Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 5 review: in ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ the series finally takes off

Star Trek: Picard is finally starting to pick up some momentum, five episodes into Season 2

This review contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 5, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.

It makes such a difference when things actually happen, doesn’t it? Admittedly, it does throw into sharp relief how inconsequential some of the earlier stuff we’ve spent time on has been – separating Rios from the others just to reunite them all so easily really can only be understood as procrastinating – but we’ve gone over that a few times now already. It’s just a relief that, finally, Star Trek: Picard is starting to pick up some actual momentum – five episodes in, and with only five left to go, it seems like they’re starting to tell the story they actually always wanted to.

Once again, we’re rooting around in Picard’s past: we meet test-pilot ancestor Renee Picard, who by some technicality makes first contact… or, at least, is symbolically influential on attitudes towards alien life such that her absence from history would lead to Earth becoming a fascist dystopia. It’s a little hazy still, admittedly, on what her significance actually is – a haziness it might’ve been interesting to see them lean into, breaking from the genre’s usual “we need to protect time” to a more explicit “we don’t actually know what we’re meant to be doing here” story.

How this fits into earlier questions about Picard’s past – a recurring theme through the series – is another matter. ‘The Star Gazer’ drew on Patrick Stewart’s own life and alluded to a violent parent in Picard’s childhood, suggesting that the legacy of that abuse influenced his choice to join Starfleet, the self-isolating decision of a man determined to put as much distance between him and his father as possible. It also, the series suggested, was a big part of why Picard had never really sustained a long-term romantic relationship, why he still struggled now to form a connection with Laris – and even, on some level, was part of his suspicion of the Borg as the series began.

It’s hard to tell exactly how Renee Picard factors into all of this, if indeed at all. (Actually, it’s maybe a slightly inconsequential point, but surely some of Q’s advice as a therapist was… good advice? I wonder if maybe the twist is that Picard and friends are doing the wrong thing by trying to convince Renee onto a flight she’s not ready for.) Beyond the broad strokes of being ‘about the past’, it’s unclear what a distant ancestor represents in terms of Picard’s own character – again, it’s hard to shake the feeling that those prior four episodes should’ve been a lot more thematically introspective.

Brent Spiner as Adam Soong in Star Trek: Picard (Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+)Brent Spiner as Adam Soong in Star Trek: Picard (Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+)
Brent Spiner as Adam Soong in Star Trek: Picard (Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+)

Elsewhere, we’ve got the return of Brent Spiner and Isa Briones, both playing new characters: not Data and Soji but 21st century ancestors Adam and Kore Soong. It is, if nothing else, nice to see them both back – Spiner of course is always reliable, and Briones was one of the best parts of Star Trek: Picard’s first season, very much underutilised across the second so far. Admittedly I’m never too fond of this general conceit, where an actor we know plays a different character to the one we’re actually interested in seeing, but in this instance it’s a really welcome return from them both.

It’s not just because they’re both great actors, but because it again adds to that sense of things actually starting to happen in Picard (a very plot-driven show that has, thus far, struggled to find enough substance to actually fill its episodes). It’s a little thinly-sketched, relying more on how many other times we’ve seen the desperate scientist driven to extremes to help his sick daughter than anything unique to this iteration, but in introducing some new ideas finally the series starts to take off.

There’s an underlying sense, sometimes, that Picard’s best ideas are still offscreen: I still think the best idea from ‘The Star Gazer’ was Picard trying to negotiate the Borg joining the Federation, offering exactly the kind of serialised character drama the show would thrive on. (Similarly, I still wish Season One had ended with Data resurrected in that flesh-and-blood boy, Pinocchio finally allowed to be a real boy, but it’s probably just time to let that go.)

Increasingly, it’s starting to look like if we return to that idea, it’ll be at the very end of this series, if not in fact in Season 3 – a shame, but at least Picard is finally starting to do things again. Hopefully it’ll continue.

Captain’s Log

• Of course, I say everything with Rios was a bit inconsequential, but I’m half-wondering if maybe he’ll stay in 2024 at the end of the series. There are a few bits that seemed like Santiago Cabrera trying his best to add depth to a partially sketched arc (that’ll still seem a bit out of nowhere if it does prove to be the case).

• I understand why they opted against, but I feel like they missed a really good QAnon joke somewhere in here.

• Increasingly convinced the masked Borg Queen from ‘The Star Gazer’ was, in fact, a future version of Agnes. Either way, though, Alison Pill is doing some really fantastic work here – she’s one of the best actors on the show.

• On a similar note, I wonder if perhaps Talinn actually is a younger Laris, and a condition of being a Watcher is that they lose their memories of that time when they leave the job.

• Evan Evagora once again shortchanged.

• It does feel – maybe interestingly, maybe not – that the number of times they’ve had Patrick Stewart go “oh, Kirk’s Enterprise once encountered…” is a little bit revealing of what Terry Matalas is actually nostalgic for, and what he isn’t.

Star Trek: Picard season 2 airs new episodes weekly on Amazon Prime Video. You can read our review of last week’s episode, ‘Watcher’, right here, and our review of series premiere ‘The Star Gazer’ here.

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