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After watching Star Trek: Picard‘s latest episode, fans will likely believe in Romulan assassin nuns (yes, that’s a thing now) before they’ll ever believe that Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) reverses his decades-long stance on being very uncomfortable with children.
“Absolute Candor” reveals that, since we last saw Picard in action, a lot has changed for the retired admiral and former Enterprise captain, who lamented frequently about children and families on his flagship. (Star Trek: The Next Generation even did an episode, “Disaster,” that put Picard in his most cringeworthy scenario: trapped on a turbolift with a busted leg and a few frightened children.) But the Picard episode suggests that all it took to melt his heart’s fist-shaking opinion of children was to spark a friendship with a Romulan boy turned space Legolas/Romulan sell sword, Elnor (Evan Evagora). How this relationship developed — and why Picard, in yet another uncharacteristic move, abandoned it — drives a story spotted with more Easter Eggs and call backs to Star Trek‘s past. Here are the most memorable ones:
— Again, Picard’s disdain for children is well-documented. Starting with the series premiere of TNG, “Encounter at Farpoint,” the issue would present itself in the plots of various episodes, most notably season two’s “Samaritan Snare” and the aforementioned “Disaster.”
— Elnor wasn’t the first child for whom Picard was able to set aside his discomfort. That would be his nephew, first seen in the Season 4 TNG episode “Family.” He died offscreen in the 1994 Star Trek: Generations feature film.
— If the opening scenes depicting the Romulans’ resettlement on the planet Vashti feel familiar, that might be because they have much in common, tonally, with the opening moments of 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection, the third film featuring the Next Gen crew. Fittingly, both “Absolute Candor” and Insurrection were directed by Jonathan Frakes.
— Outside the main windows of Rios’ ship, the warp speed effect has an almost rainbow-like aesthetic as the stars streak past. That could likely be a callback to a similar visual effect seen in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
— Rios isn’t the only person in Picard’s life with a collection of Klingon opera. Famously, Worf (Michael Dorn) was a big fan.
— “Come.” The command Picard barks in this episode is a popular one that the Captain would say in many episodes of Next Gen. Nice to call back to that here, the first time fans have heard it uttered in (at least) more than a decade.
— Notice how Raffi and Rio “throw” holographic images into the air for display? A similar tech was employed by the Romulan baddie Nero and his Number Two in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 movie, Star Trek, co-written by Picard executive producer Alex Kurtzman.
— Picard speaks the customary Romulan greeting of “jolan tru” for the first time since he joined forces with Data and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock on Romulus in “Unification, Parts I and II.”
— The black jacket with dark gray shoulder area appears to be a nod toward Picard’s red and black jacket first used in season five of Next Gen.
— And the episode ends with Seven of Nine’s return to Star Trek, the first time fans have seen the popular character in action since Star Trek: Voyager‘s series finale, “Endgame,” in May 2001.
Star Trek: Picard streams new episodes every Thursday on CBS All Access.
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