Review: Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 6 “The Bounty”
Folks, there hasn’t been an episode of live-action new-age Star Trek as rewarding or nostalgic as “Bounty.” With our heroes on the run from Starfleet and the Changelings who have infiltrated the organization, it’s time for us to finally go to Daystrom Station and get our weekly dose of dopamine. And what a shot it turns out to be.
We begin by visiting our old friend, Vadic (Amanda Plummer) – who we last saw knocked in the jaw by an asteroid thrown by Captain William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) – lamenting how Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Titan are eluding her. But despite some doubt in her ranks, Vadic is more intensely focused on finding the Starfleet ship than ever, and she sees her pending victory as a step closer toward unification and revitalization for her people; we assume she is talking about shapeshifters. Moreover, she wants a list of all known past and present associates of Picard, anybody he would turn to for help. What scheme could she be up to?
On the Titan, Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) is investigating her son, Jack (Ed Speleers), and his frightening waking nightmares. She learns Jack is afflicted with Irumodic Syndrome, the same terminal disease Picard was fighting in season one of Picard (as well as in the alternate future seen in “All Good Things”). It’s not a great diagnosis for the young man.
“For so long, my mother thought to protect me from you. To shield me from being collateral damage in the life of Jean-Luc Picard. Irony is… maybe I was doomed before I was born.”– Jack to his father.
Picard finds his son “celebrating” the diagnosis in Ten Forward on the holodeck, but there’s not much the older man can say to assuage the burden of this revelation. Soon enough, Picard must compartmentalize this dire news to fulfill the mission at hand; specifically, Worf (Michael Dorn) and Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) have arrived on the Titan. Worf’s return to his former crewmates is a moment we’ve been waiting for, and there are plenty of chuckles to go around as Riker and Picard acclimate to Worf’s new, more mature aura.
Worf is there to deliver a distressing report: Changelings are back, and in a big way, even after the murderous, morally ambiguous events of the Dominion War. On that point, we get a neat recap (in the conference room, no less!) of the war’s events as seen in Deep Space Nine, including how Starfleet delivered the cure (to the deadly virus they made) to the Changelings.
There’s a lot of exposition in this scene, so let’s break it down. The only way to learn what was stolen from Daystrom Station besides the devastating portal weapon is to go aboard the station and investigate. Ro Laren (RIP) did not pass along the needed information to Picard before she died, so it’s up to our heroes to check out what else Vadic stole. The Daystrom Station vault is protected by an advanced AI system, to which Worf and Raffi have the key thanks to the Vulcan gangster from the previous episode.
So, it’s Riker, Raffi, and Worf who beam aboard Daystrom Station to secure the intelligence they are looking for. Things get complicated when Starfleet ships arrive to patrol the area, forcing the Titan to leave their away team behind to seek an alternative rescue plan.
On Daystrom Station, we are treated to numerous easter eggs in the form of projects Starfleet and Section 31 are supposedly working on. An eagle-eyed viewer will surely bulge their eyes at screens displaying information for the Genesis II device (the first such device was seen in The Wrath of Khan), a genetically modified tribble, or even… wait for it… the remains of Captain James T. Kirk. (Let’s absorb this for a moment. Section 31 apparently has the skeletal remains of Kirk, who died in Star Trek: Generations, in Daystrom Station. How f****** mysterious is that?)
Of course, our heroes aren’t distracted by easter eggs; they’re there for a reason. But they are being watched by the AI, who first sends a holographic crow their way, and then a strange burst of music containing the note F# (which Riker helpfully identifies). Finally, the trio comes face to face with a familiar villain: Professor Moriarty (Daniel Davis, who reprises his role from The Next Generation episodes “Elementary, Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle”). This appearance was known to anyone who watched any of Picard’s trailers, but Davis is still a welcome sight. The actor still has the chops to play the verbose and fiercely intelligent hologram… but what is he doing on Daystrom Station?
“Can someone explain why a 19th-century holo-villain is guarding a 25th-century blacksite?”
“Oh, my dear. ‘Villain’ doesn’t do justice to my complexity, and only reveals your simplicity.”
“At least somebody’s consistent.”– Raffi, Moriarty, and Riker.
The appearance of Moriarty and the raven, combined with a melody Riker recognizes from years long past, leads the away team to the AI at the heart of Daystrom Station: an android that looks like Brent Spiner. The robot seems to be a hybrid of multiple personalities, including good ole’ Data, which explains the AI’s familiar security measures. Raffi exposits that after Doctor Altan Soong (Spiner’s character from Picard season one) died, Starfleet “co-opted” his work. This work included a golem that included parts of Lal (Data’s daughter from “The Offspring”), B-4 (the prototype Data-like android from Star Trek: Nemesis), Lore (Data’s evil brother from multiple The Next Generation episodes), and a “great deal” of Data, complete with a realistic aging algorithm. No more de-aging!
So, that’s exactly who Brent Spiner is playing in this season of Picard. What a neat feat – bringing aspects of most of Spiner’s previous roles to the table in this final adventure with the TNG crew. It’s certainly fitting. But there’s also a complication; all those personalities are fighting each other in this golem. What havoc could that mean down the road?
Meanwhile, we learn where Titan warped to after abandoning its away team:
Easter Egg City the Starfleet Fleet Museum, a place where every legendary starship from Starfleet’s history goes to rest. We’re treated to a glorious establishing shot of this station, and again eagle-eyed fans are rewarded. Docked with this station are numerous types of starships, including an: Akira-, Excelsior-, Intrepid-, Nebula-, Constitution-refit-, Romulan Bird of Prey-, Constellation-, Klingon D7-, a Klingon Bird of Prey-, and Sabre-class vessel. And who is the warden of this museum? Commodore Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), of course.
“I must admit… in the nanosecond my body de- and then re-constructed, I debated the virtues of a curt, professional handshake, or a long but uncomfortable hug.”
“And which way will it go?”
*Geordi hugs Beverly*– Geordi and Picard.
Geordi gets right down to business, but not before it’s clear there is some La Forge family drama afoot. It appears the father hasn’t been on the best of terms with Ensign Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), and better yet, the daughter he does get along with, Ensign Alandra La Forge (Mica Burton, daughter of LeVar), beams aboard the Titan, too.
Picard asks Geordi for help rescuing Riker, Raffi, and Worf from Daystrom Station, but the veteran engineer reveals the unfortunate truth: all Starfleet ships are linked to each other nowadays (despite his fierce objections) so the Titan will be found… it’s just a matter of time. (Why this is just being revealed now is unknown. Surely Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) would have known this, as well as other members of his crew?) Geordi is not too happy with Picard for putting the engineer’s family on the line and actually declines his friend’s request for help.
Meanwhile, Jack, upon trying out the captain’s chair for the first time on the Titan’s bridge (a sign of things to come?), is treated to a brief tour of the ships docked at the museum. As such, we get great glimpses (and corresponding theme song snippets) of the Defiant (of Deep Space Nine fame), and Voyager (from Star Trek: Voyager), which is where, as Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) notes, she was “reborn.” Lastly, we get a look at the HMS Bounty, the Klingon ship Kirk and crew first stole in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and then used to go back in time in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This ship was “pulled from the bottom of San Francisco Bay,” as Seven explains – and the gears start to turn in Jack’s brain as he learns the ship has a cloaking device.
With Geordi ready to leave the Titan, this leaves the three “kids” – Jack, Sidney, and Alandra – to hatch a plan of their own. The Titan needs to get to Daystrom Station undetected, and there happens to be a cloaking device stationed at the fleet museum. The episode majorly yadda-yaddas over how Jack and Sidney steal the cloaking device from the Bird of Prey and jumps straight to them installing the technology on the Titan. The Starfleet ship then jumps back to Daystrom Station, now with a helpful Geordi La Forge aboard.
Normally, we’d knock an episode for so gratuitously skipping over a major plot point, like how Jack and Sidney were able to steal the cloaking device and get it working with the Titan, but today we don’t care because this episode is so damn fun.
On the station, Riker, Raffi, and Worf face pressure from an incoming Starfleet boarding party. Riker heroically holds up the party long enough to allow the Titan to beam aboard Worf, Raffi, and the android, but not before the captain is captured. Face to face with Vadic on the Shrike, Riker learns what bargaining chip his enemy has: his wife, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis).
On the Titan, Picard, Worf, Beverly, and Geordi are faced with what to do with their resident android. The fact that each personality within this android is separate makes things difficult, but the crew turns on their guest anyway, who takes the personality of their old friend, Data. This is a beautiful moment complete with a healthy dose of the heartfelt track “A New Friend” from Star Trek: Nemesis, which was the last time all these people were together. The robot tells the crew what Vadic’s main target during the Daystrom Station robbery was: the remains of Jean-Luc Picard.
Holy s***, this episode sure is a banger, isn’t it? True to this season’s penchant for clever dual-meaning episode names, “Bounty” offers a feast for Star Trek fans. What a treat, bringing back so many neat treasures from Star Trek long past. We have numerous ship cameos, including the Klingon ship that ferried our TOS heroes through time in arguably the most popular Star Trek movie, The Voyage Home. And then we have the brief but memorable appearance of Professor Moriarty, the brilliant TNG villain who, smartly, serves as a commentator in this episode on how some of the TNG folks have changed over the years.
Remember, keeping an eye on how our heroes have changed in the decades since we last saw them is a prime element of this season. Case in point: LeVar Burton’s long-awaited appearance as Geordi La Forge is starkly different from the character we remember; La Forge is a family man, and willing to initially turn down his former captain to protect those he loves. And finally, the appearance of Brent Spiner is a milestone for this season; we see the actor play a congelation of basically every character he has played before, and boy is it striking seeing him transition effortlessly from Data, Lore, B-4, and back again.
“Bounty” itself is a milestone for not only Picard season three but The Next Generation. Relationships we thought we knew are shifted somewhat – like Worf acting differently around Riker’s provocative sense of humor, or Geordi being so resistant to Picard’s plea for help. But it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. Our crew is still putting their heads together to solve an engaging mystery, and their trust in each other will seemingly be tested greater than ever. More to the point, though, is the fact that all TNG cast members are now accounted for. It took six episodes to get there, and we can’t wait to see how the last four episodes of this season play out.
- Why would the three Starfleet ships pursue the Titan warp so close to its decoy transponder? If the Titan was there, they surely would have hit it.
- We learn Worf last saw Picard about 11 years before this episode takes place (so, approximately 2390).
- The Constitution class we see during Jack’s tour of the fleet museum is the New Jersey, which hasn’t been referenced in any previous Star Trek. We’d love to know the rhyme and reason for putting an unknown “hero” ship in this episode.
- The image the Daystrom AI uses to identify Riker is apparently a headshot taken circa Star Trek: Nemesis.
- The flashbacks in this episode when Riker is remembering “Pop Goes the Weasel” is from the TNG series premiere “Encounter at Farpoint.”
- In this episode, we see the offspring of our heroes interact for the first time. We can’t help but think this could be a sign of things to come. Using the children of The Next Generation characters could be a great spin-off idea.
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 as Jack Crusher.
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