Star Trek: Picard: Assimilation
March 17, 2022 6:05 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

While Agnes and Picard wake up the Borg Queen, the rest of the crew discovers that the 21st century is as cold as ICE.

Assimilate this!:

• One of the Confederation ships seen in this episode is of the Steamrunner-class, which first appeared in Star Trek: First Contact.

Matthew Kaminsky (security guard) previously played Crewman Cunningham in two episodes of Enterprise.

Marcelo Tubert (Mr. Alvarez) previously appeared in TNG: "Devil's Due" [FF previously --ed.].


"Computer, access the file entitled 'Shit I Stole from the Borg Queen'."
- Dr. Jurati


Poster's Log:
I knew going in that this season was going to address contemporary social issues, because how could it not?, but I couldn't guess in what fashion. The ICE raid seems like a smart way to go, and I look forward to that plot thread's development (and spending more time with Rios as a character).

It might be a little too convenient for the most obviously not-from-around-here character to be the one to get taken out of the action just prior to a 21st-century jaunt, but OTOH, it's quite apt for Elnor to have been the Confederation guys' target and it's good stuff for Raffi and others w/r/t characterization and motivation.

The giant "Europa Mission" ad behind the tent city has the tagline "To Boldly Go!"

The establishing shots of Griffith Park Observatory and the Santa Monica Pier have gotta be deliberate callbacks to VOY: "Future's End," in which crew members visited both sites (but in the year 1996).

2024 is the same year that DS9: "Past Tense" takes place, though that one is in San Francisco in September. (I don't think we know the month they're in yet here.) Interesting, then, that the tent city Raffi winds up in does not appear to be a sanctuary district. That, and stuff that the creators said before the new season dropped, makes me suspect that this 2024 is gonna be portrayed as basically the same as the right-now real-world, a la TVH's 1986 or ENT: "Carpenter Street"'s 2004. All the same, I've got my fingers crossed for a Gabriel Bell reference. THEY HAVE TO.

Once they started the slingshot maneuver, I wondered if we would get any vaguely hallucinatory sequence a la Star Trek IV's, and the show did not let me down!

I wanna know what "vaccination chips" are and why we don't already have them; screw the jetpacks.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Pretty off-topic, but lookit what I bought myself last weekend
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (33 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I’m pretty sure after the mugger scene there are signs in the background that mention it’s a sanctuary district, so there’s our obligatory DS9 reference for the episode. Maybe the watcher is Chris Brenner (“oh, that Chris Brenner!”).

Something seems to have done a serious 180° this season because I am already enjoying this snow way more than I did at any point in the first season. I don’t know if it’s just that it went from stupid and boring to stupid and fun, or what, but it’s an exciting change of pace to be looking forward to the new episode of a new Prestige Drama Star Trek show instead of just sort of counting down the weeks until the season is put out of its misery. I honestly kind of rolled my eyes at “oh okay they just sort of visit Los Angeles Now” in the trailers, but they seem to be doing a genuinely good job of it so far. It’s actually fun to watch now! I am already invested in the story in a way that this season of Discovery never even approached!
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:23 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


oh though they did do Elnor dirty by just kind of making him die very suddenly for nothing, but I guess that’s one solution to “what to do about the one non-human crew member in the year 2024”
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:24 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Interesting, then, that the tent city Raffi winds up in does not appear to be a sanctuary district. T

There was at least one sanctuary district sign hanging up.

Also the ICE agent arresting Rios asks for his UHC card, which is the same thing Sisko and Bashir were asked for in DS9 "Past Tense".

Between this and the skull parade from last episode, I'm thinking we've got a serious DS9 fan on the writing staff this year.
posted by rhymedirective at 10:57 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


The Griffith Park observatory is, of course, also in the opening of The Terminator, another time-travel story about a desperate attempt to keep the darkest timeline from happening. It'll be interesting to see if Rios ends up in a detention center; Terminator: Dark Fate had a scene set in one.

And, yes, this was very engaging; I thought that the Borg-mind-meld scenes would be a matter of just getting through them while waiting to get back to Star Trek IV Part II or "Future's End 2: Future Harder" or whatever we're calling it, but there was a good mix of comedy and some chilling moments. It was really fascinating to see the BQ functioning without the collective; my headcanon had always been that the "Queen" was really just a sort of figurehead created by the Collective to try to convince potential assimilatees to go along rather than just brute-forcing it, but that's obviously not the case here, and she's much scarier for it.

They'd better find a way of bringing #1 Romulan cinnamon roll back. I was sort of hoping that people would look at Elnor's ears and just think that they were some particularly impressive body mods.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:13 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


I was kind of thrown by the lack of culture shock. These people are slotting almost seamlessly into a culture that *should* be as alien to them as, say, Revolutionary War America would be to us.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 2:18 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


These people are slotting almost seamlessly into a culture that *should* be as alien to them as, say, Revolutionary War America would be to us.

My take on that is that having relatively high-quality digital media for historical records (and, presumably, a system for preserving and converting said media so that some of the embarrassing problems of early digital media preservation efforts not being able to be used because the playback devices or operating systems could no longer play it back) may have smoothed some of that out. Different people will, of course, have different degrees of knowledge about the early 21st century, and I think that the difference between Seven and Raffi in that regard was done very well and amusingly.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:38 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Between this and the skull parade from last episode, I'm thinking we've got a serious DS9 fan on the writing staff this year.

Showrunner Terry Matalas got his first work in Hollywood as an assistant on ENTERPRISE and from interviews, he's a huge Trek fan. He definitely can squeeze a lot of references in.

I really enjoyed this episode. It was a good mix of action and humour in a way that season one wasn't. And I liked season one but it was a bit dour, in general.

Rios' subplot was a good time-travel/social commentary adventure. I'm enjoying Seven/Raffi's buddy cop story so far. I'd have enjoyed the Borg Queen stuff if I liked Djurati more, but Patrick Stewart is doing some great stuff as Picard.

If this season can give me as much lighthearted as drama, like this ep, I'm going to enjoy it a lot.
posted by crossoverman at 3:26 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Biggest stupid thrill of the episode was recognising so many locations, both on the ground and in the sky, from GTA V.
posted by ewan at 3:48 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


I was kind of thrown by the lack of culture shock.

Eh, that’s just how Trek rolls. The crew of the Enterprise-D went back to the 19th Century and they were like “sure whatever let’s kidnap Mark Twain”
posted by rhymedirective at 5:31 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


There was at least one sanctuary district sign hanging up.

Yeah, just before Raffi gets accosted by the would-be mugger, there is a “Sanctuary District Regulations” sign hanging on the fence.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen the DS9 episode, but I don’t recall that the sanctuary districts were that easy to get in and out of — walls and gates, at least — although it seems both Raffi and Seven materialized outside and got in without much difficulty.

Watching this, I realize that we’re trying to reconcile a whole lot of different timeframes: the 2401 that Picard et. al. depart from, the 2024 they arrive in, the 2022 that produced the 2024, the 2024 as envisioned by the DS9 folks (which the Picard writers seem to be attempting to reconcile their version with), and the 1994 that envisioned that 2024 in the first place.

And I am not totally sure what Rios’ plan was beyond Rescue the Damsel. She is explicitly experienced in this sort of situation and he is a fish not just out of water but on a hilltop. Not a great move.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:57 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Yeah I was genuinely shocked at how funny this was. Watching it in parallel with Discovery was incredibly eye-opening, given how much of a Very Special Episode slog that was throughout this past season. They're three episodes in and I'm already much more interested in this show's "ship controlled by a sentient AI," heh.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:47 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I’ve just rewatched the DS 9 episodes. The Bell Riots are explicitly described by Sisko as a watershed event that shifts history toward the future we know and love. It would be a deeply perverse choice to have two separate distinct crucial events in the same state in the same summer (although DS9 was in San Francisco, not Los Angeles). Call it the Law of Conservation of Temporal Linchpins. In any event, in the DS9 2024, the California governor is apparently dealing with disturbances breaking out in “other districts” so presumably the state has at least three.

Of course, the ease with which Seven and Raffi get into the sanctuary district (offscreen) contrasted with the way Sisko and Bashir get arrested and tossed in might be a metacommentary on the gap between how hawt women are treated and how men of colour are, but I might be giving Trek too much credit.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:10 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


The Elnor thing was bullshit and pretty much ruined the rest of the episode for me, especially with the phasers set to disintegrate NPCs only.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:42 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


the phasers set to disintegrate NPCs only

The bad guys probably didn't want to kill the president by accident, before they'd established she wasn't the president. That said, I am having a hard time remembering the last time someone used an actual hand phaser on Discovery, so it did give me a star trekky feel to see them in action.
posted by Sparx at 1:13 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


The Elnor thing was bullshit

We have Q, the Borg, and time travel on the table here. He will totally be back.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:05 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]


Elnor better be back. I miss our pretty Romulan Space Elf.
posted by SansPoint at 6:22 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Of course, the ease with which Seven and Raffi get into the sanctuary district (offscreen) contrasted with the way Sisko and Bashir get arrested and tossed in might be a metacommentary on the gap between how hawt women are treated and how men of colour are, but I might be giving Trek too much credit.

I think that it's a deliberate metacommentary; from the first part of "Past Tense" on FanFare, we get this quote from de facto showrunner Ira Steven Behr: 'Behr also states that there is a subtle examination of racism in this episode. When Dax is discovered, she is treated like royalty, but when Sisko and Bashir are found, they are treated like criminals. Of this situation, Behr says "the simple fact is that a beautiful white woman is always going to get much better treatment than two brown-skinned men."' (Dax's Trill markings are assumed to be tattoos.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:04 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


The real-life location for the encampment looked like it was near the convention center, and the tower was Wilshire Grand, which is about four blocks away. Not sure what location was used for the clinic, but it is plausibly the neighborhood just a few more blocks away, or on the other side of the freeway.

I’m not familiar with the DS9 (or other Trek) portrayal of sanctuary districts, but I think some people imagine a fenced-in slum but this show seems to be drawing a more plausible line from where we are today in Los Angeles - encampments in the middle of everything else.
posted by jimw at 8:23 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


When Dax is discovered, she is treated like royalty, but when Sisko and Bashir are found, they are treated like criminals. Of this situation, Behr says "the simple fact is that a beautiful white woman is always going to get much better treatment than two brown-skinned men."' (Dax's Trill markings are assumed to be tattoos.)

Pretty much as I thought. On the other hand, I had totally forgotten that for Dax to get into the sanctuary district, she had to sneak in via the sewers, which makes Raffi and Seven’s offscreen coming and going all the more puzzling.

Then again, one was in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles. Maybe this is some commentary on the mores of Southern vs. Northern California that eludes me. (I’ve never been.)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:51 PM on March 18


I wanna know what "vaccination chips" are and why we don't already have them...

Well, according to the Q crowd, the COVID vaccines were chock-full of Gates chips, so...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:22 PM on March 18


I loved this so much!! Thank you Patrick Stewart for still giving a shit after all these years!
posted by bleep at 7:11 PM on March 18


Well, according to the Q crowd, the COVID vaccines were chock-full of Gates chips, so...

Goddamn I’m tired of Q playing games with us.
posted by curious nu at 7:34 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]


I'm glad that the First Gentleman was dispatched in short order — I wasn't thrilled with the thought of dealing with him anymore. And if Elnor was dead for good he'd have been downed by a bigger baddie. He'll be back.

Elnor's death scene, and Raffi's reactions after, were the highlights of the episode for me. He took on the hopeless cause of softening the blow of the death he knew was coming. She brought powerful cynicism about Starfleet-esque sacrifice culture.

Which makes me retroactively bummed that the season opener reunited the gang by putting everyone in Starfleet. Why would Elnor ever join Starfleet? Why would Raffi? They have strong outsider perspectives (speaking of DS9 callbacks...) that are undercut by pips and a badge.
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:41 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Is the universal translator in play at all, here?
posted by porpoise at 6:58 PM on March 19


So far none of the crew has failed to understand a line spoken in Spanish (and Rios doesn't need it for Spanish anyway). But also, technology may be different in this xenophobic timeline and universal translators might not be something provided to everyone.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 8:14 PM on March 19


Remarkable how whenever a Star Trek crew goes back in time, though they have to change their clothes, their hairstyles always conveniently match the period.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:13 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I've caught up in a frenzied burst with the whole show over the past week or so, and boy howdy am I enjoying the second season more than the first. And I've never liked Q! I find dream/reality-warping/time-travel storylines generally dissatisfying because there aren't really stakes, because anything can be reset. Character dies? Meh, it'll probably get reset. Epochal change in a long-standing persona? Ehhh, it might be reset or fade away when they wake up.

But this has got a good, propulsive, along-for-the-ride energy that I'm happy to just roll with.

I'm a "low-medium Trek guy" -- I've watched maybe 50% of TOS in dimly remembered childhood reruns, maybe 33% of TNG and a lot of that because the TV in the common room of my university residence was commandeered for it every week, most of the original cast movies, but I'm not sure which TNG ones after Kirk Meets Picard, ~20% of DS9, and 3-4 eps of Voyager, and no '80s Power Ballad Theme Show or Discovery at all.

So -- as a low-medium Trek guy -- I have almost zero insight into "hey, this is a reference to the future imperfect past from ____ episode of ____," and it's all still good and holds together just fine.
posted by Shepherd at 4:37 PM on March 21 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I originally came in to post this and forgot: Alison Pill is amazing. Just killin' it in a role that's demanding a ton of pivots from the script from naive to goofy to brainy to traumatized to terrified.
posted by Shepherd at 2:58 AM on March 22 [4 favorites]


I think the entire cast far exceeds the quality of the writing they are given, but I agree, after having been somewhat disdainful of the Jurati character, that Agnes (and Alison Pill) has been the best thing going these last two episodes.
posted by briank at 6:14 AM on March 22




Perhaps Dr. Jurati could have her own spinoff show if they manage not to kill her off? I would watch.
posted by some loser at 4:08 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


I was confused by the bit with Jurati. They discussed a detailed plan of what they were going to do with the Queen, then did something else, in order to trick her?

Does anyone understand where, specifically, they crashed; and why the timeline won't change because of the big crashed space ship? At least in ST:TVH they had a cloaking device and made a gag out of it.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 8:40 AM on March 24


Picard said Home, and there's a vaguely Chateau - ish building in the distance, so i'd say prolly France (or Iowa)
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:30 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


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