Previously on Star Trek Picard: Our heroes on the Titan were finally able to destroy Vadic and the Shrike, and gather, once more, around a conference table. Jack’s had been having visions, which Beverly diagnosed as Irumodic Syndrome, inherited from his father. Changelings stole Picard’s human remains from Daystrom Station, and were doing something with the parts of his brain affected by the disease. Whatever they’re planning is directly related to Jack. And Jack? He’s not just having visions – he’s developing abilities, and they’re getting stronger.
Together, Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Jack (Ed Speleers) enter his visions, with the goal of opening that ominous red door. She encourages him to try to remember what all of these symbols mean to him, including the song now playing, “I Can’t Stop Crying” (which we also heard in the first episode of the season). It clicks – The Crimson Arboretum. His mother used to take him there, and this was one of her favorite songs. He remembers thinking about the root systems, how all the different blossoms were connected underground. He’s seeking connections – many connections. They hear Beverly’s voice calling from behind the door, where the truth lies. Deanna offers to open it for him, but what she sees makes her sever their mental connection and run out of the room: A Borg Cube.
Troi rushes to tell Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Picard (Patrick Stewart) – Jack’s never been assimilated, he has no nanoprobes, no Borg tech. But Deanna’s never been wrong about the Borg. Crusher points out that some transceivers/receivers are organic, and it all comes together: The defect in Picard’s parietal lobe wasn’t Irumodic Syndrome at all – it was put there by the Borg when he was assimilated. An organic receiver. And the weapon Vadic was after is Jack himself. He’s a threat to everyone on board.
Picard goes to give his progeny the news, which leads him to again question his own identity. He’s always known that things were broken – war, suffering, inequalities, poverty, bigotry – and thought that so many problems could be solved if people could only see, hear, and speak to one another. “Who knew a little cybernetic authoritarianism was the answer?” When Picard brings up some necessary security precautions, Jack’s offended. So dad has to remind him that he nearly killed everyone he knew and loved when he was under Borg control. He suggesting Jack go a research academy on Vulcan where he’ll be “safe.” (How can Picard even make that safety claim?) But Jack knows they’ll use mind melds to “lobotomize the Borg out of him,” and refuses. He’ll handle it himself.
Jack moves to leave, but the door opens to reveal two Security officers blocking the exit. Picard promised he’d never give up on Jack, but Starfleet protocols are forcing him to make decisions to protect everyone else instead of his son. A couple of guards won’t stop Jack – he closes his eyes for a moment and the two officers are under his control. They point their phaser rifles at Picard as Jack strolls out.
As he heads down the corridor, Crusher rushes up to Jack, trying to stop him. The guards hold block her path. He’s going home. He knows the Borg want him and he’s willing to trade himself for the answers he’s after. She begs him not to, and promises that they can find another way. But he walks away, determined, as the officers hold her back.
The voice in Jack’s head has changed – it’s not his mother anymore, it’s the Borg Queen (Alice Krige). As she implores him to “Find me,” Jack steals a shuttle, turns off the transponder, and lays in a course. Picard and Crusher watch him warp away from the Titan‘s windows. They’re beating themselves up – Picard for passing this on genetically, and Crusher for not seeing it sooner. She’s determined to figure out some way to fix this. Crusher leaves and Data (Brent Spiner) enters, reporting that he hasn’t been able to track the shuttle. But he does offer a consoling presence for his friend and former captain, placing a hand on his shoulder.
La Forge (LeVar Burton) has found more, and the team gathers. All Borg undergo generic alteration when assimilated, but in Picard’s case, they wrote and implanted new genetic code in his brain. It was undetectable with Federation tech at the time, and made him a “receiver.” That’s why he could still hear the Borg, even after the nanoprobes and implants were all removed. But Jack, somehow, it’s a transmitter. But the people he’s been able to control had never been assimilated, so how do they receive his instructions?
The Changelings removed that genetic code from Picard’s brain in order to weaponize it, and “clearly” (Crusher’s words, not mine) have been working with the Borg from the beginning. Just how long have they been planning this, exactly? Was “the beginning” back in 2366? When the Dominion first encounter the Borg? Regardless of all those questions, it’s finally Frontier Day, and all of Starfleet is in one place. The folks on the Titan may be interplanetary fugitives, but they’re still going to try to warn the Fleet. Time to go back tot he Sol System.
The festivities have begun, and the Enterprise-F is kicking things off with Admiral Elizabeth Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) in command. She gives an opening speech, remembering the heroes on the Enterprise NX-01 who set out 250 years ago, as a space-firework show goes off around the ship. This Frontier Day, Starfleet will demonstrate “Fleet Formation” – their newest advancement. It allows every ship to operate as one (one of those ships is the USS Pulaski, in case you missed it). Shelby calls it “the ultimate safeguard” and “an impenetrable armada.” Pretty ironic that the Borg specialist would be endorsing something like this.
The coordinates Jack entered have brought him to a transwarp conduit, with an arriving Cube. He beams aboard, phaser drawn, and the Queen’s voice welcomes him home. She’s contemplated many names for him… Locutus was “the one who speaks,” but Jack will be “Võx” – the voice. He finds her body and aims the phaser, but he can’t bring himself to fire and yells in frustration. The Queen laughs at his effort and encourages him to stop struggling. Assimilation tubules enter his neck and his eyes go black. Resistance is futile.
Crusher, La Forge, and Data are working together on the Changeling/Borg problem. They found Starfleet transporter code in in the Shrike‘s database, which includes parts of Picard’s Borg-altered DNA. Crusher cross-references that with the transporter code on the Titan, and there’s a match. See, in order to make transporting easier, the system stores code that is common among all species (the ethical implications of that are breaking my brain a little) – and this DNA sequence is now included in that common code. So, anyone who has used the Titan‘s transporter – or any Starfleet transporter – since this code was implemented now also carries this Borg-developed DNA. No wonder the Titan‘s Changeling infiltrator replaced their transporter chief, and the others went to great lengths to avoid Starfleet transporters. Where’s Miles O’Brien when you need him? …wait. Will Miles fix the transporters when this is all over? Is that why he’s the most important person in Starfleet history?!
Titan arrives in the Sol System just as Admiral Shelby begins a demonstration of Fleet Formation. Of course, the Titan is part of this network – the system activates and begins to lock out the crew. But there’s time to get out a hail – Picard tries to interrupt Shelby’s presentation and warn her about the new Borg threat. She cutes him off. Sensors are still reporting data, and they’re picking up a massive energy spike. Seven (Jeri Ryan) recognizes it as a Borg signal.
Data’s been running simulations and discovers that the Borg DNA doesn’t propagate after a certain point in a species development. That makes sense to Crusher – it would be when the frontal cortex stops development. For humans, that’s around age 25. Uh-oh.
On the Bridge, Shaw (Todd Stashwick) calls for Red Alert, but Mura (Joseph Lee) doesn’t respond. He, Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), Alandra (Mica Burton), and Esmar (Jin Maley) have all been assimilated. Shelby’s transmitting again to all ships in the Fleet – the Enterprise is under attack from within. Two ensigns approach Shelby and fire phasers as the transmission cuts again. It’s happening to every ship in the Fleet. The Borged junior officers on the Titan start repeating, “Eliminate all unassimilated” as even more of them arrive on the Bridge. Seven quickly incapacitates the drone blocking the turbolift and Shaw, Picard, and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) follow her in. Esmar takes the captain’s chair and reports to the Collective that they have control of the Titan.
The turbolift opens on Deck 4 to a firefight among the lower-deckers, and the door closes again, just in time. They start receiving a transmission from the Excelsior – the senior officers have been able to retake control. Unfortunately, the Fleet Formation program can control the ship remotely. The Collective moves Excelsior in front of the Fleet, targets, and destroys the ship. A Borg message begins: “Excelsior eliminated. All vessels secure. Fleetwide assimilation complete.”
The captain of the Excelsior was broadcasting on frequency 99-Delta, and old maintenance channel, and that gives Shaw an idea. He redirects the turbolift to the maintenance deck, where there are no guards and no drones. But there is a repair shuttle. Picard hits his communicator and tells everyone who can hear him to meet them there. (I’m very confused about how internal comms are working if the Collective has control of the Titan. The meaning of “control” has been somewhat nebulous these past few episodes, when it comes to ship systems…)
“A message to those who resist:
Your armada has been added to our own.
Your weak and willful will soon be eliminated.
Your strongest have already been assimilated.
We are Borg. Starfleet, now, is Borg.”
Picard, Riker, Shaw, and Seven have their phasers drawn and ready when the turbolift door opens again – and they’re met by Geordi, Data, Crusher, Raffi (Michelle Hurd), Troi, and Worf (Michael Dorn), who have their own phasers trained on the lift. There’s a sigh of relief all around.
They need to get off the ship – it’s very convenient that the shuttles aren’t networked. Unfortunately, Geordi can’t get the bay doors open before drones arrive. The team takes cover and starts shooting. Once the doors are open, the team starts boarding. Shaw is hit. Picard doesn’t want to leave without him, but Seven makes him. Raffi, however, refuses to go. With the corridor now free of Borg, Seven cradles Shaw’s head. He knows he won’t make it, but there’s one thing he has to say, first: “You have the conn, Seven of Nine.” #TeamDipshit
As the shuttle pulls away from the Titan, the Borgfleet Armada targets the spacedock and Earth’s planetary defenses.
Picard and the gang need a ship, and Geordi knows where they can get one. It was going to be a surprise, but when the shuttle arrives back at the Fleet Museum, he shows them all what he’s been hiding in Hangar Bay 12: The Enterprise-D. (No bloody E or F.) The saucer was recovered from Veridian III and the stardrive section came from the USS Syracuse. This’ll have to do, since they “obviously can’t use the Enterprise-E,” which apparently is not Worf’s fault, and we definitely need a Short Trek to tell us that story.
These seven old friends walk on to the Bridge together as Geordi calls for the lights. They all take a moment to admire their old stomping grounds (so that we can, too) – especially the carpet. Geordi has drones loading torpedoes and Picard calls for system reactivation. The voice of Majel Barrett acknowledges, and transfers command to Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who “accept[s] the field demotion.” Well, this fan has certainly been serviced.
Here they are again, on the Enterprise-D about to face the Borg. Picard claims to be reluctant to ask this of them all again. But this time, they’re more than crew – they’re family. And those assimilated kids – Jack, Alandra, and Sidney – they’re family, too. Time to get on with it. They takes their stations, all systems are online, and weapons are ready. Data lays in a course for Earth. “Engage.”
Bechdel-Wallace Pass: Seven tells Raffi to leave, and she refuses.