This week's episode of Star Trek: Picard is exposition-laden, with the focus on captain of the La Sirena, Cristobel Rios (Santiago Cabrera). We spend most of the time learning his backstory, as Raffi (Michelle Hurd) goes on her own personal "adventure" to find out what makes him tick. While it's nice to get to know a character like Rios more intimately, it felt like it was crammed into the season.
"Star Trek: Picard": Weakest Episode of the Season
Rather than organically spreading out Rios' past over the course of the season, writer Michael Chabon and director Maja Vrvilo squeezed it into "Broken Pieces." While Rios does have quirks and backstory, it felt like dedicating most of the episode to him benefits those more emotionally invested in him. There's a scene where Raffi conferences with emergency holograms in the same room to get clues as to who Rios is.
While played to comedic effect, I found it more contrived and drawn out. It's one thing to stand out in an episode, because of one going above and beyond for a performance. It's another thing to ask an actor to carry an entire episode. Hurd does a commendable job playing in a role that allow the focus to be on someone else while still highlighting her strengths and giving her (and viewers) a break from her alcoholism and personal life issues for at least one episode – to focus on other aspects of her characters.
Interesting Role Reversal
The other major part falls into place when Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart), Jurati (Alison Pill), and Soji (Isa Briones) come together after Raffi reveals Jurati's motivations. It's one of those plot points as a viewer and Star Trek fan that lingered like the 800 lb gorilla in the room that should be addressed sooner. When Jurati asks Soji about how she does things, there's kind of childlike innocence that traditionally been the reverse on an episode of The Next Generation. Generally, Data (Brent Spiner) is the one bombarding with questions. Briones does a wonderful job slowly integrating her synth characteristics as she learns to accept who she is.
Effective Use of Seven
The last part involves activity on the Borg cube where Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) comes to the rescue of Elnor (Evan Evagoria). Seven leads him to a command console where she attempts to control the cube. For a brief time, we get a glimpse of Seven's struggle of once being part of the Collective. While it was explored on Star Trek: Voyager, it's easy to forget while Picard had traumatic experiences from his assimilation. "Annika" was assimilated most of her life. The temptation of going back to a familiar place is always there. Her recent pain and resolve are tests to her individuality. Ryan organically plays off the duality of Seven and the life she's trying to embrace as Annika.
Riding off the high of "Nepenthe", there was bound to be some letdown – and "Broken Pieces" was that this season.