HERE THERE BE SPOILERS
“Two of One” is clearly one of those episodes that clearly intends to “set up” for something else, and the production crew made the incredibly intelligent decision not to pad the episode with unnecessary content, which I appreciated. However, that means that “Two of One” happens to be a shorter episode than its predecessors, and the result is that the episode seems to end a bit abruptly. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the show moves forward from here, but “Two of One” is probably not going to be one of those episodes I revisit in the future despite the absolutely fantastic character beats the episode showcases.
“Two of One” uses the medium of flashbacks to catch viewer interest, moving back and forth between a future in which Jean-Luc Picard appears to be at death’s door while jumping back in time to the recent past to explore just how Picard lands on Teresa’s table. Most of the episode’s action takes place at the astronaut gala, where Picard and the crew must find a way to get close to Renee Picard in order to guarantee that she decides to move forward with the Europa mission. Tallinn and Picard notice that Renee has been drinking rather heavily and talking to her therapist, whom we know to be Q. Tallinn uses her spyware technology to determine that Q has been trying to talk Renee into giving up on the mission. Picard moves to intercept. He impersonates a security guard sent to bring Renee back to the party, but he convinces Renee that her sadness is not an indication that she isn’t ready to go on the mission so much as it demonstrates an awareness of the risks. Renee accepts Picard’s wisdom and agrees to return to the mission. Picard offers to escort her, but on the way, Adam Soong attempts to run them both over with his car. Picard shoves his ancestress out of the way and takes the brunt of the impact.
Rios, Raffi, and Seven rush him to Teresa’s clinic, where Teresa discovers that Picard is more than he seems when she tries to use the defibrillator on him. Once his cardiac event resolves, Teresa can find no reason for Picard to remain comatose, but Picard does not regain consciousness. Tallinn scans him with her technology and deduces that he’s caught in a memory, which the audience knows pertains to his mother. She volunteers to try and hack his memory in order to see why Picard can’t escape his mind. Raffi, distressed, ultimately agrees.
Meanwhile, Agnes Jurati has been engaged with her Borg passenger. The queen encourages Jurati to live a little, while remarking on how cortisol has been harmful to her. Jurati keeps insisting that she’s in charge, but when Picard needs a distraction, the Queen somehow causes the power to cut, allowing Jurati to make a grand entrance and sing a lovely little number. As a result of Jurati’s excitement at her success, Jurati’s body begins release the endorphins the queen needs in order to take over Jurati’s body, which she does. The end of the episode sees the Queen wandering out into a pleasant San Francisco night, enjoying Jurati’s legs.
Meanwhile, Kore Soong makes her way to Soong’s lab where she Googles her father. She discovers that his medical license has been suspended due to his genetic experiments. On the computer, she also finds a series of vlogs detailing her father’s relationship with various children who both look like her and died at very young ages due to genetic issues. She finds a last vlog in which Soong explains that this latest child will be his last, and he refers to the child as Kore. Kore begins to wonder what she is and just what her father has been doing in his lab.
Starting in reverse order, I think we can safely say that Kore may be the first of the Augments, so even though the Eugenics Wars allegedly took place between 1992 and 1996 according to previous canon, Picard is altering the timeline a bit. Perhaps Q does need to provide Soong with the cure for Kore’s genetic disease in order to secure the Federation future for humanity. I note that the show has very staunchly refused to identify the genetic disease, so the disease is likely something unique to Soong’s crafted children. Could that mean that Q’s seeming obsession with Renee Picard is just a red herring to throw Picard and his crew off the scent? It would certainly make for an interesting twist, and we know that new Trek loves a good twist.
As far as Picard goes, I suspect we’re finally going to explore the reason the show keeps bringing up his mother. We know that Renee’s depression mirrors Picard’s mother’s, and from the imagery we see in Picard’s nightmarish memories, I really wonder if his mother not only had to be hospitalized for her depression but also may not have survived. Still, we’ve only got four more episodes in the season, so the show will have to wrap up a significant portion of this subplot in the next episode if they’re going to have enough time to address the other trailing Cylon-er-plot.
By that I mean the fact that the Borg Queen is now loose in San Francisco with some form of her capabilities intact. I suspect that Jurati’s red dress is meant to bring to mind Six as a signal to viewers that Jurati is playing host to Trek’s version of a Toaster, and while I’m thrilled that Alison Pill got a chance to flex more of her acting chops in this episode, I have to admit that I hate the idea of Jurati losing her agency. She’s been the character most subject to the whims of other people, and in this season, we’ve seen her blossom into one of the series’ most interesting characters. She has demonstrated a remarkable ability to think on her feet and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to achieve her ends. I somewhat regret seeing that development put on the back-burner for a bit even though we find out that Jurati chose to allow the Borg Queen to hitchhike in her brain. I’m equally sad that it’s unlikely we’ll see much of Annie Wersching’s Queen while she has control over Jurati’s body. She’s been a fantastic addition to Borg canon, and I’d love to see more of her.
“Two of One” doesn’t skimp on its treatment of the other characters as well. Michelle Hurd manages to convey so, so much with Raffi’s simple refusal of a drink at the party, and Santiago Cabrera is in fine form as a Rios in the throes of a major crush. Penelope Mitchell is doing what she can with what she’s been given, but she brings an earnestness to the conversation with Picard that provides a necessary foundation for Stewart’s delivery of the fantastic speech he gives. We’re also seeing more of Tallinn. We know she can curse in Romulan, which may be significant.
We also get another mysterious appearance of Elnor, which makes me wonder if Romulans have katras like their Vulcan cousins. Regardless, Hurd portrays Raffi’s grief beautifully in that moment, reminding us just what’s at stake here. Elnor’s loss grounds this season in a way the more abstract loss of the Federation does and cannot and serves as an emotional touchstone not just for Raffi but for the pathos the season’s writing wants to capture.
As I said above, “Two of One” is an episode that builds toward something. Hopefully, “Monsters” will provide sufficient pay off this week.
Three cups of Earl Grey Tea and a saucer
Stray Thoughts From the Couch:
- There’s a blink-and-you’ll miss it reference to Dr. Jemison in the series. Dr. Jemison happens to be an actual astronaut who had a guest role on TNG.
- Of course Soong drives a Tesla.
- We still have no idea what’s wrong with Q, and we’re running out of time for them to tell us.
- The OV-165 shuttle should seem familiar to anyone who’s seen the opening credits for Enterprise.