Hostage to Misfortune: Picard’s gambit has trouble in mind…

Hostage to Misfortune: Revelations about Jack's past have to be a'bridged when Vadic threatens the Titan's crew...

Vadic has control of the Titan and she’s willing to do whatever she has to, to get her hands on Jack Crusher. She announces that she’ll start killing the bridge crew one at a time until Picard turns him over or he comes of his own accord. Jack has some new tricks of his own, but will they be enough to thwart or even delay the invader?

Elsewhere what may be the crew’s last, best hope plays out inside the positronic brain of Data / Lore, but who will emerge from that virtual battle… and whomever it is, will it make a difference?



Given the climax to last week’s chapter, one could have reasonably assumed that this was the week that we’d finally find out what the heck is going on with Jack Crusher. The bad news…. nope, not so much. Vadic’s assertion to spill the beans doesn’t amount to a hill of them because she’s otherwise engaged in using any and all means to get Jack to the bridge to have that conversation in the first place.

With only a slight pun intended, this episode takes us ‘into darkness’ in a way that Trek rarely does… and with tonal consequences. We’ve seen hostage-taking as a story element in plenty of Trek stories, but the tension on the bridge as Vadic makes good on her threats is palpable and is more reminiscent of Negan’s baseball-bat murders in the infamous Walking Dead season-six-ender than any recent Trek outing. We presume someone (or several someones) could actually die but do not immediately know who it will be. It’s telling that we know very little about the bridge crew (and therefore whose death will hurt the most), but I can honestly say that I felt more invested in their collective survival from briefly seeing their actions this season than many of their counterparts in Star Trek: Discovery.  For a moment it felt like it could even be Liam Shaw, but one presumes the riots that would start if that occurred wouldn’t have been worth the dramatic impact in the moment. Instead, there’s a last-0second pivot and it’s  Lieutenant T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) who won’t make it to the spin-off if Star Trek: Legacy does get the greenlight.

The Data/Lore battle is one we’ve seen out in various permutations before and even if there’s both a little familiarity with the battle and the method of the outcome, it’s done effectively and allows yet another opportunity for Brent Spiner to show his range with vocal and facial ticks. It’s also nice to see a quick nod to Denise Crosby’s Tasha Yar with the appearance of her hologram in Data’s memories (last seen succumbing to her injuries from Armus on the episode Skin of Evil…. hmmmmm.) Seeing Data’s later interactions (as a fully-integrated set of personalities) with LeVar Burton’s Geordi brings a huge smile, especially with his new range of deliberate contractions. Indeed, the table scene with all the TNG regulars sat around and acknowledging the nostalgic in-universe moment is likely to bring some more warmth to any generational fan-boy’s heart.

Worf and Raffi arrive back after being absent last week to conveniently free Will and Deanna from their Shrike captivity and Michelle Hurd is particularly effective in her close-quarter combat scenes with the Changeling henchpeople. It’s all a little convenient, but – again – works within the pacing of the episode.

It’s good to finally see Marina Sirtis as Deanna Trois make her in-situ debut this season and while there is still the distinct possibility that she’s a Changeling, the conversations she had with her fellow captive, husband Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), certainly have the wry and weary feel of a genuine, long-term couple who know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Showrunner Terry Matalas has said Trois will play an important part in these last episodes and given that she’s the one who ultimately starts to guide Jack through his visions and secrets, that seems to be true.  I’m of the mind that Jack Crusher (portrayed with aplomb by Ed Speleers) and the truth about his character and his fate will be the key to whether the season continues its run of strength or fizzles at the last hurdle. This week his mental super-powers (anyone else getting an ironic Professor X type-vibe?) were very convenient but also well played out dramatically.

It would seem that Vadic, who’s been our ‘big bad’ for most of this run, is no more, sucked out into deep space and if there was the possibility of a Changeling surviving that, she’s also shattered into a million pieces on the hull of her own ship. Her final words as she inadvertently ‘leaves’ the Titan bridge are ‘Fuck solids!‘ which, as last words go, gets straight to the point. Whether we’ll see any more of the wonderful Amanda Plummer or not, she certainly provided a stylish adversary and after ‘humanising’ her a little last week, she now embodies all the elements for the ‘villain’ job: preening, smoking, posturing and killing. But we also knew that she was working for someone/something that manifested through her ‘hand’, so presuming that entity isn’t freeze-dried as well and it was communicating long-distance, we may well have the biggest bad still to come.

Amid the darkness there’s some great humour and fantastic one-liners. With Data finally back in the driving seat and getting control of the Titan’s systems, he announces: Greetings, USS Titan. This is your friendly, positronic, pissed off security system, back on line. Unwanted guests and monologuing protoplasms, I am initiating an immediate shift change…” Equally Worf, noting the nostalgia, first makes Riker feel uncomfortable with his own reunion with Deanna (they were a couple once!) and later sardonically notes that “I have slaughtered countless enemies over the years and considered sending their heads to all of you, but I was advised that that was… passive-aggressive…”

If not for the Jack Crusher plot-line, this episode could have easily felt like the triumphant climax and send-off to the old crew – but there’s still two weeks to go. Next week… well, we’re right at the red door with Troi and Jack pushing through, so possibly the penultimate episode will give us those answers and help set up the real gambit for the finale.

'Star Trek: Picard S03  Ep8 - 'Surrender'  (Paramount+ review)
'Star Trek: Picard S03 Ep8 - 'Surrender' (Paramount+ review)
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