Previously on Star Trek: Picard: Starfleet Intelligence terminated Raffi’s investigation, so she struck out on her own and her handler, Worf, had to rescue her from a murderous Ferengi. Shaw relieved Seven for helping Picard and Riker get the Titan to the Ryton System. Our heroes finally came face to face with Captain Vadic, who’s been hunting Beverly and Jack Crusher for months. And Picard finally accepted that this young man is his son.
The Titan is trying to lose the Shrike by navigating through a nebula in the Ryton System, but it’s not going well and they’re being hit with plenty of weapons-fire. They can’t warp away from inside the nebula, and the warp field coils have been damaged, so there’s no point in exiting. Shaw (Todd Stashwick) orders them deeper in. Vadic (Amanda Plummer) finally loses their trail, but the Titan has lost their sensors.
Before… In San Francisco’s 10 Forward, Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) toast to the birth of Riker’s son, Thad. Suddenly, Riker becomes melancholy, and shares that the delivery was difficult— when Sickbay called and urged him to come down, he had the longest 17 seconds of his life in the turbolift. He thought he might lose the son whose life hadn’t yet begun. Nothing else mattered once he met his son. And maybe one day, Picard will get to have that experience, too. The private celebration is interrupted by a call from Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), letting her husband know that their son just projectile vomited all over Engineering. (Why did she take a newborn to Engineering?) She orders him home—with the whiskey. And as he leaves (without the whiskey), Picard gets contemplative.
Present Day… With no sensors, Shaw has stationed crew at every window to watch for the Shrike. It’ll be at least two hours until the warp coils will be repaired. Plus, they’re now being hit by energy surges from the nebula – with both biological and electrical signatures.
Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), now off-duty, stops by Seven’s quarters to check on her, and everyone’s favorite ensign gives her first officer a pep talk, letting her know that she does belong in Starfleet. La Forge knows the value of helping friends, which she learned from her dad. Seven (Jeri Ryan) tells her to go rest, and she complies, with, “Yes, Commander Seven.”
In Sickbay, a healing Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) has gotten back to work, examining a crewmember injured in the last firefight. Dr. Ohk (Tiffany Shepis) interrupts, and Jack (Ed Speleers) immediately comes to her defense. Crusher brushes him off and asks to be assigned some work. Ohk, however, would rather do everything herself than spend the time bringing Crusher up to speed on all the changes in medical science over the last 20 years. The disrespect! Ohk storms away, and Crusher returns to her patient, discharging him.
Picard and Riker enter—it’s time for a talk. With assurances from his mother, Jack leaves to wait outside with Riker. Suddenly, everyone else has cleared out of sickbay, too.
Beverly finally breaks the silence. She reminds Picard of their shore leave, two months before she left the Enterprise. They spent a perfect day at the waterfalls on Casparia Prime. But Picard was called back to work early, as usual. Beverly feels they both knew, then, that they were at the end. But Picard didn’t, and he certainly didn’t know he’d never see her again, or spend years wondering what he’d done wrong. They’d ended their romantic relationship before—four times—but she hadn’t disappeared from his life. The difference? She got pregnant that night. She wanted to tell him, but then he was kidnaped. And then assassins threatened his life. And then a photon grenade detonated meters from him during negotiations. And Crusher realized that’s how it would always be. But she never even gave him the opportunity to make it different.
But what if it wasn’t how it would always be? Picard told her often how he never wanted to have a family—how he didn’t want to be like his own father. Picard knows now that he never would have been like Maurice, but Crusher didn’t even allow him the opportunity to make that choice. He’s furious about it, rightfully so. He could have been a father…or even a husband (and that certainly gets Beverly’s attention). But she was terrified; the son of Jean-Luc Picard may never be safe. Beverly lost her parents, her husband, and even Wesley (in a different way) to the stars, and she wanted to protect her child. Listen. Terry Matalas must have read some of the same fanfics that I did back in the day. I’ve ready many versions of this conversation over the years, and that last bit, in particular, feels very familiar.
Outside, Jack is pacing, and Riker simply watches him and grins. When Jack tells him to knock it off, Riker answers, “I spent two decades in a spaceship watching you get cooked up before you were born.” BIG MOOD. SAME. What a line. Jack doesn’t hold Picard in as high regard as Riker does. “The bigger the legend, the more disappointing the reality.” Every now and then, his mother would start telling stories of the old crew, and her eyes would light up, until she got sad. Jack asks Riker if he’s got family, and he tells Jack about his wife, daughter, and son.
Back in Sickbay, the subject has shifted between Picard and Crusher. Sure, Beverly and Jack have run into trouble when helping worlds Starfleet’s forgotten, but nothing on this scale. Lately, everyone they’ve encountered—Fenris Rangers, Klingons, even Starfleet—has turned on them, and Picard was the only person she could trust. But she doesn’t believe it’s actually about Jack at all; she thinks it’s about Picard. She doesn’t know anything about Vadic or the Shrike, but she knows that that’s not the ship of a bounty hunter: “That’s a warship. With Jean-Luc-Picard-sized enemies behind it.” Exactly to her earlier point. The ship is hit with another energy surge and Picard decides to head back to the bridge. But before he does, he asks the question on everyone’s mind: what’s with Jack’s accent? He went to school in London. Or maybe it’s in his DNA. (Hilarious.) Okay, a real question: Didn’t Picard deserve a chance? And didn’t Jack deserve the chance to know him? Turns out, when he was old enough, Beverly told Jack everything, even encouraged him to seek out and meet Picard. But he chose not to. That stings.
Picard exists Sickbay and collects Riker as they head back to the Bridge, leaving Jack behind. Riker wants the deets, but Picard calls it “immaterial” and “irreparable.” Will doesn’t believe either adjective. But Picard wants to focus on the situation they’re in now, and the danger he’s caused for the entire crew. He goes off to apologize to Shaw.
A crewman spots the Shrike outside. Shaw doesn’t know how she found them, but it seems Vadic’s crew knew exactly where the Titan would be. The Shrike opens fire, scoring several direct hits and injuring many of the Bridge crew – including Shaw. He transfers command to Riker before being helped to the turbolift. Riker jumps into action and orders Picard to launch a torpedo, then detonate it with phasers. Before Riker can explain this order in good ole TNG fashion, Picard’s already executed it, and the shockwave pushes the Shrike away.
Federation news services are still reporting that T’Luco is to blame for the attack on the Federation Recruitment Center on M’Talas Prime. Raffi (Michelle Hurd) wakes up, turns off the broadcast, and then realizes she’s back on La Sirena and doesn’t know how she got there. Carefully looking around, she discovers Worf (Michael Dorn) practicing bat’leth forms by the windows. But she doesn’t know who he is yet, so she approaches with phaser drawn. Worf easily disarms her, and introduces himself and offers her some tea. Nice ship. Good tea.
Raffi’s heard of him, and he’s just like she imagined, but also not. He says he’s been working on himself. She starts to remember the previous night, and realizes that Worf is her handler. He’s not really with Starfleet, but he shares their concerns. And he fears there’s another attack coming, but he wanted her to back off so she wouldn’t get herself killed. Raffi’s also struggling with withdrawal symptoms, after just one dose of Splinter, but she’s not ready to stop the investigation. Good, because Worf knows who paid Sneed to lie: a human named Titus Rikka. And they’re going to track him down.
Engineering reports that the Titan should be able to go to warp in 20 minutes, while Riker and Picard debate the best course of action. Picard wants to re-engage. But the Titan isn’t the Enterprise and Picard isn’t the captain. Riker believes their only real option is to keep hiding, and gives those orders.
Beverly and Jack are treating the injured in Sickbay, when Shaw begins to have difficulty breathing. Crusher goes over to help and Dr. Ohk tries to shoo her away. That doesn’t work this time. Crusher palpates his abdomen and Shaw’s reaction tells her that he’s bleeding internally. Ohk tried to dismiss her; there’s no sign of internal bleeding on the imaging scan. But Crusher tells her that imaging doesn’t always detect delayed bleeding from concussive injuries. Who’s not up to snuff now, Dr. Ohk? Crusher calls over Jack to help her turn Shaw. As Crusher continues treatment, Jack takes the opportunity to apologize to Shaw for getting them all into this mess. But Shaw just wants to know how Vadic keeps finding them.
Consoles continue to explode on the Bridge as the Titan is hit by another bio-electric energy surge. It’s unlike any phenomenon that T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) has seen before, and she believes it would be illogical to take the ship any deeper into the nebula. Riker orders La Forge to change course and take them out of the nebula. Engineering has however-long-that-will-take to get the warp drive up and running.
As they approach the edge of the nebula, the warp drive is ready, and Riker readies an emergency SOS and sets a course for Federation space. The Titan’s scanners come back online, and the Shrike is still on their tail. Just as they’re about to be clear, Vadic deploys the portal weapon. Each attempt to escape brings them right back in front of the Shrike. Picard reiterates his desire to fight, but Riker orders the Titan back inside the nebula. Vadic follows, firing and pushing them deeper.
Jack has an idea, and goes to run it by Seven, since she was once a Ranger. They must be leaving a trail that the Shrike can follow. In this particular case, it would have to be something detectable without the use of standard sensors. Maybe a mass spectrometer? It must be deuterium, which is used to insulate the warp coils. They want to go check it out, but the guard at the door won’t let Seven leave her quarters. So Jack punches him. If he’s unconscious, he can’t stop them.
The pair heads to the warp coil chambers, and Seven can smell the deuterium; they mask up, since it’s poisonous in gaseous form. It looks like sabotage; someone deactivated atmospheric diagnostics, preventing the internal sensors from detecting the leak. Seven calls up to the bridge to let them know, then goes to check another chamber to get a sense of the size of the problem.
Meanwhile, the Titan is getting closer and closer to the center of the nebula, which has a large gravitational well. While La Forge changes course again, Picard suggests using the leak to their advantage by creating a trap for the Shrike, but Riker thinks that plan is too risky.
Jack’s alone, working in a warp coil chamber, when a crewman enters without a mask. Jack tries to warn him, but the crewman smacks the mask off his face and the two begin to brawl. After a particularly tough punch, the crewman’s face re-forms. He slams Jack against the wall, adjusts some computer settings, and leaves Jack lying on the floor in a room filling with poisonous gas.
Worf and Raffi have eyes on their suspect Rikka (Thomas Dekker), who leads them on a short chase before being captured. Raffi begins to interrogate him in rage, and Worf attempts a come-to-Kahless moment. It’s your classic good Starfleet Intelligence Officer/bad Starfleet Intelligence Officer. But Rikka is suffering from extreme withdrawal symptoms.
Jack’s on the floor, gasping for air, and having strange visions. Seven finds him and gets him to Sickbay, calling the Bridge to let Picard know. Though his relationship with Jack is supposedly irreparable, he’s struck with fear, and freezes. Riker tells him to go, so it’s Picard’s turn for that too-long turbolift ride.
Crusher and Ohk begin treatment immediately, including chest compressions and defibrillation. On the fifth attempt, Jack’s heart begins beating again and mom and dad are both visibly relieved. They share a look, thankful for the safety of their son. Once stable and conscious, Jack reveals that his attacker was a Changeling.
Under Raffi’s interrogation, Rikka finally admits that he’s the one who broke into Daystrom Station. So why blame the Romulans? Because it was all a distraction. Something must have been taken that’s even more valuable than portal tech. Rikka’s losing composure and it becomes clear that his withdrawal isn’t actually withdrawal. Worf’s seen this before: It’s what happens to Changelings when they’ve held solid form for too long. Rikka tells them they’re too late—the Federation will crumble—and then he liquifies.
Worf explains that the Changelings were once united, but there was a schism after the Dominion War. A terrorist faction broke away, with the goal of destroying Starfleet. A friend in The Great Link—a man of honor —reached out to inform Worf of the split, but Starfleet could not acknowledge this group without “reigniting the Dominion War.” (Nice shoutout to Odo, and Rene Auberjonois by extension.) Whatever they’re planning is so big that the theft of a portal weapon could be considered mere distraction. If there are answers to be found, they’ll be at Daystrom Station.
Picard returns to the bridge, with renewed desire to fight. He sympathizes with Will’s instinct to be “fearful of loss,” but that sets Riker off. Picard keeps pushing. Hiding makes them weak, and their plans keep failing. They need to change things up. Riker orders Picard to stand down.
T’Veen reports that the leak is fixed, and La Forge reports that warp drive is a go. Riker’s ready to get the hell out of Ryton. But before they can, the saboteur strikes again, and there’s an explosion that takes out a power conduit. Picard again encourages Riker to turn around and fight. This time, he concedes.
The Titan whips around and fires everything they’ve got at the Shrike, but Vadic was ready. Portals open on each side of the Titan, causing them to be hit with the full force of their own weapons fire. The ship it no longer responding to commands, and the Titan is left “sinking” towards the gravity well while the Shrike retreats. Riker kicks Picard off his Bridge: “You’ve just killed us all.”
Bechdel-Wallace pass: Crusher and Ohk discuss Crusher’s willingness/ability to help in sickbay.