We’re getting close to the finish line, folks. I think it’s no longer a spoiler to say that all the Next Generation regulars have now appeared on the show, and a big reunion is on the horizon. Though given the bleakness of Picard (and the lighting), it won’t be an entirely happy one.
This week picks up where the last episode, “Dominion,” left off, with things looking bleak for our heroes and Vadic fully indulging her singsong villainy. It’d be impossible to discuss without spoilers, so if you haven’t watched this week’s episode, “Surrender,” yet, and care about such things, turn away now. Review to commence after this picture of Seven of Nine, because we always need more pictures of Seven of Nine.
What goes up must come down, and after Vadic’s triumph over the Titan last week, you can bet our heroes will turn the tide eventually. But things are looking pretty bleak to begin. Vadic, with the help of the Lore side of the Soong android, has taken over the ship and taken the bridge crew hostage. Those still running loose—Picard, Beverly, Jack, Sidney, Geordi, Alandra—are locked out of the systems.
What happens next is pretty predictable: Vadic threatens to kill the bridge crew one by one if Jack doesn’t surrender. An agonized Jack seeks to sacrifice himself while his parents refuse to let him—not only because he’s their beautiful baby boy, but because whatever’s going on with him, giving Vadic and the Changelings what they want isn’t a good idea. Vadic intensifies her threat. Jack agonizes some more. Rinse and repeat, with only a brief telepathic moment—where Jack uses his newfound abilities to possess a bridge officer and attempt a ship takeover—to break the monotony.
It’s all necessary for the plot, I guess, and hey, it gives Amanda Plummer a chance to chew on some more villainous monologues, but it drags on longer than necessary. Once again, I get the feeling that the writers and editors are desperately trying to fill runtime. And perhaps too enamored with Amanda Plummer (I find over-the-top performances work best in small but sharp doses).
At the end of the last episode, Vadic hinted at what (or who??) might be behind Jack’s visions and sudden telepathic abilities—not only to read minds but to also to possess people. But if you were hoping for answers this week, you’re out of luck. Though Vadic sadistically teases both Jack and the audience, we aren’t any closer to learning what’s going on.
Meanwhile, the members of the cast missing from last week—Riker, Troi, Worf, Raffi—reappear at last. We’re treated to a sweet reunion between Riker and Troi, who the Changelings had the courtesy to imprison together. Troi calls Riker an old man who can take a punch, and it’s an apt descriptor not only for him but the entire TNG crew. In the words of Michelle Yeoh, don’t let anyone tell you you’re past your prime, and the best part of this season of Picard is how it’s proving that older adults can still be protagonists and heroes.
It was lovely seeing Riker and Troi together again at last, even under such harsh circumstances. Though I’m not sure I buy Riker’s explanation that he betrayed the Titan to save Troi from torture, knowing that Picard would figure out how to deal with Vadic. Ah well, it had to be done for the Plot. And thank goodness they skipped the actual torture scenes.
All my kudos to the writers for giving us the Worf we know and love, with his Worf-iness dialed up to a thousand. Whether he’s busting his buddies out (with surprisingly little resistance) or matter-of-factly reviving his flirtation with Troi (in front of an aghast Riker), this Worf milks all the toughness and (inadvertent, on his part) humor of the character, and I loved every second.
Out of other options, Picard and the others seek the Soong android that might be Data, or might be Lore, hoping he can retake the ship for them. You know what’s coming next: a showdown between brothers in an abstract mindscape. Though the way it played out was fairly predictable, the execution nevertheless made it a treat to watch. I loved seeing Brent Spiner go head-to-head with himself as two vastly different characters, both of whom retain every characteristic of his past performances. We really were seeing Data and Lore again, just in older bodies. And the Next Generation Easter Eggs we got (just in time for actual Easter!) are sure to delight longtime fans (SPOT! SPOT! SPOT! =^._.^=)
While I came into this episode fairly sure that our heroes would retake the ship, Vadic’s abrupt demise came as a surprise. And the show seems to want us to know that she’s gone gone, not just sort-of-maybe gone, given that she’s shown shattering into a million pieces in space (then again, this is Star Trek, and I’m sure they could technobabble their way out of it if they really wanted to). Given that she’s been the primary villain all season, and there are still two episodes left to go, I wasn’t expecting her to be dispatched just yet. Even though it’s clear that she serves a bigger baddie—Darth Vader to an unknown Emperor—she’s been the face of the evil we’re rooting against. The bigger bad might still be out there, but it would have been more satisfying to see Vadic go out along with her mysterious boss in the show’s climax, rather than being done away with early (imagine if they’d killed off Vader halfway through Return of the Jedi… yes, I’m mixing fandoms. Hush.)
Anyway, for all its flaws, “Surrender” did pull off a hell of a triumph in the last few minutes. You’d have to be a stone-cold hater not to cheer for the Next Generation crew as they claim victory over Vadic. It was such a cinematic ending, it’ll be hard for the actual finale to top that. And when they gather around a table to discuss things afterward? ALL. THE. FEELS.
4/5 stars, with a whole star added for that ending