Star Trek has always been a franchise that aims to ask, “What if…?” Beyond being entertaining and engaging, it’s been a thought-provoking enterprise (pun intended).
On Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 6, they take a step further and play with multiple elements to create brilliant parallels to our present-day situations and double meanings that embed canonical references for the delight of Trek fans yet again.
But first, they get the band back together again.
Having Worf join Picard and Riker on the Titan is one of those satisfying moments that comfort and reassure the audience that things will be okay because they always are when these three unite for a cause.
Of course, as much as Riker would like to slip back into the ways of the good ol’ days, Worf makes it clear he’s changed in their time apart.
While still respectful, he’s also not taking any guff from his former commander.
He’s also more forthright than he dared be with Picard in the past.
Worf: Admiral, permission to come aboard.
Picard: Granted, Mr. Worf. It’s been far too long.
Worf: Eleven years, five months, four days. Minus your infrequent messages and the annual bottle of sour mead.
Picard: Sour mead?
Riker: Chateau Picard.
Worf: It is quite tart, sir.
As he told Raffi on Star Trek: Picard: Season 3 Episode 2, he’s been working on himself.
It’s amusing that this seems to disturb Riker’s calm more than anything they’ve encountered so far on this adventure.
Raffi: Jean-Luc, you’re never gonna believe this, but this Klingon? He’s been meditating.
Worf: The most advantageous battle stance is being one within oneself.
Riker: Woah. Seriously?
Worf: I just said it.
While his tone is sharp with Riker when teased about the attack Tribble — and, seriously, how awesome was THAT? — he is genuine in his pledge to rescue him after the botched escape from Daystrom Station.
And how about Daystrom Station? It’s like a giant nest of Trek Easter Eggs. Or the Warehouse 13 of Starfleet. Section 31 is clearly the apex of hoarder organizations.
With a cursory viewing, one sees they’ve stowed away a Genesis Device and an alternate James T. Kirk, as well as the aforementioned toothy Tribble.
Everything is kept under the watchful eye and keen intellect of Professor Moriarty, an AI designed to outwit Data himself.
What solvable puzzles you all are. Your unguarded expressions. Your visible scars. My, how time has spun you all apart. Such pathetic old warriors.
Considering that Moriarty only exists as a counterpart to Data, it’s only logical that Data continues to exist. And that Data’s memories form the foundation of Moriarty’s personality, providing the whistle key that unlocks the station’s vault.
I shared that tune decades ago with another dear friend. One who dreamt of crows, and aspired to thwart Moriarty with the intellect of Holmes. Somebody who couldn’t whistle worth a damn.
Fan speculation was that Brent Spiner would return as Lore. Well, they were partly correct.
Having Alton Soong return as a video log recording to explain the purpose of Daystrom Android M5-10 is an elegant segue to possibly the most ingenious bit of side-eye commentary disguised as scientific pulpit thumping.
Before I gifted Picard my gollum, my intention was to live beyond my years, to become my own legacy. Now I see, in my final days, that wasn’t just poor humanity, it was poor science. Because evolution is not an act of preservation, it’s addition.
Here writer Christopher Monfette weaponizes the established Trek trait of commenting on modern-day issues through a futuristic lens to take aim at those who would gatekeep the fandom and prevent its evolution.
When Soong states, “Evolution is not an act of preservation, it’s addition,” it drives home the IDIC inclusiveness of Trek that fans have loved and responded to for decades.
A fandom’s inclusivity means remembering the established canon but allowing for all the growth and development that new iterations will bring forth.
If a franchise like Trek is going to survive, the characters will mature and change, the technology will snowball as it always does, and the messaging will adjust to respond to the world.
Sidney: I’m on the run with my crew!
Geordi: They’re not your family.
Sidney: Yes, they are. And you taught me that. And I’m not scared to step up and help them. You are.
Children will never be carbon copies of their parents. They are their own unique combination of traits and traumas and reactions.
In the same way, new series in a franchise must bring something new to the table.
Geordi: You always want to impart the best aspects of yourself to them.
Picard: I’ve recently been reminded that we are not in control of what we pass on. The strengths, wisdom, talent, and also flaws, weaknesses, sins of our past.
The “true” meaning of Trek will never crystallize because that would mean it becomes a static thing, incapable of expanding and progressing.
Wow, the incredible layering of meaning thrills me so much; my brain just sings as it connects it all.
Still, haters are going to hate, and IDIC means we accept that they are free to cheat themselves of the joy this franchise has to offer.
Jack: We all long for connection. All just a little bit alone, aren’t we? Stars in the same galaxy but lightyears between us.
Seven: Oh, you are definitely your father’s son. He too has a knack for the poetic drive-by observation. Can be very annoying. But it can also make a person feel seen.
Seeing Jack and Sidney working their Lil Rascals magic with the cloaking device foreshadows some fun shenanigans should they crew the wished-for spin-off series.
(There’s also the question of what the heck happened to Raffi and Seven. We’d better get some answers to that this season.)
Geordi’s hesitation to throw in with the fugitive Titan is entirely understandable.
Commodore La Forge has a lot more to lose than Lieutenant Commander La Forge ever did.
Like Worf, he’s confident in his own value and values. He stands up to Picard because his desire to help is outweighed by his need to keep his daughters safe.
Picard: Geordi, this is life or death.
Geordi: It’s always life or death, Jean-Luc. When has it not been? Which was fine, back in the day, when I chose to put my life on the line under your command, but you’ve just knowingly put my daughter in grave danger.
There’s a lot of rearview gazing here.
Riker’s memories of his first meeting with Data provide the key to disarming Moriarty.
Raffi: Can someone explain why a nineteenth century holo-villain is guarding a twenty-fifth century black site?
Moriarty: Oh, my dear, villain doesn’t do justice to my complexity and only reveals your simplicity.
Riker: At least somebody’s consistent.
While quizzing Jack on starships, Seven has a moment to consider what her first ship means to her.
It’s a bittersweet moment for both of them, individuals who find Starfleet after life has already taken a toll on them, bonded in a desire for a family and a place to belong.
Jack: Oh, she’s a beauty. Which one’s that?
Seven: The USS Voyager. She made her name farther out than any of those other relics had ever gone. I was reborn there. She was my home. Her crew were my family. And now…
Jack: You’re just trying to find another.
And Worf’s debrief on the Changeling plot includes a quick and somber reminder that Starfleet used a needs-must approach when things got desperate during the Dominion War.
There are scars and shame on both sides.
Beverly even reminisces about Jack’s childhood, a period of time Trek fans are unknowledgeable about.
That her doctor’s instincts were overruled by a mother’s belief in her child’s wellness rings very true, if tragic in this case.
He had nightmares when he was a boy. Vivid dreams. Talked with imaginary things. I thought he was gifted, not plagued with an overclocked brain.
This narrative has an elegant full-circle nature, with the episode opening on Vadic’s frustration and ending with her capture of Riker.
I want the names and locations of every known associate of Jean-Luc Picard. Starfleet colleagues, past and present. Every friend to whom he might turn. Every loved one in which he might seek comfort. We will scorch the earth under which he stands and the night will brighten with the ashes of the Federation! And from them, we will rise.
Since they could not accurately predict which of the away team they’d capture, I’d lay down gold-pressed latinum that the Deanna aboard the Shrike is a Changeling.
Unless, of course, they went around abducting everyone’s loved ones — Deanna, Laris, Raffi’s granddaughter — they only need the very realistic appearance of those individuals to coerce their captive into talking.
How exhausted they must be. As am I, dear. As are we. As are our brothers and sisters who suffer each day having to wear the faces of the Federation. But there will be rest. There will be a day of lifeless bodies burning in space. Oh, there will be silence again. Unity again. Peace again. But first, we will have vengeance.
Hopefully, I’m right, and Riker figures it out too.
Finally, the biggest throwback of all — the human remains of Jean-Luc Picard. Presumably, it was transported to the Federation from the Synth Planet after Picard’s consciousness was transferred into Alton Soong’s gollum.
Honestly, learning the Changelings stole the body isn’t nearly as weird as realizing Section 31 kept it.
Jack: How did you survive it?
Picard: I didn’t.
Jack: Right, the positronics. A new, fully synth prototype body. I don’t suppose you got another one in my size, have you?
I totally get why Picard wouldn’t keep it around, but surely he could’ve had it cremated or something?
I suspect it’ll be a question he’s asked — may even ask himself — as the reality sets in and they try to deduce why the Changelings want his dead body AND his live son.
What questions are burning a hole in your brain, Fanatics? What do you think this all has to do with Frontier Day?
How will M5-10 function with all the personalities kicking around? Will he be an asset or a liability?
How adorable was Shaw as he fanboyed over having Commodore La Forge on his ship?
Geordi: Captain, your hull is battered, bruised, and basically paper-thin. You’re spewing fumes through layers of twenty-first century duct tape.
Shaw: Yeah, it’s been a weird week.
And who else is hankering to revisit Star Trek III and Star Trek IV to check out Kirk and his crew cruising around in that Bird-of-Prey?
What a sneaky and nostalgic solution to the issue of needing to be invisible! *chef’s kiss*
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.