HERE THERE BE SPOILERS
As the action amps up, you can really tell that Star Trek: Picard’s final season is racing into the endgame. Episode eight, “Surrender” (Surrender (episode) | Memory Alpha | Fandom) races from plot point to plot point, and while some of the pacing doesn’t quite work, the episode still manages to balance necessary character development with the action. As such, it feels more like an episode of TNG than perhaps any episode we’ve seen yet without losing that particular Picard gloss. That gloss, unfortunately, takes the form of yet another cliffhanger. While we do get some resolution, I do really wonder whether the final reveal of whatever it is that’s going on with Jack Crusher will be worth it. There is such a thing as too much build-up, after all.
Aboard the Titan’s bridge, Vadic locks down the ship’s vital systems, preventing the remaining Starfleet crew from using comms to contact each other and leaving everyone in the literal dark. Her squad of mutated Changeling goons moves through the ship, wreaking havoc. Jack Crusher begins to panic, thinking he should surrender to Vadic to give the crew a chance to survive, but Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher convince him that Vadic will only kill them all once she has what she wants. He convinces everyone to allow him to try and use his newfound powers to take over the body of one of the members of the crew on the bridge where he can use his father’s access code to override Vadic’s control. He’s initially successful, but Vadic notices the crewmember entering Picard’s code into the console and stops him. She then promises to execute one member of the bridge crew for every ten minutes Jack Crusher fails to surrender himself, and she begins by vaporizing poor Ensign T’Veen.
Sidney La Forge comments that she could, with more time, write code that would let her access the Titan’s systems and that her father could do it even faster. However, to do so within ten minutes would require a highly advanced AI with incredible computational speeds. As it happens, that’s exactly what, or rather whom, they have aboard. Picard, Sidney, and both Crushers storm the lab where Geordi and Alandra have finally disconnected Data 3.0. Once everyone has ascertained that they are who they purport to be, Picard and Geordi quibble over whether they should take down the partition separating Data and his brother. They ultimately decide to do so, leaving Data and Lore to duke it out for both survival and control over the body. After a clever gambit, Data ultimately wins, and they’re able to enact a new plan to stall Vadic.
Jack does go up to the bridge, but he stalls Vadic by revealing that he has a device he’s absolutely certain will kill him. Vadic begins grandstanding about how he’s always known he was alone and how she can tell him why. However, Data snarkily informs her that her captaincy is over, and that cues Jack to activate the device, which turns out to be a personal forcefield. Data opens the escape hatch on the bridge, and Vadic gets sucked out into space where she freezes and shatters against the Shrike.
Aboard the Shrike, Will and Deanna discuss Will’s decision to follow Picard into this lunacy, and he reveals that he’s been struggling because he resents that Deanna used her abilities to mute his grief. She argues that she wanted to help, but she remembers that no one can skip to the end of healing. They forgive each other just in time for Worf to rescue them. Worf introduces them to Raffi who has determined that the Changelings were interested in the parts of Jean Luc’s corpse that were altered by the Irumodic Syndrome.
They get on their little cloaked shuttle and board the Titan. Everyone is glad to see Data, but Deanna has sensed a darkness that’s in and around Jack. They all conclude that she needs to help him figure out what the mysterious red door that he keeps seeing in his brain is, and she does exactly that. The episode ends with Jack’s hand on the doorknob in his mind.
I have two major issues with this episode. The first is I really have to wonder how often we’re going to resurrect Data. He died in Nemesis. He died at the end of Picard’s first season, and now, he’s swallowed Lore and combined with him to form this new entity. Moreover, Lore has also been “killed” and resurrected over and over again, but he’s an interesting enough character that “Surrender” seems to give him short shrift. Because so much occurs during the episode, there’s just not enough time for Lore’s final departure to land the way it should. Plus, there’s such thematic richness in the conversation between the brothers. Lore believes that power and strength proves that a life was worth living. Data argues that his memories are his treasures and offers them up to the atavistic Lore as trophies. In a show about legacy, it feels like a failure not to devote more time to such an important conversation.
I certainly understand the writers’ decision to focus on Jack’s feelings of isolation because he’s stepping into Data’s traditional TNG role as the outsider. Data can no longer occupy that space not only because he’s got such deep ties to the rest of the characters in ways Jack does not but also because now that he’s swallowed his brother in a weird twist on the Cain and Abel myth, he’s developed the capability to feel, which concludes his emotional arc. In addition, we know that Jack is central to the season’s plot arc. I have no problem with that choice, but I do have a problem with how the episode concludes.
Picard has been promising us more information regarding Jack’s significance in almost every episode to one extent or another, and just when we think we’re about to get that reveal, the episode fades to black. Y’all, I’m starting to wonder if the reveal is going to live up to the hype. There exists a limit to the amount of hinting and promising and build-up before there’s just no way the reveal will be nearly impressive enough. I worry that Jack Crusher and by extension this season of Picard will fall over that cliff only to crash and burn in the ravine below, especially since this week’s cliffhanger ending feels so tacked on only to serve as build-up.
That’s not to say that the episode lacked satisfying story beats, far from it. Seven of Nine not only gets to destroy the Shrike but she gets to do so at Shaw’s request after she’d shouted him down about her name. The conversation between Will and Troi was brief but never felt forced or too short because the script beautifully allowed the characters’ history to form the backdrop for that long necessary conversation. Anything we get from the Worf and Raffi show has been gold, so it’s great to see them again. We get to watch a Vadic-sicle explode. There’s a lot to like about “Surrender,” but the episode’s flaws require acknowledgement, especially for what they might mean for the season’s conclusion.
Still, as season three hurtles toward that conclusion, I can’t wait to see what terrible plans the Changelings have for Frontier Day.
Three cups of Earl Grey Tea
Stray Thoughts From the Couch:
- Data’s memories all come to us from TNG, so the Data/Lore sequence also slides into a bit of nostalgia, much to the scene’s detriment. I feel like Yar’s holographic image deserved better. That said, yes, Data, our cats really are the best parts of us.
- No, I do not know where Kestra is, though Terry Matalas might. I’m glad that Riker acknowledges how their deaths will affect their daughter, but he and Deanna are both weirdly sanguine about her whereabouts.
- I love Deanna telling Will she should have taught him more of her language.
- Jack gets a beautifully self-aware moment when he explains that he’s nervous about opening up to Troi. Heck, I would be, too.
- Speaking of Jack, did anyone else find it weird that he wasn’t even present for the discussion about Troi meeting him? You’d think he’d at least get the chance to voice his own opinion seeing as it’s his head at issue.
- So, Irumodic Syndrome is possibly caused by some weird alien? Raise your hand if you’re shocked. I’ll wait.
- I love how Sidney managed to squeeze in yet another reference to how awesome her dad is.