HERE WE GO! After spinning its wheels with some inane “twists” and overwritten dialogue in the last few episodes, Star Trek: Picard finally boldly goes into a daring and gasp-worthy plot with its fifth episode, “Imposters”.
After spending far too long stuck in a weird nebula creature thing, the USS Titan is heading back to Federation space. The crew seems to think it’s home free, but Beverly doesn’t seem so sure… she’s still worried about Jack. And with good reason—the super-special offspring of super-special characters has been getting disturbing visions of a red door and weird growths that look like blood vessels crossed with dead vines… and of himself as a deadly efficient killer. Of course, he doesn’t tell anyone about these hallucinations. Question is, is he hiding something, or just unsure of what’s happening to him? Whatever it is, the Changelings are awfully hell-bent on getting their grubby hands on him. (I swear, if it turns out he’s some kind of Changeling and all that development they did with his and Picard’s relationship turns out to be moot, I’m snatching back every star I ever gave this show).
The Titan goes to rendezvous with the Federation ship Intrepid, and a gleeful Shaw can’t wait to send those troublesome pirates Picard and Riker, plus the mutinous Seven, over to face the music. I actually loved his jerkitude in this scene. I mean, poor guy started his day thinking he just had some routine Starfleet stuff to do and ended up getting swallowed by a nebula creature over some arrogant bigwig’s love child. I’d be eager to kick those responsible off too. Shaw’s irreverence for our classic heroes provides a much-needed grounding presence for the show, and he is quickly becoming my favorite character (who knew I’d be rooting for the cantankerous old white dude?)
The Intrepid sends over a contingent to question the troublemakers, and something seems off… they’re insisting on a shuttle, not transporters. After the whole fiasco last week with the Changeling on board, I’m sure everyone’s ears perked up at that. After all, this Changeling hid in plain sight among the Titan’s crew for who-knows-how-long, despite extra precautions Starfleet put in place following the Dominion War. There’s no way the Intrepid‘s bunch is all what they seem.
Their arrival brings back another familiar face: Ro Laren. Picard’s wayward mentee from the Enterprise, who ended her run on the series by betraying Starfleet and joining the Maquis freedom fighters. Which Picard is still sore about 30 years later. He’s immediately suspicious that this former terrorist is now a Starfleet commander, and Ro nicks her hand to prove she’s not a Changeling. She doesn’t seem any happier to see him and tries to stick with a “just business” approach.
But wait! The blood test doesn’t work anymore… Beverly’s examinations of the dead Changeling infiltrator reveals that they can now imitate internal organs, only revealing their true nature under intense dissection. And she surreptitiously tells Picard as much during his talk with Ro. Changeling alert… right???
I was a bit skeptical about Ro’s return at first—I’m still traumatized by how they brought back Icheb and Hugh in Season 1 just to have them die horribly for no reason—but my fears turned out to be unfounded. Michelle Forbes turns out another powerhouse performance (she was always one of the best actresses on The Next Generation, and she’s lost none of that shine)—understated yet intense, subtle yet brimming with unspoken thoughts. Her scenes with Picard were *chef’s kiss*. And her purpose on the show too—her scenes, in the grand scheme of the show, are few, but the impact is far-reaching. Now this is how beloved past guest stars should be treated.
Oh, and we get to see Worf and Raffi again this week! The two of them are still searching for answers regarding who robbed Daystrom and why, and their investigation takes them back to the criminal underworld. Worf dominates in every scene he’s in, though Raffi more than holds her own. The two play off each other wonderfully, and I wouldn’t mind an entire Worf-and-Raffi show where it’s the two of them leading whatever space adventures come next.
All in all, “Imposters” raises more questions than it answers, but in the best possible way. Conspiracies abound, with the bad guys having infiltrated the deepest reaches of Starfleet, and our heroes are thrown into a tense, high-stakes situation that promises more twists, action, and reveals to come. Now that we know that the whole Federation is at stake (and not just one famous guy’s secret son), the show feels like it’s really taking off. Oh, and as a bonus, the Worf/Raffi side quest finally ties back to Picard’s main storyline with a neat little bow.
If the show can keep up this momentum through the finale, then perhaps we can forgive the lackluster opening.
4.5 / 5 stars