Previously on Star Trek: Picard: Shaw was injured during an attack on the Shrike, and transferred command to Riker before being escorted to Sickbay. Vadic’s after Jack, not because of a few minor infractions, but likely because he’s Picard’s son… Picard’s son who chose not to know him, btw. Ensign LaForge gave a pep talk to Commander Seven, and the Titan‘s crew discovered they have a Changeling saboteur on board. Finally, Vadic unleashed her portal weapon, causing Picard and Riker to quite literally shoot themselves in the ass, and leaving the Titan disabled and sinking towards a gravity well.
5 Years Ago… (That makes it approximately 2396, before the first season of the show.) Admiral Picard (Patrick Stewart) is attempting to enjoy lunch at 10 Forward in San Francisco when approached by a group of cadets who want to ask him questions about his adventures. He attempts to wave them off, but with a little more prodding, our dear Admiral can’t resist telling his stories. He also can’t resist an inspirational speech, telling these cadets that “No matter how bleak or unwinnable a situation, as long as you an your crew remain steadfast in your dedication, one to another, you are never, ever without hope.”
Except maybe now, as the Titan continues to sink and hits debris along the way. They’ve got only 9% power left – even diverting everything to Life Support will only get them a few more hours. But that’s Riker’s (Jonathan Frakes) choice. He orders the crew to common areas and shuts down all non-essential functions – Just in time for the ship to be hit with another bio-electric wave. These waves are really impacting the shields, which will have to be lowered between impacts to preserve them.
As a courtesy, Riker goes to see Picard, and tells him that they’ve got 4 hours left, max. Also, that he was right. Riker admits that he’s been dealing with severe depression since his son’s death, and it’s also impacted his relationships Deanna and Kestra. That’s why he left – only to find himself in this situation. So, he suggests that Picard use whatever time they have left to get to know his own son.
Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is on the hunt for the saboteur. She’s searching crew quarters, and finds the corpse of Ensign Foster (Chad Lindberg), the transporter officer. Based on the body, the Changeling killed him days before they picked up the Crushers. After her report, Riker tells her to keep looking, but to keep it quiet.
In sickbay, Crusher (Gates McFadden) is counting the time between bio-electric waves. Picard arrives, and she immediately asks for confirmation of their situation, which he gives. Again, very few words are needed between these two. Picard then asks if she’d mind giving him some time alone with Jack (Ed Speleers). With Jack’s consent, she’s more than happy to.
Riker, alone, attempts to record a message for Deanna, but can’t find the right words.
Picard and Jack enter the holodeck, and run the 10 Forward program – Jack says he’s never been there before. Picard offers some wine, but Jack prefers whiskey. He’s surprised the holodeck is still open, given the power levels on board – but Picard explains that the holodecks have independent power cells so they can serve as comforting gathering places in dire situations. How fortunate. Jack’s ready to discuss “the elephant in the room” and Picard tells him to enjoy his hairline while he can. But seriously: Picard wants to know him, but Jack doesn’t really know where to start. So Jean-Luc suggests, “Perhaps you might tell me the reason you decided not to know me.” Oof. Wanting to talk about practically anything else, Jack starts telling a story about a medical supply run.
Shaw (Todd Stashwick) is recovering in his quarters and sharpening knives when Seven comes knocking. She wants his help to track down this Changeling. He explains that it’s the small details that give away Changeling imposters – minutiae, behaviors, opinions. For example, if Shaw were to apologize and begin complimenting Seven, she’d know he was a Changeling. So how do they catch one? Find their bucket and analyze the “resigoo.”
Another wave hits.
On the Shrike, Vadic (Amanda Plummer) picks up a knife and appears to slice off her left hand at the wrist. The matter reforms into a floating face (Garth Kemp), and she reports that Jack Crusher is on a ship that cannot escape the gravity well. The face orders her to pursue – everyone other than “the asset” is expendable. Vadic concedes, and the face melts and reforms into her hand. The Shrike changes course and heads back into the nebula.
5 Years Ago… Picard has been flattered into telling the cadets even more stories – this one references “Darmok.” Then a cadet asks specifically about a time he was flying a shuttle blind with his bestie, Jack Crusher…
On the Titan, some young officers have joined Picard and Jack in the simulated 10 Forward. As they find their seats, Jack attempts to absolve Picard of whatever he’s trying to do. Jack’s used to being alone, on the outside. He doesn’t need a moment with his father. But Picard needs one with his son.
Another wave. This one came sooner than expected – they’re getting closer together.
Seven searches Foster’s quarters, and finds the bucket inside a light panel and tries to take it to the biochemistry lab, but it’s been shut down. She passes a crewman in the corridor who suddenly pulls a phaser and shoots the crewperson in front of him, and then turns and disintegrates the bucket. Seven fires back, but doesn’t land any direct shots before the Changeling liquefies and enters the air ducts.
Jack asks Picard about the worst jam he’s ever been in, and it just happens to be that story from the flashback. Jack’s always been curious: “I know my mother didn’t hate you, but naming me after her first husband?” Picard chuckles, but admits he would have made the same choice to honor his best friend. Long ago, the two of them were making their way back to the Stargazer after a “rendezvous,” and a micro-meteor shower hit the shuttle which took our their sensors and life support, with no way to contact their ship. They alternated power between docking thrusters and life support, and slowly made their way back over 10 hours. But Beverly’s probably told him that story already…
Aside: In this scene, Picard said that Jack was his best friend at the Academy. We’ve never had a birth year for Jack, but fanon (aka 30+ years of fanfic) has generally assumed that he was younger than Picard (especially since Picard is supposed to be 19 years older than Beverly Crusher) and the two became close while serving together on the Stargazer. If Jack and Jean-Luc were close to the the same age, that would have made him over 40 years old when Wesley was born in 2348. Beverly was just 24. I would like more information, please.
Jack’s about to make a confession when the pair is interrupted by Shaw. He wants to share the story of when he first met Picard… aka Locutus, at Wolf 359. Shaw was just an ensign, who happened to be one of the lucky 10 chosen to get into the one remaining life pod. Why him? Eleven thousand died that day. And the real Borg – not the Jurati!Borg – are still out there. Jack tried to make Shaw settle down, but Picard understands. And leaves.
Crusher’s figured out the pattern. She finds Jack and Picard and in the corridor and explains: This gravity well is taking in matter, converting it to energy, and expelling that energy. But the pattern is a countdown, and she’s been tracking them – just like contractions. And if they’re still around for the birth when the countdown hits zero, they’re done for. Jack points out that the Titan‘s lights flicker when the waves hit, so maybe there’s a way to draw power from a wavw, and then ride it out of the nebula.
The trio takes their plan to Riker, who thinks it’s ridiculous. Protocols state that they stay put and wait for rescue. But no one’s coming. If they do nothing, everyone on board will suffocate. Crusher and Picard both implore him to let them try – to trust them. And when Beverly invokes Deanna’s name, Riker finally “yes and”s this scheme: The nacelle covers are designed to prevent the plasma conduits from absorbing too much radiation. Obviously, those will have to be opened so the energy can be channeled to the warp core.
Picard and Seven head to Shaw’s quarters – they need his help. The engineering crew can’t leave their stations – there are too many repairs to be made. And besides, they’re all too young to know how to “hotwire” the 20-year-old inner workings of the nacelles. He reluctantly agrees.
Crusher continues to monitor the waves – she knows there will be at least one more, but they have to move fast, and consider this their last chance. Shaw’s working on the nacelles with Seven’s assistance, and just happens to note that this would be the perfect time for their Changeling saboteur to show up again. Riker tells Picard to take the conn, since he has some experience flying blind, and he orders the Titan into position.
With two minutes before the final wave, Riker asks Shaw if they need any help down there, and the offer is declined. Shaw sends Seven to check that manual locks are off, and Ensign LaForge (Ashlei Sharpe Chesnut) shows up to offer help. How odd. Shaw plays along as LaForge asks some interesting questions about the situation… until Seven points a phaser at her head. While trying to explain her presence, LaForge makes the mistake of calling Seven “Commander Hansen” and gets herself shot. Seven tells Shaw, “Ensign LaForge always calls me ‘Commander Seven,’ out of respect.” (Interestingly, this dead Changeling does not disintegrate or melt, but retains its solid form.)
Shaw gets both nacelle covers open just as the Titan reaches an asteroid field. With no sensors, Picard orders Jack to call out the asteroids positions, assuming that he can do whatever his namesake could do, I guess. #Bonding It works out, and the Titan clears the asteroid field wit thrusters at 98% power. For that final push, Riker orders all powered transferred from Life Support as well. And now they wait.
The wave hits, charges the ship, and propels them out of the gravity well. Unfortunately, the Shrike is dead ahead. But Riker’s going to borrow one of Vadic’s tricks: He uses the tractor beam to grab onto a surrounding asteroid and throw is at Vadic. The Shrike is now losing power, without engines, and struck in the gravity well, while the Titan is nearly clear of the Nebula and preparing to go to warp. But not before the ship is surrounded by hundreds of glowing space octopus babies.
5 Years Ago… Picard is still talking to the crowd of cadets in 10 Forward, telling them the importance of a good crew: “You’re only ever really as good as those around you. Your crew become a part of you, complete you. They lift you up to accomplish the things you never could do alone.” With that, he again tries to return to his lunch. And a young man at the bar speaks up – it’s Jack. He asks if Picard’s ever found that kind of meaning outside of Starfleet. He answers, “Young man, Starfleet has been the only family I have ever needed.” This gets applause from the cadets, and Jack takes the opportunity to slip away. The scene cuts to Picard on the bridge of the Titan, looking at Jack – implying that he’s now remembered when he first met his son.
In the Ready Room, Riker’s speaking with Deanna (Marina Sirtis) over subspace. She can tell that something’s changed for him, and she’s glad. And he’s ready to do the work to fix things.
In his log, Picard records that the Titan is free from any immediate threat from the Shrike, but they still don’t know why anyone is after Jack.
In his room, Jack’s splashing his face with water when he has another vision. The red branch things are back. And voices – one saying “find me,” another calling his name. He squeezes his eyes shut and sees more images – a door opening, red lightning. And hits himself in the head until they stop.
Bechdel-Wallace Pass*: Ensign LaForge and Seven of Nine discuss why LaForge is in the nacelle control room. *But, at this time, LaForge is actually a Changeling imposter. (In the opening Titan bridge scene, the crew are all talking to Riker, not one another.)