Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of Khan, The Next Generation, Insurrection, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.
Disengage was a solid episode – or rather, I hope that’s what I’ll think of it when the season is over! I have a specific concern about Captain Vadic that we’ll talk about in a moment, but other than that my biggest criticism of the episode was its faded, washed-out, unnecessarily dark visual presentation. Perhaps it looked okay on a fancy OLED television set, but for the rest of us? Let’s just say that I hope Paramount can tweak the visuals going forward.
In terms of our ongoing Season 3 theory list, Disengage certainly shook things up! The episode has given me several ideas for brand-new theories, outright confirmed two theories from last time, and has led me to retire one theory, too. That’s in addition to adding new elements into the mix that may have increased the likelihood of some theories panning out… and massively decreased the chances for several others!
Be sure to check out my review of Disengage if you haven’t already, as I go into more detail about some of the story points, as well as talk about some elements of the episode that I felt worked well – and a few things that I felt needed a bit more time in the spotlight. Literally as well as metaphorically, in this case!
This week, we have two confirmed theories and one theory that I’m choosing to retire. While not outright “debunked” by the events of Disengage, it feels as if the story is almost certainly moving in a different direction, so I’m striking it from the list. We’ll take a look at those first before we jump into the main theory list.
The crew of the Titan will mutiny against Captain Shaw.
I came up with this idea last week based on a couple of presuppositions. The first was that the command structure of the Titan would feel too complicated, narratively speaking, if Admiral Picard, Commodore La Forge, Captain Riker, Captain Worf and Captain Shaw all had to coexist on the bridge. And secondly, Shaw’s own abrasive, unpleasant personality.
When faced with a potential choice between following Picard and Shaw, I wondered whether the Titan’s crew might’ve chosen the former, mutinying against their captain. But Shaw’s actions in Disengage seem to have softened him, at least a little, and at the end of the episode he – albeit somewhat begrudgingly – ended up doing the right thing. There will still be clashes with Picard and the crew ahead, no doubt, but I no longer see a mutiny like this befalling the captain of the Titan.
Confirmed theory #1:
Picard is the father of Jack Crusher.
Although it took him the whole episode to come to terms with this revelation, Disengage confirmed what a lot of us had already sussed out: that Picard is Jack’s father. The details of how that came to happen are still up in the air – and we’ll look at one possibility in a moment – but for now, we can chalk up our second theory win of the season!
This is definitely an interesting storyline, one that has the potential to really shake things up as the season rolls on. The ramifications for Picard, Dr Crusher, Jack and the rest of the crew will be significant!
Confirmed theory #2:
Worf is Raffi’s “handler.”
This one seemed pretty obvious, especially when Raffi’s nameless handler started using words like “warrior,” but there was always the possibility that the story could have thrown another character into the mix. I suspect there may be a reason why Worf was kept hidden last week, and why his messages to Raffi were conveyed by text and a digital voice… but we’ll look at that in a moment.
I’d have liked to have spent a little more time with Worf in Disengage – his appearance in the episode was brief. But there will be time in the episodes ahead to rectify that!
So those theories were confirmed!
Two episodes down and we’ve already claimed three theory victories! Surely that can’t last… especially given how outlandish (and contradictory) some of the others on the list are!
Up next, we’ll take a look at the main theory list, beginning with brand-new theories and theories which moved significantly as a result of the events that unfolded in Disengage.
Vadic is not the real “big bad” of the season.
One thing that put me off Vadic in Disengage was the apparent disconnect between her over-the-top presentation and her seemingly banal motivation: money. One thing that isn’t clear at this stage, though, is who may have placed such a large bounty on Jack Crusher’s head – and if this theory is correct, it will be that individual who will turn out to be the true villainous mastermind of Season 3.
Think about it: Vadic is a bounty hunter, and she claims that her interest in Jack Crusher is purely financial. So someone else is bankrolling her – and potentially providing her and her crew with the weapons and supplies that they have, or at least paying for those supplies. Can it be a coincidence that Jack Crusher – the son of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher – is this person’s most-wanted target?
Vadic has a hidden reason for chasing Dr Crusher.
This idea could be connected to the theory above, and it certainly comes from the same starting point. Not only did Vadic seem incredibly over-the-top for someone solely motivated by money, but in pre-season trailers we heard her talking about “vengeance.” Is she seeking revenge on Picard, Jack, and Dr Crusher personally – or the wider Federation?
In either case, this speaks to an additional, hidden motivation that hasn’t been revealed thus far. If Vadic is also the terrorist responsible for the attack on the Federation facility that Raffi and Worf were investigating, that also raises the question of why she’d do such a thing. Even if her interest in Jack is financial, the attack on the Federation base clearly wasn’t motivated by money.
In short, I think we’ve only scratched the surface with Vadic!
Not all of Raffi’s messages were from Worf.
There was a good narrative reason to keep Worf hidden until the end of Disengage: it made his last-minute appearance to save Raffi all the more dramatic. But could there be another reason why his messages came through in the form of text with a disembodied digital voice?
Raffi wasn’t able to prevent the attack on the Federation facility, having spent a long time chasing leads in the underworld. But could someone have been feeding her false information to throw her off? This could tie into the idea of not being able to trust anyone in Starfleet that Dr Crusher warned us about – perhaps this conspiracy runs very deep indeed!
Jack was conceived during the events of Star Trek: Insurrection.
At some point in the last… thirty-ish(?) years, Dr Crusher and Captain Picard hooked up. They did the nasty. They bumped uglies. She gave him his tea, earl grey… hot. That’s a disturbing mental picture for someone who’s asexual, but it raises a pertinent question: when did this smooshing together of genitals take place?
If we’re assuming that Picard Season 3 takes place in the early 25th Century, perhaps a year or so after the events of the Season 2 finale, that potentially places Jack’s conception in the early or mid 2370s – during Picard’s captaincy of the Enterprise-E. One event in that time period sticks out when it comes to thinking about one-night stands and sexual encounters: the Enterprise-E’s mission to the Ba’ku planet – a planet with strange age-defying radiation that caused the crew to regress somewhat and behave like teenagers. Could the metaphasic radiation of the Ba’ku planet have played a role in Jack’s conception? If so, how did Dr Crusher keep that a secret while continuing to serve on the ship? There are questions… but you have to admit, the timing seems right!
Someone in Starfleet is working with Vadic.
Connected to the theory above about Vadic having a paymaster, I wonder if Dr Crusher’s belief in a conspiracy within Starfleet could turn out to be correct. If so, perhaps a shady “badmiral” is actually Vadic’s boss, the person directing her to target Jack and presumably Picard, too.
If so, it would be a much more impactful storyline, at least in some respects, if this were a character we’d met before! Even if that isn’t the case, though, there’s still the possibility that Vadic is getting her information about the likes of Captain Shaw and Picard from a contact or ally within Starfleet itself.
Jack Crusher is connected to Vadic… somehow.
I originally proposed this theory last week, speculating that if Picard isn’t Jack’s father, someone on Vadic’s crew might be – or he might be a relative of hers. That didn’t pan out, but there still exists the possibility of a connection between the two. It would explain Vadic’s single-mindedness in chasing him down over a period of weeks or months.
This could be as simple as Jack having stolen from Vadic… but I wonder if such a connection may go deeper. Jack has clearly done bad, criminal things over the course of his life… could his criminal behaviour have brought him alongside, or into conflict with, someone like Vadic? Perhaps he’s responsible for killing someone she cared about – or not saving someone in time.
Captain Vadic once served under Picard’s command.
I’m keeping this one on the list for now, as Vadic’s true motive seems to be obscured. But it now comes with the major caveat that neither Picard, Riker, nor anyone else seemed to recognise her either by appearance or by name. That’s definitely a mark against this theory… but as Picard had more than 1,000 people just aboard the Enterprise-D, it’s not impossible to think he would forget a few faces over the years!
In short, Picard has no shortage of “victims” from his tenures in command of the Stargazer, the Enterprise-D, Enterprise-E, and the Romulan rescue fleet. Perhaps Captain Vadic was one such officer, and she may hold Picard responsible for being assimilated by the Borg, or otherwise injured in the line of duty.
Vadic is a Founder.
I don’t think Disengage moved the needle on this one particularly, except to say that Vadic doesn’t really have the calmness we’ve come to expect from the Founders of the Dominion, seeming to be a lot more chaotic. However, her being a Founder would potentially explain how she and some of her crew were able to resemble different alien races in their pursuit of the Crushers.
We’ve been promised some kind of connection to Deep Space Nine this season, so I can’t help but wonder if the villain of the piece could be a changeling. If the Dominion and their shape-shifting Founders are on the march once more, that could explain why Picard wouldn’t know who to trust – as we saw in Deep Space Nine, changelings were able to infiltrate Starfleet, the Klingon Empire, and the Tal Shiar, replacing a handful of well-placed leaders as part of a plan to destabilise the major factions of the Alpha Quadrant.
Captain Vadic and her crew are hosts for the parasite-aliens first encountered in the episode Conspiracy.
This one is quite “out there,” and I freely admit that! It would be a very bold (i.e. odd) decision for Star Trek to return to the plot of Conspiracy, as it’s hardly one of the best-remembered episodes of The Next Generation. But something about the idea of being unsure of who to trust within Starfleet, having to turn to old friends for help, and the possibility of a conspiracy that could be targeting the Federation all flagged up the plot of Conspiracy for me… so it would be unwise to entirely rule it out!
The end of the episode seemed to suggest that the parasite-aliens had been able to send a message into deep space, hinting at a possible return one day. Could that day finally have arrived?
A few other Vadic origin theories.
I put together a list back in November about who Vadic may be and what kind of connection she could have to Picard. The three possibilities above seem like the most plausible to me, but I’ll briefly summarise the others here:
- An ex-Borg, either someone who was assimilated while serving under Picard’s command, or perhaps someone from the Artifact in Season 1,
- An augment, potentially tied to Season 2’s Adam Soong or even Khan himself,
- A Romulan or ally of the Romulans, with a potential tie to Sela,
- A member of Insurrection’s Son’a,
- A devotee of the super-synths from Season 1.
Captain Shaw lost someone to the Borg.
Vadic alluded to Captain Shaw’s psychological profile in Disengage, and seemed to suggest that he may have been unwell at some point in his career. This could tie into Shaw’s anti-Borg attitude, which he has mistakenly directed at Seven of Nine and Picard.
In short, Captain Shaw seems old enough to have been serving in Starfleet during at least one of the Borg incursions of the 24th Century, and he may have lost someone – a spouse or close relative, perhaps – during one of those battles. That could explain both Vadic’s comment and his barely-disguised antipathy toward Picard and Seven.
So those theories are new or moved significantly this week.
As always, for the sake of keeping everything in one place, I’ll now run through the rest of the theory list. The fact that certain characters, factions, etc. didn’t appear in Disengage could mean that some or all of these are now a lot less likely… but I’m content to keep them on the list at least for now!
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.
Two lines that we first heard in pre-season trailers leapt out at me: Dr Crusher warning Picard to “trust no one,” and her son asking Picard whether anyone he knew “is still the person [he] knew.” These lines could hint at someone having infiltrated the crew, potentially replacing or brainwashing them.
Additionally, it’s possible that someone on the crew is who they appear to be – but is secretly working for Captain Vadic and/or some other villain. We saw this with Dr Jurati in Season 1, so it wouldn’t be a wholly original story beat. But it would fit in with the idea of Picard not knowing who to trust.
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.
Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the final trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.
Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, neither posed a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.
Connected to the theory above is the idea that, for some reason, Picard and the crew will not be able to trust or rely on almost any organic. Not knowing who to trust – perhaps because something is going on that only affects organic minds – could explain why they chose to reactivate both Lore and Professor Moriarty: they might be immune to whatever’s happening.
I don’t think it can be a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty are involved. Both are sentient artificial life-forms, so surely that connection has to be relevant!
If this theory is even close to being true, though, it would raise an interesting question: why didn’t Picard also turn to Soji for help?
Captain Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.
When we first met Captain Vadic and learned that both Lore and Professor Moriarty would be returning, I speculated that the villain of Season 3 might have put together a crew comprised of past Star Trek villains and adversaries. There’s no shortage of baddies who might want to seek revenge on Picard, the crew of the Enterprise-D, and the Federation as a whole.
The crew of Vadic’s ship – the Shrike – have their faces concealed by bird-like masks… and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a reason why these characters can’t be seen or even heard. It seems at least possible that some of Vadic’s crewmates and allies could be characters that we’ve met in past iterations of the Star Trek franchise.
I suggested the likes of DaiMon Bok, Sela, and even Nicholas Locarno as possible candidates – and you can find a longer list by clicking or tapping here.
At least one main character will be killed.
It feels like a solid possibility that at least one main character won’t make it to the end of the season. Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations!
It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing, it could succeed at either setting up the story or paying off a season-long character arc.
I have a list of who I consider to be in danger, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.
The Borg are involved.
Several moments in the season premiere referenced or called back to the Borg – and while we know that Captain Vadic is set to star as an antagonist, there’s still the possibility of Borg involvement in some shape or form. First of all, Dr Crusher was reviewing one of Picard’s logs from his first engagement with the Borg in The Best of Both Worlds. Secondly, Riker referenced Picard’s assimilation experience, and used what he remembered from rescuing him from the Borg in that same episode to decode part of Dr Crusher’s message – something Picard wouldn’t have been able to do on his own as he wasn’t privy to that information at the time. Finally, Captain Shaw seems to have a major chip on his shoulder about the Borg, talking down to both Seven and Picard about their status as ex-Borg.
These could be nothing more than references – little callbacks to Star Trek’s past that are there to tie the events of this story into the franchise’s past. And that’s totally okay if that turns out to be the case! But it’s at least possible, in my view, that some greater Borg connection is going to be revealed. Remember, Season 2 introduced us to a new Borg faction… and the mysterious anomaly that they were intent on stopping is still unexplained.
The super-synths are involved.
This theory would tie together the events of Seasons 1 and 2 with Season 3. In short, I’ve suggested that Captain Vadic may be a devotee of the super-synths – the “alliance of synthetic life” outside of the Milky Way galaxy who left the beacon on Aia and kicked off the plot of Season 1. To add to this theory, I posited that the mysterious anomaly in Season 2 was also a super-synth creation, perhaps one designed to attack the Federation or to open up a gateway.
If Captain Vadic had encountered the beacon on Aia (or another similar beacon elsewhere), it could have driven her mad, as we saw it do to Zhat Vash initiates in Season 1. If Vadic became obsessed with the super-synths, instead of becoming obsessed with stopping them, she might blame Picard for preventing their arrival. Furthermore, she might be trying to open a new portal for them, and that could be what Picard and the crew need to stop.
I have two articles that go into a lot more detail on this theory. You can find part 1 by clicking or tapping here, and part 2 by clicking or tapping here.
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.
Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?
It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!
There have been theories and guesses from Trekkies for basically a whole year about which other characters from The Next Generation era could appear in Season 3. I don’t claim to know who might be included – but it feels like a pretty solid guess to say that someone from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and/or Voyager will put in an appearance.
This could be a simple cameo, or an appearance similar to those seen in episodes like Encounter at Farpoint and Caretaker. Or there could be a real hidden surprise, with a character basically joining Picard’s mission. We didn’t really know the extent of Seven of Nine’s involvement in Season 1 until it happened, nor the extent of Brent Spiner’s roles in Seasons 1 and 2… so there’s at least the possibility of some kind of big surprise!
Captain Shaw will be killed.
I half-expected Captain Shaw to meet his demise in the season premiere – but it didn’t happen! With Seven of Nine having disobeyed orders, and the Titan now outside of Federation space with an imposing enemy vessel close by, that could still happen – and soon! But it’s also worth noting that Captain Shaw appears to be a more nuanced and potentially complex character than I’d initially expected. His anti-Borg prejudice is just one aspect of his characterisation, and this by-the-book, rather acerbic captain may have a bigger role to play than I thought at first.
Regardless, if for no other reason than pure practicality, I think he has to be gotten rid of… right? How can the Titan operate with a disloyal first officer, an ex-Admiral, and at least one other captain on board? From a story perspective it just seems cluttered, and while I hope we learn more about Captain Shaw and his past, I still don’t see him making it all the way to the end of the season.
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in The Next Generation, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.
But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.
I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!
A spin-off will be announced.
This one is just as much a hope as it is a theory, but it would be fantastic if a spin-off from Picard were to be announced before the season ends. At present, no new Star Trek projects are in production, and with Season 3 being Picard’s last, it seems like there could be an opening!
A Star Trek show set in this early 25th Century time period could pick up story threads from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or even Lower Decks and Prodigy, so there’s a lot of potential. A direct spin-off could follow Captain Shaw on the Titan, or Seven of Nine and Raffi, or could even bring back Elnor at Starfleet Academy. With the introduction of new characters in the La Forge family, one or both of them could also take a leading role in a new Star Trek production.
As I’ve said on more than one occasion, this era is where I’d love Star Trek to stay. It feels like there’s so much untapped potential in this time period, with many Trekkies wanting to return to characters, settings, and storylines from Star Trek’s “golden age.” I put together ten of my own 25th Century series concepts, and you can find that list by clicking or tapping here.
So that’s it!
Despite a retirement and two confirmations, the theory list continues to grow. I suspect we’ll start to see some debunkings soon, as the story really gets going. So far, it feels as if we’ve only just moved off the starting line – so there are eight episodes to go to really whittle down the theory list! Picard continues to lend itself to this kind of theory-crafting, and it’s fun to try to predict what may or may not be coming.
As a final note: 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 for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become 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 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!
Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed 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.