Warning: This review contains spoilers.
The latest two episodes of Star Trek: Picard work seamlessly in tandem to elevate this season to the expert level of two of Star Trek: Next Generation’s most iconic episodes. The events of “Dominion – Ep 7” and “Surrender – Ep. 8” expertly intensify the action and raise the stakes to shocking levels in a manner extremely reminiscent of “The Best of Both Worlds – Parts 1 and 2.”
In “Dominion”, Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and team are racing the clock to discover the Changeling’s true motive for stealing Picard’s original body and stop them before their plans to destroy Starfleet at Frontier Days which is only hours away. After they have managed to rescue Data (Brent Spiner), they attempt to trap Vadic (Amanda Plummer) to force her to divulge where Riker (Jonathan Frakes) is being held. Unfortunately, their plan fails, and Vadic turns the tables on them, taking over Titan’s command.
In “Surrender”, the action and desperation ratchet up as the team not only successfully rescue their colleagues but work like a well-oiled machine to defeat Vadic and retake the Titan. Along the way other important plot moments emerge like Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers)’s mysterious powers; the reunion and rescue of Riker and his Imzadi, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and the battle for dominance between the two strongest personalities inside Data’s body that ultimately leads to the creation of an all-new Data.
What both episodes excel at is taking advantage of insane cast chemistry and pairing together a number of dynamic duos for key scenes. “Dominion” highlights include interactions like Jack displaying his new mind-manipulating powers to rescue Sydney LaForge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) when Vadic’s team attacks; Geordi (LeVar Burton) and his engineer daughter, Alandra (Mica Burton) examining the recovered Data and determining that his body contains four distinct personalities/versions of Data; Beverly (Gates McFadden) and Vadic having an intense showdown over Jack; and Beverly and Picard debating about whether or not to kill Vadic when they have her temporarily trapped.
Standout pairings in “Surrender” include Geordi and Data reconnecting as Data fights Lore for dominance; Worf (Michael Dorn) and Raffi (Michelle Hurd) teaming up to rescue Vadic’s prisoners; Seven of Nine and Jack partnering to retake the bridge from Vadic; the long-awaited reunion of Riker and Troi; and finally, the original Star Trek: Next Generation cast reunited on screen around a starship conference table.
The two episodes also offered the opportunity for performers who don’t normally find time in the spotlight to shine. Chief among those in these episodes is Amanda Plummer whose mastery of her performance masks the sheer ruthlessness of her character. Another side of Vadic is revealed through her fear of whomever she was answering to, someone likely to prove even more dangerous an antagonist.
Spiner gave Plummer a run for her money for strongest performance with his double-duty battle between Data and Lore. Just when you think Data has surrendered, his cunning and logic prevails and voila there is a whole new Data.
Sirtis shines in her intimate reunion moments with Frakes, a great showcase for the franchise’s most iconic couple. The depths of her grief and anger and love shone in every scene. Then, she brings us back to the all-business Counselor Troi when she is reunited with her old crew and senses a darkness in her dear friend Beverly’s son.
These episodes are the best from Speleer this season as Jack struggles to come to grips with and navigate his new powers. Again, the show takes advantage of great cast chemistry by pairing him with Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine as they team up to take the bridge back from Vadic in one of the climactic moments from the episodes.
Ryan continues to excel as a Starfleet officer and leader in these episodes. She constantly defies Shaw (Todd Stashwick)’s questionable choices and displays true leadership abilities. Time and again she tries to challenge Vadic to protect a member of her crew, she boldly chooses to stand with Jack in defiance against Vadic and at a most critical moment utters what will become a memorable Seven of Nine Line, “Get off my bridge!”
As it has done all season, these episodes of Star Trek: Picard pay tremendous respect to its rich history in various ways. These great homages range from a nice cameo from Tim Russ as Tuvok, attempting to recreate the closeness between him and his former shipmate, Seven of Nine. Then there’s a sweet and humorous moment between Worf and Troi that is a brief call back to their once romantic involvement. And finally, kudos to whomever it was that made the decision to include Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby)’s hologram and of course, Spot the cat among the many memories Data used in his battle with Lore.
Some much was packed into these two episodes, yet there is so much more to come. And with just two episodes to go one wonders just how they are going to fit it all in. Once Deanna helps Jack discover what’s beyond the red door, the climactic moments of this season of Star Trek: Picard have just begun. What did the Changelings want from the diseased portion of Picard’s brain, what is the secret behind Jack and his powers, and can Picard and crew stop whatever disaster is planned for Frontier Days? We’ll soon see.
What are your thoughts on Star Trek: Picard episodes 7 and 8 “Dominion” and “Surrender”? Share them in the comments below.