Previously on Star Trek Picard: Changelings have infiltrated Starfleet, and our team on the Titan suspects that they’re going to attack the Federation on Frontier Day. In an attempt to figure out their plan, Worf, Riker, and Raffi broke in to Daystrom Station to find out what the Changelings stole. There, they found a new Soong golem – one that contains the personalities of both Data and Lore (and several others). But during their escape, Riker was captured. When reactivated on the Titan, Data revealed what was taken from the station: The human remains of Jean-Luc Picard. All the while, Jack continued to battle with his strange visions.
The Titan is hiding in the Chin’toka scrapyard, and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is looking for help from an old friend, Captain Tuvok (Tim Russ). There’s no record of Riker being taken into custody by Starfleet, and she wants to know if he’s heard anything. But the crew is unsure whether they can trust him – T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) even begins a voice analysis. Seven expresses her concern that she hasn’t been able to reach Admiral Janeway, but Tuvok assumes she’s just busy, since Frontier Day is just 36 hours away. Seven wants to trust him, and tells him of what they’ve learned. T’Veen’s voice analysis is inconclusive. So, Seven tries to trap him, referencing their games of kal-toh – but he passes the test. And then he suggests a meeting. She proposes Aklion VII, where her neural pattern was stabilized, and he readily agrees. This time, he failed the test – “A Vulcan would never go to Aklion VII after the anti-Kolinahr demonstrations” and the real Tuvok stabilized her neural pattern with a mind meld.
NotTuvok grins, and promises that when this is all over, death will come as a relief. Geordi (LeVar Burton) tries to stop him from tracing them, but they better hurry this up. Picard (Patrick Stewart) demands to know whether Riker is alive. So NotTuvok takes his shape, and says, “Me, Admiral? I’m as good as dead, just like you.” Geordi cuts the connection. They’re on their own.
Crusher (Gates McFadden) has been thinking about these new Changelings – their ability to replicate internal physiology makes them unique. There may be a way to exploit that and develop a way to identify them. But, it could cross an ethical line – targeting a species based strictly on their biology is genocide. And she doesn’t want to repeat the decisions made during the Dominion War. Picard suggests she work on it, and they can deal with the morality question if the idea becomes a reality.
Picard’s been pondering what the Changelings could want with his body – He was supposed to participate in Frontier Day, and that participation requires genetic confirmation of his identity. Geordi suggests that they might be planning to use his human DNA to create a doppelganger, and might need Jack’s DNA to complete the sequence. They need to know more, and think they might be able to get it from Data.
Alandra (Mica Burton) is working on the golem (Brent Spiner), and has identified the problem. This positronic brain houses four identity matrices. Soong and B-4 are only memory files, but Data and Lore are complete personalities, which are partitioned and fighting for control. Geordi supposes Dr. Soong was afraid that without the partition, Lore would “consume” Data. Picard tries to get through to Data – asking what he knows of the Changelings’ plan. It’s the Irumodic Syndrome again – Data suggests that the diagnosis may not be correct. The battle for positronic brain dominance continues, and Data asks Picard for help, after wrestling control back from Lore. Picard orders Geordi to deactivate the golem, then asks if it’s possible to delete Lore’s files. Unfortunately not. This current body and brain are far too complex. With time, Geordi may be able to analyze the partition and “restore” Data. But if he removes it, and Lore wins, Data will be gone forever.
The Big Giant Head (Garth Kemp) isn’t pleased with Vadic (Amanda Plummer), and she’s uncharacteristically meek when admitting that Picard’s associates are too loyal to break. But that’s no excuse, and she’s not as special and she thinks. The Face orders her to do whatever is necessary – they must have Jack Crusher before Frontier Day – or else.
Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) and Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) find themselves alone in a turbolift, so Jack tries to turn on the charm. It’s not working… until he suddenly hears her thoughts, her internal commentary on what he should be doing differently. So he follows her unspoken instructions and touches her hand, which is enough to freak her out. This is new. The lift stops at Sidney’s deck, and Jack’s eyes turn red as the vines appear in his vision again.
The Titan‘s detected another trace attempt – but not. It’s actually a compromise code – a code a captain can give that will ping a designated ship. It gives away the ship’s location, but also lets them know the captain’s been captured. And this is Riker’s code, coming from the Shrike. Esmar (Jin Maley) attempts to block the signal.
Jack needs to talk to dad again. He doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that all of this is because of him. He even suggests trading himself for Riker. He not worth all this trouble, and has always felt like there was something wrong with him. “Like I can hear my head.” (Is this maybe a reference to Picard’s other genetic condition, Shalaft’s Syndrome from Nemesis?) Picard assures him that none of this is his fault, and encourages him not to give up. Problem is, Vadic has always had the advantage. But Picard has an idea.
Out in open space, the Titan is adrift – warp core offline, emergency power only – when the Shrike arrives. A minion detects a subspace transmission from another ship, reporting that it engaged the fugitives before being hit by a torpedo. Now both ships are adrift. So Vadic orders a boarding party – shuttle, no transporters.
Vadic and several minions board the Titan, and detect several scattered life signs. But Jack doesn’t make them look very far – he approaches her and tells her everyone’s dead. She doesn’t buy it. Besides, she just wants to take him to “a better place.” But she’ll have to catch him first. Jack takes off running, and meets up with Sidney. They both take cover and begin firing phasers at the minions. Then they split up, running in opposite directions, and calling for force fields, trapping the minions – and even Vadic. Jack and Sidney end up trapped, themselves, with force fields protecting them from minions on both sides.
Geordi tries to transport them out, but there’s some kind of interference. He goes into another room to check it out, when the door shuts and locks. A scowling Lore appears in the window.
Crusher goes to confront Vadic, demanding to know what she wants with Jack. Vadic only chuckles in response, which makes Crusher reconsider her Hippocratic oath. Picard enters, and recounts what they believe to be Vadic’s plan. They also know about the Changelings’ evolved physiology. But what about Jack? Does his mother know all about his physiology? Crusher again demands to know what Vadic wants with him. “Nothing,” she says, “He’s not for me” and “He was never really for you, either.” When she doesn’t elaborate, Picard suggests that her best play here is cooperation, and the conversation turns to the Dominion War. Yes, Starfleet committed genocide. And yes, they created a cure, but they also voted not to give it to the Changelings. It had to be stolen so Odo could give it to his people.
And these new abilities? Those came from Starfleet, too. Vadic and nine others were prisoners of war on Daystrom Station, and subjects for experimentation in Project Proteus. It was an attempt to turn these Changelings into spies for the Federation – able to infiltrate any situation and remain undetectable. The process inflicted incredible amounts of pain on them. Until Vadic killed the lead scientist, and took on her appearance. She then learned that she was pass on her skills via a link, although it meant constant pain and a shorter lifespan.
Picard and Crusher are both shaken. Vadic is threat to everyone, but specifically their son, as long as she’s on board the Titan. She’s too calm and collected to not have a plan, and her only goal is revenge. Picard wonders if they’ve both changed so much that they could compromise their beliefs, and Crusher admits, “I think I’m losing my compass.” Picard powers up a phaser.
Lore has taken control of all major systems on the Titan, and the force fields protecting Jack and Sidney are failing. Geordi believes that Data is still there, and implores him to fight and overtake Lore – Data’s death on Scimitar broke him, but his memories put him back together. But Lore’s not swayed by sentimental appeals – he’s only looking out for his own survival, and he sees Geordi as a threat. So he lowers the force fields.
Vadic liquefies as both Picard and Crusher begin firing, but she’s able to escape into the vents unharmed.
Jack and Sidney engage in hand-to-hand combat with the minions. Jack’s able to knock one out, but Sidney’s not doing as well. Lore reactivates one of the force fields, keeping Jack and Sidney separated. Both Sidney’s and Jack’s eyes turn red, and he can hear her ask what to do. Jack’s able to control her movements, almost like he’s playing a VR game, and fight the minion for her. He gets Sidney to her phaser, and together, they’re able to kill the minion.
Eventually, Data takes control back from Lore, frees Geordi and Alandra, and removes the force field separating Jack and Sidney – who see Vadic coming and run.
Crusher pulls up all of the information she can on Project Proteus from the Daystrom manifest, and learns that the formulas used in the experiments contained Thelomium-847 – which has a half-life of 100 years. And that means they can track these Changelings. When they do, Picard sees them heading across Deck 9. He calls Shaw (Todd Stashwick), and tells him to make sure they don’t reach the Bridge access lift.
Shaw and a small security team open fire on Vadic and her minion as they approach the turbolift. Vadic enters the lift as the minion goes down – but they’re just playing dead in order to attack Shaw from behind and throw him into the lift. When the doors open on the Bridge, a bloodied Shaw falls to the floor, but there are no Changelings to be seen. Making a huge mistake, Seven turns her back on the lift, and Vadic and the minion solidify and point their weapons at her head, as more minions appear from the conference room. The enemy has taken the Bridge.
Vadic opens a channel to address the ship – She warned them that it would end like this. She will take Jack Crusher “where he most belongs.” It’s time for him to learn who he truly is. With that, Vadic takes her seat, as captain of the USS Titan.
Bechdel-Wallace Pass: Crusher and Vadic debate the beginnings of the Dominion War.