About this episode
– Episode 6 (of 10), ‘The Impossible Box’
– Written by Nick Zayas
– Directed by Maja Vrvilo
Soji is dreaming. She’s a young girl, walking through her house at night. She approaches her father working in a room filled with orchids. He calls her name and she wakes up. She tells Narek that she keeps having the same nightmare. On the La Sirena, Jurati lies to Picard about Maddox’s death. He’s uneasy about having to visit the Borg Cube where Soji currently is, noting that the last time he visited one it wasn’t voluntary. Picard is angered by Jurati’s claim that the Borg might have changed, and as he cools off in his holo-vineyard, Jurati and Rios sleep together.
Rizzo and Narek meet. She notices that he’s always playing with a device that appears to be a kind of Romulan Rubik’s Cube – which she calls a toy and he calls a tool. Narek says Soji’s recurring dream is the key to discovering the location of “the homeworld”, and if he can get her to tell him about it, he might be able to get the information without her activating her defense subroutines. On the La Sirena, a drunken Raffi, still depressed about her encounter with her son last week, calls an old friend at the Federation and gets Picard 24-hour diplomatic access to the Borg Cube.
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Narek confronts Soji and tells her that whenever she contacts her mother, the call always lasts precisely 70 seconds. Soji says she always falls asleep before the call ends. She returns to her quarters and calls her mother, and even though she tries to fight it, she falls asleep again. As she drifts off, the image of her mother flickers, making it fairly obvious to us that she’s some kind of construct. Soji wakes up and scans objects from her childhood, which the computer reveals are actually only three years old.
Picard beams aboard the Borg Cube and is haunted by visions of his assimilation. He meets with Hugh – a Borg drone he rescued when he was captain of the Enterprise, now director of the Borg Reclamation Project – and they embrace warmly. He asks Hugh about Soji, who knows who she is, and correctly guesses that she’s in danger. Elsewhere on the Cube, Narek takes Soji to a chamber where Romulans practice a form of meditation called a Zhal Makh. He takes her through the process, during which she recalls her dream in greater detail – including looking through a skylight and seeing two red moons, and violent lightning storms.
Rizzo has been secretly watching the ritual and relays this information – likely a clue to the location of the mysterious homeworld they’re looking for – to her Zhat Vash superiors. A tearful Narek locks Soji in the chamber with his cube, which releases gas. But before it can kill her she activates, just like Dahj did before her, and punches a hole in the floor, escaping. Picard locates her and tells her why he’s here. She decides to trust him and they escape to a distant planet together using a Spatial Trajector—a secret transporter used by the Borg Queen with a range of 40,000 light years. Elnor tells Picard he’s going to stay behind and defend him, and the screen fades to black as the Romulans approach the transporter.
Verdict: The highlight of this episode was Picard revisiting his assimilation by the Borg; the focus of the classic Next Generation two-parter The Best of Both Worlds. We loved seeing him being reunited with Hugh, one of the few characters in this series who actually respects him. But there were a few less successful moments in the episode – particularly Jurati seducing Rios, which seemed wildly out of character, and Elnor’s baffling decision to stay and fight the Romulans, despite the fact that Picard was already light years away.
- Picard has flashbacks to his encounter with the Borg Queen. The Federation defeated the Queen during the events of Star Trek: Voyager, infecting her with a pathogen that ultimately killed her. It’s unlikely she’ll reappear in Picard, at least not in the present timeline.
- In Soji’s dream she sees orchids in her father’s lab. Her father was a xenobotanist, and the genetically-engineered orchids we see are named Orchidaceae Dahj Oncidium – after her sister. Of course, after this episode, how much of this is true is now up for debate.
- In the Borg Cube, Picard sees rows of regeneration alcoves. These are essentially charging stations for Borg drones, built using a technology that Data described as “far beyond our capabilities” in The Next Generation. Seven of Nine had to use one periodically aboard the USS Voyager.
Star Trek: Picard is available to watch on CBS All Access every Thursday in the US, and every Friday on Amazon Prime Video internationally.