Star Trek: ‘Picard’ Plays “Hide and Seek” With Trauma
Star Trek: Picard “Hide and Seek” is easily one of the most frustrating episodes of modern Trek. There’s revelations for the Borg Queen, for Seven and Raffi, and most importantly, for Picard. However, there are character choices made here which add nothing but take away so much.
Previously on Star Trek: Picard, Jean-Luc and Guinan hang out with the FBI, Jurati chokes Raffi, and Adam Soong goes full mustache-twirling evil. We know that Queen Jurati needs La Sirena. We also knew that Picard’s past is still up in the air. Some of these plots see a resolution ahead of the season finale. And, yes, after many episodes of Elnor being dead, we finally get an update. How does it all shake out? Let’s talk about it.
To Boldly Recap
Under normal circumstances, we allow as much space for recapping as we do for reviewing. For “Hide and Seek,” though, there’s an all caps LOT TO TALK ABOUT on the review end so we’re going to keep the recap comparatively brief. Here’s the brief:
The whole Picard Squad rally at the Chateau after Queen Jurati and her drones (led by Adam Soong) beam in to take over La Sirena. Rios still has Teresa and Ricardo with him, though, so Picard has Tallinn transport the three away. The remaining team splits up: Raffi and Seven on one team and Picard and Tallinn on the other. The former team successfully takes the drones head on while the latter heads into the bowels of the chateau by way of an hidden passage.
Meanwhile, on La Sirena, after the Borg Queen gets into her finest fetish wear, she and Jurati fight over the use of Agnes’ body. Jurati successfully blocks the ship using an encryption key she hides inside a combat hologram based on Elnor. While the Queen and Jurati talk about how they are each spurned to make bad choices out of loneliness, Hologram Elnor staves off drones until Raffi and Seven arrive.
Tallinn recognizes the tunnels underneath Chateau Picard from Jean-Luc’s memories. She wants to know what happened to Picard’s mother. But first they have to run from Soong and the drones. Meanwhile, back on La Sirena Raffi apologizes to Hologram Elnor before Seven uses the transporter to transport all the Borg drones inside the walls underneath Chateau Picard.
The New Adventures of Picard and Seven’s Old Trauma
The only Borg not beamed into stone is the Queen. Elnor, Raffi, and Seven think they’ve got her beat, but she uses her Borg tentacles to dispatch Hologram Elnor while gutting Seven. Meanwhile, Rios reverse engineers Tallinn’s tech to get back into the fray as Soong traps Picard and Tallinn. Rios beams in after Soong monologues about how being feared is good. Soong escapes as Picard finds a familiar skeleton key on the floor from his memories.
On La Sirena, Agnes prevents the Borg Queen from killing Seven. The two debate the future of the Borg Collective. Agnes points out that across all realities, the Borg are always inevitably defeated and offers an alternative. Agnes believes she and the Queen can combine, become one mind, and change the Collective into a Cooperative. Instead of forcing people to join the Borg, they will offer people the chance to be Borg as a kind of second chance. The Queen agrees and starts by re-assimilating Seven. The new Borg Queen takes La Sirena to start the Collective anew.
Back at Chateau Picard, Jean-Luc finally remembers what happened to his mother. We see young Jean-Luc open the door his mother is locked behind. And then we see Yvette Picard slip a noose around her neck and hang herself. Jean-Luc blames himself for his mother’s suicide. Seven and Raffi meet back up with the rest of the team and tell them what happened.
Soong is still in the wind and that means the Europa mission still isn’t safe. As Team Picard ventures to save the day one last time, Jean-Luc finds out about a final message from the Borg Queen. According to the Queen, one Renee Picard must die and another must live for the future to be restored.
To Boldly Review
When “Monsters” first aired I said I was concerned for Yvette Picard. And now here she is, fully fridged. I cannot describe what a disappointment it is that Star Trek: Picard is changing Jean-Luc’s motives for being a good person. For seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation we didn’t need an explanation. Jean-Luc Picard is good because he is. Now Picard is good because dead mom. And that’s the least of it. I’ll come back to this decision in a moment.
Arguably the biggest problem with Star Trek: Picard is Jean-Luc Picard himself. There is an irony that in the season 3 cast reveal trailer Picard says “I am not a man who needs a legacy”. It is precisely the legacy aspect of his character that creates so many problems for the rest of the show’s characters.
There is an almost inevitability to how the final episode of this season of Star Trek: Picard plays out. Elnor is likely dead forever. Jurati is not coming back as a regular cast member now that she’s the Borg Queen. It is strongly implied that Seven will throw in with this new Borg Collective. Similarly, it is also a near-given that Rios is staying in the past with Teresa and Ricardo. That just leaves Raffi, who’s more likely to follow Seven than Picard.
After two seasons, all the new characters Star Trek: Picard introduced seem set to exit so that the show can be what it was always mean tot be: a legacy show. When the series was first announced, fans wanted more TNG. All these years later they’re getting it. But I can’t help thinking what might have been if Raffi, Rios, Agnes, and Elnor had their own show.
The Star Trek That Could Have Been
Star Trek: Picard is a show about grief and trauma. Raffi is paranoid, suffers from substance abuse, and has broken faith with her only son. Rios loses faith in Starfleet after his captain’s death is covered up by Starfleet command. Agnes Jurati is a cyberneticist unable to explore her life’s ambition because synthetic life is illegal. Even the underserved Elnor is a young refugee displaced after his home world is destroyed.
Every one of these characters is let down or outright abandoned by the Federation. We even find out this season that Seven of Nine is on the outs with Starfleet. They wouldn’t let her join up because she is a former Borg. And yet, they all still strive to be a part of Starfleet and make it better. There’s just one problem: Jean-Luc Picard. Picard is the legacy character. He is the reason this show exists. And since only Seven carries even close to the same weight, the rest of our character’s stories are relegated to the sidelines. So the concept for these characters remains largely theoretical and unrealized.
Star Trek: Picard without Picard himself is a better show for everyone else. Captain Rios gets to learn how to be an effective captain. Raffi and Seven both have ample oxygen to learn how to trust other people again. Agnes Jurati can both be a mess and then learn how to stop being a mess. And Elnor can be a character with thoughts and feelings at all!
Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing positive in “Hide and Seek”.
The Borg Cult-lective
Last season on Star Trek: Picard Agnes Jurati got away with literal murder. Agnes murdered Bruce Maddox in cold blood and got off with an insanity plea on account of mind meld. And it is safe to say that fans of the series thought the lack of consequences for Jurati did nothing to develop the character.
In this season by contrast, Agnes’ choices lead her to a much more complex and interesting place. Joining with the Borg Queen is not a great idea, but it’s understandable given the circumstances. Keeping that joining a secret is another story. Up until this point, I think it’s safe to say that Jurati’s choices felt like they were more about driving story than about character growth. But in “Hide and Seek”, all that turns on a dime.
Even the Borg Queen gets some character growth. The idea that she would assimilate billions out of infinite loneliness sounds far-fetched at first. But then you remember all the things people do in the name of progress simply because they can and it doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all.
The Borg take away individuality. It turns out there are consequences to doing that. Even if they aren’t always inevitably destroyed, a single voice spoken by many is still a lonely one.
Agnes and the Borg Queen choosing to join is a game changer. It’s a choice that feels believable for both and it makes good on the promise set up at the start of this season that the Borg could be allies.
Can the Borg reform? It’s an interesting question! Right now the notion that the Collective only takes on people in their most desperate sounds like a cult. But they say hope springs eternal in the Borg breast.
I am Myself
Seven of Nine is Borg once more. In a way, though, she never stopped being Borg – she just gave herself permission to move on for once.
One of the shames of this season of Star Trek: Picard is that it introduces a great character with Seven it never fully realizes. What is Seven without her Borg implants? How does no longer facing stigma impact her ability to heal from the trauma of being Borg?
“Hide and Seek” gives us a few genuinely touching moments as Seven faces the reality that she is physically back where she started. The first comes in the form of the relationship she has with Raffi. It’s good to hear Raffi affirm that Seven is more to her than just a Borg. But the larger moment comes when Seven tells Picard, “I am myself”. Picard seems as though he does not quite understand this emotion, but he’s still only just coming to terms with his own familial trauma.
“I am myself” is a powerful affirmation. Seven is saying that Borg is part of who she is and that she is finally learning to accept that. Do I wish there was a lot more lead up to this moment? Absolutely. But Jeri Ryan delivers that line with such raw realness that she overcomes the shortcomings of the writing.
Okay. Enough preamble. Let’s talk about Yvette Picard.
Yvette Picard and the Content Warning
We are talking about Yvette Picard’s suicide now. You should skip over this part if it’s going to trigger or harm you. Okay? Okay.
There is no such thing as complete professional distance when reviewing media. The way we react to media comes from our lived experience. So let me open with this: Yvette Picard killing herself so that Jean-Luc can be a better person as a narrative choice makes me very angry. And that is because I struggle with suicidal ideation and have suffered with it since I was nine years old. So for me, this is personal.
Yvette killing herself adds nothing of value to Jean-Luc’s story – but it’s more than that which bothers me so much. It’s that they introduced a mother figure that we’ve only heard mention of once before in this franchise’s history just so they could have her off herself – and they show it. My god. They show that woman hang herself. For what? How is this story deepened by Yvette’s suicide? We barely know her.
There are Disney movies with better character development for moms than Star Trek: Picard. And killing moms is kind of their thing. So all this imagery does is trigger people who already struggle immensely.
Yvette’s suicide is awful and senseless. And while that’s how suicide is in real life, I just can’t see how portraying it so callously and brutally without at least giving Yvette some kind of existence outside of “Jean-Luc’s mom” and “sad lady” is anything other than a cruel and hurtful waste of time. I hate it.
Okay, we can move on now.
Stray Observation Lounge
Jean-Luc tells Tallinn that he sometimes imagines Yvette as an old woman. This is a specific reference to the TNG episode “Where No One Has Gone Before”. It’s also a means of explaining a plot hole before fans like us can point it out.
The idea of a Borg Cooperative actually isn’t new. Chakotay encounters a group of unassimilated Borg in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Unity“. Those Ex Borg ultimately re-unite their minds in order to reach mutual understanding and peace. Whether or not a proverbial grassroots can work on what is essentially an intergalactic corporate level remains to be seen.
Adam Soong says he and Picard might be friends in another life. Because of Data, one presumes. Sure.
The notion that a phaser pistol can be isomorphic and only usable by one person is kind of silly. What purpose does this serve outside the one scene in which is appears? Other than “so Adam Soong can get away,” it doesn’t make any sense.
Questions, Queries, Quibbles
We made it! Only one episode and this season of Star Trek: Picard is complete! And while a lot of stories do feel resolved at the close of “Hide and Seek,” there’s still a lot left to reckon with. Will we meet Queen Jurati again? Is Q really going to die? And what does it mean that one Renee Picard must live and one must die? It’s possible that this is in reference to Jean-Luc’s nephew Renee who died in a fire at the opening of Star Trek: Generations. But it may be something else entirely!
We know Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan will appear once more before the season ends. Will we see any other classic TNG characters before the final credits roll or will we have to wait until Star Trek: Picard season three? Tell us what you think will happen next!
Until then, this is your humble recapper signing off. Computer: end program.