Star Trek #1499: Broken Pieces

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The crew pieces together what's going on as Seven arrives on the Borg Cube.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Seven as the new Borg Queen. Things starting to make sense.

WHY WE DON'T: Rios' contrived connection to the synths.

Broken Pieces is the episode where the puzzle pieces come together to create comprehensive picture, and the puzzle is a leitmotif used throughout (if Chabon could have included the Romulan puzzle box here somehow, I think he would have). Rios, for example, is described as a broken man, and his ship's five holograms are the pieces. Raffi uses this conceit to get a better picture of what's haunting him about Soji (a new and thankfully short-lived mystery), figuring things out by the shape of the hole in their amended memories. It's interesting, but having Rios' Starfleet career-ending trauma be related to Maddox's synth planet (and the murder of a young woman who was a copy of Soji) is stretching it. What were the chances? While I like Rios (all the Rioses) in these moments, the plot forces connections where none should reasonably exist. Similarly, we get a lot of conspiracy theory weaving from Raffi that feels unearned whether or not some of the information was embedded in earlier scripts (like the Conclave of Eight mentioned in Stardust City Rag).

The other big puzzle set piece is why the Zhat Vash hates synths so much, and that's a pretty epic piece that shows Oh herself, here revealed to be half-Romulan and a member, initiating other women to the Admonition, a warning from the far, far past, from a civilization who created synthetic life that drew the ire of a more powerful race(?) that then destroyed them. This ancient culture decided to leave a warning to the future with a fancy bit of stellar engineering, creating an octonary star system to point the way to an artifact that shows you what will happen if you invest in android futures and drives most people insane to the point of suicide. It's a little crazy. Well, a LOT crazy. Jurati even needs telepathic inhibitors not to kill herself living with the second-hand vision. The Admonition wasn't meant for humanoid minds, and is itself a kind of weapon. Its mystery is not yet explained, and may even be big enough to warrant Picard's second season, who knows. The flashback to the so called Grief Planet, Jurati recollecting her vision, Oh's order to kill the synths that drove Rios' old captain to suicide, and the presence of both Narek's sister and the famous Romulan ethnologist who was assimilated and caused, thanks to her Admonition madness, the separation of the Cube from the Collective, all come together to create the big picture necessary to set up the two-part finale.

We could even say that the events occurring on the Cube are also puzzles. Seven arrives to help Elnor, and she tries to unlock the Cube in what looks like a series of holographic puzzles. Her moral dilemma to re-assimilate the drones and herself into a mini-Collective is an ethical puzzle made more, or perhaps less, complicated by the Romulans systematic murder of the XBs and the still alcoved drones, and at that point, it becomes a game of moves and countermoves between Seven and Narek's sister (she might be called Narissa, I suppose, but they never name her Romulan persona), a strategic puzzle in and of itself. "Narissa"'s fate seems sealed when she's overrun by Seven's XBs, acting like a swarm of zombies, and then the small Collective releases "Annika"... but does it go on without her? I mean, best case scenario for the fans of big spaceship battles is for episode 10 to feature the Romulan fleet, a Starfleet squadron (or else what's the point of calling Admiral F-Bomb?), whatever ships the synths have, and come on, a Borg Cube on the side of the angels! Releasing Seven so quickly is almost a disappointment in that context. When her eyes turned black, I thought she really would become a new but benevolent Borg Queen. It may yet come to that, but also maybe she's too valuable a property - i.e. could become the star of her own show on CBS All Access one day - to "final fate" already.

LESSON: Fear is the Great Destroyer.

As we near the end of the season, everything comes together passably well. It's all still quite intriguing, but there's at least one contrived element in Rios' connection to the bigger story.


Eric TF Bat said...

OK, read your review, and it was excellent as always, but I'm surprised you didn't once quote "All of this has happened before..."

Personally, the biggest deal for me was discovering that Caprica was in an octonary star system!

Siskoid said...

Hahaha, I didn't even think of it. I guess I've been good at partitioning my projects. (Or I was distracted by the similarities between Picard and this last season of Doctor Who.)


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