Previously on Star Trek: Picard: Beverly Crusher’s ship was attached by unknown assailants. Out of options, she sent an encoded message to Picard asking for help. Picard enlisted Riker, and together, they made their way to her coordinates with the help of Seven of Nine on the USS Titan. Meanwhile, Raffi was searching for criminals who stole an experimental portal weapon from Daystrom Station, but she wasn’t quick enough to stop an attach on a Starfleet recruitment center. When Picard and Riker arrived on Crusher’s ship, they found her in a med pod. Also, her son, who explained that they’re being hunted.
Two weeks earlier… As the Eleos approaches a planet, Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) – yes, JACK. CRUSHER. – opens a channel to get clearance to enter orbit. (He identifies the Eleos as a Mariposa medical vessel, which is a nice, subtle callback to season 2.) No one from the planet answers, but a Fenris Ranger ship approaches, stating that the Eleos has violated their airspace en route to a quarantine zone. Without Federation access codes, they’ll have to submit for inspection. Jack attempts to sweet talk his way out of the situation and fails.
The Ranger (Robert G. Morgan) boards and begins the inspection. Jack, frustrated, reiterates that they are a medical vessel carrying medical supplies to people in need of them. Too bad they’re in violation of at least 27 protocols. But Telerian Fever doesn’t wait for protocols. Among the actual medical supplies, the Ranger finds some Romulan Ale – used for sterilization, of course, and definitely not a bribe. The bribe comes in the form of weapons to use against the local warlord, who engineered this virus. This tactic works. But not well enough to prevent the Ranger from letting someone know, “we found him.”
Present Day… The power level on the Eleos is just 13% and they’re staring down a scary-ass ship. Jack explains that he doesn’t know who is chasing them – first it was Fenris Rangers, then Klingons, then Starfleet – but they’ve been running for months, trying to hide in the nebula, and it’s fried the ship’s systems. Picard (Patrick Stewart), of course, suggests negotiating. So Jack asks the computer for a threat assessment, which is essentially a death sentence. Their only course of action is to get Beverly on the shuttle and hail the Titan for help.
Speaking of the Titan, Ensign LaForge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) has picked up a new signal on the sensors. The energy signatures are not anything that Lt. T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) has seen before, but they can tell the ship is heavily armed. Seven (Jeri Ryan) is ready to go in after her friends, but Shaw (Todd Stashwick) wants nothing of it. He’s not going to risk his crew for two “relics.”
As Jack starts ordering around his visitors and makes preparations to move the med pod, Riker (Jonathan Frakes) can’t help but comment that there’s something familiar about him. But before any real action can be taken, the alien ship fires, destroying the shuttle. The med pod is losing power, Beverly’s lifesigns are failing, and they’re trapped.
On M’Talas Prime, Raffi (Michelle Hurd) watches the news coverage of the attack on the recruitment center, beating herself up over the loss of 117 lives. She reaches out to her handler again, who tells her that the investigation is being terminated. The attack is being attributed to a Romulan trigger-man named Lurak T’Luco, but Raffi doesn’t buy it. Why would this guy use “world-ending” portal tech and use it on a mid-level recruitment center? And even if it was him, he didn’t steal it, he bought it. Supposedly, from a Ferengi named Sneed. But she knows its a cover, and she’s not going to let this go. But Starfleet Intelligence is terminating the investigation. So she’s on her own.
Back on the Titan, Seven reports to Shaw that there’s been weapons activity in the nebula. He could not care less. And he’s still pissed that she went behind his back. But she lays out the choice he’s now faced with: “You could be the hero who saved heroes or you could be remembered for being the captain who let two legends die.” And she’s out.
Jack and Riker are taking stock, and they don’t seem to have any option other than surrender. But Picard is placing transport inhibitors along the perimeter of the bridge. Excellent timing, too, as the enemy attempts to beam Jack out. And that makes it clear that they want Jack, and want him alive. So if a transporter doesn’t work, what about an extraction team? The Eleos is boarded and Riker picks the intruders off quickly. So, plan C is a tractor beam, and there’s no way to break free with the current state of the ship.
Thank goodness for the USS Titan, jumping in and breaking the tractor’s hold on the Eleos. Titan attempts to beam them out, but how quickly everyone forgot about those transport inhibitors. Picard must be practicing his shooting because he grabs a phaser and destroys the inhibitors just in the nick of time.
Raffi’s looking for help from an old contact, who just happens to be her ex-husband, Jay (Randy J. Goodwin). He’s pretty standoffish with her, but she pushes ahead, knowing that he allows some shady dealings in the back room of his bar. But he’s concerned that she’s about to go down another conspiracy rabbit-hole, just like after the attack of Mars, clinging to her theories before her family. But she knows there’s something here and she’s the only one doing anything about it, so she needs to talk to Sneed. Unfortunately, Jay assumed this meeting was going to be about Gabe, their son. So, her makes an offer: either he puts in a good word with Gabe or sets up a meeting with Sneed. Raffi chooses Sneed.
Now that Titan‘s engaged with this unknown ship, Shaw wants to know who and why. With Beverly beamed directly to sickbay, Riker, Picard, and Jack are escorted onto the bridge, where Jack remarks on how his mother’s warning of “No Starfleet” has gone out the airlock.
Titan receives a hail from the enemy vessel, and Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) introduces herself – and she’s certainly done her research on the Titan‘s crew. But she wants Jack. He’s broken a number of laws, and there’s a sizable bounty on his head. Plus, they’re outside Federation space and massively outgunned. Vadic gives them one hour to turn over Jack Crusher. And if they try to run, she’ll blow them out of the sky. To demonstrate her seriousness, Vadic uses her ship’s tractor beam tech to throw the Eleos at the Titan, tearing park of the hull.
Shaw goes over the sitch: Vadic’s weapons are locked on them, they can’t run, the closest Federation ships are days away, and the nebula is messing with long-range comms. There’s nothing in the Starfleet database on Vadic, but Seven says there have been rumors among the Fenris Rangers of a ship like this.
For his part, Jack’s never even heard of Vadic. But he is a con man and fugitive, so Shaw sends to him to brig. And Seven? She got them into the mess, helping Picard and Riker make off with a shuttle, so she’s relieved of duty. He’s over it, and planning to turn Jack over to Vadic, head home, and let a Starfleet tribunal deal with the rest of them. Picard insists there has to be more going on an asks for the opportunity to speak to Jack. Shaw gives him 30 minutes.
In a private turbolift moment, Riker confronts Picard, asking why he’s “dancing around this.” Picard seems to doubt that this young man is even Beverly’s son, but Riker can clearly see both halves of his parentage. Picard accuses him of speculation, and Riker presses again. Maybe he just doesn’t want to see it.
In the brig, Picard gets his one-on-one, and tells Jack to defend himself: charges of organized crime, terrorism, possible homicide, theft. But Jack asserts that he does what he does in the name of compassion. “Medicine isn’t free.” He’s used to being hated by “low-level gangsters” but his crimes aren’t the type that catch of eye of bounty hunters who can taken on a capital ship. Picard’s still not buying it, and claims that Beverly “would never permit this.” But she taught him – she and Jack try to do what good they can in a difficult universe. For Picard, this is more proof of his lies. But didn’t they last speak over 20 years ago? Is anyone the same person they were 20 years ago? Picard snaps and asks, “Who is your father?” Jack snaps back, “I never had one!” Picard seems almost hurt by that, and Jack’s manner changes at the sight. He’s willing to surrender to Vadic if it protects his mother. Despite all this, Picard still believes Jack deserves trial. Unfortunately, continuing to harbor him puts everyone on board at risk. So he has a tough decision to make.
Raffi arrives for her meeting with Sneed (Aaron Stanford), and he’s surprised that Jay knows someone that he doesn’t. He slowly puts together that she’s his first wife. And she’s looking for info on that deal Sneed supposedly brokered with T’Luco. See, she knows it wasn’t T’Luco, since she works for him. So she’d like to know who arranged for her boss to be framed. Sneed doesn’t buy it, and accuses her of working for Section 31. But, if she takes some black market light-drug (literally made out of light), called “splinter,” maybe he’ll trust her. Raffi sees this as her only chance to get the information she needs, and partakes. Sneed asks Raffi to repeat who she works for, and she again answers T’Luco. He’s impressed, but it was still the wrong move: T’Luco’s head is sitting on Sneed’s shelf.
Sneed grabs for Raffi’s money on the table, but she’s lucid enough to stab him in the hand. His henchmen approach, but they’re met with an attach from the shadows from someone wielding at bat’leth. Once the situation is under control and Sneed has literally lost his head, Worf (Michael Dorn) helps Raffi to her feet and walks her out.
Picard suggests to Shaw that perhaps they shouldn’t turn over Jack, but he’s not so into the idea – he has a crew to protect. And how do they even know he is who he says he is? 15 minutes left. Meanwhile, Jack breaks out of the brig and Riker heads to sickbay to check on Beverly. And by “check on,” of course I mean “revive.”
Picard and Shaw continue to fight on the bridge, but Vadic is growing impatient and decides to check in. Yes, they still have time, but who doesn’t love some exposition? Vadic’s ship is called The Shrike – named for a small Terran bird, a “surgical” killer. And if Picard and Shaw don’t turn over Jack Crusher now, Vadic’s Shrike will slowly peck away at the Titan, system by system.
Shaw’s had enough and makes the decision, just as Jack’s breakout is reported to the Bridge, and he orders a ship wide search. Seven finds Jack in the transporter room, trying to convince the chief to unlock the controls. He was going to hand himself over to protect his mother, and that’s just fine by Shaw.
But as he orders the transporters unlocked, Riker walks Crusher (Gates McFadden) onto the Bridge. She doesn’t say a word, but locks eyes with Picard for the first time in over 20 years. She briefly looks down, and then back up with tears in her eyes. Not a word is exchanged, but Picard belays Shaw’s orders – he’s going to protect his son. (Honestly, so much of this drama could be solved with a DNA test that would have taken seconds on the Enterprise-D – I bet the transporters on the Titan have the records. But then we wouldn’t have had Gates McFadden’s incredible face-acting.) Picard hails Vadic, then fires torpedoes and orders the Titan into the nebula with the Shrike hot on their tail.
Bechdel-Wallace pass: LaForge, Seven, and T’Veen exchange several lines when detecting the Shrike inside the nebula.