Trekathon 785: Nepenthe (PIC)

Picard takes refuge with friends from the past.

This is a huge episode (nearly an hour), and on first viewing it’s the single episode I’ve enjoyed the most this season. Some of that is getting to see old friends, but there’s also a lot of bringing together of the key plots in a satisfying way.

Bringing in Troi and Riker is a delicate balancing act. It’s a big card to play, so you want to make sure that we get what the audience wants – a reflection of that relationship from TNG that we loved so much. But they also need to allow for some growth and change, and a good explanation as to why they aren’t going to be joining the rest of the adventure. Giving them a daughter is an easy way I suppose, but it also resonates nicely with the other themes of the series so far.

While there is a bit of stretching going to put the parts together, I quite liked the exposition/plot advancement mechanism of bringing together Kestra and Soji. Any of the other options (Picard, Jurati, Raffi, Rios) would have had a very different emotional tenor. It’s a nice way to advance that part of the plot while still saying consistent with Soji’s character development so far.

The other parts of the episode are a bit more mechanical. Poor old Hugh dies for really not a lot of reason or advancement. And then we get Jurati falling apart as we find out that she’s a trator. It’s plot mechanics, but it’s nicely done.

I wasn’t expecting a Vulcan mind meld answer to why Jurati betrayed Maddox. Really it raises as many questions as anything – was this a type of hypnotism, or was it just a rapid information transfer that really convinced her? It seems like an awful lot would be required to explain someone who has worked their life on something being suddenly convinced that it was evil.

Just three episodes to go, and a lot of plot to unfold.

Quick hits:

– The scene with Hugh as the x-Bs are killed by the Romulans was rough.

– There’s a music cue as they leave Elnor behind that was really ‘Lord of the Rings’y. It cropped up again, and it’s a cello minor key version of the Star Trek theme that ends up sounding a lot like one of the themes from LoTR (the Hobbit theme, I think).

– Troi and Riker seem to have retired to inside the Nexus from Star Trek Generations.

– Poor old Deanna never got a promotion?

– OMG, a reference to Kzinti. That’s something I think that hasn’t been mentioned since an Animated Series episode.

– Lots of ‘we’re fine’ this episode… I don’t think anyone was, for the record.

– Allison Pill does some really wonderful work throughout the episode today, doing a lot of work with just her face.

– ‘Is it cake’? Hee.

– No promotion for Riker? I don’t think that even matches with canon, wasn’t he a captain in Star Trek: Nemesis?

– The whole ‘disease that could be cured by synth tech’ was a real stretch. Yuck.

– Are we going to see Elnor team up with Seven of Nine to clear out a Borg cube of Romulans? Or can that be the spin-off series?

– Nice callback with the daughter’s name (Kestra), a callback to Deanna’s dead sister. And quite a strong performance.

785 down.