji asks, what did he have? Troi explains, Mandaxic neurosclerosis. It's a silicon-based virus. It's very rare and, in theory, completely curable. You just have to culture the infected cells in an active positronic matrix. But by the time Thad came down with MN, there were no active positronic matrices, and no one was allowed to develop new ones. Soji says, because of the synth ban. Troi continues, so, you see, Soji, real isn't always better. Soji says, Kestra told you. She told me this is all very new to you. That you're very new. Soji says, that's just a guess. I really don't know anything at all. Except that, for some reason, the Romulans are very interested in figuring out where I came from. Where I was made. Well, one Romulan, Narek. He got me to believe that he cared about me. I thought he even loved me. I trusted him, but it was all a mind game. He was trying to trick me into remembering information he needed. And then he tried to kill me. Troi says, it must be very hard to feel that you can trust anyone now. Soji says, you think? This way that you're being right now, all sensitive and caring... that makes me trust you less. I don't trust you or Kestra. I definitely don't trust Picard. This whole thing, if it's even really happening, how do I know it's not another game? That it isn't real? Like my childhood. Like my parents. You bring me to this beautiful place, surround me with warm, friendly people and good food, and... Picard has approached and says, torture you? Destroy you? Yeah, you're right. All this is an elaborate plot. I wouldn't trust any of us if I were you. Soji gets up and starts to walk away, Picard stands in her way. She pushes him back. Riker says, oh, hey! Hey!, catching Picard and stopping him from falling. Riker says, all you had to say is "dinner is served." You all right? Picard says, she could have broken me in half. I suppose I should be encouraged that she held back. Picard continues, baby steps. Riker says, yes, sir. Troi says, this isn't something a ship's counsellor is supposed to say, but you had it coming. Riker says, easy there, imzadi. Troi continues, do you have any idea what that young woman's been through? What she's going through now? What the Romulans did to her? To you, the idea that all this could be some kind of subterfuge or simulation is preposterous. But to her, it would be more of the same. You know you're real. But she has no reason to believe that. She has no reason to believe that she herself is real. Her capacity to trust was a flaw in her programming. She's been manipulated, tortured. Her very consciousness has been violated. Kestra shouts, Dad. They look around and there is black smoke coming from the pizza oven. Riker goes to deal with it. Picard says, what I need to be... Troi says, you need to be Jean-Luc Picard. Compassionate, patient, curious. Picard says, and one other thing. Useful. Troi says, let us help you, Jean-Luc. Pretend that our dinner table is the ready room of the Enterprise. We'll find a way forward. Together. Riker over at the oven shouts, cancel red alert. Burnt tomato. Picard says, dinner is served.

Back on the Cube, Hugh and Elnor are walking quickly along a corridor. Elnor says, we're going back to the Queencell? Hugh says, I'd forgotten the immense power hidden there. Or maybe I was afraid I'd be tempted to use it. But now, I promise to defend and protect the xBs. I failed them all. I've been a fool. We are gonna take this Cube away from them forever. Narissa suddenly appears saying, that sounds like a treaty violation to me. Did you really think you weren't being watched? And not just a treaty violation. Open insurrection. I'm grateful. I'm authorised to kill you now. Elnor steps forward taking his sword from his back. He says in Romulan, please, friends. Choose to live. Narissa replies also in Romulan, I admit... I was not expecting this. She takes her pistol out and fires shots. Elnor dives for cover grabbing Hugh on the way. Narissa advances on their location. She gets there and Hugh is crouched down hiding. She hears a noise above and turns to shoot at it. Elnor dodges around. Narissa turns to shoot Hugh but he's gone. Elnor appears amongst the other Romulans and kills some of them. Jumping down he kills the final one. Only Narissa is left. She is walking towards him and says in Romulan, this is not how Zhat Vash fight Qowat Milat. She puts her pistol away and starts to circle him. Saying, if that's what you are. Hugh pops a head around the corner to see how Elnor is. Elnor puts away his sword and he and Narissa start fighting hand to hand. She pulls a tiny knife to keep Elnor at bay. She removes another and throws it towards Hugh. It hits him in the throat and he falls to the floor. Elnor rushes over to help Hugh. Narissa draws her gun and aims at Elnor. In one move he takes the knife out of Hugh, puts his hand over the wound and throws the knife at Narissa who beams away just in time to not be killed. Hugh is dying he says, to activate the Queencell you'll need an xB. How's this for a lost cause? I was that much of a hopeful fool again for a minute. Thanks for that. Hugh dies. Elnor is upset and stays there a little.

On La Sirena, a piece of red velvet cake materialises on the replicator. Raffi says, there you go, honey. She puts the cake in front of Agnes. Raffi asks, need some more milk? Agnes says, yes, please. Raffi says, okay. Chocolate? Agnes says, that's probably overdoing it. Raffi says, hmm. No such thing on Planet Raffi. She replicates the milk and hands it to Agnes, who thanks her. Agnes continues, thank you for being so kind to me. You're a good person. Raffi is uncomfortable and says, mm. Well, thank you. But I'm more like the wreckage of a good person. In an emergency, you can slap together a temporary good person out of the pieces, but... Agnes starts crying. Raffi says, oh, Agnes, are we looking at an emergency here? Is it Chris? Agnes says, no. No. Raffi says, oh. Agnes, I'm such an idiot. It's Bruce Maddox. To see him after so long. And right away to have to lose hi... Rios appears above them and Raffi says, what's wrong? Rios says, our little shadow is back. Raffi asks, are you sure it's the same guy? Rios confirms, identical warp signature. Raffi says, how is that possible? Rios says, unclear. I'm gonna try something different. See if I can... Agnes starts throwing up. Rios sees it and says, is that blood? Raffi explains, red velvet. Rios shakes his head and walks away. Raffi starts to comfort Agnes but starts to gag herself. Raffi shouts, hello. We've got a hospitality emergency here. She says to Agnes as she continues to puke, you're okay. You're okay. One more. You're okay.

Back on Nepenthe, everyone is sitting down to dinner. Riker is handing out slices of pizza. Putting a slice on Kestra's plate he says, my Wild Girl of the Woods. Extra Bunnicorn sausage. She says, thank you. Soji's next, Soji, welcome to our home. She replies, thank you. He continues, guests get two. She says thank you again. Riker says, Imzadi? Troi replies, one, please. Kestra asks if Soji likes pizza, Soji replies, I do like pizza. Yes. Kestra says, good. Picard comes in from checking on the ship saying, still no contact with Rios. If he doesn't show, I'm going to need another ship. Riker says, well, you might be able to find one over at Infinity Lake spaceport, if you're willing to wait. Troi says, there is a weekly passenger service, but independent operators are rare. Kestra says, well, there's Captain Crandall. He's been everywhere from Q'onoS to Tyken's Rift. Troi says, so he says. Kestra continues, and he has a ship, the Inside Straight. Only it's kinda broken. Riker adds, and so is Rupert Crandall. Anyway, even if he weren't, where are you planning on pointing this starship of yours? Soji says, home. Narek, the Tal Shiar agent on The Artifact, he showed me a traditional meditation practice called the Zhal Makh. He made me think he was just helping me, but he was using it to pull information out of me I didn't even know I knew. Kestra says, well, did he get the information? Soji replies, I was so stupid. Yes, he got it. Picard asks, and what was it? When I met your sister, she had just been activated by the Romulans' first attempt on her life. Until then, like you, she believed she was human. After the attack, she discovered that she possessed extraordinary defensive capabilities, like you. Soji, listen to the timbre of my voice. Feel the fluctuations of my heart rate. Note the dilation of my pupils. Soji, you can trust me. Kestra asks, do you believe him? Soji says, I know he thinks he isn't lying. But that doesn't mean I believe him. Riker says, I've known this man for 35 years, Soji. Picard raised his hand and says, Will. I want... We want... to help you to get back to that home. Soji asks, why? Picard says, because you were created out of a remnant of a friend, Commander Data. Troi says, our very dear friend. Riker adds, and one hell of an officer. Picard continues, he gave his life to save mine. But that's not the main reason. Before your sister came to me, I was haunted by my past... and marking time. Wasting my life. But now, I'm alive, and I have a mission, which means there's not a hell of a chance that you or anyone else can stop me. Soji thinks for a second and then says, when I did the Zhal Makh... Narek took me deep into a memory of my childhood. That's what I thought it was anyway. And he had me look up through a window in what I thought was my childhood home, and he asked me what I saw. And I told him I saw two red moons and a sky full of lightning. Troi says, he knew you were synthetic and that your childhood memories were implanted. Soji says, he was looking for an implanted memory of a real place. And when I told him about the lightning and the moons... he said, "You found home." And that's when he tried to kill me. Picard looks around the room and says, thoughts? Riker says, Maddox. He left Earth right after the ban. No one was able to find him for 14 years. Maybe he went to this planet with the two red moons. Troi says, and resumed his work creating synthetic life-forms. Kestra says, Soji, you have a homeworld. Soji smiles and says, I have a homeworld. My Ardani. Picard, I want to go there. Picard says, yes, we will. But first we have to identify and locate the planet. Riker says, well, I don't want to spoil the mood, but you may need more than that. The Romulans have a head start, and they probably know where they're going. Troi says, and given what they did to you and to your sister, your homeworld is in terrible danger. Riker says, you may want to contact Starfleet, Jean-Luc. Picard says, probably. But before that I have to find out where the hell we're going. Kestra says, it's in the Vayt sector. The Ghulion system. The planet doesn't have a name, only a number. Everyone looks surprised, she holds up a tiny pad and says, I asked Captain Crandall.

On La Sirena Rios is helping Agnes into the sickbay. She's saying, this is silly. I'm fine. I ate a slice of cake the size of a Borg Cube. And then I had another one. And then I started on number three. Rios says, okay, listen. Really I brought you here 'cause I need to talk to you. Chris, you don't need to say anything. You and I... Rios says, I managed to shake our shadow again, but if he keeps finding us, I think I might know why. What if Raffi's being tracked? Think about it. Remember how mysterious she was acting before we got to Freecloud? Her whole "goodbye forever" routine? And then she comes right back. No explanation. What was that about? Where did she go? Who did she see? Agnes says, no. Rios continues, I know. I hate to think Raffi would betray us like that, endanger our lives. Maybe somebody... Romulans... placed a tracker on her without her knowing. Agnes says, it's not Raffi. Rios says, so, what, it's you? You've been stuck on La Sirena since we left Earth. Raffi shouts from upstairs, Rios! Shit! He's back! Rios returns to the bridge. Agnes is alone, getting more upset. She goes to a replicator and presses a few buttons. The replicator produces a hypospray and says, uranium hydride synthesised. Warning, depending on species, there may be neurotoxic effects. Agnes holds the hypo to her neck and says to herself, you can do this. She presses the button and injects herself. Her breathing becomes laboured and she falls on the floor, frothing at the mouth and convulsing. The EMH appears and says, what is the nature of your... Oh, bloody hell. He goes to see to Agnes

On the bridge Rios says, Raffi, I have one more thought about finding this guy. But I do not think you're gonna like it very much. Raffi says, why? Does it involve shooting me out of an air lock? He says, I really hope not. The EMH voice comes over the comm, Captain Rios, would you please come to sickbay? Rios replies, is it Agnes? Is she still having stomach trouble? The EMH responds, at the moment I'm more concerned with the fact that she's in a coma.

In Narek's ship the scanner is flashing a lock on a tracker. It suddenly disappears. He presses buttons to see if he can get it back, but can't.

On The Artifact, Elnor is creeping around trying to avoid being caught or killed. He sits for a moment in a corner and then sees a Fenris Rangers call button like the one Seven gave to Picard. He picks it up and presses it. It lights up to say, Fenris S.O.S activated.

Down on Napenthe, Picard is talking to Riker he says, they only came within comms range late last night. Riker says, well, have your pilot send his transponder codes, and I'll make sure that Orbital Control doesn't give him any trouble. Picard says, oh, thank you, Will. Riker continues, you were worried about them. Picard agrees, I was. Riker says, so, what are they like, this new crew of yours? Picard says, well, I would have to say they are decidedly motley. There's been nothing but drama since we left Earth orbit. And, I'm told, it's been continuing since I saw them last. They... They seem to be carrying more baggage than all of you ever did. But then, I'm not the one to talk. Hmm... Which reminds me. Tapping his communicator, Rios. ETA? Rios replies, same as the last two times you asked me. Rios, out. Picard says to Riker, he can be a little testy sometimes. Riker says, well, that's, that's one word for it. Picard asks, do you ever think about shipping out again? Riker says, well, I am still on active reserve, but it would have to be a very good reason. Jean-Luc... You've done more than your fair share of planet saving in your day. And nobody would blame you if you just stayed home and let other people look after the galaxy for a while. Especially given your... your condition. I mean, nobody but me, that is. I never thought you had any business retiring in the first place. Picard says, and you were right. He looks around and says, beautiful. Thank you, Will. Riker asks, what for? Picard says, oh. For so many things. But today, for not trying to talk me out of all this. Riker says, believe me, I know better. That, my friend... was always a losing proposition.

Back at the house, Kestra is drawing a picture of Soji, who is sleeping on the bed. She wakes up and says, hi. Kestra says, so... I'm gonna miss you. Soji says, I'm gonna miss you too. Kestra says, I.. I don't totally get it. But I do know something really bad happened to you. Something really bad happened to me too. And what helped me through it was my Mom and my Dad. You don't have a Mom and a Dad. But you have Captain Picard. Soji says, I don't have Picard. Kestra says, but you could if you wanted to, is all I'm saying. And... And he could have you. And you could both have each other. Soji says, I'll think about it.

Outside Picard, Deanna and Riker are all group hugging. Picard breaks off and walks towards Soji. Kestra comes running out of the house saying, wait, wait wait. She gives Soji her broken compass. She says, you just have to pretend it works. Soji smiles and Kestra hugs her. Soji eventually hugs Kestra. Kestra joins her parents and Picard says, two to beam up. The Star Trek fanfare plays and the camera pans to the mountains.

Analysis

Ok, this is probabaly the best episode of the series so far. We find out at the start what is freaking Agnes out and likely why she did what she did to Maddox, at least in part. We also have Bunnicorns, which are very silly and quite cool at the same time. We see repercussions for both Rios and his ship and Soji and Picard. Lesser programs could have just had the ship escape, but here they have a reason they were let go. They wanted to follow them, knowing from the first scene how they could keep track of them. With Soji and Picard it makes sense that she wouldn't trust Picard just because he turns up and says I know your Dad and sister. With what she's been through she's rightly worried.

And now we come to the best part of it. Riker and Troi are here. They fit back into their roles extremely well. Except for their age you wouldn't think they've been away. Having their kid die is a bit of a bummer and just coincidentally he could have been saved by a synth, pretty iffy.

Lulu Wilson, who played Kestra, did a tip top job against a steller cast. Given she was only 14 at the time it must have been a hell of a job to act with Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, especially on roles they know like the back of their hands.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 2,594 Last updated : 1 Jan 2022