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Star Trek Pic - Season 1 - Episode 06

Star Trek Pic - 1x06 - The Impossible Box

Originally Aired: 2020-2-26

Synopsis:
Picard and the crew track Soji to the Borg cube in Romulan space, resurfacing haunting memories for Picard. Meanwhile, Narek believes he finally found a way to safely exploit Soji for information.

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.48

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Problems
None

Factoids
- Soji has an "Adventures of Flotter" lunchbox, a reference to Voy: Once Upon a Time.

Remarkable Scenes
- Raffi sweet talking Captain Bosch into letting them visit the artifact.
- Rios to Raffi: "No one gets all of it right."
- Soji scanning all of her childhood memorabilia and reacting with horror as the tricorder consistently responds that all of it is 37 months old.
- Picard's panic attack while visiting the Borg cube.
- Picard to Hugh: "You're showing what the Borg are underneath. They're victims, not monsters."
- Hugh regarding the xBs on the artifact: "Just as helpless and enslaved as before. Only now our queen is a Romulan."
- Narek betraying Soji.
- Hugh beaming Picard and Soji light years away using Borg technology while Elnor beams to the cube to defend Picard. Elnor: "Please my friends, choose to live."

My Review
An episode with a slow start but a good amount of payoff. Hugh and Picard catching up with each other is the clear highlight of the episode, a reunion that was literally decades in the making both on screen and off screen after the ambiguous way they left things in TNG: Descent, Part 2. It's nice to hear that despite Hugh being from an unknown species, he was able to acquire Federation citizenship anyway after his misadventures with Lore. Picard's panic attack upon returning to a Borg cube was entirely appropriate and compellingly portrayed. We see all sorts of classic scenes in his post-traumatic stress flashback, including iconic scenes from TNG: The Best of Both Worlds and Star Trek VIII: First Contact. It was also a nice touch to see Hugh directly contrasted from his appearance on TNG to his appearance now visually on Picard's computer.

The ultimate message of Picard's reunion with Hugh was to portray the Borg more as victims than as villains. This is deeply in the spirit of Star Trek and one of the most fascinating contradictions that has always been at the core of the characterization of the Borg. Are they an enemy to be destroyed, or victims to be rescued? If xBs should not be held accountable for the crimes they committed as Borg, then who should? One might be tempted to say the Borg queen, but even she has never seemed to be a character with terribly much agency. More like a reflection of the Borg's collective consciousness given that whenever she's destroyed another appears. These are questions without obvious answers and Star Trek is at its best when it grapples with them as they do in this episode.

Another highlight of the episode is the terrific execution of Soji's dream sequences. The two actors playing child Soji (Ella McKenzie) and adult Soji (Isa Briones) do a great job of convincingly portraying the same person in the same emotional state across the cuts. This may seem like a minor detail, but it's very easy to get wrong. Star Trek in particular is infamous for numerous previous examples of child character performances that fall flat. Even high budget drama series get it wrong frequently too, such as the underwhelming portrayal of young Ned Stark on Game of Thrones. A particularly nice touch in Soji's dream was the abstract presentation of her construction being doll-like. This distinctly resembled Pinocchio; Data had been previously referred to as being like Pinocchio by Riker in TNG because of his desire to become human.

One more interesting reference to a previous Star Trek episode was when Hugh dug up a Sikarian spatial trajector to help Picard and Soji escape the cube. This technology was last seen in Voy: Prime Factors when the crew of Voyager was denied the use of it to help them get home faster by the Sikarian equivalent of the Prime Directive. It appears the Borg assimilated the Sikarians at some point After Voyager's visit, after which they improved upon the technology, removing the dependency on a planet with a thick tetrahedral quartz mantle to function. It was said the Borg only use this technology in the case of emergencies, but the reason for such a restriction is not clearly explained. The trajector is in effect a very long range transporter which if deployed en masse could be a very powerful weapon.

If the Romulans were to get their hands on it they could in theory use it to beam an invasion force across the galaxy in an instant, not unlike the fears that were stoked by the Iconian gateways in TNG: Contagion and DS9: To the Death. Indeed, whenever a technology this powerful is discovered on Star Trek, it tends to be quickly destroyed, concealed, or some fatal flaw is discovered in it so as to prevent the canon from being contaminated with too many superpowers. Hugh made attempts to conceal this technology from the Romulans, but hopefully some stricter limits are placed on it soon or it might risk becoming as ridiculous as something like Discovery's spore drive. The last thing we need is more ways for groups of people or starships to instantly teleport across the galaxy.

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