Review: Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 2 “Disengage”
Hot on the heels of discovering Beverley Crusher (Gates McFadden) and her supposed son, Jack (Ed Speleers), hiding in an unusual nebula just outside Federation space, Captain William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) face off against the threatening ship that seems to have arrived to capture the young man.
Before we get to that, though, the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard “Disengage” begins with a bit of backstory to the Crushers’ adventures together. Jumping back two weeks previously, we see Jack trying to deliver medical supplies to a location plagued by sickness, only to be met by a couple of Fenris Ranger ships. Jack isn’t above trying to smooth-talk his way out of the blockade and even resorts to a bit of bribery to get out of the jam. Before the leader of the rangers leaves, though, he sends a message to an unknown contact asserting he has found Jack. Someone is indeed hunting the young man.
Back to the present day, the Crushers’ ship is no match for the imposing enemy vessel. The three men scramble to protect Beverly’s medical pod and regain contact with the Titan, but not before Riker asserts to Picard that there is something “familiar” about their new friend. Picard seems to know what Riker is alluding to but opts to focus on the present situation instead. The new arrival destroys the Titan’s shuttle, which means Picard, Riker, and the Crushers are trapped in a faceoff.
“You could be the hero who saved heroes. Or you could be remembered as the captain who left two legends to die. It’s your call.”– Seven to Shaw as the two disagree over rescuing Picard and Riker.
Before too much damage can be done, and before Beverley’s life support pod is disabled, the Titan arrives just in time to rescue the away team. The last-minute save almost didn’t happen, as Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) needed to take great pains to convince the Titan’s stubborn and displeasing captain, Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick), that putting the Titan at risk to save the wayward men was worth it, despite his adamant objections.
When the four stranded humans beam back to the Titan, it’s time for some introductions. The commander of the opposing ship, Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer), wastes no time introducing herself. Moreover, she lets the Starfleet ship scan her striking vessel, which she ultimately reveals is the Shrike. Like the Scimitar in Star Trek: Nemesis, the Shrike seems to be built as an overpowered predator, complete with a mysterious weapon at the base of the ship. To further show her resolve, Vadic has her ship throw the unoccupied medical vessel at the Titan, crashing it into the Neo-Constitution class. It definitely seems like Vadic isn’t playing around.
Our first impressions of Captain Vadic are positive. She seems nicely unhinged, an assessment supported by some of her curious behavioral quirks. She seems to have a sincere need to get to Jack Crusher — although we don’t believe her stated intention of just wanting to collect a bounty on Jack.
In watching Amanda Plummer, we can’t help but think of her father, Christopher Plummer, who so memorably played the dramatic General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County. In fact, we wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the younger Plummer’s performance in Picard is partly inspired by him; the two share a knack for dramatically spinning in their command chair, after all. But, we’re not worried Amanda won’t be able to carve out a bespoke performance for herself as this season’s main villain – she seems like a fine addition to the Star Trek baddie pantheon.
Moreover, Vadic hints at being a villain who has done her homework. In their initial conversation, she praises Shaw for being at all “functional” despite his psychological profile, which begs a couple of questions: what in Shaw’s past was so traumatic for him that it could have sent his life into a spiral, and why did Vadic bother to learn about the Titan’s captain before their encounter?
In any case, Vadic gives the Titan an hour to hand over Jack, a spacious amount of time that conveniently allows for a few pivotal character-driven scenes to take place. After doing a bit of research on Jack, Shaw commits to handing him over, as we learn Jack is actually a criminal with quite a few offenses and pseudonyms on his resume. Shaw asserts he’s a con man, which makes the captain inclined to hand him over to Vadic the bounty hunter.
“I have a great affinity for virtuosos, but it seems that your instrument is deception and thievery.”
“Wow, that’s a hell of an opener.”– Picard and Jack, as Jack is sitting in the brig.
Picard gleans a bit of Jack’s personality as the pair converse in the brig. Jack asserts he is a fighter who only struggles for the well-being of people across the galaxy, even if it means resorting to less-than-chivalrous measures. To Picard’s surprise, he also asserts his mom is an equal partner in this endeavor, something Picard just doesn’t believe. Jack, for his part, makes a great point: he asks the older man how many people have actually gone unchanged over the years, which sounds like a great thesis for this season of Picard and its returning characters. Seeing how the TNG folks have changed since we last saw them will be something worth keeping an eye on.
Despite Picard and Riker’s moral objections, Shaw is still inclined to turn over Jack. Jack is thinking along the same lines, too, as he breaks out of the brig and tries to beam to Vadic’s ship, a move that Picard considers as the young man protecting his mother. Before Shaw allows Jack to beam over, Beverly arrives on the bridge and dramatically yet wordlessly tells Picard that Jack is indeed his son. This revelation makes Shaw understand they can’t just turn over the boy, so the Titan plunges into the nearby nebula to try and escape the Shrike. Seeing Picard and Crusher communicate silently in this way is a great moment between these characters (and these actors), and hints at a chemistry that developed – and then broke down – for the pair in the years after Star Trek: Nemesis.
As our older heroes are facing off against Vadic, Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) is trying to piece together how and why the destruction of the Starfleet Recruitment Center happened. According to news reporting, a Romulan terrorist, Lurak T’Luco, is likely responsible for the destruction, but there’s surely more to the story. Raffi’s mysterious handler is not helpful and insists she disengages from the operation altogether. This doesn’t sit right with Raffi, who goes rogue and pursues a lead on the investigation against her handler’s wishes. A Ferengi, Sneed (Aaron Stanford), supposedly sold T’Luco the devastating weapon used in the recruitment building attack.
To help set up the meeting with Sneed, we get re-introduced to some of Raffi’s familial trouble. Super-conveniently for her, her ex-husband, Jae (Randy Goodwin), can arrange the meeting with the Ferengi. Jae spares no words in what he thinks of Raffi’s dedication to Starfleet over her family, and offers her an ultimatum: he can either set up the meeting with Sneed or talk to their son, Gabe, on his mother’s behalf.
It’s at this point we must wonder why Jae would be this cold toward Raffi. She is clearly trying to save a lot of people from dying. Even if he thinks she’s pursuing another one of her conspiracy theories, doesn’t he know her previous theory in Picard season one panned out in the way she thought? We don’t blame Raffi for feeling the need to opt for her mission in this case, and Jae should not have confronted her with that choice. This kind of forced family drama only hampers an otherwise well-measured episode. To Hurd’s credit, Raffi does seem torn over the decision, and regret and sorrow are etched on her face as she thinks about the choice.
The Starfleet Intelligence operative does gain a face-to-face meeting with Sneed. Raffi tries to ascertain the identity of Sneed’s boss by pretending to have worked for the same Romulan the news is blaming for the attack, but Sneed sees right through her attempt. The small-lobed Ferengi is even sharp enough to identify her as a member of Section 31, the mysterious Starfleet intelligence bureau first mentioned in Deep Space Nine and then prominently featured in Discovery.
Sneed, ever the vile gangster, plays to Raffi’s drug history by asserting she could prove she isn’t loyal to Starfleet by ingesting some of his drug products, which she does. Raffi resists the drug’s effects long enough for Sneed to pull out his ace in the hole: the head of the very Romulan Raffi claims to be working for. It’s only the last-minute save from a sword-wielding Worf (Michael Dorn) that Raffi evades certain death, and the Klingon reveals to the audience that he was Raffi’s handler all along.
Taken together, “Disengage” only engages us more in this season’s developing plot. The fact that Picard has a son is a major revelation, although not one that is unknown to the captain; remember, he faced the prospect of a newly discovered child in The Next Generation’s “Bloodlines,” although that son ultimately proved a fraud. We’re sure Jack is actually Picard’s son, however, so the idea that Beverly ghosted Jean-Luc for twenty years means there’s certainly some explaining to do.
This family drama is much more interesting than the family drama that played out with Raffi in this episode. We would be content with this show not focusing again on Gabe or Jae, especially since the choices Raffi was forced to confront between her work and her family were unreasonable. We’re hoping for a happy ending for Raffi and her family, of course, so we hope this season will leave the character on a high note in that regard. She deserves it, after all.
Equally as interesting as the expanding Picard family tree is why Vadic is so obsessed with capturing Jack. Moreover, her strategy in confronting the Titan is not like other villains we’ve seen. Her metaphor about being like a bird and nipping away at her enemies until they falter presents an exciting challenge for our heroes; will Shaw, Picard, and Riker be able to outsmart this unstable personality?
- We learn the Titan-A has a crew complement of about 500 people, as asserted by Captain Shaw in this episode.
- Asserting that history remembers Picard as a captain and not an admiral is fairly rude on Jack’s part, yeah? Yes, the audience remembers Picard as a captain and his adventures in TNG and subsequent movies, but Picard has done plenty of things since becoming admiral, like leading the ill-fated Romulan evacuation.
- We’re not wishing for a higher death count, but how did only 117 people die in the recruitment center attack? The entire building collapsed and then dropped onto another part of the city!
- Why did it take Vadic so long to try and beam Jack away from the medical ship?
- Why would Picard reason that the enemy ship would give up sending ground troops after only one failed takeover attempt? Riker threw a plasma grenade and killed two intruders – that hardly qualifies as insurmountable resistance.
- We aren’t experts in shield technology or physics, but the Eleos seemed to impact the Titan’s bridge directly. Why didn’t that room specifically, and the ship generally, take more damage after being hit directly by the smaller vessel?
- Among Sneed’s human artifacts in his office are a baseball and a hand grenade.
The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard stars Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge, Michael Dorn as Worf, Jonathan Frakes as William Riker, Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher, Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi, Brent Spiner as Lore, Jeri Ryan as Seven, Michelle Hurd as Raffi, along with Amanda Plummer as Vadic, Todd Stashwick as Captain Liam Shaw and Ed Speleers.
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