Jean Luc Picard wrestles with PTSD triggered when the Borg assimilated him.
“The Impossible Box” delves into the psychology of both Soji and Picard. Jean Luc Picard’s return to a Borg Cube to find Soji brings back memories from when he was Locutus of Borg. Narek forces Soji deep into her unconscious to reveal the home plant for the synths. Before I explore my thoughts on the sixth episode of Star Trek: Picard, I will point out all the Easter Eggs that stood out to me.
Hugh, Agnes, and Picard mention in passing that when the Borg assimilated him, he was called Locutus of Borg, a reference from Star Trek Next Generation. Before the ex-Admiral went to the Borg cube, he went through all the files on the Borg, revealing stills from different episodes of TNG, including ones of a young Hugh and Picard as Locutus. We discover other Easter Eggs when Picard transports onto the cube and has flashbacks to when the Borg assimilated him in the two-part episode “Best of Both Worlds” in Star Trek: Next Generation.
I find Narek and Soji’s relationship in all of Star Trek: Picard confusing. “The Impossible Box” reveals that Narek has only been in the Borg Cube for two weeks. How can it be that the pair have become so close in that short of a time? Why does Soji trust Narek enough to listen to his advice on how to deal with falling asleep whenever her “Mom” calls?
The characters have zero chemistry, and they were moving way to fast to be believable. Though I do find all the new Romulan information, we learn in this episode to be interesting. The good news is that now that Narek has revealed he doesn’t care about Soji, we won’t have to suffer any more scenes of them being all lovey-dovey together.
Narek plays with a puzzle box. The box is sort of like a Rubik Cube, but unlike a Rubik Cube, after the puzzle is solved, the box opens up to reveal a prize. Narek, a Romulan spy, uses the puzzle toy to help him think. He is very calculating and a significant problem solver who thinks many steps ahead of everybody else. This sudden revelation leads me to another issue I have with the writing; the Romulan spy suddenly has these skill sets that we didn’t see in earlier episodes. Perhaps because Star Trek: Picard has only ten episodes, the writers don’t feel they have the time to build out the characters, but I wish there were at least some scenes in prior episodes showing Narek being tricky, so it doesn’t feel like it comes out of nowhere (I hope in the next season there is more character development throughout the season).
We also learn that Romulans have three different names. A name they tell the outside world—another name just for their families, and a third “real” name that they reveal to the person they love.
The Zhal Makh is another Romulan cultural touchstone revealed in this episode. The Zhal Makh is a type of Romulan meditation that helps Romulans figure out hidden truths. They walk through a maze in a private room, which enables them to access their unconscious. Narek has Soji walk through the labyrinth to guide her into realizing that she is a synth. This realization enables her to tell him where her home planet is located. After her dream reveals the truth, Narek tries to poison Soji with gas, but her new self-awareness activates her, and she escapes.
My favorite part of “The Impossible Box” were the scenes between Hugh and Picard. Before this episode, I was bored with Borg cube, which was mostly about Soji and Narek. Seeing old friends Hugh and Picard together made me interested in the Borg cube again. Hugh helps Picard deal with all the pain he holds onto from the time he was assimilated into the Borg.
One of the most potent visuals scenes takes place before Picard gets permission to transport onto the Borg cube. Picard looking at a hologram of himself as Locutus. The Locutus hologram aligns onto his face making Picard look like the Borg drone he used to be. He caresses his arm, revealing that he is still holding onto his hatred of the Borg.
Picard suffers the minute he transports onto the cube. He is haunted by flashbacks of being assimilated into the Borg. Two ex-Borg drones hold a disoriented Picard to stop him from falling, which triggers a full-blown PTSD episode. Hugh snaps him out of it by saying that they were trying to help him. The two embrace. Picard’s face lit up upon seeing the younger man again.
Hugh takes Picard to where the Romulans are trying to help the ex-Borg drones reclaim themselves. He sees the procedures that remove the majority of the Borg implants, leaving the ex-Borgs scarred. At first, the other ex-Borg drones frighten Picard, but slowly, with Hugh’s guidance, he realizes that they are survivors like him. He smiles with empathy when he sees one of the survivors, a man missing an eye and eye socket on one side of his face, looking into the mirror and crying with joy because the implants are gone.
Hugh muses that perhaps Picard will become an advocate for ex-Borg drone rights. The young man explains to Jean Luc that only he can come and go as he likes because he is a Federation citizen. All the other ex drones are stuck on the cube until the Romulans let them go. They are prisoners. Perhaps when Picard is done helping Soji, he will help free the ex-Borg drones.
“The Impossible Box” ends with Hugh using his innate Borg knowledge to find the room meant for the Borg Queen, allowing Soji and Picard to escape the cube. They step through a portal that transports them to another planet. Hugh and Elnor stay behind to stop the Romulans from going after their friend. I wonder why Jean Luc Picard has chosen that particular planet to go to with Soji?
The promo for next week shows an image of William Riker, meaning we will finally get to see him and Deanna Troi again. As a Star Trek: Next Generation fan, I am thrilled.
“The Impossible Box” leaves me with a couple of questions. Dahj felt safe with Picard the minute she saw him in a news video, so why does Soji seem so distrustful of Picard? Does this twin Synth not have the same Data memories that made Dahj remember the retired Admiral? Why does Picard see Riker and Troi in the seventh episode? How will Hugh and Elnor survive a fight with the Romulans? I guess we will find out next week.