This week’s episode had plenty of action, but that action wasn’t half as meaningful as a single conversation between Jean-Luc and Beverly.
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By Sopan Deb
Season 3, Episode 3: ‘Seventeen Seconds’
The best episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” often included very little action. They featured strong dialogue to develop relationships between crew members. (Guinan and Jean-Luc’s conversations in Ten Forward matched the best scenes any Trek franchise had to offer — and all the characters did was sit there and chat.)
So it’s no surprise that the meatiest moments of this season of “Picard” feature simple conversations between key characters. None is more meaningful — and devastating — that Jean-Luc and Beverly’s conversation about their past, with a close runner-up being the flashback at the bar with Jean-Luc and Riker that opened the episode. Both scenes matched up old friends, though it’s the relationship between Jean-Luc and Beverly we learn more about.
Gates McFadden and Patrick Stewart put together a wonderful performance in sick bay. We learn that Jack does indeed know his father is Jean-Luc, but chose not to reach out to him. That Beverly purposely kept knowledge of Jean-Luc’s son from him, choosing instead to isolate herself from all her close friends, and in fact, from Starfleet altogether. We learn that Beverly got pregnant while still on the Enterprise — which strikes me as a bit of a human resources violation, but let’s ignore that for the moment. Jean-Luc says their last breakup was their fifth one. (In a “Star Trek: Nemesis” deleted scene, Beverly is shown to be at Starfleet Medical at the end of the film, though it doesn’t count if it was deleted.)
Jean-Luc is justifiably angry at Beverly for choosing to keep Jack a secret — especially at a time when he seems ready to accept a life outside of Starfleet.
“We both knew we were at the end,” Beverly says.
“I didn’t,” Jean-Luc tartly replies.
Beverly makes — on its face — an uncompelling case that Jean-Luc was ill-equipped to be a father: He was too obsessed with saving the galaxy, she says, to be present. This seems harsh. He wasn’t given the chance to find out. As Jean-Luc notes, who’s to say he wouldn’t have shifted his priorities?
But if one looks at it from Beverly’s perspective, as we noted last week, Jean-Luc has spent a lifetime being grumpy around children and putting his career first, above everything. It’s understandable that Beverly wouldn’t want to rely on someone like that to be a co-parent, particularly with someone she had repeatedly broken up with. McFadden plays this with a mixture that is both unapologetic and regretful. Beverly is certain she did the right thing, but is sad it had to be this way. Jean-Luc, meanwhile, is clearly feeling betrayed.
Then there is the matter of whether Beverly did the right thing by Jack.
“As a mother, your whole being is about protecting your child,” she says.
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