Previously on Star Trek Picard: Riker was captured by Vadic at Daystrom Station, and discovered that she’s also holding Deanna. The personalities of Data and Lore were battling for control of the Soong golem, and dropping the partition between them could mean losing Data forever if Lore wins. Changelings have infiltrated Starfleet and are planning an attack for the fast-approaching Frontier Day, but they still need Jack Crusher. For his part, Jack learned that whatever’s going on in his brain allows him to take control of other people, like a VR game. The Titan crew laid a trap for Vadic, but it failed, and she has gained control of the ship.
Vadic (Amanda Plummer) is shutting down systems on the Titan – lights, communication, automatic doors – while her minions chase down and kill lower-deckers. She’s got the Bridge crew held hostage, standing in a row, at attention. In a shipwide announcement, she reminds the remaining crew that she could also shut down life support, gravity, and more with just the push of a button. But if they’d just turn over Jack Crusher, she’d be on her way.
Jack (Ed Speleers), Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), Picard (Patrick Stewart), and Crusher (Gates McFadden) have congregated in Sickbay, but aren’t having any luck accessing the ship’s systems – Vadic has control of every console that’s not on the Bridge. As her parents work at a console, Jack’s powers activate, and he’s able to see through the eyes of an officer outside. Some crew are hiding, and others have been killed. When that officer is hit by a phaser blast, Jack returns to his own body.
In their cell on the Shrike, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) tends to Riker’s (Jonathan Frakes) wounds as they partake in some exposition: She can feel how he was changed by their escape from the nebula; When the Changelings arrived at their home, she knew right away that they were imposters; She can’t really read Changelings, but these were different. They wonder if they made the right move by turning over the compromise code, but Riker is sure that Picard laid the perfect trap…
As Vadic spins in the captain’s chair, Shaw (Todd Stashwick) admonishes Seven (Jeri Ryan) for not blowing up the turbolift when the doors opened. But despite his dickishness, she wasn’t going to sacrifice him. If she had, maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation. And now she has to deal with the consequences of her non-action. Vadic opens another shipwide channel – she’s impatient. She’s going to executive one crewmember every 10 minutes until Jack comes to the Bridge.
Jack makes the move to go, and Crusher grabs his arm – she will not let him surrender under any circumstances. Picard adds that as soon as Vadic has him, she’ll destroy the Titan. Jack still doesn’t know what she wants with him. He knows he’s always been different, but recently something has changed. He thinks he can retake the ship. He explains how he can connect to people. Crusher runs a scan, and everything is normal – it’s not a hallucination. And Sidney confirms that she’s experienced this and it saved her life.
With one minute before a threatened execution, Lt. Mura’s (Joseph Lee) eyes go red, he slowly reaches to the console next to him, and begins inputting a code – Picard’s override code. But Vadic catches him and cancels it. How would he know that code? Unless it’s Jack controlling him – How did Vadic know he could do that if Jack only just figured it out? Regardless of how, now Jack knows that she knows.
The ten minutes are up. The minions force Ensign Esmar (Jin Maley) to kneel and hold a phaser to their head. Seven lunges at the minion, but is quickly overpowered – Shaw says there’s nothing she can do. Antoher minion puts Mura in the same position. Vadic asks him to tell her about someone who loves him, and Mura mentions his son. Fitting, since she’s after Picard’s son, and she knows both father and son can hear this exchange. Mura refuses to ask Jack to come to the Bridge. Vadic walks away from him, and behind the line of officers. She charges her phaser and points it at the back of Esmar’s head. Then she quickly turns and kills T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski), and makes Seven relay the news. Vadic again invites Jack to the Bridge before cutting the channel.
Riker’s starting to worry. If they don’t survive, their daughter will be alone. That thought burns Deanna and she accuses him of giving up again, like he did when Thad died. He didn’t give up, he was numb. And he was numb because, when the grief was taking him over, Deanna used her abilities to take it away. (I don’t recall this power from TNG…) But while Will felt nothing, Deanna felt the grief of everyone around her. But she finally admits that she forgot something important: “You can’t skip to the end of healing.”
They needed that talk. And the one that follows: They both hate Nepenthe. But until now, they’ve been stuck. And now they see a path forward.
A minion comes to the cell to grab Deanna, but is suddenly stabbed through the back, then shot – by Worf (Michael Dorn). Both Riker and Troi rush to hug him, and he’s not thrilled about it. Worf takes a moment to address Deanna, having counted the days since they last saw one another. Thoughts of her and her sensitivity and compassion have guided him during his self-work. Deanna’s unsure what to make of this, but seems mostly impressed by Worf’s growth, and Will simply finds it inappropriate and turns the attention back to their rescue.
There’s no other choice – Jack has to go to the Bridge, and Beverly implores him to reconsider. Sidney’s now at the console, working to regain control of the ship, but she’d need a year to write the code that override Vadic’s commands. Her dad could probably do it in a month. But to get it done in a few minutes, they’d need an AI matrix capable of more than 90 trillion computations a second. Hey, wait….
In Engineering, Geordi (LeVar Burton) and Alandra (Mica Burton) are trying to get through to Data (Brent Spiner) when Picard and the gang enter. But are they who they appear to be? Geordi asks Picard what gift he brought to an anniversary dinner – a Bordeaux, “which you said was too dry because your taste in wine is pedestrian at best.” Everyone is dunking on Chateau Picard this season, and I’m here for it. Test passed, the team tells Geordi their plan to use Data’s positronic matrix to retake the ship. Problem: If they reconnect the golem to the ship, it might be Lore in control, and they won’t be any better off. Plus, Data’s ethical subroutines permit him to take a life of any kind (that feels incorrect), so even if he could overpower Lore with the personality partition lowered, Lore would still be there, biding his time. But Sidney convinces him that there’s no other option.
Geordi brings up a schematic of the positronic matrix (so they can work on this console?) and reluctantly lowers the partition. In the matrix, Data is sorting through memories with representative “trinkets”, while Lore taunts him. Lore is able to reach out and take Data’s Sherlock pipe from him – he’s winning. Lore’s programming is overwriting Data’s. And Data keeps handing over his “trinkets” to Lore – including his hologram of Tasha Yar. These memories are what define him, but he’s powerless to stop Lore from claiming them.
Worf, Riker, and Troi join Raffi (Michelle Hurd) elsewhere on the Shrike, in a room housing Picard’s human remains. Raffi simply says, “Still me” to confirm her identity, so I’m hoping that was agreed-upon in advance. She’s learned that the Changelings have been removing the parts of Picard’s parietal lobe that were “infected” with Irumodic Syndrome, but she doesn’t know why – so she downloads the Shrike‘s database. Will attempts to contact the Titan to find the shields up and comms down, just as an alarm starts blaring. Our team hustles to their shuttle.
A minion reports to Vadic that her prisoners have escaped, and she decides it’s time for another execution. As she again heads towards Mura, the computer alerts “Turbolift Active” (this also seems new – maybe it’s a setting), which captures her attention. The doors slide open and Jack calmly walks onto the Bridge. His mother taught him better than to decline an invitation! He even brought a gift – an explosive. It may not kill the Changelings, but it will kill Jack. If she wants him alive, she better cooperate.
Vadic’s no longer interested in her hostages and has the minions lock them in the Observation Lounge – but Seven stays behind. Vadic calls that “fitting” and turns her focus back to Jack, talking in circles about what he really is. We still don’t know – just tell him (and us) already! She knows that he’s heard the voices and seen the red door, and claims she can help him.
Lore asks why Data is just giving away his memories without a fight – “Because you have had nothing while I have had everything.” From the outside, it looks like surrender, and Data’s shutting down. Inside, Data hands over Spot, who represents the last of him. Data blinks away, and the positronic matrix map is all red. Data’s gone.
Or is he? Lore glitches, and Data reappears. Suddenly, the brain map turns blue. Data knew that Lore would see his memories as irresistible trophies to claim. “You took the things that were me, and in doing do, you have become me.” Sure, why not? Data won, and Lore is gone. Or integrated. It’s unclear. Either way, the Soong android reanimates with Data in full control and ready to help. In seconds, they have comms back and pick up a transmission from the shuttle, give them an update, and clear them to dock. A rather snarky Data opens a shipwide channel, and calls for a “shift change.”
Raffi and Worf fight hand-to-hand with the minions in the corridors. On the Bridge, Jack activates his explosive, which is actually a force field. With his signal, Picard orders the evacuation hatch opened – Vadic and her minions are blown (not sucked) out into space. Ice forms on Vadic’s body as momentum carries her towards the Shrike, and she shatters on impact. When the Bridge re-pressurizes, Shaw leads the crew out of the Observation Lounge and orders them to stations. With everyone back on board, Seven orders Mura to fire everything they’ve got at the Shrike, completely destroying the ship (and the portal tech, and Picard’s body).
Riker and Troi catch up with Worf and Raffi as they’re disposing of Changeling bodies, and Deanna suddenly falters. Vadic’s gone, but she’s sensing an “all-consuming darkness” on the Titan.
With the crisis averted, Picard welcomes this new version of Data. He’s definitely changed by the experience – he’s Data, but more than Data. And he’ll now be experiencing humanity in a new way, with a golem body (without gold makeup), like Picard’s. He can even joke around with Geordi. And use contractions. And Geordi is thrilled to have his bestie back.
Finally, the old gang gathers ’round the conference room table to figure out what’s next, just like old times. Frontier Day is now just hours away, and they still don’t have answers. Neither does the audience.. But Deanna is positive that the Changelings’ plan is tied directly to Jack. Beverly doesn’t know what’s going on with him, but it’s intensifying. What is it with this woman and her magical children? Troi can tell that the darkness she felt is connected to him, and there’s a voice, “ancient and weak,” inside him.
Normally, as a Counselor, Deanna would wait for a patient to seek out her help, but there’s no time – she goes to see Jack. They grasp hands, and after a moment, Troi asks if he’s ever seen a door in his dreams/visions/imagination. The red door, the talking door. He’s terrified to open it. So, they’ll go together. Troi enters his mind – in his vision, she and Jack stand right in front of the door, and she reaches to open it. And we have to wait another week for answers.
Bechdel-Wallace Pass: Raffi and Deanna introduce themselves to one another.