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 Search for Spock, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Discovery, and Prodigy.
I had a tough old time figuring out what to say about Võx this week. It was simultaneously an incredibly emotional episode that hit all of the right nostalgic notes… and a flawed, trope-laden outing that literally had me rolling my eyes and even laughing out loud. But as Picard and the crew boarded the Enterprise-D and the dust settled… it’s also an episode that has completely decimated our theory list!
You can find my review of Võx by clicking or tapping here – and I hope you’ll check it out if you have time. I’ve shared my thoughts as best as I can… but I’ll be genuinely curious to see how the episode holds up in a year’s time when we’ve had time to process everything that happened this season, and to move on. Will those deeply nostalgic moments still cover up the episode’s flaws?
This week we have five debunked theories, three further theories that I’m choosing to retire, and five fully confirmed theories. We also have three theories that I’m calling “semi” confirmed – and the reason for that status is the same in every case: something I’d proposed might be a changeling idea was actually a Borg idea. I got the basic outline more or less right – but called it a changeling plan not a Borg plan. But it’s my list so I’m still calling those “semi” confirmed!
I had a lot of fun last week theorising about what the “ancient evil” surrounding Jack might be – as well as knocking over a couple of popular fan theories that I’d spotted on social media. There’s no such bonus theory to come this week… and as we strike so many theories off of the list, we’ll be going into the finale with only a few remaining on the table!
As always, we’ll start with theories that were confirmed or debunked this week.
Debunked theory #1:
Jack has changeling/Founder DNA.
Until we saw the Borg hiding inside Jack’s mind this week, which began the process of unravelling the Borg’s involvement in the story, the “big bad” that Picard and the crew were facing appeared to be a group of rogue changelings. With their focus on Jack, and Vadic appearing to have some kind of personal interest in him or connection to him, it seemed a reasonable guess that Jack might have somehow got changeling DNA mixed in with his human DNA.
Võx debunked this idea, though, explaining that Jack’s condition is in fact the result of Borg biotechnology – something that he inherited from Picard at the moment of his conception.
Debunked theory #2:
The rogue changelings are attempting to reach the Nexus.
This was a total wildcard, and I freely admit that! When we saw James T. Kirk’s body at Daystrom Station in the episode The Bounty, I wondered if that might’ve been a hint at the Nexus – the powerful energy ribbon seen in Star Trek Generations. The Nexus was a gateway to a paradise-like realm… but it also offered the opportunity to travel through time, something that Picard and Kirk both took advantage of.
With no other references to the Nexus or the events of Generations, it always felt like a bit of a long-shot. And if it had come so late in the season, it might’ve felt like a bolt from the blue! But the idea of the rogue changelings looking to use time travel to avenge or prevent their defeat in the Dominion War is an interesting one. Perhaps a future Star Trek story will consider an idea like this one day… or find another reason to return to the Nexus.
Debunked theory #3:
Jack has Borg nanoprobes in his system.
This was completely debunked by Dr Crusher in Võx, as she stated outright that scans of Jack had confirmed that he has no Borg nanites or technology in his system. This revelation makes the Borg even more frightening, in my view, as their biotechnology is clearly light-years ahead of anything the Federation has… and proved to be completely undetectable, too!
Although I wasn’t certain that there was a Borg connection to Jack, it felt like a solid possibility – especially as we headed into Võx. With that in mind, Borg nanoprobes seemed like a reasonable explanation – but it didn’t pan out that way!
Debunked theory #4:
Irumodic Syndrome is important to the rogue changelings.
The rogue changelings – who we now know were being controlled and/or directed by the Borg – couldn’t care less about Irumodic Syndrome. Picard and Jack don’t actually have the condition after all, it would seem! They wanted Picard’s old corpse and Jack because the anomaly in their brains was latent Borg biotechnology.
The Borg needed Jack to broadcast and amplify their signal, which they did during the Frontier Day event. Irumodic Syndrome was never part of their plan – it was a misdiagnosis by Starfleet doctors who didn’t understand what they were dealing with.
Debunked theory #5:
The rogue changelings are planning to cripple Starfleet.
Although being assimilated and controlled by the Borg is a crippling blow to Starfleet, that isn’t really what I meant by this theory! In short, I suggested that the rogue changelings’ scheme involved destroying either key front-line ships within Starfleet or blowing up large numbers of ships indiscriminately. When we saw that some rogue changeling operatives had powerful explosives with them, that possibility seemed likely!
We now know, of course, that the plan was for the Borg to assimilate younger Starfleet officers and hack into the connected Federation fleet. It doesn’t seem like the Borg plan to destroy any of the ships under their control – though they did destroy a vessel that managed to escape!
Retired theory #1:
Someone on the crew is a changeling imposter.
Even though there’s one episode remaining in which I fully expect twists and turns, I’m choosing to belatedly strike this theory from the list. After the deeply emotional reunion at the end of Surrender, and Picard and the crew taking their posts aboard the Enterprise-D this week, I no longer feel that this kind of storyline would work. With less than an hour left to wrap up all of the storylines in play, adding something like this into the mix would also complicate the story unnecessarily.
As Võx has moved away from the rogue changelings to re-orient the story around the Borg, I suspect we won’t hear much more about them at all. There really ought to be something to wrap up that side of the story… but with the Borg planning a conquest of Earth, this theory now feels beyond the realm of possibility.
Retired theories #2 and #3:
The rogue changelings are also planning attacks on the Klingons, Romulans, Bajorans, and Cardassians.
These two theories are also being retired now that we know the Borg are the ones directing this conspiracy. In short, I’d suggested that if the changelings were on the march, they might be seeking revenge for their defeat in the Dominion War. If so, it seemed logical to think that they might also be targeting other factions beyond the Federation who fought alongside them.
The Klingons and Romulans were the main ones, as they’d been part of the anti-Dominion alliance. But the Cardassians turned on their Dominion allies near the close of the war, and while officially neutral, Bajor clearly sided with the Federation, too. But now that we’ve seen the truth behind the conspiracy, this idea seems to be busted!
Semi-confirmed theory #1:
The rogue changelings didn’t want Jean-Luc Picard, they wanted Locutus.
The conspiracy necessitated the use of Jean-Luc Picard’s corpse… but not for any reason to do with Picard himself! Borg biotechnology that had been installed or generated inside of Picard’s brain while he was assimilated was key to the conspiracy, meaning that the rogue changelings really needed the body of Locutus.
It seems as if this DNA/brain modification isn’t something that all Borg receive, otherwise the conspiracy could’ve targetted someone like Seven of Nine – or simply used any other Borg drone or ex-Borg. So it really was Locutus who was the key to the success of this scheme.
Semi-confirmed theory #2:
Jack is a “sleeper agent.”
The Borg clearly knew of Jack and his potential long before this conspiracy got started. They didn’t necessarily “plan” his conception – and it remains unclear whether any other child of Picard’s would have been similarly useful to them. But when the Borg learned that Picard had a child, they realised they could take advantage of his abilities.
In that sense, Jack is a “sleeper agent;” an asset that the Borg had within humanity unbeknownst to anyone in Starfleet – or even to Jack himself. Jack would never have voluntarily participated in the plot – though his decision to seek out the Borg Queen had the unintended consequence of the scheme succeeding – but the Borg Queen planned to use him for that purpose.
Semi-confirmed theory #3:
The Borg hacked into the connected Federation fleet.
Having a connected fleet that could operate as a single entity always felt like a dangerous idea – and so it proved! The Borg were able to tap into Starfleet’s connected armada and turn the entire fleet against the Federation – even destroying ships that broke formation and tried to escape. This had been set up by comments about the connected nature of newer Starfleet vessels earlier in the season.
The Borg are a fascinating warning about the dangers of out-of-control technology, and if we extend that metaphor to their takeover of the fleet, there are some very interesting real-world parallels as we continue to work on artificial intelligence out here in the real world!
Confirmed theory #1:
The “ancient evil” was the Borg Queen.
I tackled this question in last week’s theory update, and expanded it in a standalone piece in which I considered a few other ideas – and debunked a few theories that I felt certain weren’t correct! It never seemed plausible to me that Species 8472, the Romulans, or the Pah-Wraiths could have been introduced into the story at such a late stage – not without any kind of hint or suggestion that they were implicated in the conspiracy. The Borg – and the Borg Queen specifically – seemed the most likely “ancient evil” to me, and so it proved!
There had been hints and teases all season long; a trail of breadcrumbs to follow that led to this revelation. While we can (and will) criticise the decision to bring the Borg into play for the third season in a row, the timing of this revelation coming so late in the season, and myriad other issues with this storyline, I can’t really find fault in the setup.
Confirmed theory #2:
Jack’s hallucinations, red eyes, and superpowers came from the Borg.
There was a bit of a misdirect here, as the colour red isn’t one we’d really associate with the Borg. Nor are Jack’s other abilities, come to that! But given that I was always suspicious of some kind of Borg involvement or connection to the events of the season – going all the way back to before the season premiere – it seemed plausible that what was happening to Jack was caused by the Borg.
The biotechnology deployed by the Borg is unlike anything we’ve ever seen them use – but that’s a pretty cool idea, and it shows once again just how much more advanced the Borg are when compared with the Federation. In addition to tapping into combat prowess he didn’t know he had – which may have come from assimilation victims, if you think about it – Jack also heard the voice of the Borg Queen and possessed the ability to “assimilate” other humanoids, albeit only briefly. The glowing eyes were just a symptom.
Confirmed theory #3:
Captain Shaw died.
Poor Captain Shaw! After surviving far longer than I’d expected, he was finally killed off in Võx, with his death buying time for Picard and the others (sans Seven and Raffi, for some reason) to escape the Titan. Captain Shaw had been an interesting character in the first three or four episodes of the season, but had felt superfluous for a long time. I’d been expecting his death from the very first episode, initially wondering if he might be killed off to allow Picard, Riker, or Seven to sit in the captain’s chair.
At this late stage in the story, Shaw feels like the easiest main character to have killed. And while his death had an impact and showed the danger faced by Picard and everyone else in Starfleet… it came a bit late in the game for me. As a character who hadn’t had much to say or do for several episodes, Shaw’s death was perhaps less significant than it could’ve been. But regardless – I got this prediction right!
Confirmed theory #4:
Another unannounced character returned!
After Ro Laren and Tuvok had appeared earlier in the season (and of course Lore and Professor Moriarty, who had been teased in pre-season trailers, appeared too), we got to see Admiral Shelby this week. Shelby appeared in the classic episode The Best of Both Worlds, where she was one of Starfleet’s biggest experts on the Borg. In an episode in which the Borg returned, there was something fitting about bringing her back – as indeed there was at having her (apparently) killed by the Borg.
There were also name-drops of a couple of other characters, including a starship seemingly named after Dr Pulaski – the doctor who joined the crew of the Enterprise-D for one year. This one is going to be recycled back into the main theory list, though… because there’s still time for another surprise or two before the season is over!
Confirmed theory #5:
The Borg are involved.
After the season premiere, in which there were a handful of Borg references, this theory was added to the list. And it turns out that those hints and teases actually were intended to jump-start the process of setting up the Borg to be the season’s main antagonist. We can argue that this reveal came too late in the story, and with only one episode left it might not be the most satisfying conflict, but at the end of the day it’s still pretty cool to have Picard and the crew facing off against the Borg once again!
As above, this is something I feel was pretty well-established by earlier episodes in the season, even as the main story seemed to focus on Vadic and the changelings. There are issues with the way this was done, particularly in terms of timing and pacing, and we’ll have to unpack all of that in the future. But for now we can call this one confirmed!
So those theories were confirmed, debunked, or have been retired.
Phew, that was a lot! There are still a few theories that remain in play, though – and Võx threw up a couple of new ideas, too. So let’s jump into the main theory list!
The Jurati-Borg will ally with Picard.
The events of Season 2 were briefly mentioned earlier in the season, but it’s worth remembering that the Jurati-Borg are still out there, potentially as provisional Federation members in relatively close proximity to Earth. Maybe they will ride to Starfleet’s aid and help protect Earth against their Borg brethren.
We still need to get closure on Dr Jurati’s story, which ended with a kind of “see you later” as she promised to watch over the mysterious anomaly at the end of Season 2. Perhaps the final episode of the series could bring her back – along with her Borg offshoot faction.
Other old/classic starships will join the Enterprise-D to face off against the Borg.
One starship against the entire Federation fleet? The Enterprise-D will be obliterated in a furious storm of quantum torpedoes the moment it arrives at Earth. Galaxy-class ships aren’t especially manoeuvrable, either… so if Picard is going to take a stand and defeat the Borg, he’s going to need allies.
Perhaps there are other ships in the fleet that weren’t upgraded, or other mothballed vessels that could join the Enterprise-D. Ships with primarily older crews, or vessels whose transporters hadn’t been meddled with could all – in theory – join in. We’ve already seen some beautiful CGI recreations of ships like the USS Voyager and Enterprise-A… maybe they could join the party?
At least one more unannounced character will make an appearance.
We’ve already seen characters from The Next Generation and Voyager this season – but aside from Worf, there hasn’t been anyone from Deep Space Nine. Could that change? Someone like Miles O’Brien, for example, could make for a great inclusion in the story. We could also get another cameo or two from guest stars from that era – older Starfleet officers who may rush to the Federation’s defence and take a stand against the Borg with Picard.
There are many possibilities for how this could play out – and after the shocking appearance of Wesley Crusher last year, I’m not ruling anyone out as we head into the final episode of the season!
At least one main character will be killed.
The demise of Captain Shaw has proved one thing: this is a dangerous, life-threatening situation! As I said before the season began, television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation first aired, and main characters should no longer be considered to be “safe” simply because of their status.
As we approach what seems to be a climactic battle, practically everyone could be in danger! I’d posit that most of the officers who had been “assimilated” are still salvageable, though.
The Borg and/or the rogue changelings are responsible for the mysterious anomaly seen in Season 2.
With their plot now exposed and out in the open, could we finally learn that the mysterious anomaly from Season 2 was also a Borg/rogue changeling attack? Perhaps it was intended to be a precursor to their scheme, or the thwarting of their attack is what led them to develop this more underhanded plan.
I hope that the series won’t just end without explaining this anomaly… even though I fear that will be the case! It was an important point in the story of Season 2, and is actually one of the few elements from last time that might’ve worked. I’d like to know more about it at any rate – even if the Borg and rogue changelings had nothing to do with it.
Picard will donate his golem body to Jack.
Even if the Borg can be stopped and Jack can be recovered safely from the Borg Queen’s clutches, he still has a brain anomaly that is likely to prove fatal. Although Picard and Jack are not afflicted by Irumodic Syndrome, the Borg biotechnology in their brains is still an issue – and it “killed” Picard back in Season 1.
With that in mind, perhaps Jack could be saved the way Picard was – by being transferred into a golem body. Picard could step up and donate his golem to Jack, saving the life of his son in one final act of parental love.
Deanna Troi will use her “pain removal” skill on Jack.
A couple of weeks ago we learned that Troi was able to “enter” Riker’s mind and remove from him the pain he felt at the death of their son. This skill feels like it could come in handy for removing something malicious from someone’s brain – and Jack is just the person who might need that kind of help!
Even if Troi can’t physically remove the Borg’s biotechnology, perhaps she will be able to use this skill to prevent the Borg from using Jack in this way again, or at least cover up the symptoms so Jack can live a normal life.
Floaty McFloatface will be back.
We haven’t seen Vadic’s boss for a couple of episodes now, and it’s plausible to think that her death means this unnamed character won’t be back. But if the finale is to explain the alliance/relationship between the Borg and the rogue changelings in any degree of detail, it’s at least possible that Floaty McFloatface could be part of that – either by having survived or via a flashback sequence.
I’d quite like to know how the Borg were able to either assimilate or ally with Vadic and her group, and there’s only one episode left for this to be explained!
Floaty McFloatface isn’t a changeling.
It seems plausible, if not downright likely, that Floaty McFloatface is a Borg, perhaps a representative sent by the Queen to keep Vadic in line. However, Floaty McFloatface always appeared to have changeling-like qualities, and the exact nature of who and what they are hasn’t been fully explored.
As above, it’s possible we’ll get none of this, and that the season will end without going into detail on this half-baked character. But I hope we’ll get to know something about how the Borg and changelings came to work together, at the very least.
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained – or at least mentioned.
Was Elnor aboard the USS Excelsior when it was destroyed? Because that was the ship he was assigned to in Season 2. Where are Soji and her friends from Coppelius? And is the Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid still watching over the mysterious anomaly? These characters were all important in earlier chapters of the story, and while Laris briefly appeared in the season premiere, the others have yet to be so much as mentioned.
It would be a shame if the series were to end without at least mentioning some of these characters – even if they don’t appear in person. They were all important in Seasons 1 and 2, and while Picard seems to have given up on the idea of introducing brand-new characters, developing them, and giving them a chance to take the franchise forward… I’d still like to know why some of these folks couldn’t have joined Picard’s mission on this occasion.
Odo will make an appearance – somehow.
I don’t know how I feel about this one. It was sweet to see Worf make reference to Odo in Seventeen Seconds – though the connection could have been clearer, especially for more casual viewers – but I’m not convinced that we need to see Odo for ourselves. The reason for that is simple: the only way we could see Odo is either by re-casting the character or recreating him through some kind of CGI process.
Star Trek has successfully re-cast many characters over the years, so I don’t really take exception to that. But the death of actor René Auberjonois is still recent and fresh in our minds, so bringing Odo back without him just feels… uncomfortable. Although Odo is well-suited to a story in which the changelings are back, I think I’d rather he didn’t appear in person on this occasion. But I wanted to acknowledge that it’s at least a plausible development for the story.
So that’s it!
As we head into the final episode of Star Trek: Picard, the theory list has been slimmed down! I’m sure that there will be twists, turns, and unpredictable moments as Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D battle the Borg for one last time. I have absolutely no idea how they’ll pull it off or turn this dire situation around… so I guess the only way we’ll find out will be to watch The Last Generation when it airs!
I’ll be trying very hard to avoid spoilers before I watch the episode – and I hope you’ll manage to do the same. The finale of Picard is bittersweet, and to think that this is the last time I’ll be writing theories about an upcoming episode of this show… it’s an emotional moment!
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.