Review: Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 8 “Surrender”
The Titan is in rough shape, as Vadic and her allies have taken over the vessel, and there’s just one man with extraordinary powers who can stop her and save our heroes.
Vadic seems to have thoroughly taken over the Titan, leaving Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), and our other heroes fighting for control. Luckily, Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) has a newfound ability unknown to anybody else, except perhaps a sneaking suspicion from Ensign Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut): controlling other people telepathically. The man rushes off to the bridge when Vadic starts threatening to execute random members of the bridge crew if he doesn’t turn himself in, but his parents stop him. Upon Jack lamenting his concern about him always feeling different than everyone else, both Picard and Beverly have a great chance to actually be parents as they promise their son they are there for him to help him through his struggle.
Jack takes a chance and connects himself to a member of the bridge crew, but his attempt to input a command code override doesn’t work before Vadic grasps what Jack is attempting and executes Lt. T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski). Alas, T’Veen, we hardly knew ye! Jack’s failure leaves our heroes in more of a bind than before, but Sidney La Forge helpfully exposits that they’d need an incredibly advanced artificial intelligence to break Vadic’s control over the Titan.
Indeed, the android hybrid (Brent Spiner) rescued from Daystrom Station can do just that, but not while Lore still asserts control over his brother. So, at Picard’s urging, Geordi lowers the partition dividing Data and Lore and lets the fraternal struggle commence. Thus, it’s here we get the scenes that “Surrender” will mostly be remembered for: the final face-off between Lore and Data.
In the android’s mind, the two brothers talk and interact with each other, and Lore doesn’t keep it a secret how he resents how his brother was showered with affection in his life while Lore was left disassembled. Data realizes his brother holds the upper hand in this battle to control the android golem, so he tries another tactic: surrendering to his brother’s attack. First, Data symbolically turns over a meaningful memento to Lore: a deck of cards, the kind which Data and his friends played on the Enterprise. Data also gives Lore his lovable cat, Spot, which is the final act before Data is seemingly erased from the android altogether.
But of course, this wouldn’t be season three of Picard without our good friend Data, and it’s no surprise when the apparently victorious Lore feels a bit wonky as Data comes back into the android’s mind and asserts control. He can do this because Data gave Lore those mementos, which therefore made the Lore part of the android turn wholly into Data. As Data asserts to his brother, “We are one now. We are me.”
Thus, the storyline that began with “Datalore” back in season one of The Next Generation ends with the two brothers finally resolving their head-to-head personalities. The evil that was Lore was bested by the smart-thinking, innocent, and human-like part of Data, and the result is now an android that completely presents as our friend, albeit in a synthetic body with only traces of Soong’s other androids remaining. It’s such a neat conclusion to watch, as we’ve thought for years that Lore’s story ended with his disassembly in season seven’s “Descent, Part II.” So many things were left unsaid by the brothers in that TNG episode, so to see Data finally influence his evil sibling to a proper ending is fantastic. Indeed, “Surrender” will be memorable mostly for this final battle of willpower, and it’s a chance for Brent Spiner to really flex his acting muscles; you would never think it’s been decades since Spiner played these two characters.
While the Data/Lore battle is playing out, Jack buys his father and his friends some time and goes to the bridge with what looks like a grenade. The man is certain Vadic won’t try anything funny while Jack’s life is in his own hands. Seven of Nine, who hitherto has been Vadic’s passive captive, decides to take a bit of agency in this situation and stands with Jack as he holds Vadic hostage. It takes quite a bit of high drama before Vadic even starts to answer Jack’s question as to why he hears voices in his head and why he has always felt like he doesn’t belong anywhere or with anyone – but of course, the monologuing villain never offers any concrete information to the suffering young man. If there’s one critique we can offer about this season thus far, it’s that the carrot-on-the-stick plotline about Jack’s strange powers is too long a stick. Just give us some concrete answers already!
The newly reborn Data gets the Titan back up and running, and it’s time for Jack Crusher to make his move. Projecting a shield around him and Seven, he signals to Picard it’s time to open the evacuation hatch on the Titan’s bridge. Thus, Seven gets her Harrison Ford moment as she tells Vadic to “get off my bridge,” and Vadic’s last words before being sucked out into space is a vigorous epithet directed at all solids.
While we are happy for Seven to get a badass moment this season, we must wonder what practical purpose she served by staying behind on the bridge when everyone else, including Captain Shaw, was escorting at gunpoint into the briefing room. Sure, ultimately she’s there for the one-liner. But Seven contributed nothing to Jack’s plan and only complicated the man’s idea to protect himself when the evacuation doors opened. It isn’t clear what Seven thought she would gain from remaining on the bridge, nor is it clear why Vadic’s goons allowed her to remain with their leader in the first place. As such, Seven’s moment doesn’t quite feel earned and takes the wind slightly out of Vadic’s demise.
This episode’s b-story involves seeing Captain William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) again after missing them last episode. In “Surrender,” the pair are captive aboard the Shrike, and while they are helplessly contained in Vadic’s prison, they share some introspective reflections on their recent marital problems. Troi senses something Riker himself told Picard earlier in the season – that the man’s sense of wonder and discovery is back. These were emotions the captain lacked after their son’s passing, so at least the couple has that good news going for them, even if they are facing certain death.
“When they kill us, at least I’ll die after I give you one final dose of that old Riker charm.”– Riker to Deanna.
In the prison cell, we get some exposition on what Riker and Troi did after their son’s passing. Troi used her Betazoid powers to try and ease her husband’s grief, but the effort backfired and Riker blamed his wife for trying to erase his feelings about their son. The couple reconnects about their shared life together, including discovering how each of them actually hates their home on Nepenthe (as seen in the Picard season one episode of the same name), and that they should probably move away if they survive their imprisonment. That’s all well and good, but it’s somewhat strange Riker and Troi never mention what is happening with their daughter, Kestra, at this moment in time. Was she at the house on Nepenthe when the Changelings arrived? Who is taking care of her now? We thought Kestra was a welcome addition to the cast in the aforementioned season one episode, so it would have been welcome to hear what she was doing nowadays.
Riker and Troi’s tender moment is interrupted by one of Vadic’s guards, who in turn quickly gets a sword through the chest as it’s revealed Worf (Michael Dorn) is on the ship and ready to rescue the couple. (Worf being able to insert himself directly behind the guard for the theatrical reveal is just sheer drama – there’s no way he could have arrived there so quickly undetected). The rescue attempt produces some of the most chuckle-worthy moments of the season thus far, as Worf’s new sensitivity takes Deanna and her husband by surprise. More importantly, Worf and Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) discover the biological body of Jean-Luc Picard on the Shrike and realize the parts of his brain that contained Irumodic Syndrome were removed.
“There is a darkness on this ship. An all-consuming darkness.”– Troi upon boarding the Titan.
After the Titan is rid of the Shrike, her captain, and enemy intruders on the ship, it’s time to figure out what to do next. After getting on the Titan, Troi, as she is apt to do, starts feeling things. Here, it’s a darkness that threatens the entire ship, but Troi can’t pinpoint what it is. Not super helpful, but she does gain a bit more insight near the end of the episode when she sits down with Jack Crusher.
Before that can happen, we are treated to two excellent scenes. The first involves Geordi and Data, who share a reunification following Data’s rebirth. Data, of course, is so similar yet so different than the last time Geordi saw him in Nemesis. (The soundtrack underlying this tender conversation between two friends expressing their relief at seeing one another contains a healthy borrowing from the Nemesis track “A New Friend.”) You might just tear up seeing these two old buddies together again, but if this scene of old friends reuniting is the shot, the next scene is the chaser.
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the moment that has been teased in every trailer for this season: the time when the TNG cast is fully reunited, situated comfortably around a conference table. It’s such a strange thing to explain to a non-Star Trek fan. “Hey, I’m really looking forward to those characters sitting around a table.” People would look at you like you were an eyeless Tellarite. But to Star Trek fans, there’s no explanation needed as to why it’s heartfelt seeing this group together like this.
The conference room was where these characters grew into their roles on the Enterprise, where each member brought their expertise to problems facing their friends and their ship. The conference room in TNG might just be the most-used set from that show besides the bridge, and it’s the room where we were most likely to see the entire cast at one time. It’s a hallmark of The Next Generation, and its sibling shows often tried to emulate the spirit that came with a group of people putting their minds together to solve problems. It never quite worked as well as it did on The Next Generation, and here we are: they’re doing it on Picard. What a time to be alive.
Picard needs the crew to put their heads together to fight the Changeling threat. The crew doesn’t have any answers to what the Changelings have in store for Frontier Day, but Deanna does sense Jack is hearing voices in his head, ones that are “ancient” and “weak.” So, Deanna sits down with Jack to assess the man, and it’s about time Marina Sirtis has a substantial role in this show. The counselor tells Jack it’s time he opens the red door we’ve seen in his imagination, and he is quite afraid to do so. The man does put his hand on the knob, but as far as opening the mysterious entryway, we’ll have to wait until the next episode.
“Surrender” ends the two-part bottle show aboard the Titan, and the results are fairly consequential. Surprisingly, this season didn’t wait until the climactic finale to kill off its main villain, which leads us to assume the mysterious boss Vadic was talking to will play a role in the final two episodes (that is unless he was killed when the Shrike exploded). Otherwise, this episode is a much stronger entry than its predecessor, as “Surrender” focuses on getting Data properly back into the cast and resolving his relationship with Lore. The android’s reunification with his old crew hits all the right notes, and it’s such a joy seeing Brent Spiner in full force as his famous character, albeit older and wiser.
There are only two episodes left, and many questions are left unanswered. What exactly do the Changelings have in store for Frontier Day? What will Jack find when he opens that damn red door? And let’s not forget Worf and Raffi found Jean-Luc’s old body on the Shrike; what really was at the heart of Picard’s condition? We can’t wait to find out.
- Vadic appearing in space in the reflection of the bridge’s transparent ceiling dome is a killer shot and totally foreshadows her icy demise later in the episode.
- At the beginning of the episode, Geordi finally wises up and disconnects Lore from the Titan – something he never should have done in the first place. Yet, by the end of the episode, Data can effortlessly control the Titan without needing Geordi to reestablish his connection to the ship.
- Vadic threatening to kill a member of the bridge crew unless Jack comes to the bridge is reminiscent of the hostage situation in Star Trek III: The Search of Spock.
- If Vadic has control of the Titan’s systems, why can’t she just use the computer or other internal sensors to find where Jack is?
- Beverly asserts Vadic has control of every console on the ship except on the bridge, and we must ask: does she really? There are hundreds of consoles on the Titan, and surely Vadic doesn’t have the manpower to monitor everyone. Moreover, why would Beverly assume Vadic doesn’t have control over the bridge’s consoles?
- How did Jack know who was close enough on the bridge to a console to input the Starfleet override code? And how convenient was it that someone was in arm’s length of the appropriate console anyway?
- Jack is an adult; why doesn’t he just power his way through his parents if he feels so strongly about turning himself over to Vadic to prevent wonton executions?
- After Riker and Troi share their tender reconnection, Riker assaults Vadic’s guard and asserts to the armed man not to touch his wife, but at that point, there was no indication the guard’s target was Deanna.
- In Data’s mind, we see various mementos from The Next Generation, including the Sherlock Holmes hat and pipe Data sports in “Elementary, Dear Data,” and the hologram of Tasha Yar Data kept after her death.
- While it’s about time Raffi got her badass moment in this season, how silly of her was it to confront Vadic’s men in the corridor with only two melee weapons? Why didn’t Vadic’s men just shoot her?
- Every time the Titan gives the enemy ship “everything we’ve got,” that only includes photon torpedoes and no phasers.
- Considering the crew’s meeting at the end of the episode is planning for the next steps, why wasn’t Captain Shaw and/or Seven of Nine involved?
The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on Paramount+ and 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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