Picard Recap: “The Last Generation” (S3, E10)

Previously on Star Trek Picard: The Borg passed genetic material to Jack through Locutus/Picard, and teamed up with the Changelings to put that genetic sequence into everyone in Starfleet via the transporter systems. Jack went off to find the Borg Cube with the Queen that had been calling to him, while everyone in Starfleet under 25 was assimilated remotely. The Borg used the new “Fleet Formation” technology to take control of every ship in the Fleet, and then turned its weapons towards Earth’s planetary defenses. Seven and Raffi stayed behind on the Titan while Picard and his old crew escaped to find a ship that’s not on the network: The Enterprise-D.

President Anton Chekov (Walter Koenig) broadcasts a warning on all emergency channels not to approach Earth. Starfleet has been compromised, and the planetary defenses are falling. They don’t know how to stop the Borg signal. But he knows his father would say, in a Russian accent, that hope is never lost…

For now, the spacedock’s defenses are holding under attacks from the Fleet, but all distress calls from both Starfleet and civilian ships have stopped.  The Borg have complete control.  The Enterprise is on it’s own.  No one mentions it, but presumably this is also happening on on Earth and all colonies in the Sol System – and Kestra Troi-Riker is supposed to be at Starfleet Academy, according to Terry Matalas.  Sensors pick up a Borg Cube near Jupiter, and the Enterprise goes to intercept.  The Borg his a transwarp conduit in Jupiter’s atmosphere.  The Cube is broadcasting to the Collective.  Crusher (Gates McFadden) tries to locate Jack in the noise, and is able to isolate his voice – Jack is the command signal.

Seven (Jeri Ryan), Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and a few other crewman make their way through the Titan‘s corridors, fighting off drones and heading to the Bridge.  Shouldn’t these ships be full of Lieutenants and Commanders in their 30s and 40s?  Did the 25yos take them all out that quickly?  (Yes, the Titan was left with a skeleton crew, but what about everyone else?)  Anyway, the unassimilated officers exit the turbolift, phasers blazing, and Seven seems to somehow be shooting transporter beams – When he weapon hits a drone, they are transported to a locked Transporter Room 1.  Necessity is the mother of invention, I supposed, and this may be the birth of the personal transporter.  Seven orders the crew to station.  Their default pilot (who appears to be uncredited) is a cook who once went to space driver’s ed, and Dr. Ohk (Tiffany Shepis) takes comms and begins monitoring the Delta-99 maintenance channel.  They may have taken the Bridge, but the ship is still connected to Fleet Formation.

The Borg Cube is only 36% operational, and using most of its power for the signal beacon.  Troi (Martina Sirtis) can distinguish Jack from the Collective, but he’s “consumed.”  The Cube scans the Enterprise, then lowers shields and stands-down weapons – an invitation.  They need to locate and destroy the beacon, severing the Borg’s connection to the Fleet.  Crusher’s able to isolate Jack’s brainwave pattern, and can use that to locate him on the cube.  Picard (Patrick Stewart) is beaming over, and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Worf (Michael Dorn) are going with him.  They’ll locate the beacon while Picard gets his son.  Geordi (LeVar Burton) will be in command of the ship.  Riker and Troi hold each others gaze before he leaves – still, neither of them mentions their daughter.  Picard takes a beat to address his crew – it’s been an honor serving with them.

The team materializes to find a too-quiet Cube with several dead drones.  Their remains are being used to sustain… something.  Crusher reports over comms that Jack is one level below them, in the unimatrix array.  By the way, it’s entirely possible that Picard, himself, is still compatible with the hive – no reason she brings that up, I’m sure.  Picard has to go forward alone.  They part ways as if it will be the last time, and Crusher guides Picard to the lower level.  After that, the inference will be too much.  She starts to say something else, but Picard cuts her off – he knows that everything she’s done has been to protect their son.  “You did everything right.”  (That’s not true, but it is sweet.)

Picard finds Jack (Ed Speleers) right away, and he’s relaying a somewhat new message from the Borg:  “Your biological and technological distinctiveness will contribute to the whole.  Your cultures will evolve to serve the future.  Peace and prosperity will spread across the galaxy.  You will be assimilated.  You will exist in a universe without fear, a universe without loss.  Unbroken.  Perfect.  Those diseases are of the past.”

The Queen (voiced by Alice Krige, body double Jane Edwina Seymour), fused to a structure behind Jack, laughs with glee – father and son have both come home.  She taunts him, and Picard fires, but she’s protected with a personal shield.  Picard left her at the edge of space, a loneliness only Jack could understand.  And he found her there.  Picard offers himself in Jack’s place – he’s always been the one she’s really wanted.  But not anymore.  The future of the Borg is not in assimilation, but evolution.  The Borg made a deal with Vadic’s Changelings, since they also understood the pain of losing a generation to Starfleet.  By altering their assimilation code to genetic code, the Borg can now procreate.  A new kind of Borg, that doesn’t need to assimilate.  Instead, they will annihilate.

The Titan‘s sensors pick up the Enterprise-D near Jupiter, and Seven realizes it must be their friends.  They need to find a way to get the Titan off this network, too…  Fortunately, Fleet Formation uses line-of-sight propagation, and the Titan has a cloaking device.  Seven gets her inspirational captain-speech moment:  “I’m not asking you to give your lives for nothing.  I’m asking you to fight for what’s below: Your families, your children.  The Borg have taken our crew, taken our captain.  But in this moment, here and now, we are all that is left of Starfleet.  It’s up to us.”  The cloaked, non-networked Titan flies into the middle of the BorgFleet, de-cloaks and begins firing.  When Fleet Formation tries to reconnect, they have to recloak, regroup, and reposition for another run.

Riker and Worf find an access terminal on the Cube, and prepare to transmit the coordinates of the beacon.  But they’ve drawn the attention of some of the remaining drones, which means another hallway battle!  Riker tackles one, and Worf faces them with his Kur’leth – until he takes a hit in his side.  Riker tries to take the sword, but can barely lift it – Worf tells him to check the hilt, where there’s a phaser hidden.  Riker grabs it and takes out the last two drones.  Why didn’t Worf use the phaser from the start?  “Swords are fun.”

The Enterprise is taking fire from the Cube, and shields are down to 68%.  They need to destroy the Cube’s weapons turrets.  Unfortunately, Geordi hasn’t had time to work on the D‘s weapons systems, so Crusher, at Tactical, will have to do it manually.  And she’s a pro.  La Forge, Troi, and Data (Brent Spiner) all turn to look at her in disbelief.  She can only reply, “A lot’s happened in the last 20 years.”  (A nice echo of  “A lot of things can happen in 25 years” from “All Good Things.”)

Riker finishes the transmission, and the Enterprise has the beacon schematics and position.  It’s at the center of the Cube.  Navigating to it would be nearly impossible.  But Data thinks can do it – he’s going to trust his gut.  Geordi takes come convincing, but finally agrees, and Data flies them deftly to the thermal exhaust port beacon, as Troi senses “enjoyment.”

The Fleet is reallocating some of its resources and using predictive algorithms to attempt to locate the Titan, and the assimilated crew have escaped the transporter room.  The rest of the Fleet successfully destroys the spacedock, and Earth’s planetary shields fall.  The Fleet begins targeting every major population center on Earth when the Titan is suddenly hit – but how?  The younglings have destroyed the cloaking device.  And now they’re headed back to the Bridge.  The Titan is S-O-L.

Crusher prepares to fire on the beacon, but Geordi stops her.  It’s too integrated with the Cube’s systems.  Destroying the beacon would destroy the Cube – and everyone on it.  They have to make a choice between their friends and family and everyone else in the galaxy.  Geordi turns to Crusher, allowing/forcing her to make the choice.  She takes a moment, then tearfully nods.  “The needs of the many…,” as they say.  Geordi calls Riker and Worf, telling them to prepare for beam out, but they won’t leave Picard.  After the Enterprise fires, they’ll have no more than a minute to get out.  Riker says, “I’ll see you soon” and they go in after Picard.

Picard begins pulling Jack’s cables out of the Cube’s interface, but the Queen warns him that severing the link would cause insurmountable damage.  Jack would have to choose to leave.  Picard tries to speak to his son, but it’s not getting through.  So, instead, he’s going in – by jabbing an assimilation tubule into the side of his neck.  Inside the visual representation of the Collective, it’s just Picard, Jack, distance voices, and green light.  Jack’s in awe of the Borg, experiencing the euphoria of assimilation.  There’s no loneliness or fear or suffering.  But Picard knows it’s not real.  He understands Jack – longing for connection while keeping everyone at arm’s length.  Picard was the same way, always putting up barriers, waiting to die in his vineyard.  Now he realizes that Jack is what was missing.  But Jack insists that he’s finally where he belongs.

They can’t wait any longer – Geordi gives the order, and Crusher fires torpedoes.

If Jack won’t leave, Picard will stay.  Picard reaches out and hugs his son, and Jack breaks his connection with the Collective.  Back in reality, Jack pulls out his own tubes, and then his father’s, and Riker and Worf look on.  The Cube shakes, consoles explode, and Riker says a goodbye to Deanna.  Jack turns to face the Queen, telling her that the time of the Borg is over.  She’s furious – and if Jack somehow survives, he’ll be broken and lonely forever.  Now he knows she’s lying.

Troi sensed Riker’s goodbye and knows exactly where they are, even if the sensors don’t.  She rushes to the conn, and the Enterprise arrives just in time to beam out their people and escape the explosion.

BorgFleet takes aim at the Titan as the Borg-ensigns exit the turbolift… until everything changes.  The attack never comes.  The Borg veins disappear, and the young officers look around, confused.  Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), who had just been pointing her phaser at Seven, begins to cry, and is immediately comforted by her commanding officer.

Reunited on the Bridge, Crusher hugs her son, Riker kisses his wife, and Worf sits down and falls asleep.  Geordi makes contact with the Titan to see that Sidney and Alandra (Mica Burton) are both alive and well.  Also Seven and Raffi, of course.  Joining the family hug, Picard welcomes Jack to the Enterprise.

An unspecified amount of time later….  It’s time to start over, according to Riker’s log.  Admiral Crusher, now heading Starfleet Medical, has developed a transporter solution that will remove the Borg modification.  It also scans for “other irregularities,” aka Changelings.

Luckily, the former infiltrators kept, but did not kill, many of the officers they had been impersonating, in hopes of getting additional information from them.  Captain Tuvok (Tim Russ) debriefs Seven of Nine.  The command crew of the Enterprise received a full pardon.  For her part in their escapade, Seven is prepared to resign, believing that Starfleet is not for her.  But Tuvok plays her last officer review from Captain Shaw (Todd Stashwick), which he sent in before the Titan changed course for the Ryton System.  He recommends Seven, by her chosen name, for promotion.  “Resignation denied.”

Raffi, in her quarters, watches a message from home – her son wants her to meet her granddaughter.  Worf was eavesdropping… an “honorable maverick” might have leaked some information to her family about all her awards and commendations.  That changed everything for them.  They part ways, but not before a hug – which Worf initiates.

Troi counsels Data, helping him to learn how to balance his new emotions, from joy to melancholy.  Just recently, he cried after seeing an ensign feed his cat.  This new humanity is so much more complex that he ever imagined.  But he’s making progress, even if his sessions tend to run long.  Very long.

One year later….  The Enterprise-D is on display at the Fleet Museum.  Picard, Riker, and Geordi are on the Bridge as they power down the computer one more time.  The computer acknowledges, Riker says, “I miss that voice,” and my heart burst.

Spacedock has been repaired, and Admirals Picard and Crusher and ferrying their son there for his first Starfleet posting.  Starfleet put him on an accelerated track – it’s either an honor or the family name.  But Picard insists that names don’t mean that much – this is all Jack.  Which ship is he assigned to?  He hasn’t mentioned…  and then the Titan comes into view, of course.  Except she’s been re-christened.  Jack will be serving aboard the USS Enterprise-G, under Captain Seven of Nine, First Officer Raffi Musiker, and alongside Lieutenant Sidney La Forge.  In Jack’s words, “Names mean almost everything.”

Jack saunters on the the Bridge, giving random orders, and takes the center seat – until Seven kicks him out.  Starfleet gave a ship to a thief, a pirate, and a spy, so they’re in for a good time.  Jack will be serving as “special counselor to the captain” and takes the seat on Seven’s left.  The Enterprise is cleared to begin it’s shakedown cruise on Seven’s order, but we don’t get to hear her command… yet.

The old gang is hanging out at Guinan’s, getting their money’s worth out of that set, and Crusher drank all the bloodwine.  It seems like the party is starting to break up – Worf has an early lecture on Mugatu meditation, Troi and Riker and busy planning a vacation, and Geordi calls for one more toast.  Data begins a familiar limerick, but then suggests Picard do the honors, and he can’t help but quote Shakespeare (Julius Caesar) one more time:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

They all toast, and Picard proposes a game of poker.  Who could say no to that?  Among camaraderie and laughter, Picard wins the first hand, then deals again as the camera pans out – just like it did 29 years ago.

Stinger!  Jack unpacks in his quarters on the Enterprise, and is startled by someone behind him.  He grabs a phaser and spins around to meet Q (John deLancie).  But Q’s dead… if you think linearly, anyway.  There’s a lot ahead for them.  Humanity’s trail may be over for Jean-Luc, but it’s just beginning for Jack.

Bechdel-Wallace Pass: Seven and Raffi discuss the transporter weapon.

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