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Star Trek: Picard: S1E04 Proves The Show is Not The Next Generation

Read this review to find out if Star Trek: Picard season one, episode four episode "Absolute Candor" is worth watching.

About Star Trek: Picard

Season 1, Episode 4: Absolute Candor
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Written by Michael Chabon
Synopsis: The crew’s journey to Freecloud takes a detour when Picard orders a stop at the planet Vashti, where Picard and Raffi relocated Romulan refugees 14 years earlier. Upon arrival, Picard reunites with Elnor (Evan Evagora), a young Romulan he befriended during the relocation. Meanwhile, Narek continues his attempts to learn more about Soji while Narissa’s impatience with his lack of progress grows.
Airdate: February 13, 2020
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Evan Evagora, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera, Harry Treadaway, Peyton List, Amirah Vann, Rebecca Wisocky, Ian Nunney, Evan Parke, Jamie Barcelon, Kay Bess, Donny Boaz

If you want to avoid spoilers for this episode then skip to the overall section at the end.

Warning: Spoilers for Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 4 Absolute Candor"

Recap Star Trek: Picard: S1E04 - Absolute Candor

Like the last couple of episodes, it opens fourteen years before but skips back a bit. The show opens on Vashti in a Romulan relocation camp. It’s a primitive but picturesque scene. People selling in the market. Children playing games. Kids stealing food and telling people to bite them. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) beams into the village wearing leisurewear and is swarmed by happy Romulans. He goes to visit Romulan warrior nuns called the "Koat Milat". He thanks their leader, Zani (Amirah Vann), for helping to relocate 10,000 Romulans. Picard takes a special interest is an orphan boy named Elnor (Ian Nunney)who he gives a copy of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers.

The boy hugs him and Zani reminds Elnor that Picard hates children. This was a running joke on the Next Generation. But it looks like he’s warmed up to kids and promises Elnor he likes him. The nuns have taken the boy in but agree he needs to leave the all-female group. Picard takes the boy and reads some of the book to him before giving him an impromptu fencing lesson. Suddenly he gets a message from Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) about the synth revolt on Mars. Picard promises to return and leaves.

The show cuts back to the spaceship La Sirena in the present. Captain Cristobal 'Chris' Rios (Santiago Cabrera) is reading a paper copy of Miguel de Unamuno's The Tragic Sense of Life. Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) complains that space is boring and they can only watch Klingon opera. Rios says it’s a long story. Picard is inspecting a holodeck recreation of his Chateau study. He’s talking with another of Rios’ holographic crew members the captions identify as "Mr. Hospitality". Like all the other holograms he has a different personality and accent. Raffi storms in and complains they’re taking a detour from Freecloud and headed for Vashti. Picard says it’s because he wants to get help from the greatest fighters he’s ever known. Picard warns the crew that the nuns follow the way of absolute candor which means "total communication of emotion without any filter between thought and word".

Vashti is protected by a defense shield so the ship can't land. But he’s able to beam down. Unlike the last visit, everyone seems indifferent or hostile to his presence. He sees Zani who chastises him for leaving 14 years before and doing nothing for them. Starfleet abandoned them on the planet and are resentful. Picard is facing yet another person, like Raffi, that he abandoned. But there’s one more reunion coming. Turns out Elnor (Evan Evagora) is all grown up and still living with the nuns. But now he's a Romulan warrior. Jean-Luc asks him if he’ll “bind his sword to his quest” and join him. Elnor bitterly says "no" and walks away. We know it's not permanent since he's been listed as a cast member, but it's still a powerful moment.

Back at the dead Borg cube Soji (Isa Briones) is watching footage of the xB (ex-Borg) Ramdha (Rebecca Wisocky) talking about "Ganmadan", an ancestral term for “The Day of Annihilation” a time when “all unshackled demons answer the call of ‘The Destroyer’.” Later she and Narek (Harry Treadaway) visit the still-unconscious Ramdha and Soji talks about how upset she is but how the woman seemed to “see” her. The two go get drinks and she asks him why he knows so much about where she is and what she’s doing. I think she’s starting to get a clue. Narek deflects and takes her to a “Borg ritual” which involves sliding down a hallway in socks. It’s a little too sappy for me but I’m told it’s a very romantic scene. The two fall into each other's arms and have another passionate kiss. But he does admit that there’s a part of her past he doesn’t understand. He’s probably noticed the same anomaly in her records that Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) noticed. She storms away angrily.

Meanwhile back on La Sirena Picard’s been made and a lot of angry social media posts about him are popping up. #PicardsBackAndWeHateHim is trending apparently. They warn him to get out but he says he needs more time. On Vashti Picard is still trying to convince Elnor to join his quest by telling him about Data, Dahj, and her lost android twin. He again refuses and storms out.

At the same time, the turncoat Romulan Lieutenant Narissa Rizzo (Peyton List) visits her brother Narek. She starts by sensually caressing him in his sleep and I’m already getting creeped out. They talk about his sex life before getting to the subject at hand: Getting Soji to give up where she came from. Marissa forces him to admit that the android is the “destroyer” by choking him. So Rahdma was onto something and they know it. Rizzo says he has one week before she uses her method to get the information and promises it’s violent.

Back on Vashti Picard is walking through town and sees a sign saying "Romulans Only". While everyone glares at him he tears the sign down and walks on it for good measure. Then, I guess because he’s dying anyway, he sits at a table and asks a waiter for a drink. Shades of Selma. A large Rumulan former senator named Tenqem Adrev (Evan Parke) confronts him. He reminds Picard that Starfleet promised them a better life and abandoned them. Picard tries to explain but the other patrons bring out a couple of swords and force them into a duel. It’s strange that Romulans in the 21st century would decide to have a barroom brawl with swords but it’s clearly a setup. Sure enough, Elnor confronts the senator and asks him to “choose to live”. The senator attacks Picard and Elnor leaps and chops the guy's head clean off.

Picard and Elnor beam up and get ready to take off. Just then an old Romulan Bird of Prey spaceship owned by a local warlord flies in and starts attacking the ship. Another Emergency Hologram appears and this one speaks Spanish. Rios says they can’t outrun the ship but can outfly it. I complained in a previous review that the lack of space flight is a sore spot and this scene makes up for it. It’s riveting. Especially because we know and care about the characters.

Just when it looks like the crew is doomed a mysterious ship flies in and attacks the Romulan War Bird. But in the process, the other ship is damaged and starts careening toward the planetary defense shield. They. scramble to save the unknown pilot and beam “him” to the bridge. It’s Seven of Nine!  Even though I knew she was joining the show my heart still jumped with joy. they immediately recognize one another and she quips “you owe me a ship, Picard”. It looks like she picked up a sense of humor over the years. Jeri Ryan said this is the first time they’ve met but it doesn’t feel like it. The episode ends with that moment.

Overall Star Trek: Picard: S1E04 - Absolute Candor

4 out of 5 stars
The title and the episode all talk about Picard having to come to grips with the lives he left behind while on seclusion. His self-pity left him alone but the truth is his pity caused him to abandon those who needed him. Narek is having to face the truth that he may not be able to get the information he needs by trickery. Soji is starting to understand that there's something different about her and she has unknown ties to the Romulans.

Jonathan Frakes has directed eight episodes of the Next Generation and two movies. The opening mirrors the opening of Star Trek: Insurrection and his familiarly with Stewart shows. He’s able to get him to give a looser performance and adds a level of humor that’s been missing. The color and tone are a lot less dark and morose than previous episodes under Hanelle M. Culpepper. The writing feels more cohesive since the last three episodes have multiple writers credited on them. Instead, it’s just the showrunner Michael Chabon and it’s smooth.

One thing that strikes me is how different this show is from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ship is dark and cavernous. The crew made up of people who are bitter and angry with the captain. Picard has to switch from a leader as captain to a member of the crew. This is best shown by him telling the Raffi to open a channel before acquiescing to Captain Rios. But it’s not just the ship and crew. The whole feel of the show is different. Roddenberry viewed Star Trek as utopia and fought to keep his view of the future positive. He even came up with the idea that former enemies can become friends with the Klingon joining the crew. But this show takes a bleaker view. In this world the future is dark and Starfleet has become evil or complacent.

It's a big shift and an exciting show. Looking forward to the next episode.

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About the Author
Maurice Mitchell has been a passionate science-fiction fan of movies, television, books, and comics since age five. He and his twin brother Nigel created the site "The Geek Twins" to share that passion. Maurice has written and created infographics for sites like The Geek Twins and About.com. His work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, io9 Slashfilm and more.
Read more of his posts | Follow him on Twitter @Mauricem1972 

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