Star Trek: Picard Treads Water While Dead in the Water

The fourth episode, "No Win Scenario," offers up character moments to fill out a largely uneventful plot.

Last week, the Titan was left hurtling into the abyss, and a Changeling saboteur was revealed. This week’s episode, “No Win Scenario”, picks up right where we left off. The ship is draining power and doesn’t have the juice to get out, and with certain death on the horizon, Picard attempts to connect with his son while Riker and Shaw confront past demons. Meanwhile, Seven of Nine searches for the saboteur, and Beverly holds down the fort in sick bay. And…

… that’s it. That’s the whole episode. Oh, and of course, all the dimly lit close-ups of character confessions are interspersed with “Aha!” moments in the effort to get out of this space anomaly. Because this is only the fourth episode, and there’s no way Picard is going down just yet when the whole show is named after him. (Side note: Can’t help noticing that it’s the badass ladies who’re still looking for ways to survive while the menfolk argue and mope).

And if you were hoping for more Worf quips and Raffi adventures, you’re out of luck. Nary a frame so much as acknowledges their existence.

Jean-Luc, Beverly, and Jack in sick bay
One big happy family. Image: Paramount+

Look, I get that the point of this episode was to quiet down the plot so the show could explore the characters a bit more. Picard trying to connect with Jack, how Picard’s past informs him (through some flashbacks to the admiral getting ambushed by young fans at a restaurant, and stories about his past misadventures), why Shaw has a problem with Picard, what went wrong between Riker and Troi… I like a good “get ’em in the feels” moment as much as anyone, but this week’s episode went a bit overboard, without much plot in between (despite there still being enormous mystery boxes left to open). There were a few moments where it felt like the editing department was desperately stretching out the runtime by cutting to various reaction shots.

Seven of Nine
Seven trying to save the ship while the boys drink and talk about their pasts. Image: Paramount+

Seven of Nine’s efforts to find the changeling saboteur, and the crew’s eleventh-hour attempts to find a way out of the anomaly, all felt like afterthoughts. Nearly nothing was revealed about the overarching plot that’s been hinted at. We get a moment where Vadic is ordered to continue pursuing Jack, and a teaser at the end of the episode that Jack might be harboring a dangerous secret, though they didn’t feel surprising or interesting (I mean, we knew from the start that there was something up with Jack, and that Vadic was hell-bent on getting her hands on him).

Jack and Picard in Ten Forward
We’re all gonna die. Might as well drink. Image: Paramount+

I was surprised by how flat the dialogue between Picard and Jack felt, save for a brief moment where Jack tries to break the ice by asking about the hair situation. The two retire to a holodeck version of Ten Forward (kept running on a separate battery from the rest of the dying ship because, according to dubious show logic, the crew needs some place to escape in dire moments). Maybe it’s because this reunion has been agonizingly dragged out over four entire episodes. There’s nothing new to be said.

The resolution to the episode did feel very classic Next Generation, which was a nice throwback. And Shaw really steals the show, despite (or because of) being given the asshole cut. In contrast to the lofty Next Generation legends, his down-to-earth jerkitude makes him oddly relatable. He doesn’t pretend to be anything he isn’t; he knows he’s a jerk. One of my favorite moments in this episode was seeing him and Seven interact. Neither is a fan of the other, but they’ll deal with each other to get the job done.

Really, the four episodes of Picard that have aired so far could have been a two-parter, and would have been better off for it. Here’s hoping next week’s episode picks up the pace, and moves the story forward instead of repeatedly rehashing the past in a way that even Picard seems weary of.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Mary Fan
Mary Fan
Mary Fan is a Jersey City-based author of sci-fi/fantasy. Her books include Stronger than a Bronze Dragon, the Starswept Trilogy, the Jane Colt Trilogy, the Flynn Nightsider series, and the Fated Stars series. She is also the co-editor of the Brave New Girls sci-fi anthologies about girls in STEM.

Latest articles

Related articles

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Last week, the Titan was left hurtling into the abyss, and a Changeling saboteur was revealed. This week's episode, "No Win Scenario", picks up right where we left off. The ship is draining power and doesn't have the juice to get out, and with certain...Star Trek: Picard Treads Water While Dead in the Water