“Sadly, despite some early promise Star Trek: Picard Season Two Episode 4 “Watcher” is another serviceable but forgettable episode”
With last week’s polarizing episode fading into subspace, it’s time to return to the final frontier for the latest installment of Star Trek: Picard. With the unwelcome social commentary of last week’s episode still ringing in our ears, we are invited back to 2024 for more of the same. Having seen Rios arrested and Raffi and Seven trolling the city for the Watcher, we return to the La Sirena to catch up with Jean-Luc and Jurati. But can their involvement save this episode from the curse of its predecessor and put us back on course for the final frontier?
Sadly not. Once again episode 4 falls short of the mark. And it does so with another unwelcome dose of social commentary that brings us back to reality with a bump. It’s an unpleasant trait, one that sacrifices bold and imaginative storytelling in favor of exposing the failings of our society. And although this episode contains another wealth of easter eggs for us to enjoy, the plot lacks any real impetus to get us truly invested. In the end, it amounts to another serviceable episode that sadly, fails to live up to the hype.
Last week’s uneventful episode culminated with Cristóbal Rios’ arrest by immigration “Ice” officials who had plans to process him for deportation. This episode kicks off with Raffi and Seven hot on his trail. Following his communicator signal to the clinic where he was detained, they quickly discover the truth behind his disappearance. And promptly head off on a spontaneous rescue mission all the while trying to avoid causing any ripples in the timeline. It is here where the narrative of this episode begins to unravel.
Back on the crashed La Sirena, Picard and Jurati struggle to get communications back online. And although the need to communicate with their team is a pressing concern, they quickly establish that the vessel’s heating is inoperable. As a result, they set off for Chateau Picard, which has been abandoned since the fall of the Nazi regime in WWII. Once inside the ruins of the Picard estate, Jean-Luc and Jurati fortuitously uncover the date of the universe-changing event they have come to prevent. And soon, they discover that they only have three days to alter the course of history and save the future.
LOS ANGELES 2024
What follows is an adventure on three fronts. Raffi and Seven set off to save Rios. Picard beams into the heart of Los Angles to find the Watcher. And Jurati stays behind to keep the home fires burning. All the while playing mind games with the Borg Queen who appears to be getting more assertive and more deceitful by the hour.
Raffi and Seven’s endeavors to locate Rios are farcical. Throughout the episode, both frequently risk fracturing the timeline with ill-advised activities. All the while reminding each other of the perils of the “Butterfly Effect.” The writing is contradictory at best. And it demonstrates the confusion this episode conveys. One minute they’re using phasers to steal a police squad car in full view of the public; the next Seven is using the vehicle to cause havoc on the city streets. Far from the clandestine mission they were sent to undertake.
RETURN OF GUINAN
Now, here’s where things really deteriorate. With the coordinates to the Watcher’s location obtained, Jean Luc transports into the nucleus of Los Angles. And he soon learns that the transporter has brought him to familiar surroundings. 10 Forward Avenue. But once inside the establishment, he finds the bar in dire straits and about to close its doors for the last time. And upon exploring the establishment, he meets the owner. And to no great surprise, we discover it’s a more youthful Guinan (Ito Aghayere). However, in what can only be regarded as a retcon of one of the most famous episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation; Guinan doesn’t recognize her oldest and dearest friend.
In Trek history, Guinan first met Picard back in 1893, during the episode titled “Times Arrow.” So why she fails to recognize Jean Luc in 2024 is a mystery. Moreover, in this time she has all but given up on humanity. Her faith in the people of earth is at an all-time low. And it all rests on Picard’s shoulders to restore her conviction and ensure she remains on earth to help prevent the imminent cataclysm. Sadly, this is just another moment of lackluster writing that baffles the mind. And when we take a step back and examine the episode in its entirety; we are left with a series of conflicting ideas that will leave long-term fans bewildered.
The saving grace of this episode resides within the gluttony of Easter Eggs we have come to expect from this series. Every episode so far has featured a ton of nods to the legacy of the franchise. And “Watcher” is no different. Throughout its 46 minute running time, we are presented with some amazing nods to the past. From Kirk Thatcher’s incredible return as the “Punk on the Bus” from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, to the use of Jackson Roykirk’s research laboratory; there is a wealth of easter eggs at play here. Even Picard’s beloved private eye Dixon Hill gets a mention. But sadly, it isn’t enough to save this episode from hitting the asteroid field. And although the identity of the Watcher alludes to a retread of “Assignment: Earth” from The Original Series, the cons outweigh the pros of this episode.
Overall, I have conflicting feelings about this installment. The good moments it manages to conjure are equaled by the bad. And although there are a few juicy easter eggs for us to feast on; it doesn’t deliver enough to spare us from its lackluster writing. Or the paradoxical decisions at play between the narratives. I’m sure things will improve as the season unfolds. But on the strength of the last two episodes, the series has a very long road back to recovery. And that is a massive disservice to a season that started with so much promise.
In the end, Star Trek: Picard Season Two Episode Four “Watcher” can be summarized as a transition episode that facilitates our journey to the core of a grander story. But when the writing is as slack as it is here, it’s hard to see past its failings. Playing loose with narratives is one thing. Retconning some of the best episodes from the past to disguise the inferior plot issues of a current storyline is another. And in the end, that is the biggest disappointment from another serviceable and forgettable episode.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!