'Star Trek: Picard' Episode 4 Recap: Jean-Luc Picks Up a Romulan Warrior, & Destroyer Discovers Herself

Jean-Luc Picard is still hung up on the past in "Absolute Candor," the fourth episode of Star Trek: Picard, which premiered Thursday on CBS All Access.

As in the preceding episode in the series, "Absolute Candor" opens 14 years before the events of Picard, this time on the planet Vashti in the Beta Quadrant—a Romulan Relocation Hub for evacuees Starfleet rescued from the exploding supernova seen in the 2009 movie, Star Trek.

The episode doesn't start with Picard (Patrick Stewart), but instead with Elnor (Evan Evagora), an orphaned refugee left in the care of a group of warrior priestesses. Ideological enemies of the secretive Tal Shiar, the women practice perfect honesty—"the way of absolute candor." Living in a house of women and mocked by the locals as a "sisterboy," Picard promises to find the child a more suitable home, in between reading aloud from The Three Musketeers and stick jousting.

In Picard's flashback visit to Vashti, we witness his respect for the Romulan people and the lengths he's gone to help them find a new home. But that all falls apart the moment he learns of the attack on Mars, which torpedoes Starfleet's commitment to the rescue operation.

"A promise is a prison," the priestess Zani (Amirah Vann) says, "do not make yourself another person's jailer." The third episode of Picard is about the broken promises confining Jean-Luc since he left Starfleet.

At the end of Picard's third episode, "The End is the Beginning," the former Starfleet captain is once again shipboard, ready to fly after AI scientist Bruce Maddox. But "Absolute Candor" introduces a side mission, returning to the modern day of the series aboard La Sirena, as Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) pilots the ship back to Vashti.

With a ship's library full of Klingon opera holos and a pilot more interested in his book on "the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death," the long trip to the Beta Quadrant finds Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) lamenting the boredom of space.

"It's not like it's called vast quantities of stuff," she says.

But a fight between Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Picard is brewing in the holodeck. "Man can't even take a guilt trip without using a starship," Raffi says, prodding Picard for the vanity she sees in his desire to return to Vashti. Since Starfleet abandoned the planet, it's become a hotbed for the Romulan Rebirth movement, organized crime and piracy.

Still, Picard hopes to find an ally in Vashti's priestesses and believes they will need the help of the Romulan warriors if they hope to get to Data's daughter Soji Asha (Isa Briones) before the Tal Shiar death squads.

Back on the Artifact, Soji investigates what happened to Professor Ramdha (Rebecca Wisocky) and the other de-assimilated Romulans, who she suspects had intentionally put themselves in the Borg cube's path to be assimilated and somehow disable the ship from the inside. In old videos of Ramdha, she learns of the Romulan Ganmadan, or "Day of Annihilation," which will destroy "all life, everywhere."

"When all the shackled demons break their chains and answer the call of The Destroyer," Ramdha says, describing Ganmadan. We know from previous episodes that Soji's lover Narek (Harry Treadaway) suspects Soji of being this Destroyer, but the Romulan spy seems to believe an intimate relationship may lead him to other dangerous, Data-like synthetics.

For "Absolute Candor," as in previous episodes, that means romantic scenes between Soji and Narek, with the underlying threat that their relationship will inevitably become adversarial. Together the two slide around on ice and revel in nerdy banter.

"How's the paradigm," Narek asks Soji.

"Paradigmatic," she responds. Cute!

On Vashti, Picard finds Zani and meets an adult Elnor, now a brooding Romulan warrior elf, who, still better about Picard abandoning the planet, refuses to join Picard's quest. But Elnor's refusal of Picard's call to adventure is short-lived: the Romulan sword fighter steps up to defend Picard when a Romulan senator-turned-gangster attacks the nonagenarian. The sword fight is brief and deadly; its gruesome decapitation joining Rios' use of the word "f--k" in the episode's conspicuous determination to portray itself as more adult than the family-friendly Next Generation.

Elnor (Evan Evagora) binds himself to Picard, becoming the captain's Qalankhkai in "Absolute Candor." CBS All Access

Apologizing to the angry mob of Romulans, Picard and Elnor leave Vashti and beam back to La Sirena. Elnor is now Picard's, "a warrior who has bound himself to a lost cause." But the quest may end before it has a chance to properly begin, as pirates aboard an old Bird-of-Prey attack Picard and his shipmates.

Before the epic space battle, "Absolute Candor" cuts away to a thumb-twiddling scene that's become something like an episodic tradition. Narek's older sister Narissa threatens to abort his slow seduction of Soji and transition to violence and torture to get what they want from Data's daughter. For now, it's nothing more than treading water, and, soon enough, we're back in the skies above Vashti.

The episode ends with a dogfight between Rios and the Bird-of-Prey, which has Picard's ship outgunned, but lacks in maneuverability. Picard and his crew win the day with the help of a mysterious pilot, who they beam aboard after the fight is over. Their allied ship was piloted by none other than Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), the former Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01—a Borg drone who recovered her humanity in the series Star Trek: Voyager. Though Picard and Seven of Nine have never met, the former captain of the Enterprise recognizes the famous ex-Borg immediately. Too bad she passes out from her wounds before they have a chance to talk.

We'll find out why Seven of Nine followed Picard all the way to the Beta Quadrant in the next episode of Star Trek: Picard, "Stardust City Rag," which premieres on CBS All Access Thursday, February 20.