Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and casting information for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: Discovery, Enterprise, Voyager, First Contact, and The Next Generation.
Mercy was an interesting episode, one that finally spent a bit more time advancing what I personally consider to be the more exciting part of the season’s story. Some of my big theories are rapidly running out of road, and this week three have been debunked outright. We got a couple of confirmations as well, so this week the theory list will shrink!
With only two episodes of the season remaining, there isn’t a lot of time for everything to be neatly wrapped up so that the story can move on in time for Season 3. I know I’m not the only one wondering about a possible cliffhanger ending!
So let’s take a look at the theories that were confirmed and debunked in Mercy, before moving on to the main theory list.
Debunked theory #1:
Agent Wells is a Starfleet officer or temporal agent.
I wondered if we might learn that Agent Wells, the FBI Agent who apprehended Guinan and Picard, wasn’t who he seemed to be. We’ve seen Starfleet operating as a kind of temporal police in previous iterations of the franchise, and there was also the faction from Enterprise that employed Crewman Daniels.
This theory was given additional energy by the fact that the actor portraying Agent Wells, Jay Karnes, had appeared in the Voyager Season 4 episode Relativity, where he played a 29th Century Starfleet officer.
However, it turned out that that was just a coincidence! Agent Wells was a 21st Century native, albeit one who’d had an encounter with Vulcans in his youth.
Debunked theory #2:
Romulans are spying on Earth… and could be time-travelling Zhat Vash.
When we caught a glimpse of young Agent Wells interacting with Vulcans in one of the pre-season trailers, I wondered if they might actually be Romulans, and possibly members of the secretive Zhat Vash organisation. If the Zhat Vash had a major role to play in the story – which it now seems like they don’t – perhaps that could’ve lined up.
However, with Season 2 seemingly leaving behind practically all of the main story threads from Season 1, that wasn’t the case.
Debunked theory #3:
The mission back in time won’t last all season.
This one has been as much a wish as a theory, because time travel episodes that visit the modern-day have never been my favourites in Star Trek. I wondered whether we might see Picard and the crew find a way back to the 25th Century sooner, but with only two episodes remaining it’s now not plausible. Even if the next episode sees them make it home, they’ll still have spent the majority of Season 2 in 2024.
So those theories were debunked!
There’s one two-part theory that I’m choosing to retire at this stage, too. Although it hasn’t been firmly “debunked,” the events of Mercy now seem to have taken the story in a different direction.
Retired theory #1:
The Confederation is run by augmented humans.
The question of why the Confederation seemed to celebrate Dr Adam Soong centuries after his death was an open one… until Mercy. The Borg Queen told Dr Soong that his invention – seemingly a scaled-up version of the drones that protected Kore from sunlight – would save the Earth from ecological collapse in that timeline. That explains his legacy and why he’s so famous in the Confederation.
This seems to rule out another possibility for his fame: that he created human augments. There were two parts to this theory, really. The first came from Dr Soong himself; that his work was focused on genetics. The second came from his family legacy – Dr Arik Soong, presumably a descendant of his, had worked on creating human augments in the 22nd Century.
Although the Borg Queen is hardly what you’d call a “reliable source,” I don’t believe that there’s room now, at this late stage, for there to be the kind of augment connection that I’d been theorising about.
Retired theory #2:
There will be a connection between the augments and Strange New Worlds.
Inextricably tied to the theory above was a possible Strange New Worlds connection. In short, the character of La’an Noonien-Singh seems to be related to iconic villain – and famous augmented human – Khan Noonien Singh. If Picard Season 2 has no connection to genetic engineering and the creation of augments, though, this theory won’t pan out.
So those theories have been retired.
We have a couple of confirmations this week, so we’ll take a look at those next.
Confirmed theory #1:
Vulcans are on Earth… as hinted at by Discovery Season 4.
In the Discovery Season 4 episode The Galactic Barrier, a seemingly-innocuous line from the enigmatic Dr Kovich stood out to me. He noted that the Vulcans had been present on Earth for “decades” prior to official first contact taking place in 2063. That line kick-started this theory… though to be fair, the pre-season trailers had already revealed a character who could only really be a Vulcan or Romulan!
As noted above, we finally got to see this flashback sequence for ourselves. Young Agent Wells encountered a Vulcan expedition to Earth sometime in the 1960s or 1970s (based on Wells’ age in Mercy) and that’s that. Though Picard and Discovery really ought to do more to connect with one another, I do like that this line that we heard in an episode a couple of months ago seems to tie in to the events we saw unfold on screen this week.
Confirmed theory #2:
Q is dying.
After wondering for weeks what might be going on with Q, he seemed to finally confirm to Guinan that he’s approaching the end of his life. There’s still scope, in my view, for this to be expanded upon – or even changed entirely – but for now it’s safe to say that Q certainly believes that he’s dying.
The language used in Mercy to communicate this was excellent, and gave us an interesting glimpse into how members of Q’s species view time and the universe. Q spoke of a “temporal horizon,” and how it had grown dark and unknowable. Combined with his failing powers, the stage seems to be set for Q’s life coming to an end.
So those theories were confirmed!
Now we’re going to jump into the main theory list, beginning with those theories that are either new or that saw movement in Mercy.
The Borg’s request for help from the Federation is genuine.
If Dr Jurati is going to be fully assimilated and potentially incorporated into a new incarnation of the Borg Queen, could her stewardship of the Borg Collective mean that their desire for help from Picard and the Federation – that we saw in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season – is actually for real? It’s possible, of course, that the Borg’s message was a plain and simple trap, but there are elements from the Borg Queen’s appearance on the Stargazer’s bridge that we still can’t explain.
Setting aside her identity for a moment, regardless of whether there’s Dr Jurati or someone else underneath the mask, the Borg Queen’s actions were not what we’d expect. Why did she stun the Stargazer’s crew instead of killing them – and why did the episode draw attention to that fact and make sure it registered with us as the audience? What were her goals on “assimilating” the ship? She claimed she needed “power” – but to what end?
The Borg Queen also seemed to accept what was about to happen in her final moments, playing Non, je ne regrette rien and speaking with familiarity to Picard, telling him to “look up.” What was that all about?
In short, I’m positing that the Borg’s plea for help was genuine – but that raises a very interesting and alarming question in and of itself. What could be so deadly and so terrifying that it has the Borg Queen running in fear? And what does all of this have to do with Q and Picard?
Kore Soong will team up with Picard and the crew of La Sirena.
I haven’t been thrilled with the depiction of Kore Soong so far. Her story feels like a bland repeat of Soji and Dahj’s from Season 1, and she appears to exist in Season 2 more for the purpose of informing us about Dr Adam Soong than to do anything meaningful in her own right. I’m hopeful that that will change, however!
Mercy saw Kore Soong take the antidote or cure for her genetic condition, granting her freedom from her father. She left Dr Soong’s house and struck out on her own for what seems to be the first time – and I wonder if she’ll either seek out Picard or if they’ll run into one another. Kore may know something about Dr Soong that could be useful to the crew of La Sirena… so watch this space. Her story may not be done yet.
The Q Continuum has been attacked.
Following Guinan’s chat with Q in Mercy, this theory feels a little less plausible. However, as we still don’t know what’s going on with Q, I’m keeping it on the table for now. Last week I was increasingly sure that whatever had caused Q to lose his powers was something that wasn’t just affecting him personally, but the entire Q Continuum, and there’s definitely been evidence to that end across the season so far – and beyond.
In Mercy, Guinan reminded us that members of the Q Continuum can kill one another, and that seemed like a very deliberate line to include. Was it just there to avoid nitpicking Trekkies saying “but what about the Q civil war in Voyager?!” or is there a hint there about something else? I don’t believe that the El-Aurians would be to blame if the Q Continuum has been attacked, but with the Borg in the story, they could certainly be a suspect.
In earlier episodes we had talk of a “cold war” between the Q and El-Aurians, a conflict that you’d imagine would be fantastically one-sided unless the El-Aurians know of some kind of weakness that the Q have. Then we had Guinan’s failed attempt to summon a Q – not the Q, but any Q. Q suggested that he basically had to walk from wherever he was to the FBI office because Guinan summoned him – but why didn’t another Q respond to the summons? Picard also suggested, after awakening from his coma, that Q may be weaker and more vulnerable than he had previously considered. And going back to Discovery Season 4, the episode The Examples told us that the Federation hadn’t seen any members of the Q Continuum in over 600 years as of the 32nd Century.
All of the pieces of evidence above could suggest that something is happening to the Q Continuum as a whole rather than just to Q himself. If the El-Aurians discovered a weakness, and then were assimilated by the Borg, perhaps the Borg came into possession of a way to harm the Q – attacking them and wiping them out.
In any case, if something that Picard did or didn’t do is connected to those events, that could explain why Q is so angry and why he felt the need to punish Picard. It could even explain Q’s desire to radically alter the timeline.
Q and Picard will have to work together to stop the rogue Borg Queen.
Whatever Q’s plan was for changing the timeline in the 21st Century, unleashing a rogue Borg Queen upon humanity or setting one loose in the Alpha Quadrant was categorically not on the agenda! I think that’s a fairly safe assumption, and while Q has messed around with humanity and the Borg before – such as in the episode Q Who – it’s never been his goal to see humanity assimilated.
With his full powers at his disposal, presumably it would be relatively easy for Q to stop the Borg Queen who’s now in possession of Dr Jurati’s body, but without them, Q may need to work with Picard to ensure that the Borg Queen is stopped. Although the Borg Queen seems to weirdly have the same goal as Q – to stop the Europa Mission – their objectives beyond that don’t align in the slightest.
If the Borg Queen were to interfere in Q’s plans, or if Q were to learn of the threat to Picard, perhaps he will voluntarily involve himself, make a truce with Picard, and work with him to stop the Borg Queen. Alternatively, Picard could realise that his options are limited and try to reach out to Q to ask for help, setting aside his pride and his anger at his old adversary.
Q’s knowledge, even without his powers, could be invaluable to Picard and the crew of La Sirena. He clearly knows a lot more about the Borg than anyone else, and he may know how best to counteract the Borg Queen’s coming attack. If the Borg have attacked the Q Continuum, as theorised above, maybe Q will even have a personal reason to get involved.
The Borg Queen/Dr Jurati will steal La Sirena, stranding Picard in the past.
I was tempted to slap this one on my “confirmed” list, because I successfully predicted that stealing La Sirena would be the Borg Queen’s plan going all the way back to Watcher earlier in the season! However, she hasn’t actually enacted her plan yet, so let’s hang fire for now. At least I can say I got the idea right even if the Borg Queen’s plan is defeated!
However, the Borg Queen has a formidable army on her side thanks to Dr Soong’s (highly convenient) military connections. Despite being banned from the scientific establishment, Dr Soong apparently continues to have a lot of sway over the right people, and as a result he’s been able to hire a private military company – one that the Borg Queen promptly began to assimilate.
Whether she plans to head to the Delta Quadrant to link up with the Borg Collective in this era or whether she plans to head to the 25th Century, stealing La Sirena is the Queen’s best move. Picard and the crew will struggle to defend the ship, especially considering that the Borg Queen had a lot of time while alone to install rogue code in the computer that both Seven of Nine and Rios have struggled to purge. With only Rios, Teresa, and Ricardo there right now, the ship is also largely undefended.
Even if Picard and the others make it in time, they’ll still be outnumbered and outgunned. The Borg Queen and her forces could easily take possession of the ship and fly away, stranding Picard (and anyone else who survives the confrontation) in the 21st Century.
Picard and the crew of La Sirena will “borrow” Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft to get back to the 25th Century.
If La Sirena is stolen by the Borg Queen – or otherwise damaged and rendered unusable – Picard and the rest of the crew will need to find another way to get back to the 25th Century. Could they hitch a ride on Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft?
Earlier in the season, Picard seemed to imply that no one really knows what happened to Renée and the Europa Mission ship after she discovered signs of life in the outer solar system, so does that mean it would be possible for her ship to simply disappear without corrupting the timeline? Perhaps the reason why history has no record of what happened to Renée after the Europa Mission isn’t because of World War III and the loss of that information, but because she and the ship simply disappeared while in space.
There’s nothing that we know of to suggest that the slingshot manoeuvre can’t be performed by a ship like Renée’s, and the fact that she’s an astronaut at all with her own spacecraft could open up a vital doorway for Picard and the crew if they suddenly find themselves in need of a new way home.
The masked, hooded figure from The Star Gazer is not the real Borg Queen.
The Borg Queen – the hooded figure who materialised on the bridge of the Stargazer – was absolutely terrifying, evoking feelings for me that the Star Trek franchise hasn’t hit in decades. The way this character was presented, with her shrouded face, flowing robes, monochromatic aesthetic, and blend of humanoid and decidedly non-humanoid mechanical features was simultaneously riveting and frightening!
This character was presented as the Borg Queen in the episode, and the Borg have no reason that we know of to lie about that. But at the same time, she was very different not only from how we’ve seen the Borg Queen in past iterations of Star Trek, but also from the Borg Queen that Picard and the crew met in the Confederation timeline. Could this character actually be someone else – perhaps someone that the Borg have assimilated?
Since Two of One, the story seems to be setting up Dr Jurati for this role. The Borg Queen has almost completely taken over her body as of the end of Mercy… but some part of her still remains. Could there be another possible candidate?
“Borg Queen” Candidate #1:
The Borg Queen has well and truly sunk her tentacles into Dr Jurati, taking over her body and creating new nanoprobes. If the Borg Queen’s plan to steal La Sirena succeeds, that could easily set the stage for the events of The Star Gazer to unfold. With no obvious way to un-assimilate her, Dr Jurati has to be the number one Borg Queen candidate right now.
“Borg Queen” Candidate #2:
Renée could be the Borg Queen if she’s assimilated. Perhaps she will be attacked and assimilated during the course of the Europa Mission, or maybe the Queen will try to get to her to gain possession over the Europa Mission’s spacecraft. If La Sirena is damaged and unusable, the Europa Mission vehicle could be the best option for the Queen to get into space in this time period. Renée being the masked, hooded Borg could explain why the Borg were asking for Picard by name, and why Non, je ne regrette rien played shortly before the Stargazer’s self-destruction.
“Borg Queen” Candidate #3:
The time-travelling Admiral Janeway from Endgame.
Admiral Janeway was assimilated by the Borg Queen as part of her plan to introduce a neurolytic pathogen into the Collective, and appeared to have been killed when the Borg Queen’s complex exploded. But is there a way she could have survived?
Her assimilation could have been a turning point for the Borg. She did untold damage to the Collective, but also potentially gifted them knowledge and information about future events and technologies that were decades ahead of their time. Just like the Borg once chose Captain Picard to become Locutus – their “spokesperson” or representative – perhaps they might have chosen Admiral Janeway to fill a similar role during this latest incursion. Admiral Janeway could even have been incorporated as part of the Borg Queen.
“Borg Queen” Candidate #4:
The Borg seek “perfection” through the synthesis of organic and synthetic parts; if Coppelius synths like Soji have something that the Borg want, perhaps we’ll learn that they assimilated her to get it. The anomaly from which the Borg vessel emerged was not a standard transwarp corridor, and was specifically noted to emit some kind of temporal radiation. Thus the Borg vessel could be from a future date after Soji has already been assimilated. We could even learn that the super-synths from the Season 1 finale are actually the Borg; that could be how they first became aware of Soji and the Coppelius synths.
Q is not responsible for changing the timeline.
With Q’s powers seemingly all but gone, the question of what happened to the timeline has to be considered. I’ve been running some form of this theory all season long, and with no explanation from Q as to why he wanted to change the timeline being forthcoming, it’s still on the table right now.
Yes, it’s possible that parts of Q’s conversation with Guinan in Mercy could count against this theory, particularly the parts where Q talked about the “escape” from the traps he set being what he’s interested in. But I really do believe that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Add into the mix Q’s inability to use his powers, and I think the stage could be set for a big surprise before the season wraps up.
I have a longer article that goes into more detail about this theory that I wrote before the season premiere, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.
Q shielded Picard and the crew of La Sirena from changes to the timeline.
Regardless of who changed the timeline and why, it seems clear that Q is responsible for ensuring that Picard and the crew of La Sirena were the only ones unaffected by the change. If his goal was to change the timeline to punish Picard that makes sense – but it also leaves open the possibility that Picard will be able to figure out what happened and prevent it. That could be Q’s goal.
I’m not quite ready to call this one “confirmed,” though. I think we need to spend more time with Q to understand what he’s done, what he hopes to achieve by it, and why.
Who is responsible for damaging the timeline, then?
For much of the season I’ve been proposing a few different candidates who could be responsible for changing the timeline. However, as we’re getting closer to the end of the story I’m actually going to strike most of them from that list.
The Zhat Vash and the Romulans both seemed plausible earlier in the season, partly because we still don’t know what happened after Season 1 to either the Zhat Vash or with relations between the Romulan government and the Federation, but also partly because there was still that unexplained Romulan or Vulcan figure from the trailers. With no Romulan involvement anywhere else in the season, and no mention of the Zhat Vash at all since Season 1, I’m striking those from the list. The Season 1 super-synths are also gone from the list because they likewise haven’t been mentioned all season long.
That only leaves us with the Borg, and with the Borg Queen manipulating Dr Soong into helping her, he could set in motion a chain of events that leads to the failure of the Europa Mission and the creation of the Confederation timeline. That is, unless someone can stop them in time…
Picard and the crew will have to actively trigger World War III to save the future.
This one is now on its last legs! Since well before Season 2 aired, I’d been proposing that one of the points of divergence in the timeline – and thus the event that Picard needs to preserve – could be World War III. In Star Trek’s timeline, World War III began in the late 2020s and ran through to the mid-2050s, with first contact with the Vulcans taking place a few years after it ended. It’s an incredibly important event in the history of humanity, and without it Star Trek’s entire future is in doubt.
It’s still possible that Dr Adam Soong’s story could connect with the outbreak of war, and Picard may have to commit to the war starting by ensuring that Dr Soong – or one of his inventions – is in the right place at the right time. However, with the story having focused on the Europa Mission, Renée Picard, and now this Borg Queen confrontation, there isn’t much time left for a World War III connection.
You can find a full write-up of this theory from prior to the season premiere by clicking or tapping here.
Picard and/or the Federation will use information from the Confederation timeline to defeat the Borg.
If Picard and the crew manage to make a stand aboard La Sirena, information contained within the Confederation starship’s computers could help them defeat the Borg. Somehow the Confederation was able to beat the Borg in their timeline, and if Picard and the others could understand how that happened, perhaps they will be able to form an effective defence against the Borg Queen’s attack.
Alternatively, I originally pitched this theory as a way to explain how the Federation could potentially stop the Borg incursion that began during the events of the season premiere. If Picard and the crew manage to survive and make it back to the 25th Century, they may bring with them crucial tactical information from the Confederation timeline that will help the Federation stop the Borg.
This would be a great way to include what has been one of the season’s most interesting and least-explained narrative elements: how the Confederation, which supposedly had technology comparable to the 25th Century Federation, was able to do something as massive as defeating the entire Borg Collective.
There are a couple of ways that Picard and the crew could potentially use information about the Borg that may be stored in La Sirena’s computer banks, so let’s wait and see if anything comes of it!
Dr Adam Soong will create the Borg.
Although Dr Soong’s research seems to be mainly on the genetic side of things, such as the creation of Kore and possible human cloning, his alliance with the Borg Queen could lead to him becoming instrumental in creating the Borg Collective. The Borg already exist as of the 21st Century, but as we seem to be seeing the Borg Queen creating a new Collective on Earth, there are open-ended possibilities for how this story could go.
With time travel on the agenda, it’s possible to imagine a situation in which Dr Soong and the Borg Queen are thrown backwards in time, perhaps emerging millennia in the past. Dr Soong could thus become one of the progenitors of the Borg Collective.
The Federation is responsible for creating the Borg.
This is a total wildcard, but I’m just throwing it out there!
The Borg Queen – and the Borg in general – appear to have a fascination with humanity and with Picard. Could it be that the explanation for that is that the Federation and/or humanity are somehow responsible for their creation? As mentioned above, with time travel on the cards, anything seems possible.
As above, this could be the end result of the alliance between Dr Soong and the Borg Queen. The Borg could therefore be a human creation, the offspring of one of Data’s ancestors. Could that link be the key to defeating them? Maybe that preserved knowledge and the veneration of Dr Soong is how the Confederation was able to defeat the Borg in their timeline!
Discovery Season 2 ran a story with the Control AI that could have also been a Borg origin story. Was it known as early as 2018-19 that Picard wanted to tell a story like this, and if so, could that explain why the Control storyline ended the way it did? I have a write-up of Discovery’s abandoned Borg origin story that you can find by clicking or tapping here.
The season will end on a cliffhanger.
The announcement a few weeks ago that the cast of The Next Generation will be back in Season 3 seems to suggest that a new story will unfold next time. But there’s still the possibility of a connection between Seasons 2 and 3, or that the final act of Season 2 will set up the story of Season 3.
I originally proposed this theory because Seasons 2 and 3 went into production back-to-back, but now there’s an additional reason to consider this possibility. In short, many of the narrative threads introduced in Season 2 feel a long way from being concluded, and with just two episodes left there may not be time to wrap up everything. A cliffhanger ending may be on the cards after all!
So those theories are new or saw movement this week.
Now, as always, I’ll run through the other theories that are still potentially in play. I find that it helps to keep the entire theory list intact and in one place!
Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century.
Rios has clearly abandoned the idea of making as little impact on the timeline as possible! Just like Kirk did for Dr Gillian Taylor in The Voyage Home, perhaps Rios will seek to bring Teresa and Ricardo forwards in time. Teresa may have her clinic to attend to – although its status is in doubt after it was raided by ICE earlier in the season – but she may want to leave the world of the 21st Century behind to head into a more optimistic future.
If Teresa and Rios continue to pursue a romantic relationship, and Rios begins to offer himself as a father figure to Ricardo, maybe the stage will be set for Teresa heading to the 25th Century. It wouldn’t be the weirdest or wildest possibility, especially not now that Teresa and Ricardo are both aware of Rios’ true identity and the existence of La Sirena.
Teresa and Ricardo are Rios’ ancestors.
This could be a heartbreaking end to Rios and Teresa’s burgeoning romance! In true Back to the Future style, perhaps Rios will learn that Teresa and Ricardo are his distant ancestors, bringing their relationship to a screeching half and preventing either of them from taking things further.
We’ve seen Star Trek deal with time travel on many occasions, including fixed moments in time and people too important to be changed or killed. And in a story in which Picard has already met a distant ancestor of his own – Renée – there could be a kind of poetic symmetry if Rios were to discover a connection to Teresa and Ricardo. If this pans out, I hope Rios and Teresa discover the truth before they… y’know!
Rios will be killed and Picard will assume command of the new USS Stargazer.
One thing I can’t figure out at the moment is what sort of role the new cast will have in Season 3. If you somehow missed the cack-handed announcement, it’s been revealed that the main cast of The Next Generation (sans Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby) will be reuniting in Season 3, and that they will have major roles to play. If that’s the case it seems all but certain that the main cast of Picard will be sidelined. We’ve already seen that happen this season with Elnor killed and Soji missing in action, so that really only leaves Dr Jurati, Raffi, and Rios.
If the teases and hints about Season 3 that we’ve heard so far prove to be true, it seems as though Picard and the crew will need a ship… so could that ship be the new USS Stargazer?
New sets were built from scratch for the Stargazer, including a conference room, bridge, turbolift, and corridors, yet so far those sets were only used in a single episode. Even if Season 2 sees the crew make it back to the 25th Century in the next episode, that’s still a massive investment for relatively little screen time! So my theory is that the new sets will be used more extensively in Season 3 when Picard assumes command of the USS Stargazer. Why would there be a vacancy in the captain’s chair? Because Captain Rios is going to be one of the characters shuffled out of the way to make room for the returning crew of The Next Generation.
The Borg ship from The Star Gazer crossed over from the Confederation timeline.
As far as we know at this stage, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline thanks to the past being changed. But timelines and parallel universes often go hand-in-hand in Star Trek, and after we learned about the Borg’s defeat in the Confederation timeline, I wonder if their ship from the season premiere might have found a way to punch through or cross over into the prime timeline.
If the Borg were facing defeat, as their message seemed to suggest, perhaps that could explain why. Also, the anomaly that the ship emerged from was not a typical transwarp conduit; we’d seen transwarp corridors as recently as Season 1. Finally, the Borg Queen of the Confederation timeline was aware of Picard and the history of the prime timeline – perhaps the Confederation timeline Borg knew of the prime timeline and this was a last-ditch effort to survive.
The Borg are fighting a war – and they’re losing.
Possibly connected to the theory above, one explanation for the Borg’s message and appearance in The Star Gazer is that in the prime timeline the Collective has found itself on the losing side of a war. Penance told us that the Confederation had been able to defeat the Borg using technology that Dr Jurati believed was roughly equivalent to the Federation’s in the prime timeline – so clearly it’s possible to fight and beat the Borg.
Could mentions of Gul Dukat or Martok in Penance be hints at something to come later in the story? Both characters were major players during Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War arc; maybe the Cardassians and/or the Dominion have been aggressively attacking the Borg in the late 24th Century. The other big culprit is the Confederation – assuming that it’s possible for the two timelines to mix!
The Borg are aware that Picard is now a synth – and his synthetic status is part of the reason why they waited until now to make contact.
As mentioned above with Soji, the timing of the new Borg incursion is interesting, especially considering that they asked for Picard by name. Are they aware of his newfound synthetic status? And if so, could Picard’s transition to a new synthetic body be the reason why the Borg chose to launch their attack?
The Borg seek “perfection” through a synthesis of organic and synthetic components, and while Picard’s new synthetic body is a far cry from the Borg drones we’ve seen, the idea of an organic mind in a synthetic body isn’t a million miles away from that same basic idea. Although Picard’s body was said to be comparable in practically every way to his original one, synthetics can have enhanced abilities that allow them to easily overpower humans – and, as we’ve seen with Data on more than one occasion, they can outmatch individual Borg drones as well.
Perhaps the Borg want to re-assimilate Picard now that he’s synthetic. If the Collective is still reeling from the damage inflicted upon it by Admiral Janeway or if they’re on the losing side of a war, perhaps they hope to use fully-synthetic bodies like Picard’s to replace damaged or destroyed drones, or as cannon fodder on the front lines. There are many reasons why the Borg might be interested in synthetic technology, and that could explain their re-emergence.
Even if the Borg don’t plan to assimilate Picard or the Coppelius synths, the timing of their appearance is certainly interesting and there could be a connection.
Q is angry with Picard for “giving up.”
Over the course of The Next Generation, Q took a particular interest in Picard. More so than anyone else, Q seemed to see potential in Picard as a representative of the human race, someone who potentially showed him what humanity could be… with a little prompting and guidance. Q seemed fascinated by that idea, so seeing Picard’s fall from grace may have shocked him and left him feeling disappointed and bitter.
Picard spent more than a decade away from galactic affairs, retiring to his vineyard and seemingly just waiting around to die. Someone like Q might take that personally; he might feel that Picard was not living up to the potential he had. Perhaps Picard’s absence had some kind of unknown consequence, something that harmed Q or the Q Continuum. In any case, Q’s animosity to Picard seems to be personal – could disappointment at Picard’s attitude in the years prior to Season 1 be the cause?
The USS Stargazer will make an appearance.
Okay, technically the USS Stargazer has already appeared, but not in the way I expected! Captain Rios is (or was) in command of a new USS Stargazer, and not only that but he had a model of the original vessel in his conference room! So that’s it. Theory confirmed, everybody can move on to the next one!
Just kidding. The inclusion of a brand-new USS Stargazer brings the ship and its legacy back to the fore. Picard himself commented in The Star Gazer that the original vessel was his first command, and as far back as Season 1 we had a reference to his time in command through the character of Dr Benayoun. All of these things could be leading to some bigger role for the original USS Stargazer – and with a story that seems to include time travel and a strong focus on Picard’s own personal history, a flashback or even a visit to the ship could be on the agenda!
The Borg Collective was badly damaged in the Voyager episode Endgame and has been unable to recover.
In The Star Gazer, it seemed as if the Borg Collective was reaching out, asking the Federation – and Picard specifically – for help. If so, the question is why? Was it just a shallow ploy to launch another attack on Starfleet? Or is there at least a degree of truth to the Borg’s request?
Endgame, the final episode of Voyager, depicted a time-travelling Admiral Janeway introducing a neurolytic pathogen – a type of virus – into the Borg Queen, seriously damaging her, her base of operations, and several Borg vessels in the vicinity. Because the Borg hadn’t been seen since – until The Star Gazer, that is – we never got to learn just how deadly Admiral Janeway’s actions were.
I’ve always assumed that the Borg Collective is vast enough, powerful enough, clever enough, and most importantly adaptable enough that Admiral Janeway’s actions weren’t going to strike a fatal blow. Whatever damage she had done seemed like something the Borg could eventually fix – and their existence 25 years later during the events of The Star Gazer seems to prove that. The Borg’s technology and weapons are still streets ahead of anything Starfleet has at its disposal… but even so, it’s still possible that the Borg are on their last legs facing defeat.
If that’s the case, maybe we’ll discover that it was Admiral Janeway who’s responsible – that her actions in Endgame are either wholly or partly to blame for the Borg’s weakened state. Dr Jurati seemed to know that the Borg Collective isn’t as strong as it once was, so that could be another clue pointing to this theory.
Elnor will be restored to life when the crew returns to the 25th Century.
The decision to kill off Elnor so early in the season certainly succeeded as a shocking story point… but I’m not so sure he’ll stay dead. Is Raffi’s belief that restoring the timeline will save his life something that the series has carefully set up so it can be paid off later? Or was it simply part of her reaction to his death; the bargaining stage of the grieving process? I’m not sure!
Elnor is a character who had potential – the first Romulan to be a main character on a Star Trek series (or the second, after Narek) and the first Romulan to enlist in Starfleet. If the Star Trek franchise were to stick around, I could happily follow his adventures as a Starfleet officer over the course of several years, giving him an arc somewhat comparable to someone like Tilly in Discovery, growing into his new role.
But Elnor is also a character who was underused in Season 1, and the decision to make him a Starfleet cadet at the beginning of Season 2 was only the beginning of a new arc for him. His death didn’t hit as hard as it could’ve because we don’t know Elnor very well – and I wonder if that could be a reason to bring him back later in the season.
Seven of Nine will choose to remain in 2024.
For the first time in her life, Seven of Nine is feeling a sense of freedom. Not only is she free from her Borg implants, changing the way she looks, but she’s also unencumbered by her Borg past. No one she meets in 2024 will be aware of the Borg, and she’s clearly enjoying the way that makes her feel.
In The Star Gazer, Seven spoke to Picard about feeling judged by the ship’s crew – and in a broader sense, by practically everyone in the 25th Century. Her Borg past is a hurdle for her; she feels the weight of unspoken criticisms and judgements made against her. Her Borg implants are the biggest physical manifestation of this, but the fact that most people she meets in the 25th Century know who she is and where she came from is a burden – one she no longer feels in 2024.
With that in mind, could Seven choose to remain behind when Picard and the crew of La Sirena are ready to leave? Even if she’s ultimately talked out of it (or even forced out of it), I wonder if she’ll try to stay in the past.
At least one character from The Next Generation will make an appearance.
As above, this theory has been knocked by the Season 3 announcement. It seems less likely now that we’ll see major roles for any of the characters announced for Season 3. However, the final act of Season 2 could bring back some or all of these characters if it’s going to set up the next phase of the story, and cameos and smaller appearances still feel possible.
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.
The Star Gazer already crossed off two things from the list of Season 1 leftovers! Dr Jurati’s legal status was clarified, as was her relationship with Captain Rios. There are still a number of points that I’d like to see addressed before the season ends, though, as Season 1 unfortunately left quite a lot of story on the table thanks to a rushed and underwhelming finale.
Here are the main ones:
- What will become of the synths on Coppelius, and will they have to be relocated for safety?
- Did Starfleet attempt to visit Aia and shut down the beacon at the centre of the Zhat Vash’s prophecy? Leaving it out in the open seems dangerous.
- Will Starfleet contact the super-synths and attempt to make peace or convince them that they pose no threat?
- Why did Bruce Maddox go to Freecloud?
- With the Zhat Vash plot exposed, what will become of their crusade against synthetic life?
- Did Federation-Romulan relations suffer as a result of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Mars and attempted attack on Coppelius?
- What happened to Narek after he was captured by the Coppelius synths?
- Who controls the Artifact and what will happen to the surviving ex-Borg?
So that’s it!
As we head into the final two episodes of the season we’ve cleared a few theories off the list – one way or another – but there are still a lot that remain in play! After two or three episodes in which Picard Season 2 got bogged down in an unexciting time travel story, Mercy seems to have begun to refocus the story on a much more interesting and exciting conflict. I have high hopes for next week’s outing, which may be titled Hide and Seek.
I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction. But for some folks, fan theories can be frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 2. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.