Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 10 “Farewell” Review
In Star Trek: Picard’s season two finale, our major questions are answered within a confident episode that practices some well-worn finale trends to mostly satisfying effect.
Having lost Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) and La Sirena to the Borgified Jurati’s quest to create a new collective, Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew fight the clock to prevent Adam Soong (Brent Spiner) from interfering with Renee Picard’s (Penelope Mitchell) vital mission to Europa.
Tallinn (Orla Brady) determines the best way to help Renee is to go to the launch site and ensure her continued survival. After all, the departing words of the Borg Queen asserted that one Renee must live and another must die. Tallinn thinks this means she will ultimately have to sacrifice her own life if it means saving Renee’s, but Picard takes issue with that assessment and ultimately follows Tallinn through her transporter to the Europa mission’s launch site.
At the site, Soong is trying to gain access to the room where Renee is waiting, alone, for launch, using his financial influence and a bit of aggressive negotiation to get his way past the mission’s organizers. Tallinn, through a bit of costume work, is successful at that goal first and comes face-to-face with Renee. This moment is a profound one for Tallinn, as she has been watching over Renee for the younger woman’s entire life, and now her watch is coming to an end if one believes Tallinn’s assertion that she will sacrifice her own life.
Tallinn spills the beans to Renee about her life being in danger and devises a simple plan to foil Soong’s plans. Predictably, Tallinn’s handy camouflage technology – the tech she uses to hide her Romulan ears as seen in “Monsters” – allows her to assume Renee’s features and adequately fool Soong. When Soong thinks he has poisoned Renee and leaves her for dead, he actually poisoned Tallinn. The dying Romulan makes her way to Picard for her final breaths as the pair watches the Europa mission take off successfully.
Not knowing that Soong would be at the launch site, Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera), Raffaela Musiker (Michelle Hurd) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)beam to Soong’s office to try and stop him. He isn’t there, but his backup plan is: a series of explosive drones that are programmed to intercept and stop the launching rocket. Thanks to some ingenuity by Raffi and expert piloting skills by Rios, the drones are stopped.
Our major complaint about this episode is that this little side quest is as cut-and-dry as it sounds. Honestly, this episode could have gone without this drone complication, as it just seems like a way to find something for the aforementioned trio to do while more important things are happening elsewhere, and we must ask what does it add to the episode? A chance for Rios to show off his unrealistically adroit drone piloting skills? To put it another way, nothing of consequence would change if this sequence was removed from the episode.
“Absolve yourself. Or the only life left unsaved will be your own.”A dying Tallinn to Picard
In any case, the entire crew (sans Tallinn) reunite back at Chateau Picard, safe in the knowledge that their mission to ensure the launch of the Europa mission was successful – but also knowing they are stuck in 2024. In a profound moment for Picard, he places the skeleton key, the one he found during the battle for the Picard estate, back to the place where young Picard ultimately finds it and uses it to unlock the door to his mother’s room. Consider this: in this moment, the elder Picard has the option to try and prevent that horrible loss of life from happening – perhaps by hiding the key somewhere else and thus changing the course of history – but he resolves himself and chooses to let history run its course. What a brave and selfless act.
This act does raise some questions, however. Picard indeed returns the key to the place he found it the night his mother took her life. But earlier in the season, Picard noted how that skeleton key migrated all around the house when he was growing up, so the reasoning for placing the key where he did loses a bit of rationality. It isn’t guaranteed the key will be behind that brick when that fateful night comes. In any case, the symbolism is there.
As this is such an important moment for Picard, we wish this scene played out a bit more. As it is, we see Picard reflect only briefly on the momentous act of returning the key. Alas, the moment comes and goes, but this isn’t even the most important scene to play out in the chateau, as Picard finds Q waiting for him in the observatory. How or when Q got there is anybody’s guess. Finally, the pair have a chance to talk about the season’s events, and this exchange turns out to be the most remarkable part of the episode.
Q praises Picard for returning the key to its resting place instead of destroying it. Picard’s question to Q is: why this trial? And moreover, why Q’s interest in Picard at all? Q admits he is dying, something Picard already gathered based on their previous interactions. But beyond just dying, Q is dying alone, with no one to be with him in his final days. In a remarkable act of compassion, Q wanted to avoid that same fate for Picard, as the admiral was always resistant to forming relationships thanks to the emotional baggage his childhood caused. So, Q’s goal all along was the make Picard see how letting go of that baggage is vital – but of course, he couldn’t just tell Picard that; the man had to experience the journey, with all the trials and tribulations that came with it.
“Humans. Your griefs, your pains, fix you to moments in the past long gone. You’re like butterflies with your wings pinned. My old friend… forever the boy who with the errant turn of a skeleton key broke the universe in his own heart. No more. You are now unshackled from the past.”– Q to Picard
Yes, this is a touching moment and a remarkable conclusion to a rivalry that began more than 30 years ago. But Q has one last surprise in store for Picard: he can bring the admiral and his crew back to the future, but at the cost of his remaining life force. This is a slightly jarring promise; whereas we were led to believe Q had lost his powers entirely, he actually is merely “weakened” and still possesses substantial god-like abilities. In their final farewell, Picard asserts to the dying being that he isn’t actually dying alone, and hugs him. Q’s last words to Picard are the same parting words he said to the then-captain in “All Good Things”: “See you… out there.”
Thus ends Q’s foreseeable involvement in Star Trek, and we must say his final plan – his final trial – for Picard was quintessential Q. Even though his methods appeared more sinister than usual, his message to Picard about letting go of emotional baggage is an excellent sentiment for the audience. Who among us can’t take Q’s lesson to heart?
We have to wonder: when did Picard pass Q’s trial, the trial that began in “Encounter at Fairpoint” to prove that humanity is not a savage race? Was it when Picard returned the key to its resting place, thus ensuring his pained childhood still happens (in which case our aforementioned critique about that scene is more valid)? Q does say “bravo” when Picard does this. Or was the trial over when Picard hugged Q, as the admiral showed compassion for a superior being even in the aftermath of such sacrifice and hardship? Or perhaps the trial really does never end? This answer will likely be debated for some time to come.
In any case, Picard and crew (sans Rios, who predictably opts to stay in 2024) are snapped back to the bridge of the Stargazer, where they face, once again, a Borg entity trying to get into the ship’s systems. Our heroes are wiser about what is going on, though, and they know who the person is inside the Borg mask: Jurati. There’s a good reason she is trying to take over the Stargazer and other ships in the Federation fleet: a transwarp portal of some kind is opening nearby, and only the combined strength of the fleet’s shields can stop a burst of energy from wreaking havoc on the entire quadrant. Interestingly, Jurati, for all the knowledge she has amassed in her travels, does not know who is opening the portal, but the fleet springs into action anyway.
Picard recognizes that in Rios’ absence, Seven, the ex-Borg, is the most qualified person to captain the Stargazer in this moment, and grants her a battlefield commission. Thus, Seven suddenly gets the Starfleet commission she wanted ever since returning from the Delta Quadrant. Placing her trust in the Borgified Jurati, Seven orders the fleet to follow Jurati’s lead and block the energy discharge from the portal. The move is successful, leaving a massive gateway in space needing to be guarded against whatever was trying to get through. Jurati, asking for provisional membership in the Federation, offers the massive Borg ship to guard the gateway.
So, the major question left from this finale involves this mysterious gateway. Who made it, and why? Jurati calls it “a piece of the puzzle whose final image is unclear, but is tied to a threat.” That’s pretty vague. In an episode that answers all the season’s remaining questions, this thread is peculiar. Is there a plan in season three for this gateway? We’ll put money on us seeing this portal again in some way.
With the day saved, our heroes return to 10 Forward on Earth, where Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) apologizes for not being able to tell Picard sooner about the events witnessed in this season, and thanks the older man for “setting her straight” back in that downtrodden part of her life. She also explains what happened to Rios, Teresa Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez), and her son, Ricardo (Steve Gutierrez) as they lived the rest of their lives in the 21st century. The two adults headed their own medical movement, Mariposas, which is Spanish for “butterflies,” delivering goods to people who needed them. The name of their company is a neat full-circle reference to the butterfly imagery we’ve seen the entire season.
More importantly, Ricardo grew into a person of great intellect and leadership. He was able to utilize the microorganism brought back from Europa by Renee to clean the Earth of its pollution and climate change-related environmental damage. While it’s a bit convenient that Ricardo of all people was the one to do this, it’s certainly a happy ending for the trio and helps explain why Renee’s mission was so important to history.
Picard isn’t quite done with the aftermath of his adventure, as he learned a valuable lesson from Q and opts to take advantage of it. He returns to Chateau Picard, where Laris (Orla Brady) is actually getting ready to leave until Picard makes the move he couldn’t make back in the season premiere. The episode ends with a strong hint that the two are striking up a relationship. Call us crazy, but knowing about this burgeoning relationship now, is it possible the paper Picard is writing on in the season three cast announcement is a wedding invitation?
While we appreciate the tone this season ends on, we have to say the last shot of the episode – the camera pulling back from Picard and Laris to the sky above the chateau – is jarring. It appears to be a completely CGI shot (besides the actors) of iffy quality, and the room Picard and Laris were standing in just seconds before was not the same room the last shot shows. It’s a strange continuity break that takes away from the tone the episode’s final moments are trying to present. So, in this way, Picard did not stick its season two landing.
Let’s touch on how this season left two other characters: Adam Soong and Kore (Isa Briones). Remember, Kore had stormed out of her father’s house in “Mercy” when she learned she was just another of her father’s vain experiments. Well, she has some retribution in store for Adam. Working from a library, Kore hacks into her father’s computer using a Microsoft HoloLens and deletes everything on it – presumably his entire life’s work. Adam notices this as it’s happening, and understandably is distraught. With his work gone, and nothing left to lose, Adam immediately takes out an all-too-conveniently placed file folder with an ominous name from his desk: Project Khan.
Of course, this name should perk up the ears of any Star Trek fan. Khan was a major villain in The Original Series episode “Space Seed’ and the TOS movie that bears his name. By showing Soong with this folder, what this episode is seemingly implying is that Adam is responsible, in some way, for Khan when the genetically altered villain was rising to power in the 1990s amid the Eugenics Wars. The folder Soong takes out is a “confidential funding report” dated June 7, 1996. This could help explain why Soong’s reputation was already damaged when we first meet him in “Fly Me to the Moon.” We don’t think we’ll necessarily find out what Soong is planning by returning to his previous work on Khan, but the tease is exciting. And continuing a theme revisited over this season, this episode helps shed some light on a rarely discussed topic in Star Trek lore.
And speaking of shedding some light on Star Trek lore, we learn a bit more about the Watchers, the people like Tallinn who are assigned to protect and observe certain individuals or species across the galaxy to ensure their survival and success. In a scene that would have made a great post-credits tease if Star Trek did such things, Kore, after nuking her father’s work, gets a mysterious message that tells her to come to a park to meet someone.
When she gets there, who happens to meet her? Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). Talk about an out-of-left-field cameo. Wesley explains that he is a Traveler (a storyline described over a few The Next Generation episodes) and that the Travelers are the ones who dispatch Watchers and help keep the tapestry of the universe from unraveling. This is a welcome reveal, as knowing who sends Watchers around the galaxy has always been a point of interest ever since we met Gary Seven in “Assignment: Earth” back in 1968.
Wesley has taken in interest in Kore, although the reason why isn’t exactly clear, and it’s for this reason this cameo doesn’t exactly work for us. Kore is a person who has never felt safe anywhere thanks to her medical condition, and that mindset apparently lends itself well to being a Traveler, but surely there are plenty of other people who also don’t feel safe in their lives. What makes Kore so special?
Wesley invites her to join the club, and she agrees. Like the reveal of Soong’s work on Khan, we don’t think Kore’s involvement with the Travelers will be elaborated on in future Picard episodes; rather, this conclusion serves two purposes: 1) it’s a happy ending for someone who suffered a great deal of emotional trauma thanks to her father, and 2) in typical season finale style, it’s an opportunity to shock the audience with a surprise cameo.
As a season finale, “Farewell” certainly does the job. It adequately answers just about all of our remaining questions, questions that the show started asking in the season premiere. With that in mind, kudos to this season’s behind-the-scenes architects for crafting a story that offered both intense interpersonal conflicts and wider galactic-scale storytelling. One last remaining question we have is what exactly was afflicting Q. How or why a seemingly omnipotent and immortal being started dying is curious, but perhaps this answer is best left to mystery. After all, the nature of the Q is mysterious unto itself.
“Farewell” is also a prime example of this season of Picard taking stock of Star Trek lore and exploring it where it could. In just this episode alone, we gain some small measure of insight into the Travelers, Watchers, and Khan; elsewhere in the season, we saw references to pre-First Contact Vulcan observers, the return of the Stargazer in a way that was thematically important to Picard’s life, some vital details of the Q-El-Aurien conflict, and a million other small references that show Picard’s producers clearly know their stuff. This alone made this season of Picard fascinating to watch.
More importantly, however, this season gave us incredible insight into Jean-Luc Picard himself. Thanks to episodes like “Monsters” and “Mercy,” we can never look at the character the same way again, which is a pretty cool experience after watching Jean-Luc Picard for more than 30 years. While the pacing of this season wasn’t always consistent, and there were some questionable narrative decisions that took us out of the immersion from time to time, we’re thankful Picard is as retrospective as it was.
The adventures of Picard certainly aren’t over yet, and we’re amazingly curious to see what season three brings to the table besides the promise of a full-fledged, season-long The Next Generation reunion. Not that there isn’t plenty of Star Trek to watch until then…
- We want to praise Orla Brady’s fantastic acting when her character realizes Tallinn’s fate is sealed. It’s a subtle but powerful reaction, and we can’t help but feel for her.
- Tallinn gets into Renee’s room way too easily. She clearly wears the wrong ID badge, which doesn’t seem to concern the security guard she has to walk past.
- Soong gets angry that pre-launch quarantine procedures mean he can’t get “five minutes of face time” with the astronauts, and the mission organizer crumbles quickly and allows him in. But there are quarantine procedures for a reason, most important of which is the safety of the astronauts from external contaminants. Flashing some money around shouldn’t allow Soong access, no matter how angry he gets, and the mission organizer should know that. She should have simply suggested a phone call to Renee, or a socially distanced meeting. Instead, she places the entire mission in jeopardy because Soong started to get annoyed.
- When Raffi first discovers the drones, the timer has three minutes and forty-five seconds left. Later, when the drones actually launch, the timer reads three minutes and thirty seconds. Was Raffi able to increase the timer duration and buy more time to hack the drones, or is this a major continuity error?
- Astronauts are usually seated and ready to go in their rockets a couple hours or more before launch. Such is not the case for Renee, who seemingly only must get into the rocket mere minutes before liftoff.
- How does Soong rationalize Renee surviving his neurotoxin? He obviously doesn’t know he actually poisoned Tallinn. He must think poorly of the Europa mission’s flight protocols if the mission organizers allowed an obviously sick Renee to board the rocket.
- Soong doesn’t keep backups of his data? Are we meant to believe all his work is gone?
- Why doesn’t Kore assume Wesley is a lunatic and just walk away from his crazy-sounding pitch?
- When we last saw Teresa and Ricardo before this episode, Rios had just left them in L.A. while he beamed back to Chateau Picard. In this episode, we see them back with the rest of the crew at the chateau. Why exactly did they come back from L.A. to Chateau Picard?
- The planets and star systems labeled on the Stargazer’s viewscreen when we first get a look at the transport portal are: Inferna Prime, Vega, Maxia, 61 Cygni, Altair, Arcturus, Benzar, Draylax, Sol, Wolf 359, Yadalla, Calder, and others.
- Beyond the obvious reason of Raffi and others learning Q brought Elnor back to life, why would Elnor, a brand-new graduate from Starfleet Academy, be the one who answers hails on the Excelsior?
- The First Contact theme makes a nice reprisal during the scenes in 10 Forward as Picard and crew celebrate the end of their mission.
- This episode sure does gloss over what Tallinn said to Renee to get her onboard with the latter’s plan to save her life just before the launch. We have to wonder: does Renee stay quiet for the rest of her life about her run-in with Laris?
- We’re just noticing this in this episode, but doesn’t Renee, played by Penelope Mitchell, look a lot like Picard’s mom, played by Madeline Wise? Kudos to this show’s casting director for keeping an eye on family lineage.
- Tallinn awkwardly mentions in “Monsters” that her camouflage tech needs an eight-hour cooldown, but such a strange requirement never came into play.
- As this episode showed the last interaction between Picard and Q, was the lack of trial imagery a missed opportunity? We have to figure the show’s architects considered it, but opted not to. We’d be curious as to why.
- Jurati’s 400-year-long journey recruiting Borg for her new collective would be a great subject of tie-in media.
- Wasn’t it remarkably foolish for Guinan to include a picture of Rios in 10 Forward? She was counting on Picard not observing the photo. If he had, that would have major implications for the timeline. Guinan sure got lucky on this one.
- The final second of this episode shows a quick flash of light as the camera is looking out at space. Is this an innocent little visual effect, or is that hinting at something else, possibly Q-related?
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