Home TV TV Reviews/Recaps Star Trek: Picard Digs Into Its Characters Against an Action-Packed Backdrop

Star Trek: Picard Digs Into Its Characters Against an Action-Packed Backdrop

The third episode, "Seventeen Seconds," is full of space chases, but it's the explosions between characters that matter.

Mom and Dad are fighting :'( Image: Paramount+

All right, now that we’ve gotten a few mystery boxes out of the way, the show can finally begin for real. By this point, we all know that Jack Crusher is Picard’s kid and Worf is Raffi’s handler. The question now is: How did this come to be, and what does it mean for our characters?

The third episode of the season, “Seventeen Seconds”, picks up where it left off: With the Titan facing off against Vadic’s mega-ship, Shrike. Obviously, we can’t hand over Picard’s son to the bad guys—even Shaw, who wants nothing to do with this conflict, knows that (gotta love the irritated resignation on his face at the end of the last episode). Nah, he’s a Chosen One now, so we’ve got to protect him (to Jack’s credit, no one’s less happy about this than he is). Outgunned, the Titan takes off into the strange nebula to hide.

Through a flashback, Riker talks to Picard about the power of fatherhood, with the title “Seventeen Seconds” referring to how long it took him to reach sick bay from the bridge when his son was born, and the anxiety felt in those moments. Oh no, a longtime TV viewer would think. Something bad’s gonna happen to Jack, and Picard’s gonna end up in that turbolift, facing the longest seventeen seconds of his life…

But I’m getting ahead of myself (I am finding it rather amusing how much this season likes to telegraph its storylines with its episode titles). After (unnecessarily) dragging out the “who is Jack Crusher” question for two episodes, the show finally gives us the moment longtime Next Generation fans have been waiting for: What the devil happened between Jean-Luc and Beverly???

The answer is mundane considering this season’s high-stakes, action-packed plot lines, but far more satisfactory for that reason. The “Jack Crusher is Picard’s son” twist was so obvious, it wasn’t even a twist. If they’d tried to throw us something like “and Beverly kept him away because secret bad guys were after him,” like Aurora being hidden away from Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, it might have induced an eye roll large enough to throw the whole planet off its axis. So thank goodness they went with a simpler, quieter explanation: Everything that made Picard a great Starfleet captain (and a wonderful character to watch) would have made him a terrible father.

Not because of lack of caring, mind you. Certainly, Picard would have wanted to be there for his kid. But can you really imagine him refusing a call to save the galaxy—again, and again, and again—because he has a son at home now? Beverly couldn’t, and she was probably right. Plus, there’s the added factor that thanks to all of Picard’s enemies, baby Jack would have been born with a giant, flaming target on his back. Yet while Beverly’s explanations seem perfectly understandable, especially given how much she’s lost over the course of the show (we were mostly glad to see Wesley get written off, but poor Beverly lost her kid), Picard is equally understandable in his anger that he never had a chance.

I gotta say, I absolutely adored this scene. The simplicity, the humanity. The whole episode was worthwhile for this scene alone.

But we still have, like, half an hour to go. And it’s kind of downhill from there.

Picard and Riker on the bridge
Two Number Ones. Image: Paramount+

The Titan spends the whole episode trying to hide from the Shrike and getting caught. After Shaw is critically injured, he gives Riker command of the bridge. Picard merrily takes on the role of Number One to his former Number One, and for a moment, it feels like the old team is back, if reversed. But that doesn’t last long. Riker wants to keep running, to minimize the risk to the crew. Picard wants to turn around and fight because… because he’s Picard. The first time they come into conflict, it’s like “Cool, character conflict!” By the end of the episode, the same conversation has been replayed so many times, I began wondering if the writers simply copy-pasted their own dialogue.

Meanwhile, Jack doesn’t want to sit around being a MacGuffin of sorts (though it’s implied that he is one for the bad guys… they’re after him for reasons unclear, but probably—oh let’s face it, definitely—because he’s Picard’s son). He proves pretty adept at helping Mom out in sick bay, then figures out how the Shrike is tracking them. When no one will let him onto the bridge to tell Daddy Dearest, he turns to the disgraced (and available) Seven of Nine. We get some more plot reveals—there’s a saboteur onboard, the Shrike has portal weapons, etc., etc.—but the moment we’re all waiting for is when Jack goes kaput, and Picard ends up in that turbolift for seventeen excruciating seconds (or thereabouts). Really, the whole episode was a backdrop for Picard’s character development, and I didn’t mind one bit.

Oh, but wait, there’s a whole ‘nother storyline! After being rescued from an ill-advised, unauthorized undercover operation by her handler, now revealed to be Worf, Raffi wakes up on his ship and learns that he’s involved in all this as a “subcontractor” of sorts to Starfleet. Who used stolen weapons to blow up the Starfleet facility? And why? They’re off to find out.

Raffi. Worf was out of frame. Image: Paramount+

I gotta say, this episode was a treat for Worf fans. The character returns with his signature gruffness and (unintentional) humor, though older and (trying to be) wiser. He gets badass action sequences and fun dialogue (that he certainly did not mean to be fun). Honestly, I didn’t really care about the stolen weapons or whatever because I was just glad to have Worf back.

Thanks to some 11th-hour mystery box openings, it looks like the Worf-and-Raffi story line and the Titan story line are coming together. But while the episode packed in a lot of action and threw in enough twists to drive the plot forward, it’s the character moments it will be remembered for.

Rating: 4/5


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