Giant portals, changelings running around, and a mysterious weapon far worse than we’ve seen before are a few threats the heroes in Picard are trying to avoid. The show has been stunningly great in the face of two average, if not terrible, seasons, and I’m loving it. Picard season three has maximized the enjoyment you could squeeze out of this property, be it sci-fi concepts, the incredible return of the cast, and mysteries galore. In episode four, titled “No Win Scenario,” the chips have never been more down for the characters in the series yet.
This episode opens with Picard (Patrick Stewart) having a nice dinner alone at a bar, interrupted by Starfleet cadets. They want to hear his war stories, and surprisingly he is receptive to them. It’s a learning moment for Picard in the present day, though, as he says, “you are never, ever, without hope.” This scene returns a few times throughout the episode, relaying wisdom at opportune times in the present. It works more or less but can feel overhanded, given some of the more subpar moments in the present.
Smash cut to Picard recently thrown off the bridge by his friend Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the USS Titan hurtling towards a gravity well that will surely kill them all. We get a classic Star Trek scene next, featuring the crew on the bridge trying to figure out how to get out of an impossible situation. Once again, Picard season three shows the writer’s room figured out what makes this property tick — seeing the best of the best working out problems and talking them through — and I’m loving it.
If the last episode was about the joy of being a father to a son, this episode brings up the terribleness of losing a child. The notion of the afterlife is brought up by Riker, who agrees Picard was right and that they should have fought rather than run to get out of their current situation. It perfectly shows that Picard lost the chance to be with his son, Jack (Ed Speleers), who he only recently discovered existed. As we learn next, it’s nothing the Holodeck can’t cure, right?!
While Picard and Jack connect in the Holodeck, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) tries to find the changeling who has been sabotaging the USS Titan. She’s no longer part of the crew and must pair up with the previous USS Titan captain, played by Todd Stashwick. It’s a fun idea since the captain isn’t very happy with Seven of Nine and is also pretty badly injured. Unfortunately, this subplot has some clunky progress thanks to happy accidents, so it’s a weaker element, to be sure.
Vadic (Amanda Plummer) has been relatively absent since we first saw her, but we get a key moment with her in this episode. Plummer continues to bring a little crazy to the role. We also get a sense of her position as she’s not the main villain but taking orders. This desire to kill the USS Titan and all on board might likely be the only way out!
Unfortunately, Picard’s past as a Borg comes up again in this episode. At this point, it feels overly done to mention Picard’s time as a Borg, especially since he’s worked through the trauma multiple times. It’s used to ruin his hangout with Jack, and while it explains why the captain is a jerk to him, it feels unnecessary. One could argue Jack seeing firsthand how that trauma affected Picard and others helps him understand his dad, but it seems here to remind the viewer too.
I’ll also point out how these heroes escape the gravity well feels out of nowhere and ridiculous. The idea itself is fine, but it comes from our main characters and not the likely great crew already manning the ship. I get it. This is a TV show, so give the win to the main players, but it seems outrageous nobody on this top-tier ship could think it up themselves. The series has introduced some interesting-looking characters already running the ship — including Geordi La Forge’s daughter — but seems to ignore them mostly. It’s a fun concept in how they escape, though, as we see a Starfleet ship ride a wave like a boat.
Giving Picard the captain’s seat is also a bit much, especially since Riker was ready to strangle him last episode, but again, for TV show expectations, it’s a nice moment. The resolution around the changeling Seven of Nine is after is also forced, and feels like they ran out of time and needed to get it over with.
Picard season three episode four, “No Win Scenario,” is a decent episode with the heroes’ backs against the wall. It falls prey to forced wins and overdone tropes but continues to do more right than wrong. There’s enough fan service to keep fans excited and happy, but this is certainly the weakest episode in the first six episodes.
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