Some wounds never fully heal, and some experiences make people never quite whole again. These experiences, especially if they are dehumanizing, can have people struggling to regain some semblance of their former humanity for the rest of their lives. Even when they make you think that everything is all right and that everything is dealt with, darkness usually still lies beneath the surface.
Such was the case in Episode 5 of Star Trek: Picard, "Stardust City Rag." The episode was a lot of fun and downright silly at times, but in the end, a moment of shared trauma between two legendary Trek characters stood out the most.
Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) met for the first time in this episode, though each was already aware of the other. Seven wasted no time in knocking back a drink in Picard's study ("Bourbon, straight up"), and then made it clear just how far she's come since the finale of Star Trek: Voyager.
She's working with the Fenris Rangers now, a group that helps the helpless, and doesn't give up no matter the odds. This is something that former Admiral Picard is obviously still making amends for, as he shut down his Romulan relief efforts when Starfleet pulled their support. Seven makes it somewhat clear what she makes of that decision when she talks with Jean-Luc:
"It’s not saving the galaxy, it’s helping people who have no one else to help them. It’s hopeless and pointless and exhausting, and the only thing worse would be giving up."
Picard gets the message, especially now that he's locked into what is generally thought of to be a lost cause. Seven is sure that Picard thinks of her as just a vigilante and nothing more, but she helps him out anyway. We'd find out that it's because she has some personal skin in the game, however, in the form of revenge.
This is when Picard turns the tables and offers some advice to Seven, as he knows all too well the dangers of going too far with revenge ... Star Trek: First Contact certainly taught him a lot about that very thing.
"Murder is not justice. There is no solace in revenge."
The thing that really ties these two together, though, is obviously the fact that they were both assimilated by the Borg Collective. Seven spent a lot more of her life assimilated than Jean-Luc did, but still, that's not something that just goes away. Losing your humanity, your individuality, in any form, takes a toll.
It's not a trauma that Picard talks about often, but it's one that still haunts him. You can hear it in the lines, and when paired with the performance of Stewart, it is heartbreaking. Possibly no other character in Trek can relate to this situation better than Seven of Nine, as the following exchange proves:
Seven: After they brought you back from your time in the Collective … did you honestly feel that you regained your humanity?
Seven: All of it?
Picard: No. But we’re both working on it, aren’t we.
Seven: Every damn day of my life.
All of this coming, mind you, in an episode that features a mission that is dependent on a beret, a feathered hat, and an accent. Whether you're a former Borg drone or not, all of us are really still working on it, aren't we ... every damn day of our lives.
For more on this episode, including easter eggs and references galore, give a watch to the latest episode of SYFY WIRE's Warp Factor. Fun will now commence.