Star Trek: Picard (Season 3) Episode 5: After the breakneck events that we were privy to last week, you wouldn’t be surprised as a viewer to ask for a breather. But as Star Trek: Picard – Season 3 ends its “first act” and enters its second act, events already are beginning to escalate as revelations pile one on top of the other.
We also get Worf and Raffi’s Plot-B, which had been conspicuously absent in the previous episode, but this episode finally connects the two plots, and we also manage to get closure for a character whose story had been left unfinished thirty years earlier.
Star Trek: Picard (Season 3) Episode 5, Recap
We open with the crew of the USS Titan-A preparing to make their way home after their ordeal in the Ryton System. Checking the ship’s systems and investigating the material left on the creatures’ birth, the ensigns are in a happy afterglow after the incident, when suddenly Jack Crusher, wearing a Starfleet uniform, comes up to the bridge and starts shooting with a phaser, mowing them all down.
As Esmar tries to crawl away, Jack walks right up to him and shoots him point blank. We see the red roots growing around Esmar’s face and then around the hull of the ship. Suddenly Jack is back in his quarters, phaser in hand, shaking as he drops the phaser on the deck while his eyes glow red. He hears that same ominous voice that had been repeating in his head for the preceding two episodes, telling him to come home.
We hear another log, this time an acting captain’s, which again is strangely reassuring because it again hearkens back to the classic motifs of Star Trek.
Acting captain’s log, stardate 78186.03. We’ve limped to the edge of the Alpha Quadrant to pause for repairs to our warp core and other essential systems—still no sign of Vadic or the Shrike. Perhaps our return to Federation space has offered us a bit of a reprieve. So now we have a chance to focus on all the other pressing matters.
It is also fascinating that the log begins after the end of the last episode and continues here. It feels like a transition from the very modern version of the last two seasons and a vibe that was still carried over to the first half of this season. But now showrunner Terry Matalas is almost giving off a reassuring air, speaking directly to the fans and reminding them: This is still the same Star Trek, still that same franchise these fans have followed for years. This could be an over-explanation of a simple admiral’s log, but its placement here is still interesting.
Picard and Riker convene with Captain Shaw and Seven of Nine to discuss the changeling situation aboard the USS Titan. Riker recalls that changelings could only mimic appearances at first sight; mimicry of internal physiology wasn’t their inherent ability.
It dovetails into an interesting addition to the lore by Shaw, who reveals that after the Dominion War, all crew members have to go through an internal imaging chamber for verification of their identity. After Riker hands back control to Shaw, remarking that he and Picard will have to go back to Starfleet to “face the music,” Shaw reveals that he had already dispatched a detailed report to Starfleet, including details of their misdeeds.
Shaw then asks Seven whether she wants to face the music reinstated; she doesn’t even hesitate to ask for reinstatement. Shaw acquiesces, reinstating her, and then leaves the three of them together to get their story straight. When Shaw is gone, Picard vows to take the brunt of the punishment on himself as he orchestrated the entire takeover.
Picard sets off to tell the Crushers to explain the situation. As Picard waves off Beverly’s apologies, only asking to be a part of their lives once they can resume them, Beverly is quick to point out that the changeling threat is far from over, wondering how they had been able to sneak into the Titan weeks before chasing them down in the Eleos.
She requests to investigate the dead changeling who had impersonated Foster and LaForge and sets off to sickbay. Jack is nervous about wanting to deal with anything resembling Starfleet, and Picard’s suggestion about Jack wanting an honest vacation didn’t sound up to his speed. It could be that Starfleet might drag his carefree and rogue lifestyle down, but it also feels like Jack is far warier after the nightmarish visions.
Aboard the La Sierna, Worf and Raffi are trading barbs and training, with Raffi using metal sticks against Worf’s Kur’leth. As their training comes to a head, with Raffi managing to lose to Worf twice, Worf’s handler makes contact 24 hours after he had requested access to Daystrom Station.
Raffi is impatient at the handler’s stalling, fearful that the changeling is planning another attack if the attack at the Starfleet recruiting center had been just a distraction. Surprisingly, their request is denied, and the handler advises them to find another method of investigation. Worf accepts that it might be from someone higher up in the chain of command and accepts the order to stand down, which Raffi vehemently refuses.
She angrily remarks that she will break into Daystrom herself, even calling into question Worf’s willingness to sacrifice for the mission. Worf’s angrily hurling the d’k tahg on the deck, warning her not to presume his sacrifice, calls back to Worf’s own rich and tragedy-infused history throughout the last 30 years of Star Trek. Worf then informs Raffi and the audience that Daystrom Station is protected by a sophisticated AI requiring security clearance from Starfleet to bypass.
Knowing from the trailers that Moriarty, a holodeck rendition of Sherlock Holmes’s most formidable villain and notably Data’s adversary in Star Trek TNG, is in this season, this sounds like a definite way Moriarty would be introduced. But then, Raffi points out, how did changelings manage to get into that institute?
Worf replies that Sneed would have been able to supply them with information had he not been forced to kill Sneed to rescue her, but Worf believes that Krinn, the kingpin of the V’lashi Crime Syndicate and one of Sneed’s inner circle, might have some ideas.
As Worf and Raffi walked the streets of M’Talas Prime, the streets began to be cleared out. Worf explains that they are now the “alphas” of the vicinity. Raffi decides to have fun with this newfound prestige and fires a shot in the air, loudly announcing they are looking for Krinn and reminding everyone of the fate that befell Sneed.
Hearing nothing but silence, Raffi looks back at Worf to find him kneeling on the street, to which he remarks that he is waiting for the ecology of District Six to right itself. Exasperated, Raffi rightly muses that they might need a backup plan. At the same time, we, as viewers, are exasperated at Raffi trying to be impulsive to draw their targets out again and Worf having to pull them out of trouble, which we are pretty sure would repeat.
Picard and Riker accompany Shaw, who is looking mighty pleased with himself, perhaps because he will be hands-off with these two legends. Picard and Riker are banking on these legends and their storied careers for smooth sailing from the questioning against Starfleet, while Shaw remarks sarcastically that they might remember all the mishaps.
Like the crash of the saucer section of the USS Enterprise-D on a planet (Star Trek Generations), violating the prime directive to kiss a B’aku native (Star Trek Insurrection), or the anti-time eruption that nearly wiped out humanity (Star Trek TNG S07E25 and 26 – “All Good Things…”), leading to Shaw remarking that there is a chicken and egg scenario present in these events.
Meanwhile, when the USS Intrepid finally arrived to investigate the situation, Shaw and Seven were already suspicious because Intrepid decided to send their investigating officers aboard a shuttle instead of being beamed aboard. Also, Picard asks Seven for a favor in helping Jack blend in with Starfleet officers as he heeds Beverly’s warnings about the Changelings. Thus Jack is dressed in the red Starfleet uniform, which resembles the moment from Jack’s nightmare, leading to a sinister bit of foreshadowing.
As Picard and Riker round the corner, Picard’s hope for a smooth investigation vanishes when he recognizes a familiar face amidst the Intrepid’s crew: Ro Laren, now formally christened as a Starfleet Commander. She requests Shaw’s permission to come aboard as Picard, Riker, and the audience try to get their bearings.
For a brief history, Ro Laren was a Bajoran national who formerly served in Starfleet aboard the Federation starship USS Enterprise-D by 2368 (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 3: Ensign Ro). She was assigned as a flight control officer. Picard felt that, had she not been demoted due to her actions in one of her early missions leading to a court-martial, she could have been a late Lieutenant Commander by the time she was a part of Enterprise-D’s crew.
She was assigned to the Advanced Flight Training School under the recommendation of Captain Picard in 2370. Following her advanced training, she was reassigned to the Enterprise under the rank of Lieutenant. However, on an infiltration mission to investigate the Maquis (a resistance group consisting of Federation-born colonists and disillusioned Starfleet officers who organized against the Cardassian occupation of their homes in the DMZ after their colonies were ceded to the Cardassians by the Federation-Cardassian treaty), she starts sympathizing with, and later defects too, the Maquis, much to the betrayal and personal affront of Picard, as we would learn in this episode.
Interestingly, Ro Laren was supposed to be the secondary protagonist of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. But due to actress Michelle Forbes’ unavailability, a role almost similar to Ro Laren was created in the form of Kira Nerys, played by Nana Visitor.
Picard’s reaction to Ro’s presence is further aggravated because she is the investigating officer responsible for hauling Picard and Riker back to Starfleet on charges of treason—a sick and ironic twist of fate according to Picard, as he too considers Ro’s actions an act of treason.
We learn that Ro had turned herself in to Starfleet authorities after some time and was imprisoned. Due to her experience with infiltration and running around in terrorist outfits, Ro had been recruited by Starfleet Intelligence, which had subjected her to an intensive rehabilitation program.
She had crawled back up the ladder, and by 2401 she had advanced herself to the rank of Commander, where she finally presented herself to Picard as the one holding all the cards. To her credit, she tries to be reasonable with Picard, explaining his rights and how they plan to evacuate the crew from the Titan and transport most of them to the Intrepid.
As Picard bears down hard on her betrayal, asking how a traitor can pose as a Starfleet officer, she tries to convince him that she isn’t a changeling by slicing her hand and drawing blood. But he is fully aware that the Changeling can also replicate internal physiology.
In sickbay, Dr. Ohk and Beverly had brought in Ensign LaForge to confirm that the changeling was indeed assuming her appearance but not her. Laforge vomiting on the deck was implicit proof for Beverly. Unlike previous run-ins with the changeling, this particular one had maintained its previous form instead of reverting to its liquid state.
She also discovers that this changeling also projects a blood-type plasma, meaning that they would be able to pass the traditional blood screening test. Realizing that these changelings could also replicate human organs, Beverly reaches out to Picard, who quickly informs her that they are not alone.
Smoothly, Beverly sidesteps him and informs him that these are his health scans, which Picard relays to Ro, allowing Ro to give him a little reprieve. With that gifted to Picard, he can parse through Beverly’s message, detailing all of her findings, ending with her again relaying her message since the start of this adventure: “Trust no one.”
In the guest quarters, Jack again hears that ominous voice asking him to find her, connect with her, and heal her. He heads to the transporter room, where one of the officers stops him to ask whether he has been ordered to beam to the Intrepid. Jack requests to be sent anywhere, as long as it’s not Starfleet. When denied, he draws his phaser and shoots the man. This again turns out to be a vision of Jack, who, in reality, had been standing with a haunted look. Shaken by the vision, Jack leaves.
Armed with this new information, Picard starts probing Ro, which prompts Ro to fill in the blanks for Picard and the audience. Picard prods her, his professional demeanor fraying as his rage drives him to charge her of betraying his honor. To which she calmly responds, “Is he confusing his honor with Starfleet’s?” Picard is also suspicious of Ro’s questioning about his son and wonders what they want. Her reply that he is “central” to the investigation doesn’t satisfy him.
Dismissing his view of blind faith in any institution as equivalent to being honorable (which also explains why she doesn’t have the Bajoran earring that she used to wear), she asks to see the remains of the Changeling. It is revealed to be a ruse as he points a phaser at Picard’s back and directs him to the holodeck, which is still set to 10 Forward Avenue. Meanwhile, security officers are still on the hunt for Jack.
Locking the holodeck so no one could enter, while Picard disables the holodeck safety protocol. Ro considers the walls a little too thin and requests a little music. Picard enables the jukebox, distracting Ro and enabling Picard to draw a phase of his own. He reminds her that it was Guinan’s bar, asking her if she remembered him. He remembers that when Ro first arrived aboard the Enterprise, her earring would have been a violation of the uniform code, but she wore it as a sign of respect for her lost family.
But now Picard believes that was only to massage her ego. “An ego that led you to betray me,” Picard snaps back at her in the Bajoran language. She remarks that his use of the Bajoran language has improved, to which Picard replies that he has been rehearsing this conversation for the past 30 years. Finally, she hits back at him, accusing him of trying to mold her into his image and saying that his affection and mentorship have been anything but unconditional.
Furthermore, she is offended that he questioned her honor, as she had joined the Maquis to stand against injustice, even if that meant fighting against Starfleet. His dishonor was that he confused morality with duty, and he would have understood her if he had truly believed her, as he claimed. They both reconcile with the betrayal they felt against each other, and their mutual pain proves to Picard that her identity is still intact.
They finally return to the pressing matter at hand, and Ro reveals that she believes Changelings have infiltrated all key levels, and there are several more on the Intrepid. As she couldn’t trust the captain, she insisted on taking the shuttle. For months, multiple incidents on different starships had been covered up, and she believes that Frontier Day is the target for a major incident when all the fleets are present.
When Picard asks what Jack has to do with all this, Ro admits she doesn’t know, but his name had come up multiple times in intelligence chatter. She also mentions the attack on the Starfleet recruiting center on M’Talas Prime with a portal weapon similar to the one on the Shrike. When Picard advises her to take this to Admiral Janeway or Chancellor Roll, she reveals that she has been stonewalled at every turn, with her only allies being a couple of intelligence assets on the ground who are trying to link the theft of the portal weapon to the changeling’s MacGuffin. She believes that they are close, even as they speak. No point in guessing who these assets are.
Back at M’talas Prime, Worf and Raffi are met by Krinn, a Vulcan with a serious beef against the two of them as he considers Sneed to be his brother, having grown up together. Worf and Raffi had set up a trap for Krinn in the form of a hologram of Worf while the real one tried to snipe them off. Revealing what he had prepared for them, he throws two knives at their feet and instructs them to fight to the death, revealing that they will both die if they don’t comply.
Krinn’s philosophy on turning to crime even as a Vulcan is surprisingly simple: even a utopia cannot exist without some crime. Therefore, it is logical for an organized crime syndicate to exist. Worf reminds Raffi of aggression, revealing a warrior’s weakness and that he had sacrificed enough over the years for the mission and would do it again. He then asks her not to hold back, as he won’t.
Raffi eventually gains the upper hand as the two battle and stabs Worf, leading Worf to utter the famous Klingon line, “Today is a good day to die.” Thankfully, because, of course, it was a ruse. But his death had lulled Krinn long enough to be overconfident and advance closer to threatening Raffi, which had led to an opening long enough for Worf to kill everyone silently before holding a knife to Krinn’s throat.
He reveals that he has attained mastery of the “Kahless technique” for slowing his heart rate to imperceptible levels. But he advises Raffi to skip the interrogation as he has lost a lot of blood. At knifepoint, Krinn finally reveals that he had orchestrated the break-in at the Daystrom Institute, but he also reveals that the AI guarding the facility is “flawed and illogical.” Thus, he had negotiated for a device that would exploit the AI system’s flaws and conceded that giving it to his pair of captors would be the logical path.
Ro informs Picard that she has transferred most of the Titan’s crew to the Intrepid, leaving him with only a skeleton crew. Reminding him to ensure they are loyal, Ro informs Picard that they have to run. The two security officers (who had been searching for Jack) finally catch up to her, having been unable to access the holodeck.
She informs them that they are returning to the Intrepid. Taking Picard aside, she leaves him her earring and, amid a tearful goodbye, admits that she wishes he could have read her heart and understood that her actions before were because she thought they had been the best course of action. She wished they had known each other better.
Picard rushes back to Shaw, informs him of everything Ro has revealed and implores him to run. Shaw immediately beckons security, but Riker stops him. Back at the shuttle, Ro realizes that her two engineers, who are changelings, have realized that their deceptions have been uncovered and sets a bomb on the deck of the shuttle before beaming back onto the Titan to resume Jack’s search. Ro tries to contact Intrepid but finds the communications jammed.
She hails the Titans and warns them of what happened. Riker orders Seven to beam her out, but her signal is very low, and they would have to get closer to the shuttle. Revealing that she doesn’t have time to disarm the bomb, Ro navigates the shuttle toward the Intrepid. Picard urges her not to do it, but she counters by stating that she is giving them what he had offered her so many years ago—a fighting chance. She then crashes the shuttle into the Intrepid as the bombs go off, damaging it severely.
Picard doesn’t have time to grieve, as Seven reports that the Intrepid is raising their shields and turning their weapons at them. They realize they are about to be framed for the attack on the Intrepid, and Picard implores Shaw to run. Shaw understandably is reluctant to make his crew fugitives, but Seven reminds him that the majority of the crew are on the Intrepid and that if they engaged, the crew would be at risk anyway.
Riker asks Shaw not to trust them but to trust his own eyes, which finally jolts Shaw back, and he orders Red Alert, instructing LaForge to take them away the second the warp core comes online. He then opens a shipwide channel and reveals that Starfleet is compromised.
The changeling Starfleet officers finally find Jack on Deck 10 and call two other officers for support. Seeing the red door again, Jack, seemingly without warning, attacks the officers and kills them. The door appears again, and this time it seemed just at the end of the corridor for Jack before he was snapped back to reality.
While this wasn’t exactly the premonition coming to pass as he had seen in the nightmare, it is interesting that the general idea of him attacking Starfleet officers remained consistent. Meanwhile, Shaw orders the Titan to go to warp just when the Intrepid launches and barely misses when the Titan jumps to warp. Riker grimly warns that they are now going to come for everyone.
Star Trek: Picard (Season 3) Episode 5 Ending, Explained:
Alone in the conference room, Picard sits in a contemplative mood when Riker enters. Now having a moment to breathe, they have a heart-to-heart, where Picard reveals that he did not realize how much he needed this “closure” with Laren until this meeting and him losing her, lamenting that maybe he did not know her at all.
Riker sympathizes, cognizant of the complicated relationship Picard and Laren shared. But he was confused about why Laren left her earring with Picard, but Riker realized it was old-school spycraft. A data chip inside the earring contains all information related to Laren’s investigation, showing that the changeling infiltration reaches the highest levels of Starfleet command.
Just then, a transmission comes through on the earring, and both Riker and Picard are surprised to receive it and find Worf on the other side. It is finally revealed that Ro had been Worf’s handler, and Worf wonders where Ro is, which Picard and Riker would have to answer as the two plots finally connect.
Back at sickbay, Shaw is astonished to find more dead changelings on his ship. He commends Jack on his marksmanship. Beverly asks for a moment alone with Jack, and when they are finally alone, Beverly reveals that she knows Jack hasn’t been sleeping.
She believes that while Jack didn’t know he had nightmares, she did, and she believes she will get through it despite the emotional turmoil that has upended his life very recently. However, she looks at the four changelings and asks how he knew they were changelings. With tears and fear in his eyes, Jack reveals he didn’t and that something is wrong with him.
Star Trek: Picard (Season 3) Episode 5 Final Thoughts:
As the second act of this season begins, the two plots have connected, and now most of the questions that have been raised in the first couple of episodes have been answered, albeit partially. The show is now pulling us in a different direction, and there is no telling where it is going to go next.
It could be surmised that the AI guarding the Daystrom Institute is Moriarty, so there might be a possibility we would have a Moriarty appearance. But how does Lore (Brent Spiner) factor into this? We know from the trailer and poster that he is coming back this season.
Similarly, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) hasn’t appeared yet, even though LaForge has represented the crew admirably. But, more importantly, what are Jack’s visions? All these are still questions that need to be answered, and so far, these are interesting ones that are leaving me, as a Star Trek fan, giddy with anticipation.