TV SERIES Review – Star Trek: Picard S1E3 – The End is the Beginning ⭐️⭐️

Season 1
Episode 3 – “The End is the Beginning”

As in episode 2, it’s a flashback to 14 years ago, this time the pivotal moment when Picard meets with Starfleet to try and receive support to evacuate the Romulans along with his friend and associate Raffi. Unfortunately, we already know how this situation ended — in episode one.

In a puzzling move, we don’t see the interesting heated exchange where Picard tells Starfleet senior officials, “it’s my way or the highway”, instead we get a softball scene outside the building with him telling Raffi what he told them (what?!). Of course, all the dramatic tension is already gone because we found out in the first episode that they accepted his resignation instead of going with his plan. The only thing new is we learn is the next shoe dropping is Raffi getting called afterwards to be fired.

Show, don’t tell. The opening scene largely comes off as preachy and not even about the plot or storyline, but to be making some social statement. Even if that’s not what it was about. Disappointing start to episode 3.

However, this does explain the end of episode 2 where Raffi is bitter with Picard. About the only thing of interest, is Raffi affectionately calling Picard “J.L”

And then it’s onto the title graphic. I guess we’re supposed to be believe this episode will be about the strained relationship between Raffi and Picard over what happened 14 years ago?

Nope, that’s only a footnote. A mcguffin to get us to her helping him get a pilot, which we learn in the next scene with present day Raffi. Bitter, broke, despondent Raffi who doesn’t have the luxury of Picard’s Chateau. J.L never contacted or checked in with Raffi over the last 14 years.

Cut to the Borg Cube Artifact with that long, sweeping pan inside the cube.

A repeat shot that we’ve seen before. What are the Romulans up to with Dahj twin sister, Dr. Soji who is questioned by the executive director of the research division.

(there sure are a lot of sequences involving subordinates and superiors in this series)

Some back and forth discussion and then back to Picard and Raffi and she tells him to leave, but not before saying an unnamed pilot from the underground will contact him. So more than 1/3rd of the episode in, she agrees to help Picard anyway, despite her anger, frustration and disappointment. Picard apologize and feel badly for his transgressions, I guess this shows, but wouldn’t this whole exchange have been a lot more fun and cool if it was a TNG member like Worf, Geordie, Beverly Crusher or Number One (Jonathan Frakes) instead of somebody new and unknown? Just saying.

From here, another Starfleet security character named O (Vulcan, she has the ears!) stops by to talk with the scientist Dr. Agnes Jurati who told Picard about the twin daughters of Data. Sounds like they are sniffing around already into what Picard is doing.

Cut to Borg Cube Artifact. Very brief scene with another character introduction. Will this be somebody important?

Cut back to Picard having brief Skype-like conversation with Raffi.

Now a new scene with Picard meeting Captain Rios, another new character, who commands an underground ship. He’s got a hunk of dagger in his shoulder and a holographic doctor is assessing the safe removal.

Picard and Captain Rios discuss a plan of when they are leaving on the ship. This is the second best scene in the episode (the other comes in the final act, which I won’t spoil here). Caption Rios has a very Han Solo like demeanor. He wants to know where they are going and Picard says he is “working on it.”

Will leave it here with the episode synopsis, but you’ve heard enough to assess what this episode is about: more character introductions, some limited drama with characters we’ve already seen and Picard trying to figure out what is going on.

Picard is a senior citizen and he is very much acting like a senior citizen in this story. Almost everything so far is plodding and painstaking. It’s like watching an elderly person cross the road and wondering when s/he will get to the other side. Throughout most of the first three episodes we’re worried it is going to take half of season one (5 episodes) to actually get in a spaceship and into space with the name “Star Trek” in the title.

Stay with it, though, everything is not completely what it seems. This is all character progression. At least some of these characters are more important than they seem.

Yes, there is some action before the 44 minutes fully elapses. You’ll need to watch the episode to see how it concludes, but some logic is behind the excessive build-up. I was losing interest fast until the final act.

Summary

Flashbacks are in storytelling are often boring and lack dramatic punch, because often we already know what happened. Somehow, two of three episodes start with flashbacks. Yikes, somebody send the screenwriters back to school. Start out with something exciting and/or fresh and inventive, not with a freaking flashback.

Am starting to grow tired — and a bit confused by — all these different Starfleet administrators as character obstacles to prevent us from getting to the exciting story (the story in space! Picard on a spaceship racing toward the Borg cube).

A lot of characters being introduced with similar relationships (to refute something from the subordinate character has done or is doing). Now, we’re getting some Starfleet security checking into Picard’s activity? I guess that’s logical, because clearly a very principled man going rogue is the story we should have gotten in episode #1.

This episode seemed largely unnecessary until the third act. It redeems some viewer faith in the final act and re-ignites the viewer’s interest.

Am not sure the split narratives which we can only presume as viewers will intersect at some point soon are working so far, but I feel like by the end of this episode we’re finally going to have a chance to see a Star Trek episode .. maybe, hopefully starting with episode 4. The previews make it seem that way.

Until the last 15 minutes, I was thinking this is a one star terrible episode, but then had an “aha!” moment when it unfolds in the final act. It’s still the worst episode of the three so far because, while it seems we’re getting to where we want to go, it’s taking too much time. They need to tighten it up moving forward and tell more complete stories in each episode. Hopefully, most of the pertinent setup is now over and next week and beyond will be more exciting.

Overall episode rating: ⭐️⭐️

SPOILER SECTION – The Ready Room

Episode 3 of The Ready Room goes all Motley Crue on us (seriously, there is a Vince Neil reference!) These after the episode shows feature major spoilers, so definitely want to watch the episode first before watching.

Wil Wheaton interviews Michelle Hurd, the actress who plays Raffi

Honestly, I’ve found The Ready Room behind the scenes interviews and information a little more interesting than the Picard TV series so far (good work, young Wesley Crusher!), but I have a suspicion that starting next week the TV series will improve.

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