Episode 5 – “Stardust City Rag”
February 20, 2020
Directed by: Jonathon Frakes
Starts 13 years ago with flashback on planet where a Starfleet officer is having his eye removed by a doctor of some sort. Quickly, we realize this is a Borg operation.
Seven of Nine bursts in and kills the medical personnel in the midst of a Borg transplant operation. She lifts the officer off the gurney, the man with the missing eye, and says dramatically, “My child!”
Cut to two weeks ago at Freecloud in a bar. An alien bodyguard that looks a bit like the Ben Grimm The Thing from Fantastic Four asking for “Bruce Maddox.”
Speaking of people who look like other people … a woman who looks strikingly like Deanna Troi (not her, though) is running the show at this bar.
The Deanna Troi doppelganger says no but then takes the man to a backroom where we finally get to see a current day (ok, two weeks ago in the story) Bruce Maddox.
Maddox is burying his sorrows at the bottom of a drink, but … his drink has been spiked and he drops the glass and passes out.
Cut to the title montage.
Now, present day, we are aboard the ship with Captain Rios, Picard, Dr. Jurati, Raffi and Elnor and Seven of Nine. Jurati is recalling a memory (another flashback) of Maddox and her together, presumably they were once romantically involved.
Now the crew are discussing how they can get to Maddox on Freecloud. Raffi hatches some elaborate scheme with costumes for the team to go in disguise to free Maddox from her captors on Freecloud. I was a little confused how they just knew Maddox had been captured, but maybe missed it from Raffi who rattled off an info dump on Maddox’s predicament. It might also have been mined from her computer system as very clearly there is a black market of Borg transplant parts and somehow Maddox is a hot property to use in trade on this market, even though he has no Borg parts.
(or maybe we’ll find out he does later?)
Raffi then leaves the ship to visit her son, Gabriel, that she currently has an estranged relationship. Gabriel and daughter in law, a pregnant Romulan, pretty much whisk her out of their midst. So, we get a little more backstory on Raffi’s character, long enough to delay the plan to rescue Bruce Maddox. It’s like one obstacle after another in this series delaying us from the important happenings.
Picard as a pirate is one of the funniest disguises ever. He has an eye patch and — seriously, not kidding, as soon as the eye patch is removed he is “recognized “as Picard! Who is that stupid not to realize Picard is Picard with one pirate eye patch?!?! I laughed out loud when I saw this.
Also, just watching Picard say, “Maddox!” with the eye patch is the best part of the episode. Pure comedic gold! I know it was intended to be serious, however, which makes it sad, but hey, I still loved it. Watch for the pirate Picard meme. Just know it’s coming!
You’ll need to tune in to see if Maddox is rescued by the motley crue from Rios’ ship and check out the AR-wsome Picard disguise.
This episode has the most action of any in the series, so if that is your favorite type of Star Trek, you’ll feel good here.
A moment on guns. Why are they so freaking big in the future? We go from sleek, small phaser weapons to these gigantic, bulky lasers? Are we going backwards technology-wise?
We’re still in flashback mode, which remains a questionable way to unfold the story dramatically, but at least here we get some action with the flashbacks. This series should be called, Flashbacks: Picard. Or maybe Pirate Picard. Until this episode, it just hasn’t been very Star Trek.
This episode feels the most Star Trekish, but the writing is at times very cringey. Tons of obvious info dumps. The execution is more skilled, at the hands of director and seasoned trekkie Jonathan Frakes. There is some good Seven of Nine action, Picard actually takes a backseat to the story, except for his pirate shenanigans and a brief encounter with Bruce Maddox.
So much happens and fast that it almost felt like a different show than the first four episodes. Despite the flurry of activity, I found this episode more enjoyable than the last three. It’s about on par with the first episode and my rating will reflect that. Recommended? Yes. Hope they stay with the action, and it appears that’s where this is headed as the next mission could be finally at the Borg Artifact cube.
This might have been a better pilot episode than the pilot. We start out with some horrific Borg implant stuff then progress to a mission to free a captive Bruce Maddox and then there’s some vengeful backstory for Seven of Nine.
I think Trek fans will like this episode the most of any so far. As for those who aren’t diehard Trek fans watching Picard as a series? This series is still trying to establish what it is going to be and we’re half-way through the first season of 10 episodes.
I liked this episode, it certainly wasn’t boring, which was a problem with most of the last three episodes. It was like the story was stuck in mud until this episode. Now we’re off and running.
Not super stoked with the ending of this episode. I don’t want to spoil it, but was hoping with all this build-up to Bruce Maddox that it would go differently. It’s like we spend five episodes trying to get to this guy and when we finally do, his screen time is minimal. Will find out in future episodes if we get more of him. Likely through flashback, because that seems to be the way they want to tell the story here.
If you haven’t seen this series yet, this might actually be the best episode to start with. Then go back and watch episode 1. You really don’t need to watch episodes 2-4 to understand where we’re at in the story. Not sure what that says, but it doesn’t seem like a ringing endorsement.
On a positive note, I am looking forward to next week’s episode. This is a bit like slowing down to watch an accident scene.
Overall episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
SPOILER SECTION – The Ready Room
Wil Wheaton said at the end of last week’s episode of The Ready Room that this was a good episode.
Worth mentioning again that The Ready Room is a nice compliment to the series. Good interviews, nice excitement by the host, Wil Wheaton.