By Nick Schager
Updated March 12, 2020 at 09:00 AM EDT
Trae Patton/CBS

With Soji safe from Romulan harm (at least for the time being), Star Trek: Picard’s heroes set about deciphering the mystery of the anti-synthetic conspiracy in this week’s episode, “Broken Pieces” – an installment that plays like an exposition-filled setup for the season’s looming climax.

First, a flashback depicts Commander Oh and a cadre of female accomplices – all dressed in black hooded robes – on Aia, the Grief World. Standing in a circle in the desert, Oh – who’s apparently half-Romulan, half-Vulcan – says that their ancestors came here long ago and discovered the memories of an ancient civilization that met a grim fate. That race left behind an object known as the Admonishen, which warned of horror and annihilation coming from the skies above. When Oh’s godmothers first endured the Admonishen, the Zhat Vash were born.

For hundreds of years, the Zhat Vash have operated in the shadows to prevent the second coming of the destroyers. At a glowing table in a circular pool, these Zhat Vash members all place their hands on the Admonishen. Per Oh’s prediction, most are driven mad by the visions they receive, blowing their brains out or smashing their heads in with rocks – or, in the case of Ramdha, who’s a part of this cabal, tearing out her hair. Only Rizzo survives. She’s told by Oh that their work begins on Mars.

On the Artifact in the present day, Rizzo visits her now-comatose aunt Ramdha, whom she says lost her mind “with panache.” Apparently, Ramdha broke the Borg Cube through the sheer force of her grief (over what she saw from the Admonishen) when it tried to assimilate her Tal Shiar ship years earlier.

At the conclusion of this family reunion, Rizzo orders her men to take down “the freak,” Elnor. A skirmish ensues, and Elnor is rescued by Seven of Nine.

Aboard La Sirena, Rios freaks out at the sight of Soji. He agrees to Picard’s request to chart a course to Deep Space 12, after which, he proclaims, “I’m done.” Picard tells Soji, “You have no choice but to trust me.” His trustworthiness, however, is immediately called into question by Raffi, who introduces herself to Soji and then lambastes Picard for bringing along a double-agent: Jurati, whom Raffi has deduced is a Romulan spy (her self-injection was intended to disable the tracking isotope in her blood), and Maddox’s killer.

Picard balks at this hypothesis, but it’s more wishful thinking than forceful reasoning. Raffi slams Picard for recklessly predicating his entire mission of “rescue and sacrifice and redemption” on Soji, whom he only knows from one single Data-inherited neuron.

Picard chats with Admiral Clancy, who tells him to “Shut the f--- up” but agrees to his demand that Starfleet send a squadron to rendezvous with La Sirena in Deep Space 12.

Rios has locked himself away in his quarters. Raffi talks to one of Rios’ holograms, which identifies Soji as a girl named Jana that Rios once knew. She asks the hologram about a symbol of eight circles that she noticed Romulans were drawing on the Artifact and learns that it’s called an Octonary – an “apocryphal” planetary system with eight component stars that are not found in any modern charts. Raffi deduces that the “conclave of eight” didn’t refer to the people behind the attack on Mars, but the place where those conspirators met.

While eating, Soji asks Picard about Data, whom he describes as “brave, curious, very gentle. He had a child’s wisdom, unclouded by habit or bias. He made us all laugh – except when he was trying to make us laugh.” She asks him if Data loved him, to which he says that both of them shared a limited capacity for expressing and processing emotion. Soji concludes that Data did love Picard, in part because she’s desperate to believe that she too can love.

Another hologram informs Raffi that an Octonary couldn’t occur naturally; it would have to be built. She tries to procure some wine, only to be reminded that she’s restricted her alcohol access. That’s not true of Rios, though, who’s boozing it up in his cabin. He finds an old cigar box of mementos that contains a picture of him (as a young man) with his former Starfleet Captain, Alonso Vandemir, as well as a sketch of him with a woman who looks just like Soji.

Seven and Elnor access the Queen Cell. Seven has begun regenerating the Cube. Her plan is to reconnect the Borgs to each other in a micro collective in order to fight off the Romulans and seize control of the Cube. Her fear is that once she “enslaves” the Borgs again, she might not want to release them from the collective’s control. Little does she know that Rizzo has a plan to exterminate the XBs, and to jettison into space the Borgs that are currently in stasis.

In a recreation of Picard’s chateau study, Raffi meets with Rios’ five holograms, each of which contains some part of his personality (and memory). They reveal that Rios was discharged from Starfleet and suffered a traumatic breakdown after an incident that involved Jahna and culminated with Vandemir dying by suicide.

Picard confronts Jurati about her treachery. She confesses that she killed Maddox because Commodore Oh poisoned her mind with visions of a centuries-old apocalypse. She says this calamity came about because of man’s hubris. “We are at a threshold…unless we act quickly and destroy even the possibility of synthetic life,” this hell will come again, courtesy of the destroyer – namely, Soji.

Jurati meets Soji and is amazed that she sleeps, eats, cries, and drinks like a real human. She calls Soji “a technological masterpiece and a work of art,” but the android wants to know if Jurati considers her a person, which goes unanswered. Jurati does state, forcefully, that despite Commodore Oh’s order to kill her, she would never harm Soji.

Raffi finally sits down with Rios, who recounts his sorrowful backstory. On a diplomatic mission, his Starfleet crew came upon a ship with two passengers – a figure known as “beautiful flower” and a younger protégé named Jahna. Following a black flag directive from Starfleet, Vandemir executed these visitors and then ended his own life. Rios covered up this crime so that Starfleet didn’t destroy his entire ship, and then left the Federation six months later, “broken.” He confirms that Jahna was identical to Soji, meaning she was obviously one of Maddox’s synthetics.

Rizzo executes a room full of XBs. Seeing this, Seven connects to the collective and activates the dormant Borgs. At this, Rizzo blasts the stasis Borgs into space. Rizzo’s Romulan fleet has the coordinates of the synthetic homeworld, and though she’s attacked by a horde of Borgs, she appears to escape by beaming herself onto an orbiting ship. Now under Borg control once more, the Cube releases Seven because she “still has work to do.”

The La Sirena crew gather for a cards-on-the-table chat. Jurati apologizes for what she’s done and says she’ll turn herself in once they reach Deep Space 12. Rios gives Soji French fries and a peppermint milkshake – a treat he knows she loves thanks to his brief time with Jahna. Raffi explains that 200,000-300,000 years ago, someone dragged eight suns together and hung a planet in the middle of them to house the Admonition, which warned of a past in which synthetic life was created and then evolved to a point in which it brought about destruction. Fearing that this synthetic “dividing line” might be crossed in the future, the Romulans formed the Zhat Vash to terminate all synthetic life. Oh has been carrying out this crusade as a mole within Starfleet, and she’s the one who orchestrated the false-flag attack on Mars that led to the synthetics ban.

Hearing this, as well as about Rios’ encounter with Jahna, Soji locks everyone out of the bridge and charts a course for her homeworld. Rios reluctantly agrees to this plan, and later, Picard consoles him about Vandemir’s death.

Rios is worried about the possibility that Soji might really be a destroyer of worlds. Picard opines, “The past is written. But the future is left for us to write. And we have powerful tools, Rios. Openness. Optimism. And the spirit of curiosity. All they have is secrecy and fear. And fear is the great destroyer.”

With that, La Sirena takes off through a vortex, followed closely by an enemy ship that, via cloaking, has been tailing it the entire time.

Captain’s Log:

  • La Sirena’s holograms are all fragments of Rios, which begs the question – why does one of them speak with a Scottish accent?
  • Picard continues to feel like a passenger along for the ride, as Raffi does most of this episode’s investigative heavy lifting.
  • Since neither the Romulans nor the Borg is now standing in Seven and Elnor’s way, expect them to reunite with Picard and company in short order.

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