Picard Recap: “Imposters” (S3, E5)

Previously on Star Trek: Picard: Our heroes on the Titan came face to face with Vadic, who’s been hunting Jack Crusher. Raffi and Worf have been investigating the theft of portal weapons from Daystrom Station, and their suspect turned out to be a Changeling. A huge coincidence: A Changeling saboteur was discovered on the Titan, and killed by Seven of Nine. Worf believes that a breakaway faction of Changelings is planning to make more attacks on the Federation. In a flashback, Picard told a group of Starfleet cadets – and [unknowingly] his son, Jack – that he was never interested in having a family. And present-day Jack had some more creepy visions that implored him to “Find me.”

Repairs are ongoing on the Titan. As a sleepy crew reports on the progress, a figure enters the Bridge and begins firing a phaser, taking them out one-by-one. It’s Jack (Ed Speleers) in a Starfleet uniform. The red branches appear behind his head, and on the face of Ensign Esmar (Jin Maley) as they tell him, “I know what you really are.” And then Jack wakes up. He’s alone in his room, wearing PJs and holding a phaser – which he drops immediately. But his irises turn red (Airiam callback, anyone?) and he still hears the voices. This time, a voice tells him to “Come home.”

The Titan has made it back to the Alpha Quadrant, and there’s been no sign of Vadic. So, onto the next problem: Changelings. Ever since the Dominion War, all personnel have had to pass through an “internal imaging chamber” before reporting to a new post, since Changelings can’t mimic internal physiology.  So how did one get aboard? There’s also the small matter of these two old geezers commandeering a recently refit starship to go on an unauthorized rescue mission. Time to “go home and face the music,” as Picard (Patrick Stewart) says.

Riker (Jonathan Frakes) transfers command back to Shaw (Todd Stashwick), whose first official act is to let them know he’s already submitted a report to Starfleet.  They’re on their way. Second, he reinstates Seven (Jeri Ryan), at her request. And, as a courtesy, he gives the three of them some privacy to get their stories straight. What a standup guy.

Picard brings Beverly (Gates McFadden) and Jack up to speed, and she apologizes for putting him in this position. He cuts her off – It’s most important that they’re safe and can return to their lives, and he “hopes to be a part of them.” (My heart!) But Beverly doesn’t think this is over, and wants to examine the Changeling’s remains to determine how it was able to bypass internal security systems. With Bev on her way to the morgue, Picard tells Jack he’s feeling lucky, and even suggests that he might consider joining the organization someday. Jack is decidedly uninterested. As Picard leaves, Jack turns to see Ensign Esmar in the corridor, and ominous music begins in the background.

Worf (Michael Dorn) and Raffi (Michelle Hurd) are sparring and troubleshooting their next moves when Worf’s handler contacts them. Their request for access to Daystrom Station has been denied. Raffi’s ready to storm the castle, but Worf is determined to find another route to the information they need. The AI security system at the station is so advanced that it’s “impossible” to gain access without Starfleet authorization – so how did a group of Changelings get in? Sneed would know, but he doesn’t have a head anymore. But Krinn, a Vulcan organized crime kingpin, might have some answers.

The pair walks through the empty streets of District 6 – they’ve “destabilized the criminal element” and become the “Alphas.” Worf’s words, not mine. So Raffi uses that to her advantage, fires a phaser pistol into the sky, and demands to see Krinn.  She doesn’t get much of a response. So Worf decides to kneel and wait patiently until things are back to normal.

The USS Intrepid has rendezvoused with the Titan and is sending over shuttle of security officers – transporters won’t cut it, I guess. Riker and Picard are feeling a bit of trepidation as they head to the shuttle bay, but Shaw is quite enjoying himself. Butch and Sundance are hoping Starfleet will remember all those times they saved the Galaxy. Or, as Shaw points out, they might remember when they crashed the Enterprise-D‘s saucer (Generations), ignored the Prime Directive so Picard could get with a local (Insurrection), or that dastardly time paradox in the Devron System (“All Good Things”).

And they all step out of the turbolift to see Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes). Ro. Motherforking. Laren.

Commander Ro asks them to submit to questioning, with the reminder that anything they say could be used as evidence in the event that she files charges of treason. I hope you’re all ready for more emotions.

At Picard’s request, Seven gets Jack out of the way, and decides to hide him in plain sight. She hands him a uniform. He’s rather reluctant to put it on…

Dr. Beverly Crusher is sciencing up a storm in the morgue (and Dr. Ohk [Tiffany Shepis] is acting as her assistant). They’ve always known Changelings to revert to their liquid state when they die, but this one didn’t. So why not? Crusher starts with an incision on the forearm –  there’s no DNA, but there is “blood-like plasma.” This Changeling could pass the “traditional” blood test (which, as we remember, was just proving that you… have blood.)

While they wait for Ro to begin her inquiry, Picard paces the conference room, fuming.  As far as he’s concerned, Ro should be in prison, not Starfleet.  (What about Jack, then?)  He still feels the pain of her betrayal, so it’s especially wounding for her to accuse them of treason. Despite Riker’s efforts to reason with him, Picard doesn’t believe there’s any chance that she’ll treat them fairly. When she does arrive, Ro informs them that the Titan has been placed under “Security Review” and most of the crew is being transported to the Intrepid for reassignment. Riker tries to reason with her, too. It doesn’t work.

Ro decides to question Picard first, but he asks the first question: “How does a lieutenant who betrayed Starfleet and her commanding officer get reinstated?” She ignores him and instead asks about his most recent adventure. But Picard doesn’t let up, throwing more verbal jabs her way, even accusing her of being an imposter. Oh, right – the Changelings. Ro takes a knife out of her boot and cuts her hand, showing Picard her blood. But that movement makes him notice that she’s not wearing her earring. Now he’s even more suspicious. But she wants to talk about Jack. How did she even know about him?

Speaking of Jack… He’s alone in his room, in his shiny new uniform, and hearing those voices again. “Find me.” “Connect us.” He leaves, and goes to the transporter room, but as a group of officers depart, he sees those red branches again in the beams. He wants to leave, to go anywhere else – anywhere but a Starfleet ship. The transporter controller looks at him askance, so Jack shoots him. But he doesn’t – that was another vision.  Actually, Jack backs out of the room and takes off down the corridor.

Worf is still waiting, but Raffi’s getting restless… until green laser-points appear on their chests, and Krinn (Kirk Acevedo) arrives. He is impressed with their patience. Worf assures Krinn that they have the upper hand and suggests he and his minions drop their weapons. Instead, Krinn shoots Raffi.  No worries – she was just a hologram.  The real Raffi is hiding with a phaser rifle trained on Krinn from above. Unfortunately, one of the minions is right behind her.

Crusher’s discovered that her dead Changeling was able to replicate human internal organs and they only return to goo with actual dissection. No wonder it got through so many security checks. She believes this is evolution of the species. But it also means that Changelings could be literally anyone, and there’s no way [medical] to know who.

Picard is suddenly a lot less combative as he and Ro discuss his son. But a call from Beverly interrupts the conversation – it’s urgent that he take a look at his most recent test results. Picard excuses himself to walk to the terminal: “Changelings can pass the blood test. Capabilities beyond superficial. Trust no one.” (Bev’s been watching too much X-Files.) He clears the screen and turns back to Ro, his suspicions renewed. It’s weird that she doesn’t want to know about Vadic or the Shrike – Just Jack (*jazz hands*). How’d she get back into Starfleet, anyway? Well, after years in the Maquis, she turned herself in. Court-martialed, imprisoned. And there, she was recruited by Starfleet Intelligence. But Picard can still only focus on the perceived betrayal. And Ro hits him with, “Blind faith in any institution does not make one honorable.” But what about that dead Changeling?  Picard moves to lead her to Sickbay.

In the corridor, Ro changes her mind, and asks Picard to step into the holodeck at phaser-point. The 10 Forward program is still running. They really wanted to get their money’s worth out of this set, huh? Ro locks the doors and turns on some music as Picard heads behind the bar to turn off the security protocols and grab a phaser of his own. It’s time for a game of “How do I know you are who you say you are?” Which means emotional sharing. For 30 years, Picard has only felt her betrayal and Ro has only felt his judgment, leaving them both heartbroken. And that is proof enough. Ro drops the act – Starfleet is compromised at the highest levels. And he chooses to trust her.

Worf and Raffi find themselves at a disadvantage, captured by Krinn. Sneed was like a brother to him, and they had a blood oath. So, it’s time to for revenge. He’s going to make them fight to the death, and allow his associates to place bets. They have 60 seconds. Worf then spends 40 of those seconds on a speech about sacrifice before picking up his knife and preparing to fight. Raffi got the message, and they give a good show before Raffi stabs him in the stomach.

Ro knows of Changeling incidents on at least 12 other ships, and believes that they’ve infiltrated every level of Starfleet. She doesn’t trust anyone – not her captain, not her crew, not the transporters. She believes everything’s going to come to a head on Frontier Day. The entire Fleet will be on display, and all of the preparations are classified – even to her.  Starfleet that sent her after Jack, with no explanation. Plus, that portal weapon that Vadic had sounds a lot like the weapon that destroyed the recruitment center. She’s tried everything, reached out to everyone – including the media – and can’t get any traction. She only has one pair of assets she trusts, and she thinks they’re close to something.

Krinn’s pretty impressed that Raffi won, beating 10-1 odds. He has his minions drag Worf’s body away, and tells Raffi that she works for him now, and tries to ensure her loyalty by threatening her family. Wrong move, buddy. The lights go out and Krinn’s minions go down. Suddenly Worf is behind him, holding a knife to his throat, and he doesn’t need much more encouragement to talk. Yes, the AI security system on Daystrom Station is highly sophisticated, but it has flaws. Krinn was able to create a device that could exploit them. Given the current situation, he’d be more than happy to hand over that device.

Ro’s getting ready to depart. She’s left the Titan with a skeleton crew, tells Picard to make sure they’d loyal and then take the ship and run. She’ll buy him as much time as she can back on the Intrepid. Ro’s security team has been patrolling the Titan‘s corridors, looking for Jack with no luck, and catches up with her in the corridor. She orders them to prepare to return to the Intrepid and pulls Picard aside. She hands him something, and tells him again that she only did what she through was best.  She wishes he could understand. She rejoins her team, who protest that they’re leaving without Jack Crusher, but follow her to the shuttle. Picard opens his hand to see Ro’s earring.

Picard goes immediately to Shaw, Seven, and Riker, and reads them all in. Shaw is ready to have Picard arrested – again – but Riker puts a stop to that. And Picard asks for his trust.

Ro’s shuttle has left the Titan and been cleared to approach the Intrepid. As she sits in contemplation, one of her team plants an explosive and they both transport off the shuttle. They materialize back on the Titan and change their appearances. Then the Intrepid stops responding to Ro on comms. She hails the Titan and tells them what’s happened. There’s no time to disarm the device, and there’s some kind of transporter inhibitor.  Ro wants to give Picard the best chance she can, so she changes course to head right for the Intrepid‘s port nacelle. In her final minutes, Picard asks for her forgiveness. She closes the channel just before the shuttle impacts the nacelle and explodes.  (Hats off to Michelle Forbes for this absolutely powerhouse return to the franchise.)

Moving through the ship, Jack comes face-to-face with a pair of familiar-looking security officers, who point a phaser at him and call for swiftly-arriving backup.  Jack sees a few more red flashes, and attacks, quickly gaining control of the weapon and killing all four officers.  He’s seeing more of those red branch things and a red door appears at the end of the corridor.  He shakes off the vision, but this time, the violence was real.

With the nacelle in flames (science side-eye), the Intrepid raises shields and arms torpedoes.  Shaw’s frozen with indecision.  Picard, Riker, and Seven all implore him to trust them, and run.  As the Intrepid‘s weapons power up, he orders all crew to battle stations and announces to everyone left on the ship that Starfleet has been compromised.  The Intrepid fires two torpedoes, but the Titan‘s warp drive comes online just in time.

Picard is still trying to process Ro’s death, and shows Riker her earring.  Number One must be really great at puzzles because he knows immediately that the earring is a data storage device.  It contains her entire investigation into the Changelings’ infiltration of Starfleet.  As they start to skim through it all, Ro gets a call from her asset, which they answer.  Of course, it’s Worf.  And they have to share some bad news with their old friend.

Beverly’s noticed that Jack is… off.  She can tell he’s not sleeping, and she’s seen it before – when he was a child, he had intense nightmares that made him afraid to sleep.  She knows that he can get through it again, but he needs to talk about it.  When he doesn’t answer right away, she remarks on the odds of him taking out four attackers – How did he know they were all Changelings?  He didn’t.  And he finally tells mom that something is very wrong.

Bechdel-Wallace Pass: Dr. Crusher and Dr. Ohk discuss the evolution of the Changelings.

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