"Fly Me to the Moon" is a course correction after the hugely uneventful "Watcher," in which a car chase featured no one chasing the car. (I just can't get over that one.) This outing is fine, but the season, which started out with two very entertaining and promising shows, is getting predictably mired in the bog that is its serialized nature, which features a lot of plot and characters but an unfortunate lack of curiosity. It's more about moving pieces around on a chessboard (although Picard has so far yet to become "the very board upon which this game is played," as was promised by Q) and setting various things in procedural motion.
This episode does so at a reasonable clip and it has its character-based pleasures, mostly involving Agnes (who knew?) and her new frenemy, the Borg Queen, who early in the episodes uses Rios' voice commands to tap into a cell tower and call the police. A police officer arrives, which the Queen seems prepared to assimilate (although I was wondering why she never used that handy Borg tentacle until this very moment), so Agnes shoots her dead with a shotgun.
This doesn't happen before the Queen is able to manipulate Agnes into getting close enough to inject her with nanoprobes, such that the Queen is able to survive within Agnes' mind, even though the Queen's body is dead. These revelations are not shown to us until the final moments, which is a serviceable little narrative trick that keeps us in the dark for a while, and the rest of the crew in the dark still. Retrofitting Agnes' character as a lonely wallflower who uses awkwardness and humor as a defense mechanism — and who is bizarrely and codependently drawn toward the Borg Queen until the moment she is joined with her — is one of the more promising things happening on this show right now.
Meanwhile, the young woman Q was trying to manipulate turns out to be Renee Picard (Penelope Mitchell), one of Jean-Luc's distant ancestors. The only thing known about her is that she is destined to discover a microorganism on Jupiter's moon Io, so maybe she's the very board upon which this game is played. We see her first here in a spacecraft simulator, where she cracks under pressure. Q has managed to insert himself into this world as her psychiatrist, where she mentions the creeping return of a crippling depression that is threatening her ability to go on the mission. But if she doesn't go on the mission, history may go all totalitarian sideways. Do I have that right? I'm not sure, because it's not clear yet exactly what happening or not happening will result in the timeline disaster.
Q's session is witnessed by Picard with the help of Tallinn, the Watcher character who looks exactly like Laris and is played by Orla Brady. She's actually a Supervisor in the same type of role as Gary Seven, the main character of the backdoor pilot that aired as TOS's "Assignment: Earth." Tallinn is assigned to ensure that the proper destiny plays out for Renee. The whole crew is brought into the plot (now that they're all reunited on La Sirena) to oversee Renee's movements and ensure she goes on the mission. To do so they must go undercover at a high-security gala in full-on heist mode. Hopefully this heist will prove more entertaining than the one in "Stardust City Rag."
Oh, yeah: There's also Adam Soong (Brent Spiner) and his daughter Kore (Isa Briones). Soong is a discredited geneticist and his daughter is sick with an illness that confines her to a life inside their house. Q needs Soong's help and worms his way into his life with an offer Soong can't refuse; the scenes between Spiner and de Lancie are the ones in this episode that have the most dramatic juice.
Barely worth mentioning here is the quick and easy rescue of Rios from the Homeland Security bus, which somehow makes "Watcher" look even more pointless. Raffi continues to be annoying with her angry impulsivity that's excessive against all reason and overplayed by Michelle Hurd. Seven appears to be the reasonable one trying to minimize the damage — until she proceeds to go along with freeing all the prisoners on the bus. This seems like (1) making a snap judgment call when you don't have all the facts and (2) clearly contaminating the timeline with unnecessary interference. Someone needs to answer to Lucsly and Dulmur from Temporal Investigations when this is all over.
So, yeah. There's a lot of plot plotting going on in here, and it's kind of amazing how efficient and manageable it seems overall (give or take a bus rescue), considering how busy and, well, relatively nonsensical it is. The running time is shorter than usual, which might indicate why this feels so brisk and breezy. Stuff happens and it's kind of fun as an adventure for the team. But this is not to be mistaken for a clean narrative, and because it's merely one chapter of the book, it's impossible to know if this is going to end up holding together at all. The heist doesn't even get underway before the clock runs out on the episode. But this feels a lot less pointless and more entertaining and informative than last week did, however inconclusive, so that's something.
"I don't have the measles. I'm not going to get the measles.":
- Lea Thompson makes a cameo appearance, I guess because she was already on set to direct the previous two episodes.
- Having all these actors playing different roles is weird. Spiner as Soong I can take as a given, but then also having Orla Brady and Isa Briones playing human characters feels like an added pile-on of strange complications. Are we meant to take it as "Q somehow did it" or simply an "all the world's a stage" artistic conceit?
- Rios was being sent to a "sanctuary district," as in the ones from DS9's "Past Tense," which also took place in 2024. But the way they use Homeland Security and ICE only ends up being confusing. Is a sanctuary district now tied specifically to immigration, or is it about homelessness? Or what?
- Renee is supposed to be going into space in three days, and her upcoming quarantine prior to flight is directly referenced, but going to a crowded party before a quarantine that only lasts a couple of days is not going to cut it. If there's anything the writers should've learned from the COVID pandemic and applied here, it's how quarantines work.
- Is the Io mission actually supposed to be the one happening in three days? A manned mission to Io is far beyond current technological capability unless this version of 2024 is already beyond us (by far more than two years).
- Casting Brent Spiner as Yet Another Soong Relative is either hopelessly silly or just a requirement at this point. This is now the fourth different member of the Soong family tree he has played (in addition to "Brothers," the "Augments" trilogy, and "Et in Arcadia Ego"), not to mention Data, Lore, and B-4. He's got to hold the record for the most (sorta different) characters played by one actor on Trek, right?
- It now seems very obvious that Agnes is destined to become the masked version of the Borg Queen who attacked the Stargazer in the season opener. It's so obvious, indeed, that one wonders if there will be additional twists compounded upon this development. But even if not, the road to getting there and what it ultimately means should be interesting.
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