Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for the first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard as well as for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.
The End is the Beginning gave me several new theories – it was a fascinating episode in that respect. There are so many mysteries that Star Trek: Picard has set up that it’s hard not to analyse every little detail and get lost in theory-crafting!
So without further ado, let’s jump into the theories. You may remember some from my previous two posts, but others are new based on what we learned this week. There was only one theory that’s almost certainly debunked, so let’s look at that first.
Debunked theory: Sentient holograms (like The Doctor from Voyager) are outlawed as part of the ban on synthetic life.
This was one of my earliest theories, beginning almost as soon as we heard of the ban on synthetic life in Remembrance. My idea was that the term “synthetic” hadn’t really been used before in Star Trek to describe androids – it’s a much more broad term, perhaps covering other forms of artificial intelligence too. And aside from androids like Data, the only other sentient AIs we’ve seen in a major way in Star Trek have been holograms.
But in The End is the Beginning, Chris Rios has several holograms aboard his ship, La Sirena. They all share his appearance, which is a bit of fun in and of itself, but the interesting conversation he had was with his ENH, or Emergency Navigational Hologram. This hologram wasn’t just interactive, it was talking to Rios like a real person would. It was clearly far more than just a computerised tool with a human appearance – it was a full AI, as close to sentience as possible.
Based on this conversation, as well as the appearance of La Sirena’s EMH, I consider this theory debunked.
So that’s the only debunked theory from The End is the Beginning. Now let’s take a look at some new ones, as well as those from earlier which are still potentially in play!
Number 1: Dahj and Soji are human augments/genetically enhanced.
I dropped this theory last week after having proposed it in my first theory post, not because it had been in any way debunked; I just felt it was a real long-shot. But one phrase from The End is the Beginning prompted me to bring it back.
When Picard, Laris, and Zhaban are questioning their Romulan captive, shortly before he ends his own life he says “she’s not what you think she is” – referring to Dahj (and also to Soji). Well, Picard is 100% convinced at this point that Dahj and Soji are androids built by Bruce Maddox. But if they aren’t, because the Romulan assassins know what they’re looking for, what could Dahj and Soji be?
In Remembrance, Dahj wasn’t just able to fight well. She could tell that she and Picard were going to come under attack minutes before the attackers appeared. They weren’t in the area for her to see out of the corner of her eye – they beamed in. That’s bordering on a telepathic premonition, and I don’t believe we’ve yet seen an android in Star Trek capable of that. In the same episode Dahj was also able to leap several dozen feet during the fight on the rooftop – again not something we’ve seen Data or other androids do. And finally, on the Artifact in The End is the Beginning, Soji seems to have a telepathtic experience too – knowing the name of the ship Ramdha was on before she was assimilated.
Could these abilities point to Dahj and Soji being genetically augmented humans? I think at this stage, as unlikely as it may seem, we can’t rule it out. For me, the biggest piece of evidence pointing to this is that Dahj and Soji must appear to be fully human on all sensor scans – because if they didn’t, Starfleet or someone else would have realised a long time ago that they aren’t. And then there’s the absolutely huge difference when comparing androids like F8 with Dahj and Soji. F8 was not a sentient machine – not even close. He was several steps behind Data from even his earliest appearances in The Next Generation. Yet somehow, Maddox has apparently managed not only to recreate Data, but to create a better, more human version of Data that can fool all sensors and security scans, in a little over a decade – without the support of any government, or many of his colleagues like Dr Jurati. Seems a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it?
Number 2: Dr Jurati isn’t who she seems to be – and could be a double-agent.
Speaking of Dr Jurati, Alison Pill has been outstanding in the role so far in Star Trek: Picard. And were it not for one comment right at the end of The End is the Beginning this theory would not exist.
As Picard and his new crew prepare to warp off to Freecloud, Raffi seems incredulous at the inclusion of Dr Jurati. “You didn’t even ask me to run any kind of security check,” she exclaims, “not even the most basic!” Dr Jurati clearly has Picard’s trust – but Raffi is right, he doesn’t really know her and her desire to go on the mission is at least a little suspect.
What do we know about her? She’s a synthetics expert who has managed to retain her job despite the ban on synthetic life, conducting theoretical experiments while not actually being allowed to build anything. If her whole field of study had been effectively outlawed fourteen years ago, why would she still be working on it? What benefit does it bring the Federation or the Daystrom Institute to conduct “theoretical” research into synthetics?
When Commodore Oh visited Daystrom in The End is the Beginning, Dr Jurati looked surprised to see her – and a little intimidated. But their conversation wasn’t seen on-screen; instead Dr Jurati only tells Picard – and us as the audience – afterwards that she confessed everything. She also says something that I’ve only ever heard really good liars say: “I’m a bad liar.”
Next, she turns up at the château at almost the same moment as the Zhat Vash attackers. She picks up a discarded Zhat Vash weapon and uses it to kill the last remaining operative before he can harm Picard. Was that a genuine attempt to save his life, or a way of ingratiating herself with him? And how did she know how to use a Romulan disruptor? Are they just point-and-shoot weapons, or do you need to have some idea of what you’re doing in order to use one?
Finally, there’s the way she insists on joining Picard on the mission. She uses her credentials and experience with synthetics, but she also seems like she won’t take “no” for an answer at this point. Could all of these things be exactly what they seem – an academic who’s excited to have the chance to finally see a real synthetic after more than a decade in the wilderness? Possibly. But could she also be a sinister double-agent waiting to pounce?
Number 3: The synthetics were hacked.
The evidence for this one keeps stacking up. We saw F8 again, and got another close-up of his eyes as he seems to be receiving new orders or some kind of transmission. I couldn’t pause every single frame, but in some frames you can see words of what looks like computer code reflected in his eyes.
Raffi also adds to this theory when she talks to Picard in The End is the Beginning. While telling Picard about her evidence for a Starfleet-Romulan conspiracy, she says that the Romulans may have aided Starfleet or been aided by Starfleet to attack Mars and destroy the fleet. Picard scoffs at this and seems to dismiss it – why, after all, would the Romulans want to destroy a fleet built to help them? But I said right from the start that a rogue Romulan faction opposed to Federation help might just have done that – and the Zhat Vash fit the bill.
Other pieces of evidence we’ve collected along the way are: the suicide of F8 (and presumably the other synths as well), which prevented anyone from analysing them to discover what happened; the work crew on Mars describing F8 as “compromised”, a word which could absolutely describe a hack; the choice of target within the Sol system; the fact that the attack was clearly a coordinated effort and not random; and the fact that we can think of at least two factions who have the means and ruthlessness to do something like this.
They are of course the Zhat Vash, who have been set up as the antagonists in Star Trek: Picard, but also the Federation’s own Section 31.
Number 4: Chris Rios worked for Section 31.
Before he quit Starfleet prior to the events of the series, Chris Rios served as the XO – executive officer or first officer – of a Starfleet vessel named the Ibn Majid. This mission scarred him, as he saw his Captain – a man he had great respect for – brutally killed.
But he describes the Ibn Majid as having been “erased” by Starfleet after the events of this mission, and that doesn’t seem like something Starfleet would do. But it absolutely is something that Section 31 would do.
Section 31 is the secretive, black-ops division of Starfleet intelligence, who run off-the-books operations in a clandestine manner. With Section 31 having recently featured in Discovery and with a new series based on the organisation in the works, it seems like the creators of Star Trek would want to fit in some reference to it here in Star Trek: Picard. Having Section 31 be in Rios’ backstory would be a way to do that without it being a huge part of the plot, and his line about the Ibn Majid at least hints at something like this.
Number 5: The captain of the Ibn Majid was a character we’re familiar with.
While we’re talking about Rios’ former captain, one theory I have is that the deceased officer is someone we’re familiar with from a previous iteration of Star Trek. This would be less likely, perhaps, if Section 31 is involved, but if they aren’t and the ship he was on was just a regular Starfleet vessel, there are several candidates for who it could be – at least in my opinion! The only clue we have to this person’s identity is that they were a captain and they were male.
Chakotay – The former Maquis and first officer of Voyager had been a Starfleet officer before he resigned to fight alongside the Maquis. Ordinarily this would preclude him having a senior role, but his time on Voyager under Janeway’s command, and the experience he gained in the Delta Quadrant, may mean he could have rejoined Starfleet officially after Voyager’s return.
Edward Jellico – Seen in the TNG two-part episode Chain of Command, this hardball captain assumed command of the Enterprise-D when Picard undertook a secretive mission in Cardassian space. He clashed with Riker and others aboard the Enterprise, but ultimately managed to outmanoeuvre the Cardassians and win Picard’s freedom.
Capt. Bateson – Played by famous actor Kelsey Grammer in an episode of The Next Generation, Captain Bateson and his crew found themselves displaced in time from their 23rd Century origins to the mid-24th Century thanks to a temporal anomaly which also ensnared the Enterprise-D.
Harry Kim – Another officer on Voyager’s long trip through the Delta Quadrant, Harry Kim set his sights on command, and would often command Voyager’s night shift in the years before they returned to the Alpha Quadrant. In an alternate timeline he’d been promoted to Captain by the early 25th Century.
Solok – The Vulcan captain from the Deep Space Nine episode Take Me Out to the Holosuite was a decorated officer during the Dominion War, and a friendly rival of Benjamin Sisko.
There are others characters it could be, if indeed Rios’ captain is someone we’ve met before, but as there are literally hundreds of male Starfleet officers who either were captains or could have become captains, there are too many to list individually! I think this is at least a possibility. However, considering Rios’ former captain was killed it would be a shame to learn it was someone important from a previous Star Trek series as it would preclude us seeing them again in future.
Number 6: Narek is going to go rogue.
In The End is the Beginning, Narek confesses to Soji that he’s “falling in love” with her. Whether this is true or merely a part of his act to get close to her, he’s almost immediately scolded by Rizzo, his superior officer, and warned not to fall for Soji. Could this be some foreshadowing?
If he does develop feelings for Soji then it makes sense to think he’d want to protect her from the Zhat Vash. He knows what they plan to do to her – interrogate her, according to Commodore Oh – but given the Zhat Vash’s apparent hatred of Soji and Dhaj, as well as their fear of them, Soji is in serious danger. Could Narek go rogue, turning on his current friends and allies, in order to save Soji from harm? If he’s seen to be failing in his mission, could she do something to save him, winning his loyalty?
Harry Treadaway has turned in some solid performances thus far in Star Trek: Picard. But it’s interesting to note he’s the only starring cast member to be on the opposite side to Picard and his crew – could that be an indication that we’re going to see him switch sides? With the exception of Mirror Lorca, whose true nature was concealed until the last minute, Star Trek has never had a villain as a main character before. And other Zhat Vash and co-conspirators, like Rizzo and Commodore Oh, are merely guest stars. Not sure how relevant this is, but it adds to the sense that we could be seeing Narek join forces with Picard and company.
Number 7: Starfleet is conspiring with the Zhat Vash.
Commodore Oh is looking less and less likely to be a Romulan agent and more like a co-conspirator. Raffi believed that the attack on Mars was a coordinated effort between a corrupt high-ranking Starfleet officer and the Romulans – though at the time she was unaware of the Zhat Vash. Picard told us that Raffi has a unique talent for seeing connections between seemingly unrelated things so she could be right!
Even if Commodore Oh isn’t a Starfleet officer, if she is truly a Romulan operative, it raises the serious question of how the Romulans were able to replace or have one of their operatives promoted to head of Starfleet security. It seems practically impossible to do without outside help.
The question is, aside from the obvious anti-synthetic crusade, what is the ultimate purpose of this conspiracy for both the Zhat Vash and Starfleet? The Zhat Vash have already won – synthetic life is banned, and the Federation and all other parties to the “galactic treaty” will crack down on synthetic research and development, as well as presumably shut down any rogue operators like Maddox who have flouted the ban. So what is the ultimate endgame? This is completely unclear.
Those are all of the new and updated theories after The End is the Beginning. But there are a few more theories, ones which this week’s episode neither advanced nor debunked. If you want a full breakdown of these, check out my last couple of theory posts, but I’ll list them here briefly.
Number 8: Picard assembled a new rescue fleet to help the Romulans after his resignation.
This stems from the steadfast loyalty of Laris and Zhaban – as well as from the line in the first trailer which says that Picard “commanded the greatest rescue armada in history”. There were around four years in between the destruction of his fleet and the Romulan supernova – plenty of time for Picard to do something to contribute to the rescue effort.
Number 9: Bruce Maddox is responsible for the attack on Mars – but it was probably an accident.
In The End is the Beginning, immediately after the attack the synths were described as having a “fatal code error”. Maddox was one of the senior people in Starfleet’s synthetic research – could this be his fault? I don’t think we’ll find out until we either meet Maddox in person or learn what happened to him.
Number 10: The Trill doctor from Maps and Legends is going to wind up assimilated.
This one feels like a horror film cliché, but I have a feeling that the Trill doctor who Soji befriended in Maps and Legends isn’t long for this world!
Number 11: Soji and Dahj’s necklaces are a symbol from Maddox – or whoever created them – to communicate with other synthetics and creators or to deliver a message.
It strikes me as odd that Maddox would give Soji and Dahj a very obvious symbol of their synthetic nature to wear. Surely this is like painting a giant bullseye on both of them – and it may even be what led Starfleet and/or the Zhat Vash to notice Soji and Dahj in the first place.
Number 12: Picard is terminally ill with Irumodic Syndrome.
Dr Benayoun brought Picard bad news in Maps and Legends – an abnormality in his parietal lobe is in fact a terminal condition. It could be one of a number of syndromes, all of which “end the same way”. This ties into the finale of The Next Generation in which Picard was in the early stages of Irumodic Syndrome.
So that’s it. Those are all of my current theories regarding Star Trek: Picard. It’s possible that, as we approach the midpoint of the season,we’ll start to find out more solid information about what’s going on. Right now there are so many mysteries to unravel!
I can’t wait to see the next episode – which will be titled Absolute Candor. This will be the first of two episodes directed by Jonathan Frakes. His work on Discovery was outstanding, and it’s not unfair to say that he has unique knowledge of the Star Trek franchise. So there’s undoubtedly more good things still to come!
The first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard are available to stream now on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and in other countries and territories. The Star Trek franchise – including Star Trek: Picard – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.