Star Trek: Picard Season 3 – hopes, fears, and expectations

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1 and 2 as well as trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for The Next Generation, Nemesis, and Discovery.

With Star Trek: Picard’s upcoming third season now barely a month away, it seems like a good time to look ahead. Thanks to trailers, teasers, and interviews with the cast and crew, we know a little about how the season is shaping up, and from my point of view, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Picard Season 3 has a lot of work to do to salvage a troubled, muddled production that hasn’t hit the high notes that I’ve been hoping for.

Let’s take a step back. My “first contact” with the Star Trek franchise came in the early 1990s. The first episode I can solidly remember watching was The Royale, from The Next Generation’s second season – though I’m fairly sure I’d seen others, or at least parts of others, prior to that. The Royale aired here in the UK in June 1991, so I’ve been a Trekkie for more than thirty years at this point! Moreover, I have an incredible fondness for The Next Generation in particular, as it was Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D that first made me into a Star Trek fan.

The cast of The Next Generation Season 1.

In short, I’m about as close as it’s possible to get to the ideal target audience for Picard Season 3; a season of television that promises to bring back the main cast of The Next Generation. But before so much as a single frame has aired, I find myself having mixed feelings. I genuinely want to see Picard Season 3 succeed – and if I dare to hope, maybe even find a way to tie up loose ends and unresolved narrative threads that were left on the table as Seasons 1 and 2 faltered. But at the same time, I have concerns.

Seasons 1 and 2 both had some incredible highlights: episodes and moments within episodes that were as good as Star Trek has ever been, that hit all of the right notes, and that left me on the edge of my seat or jumping for joy. But step back and look at the bigger picture, and I’m afraid that both seasons also had some pretty major issues that hampered my enjoyment. Both seasons told long, serialised stories… and both plodded along in places, stumbled in others, and failed to resolve key storylines and character arcs by the time it was over.

Do you think we’ll find out more about this mysterious anomaly?

One of my biggest pre-season questions is this: will Picard simply ignore what came before as it races to tell a new story? Or might there be time to step back, even if just for a moment through a line or two of exposition-laden dialogue, and try to tie up some of these loose ends? If – as I suspect will be the case – Season 3 is going to tell a new story unrelated to the events of Seasons 1 and 2, there could still be time to acknowledge, in the most barebones of ways, what became of the Coppelius synths, the Zhat Vash, Narek, the new Borg faction, the mysterious anomaly, and other unexplained or unresolved story points.

In fact, that would be my single biggest request!

There are ways in which Picard Season 3 could tie everything together, transforming the disjointed series into something more closely resembling a single, ongoing story – and I have a theory as to how that could pan out that involves the faction of super-synths from Season 1. But even if none of that comes to pass, it would still be worthwhile, in my view, to find some way to acknowledge the events of the past twenty episodes and do something to try to tie up those loose ends. If Season 3 is to be Picard’s last, as we’ve been repeatedly told, and no other early 25th Century projects are coming up in the short term at least, this will be the last opportunity to do so for several years – possibly ever.

The storyline involving the super-synths in Season 1 is just one of several that remain incomplete.

I think it’s worth reiterating just how disappointing it is that all but one of the new characters introduced in Picard have been dumped. Although a couple of them got what we could generously call “narrative arcs” in Season 2 that felt somewhat conclusive, I still felt that, twenty episodes in, we hadn’t really had much of a chance to get to know most of them. Soji and Elnor, who were both sidelined for practically all of Season 2, had a lot of potential as young, new characters – but that potential was squandered by a production that didn’t seem to know what to do with either of them, and then completely wasted by the decision to cut them both from Season 3.

As I said at the time, if Star Trek is to survive long-term, it will be new characters, not old ones, who will have to pick up the baton and drive the franchise forward. Just as Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D did when The Next Generation premiered, it will fall to new characters in the years ahead to keep Star Trek fresh and relevant. By removing almost all of them from the show in favour of what could turn out to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to play the nostalgia card, I truly fear that Picard’s producers have done serious harm to the Star Trek franchise’s longer-term prospects.

The cast of Picard Season 1.

Before Picard Season 1 had premiered back in 2020, I said here on the website that it was my genuine hope that legions of new, younger Star Trek fans would be just as excited in another thirty years’ time to see Star Trek: Elnor or The Dr Jurati Show as I was to see Jean-Luc Picard’s return. That moment felt like it had the potential to be on par with the premiere of The Next Generation – a handing of the torch from one generation of characters to another. But it hasn’t happened, and I feel we’re seeing the Star Trek franchise as a whole struggling with its identity, not really knowing how to move beyond its legacy characters.

There’s no way in which I can fully get on board with Picard Season 3 and the return of The Next Generation characters because of this. Although I’m interested and perhaps even a little optimistic as this new adventure approaches, their return feels tainted because of who had to be unceremoniously kicked off stage in order to make it happen. I think I’d still feel that way even if all of the departing characters had been given enjoyable arcs that felt complete, but when at least two (Soji and Elnor) didn’t even get the barest of goodbyes, and Dr Jurati got more of a “see you later” rather than a definitive ending to her story, this disappointment feels all the more egregious.

Isa Briones and Evan Evagora at a Star Trek: Picard panel in 2020.
Image Credit: Fandom Spotlite via YouTube

That would be bad enough in isolation, but unfortunately it isn’t the first time that Picard has lost a character without giving them a proper send-off – or even a conclusion of any kind to their storyline. Narek simply vanished at the end of Season 1, midway through the second half of the finale, and was never seen nor heard from again. Despite having plenty of time to process the reaction to Season 1 and plan for ways to avoid making the same mistakes, it feels as if the producers and creative team didn’t learn any of the lessons from the rushed and disappointing Season 1 finale.

Narek’s disappearance is a big part of why I don’t have much confidence that Season 3 will do anything at all to tackle some of these unresolved narrative threads. How difficult would it have been for someone in Season 2 to comment on Narek, confirming that he had been incarcerated? It would’ve taken a line or two of dialogue at most – and in a plodding story that really slowed down and dragged in places, it’s not like there wasn’t time to fit it in!

So… what happened to Narek?

But all of that is looking backwards when we should really be looking ahead. Despite feeling disappointed in cast departures, reminiscing about “what might have been,” and worrying about what it could all mean in the future, I’d be lying if I said that the return of the Enterprise-D’s crew isn’t something that I feel has huge potential to be entertaining and enjoyable. Seeing what these characters could do in a modern television environment that wouldn’t have been possible thirty-five years ago is genuinely appealing, and getting what should feel like a “ten-hour movie” with all of the visual effects and other trappings of a thoroughly modern production is a prospect that I daresay many fans of The Next Generation will be thrilled about.

Star Trek: Picard has already taken us back to some of these characters and showed us how much we’d missed them. I noted in Season 1 that seeing Picard give Data a proper goodbye and laying him to rest was something that I didn’t even know I wanted, but in retrospect I can see how it was a glaring omission from Nemesis. And for all the talk of characters being left in the lurch with incomplete stories and arcs, Nemesis didn’t really provide a conclusive or definitive endpoint for anyone – so this season will be an opportunity to do that; the first such opportunity that these characters have gotten.

Captain Riker and Admiral Picard in a promo photo for Season 3.

When all of this talk about “endings” started coming out, and when executive producer and showrunner Terry Matalas talked about Picard Season 3 as giving the characters the “send-off” that they never got in 2002, I can’t be the only one who started to think about character deaths, can I? We just talked about Picard bringing the crew of The Next Generation into a modern, serialised television framework – and if there’s one thing more than any other that has defined television over the past decade or so it’s main characters being killed, often at shocking moments or in particularly gory ways.

Picard has done this too. Season 1 saw three Star Trek legacy characters killed off: Dr Bruce Maddox, Hugh the Borg, and Icheb. And although Data was already “dead,” that season also saw the last parts of his consciousness shut down as well. Season 2 then saw Q meet his final end… so I don’t think any of the characters feel safe at all as we go into this new story!

Some of the main cast and crew at a recent panel.
Image Credit: StarTrek.com

And that could be okay. A character death, if handled well, can set up the stakes for a story, or it can even feel right for the character if they’ve gone through a satisfying arc or come to the end of their place in the story. After thirty-five years, 176 episodes of The Next Generation, four films, and further involvement with Star Trek for at least some of these characters, though, it would be a pretty bold decision to kill off even one of them! But it absolutely could be the right thing to do if it fits with the story, accomplishes a narrative goal, and/or brings someone’s decades-long arc to a satisfying end.

There was speculation when Picard premiered in 2020 that the show would end with his death – but having already seen Picard die once (only to be immediately brought back to life thanks to technobabble) he actually feels pretty safe – or at least safer than the others. It would be a strange series indeed that ran to only thirty episodes in total and killed off the same character on two separate occasions!

Picard has died once in this show already…

I’ve criticised Discovery for providing its main and even its secondary characters with some borderline-ridiculous plot armour in certain episodes and sequences, and it’s been to that show’s detriment in some respects that we haven’t seen any main character deaths for two whole seasons at this point. Picard has already demonstrated a willingness to swing the proverbial axe – though the question of who may end up on the executioner’s block is still an open one. It could be no one, of course, but I can’t help but feel that the “end” to these characters’ stories that has been discussed may prove fatal and permanent for at least one of them.

The main villain of the season, Captain Vadic, feels like an interesting new element for the series. In her brief appearance in the trailer, she gives me a “Khan” kind of vibe; the obsessive, maniacal, revenge-obsessed villain archetype that Ricardo Montalbán brought to screen so perfectly in The Wrath of Khan. I don’t want to pin my hopes too much on Vadic being “the new Khan” or anything like that, because that kind of character could easily stray into a one-dimensional villain caricature, but from what we’ve seen so far, there’s potential.

The villainous Captain Vadic.

I talked about this back in November, but I’d really love to see some kind of connection to the events of The Next Generation through Vadic. Bringing back the old crew for a wholly new adventure could still be fun, don’t get me wrong, but if it tied into a past Star Trek story in some way, that could be absolutely fantastic. I’ve already come up with a few ideas about how Vadic could be connected to The Next Generation, and who she could bring along for the ride if she puts together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek baddies – and at this stage, none of that seems to have been ruled out!

Given that Picard has introduced new narrative elements for its main storylines so far, I stand by what I said last time we looked at Captain Vadic: if I had to place a bet right now, I’d still have to put my money on her being someone new. That would mean her driving force, the reason for her revenge obsession, is also likely to be new and unconnected to Star Trek’s past, too.

The Shrike, Captain Vadic’s warship.

If we assume that Captain Vadic is someone new and her reason for hating Picard and/or the Federation is also new, that leaves open the question of why Picard would choose to reunite his old crew to take her on. Although Captain Rios is gone, he could still have called on Soji, Elnor, Laris, and the Borg-Jurati hybrid to help if he needed it – and I wonder how (and whether) the absences of these characters will be addressed. Could they even have been killed off-screen to both explain away their absences and to give motivation to Picard, Seven, and Raffi?

Away from narrative decisions, on the technical side of things I expect Picard Season 3 to be polished and to look great. The teasers and trailers that we’ve seen so far had no shortage of beautiful starships, vessels which continue the design philosophy of The Next Generation era but move it along into the early 25th Century. We already saw this – a little too briefly, unfortunately – with the USS Stargazer in Season 2, but with a big return to space supposedly on the agenda this time around, there’s scope to finally spend some more time with Starfleet.

The USS Titan at warp.

Picard Season 1 was probably the low point for modern Star Trek in terms of visual effects. We’ve talked before about the copy-and-paste fleets seen in the season finale, but there was also a CGI sequence copied from Discovery’s second season, a pretty obvious redress of Discovery’s bridge, and more besides. Although none of these moments were atrocious, they didn’t hit the highs that Star Trek can reach in its modern incarnation – and when compared to what the Star Wars franchise and others have been doing, they were downright poor.

But all of that has changed! Not only did Season 2 build whole new sets for the USS Stargazer, including a bridge, ready-room, and hallway, it also showed off a beautiful and diverse Starfleet armada that more than made up for the lacklustre one we saw in Season 1! Just from what we’ve seen so far in the trailers and teasers, I have high hopes for the visual effects that we’ll be able to enjoy in Season 3.

The Enterprise-F, based on a design from Star Trek Online.

Picard has struggled to get enough diversity in its filming locations, something that was incredibly obvious as Season 1 wore on and took us to places on Earth, including Japan and France, and then half a dozen planets – all of which were filmed in the “thirty-mile zone” around Los Angeles. Season 2, because it stepped back in time to a particular time and place, largely avoided that feeling, but I’m not sure how Season 3 will fare. If more time is going to be spent in space on starships, that’s probably a net positive for the series in more ways than one. Because Picard is filmed in California, the show doesn’t have easy access to Paramount’s AR wall in Toronto, so the choice the producers have is to either build sets on sound stages or film on location in the all-too-familiar California area. I hope they’ve chosen the former!

Nostalgia is a big deal in today’s entertainment landscape, and when done right, a show that harkens back to the past and successfully plucks the right chords can be wonderful. I’m not opposed to any and all forms of nostalgia in entertainment, and despite my disappointment in the casting situation that we discussed above, there’s a big part of me that wants to see the crew of the Enterprise-D back in action. But nostalgia is something that needs to be handled with care. Crucially, it mustn’t be overdone or overplayed.

The cast of The Next Generation in the 1990s.
Image Credit: StarTrek.com

It’s all too easy for a production to assume that digging up fan-favourite characters or returning to familiar settings will cover up all manner of storytelling sins – but there are dozens or perhaps even hundreds of examples by now that prove that isn’t the case. And there are productions that go completely overboard with attempts to play the nostalgia card, something that can come across as just plain desperate. The Star Wars franchise has fallen victim to this in more ways than one in recent years, and it’s a trap that I truly hope Picard Season 3 can avoid.

A story that goes all-in on nostalgia can end up feeling gratuitous or tacked-on; an unnecessary epilogue for characters whose stories were, for better or worse, already over. While it’s true that Nemesis didn’t exactly end in conclusive fashion, that doesn’t absolve Picard Season 3 of responsibility to these characters. Just because their stories didn’t end definitively twenty years ago, that doesn’t give the new season free rein to do anything. What comes now – especially if it’s being designed from the ground up to be a send-off or finale – has to be decent in its own right, not simply “more.”

A promotional photo for Season 3 showing Riker and Picard at a bar.

Unlike in 2020 when Season 1 was approaching, I feel less out-and-out excitement for Star Trek: Picard and more a sense of restricted optimism. I have hope that the new season will look great, that it will be fun to welcome back fan-favourite characters after a twenty-year absence, and that we’ll get at least some enjoyable moments and perhaps a dash of that elusive sense of “Star Trek” that hasn’t always been front-and-centre in the franchise’s modern era. But I also have reservations about a season that may very well race past or just outright ignore key story points that were left on the table last time around.

Maybe I should give up hope of seeing much of anything from Season 1; those stories had the chance to be addressed in some way in Season 2, but it didn’t happen. But things like Season 2’s mysterious anomaly – that felt like an attack on the Federation or Alpha Quadrant – just being ignored as the story rushes to bring back legacy characters and set up a new mystery… I will be disappointed, I fear, if the season ends without so much as mentioning what happened last time.

Gates McFadden at a recent Star Trek: Picard panel.
Image Credit: StarTrek.com

I’m trying to reconcile my disappointment in the way the new cast was handled with my interest and excitement in seeing old favourites coming back for another adventure, and I’m keenly aware that I need to at least try to judge Season 3 on its own merit – for the story it aims to tell – rather than wondering what might have been or being upset at a situation that I can’t change. That’s a challenge that I will have to face – and if you stick around, you can judge for yourself how well I do when you read my episode reviews!

After two mismanaged, difficult seasons that had some great episodes and moments but ultimately failed to deliver, this is Picard’s last chance. As someone who’s a huge fan of The Next Generation and the other Star Trek shows of that era, it also feels like a last chance for the Star Trek franchise as a whole to demonstrate that there’s potential in this 25th Century setting, and that telling stories that at least tangentially connect with the themes, settings, and characters of Star Trek’s “golden age” is a concept worth pursuing. It’s definitely noteworthy to me that, at time of writing, no new Star Trek projects have been announced, despite several concepts supposedly being worked on behind the scenes. Is Picard Season 3 an opportunity not only for these characters but for this setting and this time period? Will Paramount be watching to see whether there’s still potential here? I can’t help but wonder.

The briefing room of the USS Stargazer in Season 2.

I see genuine potential in the new season’s villain, Captain Vadic. A character who feels as though she’s drawing inspiration from Khan, one of the best villains not only in Star Trek but in all of cinema, could be absolutely delicious to watch, and Amanda Plummer is an actress who has the ability to pull it off. While the story remains shrouded in mystery, the teases and glimpses we’ve seen have been genuinely fascinating to this old Trekkie, and have inspired me to craft a few of my patented (and usually totally wrong) Star Trek theories!

At the end of the day, all any of us really want is for Picard to be entertaining. It doesn’t have to be high art, it doesn’t have to be the best thing Star Trek has ever done… but it does have to keep my attention and interest, not annoy me, and be basically consistent with what the show and the franchise have done before. Everything else is just fluff, and I can overlook retcons, inconsistencies, and everything else as long as the show is basically fun.

And hey, if it doesn’t go well, there’s always Strange New Worlds Season 2 to look forward to!

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will premiere on Paramount+ in the United States on the 16th of February 2023, and in the United Kingdom and around the world on the 17th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are already available to stream or buy on DVD/Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. Some images used above courtesy of StarTrek.com. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Amazon Prime Video review – The Rig

Spoiler Warning: Though there are no major plot spoilers, minor spoilers are still present for The Rig.

The title of this piece was originally going to be “Miniseries review: The Rig,” because all of the marketing that I’d seen for this six-episode Amazon production led me to believe that it would be a one-and-done miniseries or limited series. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have tuned in if I’d have known it would end on a pretty substantial cliffhanger – especially when a continuation of the story hasn’t yet been greenlit. Even going into The Rig’s final moments, I was still anticipating a climax and resolution to its ethereal enviro-mystery. When the series ended I actually wondered if I’d missed an episode, or if there was more to come – but at time of writing, the six episodes currently available on Amazon Prime Video are all there is.

I hope that The Rig will get a second season or at least some kind of conclusion, because there was promise in its story and characters that I’d certainly be happy to pick up and see resolved. But for now, I guess the biggest takeaway from The Rig for me is this: do just a little bit more research before committing to watching something!

Title card for The Rig.

I’d seen advertisements for The Rig on Amazon’s homepage and plastered across social media, so at least here in the UK, it seems as though the show has had a decent marketing budget attached to it. The main splash banner on Amazon’s homepage has previously been reserved for Star Trek: Picard (in its first season, at least) and Amazon’s big productions like The Wheel of Time and The Rings of Power, so it certainly felt that the company was pushing its latest endeavour with all it could muster.

If only a few dollars from that marketing budget had been redirected to The Rig’s CGI and visual effects, though, because there were some pretty serious misfires in those departments, especially for a series that seems to be trying to compete at such a high level. Some of the CGI felt decidedly “last-gen,” as if it were something we’d have seen circa 2008. This was noticeable from literally the first second, as The Rig’s opening sequence was entirely animated, and not animated to anywhere near the high standards I’d expect from a corporation with the resources of Amazon.

The Rig’s opening CGI sequence was poor.

The opening CGI sequence left a poor first impression, and across the first couple of episodes especially, The Rig was having to work hard to overcome some low-budget visual effects. This extended beyond CGI into the physical space, too. The show’s signature “fog” effect looked decent enough when animated – nothing spectacular, but a step up from some of the other animation work, especially in those first couple of episodes. But when real actors were supposedly walking through the “fog,” I’m afraid the effect looked rather similar to what you’d get from those cheap smoke machines that became popular in discos a few years back. It looked poor – and for such an important part of the series, getting this wrong was, again, something that gave a poor impression.

However, while some CGI sequences remained poor across the entire six episodes, the animation work for the “spore” phenomenon that the crew encountered fared a lot better, and as this element was of particular importance to the story, getting it to look right was important.

An example of how the “spores” look.

The “spores” reminded me more than a little of The Expanse’s protomolecule, if you’re familiar with that sci-fi series (and if you aren’t, you should really check it out as its fantastic!) And this ties into a broader point about The Rig – the series brought to the table a number of elements that we’ve seen in other sci-fi films and franchises. There wasn’t too much originality in the production – which isn’t to say that it was bad by any means, but as the show progressed I definitely found myself noting more and more of these inclusions.

James Cameron’s The Abyss, released in 1989, was definitely a film that I felt The Rig was drawing inspiration from, not only thematically but visually, too. There was also the introduction of a corporate officer who knows more about the phenomenon than he lets on that felt like it had been lifted straight from Alien. And the “it was only trying to communicate” trope that clearly took inspiration from Star Trek. We also have the aforementioned visual effect that was similar to The Expanse… the list goes on! The way in which The Rig pieced these elements together was decent, and the fact that a story, visuals, or other elements of a production aren’t wholly original isn’t to say it’s awful – but it is worth noting how many narrative and design choices echoed other productions in the same mystery/sci-fi/thriller space.

Some of The Rig’s story beats and visuals felt familiar.

Despite being commissioned by Amazon and made by Amazon Studios for Amazon Prime Video, The Rig felt remarkably similar to dozens or perhaps even hundreds of British television shows that I’ve seen over the years. The cinematography, acting (and some actors, too), the musical score, the aforementioned low-budget VFX… all of it came together to feel very familiar. If I hadn’t known that I was watching The Rig on Amazon Prime Video you could’ve told me this was a show made by the BBC, Sky, or ITV and I’d have believed it, no question!

Part of The Rig’s marketing stated that it’s the first Amazon show to be wholly produced in Scotland – and I guess that explains why it feels so familiar to a British viewer! The director/executive producer, John Strickland, has worked on episodes of popular British shows like Poirot and Line of Duty, and I swear I’ve seen at least half of the cast before – in bit-part roles on shows like Holby City or Doctor Who.

The main cast and crew of The Rig at the show’s premiere in Scotland.
Image Credit: IMDB

Speaking of the cast, everyone involved did a good job at selling what was an increasingly sci-fi story. The characters all felt grounded and real, and even moments of exposition were delivered in ways that felt natural, informing us about certain characters’ histories and backstories without being too obtrusive. There’s some excellent scriptwriting and characterisation there, and the cast all did well to bring it to screen convincingly. I wouldn’t single out anyone for giving a disappointing performance; everyone on The Rig did a standout job.

There were some great moments involving practical makeup – particularly in one gory moment after a character suffered a fall. The way bruises, broken bones, and gaping wounds were constructed felt visceral and realistic, and at a moment where the story was only just beginning to take off, the shock value these simple practical effects had shouldn’t be overlooked.

Some great makeup was used to create wounds and injuries.

The Rig didn’t take long to get going – and in a series that only has six episodes, I guess that’s fair enough. My only point of criticism on this side of things would be that it felt as if at least some of the characters went from normal life to “panic mode” in a heartbeat – instead of a degradation in the crew’s mood from happy to irritable to angry and depressed taking a slower course. It felt as if The Rig got started, introduced us to its big storyline, and then the members of the crew who were going to get angry just snapped immediately, largely remaining in that state for the rest of the series. There was scope, I felt, to show how the effect of a disaster and being isolated with no field of vision or communications could slowly wear people down – and while The Rig tried to pay lip service to that at a couple of points, it didn’t really work convincingly.

That being said, there were some great character moments in all of the episodes that really showed off the tension and stresses that the worsening situation was putting people under. While I would have liked this to have been built up a bit more slowly, at the same time it’s worth saying that this wasn’t really what The Rig was all about, and considering the main thrust of the narrative was elsewhere, I guess it’s fair to say that this side of things was handled about as well as it could’ve been within the show’s time constraints.

Different character conflicts came to the fore in The Rig.

The Rig had a clear environmentalist message – one about climate change, the dangers of unchecked oil exploration, and the responsibility humankind has en masse for the damage to the atmosphere and natural world. But rather than allowing its sci-fi, rather ethereal story about ancient microorganisms to stand on its own as a metaphor, someone involved in The Rig’s production clearly insisted on inserting some rather clumsy dialogue to make this environmental message incredibly obvious and in-your-face.

For me, as someone who’s a huge fan of the Star Trek franchise, I think sci-fi like this works best when subtlety is the order of the day; when the analogy is given space to speak for itself without the script punching viewers in the face with the same message over and over. The Rig comes across, in these moments, as a show that doesn’t trust the intelligence of its own audience; its producers and writers want to make their environmentalist message clear, so they keep repeating it. Rather than trusting what was a well-constructed metaphor to make that point, The Rig drops these clumsy, awkward exchanges of dialogue in a desperate attempt to make things obvious. And I just found that to be unnecessary and a little disappointing.

One of the moments where a conversation about climate and environmental issues was very obvious.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a series with a moral and a message, and The Rig clearly has one. Climate change and the environment are causes that we definitely need to care about, pay attention to, and find solutions to out here in the real world, and although The Rig was never going to be high-brow “art” or a series that would change opinions and sway huge numbers of folks to its cause, it had a point to make and its metaphor about “the earth fighting back” against humanity’s destructiveness was a good one. Not a wholly original point, perhaps, but a decent one nevertheless.

But what the series didn’t need to do was constantly hammer that message home by other means – the metaphor at its heart was strong enough on its own to get that message across. We didn’t need half the cast to spout anti-oil, anti-fossil fuels, or pro-climate lines – especially pretty clunky, hammy ones – in order to get the message. The Rig had a point – but the way in which it went overboard ended up rather detracting from it.

Someone really wanted to make sure that The Rig’s environmental message came through!

One thing I admired about The Rig’s story is the way in which it blended some very ancient-feeling legends of the sea with modern science and technology to create its core mystery. For as long as humans have been sailing, there have been legends of strange phenomena out at sea, and The Rig seemed to take some of these as a starting point, combined with our lack of knowledge of the ocean floor in general, and weave them into its sci-fi mystery. The way in which it was done was clever, and it came to screen well.

There was a strong anti-corporate message in The Rig, particularly one that went after big oil corporations. Though Pictor, the corporation in the show, is fictional, it’s clearly based on real-world corporations like Shell, BP, and others, and The Rig doesn’t hold back when it comes to criticising the way in which these massive corporations are managed and their impact on the environment. As we got into the final couple of episodes, the inclusion of a secretive character from “head office,” the fact that they were unwilling to share what they knew – and how long they’d known about some of the problems affecting the Kinloch Bravo rig – really leant into this “corporate dystopia” angle, and I think that worked pretty well.

So let’s wrap things up and I’ll share my thoughts on The Rig as a whole.

The titular rig in the fog.

Overall, I felt that The Rig was an interesting series. Its core mystery certainly captured and held my attention, and even as its story descended from something semi-plausible into outright sci-fi, I was content to go along for the ride. I wouldn’t have climbed on board, however, if I’d realised that it was going to end on such an abrupt cliffhanger – and with no second season having been greenlit at time of writing, I fear the ending to this interesting story may never be told. All we can do is watch this space and hope that Amazon decides to go ahead with the next chapter!

On the technical side of things, though, I felt The Rig was let down by some pretty poor visual effects, both animated and practical, especially in its first couple of episodes. For a series that relies heavily on these things to set up its mysteries and narratives, the way in which some of them came across on screen wasn’t spectacular, and I’ve come to expect better from Amazon Prime Video in that respect.

So that was The Rig. An interesting series that I hope gets a continuation. If a second season, a film, or some other conclusion is in the offing, I daresay I’ll check it out. The Rig hadn’t been on my radar at all until I saw advertising for it on social media and Amazon’s homepage, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an enjoyable enough six-hour series with a good cast.

The Rig is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video. The Rig is the copyright of Amazon Studios and Amazon Prime Video. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 – Comic-Con trailer thoughts and analysis

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.

At New York Comic-Con back in September, Paramount showed off a new trailer for the upcoming third season of Star Trek: Picard, and I’m finally getting around to taking a look at it! This time, I’m going to give my thoughts and analysis of what was shown off in the trailer, as well as speculate a little about what the plot of Picard’s final season might end up looking like.

The first thing to say is that Season 3 appears to be another standalone story, one that doesn’t follow on directly from the events of Season 2. Does that mean that we’ll never know who or what caused the anomaly that was so central to kicking off (and resolving) last season’s main story? And does it mean that the dangling story threads from Season 1 will also be left unresolved when Picard comes to an end? I hope not – but I have to say that, based on what we know of Season 3 at this stage, my hopes of the unresolved storylines from Seasons 1 and 2 being addressed are fading fast.

Will Season 3 provide a conclusion to unresolved stories from Seasons 1 and 2?

And before we go any further, I want to address that. Picard, despite having a lot of promise when it was announced and when it premiered, has been hit-and-miss so far; a rather disconnected series that has boldly tried some new and potentially-interesting ideas, but that hasn’t always managed to pull them off successfully. I still haven’t written up my full thoughts on Season 2 as a whole, but suffice to say that there were some pretty significant problems that seriously hampered my enjoyment. If Season 3 is, as I suspect, leaving all of that behind to rush off into another new story, for me that’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, spending too much time looking back at the underwhelming elements of Season 2 isn’t what I’d want to see… but on the other, Season 3 represents Star Trek’s last chance – at least in this iteration – to make more of some of those unresolved storylines. Season 2 could end up looking better in retrospect if it turns out to be one piece of a greater whole… but if Season 3 drops those stories to do its own thing, it will remain a disappointment.

I’ve already shared my thoughts on the way the casting situation has been handled, but as we’re diving back into Picard Season 3, I think it’s worth pointing out again that the return of The Next Generation’s main characters – all of whom got some screen time in the new trailer – has come at the expense of several genuinely interesting characters from Seasons 1 and 2 of Picard that we were only just beginning to get to know. As it seems unlikely that most of them will be seen in the franchise again – at least, not for a long time – I think it’s worth reiterating just how much potential has been squandered.

The cast of Star Trek: Picard Season 1 – most of whom are not returning this time around.

If the Star Trek franchise is to survive long-term, it can’t simply coast on nostalgia. Trying new things, innovating, and introducing new characters has been what the franchise has done since the 1980s, but the current crop of Star Trek shows all seem to be falling back on nostalgic crutches in a way that they really shouldn’t. Picard Season 3 may be the epitome of this backwards-looking take on the franchise, but it’s certainly not the only example.

But that’s enough about that for now! We’re here to look at the trailer rather than talk about Picard or the franchise in a general sense, and the New York Comic-Con trailer definitely raised a lot of interesting (or potentially-interesting) points!

The USS Titan at warp.

First of all, the season’s main villain, played by veteran actress Amanda Plummer, will be called Captain Vadic. Vadic was seen briefly in the trailer, and seems to have an almost Khan-like obsession with getting revenge on Picard and his former Enterprise-D crewmates. Exactly what her beef is with the retired admiral is unclear… but given who else is involved, surely there has to be a connection to The Next Generation, right?

Well, not so fast! In both Seasons 1 and 2, key storylines were ultimately not connected in a major way to Picard’s past… or at least, not to elements of his past that we were already familiar with. Speculation abounded regarding the Coppelius synths, the mysterious super-synths, the Borg Queen, the anomaly, and Q, but ultimately in both seasons the writers chose to go in a different and new direction. Captain Vadic could be connected to Picard either because she’s a returning character utilising a nom de guerre or because she’s related to or otherwise connected to a classic character. And don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas in that vein that we’ll talk about on another occasion! But I think we have to consider the very real possibility that this character, as well as whatever may have caused her to hate Picard and his crew, will be something entirely new to us as the audience.

The mysterious Captain Vadic.

I liked what I saw of Amanda Plummer’s performance in the trailer. She brought a ferocity to Captain Vadic that straddled the line between dedication and obsession, and had an almost animalistic or beastly quality that echoed not only Khan, but other great Star Trek villains too. Vadic has been described as an “alien,” though what species she could be if not human wasn’t clear. Could her scars suggest some kind of ex-Borg origin, perhaps?

Vadic’s ship, the Shrike, seemed to draw inspiration from Nemo’s Narada that we saw in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film, as well as perhaps from the Romulan vessels seen in Nemesis, which could all hint at a Romulan (or Reman) origin or connection. The sweeping, blade-like lines of the Shrike give the vessel a genuinely threatening appearance, and if what we saw from Picard and Riker in the trailer depicts them and their vessel in combat against the Shrike, Vadic’s ship seems to have the weapons to back up its intimidating look!

The Shrike, Captain Vadic’s ship.

Speaking of starships, we got a closer look at the USS Titan in the new trailer – and it looks absolutely fantastic! One of the criticisms some fans have had of Picard – especially with last season’s 21st Century story – has been the lack of starships, and in addition to the Titan we also caught a glimpse of Star Trek Online’s Enterprise-F. Though I dabbled briefly in Star Trek Online, MMO games aren’t really “my thing,” but I’m nevertheless happy to see the creative team take inspiration from the game on this occasion. Fans of Star Trek Online will be thrilled, undoubtedly!

La Sirena was also present, and may be being used by Raffi and/or Seven of Nine. I like the design of La Sirena and I hope the story will find a way to include the smaller vessel alongside bigger ships like the Titan and Enterprise-F. Rounding out the “starship porn” in the trailer was a beautiful shot of Earth Spacedock – bringing back memories of both The Next Generation and some of the Star Trek films in which the massive station was featured. Could a Search for Spock-inspired starship heist be on the cards? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

The Enterprise-F, with a design borrowed from Star Trek Online.

Although the producers are keeping a pretty tight lid on the season’s story, the trailer did actually give us quite a lot to go on. Captain Vadic seems to be chasing Dr Crusher – perhaps to get to Picard or get his attention – and her reason for doing so seems to be connected to her hatred of Picard and his Enterprise-D crewmates. As I said, we’ll speculate more about her possible reasons in the days ahead.

As part of her anti-Picard vendetta, Captain Vadic appears to have put together what I’d describe as something of a “rogues’ gallery” of The Next Generation’s villains. We saw Professor Moriarty – the sentient hologram created in the Season 2 episode Elementary, Dear Data – as well as Lore, Data’s “evil twin.” Could there be more villains from The Next Generation era who’ll be brought on board? I think that’s a distinct possibility!

Professor Moriarty joins a “rogues’ gallery” for an anti-Picard vendetta.

Captain Vadic was seen speaking to a group of characters – most of whom had their faces covered or obscured – promising “vengeance,” so I think it’s at least possible that we haven’t seen the last big or surprising announcement of a returning villain! Several of the characters with Vadic seemed to be aliens, and I can think of no shortage of alien adversaries that Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D tackled during their adventures. Could the promise of revenge combined with Captain Vadic’s powerful personality have convinced them all to work together?

Any time a television show brings back a number of past characters all at once, there’s a risk of some of them being overshadowed. If, as I suspect, Captain Vadic is someone wholly new connected to a hitherto-unseen event in Picard’s past, her dominant role as the leader of the rogues’ gallery could end up relegating the likes of Lore and Professor Moriarty to smaller cameos. Depending on how it’s handled that could be fine – or it could be a little underwhelming. Paramount is promising big things from this “explosive” final season of Picard… so I hope the series can deliver!

Lore makes a return!

We saw quite a lot of Riker in the new trailer, more than almost anyone else aside from Picard himself. The relationship between Riker and Picard was, in my view anyway, beautifully restored in the Season 1 episode Nepenthe, which saw the two men reuniting for the first time in almost twenty years (at least on screen). After seeing Riker out of uniform enjoying his family life and retirement, it’ll be great to see him back in action once more.

I feel that Worf’s appearance has the most potential to cause controversy out of all of the returning cast members. His statement in the trailer that he “prefers pacifism” and has abandoned the way of violence was played for laughs at first, but it represents a major departure from the character we knew through seven seasons of The Next Generation and four of Deep Space Nine. It’s definitely something that could feel like a natural progression if it’s suitably well-explained – some older Klingon characters, like Kor, for instance, seemed to mellow with age and become less quick to anger – but it’s definitely a move that could be controversial in some quarters. Could this be the producers and creators potentially setting up a calmer, more level-headed Worf for a leading role in his own series or film?

Worf in the trailer.

We didn’t see too much of either Dr Crusher or Deanna Troi, though the former seems to be a major driving force in kicking off the storyline. I expect we’ll hear of her distress signal in the season premiere, and that could be the moment where an off-duty Picard was approached by two Starfleet officers (was that scene in Guinan’s bar? I couldn’t tell!) As for Troi, she seems to be along for the ride with Riker, and her Betazoid senses were put to use describing the mood on what could be the Shrike as an “all-consuming darkness.” This ties into the themes of obsession and revenge that I touched on earlier.

Seeing Dr Crusher in some form of stasis pod was interesting; could her distress signal have been the lure to get Picard (and the others) back out into space? If Dr Crusher was the only one of the Enterprise-D crew who was on a deep space assignment, she would seem to be the logical target – as bait in a trap!

Dr Crusher seems to kick off the story.

Raffi also seems to be being hunted – can we assume it’s by the same adversary? If so, Captain Vadic may be doing more than simply targeting the crew of the Enterprise-D – she may be trying to get to Picard by attacking anyone he’s worked closely with in the past. As his former aide-de-camp from his time as an Admiral, Raffi certainly fits the profile!

But there could be more to it than that. We’re getting into some seriously speculative territory, but if the story of the new season involves a villain (and/or a rogues’ gallery of villains) trying to hurt Picard by targeting those close to him, we could potentially learn of the deaths of some friendly faces. Elnor and Soji spring to mind as possible victims – both worked closely with Picard and neither are scheduled to make a major appearance this time around. Could one or both of their deaths have sent Raffi into hiding? Or put her on the revenge trail?

Who is Raffi hiding from?

Finally we have Geordi La Forge. In the trailer his main moment came when he seemed to criticise Picard for dragging Worf and Riker into whatever crisis is going on… but it doesn’t end there. We know from casting – and briefly from an appearance at the Titan’s helm in the trailer – that Geordi will be joined by two of his children. One of his daughters will be played by LeVar Burton’s real-life daughter Mica, which is neat. Mica Burton hosted Star Trek Day 2021 alongside Wil Wheaton, and has been a fixture in the expanded Star Trek community ever since the franchise returned to the small screen.

Having covered the main characters – and speculated a little about some of them – we still have a few disjointed clips and images to assess from the trailer before we wrap things up! Starfleet Academy or Starfleet HQ appears to be attacked and destroyed at one point, but for some reason my gut instinct is to say that that may not happen in the real world. We could be looking at a simulation, dream, or plan rather than an actual attack. I don’t know exactly why I feel that way… but I do!

Is this moment real, or does it take place in a dream or fantasy sequence?

Amongst some wreckage in space we caught a glimpse of a derelict or abandoned starship. Could this be Dr Crusher’s ship – the one from which she sent the distress signal to Admiral Picard? The name and registry number was hard to make out from the trailer, and the design seemed similar to the USS Titan. The field of debris in which the ship was drifting seems too large to all have come from one (largely intact) vessel, so could this be the aftermath of a larger battle in which other ships were destroyed?

As mentioned, I can’t quite tell if the trailer’s opening shot sees Picard at Guinan’s bar on Earth (“Ten” on Forward Avenue in Los Angeles’ historic district that was featured in Season 2), but it certainly could be. Starting Season 3 in a location that was central to the story of Season 2 would go some way to tying the stories together if there isn’t a bigger connection between what seems to be two separate stories.

Is Picard dining at Guinan’s bar in this scene?

Some of the shots of the Shrike and Titan chasing one another and battling seem to be reminiscent of the Briar Patch from the film Insurrection, so could that be a clue? Starship battles that take place in nebulae have been a part of the franchise from The Wrath of Khan all the way through to Discovery’s most recent outing, so it’s by no means a cast-iron statement. But the colour and appearance of the clouds in the nebula certainly brought back memories of Insurrection for me.

The Shrike having the power to outgun the Titan could mean that the ship is incredibly powerful – like Nero’s Narada or Shinzon’s Scimitar, for example – but it could also speak to the Titan potentially being an older vessel, perhaps one that has been recently taken out of mothballs and potentially with only a skeleton crew aboard. While the Shrike definitely has the appearance of a warship or a hunter, it could be worth keeping in mind the Titan’s potential condition!

The Shrike engages the Titan.

After being given a field commission last season and assuming command of the USS Stargazer, Seven of Nine appears to wear the rank pips of a commander rather than a captain, though she does still seem to be on the command track. It wouldn’t be the first time that an officer below the rank of captain has been given a command, though, so Seven may yet prove to be in command of a vessel. Geordi, meanwhile, appears to hold the rank of either a commodore or perhaps a one-star admiral based on the single pip seen on his uniform collar.

I find it interesting, too, that Seven has chosen to remain in Starfleet while Raffi appears to have taken La Sirena on a mission of her own. Is this something that we’ll see her do during the season, or is this where her story will begin? If so, what could have caused her to abandon Seven, Elnor, and her role in Starfleet? And could this connect with my theory above about Captain Vadic potentially having attacked, kidnapped, or killed the likes of Elnor and Soji?

Seven of Nine wielding a phaser pistol.

By far my biggest question at this stage is this: who else, besides Moriarty and Lore, might be joining Captain Vadic’s rogues’ gallery? I feel all but certain that we’re going to see other villains of The Next Generation era coming on board if this is a quest for vengeance against Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. From the Duras family and Sela to DaiMon Bok and even the Maquis, Picard and his crew thwarted the nefarious schemes of many villains during their adventures – and if Captain Vadic is indeed putting together a crew of her own to seek revenge, there must be no shortage of applicants!

If Picard and the crew are going to go out with a bang, as we’ve been promised, facing off against a team of their most powerful and feared adversaries could absolutely make for an exciting, tense, and explosive season of Star Trek. After the slower pace of Season 2 and its focus on Picard’s innermost thoughts and his personal family history, something a bit more action-oriented this time around could be just what the doctor ordered. Although I’m still upset about the decision to ditch most of the main cast members from Seasons 1 and 2 in favour of this return to The Next Generation’s characters, I’m hopeful that what we’ll get will be a fun ride and a great way to say goodbye.

Season 3 is purportedly the final voyage for Picard and the crew.

The trailer shown off at New York Comic-Con looked action-packed and exciting, so hopefully that’s representative of the new season. Although Picard has its problems and I have some gripes, the trailer itself has raised my hopes, and I’m now definitely looking forward to the new season.

So that’s it for now! Although this summer and autumn has seen me writing less and making fewer posts here on the website, when Picard Season 3 kicks off in February I still plan to review each episode in turn, as well as crafting a few theories and giving my thoughts on how the season as a whole shapes up. So I hope you’ll stay tuned and join me for that in the new year!

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will stream on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video around the world beginning on the 16th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream now and are also available on DVD and Blu-ray. 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.

Star Trek: Lower Decks review – Season 3, Episode 2: The Least Dangerous Game

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-3.

After a somewhat disappointing season premiere last week, The Least Dangerous Game was an improvement – but it still wasn’t a particularly spectacular episode. Lower Decks’ third season hasn’t yet managed to hit the highs that we know the series can reach, and I think the best thing that I can say about this week’s offering is that it was mostly inoffensive. There were no glaring faults that dragged it down in the way that Grounded’s non sequitur ending did last time, but there was nothing that really elevated the story, either. Even an appearance by J.G. Hertzler as a simulated General Martok didn’t do much for what was a fairly bland and uninspired outing for the Lower Decks ensigns.

After the incredible Season 2 finale and last week’s premiere both followed a single story that brought all of the ensigns together, The Least Dangerous Game returned to the A, B, and C-plot structure that split up the main and secondary characters into groups. Pairing Mariner with Commander Ransom was something that Lower Decks hadn’t done to any great extent since Season 1’s Temporal Edict, and this time the addition of Ransom having final say over Mariner’s continued service in Starfleet added an extra dimension.

Ransom and Mariner were paired up this week.

I’m glad that Lower Decks didn’t drop that angle after it was introduced in the somewhat rushed conclusion to last week’s outing. With Mariner’s parents being a captain and an admiral, there’s been a bit of a question-mark over how her misbehaviour and occasional insubordination gets excused, so assigning her to Ransom’s jurisdiction feels like a way to both circumvent that issue and also potentially shake up the way Mariner has to act, at least when on duty.

As an aside, I promised as far back as Season 1 in 2020 that I’d take a look at how Starfleet seems to fall victim to nepotism and favouritism on occasion, and Ensign Mariner is hardly the first example! We have characters like Wesley Crusher on the Enterprise-D and Nog (at least to an extent) on Deep Space Nine who made full use of their relationships with senior officers as examples of this phenomenon. This is absolutely ripe for a deeper dive (and I’ve had a piece in my writing pile tentatively titled Nepotism and favouritism within Starfleet for the better part of two years now) so we won’t get into too much of it here. But suffice to say that I like the idea that Captain Freeman and Admiral… Mariner(?) seem to recognise that they have a soft spot for their daughter and can’t remain objective. When we think about how some past Starfleet captains went out on a limb to back up their favourites (even when they were in the wrong), this is something new and different.

Mariner’s parents seem to have pulled a lot of strings to keep her in Starfleet.

On the surface, Mariner and Ransom shouldn’t be at loggerheads. Both can be laid-back, and you’d think that Ransom’s less formal attitude would sit well with Mariner – and that he might be inclined to cut her some slack. But there’s a definite personality clash, and Tawny Newsome and Jerry O’Connell really sell it through their performances.

As is sometimes the case with Lower Decks, we have to try to set aside some of the nitpicking. It doesn’t make a lot of sense that an away team wouldn’t assign the engineering task – repairing the orbital lift – to its two engineers, nor that Ransom would be able to get away with essentially jeopardising a mission simply to push Mariner’s buttons. And jeopardise the mission he did – not only in terms of repairs to the elevator but also in terms of the Federation’s relationship with the planet of Dulaine. In this case, the normal structure of a mission like this took a back seat to story concerns, and in a less-serious series like Lower Decks I can forgive it. I would caveat that, though, by saying that the story for which the basic operating procedures of Starfleet were sacrificed was pretty mediocre.

Rutherford and Billups – the engineers on the away mission – weren’t assigned an engineering task.

After Lower Decks took Mariner on a two-season-long journey from being a bratty, angsty “teenager” through to being a more complex character with an evolving and improving relationship with both her mother and Starfleet, there was a bit of a question-mark over what would come next. For my money, I’d have liked to have seen a continuation of Mariner’s progress, coming to terms with her role in Starfleet and perhaps coming to realise that, if she wants to be able to make her own decisions without consulting others, she needs to climb the ranks. Last week’s episode trotted out a “trust the system” story, and that could play well. But this week, with Mariner getting frustrated with Ransom, I felt perhaps the first steps toward a regression that could undo some or all of her progress.

As the story concluded, Mariner worked hard to undo her act of rebellion or insubordination, seeming to realise that it would jeopardise her continued service in Starfleet as Ransom would surely have been given the excuse he needed to discipline her. But the fact that she ended up in that situation in the first place could be indicative of that kind of regression, and while there’s blame to go around – in the sense that it was Ransom who was manipulating the mission to be as annoying to Mariner as possible – that doesn’t excuse her reaction. I guess this cuts to a deeper issue with Mariner’s characterisation, and how the whole “loose cannon” character type doesn’t really fit within an organisation like Starfleet. Regardless, I hope the next episode can begin to put this aspect of Mariner to one side. Lower Decks isn’t at its best when putting Mariner into storylines like this one – and it’s something we’ve seen on multiple occasions already, so it isn’t even new or innovative at this point in the show’s run.

Mariner’s “orbital skydive” was similar to Kirk’s in Star Trek 2009 and B’Elanna Torres’ in Voyager Season 5.

Boimler’s storyline this week was something and nothing. The design of K’ranch was interesting, perhaps one of the most visually distinctive aliens that Lower Decks has created so far, and I liked that. His passion for the hunt was also reminiscent of both Klingons and Voyager’s Hirogen, which was a neat inclusion. But I just never felt that there was any real sense of danger once the hunt had been agreed to and got underway; there just weren’t any stakes. Without feeling that Boimler was genuinely being hunted “to the death,” this whole chapter of the story just felt incredibly flat.

Taking a step back, I like the idea that Lower Decks may be trying to give some of its main characters something different this season. Mariner has to keep herself in check because of being watched over by Ransom (though she didn’t succeed this week), and now Boimler, at least in this episode, is trying to be bolder, more outgoing, and more adventurous. Spurred on by the news that Vendome (a character we met briefly in Season 1) had been promoted to captain, Boimler vowed to say “yes” to everything that came his way – something that I feel was lifted from the plot of some ’80s comedy film… but I can’t remember which one!

Saying “yes” to everything got Boimler into difficulty…

Because Lower Decks is so episodic, it isn’t clear if “bold Boimler” will stick around, but even if not it was at least an interesting concept to try out, and one that could return in later seasons if deemed a success. As I said, I didn’t feel that the hunt that Boimler got involved with was a particularly strong story in and of itself, but the concept underpinning it feels like it has potential. To see Boimler stepping out of his comfort zone and having new experiences is no bad thing for a series that’s racing towards its thirtieth episode.

Tendi and Rutherford drew short straws this week, and neither made a huge impact on the story. It was nice to see all four ensigns together playing their Klingon game – a game based on a real-world video board game from the 1990s – but after that, Tendi and Rutherford didn’t have very much to do. Not every episode can give equal screen time to every character, though, and I’m sure both of them will have turns in the spotlight before Season 3 is over.

J. G. Hertzler reprised his role as Martok from Deep Space Nine for the video board game sequences.

One final point that made me a little uncomfortable was the presentation of Chief Engineer Billups. Season 2’s Where Pleasant Fountains Lie gave Billups a really interesting story – one that felt like a Star Trek analogy for asexuality. Billups was incredibly uncomfortable at the idea of sex and sexuality – perhaps being “sex-repulsed” – and this was a big part of his arc in that story. As I wrote afterwards, Where Pleasant Fountains Lie was one of the best and most understandable depictions of what it’s like to be asexual that I’ve ever seen on the small screen.

However, in The Least Dangerous Game we seemed to see Billups a lot more comfortable with scantily-clad aliens on a kind of “pleasure planet,” and while he ended up getting into difficulty as the mission went off the rails, I would have liked to have seen more from him about his lack of interest in sex and lack of sexual desire. He seemed, at one point, to be very happily enjoying what the planet had to offer, and I guess it just feels like a pretty big difference when compared to where he was in Season 2.

I wasn’t wild about the way Billups was presented this week.

This matters to me because, as someone who is asexual, Billups’ story in Where Pleasant Fountains Lie was actually a big deal. It was a first not only for Star Trek, but one of the very few stories in the world of entertainment at all that felt like a reference to asexuality. Trying to move Billups away from that presentation, especially for the sake of a minor role in an otherwise forgettable episode, is just a bit of a disappointment. While I don’t expect Lower Decks to make a big deal of Billups’ potential asexuality again, I definitely don’t want the series to start undermining that story – and it felt to me that it happened – albeit in a small way – this week.

All in all, I didn’t hate anything about The Least Dangerous Game. But neither of its main storylines were particularly strong, and where there should have been some sense of danger or some degree of high stakes for Boimler, the story setup didn’t really allow for that. It certainly isn’t Lower Decks’ worst-ever episode, but The Least Dangerous Game just feels bland and generic. Nothing consequential really happened, and where there could have been major disruptive events, at least for two of the ensigns, the end of the story seems to have basically reset everything back to normal. Mariner got away with abandoning her post, and Boimler easily survived his “hunt” with K’ranch.

Boimler hiding from K’Ranch.

And finally, the short sequences featuring Billups, as mentioned, made me a little uncomfortable when considering his Season 2 presentation and how powerfully that resonated with me. All of these things came together to make The Least Dangerous Game a bit of an underwhelming episode.

But I’m hopeful that Lower Decks will pick up as Season 3 gets going! There are still eight episodes left to shake things up, and I’m always going to go into every new Star Trek episode hoping to have a good time. Although I’ve found some criticisms of Lower Decks Season 3 so far, I genuinely enjoy the series and what it’s brought to the table. Some of the points of criticism have arisen in light of the successes of past episodes; I just don’t feel that Lower Decks has hit those same high notes yet this season.

My writing schedule is all over the place at the moment, so unlike in Seasons 1 and 2 I may not get these reviews out in a timely fashion. That can’t be helped, unfortunately, and I hope you’ll bear with me. I still intend to review each episode this season, but some of the reviews may be later than usual.

Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Lower Decks 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.

The Rings of Power: first impressions

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Spoilers are also present for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and other J.R.R. Tolkien works.

The Rings of Power – or to give it its full, clumsy title: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – got underway yesterday on Amazon Prime Video. As one of the shows I’d been most interested in all year, I tuned in almost as soon as the opening pair of episodes were available, curious to see what Amazon’s sky-high budget and years of planning could bring to the high fantasy genre.

For me, and doubtless for many other viewers as well, The Rings of Power simply cannot escape three massive sets of expectations. Firstly, the show has a legacy to live up to in the form of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Secondly, as the first-ever “billion dollar” television show, The Rings of Power must demonstrate an ability to go above and beyond pretty much anything else present on the small screen. And finally, there are inevitable comparisons with the show that set the bar for multi-season serialised high fantasy television shows: Game of Thrones. I think it isn’t unfair to say that there hasn’t been a television project in a generation that finds itself under so much pressure to deliver.

Galadriel and Gil-Galad on a promotional poster for The Rings of Power.

As we discussed back in February when I previewed the series, some viewers have taken to pre-judging The Rings of Power. Partly there seems to be a bloody-mindedness in hoping that Amazon would fail, and there were definitely racially-motivated criticisms of some of the casting choices – something that’s been incredibly disappointing to see. But there are also some genuine concerns: could the series possibly live up to the legacies of one of the most successful film trilogies and one of the most influential television shows of the past twenty years? How would it fit in with the “established lore” of Tolkien’s Middle-earth? And more fundamentally, is there even a story here that’s worth telling?

Some folks seem to have arrived at their answers to these questions already, deciding that The Rings of Power is going to be irredeemably awful and taking to social media at every opportunity to denounce it to anyone who’d listen. In the past couple of days the show has even been subjected to a degree of review-bombing. But speaking for myself, I wanted to see The Rings of Power before rushing to judgement. While two episodes of an eight-episode season aren’t enough to paint a full picture, I feel like I can at least share my first impressions of the series with you today.

The Rings of Power has finally arrived.

I liked The Rings of Power. The acting performances were solid, the visual effects were competent, its aesthetic style harkened back to The Lord of the Rings films, and when the story got going it held my attention well enough that two episodes passed by in what felt like a matter of moments. As the credits rolled on the second episode, Adrift, I felt myself curiously interested to see what happens next.

The two-part premiere did a decent job at introducing us to what seems to be the primary characters whose stories The Rings of Power intends to follow. One of my criticisms of Game of Thrones back in 2011 was actually how dense its first few episodes felt; had I not binge-watched Season 1 I may actually have stopped watching the series, as keeping track of so many characters and storylines was pretty confusing. In that sense, The Rings of Power did a good job not to overwhelm viewers with too much all at once.

Lenny Henry as Sadoc, one of the Harfoots.

So I felt that The Rings of Power got off to a good start – but perhaps not a spectacular one. After two episodes, the show feels like it’s trying to play it safe; I didn’t note much by way of risk-taking that could take a decent, competent series and elevate it to the kind of phenomenon that The Lord of the Rings films or Game of Thrones became. By sticking relatively close to the visual style established by The Lord of the Rings, for example, The Rings of Power has tried to both find a ready-made identity and pluck at the nostalgic strings that its producers hope will bring in viewers in droves. But by re-using this aesthetic style, The Rings of Power has surrendered its opportunity to construct its own identity.

It’s also worth talking about the story framework that we saw in the premiere. The trope of a hero who finds evidence of an impending threat or disaster, only to be ignored by their superiors, may have been brand-new when Tolkien was writing in the first half of the twentieth century, but it doesn’t exactly make for a groundbreaking or unique story in 2022. Yet this is the outline of both Galadriel’s story with the Elves and, to an extent, Bronwyn’s story in the Southlands. A common trope like this doesn’t necessarily make for the strongest introduction to a new story.

Galadriel found herself opposed by Elrond and other Elves, despite presenting them with evidence of Sauron’s survival.

Though The Rings of Power did a solid job at introducing us to its main characters, there were definitely moments where I felt some background knowledge of Tolkien’s works was something that the series expected from its audience. These mainly concerned elements of backstory – who the villainous Morgoth is, what a Silmaril is, the relationship between factions like the Elves, Men, and Dwarves, and how Sauron fits into the story of a conflict between the peoples of Middle-earth and Morgoth. A very brief sequence at the beginning glossed over some of these points, but not in sufficient depth that a newcomer to the world of Middle-earth would find them easily understandable.

In terms of laying out the world of The Rings of Power, though, I felt that the series did a good job. After two episodes I feel that I understand who lives where, where locations are in relation to one another, and the layout of the world and the primary locations we’ve visited so far. The relatively simple construction of a map, shown on screen for no more than a few seconds at a time, actually ended up being a very effective tool for communicating these things, and I felt it worked well. The seamless transition from the map to the sea at one point was also a neat effect.

The inclusion of a map was a simple but effective visual tool.

Sticking with visual effects, there weren’t many in the first two episodes that I felt were sub-par. There were a few moments where the blending of real actors and sets with CGI backgrounds wasn’t entirely perfect, but those issues can be noticeable even in big-budget productions, and none of those handful of moments really pulled me out of the immersion. I’d particularly call attention to the “falling star” seen in A Shadow of the Past as one of the better CGI creations; it really managed to feel like a meteor of some kind was hurtling toward Middle-earth.

If I were to nitpick, I’d say that perhaps the physical fake snow used in the first part of A Shadow of the Past wasn’t particularly impressive, managing to have the same flat, non-reflective look of similar set dressings that have been in use for decades. The CGI snow used elsewhere in these sequences looked decent, but when Galadriel and her team were seen up close, there was a noticeable difference in texture. Otherwise, physical props and costumes used throughout the first pair of episodes were solid.

A closer look at the fake snow used in the season premiere.

One of the most interesting props is the darkly enchanted sword hilt that Theo uncovered. It’s fascinating from a story point of view, of course, and may well belong to Sauron or one of his most-important minions. But it manages to look fantastic on screen, too – a dark, intimidating design that seems to harken back to the image of Sauron in full armour from The Lord of the Rings films.

Speaking of harkening back to The Lord of the Rings: surely I’m not the only one who noticed that Halbrand actor Charlie Vickers was doing an almost over-the-top impersonation of Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn as he made his first appearance! The way his hair was styled, the way he held himself, and even the way he opened his mouth all felt like they had been carefully choreographed to mimic that iconic portrayal. Halbrand is not a canonical character from Tolkien’s works, and the aforementioned mimicry could be a deliberate red herring, but part of me thinks we’re going to learn that this character has some kind of connection to Aragorn in the episodes ahead!

Halbrand channelling his inner Aragorn…

Some of the battle and post-battle scenes early in the season premiere carried a very strong First World War influence, and I have to assume that was done deliberately. Tolkien was himself a veteran of that conflict, and its influence can be felt in the massive scale of the wars and battles that he created for The Lord of the Rings in particular. This level of destruction, with battlefields reduced to mud, trees stripped of all of their branches, and huge piles of bodies, also succeeded at communicating the scale of the Elves’ conflict against Morgoth and Sauron in a relatively short sequence that didn’t have time to go into a lot of detail, so as an effect it worked well.

Even a century on from the First World War, the way its battlefields looked is still seared into the minds of many people here in the west, and The Rings of Power took advantage of this to use a familiar visual cue to communicate, in a short sequence, just how destructive and devastating this war was as it set the stage for the story to follow.

Galadriel stands on a battlefield that feels reminiscent of the First World War.

A good television soundtrack is unobtrusive. It subtly tells audiences what emotional state certain characters are in, whether danger is just around the corner, or fills an otherwise-awkward gap during silent moments. While a theme tune can become iconic, the soundtrack of episodes themselves should be a relatively toned-down affair. The Rings of Power didn’t get this right, in my view, bringing an incredibly dominating soundtrack that, at several critically-important moments, seemed to hit levels rarely seen outside of soap operas.

The old-fashioned, heavy soundtrack came booming in during several crucial scenes, drawing attention away from the characters and the action instead of backing it up. This is obviously the opposite of what a good soundtrack should be doing, and there are criticisms of both the composition and the sound mixing in both of the first two episodes that I really shouldn’t be needing to make. When we’re at this level, these are some of the basic competencies that a television production should be pulling off flawlessly without even thinking.

One of the moments between Bronwyn and Arondir had music that was, for me at least, too heavy and intrusive.

I’m not a Tolkien super-fan, so I can’t be sure whether some of the dialogue in The Rings of Power has been lifted directly from works like The Silmarillion. But what I would say is that much of the language used in the first two episodes, particularly in scenes featuring the Elves, was very flowery and old-fashioned, as if it had been written decades ago. That was almost certainly intentional, perhaps to tie in with Tolkien’s own writing style or perhaps to give The Rings of Power a “classiness” or even just to distinguish it from other modern shows. However, the effectiveness of this kind of flowery, old-fashioned language is very much a subjective thing, and how well it will work isn’t exactly clear at this early stage.

Some of the lines of dialogue in the first two episodes felt scripted and clumsy – partly as a result of this choice of language – and while I didn’t feel knocked out of my immersion once I got used to it, it was definitely something that took a little getting used to. In any work of fantasy, actors have to work hard to make strange and unusual words and phrases seem normal, but that really isn’t the issue in this case. I can easily accept conversations about warp cores in Star Trek or dragons in Game of Thrones, but here in The Rings of Power, choices as far back as the scriptwriting stage made otherwise innocuous or basic conversations feel almost stilted, as if the production itself, despite its modern visual style and impressive CGI work, was from a much earlier era. For some fans, that’ll make The Rings of Power feel even better. For others… I think it has the potential to detract from the story.

There were several clunky or unnatural-sounding lines of dialogue in the opening two episodes.

As I said, though, once my ears had acclimatised to this way of speaking I didn’t feel it was horribly awkward – but it’s worth noting that, at least for me, it was something that took some getting used to before I could fully immerse myself in Middle-earth. Perhaps I should’ve re-watched The Lord of the Rings before watching The Rings of Power, because now I can’t really remember whether this issue of flowery, old-fashioned language was present to the same degree. I don’t remember it ever being a problem, and I regard that trilogy as one of the best ever brought to screen. But it would be interesting to take a look and compare!

So let’s talk story. Although I find myself curiously interested to see where The Rings of Power goes next and how it will weave its disparate narrative threads together, I don’t feel absolutely gripped by the story after the first two episodes. I’m not desperately awaiting next Friday in the way I can be for new episodes of Star Trek, or in the way I was for Game of Thrones or even shows like Lost.

The Elves of Lindon.

I think partly this is because of the “prequel problem” that I’ve talked about here on the website on more than one occasion. In short, we know where these characters will go and what the ultimate outcome of this story will be. There’s no real sense that Galadriel will ever be in serious danger – because we know she survives for another four thousand years after the events of The Rings of Power. While the series is doing its own thing to an extent by introducing new characters and telling its own story, it’s also billing itself as being firmly set in the world of The Lord of the Rings – heck, that’s the first part of the show’s title. So given that we know the story of The Lord of the Rings and how characters like Elrond, Galadriel, and Sauron fit into it, it’s difficult for The Rings of Power to really reach out and grab me in the same way as a new story with an unknown outcome could.

When we look at The Silmarillion and other Middle-earth books set millennia before The Lord of the Rings, one of the key points is that the characters involved don’t know who Sauron is, whether he’s still around, whether he can come back, etc. But as the audience watching The Rings of Power, we know how this ends: Sauron returns, raises an army, and it takes an alliance of Men, Elves, and Dwarves to defeat him on the slopes of Mount Doom – as seen in the introduction to the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring. Knowing what’s coming robs a story like this of at least some of the tension and excitement, and while it can still be fun to see how the characters arrive at their ending points, we know the destination.

Sauron’s presence looms large over the story.

Even someone like me – and I’m no super-fan of Tolkien by any stretch – knows the basic outline of the story of Sauron’s rise and fall in this era, and just like other famous prequels have struggled to keep up the tension and excitement, I feel that the same issue is already hampering The Rings of Power – at least to an extent. The fates of characters like Nori, Bronwyn, Arondir, and Halbrand are definitely up in the air and ripe for exploration, and I’m absolutely interested to see what comes next for them. But characters like Galadriel, Elrond, Celebrimbor, Durin, and Gil-Galad have their futures written.

Overall, though, the first pair of episodes did a good job at setting up this idea of a slowly-awakening evil; a gathering storm. We saw the slow build-up to the discovery of Sauron’s survival through Galadriel’s eyes, then saw how the Southlands are slowly being corrupted and attacked by Orcs in the stories of Bronwyn and Arondir. The proto-Hobbit Harfoots also had comments to make on the unusual goings-on in Middle-earth, and of course were present for the “falling star” that brought a character currently known as the Stranger into the story. The idea that the world is on the edge of some drastic changes, and that the ruling Elves are oblivious or perhaps wilfully blind to these problems was well-established and conveyed through these different storylines. The latter part – leaders ignoring or trying to downplay serious problems – feels rather timely at the moment, too!

The “shooting star.”

I definitely felt Galadriel’s frustration at being dismissed by Elrond and Gil-Galad, and I think that’s a testament to some strong performances from Morfydd Clark, Robert Aramayo, and Benjamin Walker. Though I called this setup a trope earlier, there’s no denying that it works in this context. The aloof presentation of the High Elves gives their leaders an arrogance that absolutely succeeded at getting me firmly on Galadriel’s side. While again this isn’t something that can be said to be unique to The Rings of Power (look at how the Vulcans are portrayed in Star Trek: Enterprise, for instance) it was pitch-perfect in the way it was deployed.

The sequences at sea with Galadriel, Halbrand, and (briefly) Halbrand’s companions were among the best in the premiere. I’m not certain how or where this was filmed, but the water was so incredibly realistic, managing to look like deep ocean instead of a shallow sea or pool – and this one visual cue did so much to ramp up the tension as the duo survived an attack by a sea monster. The dark water felt dangerous, not only because of what it was hiding but because deep water like that is usually only seen far from land. Look at how films like The Bounty use this same deep water effect to signal how isolated and far from safety characters are; The Rings of Power really did a great job here.

Galadriel and Halbarad’s raft.

And these scenes with Halbrand and Galadriel also took the story in somewhat of a different direction. Galadriel’s choice to swim back to Middle-earth could have been a simple one, perhaps even one that was resolved off-screen, but putting her in this “shipwrecked” situation was a definite change of pace for a character who had been on a mission.

The Harfoots’ camp recaptured at least some of the idealised, pastoral feel of the Shire in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Showing how the Harfoots live in a temporary camp, migrating with the seasons, was a neat addition that made it feel even older, somehow – like some depictions of Native Americans prior to European colonisation.

The Harfoots’ encampment.

Within that framework we got the traditionalist Harfoots to contrast with the more adventurous Nori; her story was set up well enough by leading some of the camp’s children to a berry bush, but I didn’t feel that the danger posed by a wolf was properly paid off – though I suppose it’s something that could be revisited in later episodes, the wolf’s presence was very brief and although it did feel like a threat to the diminutive Harfoots, it seemed to be rushed past and quickly forgotten by a story that had other priorities.

Nori’s relationship with the Stranger is still something that The Rings of Power is building up – beautifully, in my view. Her care for this mysterious giant who fell from the sky humanises her and takes her from being a somewhat rebellious child to someone that I’m sure we’ll be able to get behind as the story progresses. Although I’m sure there’s a lot of speculation as to the identity of the Stranger, I felt that the impact crater and fire seemed to resemble an eye – and a flaming eye definitely carries with it memories of a certain Dark Lord!

Am I overreaching, or does this look like “a lidless eye wreathed in flame” to you?

Of all the settings we’ve seen so far in The Rings of Power, none felt quite so familiar as the Dwarves’ mountain home of Khazad-dûm. We’d spent a lot of time with Dwarven mines in The Lord of the Rings and particularly in The Hobbit trilogy, and The Rings of Power seems to borrow heavily from those projects in practically every way. From the design of the Dwarves themselves all the way to the aesthetic of their subterranean kingdom, The Rings of Power really succeeded at recapturing how the Dwarves have been presented in the past.

It was also in Khazad-dûm that I felt The Rings of Power beginning some of its more delicate and character-driven storylines. Stories focusing on Arondir and Galadriel feel epic in scale because of their focus on this growing darkness and the impact it will have on Middle-earth, but the conflict between Elrond and Prince Durin brought The Rings of Power back down to an understandable level. Durin was upset that Elrond, a long-lived Elf, had simply disappeared from his life for such a long time – and it took Elrond a moment to fully grasp that. For me at least, this became one of the best and certainly most-relatable storylines in the opening pair of episodes.

Elrond and Durin’s falling-out went a long way to bringing the story of The Rings of Power down to a relatable level.

The Rings of Power is off to a good start – but not a great one. Visually, the series is well-made. It borrows from The Lord of the Rings in many ways, but it also incorporates new design elements that help it feel distinct; part of the same world, but not a carbon copy of what came before. There were definitely some issues with the soundtrack and sound mixing that shouldn’t be present in a series that aims to compete at this level, and that’s something I hope can be addressed promptly. There have been some wonderful moments of characterisation that really pulled me in… and a handful of others that weren’t quite reaching that same high bar. Overall, I’d say that the series has left a good first impression and I’m happy to return to it next week to pick up the story. But I’m unlikely to be spending much time between now and then speculating, theory-crafting, or even really just thinking about The Rings of Power very much.

Am I nitpicking too much or being too harsh on The Rings of Power? Well, that’s up to you to decide. But what I will say is this: The Rings of Power is the most expensive television series ever created, and that brings with it expectations in terms of quality that basic competence doesn’t cover. Moreover, as much as I want to judge The Rings of Power entirely on its own merits, by very deliberately leaning into The Lord of the Rings films, the show has invited comparisons to that trilogy – and other works in the high fantasy genre.

What’s going to happen next in The Rings of Power?

I’m glad that I gave The Rings of Power a fair shake and didn’t make a snap judgement. Although I can understand a certain amount of schadenfreude at wanting to see a massive corporation like Amazon meet with financial and critical failure, speaking for myself what I really want to see is another success in the high fantasy genre. I don’t want The Rings of Power to be disappointing – I want it to be entertaining! The first episodes, while they had some issues that I’ve tried to elaborate on, broadly speaking managed to entertain me, and I came away from them feeling satisfied with what I’d seen.

I’m hopeful that The Rings of Power now has a foundation upon which to build a successful series. With five seasons having been planned – and potentially somewhat of a soft reboot coming in Season 2 thanks to a change in filming locations – there’s a long story to get stuck into, one that, like Game of Thrones before it, will unfold over the next few years. There’s time for some of the production’s weaker elements to be addressed, even if it doesn’t happen this season. Whether The Rings of Power will still be talked about in the same breath as Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings by future audiences… well, that’s still an open question. But it feels as though all of the elements exist for this series to reach those high bars. I genuinely hope that it will.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the copyright of Amazon Studios, New Line Cinema, and Amazon. The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and other works mentioned above are the copyright of the Tolkien Estate. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Lower Decks theory – evil Boimler

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-2 and the following Star Trek productions: The Original Series Season 2, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine Season 3.

With Lower Decks’ third season fast approaching, I wanted to write up a theory that I’ve had kicking around since the second episode of Season 2. Lower Decks’ episodic nature hasn’t lent itself to a ton of theory-crafting so far – although I do have at least one more in the pipeline, so stay tuned for that! – but this one feels plausible; it’s the kind of narrative choice that I could see the show’s writers making.

First of all, let’s briefly recap what happened to Ensign Boimler from the end of Season 1 to the beginning of Season 2. After impressing Captain Riker, Boimler took a transfer to the USS Titan at the very end of Season 1, leaving Mariner and the Cerritos behind and being promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Boimler would serve under Captain Riker for a short while, and one of the Titan’s assignments at this time involved following up with the newly-aggressive Pakleds.

Boimler got a transfer at the end of Season 1.

Lieutenant Boimler was assigned to an away mission to the planet Karzill IV as part of this assignment, and after getting caught in a firefight he was able to save the day and allow the rest of the team to make it back to the Titan. However, as this mission drew to a close a transporter accident created a duplicate – or clone – of Boimler, resulting in two identical Lieutenant Boimlers, indistinguishable from one another.

For seemingly arbitrary reasons, Starfleet decided that only one Boimler could remain aboard the Titan, and the other would have to take a demotion back to the rank of ensign and return to the Cerritos. After one Boimler returned to the Cerritos we’ve followed his actions, and the second Boimler hasn’t been mentioned since. But could that be about to change?

Boimler betrayed!

Although we were told that the two Boimlers were indistinguishable from one another – totally identical – the second Boimler, the one who remained aboard the Titan, seemed much more outgoing than the Boimler we’ve gotten to know. Not only that, but he seemed more than a little devious in tricking “our” Boimler to return to the Cerritos so that he could continue on the Titan and advance his career. Could we be looking at the beginnings of an “evil twin” (or “evil clone,” I guess) storyline?

It wouldn’t be the first time that such a story has appeared in Star Trek! Going all the way back to The Original Series we had stories like The Enemy Within that split Captain Kirk into two distinct personalities, one “good” and one “evil.” And of course there’s the classic Mirror, Mirror that showed our heroes’ evil alternate universe counterparts.

Two Captain Kirks!

The Next Generation followed this up by creating Data’s own “evil twin” – Lore. Lore would tangle with the crew of the Enterprise-D on more than one occasion, doing things like allying with the Crystalline Entity and raising an army of abandoned ex-Borg, as well as trying to corrupt Data and sway him to his cause.

Most significantly we have Thomas Riker, the first transporter duplicate in Star Trek and whose character clearly inspired the Boimler storyline in Kayshon, His Eyes Open. Not only was Thomas difficult to work with for William Riker after being rediscovered, but he would go on to rebel against Starfleet, join the Maquis, and even steal the USS Defiant from Deep Space Nine.

Thomas Riker.

Lower Decks has brought back a lot of Star Trek tropes and story beats, and many of them have been used for one-off gags or as cute callbacks to past events. It can be difficult to tell whether there’s some deeper meaning to the whole transporter duplicate story because of that. In the episode Kayshon, His Eyes Open it worked well as a surprising twist, a way to kick Boimler back to the Cerritos, and as a cute wink to fans of The Next Generation, especially considering Riker himself was present. The storyline could end there with Boimler’s twin never being mentioned again.

But at the same time, Lower Decks has used some of these classic Star Trek moments and story beats to set up longer arcs, or returned to them later. There’s a symmetry to some of the show’s episodes and storylines, too. The way the Cerritos saved the USS Archimedes in the Season 2 finale after having to be saved in the Season 1 finale is one of the best examples of this – and we could also point to the Pakled storyline itself as an unfolding multi-episode arc.

Captain Riker and the Boimlers.

I think we’ve laid out how it’s at least possible that there could be something more going on with the transporter clone and looked at previous examples of “evil twin” tropes in Star Trek. So that answers the question of “could it happen?” quite nicely – but that’s really just the beginning.

The matter at the heart of this theory is what direction such a story would take, how it could potentially impact (our) Boimler, and what it could do for the series as a whole.

If we look back to episodes like Datalore or Second Chances, I think it’s not unfair to say that those storylines didn’t go on to have a lasting effect. The creation of twins, clones, and duplicates hasn’t actually come to matter in a significant, ongoing way for any Star Trek character so far. Even when those twins made repeat appearances their stories tended to be confined to a single episode – or perhaps a two-parter.

Lore.

It was never really explained in any detail what impact Thomas’ emergence had on William Riker after the events of Second Chances. Even when Thomas returned in Deep Space Nine’s third season episode Defiant, the story unfolded from his perspective without any input from his doppelgänger.

Data’s conflict with Lore is perhaps the biggest of these storylines, with Lore being mentioned a handful of times outside of his main appearances. But because of Data’s nature, he wasn’t as emotionally impacted by Lore’s behaviour as other characters in a similar situation might’ve been. Data even expressed confusion in Second Chances as to the nature of the dispute between Will and Thomas Riker!

Thomas Riker in Defiant.

Although Lower Decks has been largely episodic, we’ve still seen some impressive character work across its first two seasons. The way Ensign Mariner in particular has grown into her role and come to resolve some of her issues with her mother, her friendships, and her position in Starfleet has been wonderful to see – and it’s this more serialised approach to characterisation (a hallmark of modern television storytelling) that could make an “evil Boimler” storyline different to what we’ve seen before in Star Trek.

Boimler’s issues with his transporter duplicate could have an impact on him that extends beyond a single episode – and that could take his character on a journey. Beginning with the sense of betrayal he surely felt at the duplicate’s duplicity aboard the Titan, Boimler could begin to forgive him, only to discover he’s up to no good. He could find it difficult to convince his friends at first, before showing them irrefutable proof of the clone’s misdeeds. And the whole experience of having to face off against someone who literally knows him inside and out and has shared every experience he ever had could both challenge and change him.

Boimler in Season 2’s We’ll Always Have Tom Paris.

We could see a more confident Boimler emerge from under such a storyline – but someone whose friendships have been pushed and stretched before eventually settling. Or we could see Boimler begin to second-guess himself; if the “evil” clone was Boimler himself, perhaps he’d wonder if being “evil” is part of his own nature, and that could cause him to freeze or find it hard to make decisions.

In short, there are a lot of ways that such a story could go – but almost all of them would be good for Boimler’s characterisation in the long run. We’d get a fun episode with the evil twin that could harken back to the likes of The Enemy Within, Mirror, Mirror, Datalore, and others – but the impact of that episode could reverberate across an entire season, giving Boimler a character arc that could be very satisfying to see unfold.

Are we in for some Boimler-on-Boimler action?

So that’s it for now! The theory is that Boimler’s transporter duplicate will – in classic Star Trek tradition – turn out to be evil!

For the reasons laid out above, I think such a story could be fun and interesting. Moreover, I like the idea of the fallout from Boimler’s conflict with his “evil twin” not being confined to a single episode and potentially setting him on a season-long arc as he processes what happened and what it means for himself and his friends. Going down that road could feel deeply cathartic – with Boimler filling in for other Star Trek characters in similar situations who never got the chance to deal with the longer-term implications of what they went through!

I hope this was a bit of fun. Please keep in mind that I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that any of this will happen in Lower Decks either imminently or in Season 4. I just think it’s a fun concept, and while all the pieces seem to be in place for such a story, it could be that the transporter duplicate will (in the best tradition of Star Trek) never be mentioned again!

Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-2 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. Season 3 will premiere on the 25th/26th of August 2022. The Star Trek franchise – including Lower Decks 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.

Star Trek: Picard theories – Season 2 finale

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: DiscoveryEnterprise, VoyagerFirst Contact, and The Next Generation.

After a plodding and occasionally frustrating season, Star Trek: Picard wrapped up this week. Going into the season finale we still had more than twenty theories on the table – though some were definitely beginning to feel unlikely! This week we’re going to conclude my Season 2 theory list and take a look at how some of those remaining theories landed.

Across the season as a whole, I had some theory successes – as well as more than a few misses! But as I always say, all of this is just for fun – so the theories that ended up being completely wrong are totally fine by me! It was enjoyable to spend the extra time thinking about where the story of Picard Season 2 could be headed, and even when I was wide of the mark it was still a great excuse to dive deeply into the Star Trek galaxy.

So without any further ado, let’s start wrapping up the theory list. We’ll begin with the theories that were confirmed, then take a look at the ones that were debunked. There are also a couple of theories that may survive going into Season 3, so stay tuned in the days and weeks ahead for a preliminary Season 3 theory list!

Confirmed theory #1:
A character from The Next Generation made an appearance.

Wesley Crusher!

Wesley Crusher’s return was one of the high points of the season finale for me! After a thirty-year absence from the role, Wil Wheaton stepped back into the shoes of Wesley Crusher and showed us a glimpse of his life as a Traveler. The fact that this was kept secret and not spoiled ahead of time made it one of the biggest surprise moments in the finale – and while I had been speculating that at least one character from The Next Generation would appear all season long, I would’ve never guessed that it would be Wesley!

With the rest of The Next Generation crew reuniting next season, it’s incredibly sweet that we got this moment with Wesley before Picard wrapped up. It would’ve been amazing to see him reunite with Picard himself, of course, but just seeing Wesley back in action, knowing that he’s living an amazing life and that he still exists in the Star Trek timeline was absolutely fantastic.

Wesley’s appearance also tied together the Travelers from The Next Generation with the Watchers and Supervisors from The Original Series – and connected in a big way with Tallinn’s role this season. It was an incredibly creative way to bring these storylines together and to connect with over fifty years’ worth of Star Trek’s history. All in all, one of the season finale’s best moments.

Confirmed theory #2:
Seven of Nine was given a Starfleet commission.

Captain Seven!

Maybe it would be fairer to call this one “semi-confirmed,” as Seven’s commission from Admiral Picard in Farewell seemed very much like a brevet; a less-than-official or impermanent role that came about as a result of the unique circumstances of working with the Borg. But regardless, I had speculated that Seven would join Starfleet before the end of the season, and technically that happened!

It was a fun moment to see Seven assume command of the USS Stargazer, but moreover I was impressed with the way her season-long arc took her from a place where she hated the Borg (and the Borg side of herself) and was advocating for shooting first and asking questions later all the way to placing her trust in the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid. Seven’s growth got her to a place where her trust and her actions allowed her to play a definitive role in saving the entire quadrant from the mysterious anomaly.

Confirmed theory #3:
The Borg’s request for help from the Federation turned out to be genuine.

This is the disaster that the Borg wanted to prevent.

It was implied in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season that the Borg’s message may have been a ruse; a deception that was intended to be the pretext for a new Borg invasion of the Federation. However, just because some of our characters believed that to be true didn’t mean it was true, and I wondered whether the story might end up saying that the Borg were genuinely asking for the Federation’s help.

That turned out to be correct – in a roundabout way, of course. The Borg weren’t fleeing from some unknown assailant, as I had speculated, nor were they crippled following the events of Voyager’s finale. Their intention was to help – to join with the Federation and use their technology to prevent the attack on the Alpha Quadrant by whoever sent the mysterious anomaly.

Confirmed theory #4:
The masked, hooded Borg was not the “real” Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen, unmasked.

I daresay this one had been increasingly obvious for at least half of the season, and especially after the way Hide and Seek had ended a week earlier, it seemed all but certain that the Borg Queen on the bridge of the Stargazer would turn out to be the Dr Jurati hybrid as opposed to the original Borg Queen. This turned out to be true – although why Farewell attempted to treat this as a big, shocking revelation is something I’m not sure of!

Ever since we first saw the masked Borg Queen at the beginning of the season I felt sure we’d find out who was behind the mask. Along with Dr Jurati, earlier in the season I’d suggested Admiral Janeway, Soji, and Renée Picard as possible candidates.

Confirmed theory #5:
Elnor was restored to life in the 25th Century.

Cadet Elnor aboard the USS Excelsior.

I’m afraid that I don’t like the way that Elnor’s story was handled as the season wrapped up. On the one hand, I’m pleased that a character like Elnor – who has a lot of potential as someone young and from a unique background – hasn’t been permanently killed off. However, his survival undermines Raffi’s season-long arc of coming to terms with guilt and grief, as well as renders one of the best and most emotional moments in Hide and Seek entirely impotent.

Regardless of all that, I had been speculating that Elnor would be saved ever since he was killed, and as I said last time, I wasn’t prepared to drop the theory with only one week remaining in the season. I’m glad I didn’t – because it turns out I was right and this is another one I can place in the “win” column for Season 2!

Confirmed theory #6:
Rios chose to remain in the 21st Century with Teresa and Ricardo.

Rios chose to stay behind.

This was another disappointing storyline, unfortunately. As I’d been saying all season long, the way Rios regressed as a character from his presentation as a Starfleet captain at the beginning of the season was ridiculously poor, and his choice to stay in the 21st Century really just capped off what has been a truly disappointing season for him.

Rios spent most of his time in Season 2 disconnected from all of the other main characters, spending his time only with Ricardo and Teresa, so even his goodbye with the other characters didn’t hit as hard as it could’ve. As I said last time, I never really felt that Rios and Picard were anything more than acquaintances; work friends, not real friends. Also, I guess Rios must’ve not been paying attention in history classes at Starfleet Academy, because World War III is about to break out, followed by the post-atomic horror. He’s about to live through the worst fifty years in all of human history in the Star Trek timeline. So… good job, idiot.

Confirmed theory #7:
Q shielded Picard and the crew from the changes to the timeline.

Oh, Q.

The season finale finally saw us get an explanation from Q as to what he’d done and why. As part of a plan to help Picard overcome trauma and grief from his childhood and his mother’s death, Q set a very elaborate plan into motion, changing the past and ensuring that Picard and the crew of La Sirena were the only ones unaffected.

As we saw in the finale, Q’s powers could be used to send people’s consciousnesses through time or even across the divide between different realities, meaning that must’ve been what he did in the first place to set up this puzzle. It had seemed all but certain that this was the case, but until we heard from Q himself and gave him the chance to explain what had happened I wasn’t ready to call it confirmed.

So those theories were confirmed.

We have one theory that I’m calling “semi-confirmed,” but we won’t be sure about its status until we start to learn more about Season 3.

Semi-confirmed theory:
The season will end on a cliffhanger.

The mysterious anomaly.

What’s going on with the anomaly? We didn’t get any kind of explanation for what it was, where it came from, or who might be responsible for attempting to destroy the entire Alpha Quadrant… so I think that this is setting up at least part of next season’s story. If that’s correct, then this theory that I’d been running all season long will, in a roundabout way, turn out to be correct!

However, if the anomaly isn’t revisited next time, we’ll have to call this one debunked. At the moment it feels like we’ll have to come back to the anomaly in some way, just based on its mysterious and unexplained nature, but then again the Season 1 super-synths (and other Season 1 plot threads) didn’t come back into play in any way during Season 2… so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Regardless, I’m calling it “semi-confirmed” for now.

So that theory was semi-confirmed.

Now we’ll go through the theories that were debunked by Farewell and definitely won’t be returning for Season 3!

Debunked theory #1:
Some or all of the main characters from The Next Generation will rescue Picard from 2024.

The main cast of The Next Generation in Season 5.

I had wondered if, with Picard stranded in the 21st Century, some or all of the main characters from The Next Generation would show up to rescue him. Given that Q’s powers seemed to be in decline, and with few other options for getting back to the 25th Century, it seemed like a plausible idea, one that could’ve potentially set the stage for Season 3. It would’ve also tied in thematically with what we saw at the end of Season 1, where Acting Captain Riker arrived at the last minute to save the day.

However, it didn’t happen. Q was able to use the last of his energy to get Picard home, and the only character from The Next Generation to appear was the aforementioned Wesley Crusher.

Debunked theory #2:
The “two Renées” comment refers to Picard’s nephew.

René Picard – not to be confused with Renée Picard.

Though it would’ve been somewhat of a bolt from the blue, I was wondering if the Borg Queen’s cryptic comment in Hide and Seek about there being “two Renées” might’ve been referring to Picard’s nephew. In the prime timeline, René Picard was the son of Jean-Luc’s brother Robert. The two were killed in a fire at the vineyard during the events of Star Trek: Generations, and I wondered if the Borg Queen may have been referring to that moment as it was another significant one for Picard and his family.

As it turned out, “two Renées” were required to complete the mission. With Dr Adam Soong on the prowl, Tallinn disguised herself as Renée and allowed Dr Soong to kill her in order for the real Renée to board the Europa Mission spacecraft, setting up her significant discovery and the role she would ultimately play in creating the brighter future that we’ve come to know in Star Trek.

Debunked theory #3:
An alternate reality is about to be created.

“An alternate reality?”

With the Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid departing Earth in the 21st Century, and a cryptic message about “two Renées” to consider, I wondered if the end of the season might’ve seen some kind of permanent divergence in the timeline. One timeline may have been the familiar one, but the other could’ve been completely different either because of a very different Borg Collective or even because of the actions of Dr Adam Soong.

That didn’t happen, however, and it seems as though the prime timeline has been restored without the Confederation timeline – or indeed any other alternate reality – coming into existence. That keeps things nice and simple, at least!

Debunked theory #4:
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.

What happened to Narek?

I’m disappointed that Picard Season 2 did basically nothing at all to wrap up any of the loose ends from Season 1 – and there were quite a few. A rushed finale last time around left significant chunks of story still on the table, and there were some pretty sizeable unanswered questions remaining. Even just a few lines of dialogue would’ve been something, but we didn’t get that.

It’s possible that Season 3 may bring back a faction like the super-synths, in which case we may learn more about them or see other connections to events from Season 1, so I’m not entirely giving up on this one. But explanations for what happened to Narek, what became of the surviving ex-Borg, the fate of the beacon on Aia, and so on could’ve been addressed this time. It’s a shame that there wasn’t time to do so.

Debunked theory #5:
Picard and the crew will “borrow” Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft to get home.

The Europa Mission launch.

With La Sirena having been surrendered to the Borg Queen, the question of how Picard and the surviving crew might make it home came up. I wondered if part of the reason for making Renée an astronaut with access to a spacecraft might be so that Picard and the others could use it to return to their own time period. Comments earlier in the season about how records of the Europa Mission had been lost could’ve also fed into this theory.

As above, it was ultimately Q who saved the day, sending Picard and the crew home using what remained of his power. I wasn’t especially fond of the Renée and Europa Mission storylines, so this could’ve been a way to make them feel more directly relevant to the plot.

Debunked theory #6:
Q is not responsible for changing the timeline.

Q’s final snap.

This is a theory that I put together before the season had even aired a single episode! In short, I felt that making Q the direct antagonist of the season would go against his established characterisation, and that there didn’t seem to be a plausible reason why Q might want to punish Picard in such extreme fashion. It also seemed odd that pre-season marketing had essentially revealed one of the season’s biggest narrative points months in advance, so I wondered if there might be more going on than we had been led to believe.

Whatever we might think of Q’s reasoning, it turned out that he was responsible for changing the timeline after all – something that had been seeming increasingly likely as the season wore on. The resolution to this story was undeniably rushed, and I would question the idea of putting so many lives at risk – as well as getting people killed and transforming the destinies of others – but ultimately this is how Q decided to help Picard learn to let go of his trauma and grief and choose to become the person he has been. In a sense, there were echoes of Tapestry – a Season 6 episode of The Next Generation – in the way this came about, making it feel in line with other Q stories at least to a degree.

In retrospect, clinging on to this theory for as long as I did may have been a mistake, and it could have arguably been debunked at an earlier stage.

Debunked theory #7:
Other candidates for changing the timeline.

The super-synths.

Earlier in the season I’d proposed a few other candidates who might’ve been responsible for changing the timeline if, in fact, Q had been innocent! Though there are many factions in Star Trek that could potentially possess time travel technology and might wish to mess with the Federation, based on what we knew about Picard I proposed three candidates: the Zhat Vash, the secretive Romulan sect who were the main antagonists in Season 1, the super-synths from the Season 1 finale, and the Borg. By the time we got to Farewell this week, only the Borg seemed even slightly plausible.

But with the revelation that Q was responsible for changing the timeline and setting everything up, none of that came to pass! It could’ve made for an interesting story in some respects, with Q being less an outright antagonist and more of a helpful force, guiding Picard to the conclusion of the mystery. But that would have been an entirely different story!

Debunked theory #8:
The Borg are fighting a war – and they’re losing.

The Borg ship in Farewell.

The Borg’s cry for help at the beginning of the season led to a lot of speculation! Why might the Borg be asking for help, and why from Picard specifically? One possibility seemed to be that the Borg may be on the losing side of a war. We’d seen this story play out in the Voyager episode Scorpion – in which Seven of Nine was first introduced – when the Borg bit off more than they could chew by trying to assimilate Species 8472! It seemed at least possible that something similar could have happened this time around.

As above, we learned that the Borg’s motive was significantly more altruistic. Led by the Dr Jurati hybrid, this version of the Collective aimed to prevent an anomaly from causing a destructive event that would’ve wiped out the Alpha Quadrant.

Debunked theory #9:
Kore Soong will team up with Picard and the crew of La Sirena.

Kore Soong.

Although the arrival of Wesley Crusher (one of the finale’s best moments) salvaged an ending for Kore, her storyline this season was one of the absolute worst and most meaningless. Kore was repetitive, and her story felt like a cheap recycling of the Soji and Dahj stories from Season 1. She mainly existed to prop up the otherwise entirely one-dimensional Dr Adam Soong, and while at first it seemed like her existence and mysterious health condition could’ve led to a nuanced and interesting antagonist, that went out the window pretty quickly.

One way to have potentially made something of Kore would’ve been to have her work with Picard and the others to stop her father. It didn’t happen, and that meant that there was literally no on-screen interaction between Isa Briones and the rest of the cast, which was a real shame.

Debunked theory #10:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

Picard and Q.

While not technically “debunked” outright, Q’s apparent death means that revisiting the Q Continuum is incredibly unlikely in the near future. And as we learned in Discovery Season 4, there’s been no Federation-Q Continuum contact for hundreds of years as of the 32nd Century, so again it seems highly unlikely that spending any more time with other members of the Q Continuum is on the cards.

Earlier in the season it seemed plausible that the explanation for Q’s declining powers could be that the entire Q Continuum had come under attack. If something that Picard had done – or hadn’t done – was responsible, that could have explained both Q’s desire to change the timeline and the angrier, more aggressive presentation of the character.

It didn’t happen, though, and although Q himself seems to be gone, as far as we know the rest of the Continuum is okay!

Debunked theory #11:
Q is angry with Picard for “giving up.”

Grumpy Q.

This is again connected to the angrier presentation of Q that we saw in episodes like Penance. I wondered if Q’s motivation for putting Picard through a punishment might be because he was angry with the way Picard gave up and recused himself from galactic affairs in the decade leading up to Season 1. Because we know Q considered Picard as a friend and a favourite, seeing him depressed might’ve been something that angered Q.

Q saw potential in Picard in The Next Generation – including the potential for humanity to one day achieve a similar level of understanding as the Q themselves, so seeing Picard’s fall from grace could have been part of why Q was so upset.

Ultimately it didn’t turn out that way – and I think I’m glad that it didn’t. Though there are definitely issues with the story as it was written, this presentation of Q would have been much more antagonistic and vengeful.

Debunked theory #12:
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.

Robo-Picard.

In short, I wondered if the reason for the Borg’s re-emergence at the beginning of the season might’ve been connected in some way to Picard becoming a synth at the end of Season 1. Because we know that the Borg seek “perfection” through the merging of organic and synthetic life, Picard’s new synthetic body might’ve been something that they desired to assimilate.

As above, the story of Season 2 was a standalone affair that didn’t connect to Season 1 in a major way. Aside from one mention by Q in the episode Penance and one by Rios in Assimilation, Picard’s synthetic status wasn’t brought up and had no bearing on the plot.

Debunked theory #13:
The Borg ship from The Star Gazer crossed over from the Confederation timeline.

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

Because we didn’t know why the Borg were asking for help, I wondered if their vessel might’ve somehow found a way to punch through from the Confederation timeline to the prime timeline. This might’ve been able to happen if an alternate reality had been created, one in which the Confederation became dominant.

We now know the Borg vessel’s true origin: it was the flagship (or possibly the only ship) of the Borg faction led by the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid, placing it firmly in the prime timeline.

Debunked theory #14:
Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century.

Teresa and Rios aboard La Sirena.

An inversion of what actually happened with Rios and Teresa, this story would’ve mimicked that of Kirk and Dr Gillian Taylor in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Dr Taylor accompanied Kirk and the others to the 23rd Century at the conclusion of their mission, and I wondered whether Rios might offer Teresa and Ricardo the same opportunity.

As noted above, Rios ultimately chose to stay in the 21st Century. Though we don’t know whether Q even had the power to send two extra people, it seems possible at least. But for whatever reason, Rios chose to remain behind.

Debunked theory #15:
Teresa and Ricardo are Rios’ ancestors.

That could’ve been awkward…

One way to potentially resolve the Rios-Teresa romance could’ve been to make Teresa and Ricardo his distant ancestors! This would’ve also tied in thematically with a season in which Picard met one of his own ancestors, and it could’ve provided some entertainment value, similar to comparable storylines in the likes of Back to the Future.

Debunked theory #16:
Rios will be killed and Picard will assume command of the new USS Stargazer.

Rios in the captain’s chair of the USS Stargazer.

As Rios’ storyline progressed and his relationship with Teresa deepened, I wondered if he might’ve ended up dead as a way to write him out of the show. Picard hasn’t pulled any punches when it comes to killing off characters, and with a need to free up space in the cast ahead of Season 3, Rios definitely seemed in danger after a story that cut him adrift from the rest of the crew.

Rios would ultimately end up staying in the 21st Century, and the captaincy of the Stargazer has fallen, in the short-term at least, to Seven of Nine. Whether she’ll still be in the chair when Season 3 arrives is anyone’s guess, though!

So those theories were debunked.

We have two theories that Farewell seems to have neither confirmed nor debunked, and those remain possibilities going into Season 3. It depends on what we see in terms of pre-release trailers and the like, but these two might just sneak back in next time. Watch this space!

Returning theory #1:
The Borg Collective was badly damaged in the Voyager episode Endgame and has been unable to recover.

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

It seemed to be suggested by Dr Jurati in the season premiere that the Borg have been in a weakened state, and I wondered if that might be because of the actions of a time-travelling Admiral Janeway in Voyager’s finale. Janeway introduced a virus into the Borg Queen that severely damaged her, her base of operations, and dozens of Borg vessels on the way to helping Voyager make it back to Earth. Those events have never been addressed on screen, and with the return of the Borg it seemed possible that we might be about to learn more.

It didn’t happen in Season 2, but with the Borg back – at least, one faction of Borg – maybe we’ll discover the extent of the damage to the Collective in Season 3. I’ve long assumed that the Borg were adaptable and clever enough to eventually recover from the damage inflicted upon them, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Returning theory #2:
There will be a Borg civil war between a faction inspired by the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid and the rest of the Collective.

The Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid.

We don’t know exactly how the Dr Jurati-led Borg and the rest of the Collective have interacted in the four centuries since she left Earth. At one point it seemed to be implied that this faction would replace the Borg Collective, but doing so would effectively wipe out the entire prime timeline. So I have to assume that the Dr Jurati-led Borg are distinct and separate from the main Collective – but would the rest of the Borg be okay with that?

I had speculated that we might learn that the Jurati-Borg were fleeing from a civil war, one in which the regular Borg had somehow gained the upper hand. That could have accounted for their request for help from the Federation. However, that didn’t happen in Farewell… but I don’t think we can rule out the idea of these factions being at odds just yet.

So those theories may return in time for Season 3!

The USS Excelsior.

That concludes this season’s theory list. In addition to the pair of stragglers directly above, Farewell did actually inspire a couple of other Season 3 theory ideas, so perhaps in the days or weeks ahead I’ll put together a very preliminary Season 3 theory list. Watch this space for that!

Picard Season 2 wasn’t the best that modern Star Trek has had to offer. Its modern-day setting hampered it to a great degree, and while there were occasional flashes of brilliance, overall the story felt quite disjointed, with individuals or pairs of characters seemingly embroiled in their own distinct narratives for the most part, with only occasional link-ups between different storylines.

The USS Stargazer.

That being said, it was fun to speculate and theorise about the season while it was rumbling along. I had some interesting ideas along the way – some of which would’ve made for a radically different story! At the end of the day, this is all just for fun; a chance to spend more time in the Star Trek galaxy. And I had fun coming up with these theories and writing them down while the season was ongoing.

Season 3 already has some issues – and if you want to see me talk about some of my criticisms of the casting in particular, click or tap here for that. However, the return of The Next Generation characters is a tantalising idea, and I’m hopeful that Picard Season 3 – supposedly the show’s swansong – will be exciting, dramatic, and fun.

Over the weeks and months ahead, stay tuned. There’s plenty more Star Trek content to come here on the website, and when we get trailers or news about Season 3 I’ll do my best to take a look at it and give my thoughts. Until next time!

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.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 10: Farewell

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and casting announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationFirst Contact, and Voyager.

So here we are! Although it seems like only yesterday that we were settling in for The Star Gazer after a two-year wait for Picard Season 2, it’s time to bid “farewell” to Admiral Picard and the (remaining) crew of La Sirena. At least the wait for Season 3 – which has already begun filming – shouldn’t be quite as long!

Season 2 took a meandering and frustrating route to reach this end point, and while Farewell had some real emotional highlights and moments of excitement, I can’t shake the feeling that the lessons of Season 1 weren’t heeded. Just as happened last time around, there were a lot of underdeveloped moments, stories that needed longer in the spotlight, and narrative threads that missed the mark not because they were bad, but because the season wasted time getting here. While I can happily say that I enjoyed Farewell, it wasn’t as good as it might’ve been.

Admiral Picard on the bridge of the USS Stargazer.

Most of the story complaints that I have really aren’t Farewell’s fault on its own. They’re actually the consequence of a slow, muddled season that dedicated too much time in earlier episodes to what ultimately ended up as extraneous fluff. The episode Watcher, for example, spent a huge amount of time tracking down Rios and Tallinn – and those sequences could have been massively shortened to move the story along at a more reasonable pace. That would’ve allowed last week’s episode, Hide and Seek, to have fully wrapped up the Europa Mission and Renée stories – stories that Farewell had to blitz through to get Picard and the crew to meet Q and get back to the 25th Century.

Farewell felt like a busy episode from the first moment, and considering how much story was left to cram in, I think that’s to be expected. I will give credit where it’s due and say that the director and editors did a good job; the best they could with the material they had, I suspect. Although several storylines were undeniably rushed as the season raced toward its end, the cinematography and production values remained high.

The USS Excelsior.

Perhaps you might think this is unfair criticism, but it feels to me as though Picard Season 2 blew most of its budget – in terms of both set-building and CGI – on The Star Gazer and the second half of Farewell. That’s where we got back to the new sets that had been built for the USS Stargazer and that’s where we saw a return of the outstanding animation work seen in the season premiere. The Federation fleet that faced down the Borg – and later the strange anomaly – looked absolutely fantastic, and seeing a big, beautiful Federation fleet in action will be something that I never tire of.

I’m sure that we’ll be seeing the new USS Stargazer back in action in Season 3 (and maybe even a spin-off series one day), so that’s definitely something to look forward to. I talked about this in my review of the premiere, but the design of the Stargazer inside and out felt like the perfect natural evolution of the aesthetic and design philosophy of The Next Generation era shows and films. Seeing more of that ship would be a request of mine – and it’s my hope that Picard will serve as a springboard for more adventures in the early 25th Century.

The Borg vessel and the Federation fleet stop the anomaly.

So let’s start with the shortest and least-interesting of the storylines in Farewell. Kore Soong was a non-entity this season. Her presence served only to provide Dr Adam Soong with some degree of motivation – motivation which at first had me thinking he might be a complex and nuanced character, but that quickly fell away. She didn’t do much of consequence, she was flat and uninteresting, and aside from being a supporting character to prop up the very one-dimensional Adam Soong, her presence seems to have been Picard’s producers throwing a bone to Isa Briones, whose main character of Soji hasn’t been present all season long (and didn’t even show up in the little epilogue when the characters got together in Guinan’s bar).

Kore choosing to hack into and delete her dad’s files was something and nothing. It makes sense – I guess – but it doesn’t feel like it accomplished anything for the story other than finding something for Kore to do after walking out on her home and her life. She doesn’t seem to feel conflicted in any way about that decision, even though she appears to have spent her entire life living with her father in that carefully-shielded house.

Kore’s story also came to an end.

However, I was more than happy to forget all about Kore’s wasted storylines because of the totally unexpected arrival of Wesley Crusher. Tying the Travelers into the same organisation that Tallinn and Gary Seven worked for was a masterstroke; I was totally blindsided by something that I genuinely did not anticipate. Having seen more than 800 Star Trek stories over the span of more than thirty years, the fact that the franchise can still pull off genuinely shocking moments like that – moments that also tie into over fifty-six years’ worth of lore – is amazing. Moments like that are why I love Star Trek, and they can go a long way to redeeming even the most mediocre of stories and flattest of characters.

I had been feeling frustrated that, six episodes on from her introduction, Tallinn appeared to have died without her storyline going into any detail at all about the mysterious organisation she worked for. Going all the way back to Season 2 of The Original Series, there had been questions about this faction and what their objectives might be; I felt disappointed that we weren’t going to get any further explanation. But to my delight, the totally unexpected arrival of Wesley Crusher provided at least a partial answer – and tied together The Original Series, his own role in The Next Generation, and the events of this season in absolutely wonderful fashion.

Wesley Crusher made an unexpected but thoroughly welcome return to Star Trek.

As a moment of pure fan-service, I can totally understand why Farewell didn’t spend more time with Welsey and Kore – as much as I’d have loved it. It would’ve been wonderful to see Wesley reunite with Picard, but in an episode that was very busy I can understand why it didn’t happen. And I don’t interpret this moment as setting up a major new spin-off following Wesley, Kore, and other Travelers and Supervisors – again, as fun as that might be for fans! It was simply a cute cameo; a way to both include a classic character from The Next Generation while also providing closure of a sort to Kore’s story.

There are many questions that I have about what might happen next for Wesley and Kore – as well as why he chose to reach out to her. I assume that the Supervisors and Travelers pick individuals who are both brilliant and somewhat out-of-place – Kore won’t be missed if she vanishes from Earth in 2024 in the way that someone else might, for example. But I guess we should save the speculation for a future theory article!

Wesley and Kore.

Captain Rios’ story has been a disappointment all season long, and the explanation why is simple: we caught a glimpse of him in the season premiere living his best life, but the series stripped that away from him and regressed him back to his Season 1 presentation. If Rios had been not the captain of the USS Stargazer but even just its first officer, at least some of that would’ve abated. But because we’d seen him as a Starfleet captain, the way he seemed to forget about his ship and those under his command had been really grating on me since Penance. The conclusion to his story this time, which saw him written out of the series, just capped off that disappointment.

If it hadn’t been for seeing him in command of the USS Stargazer, I think I could’ve let slide much of what Rios went through – although I would still have some questions. The culmination of his arc this time feels less like a natural decision for either him or Teresa to make and more like one driven by a writers’ room desperate to get rid of main cast members in anticipation of the return of The Next Generation characters in Season 3. Along with Dr Jurati, Rios drew the short straw.

Rios’ story was disappointing this season.

I said in my review of The Star Gazer that I’d be happy to see a spin-off following Captain Rios’ adventures, and had he stuck to the new characterisation that we saw back then, I would’ve absolutely been down for that. Unfortunately Rios’ departure now means that can’t happen – but after seeing the way he regressed as a character this season, I was already less keen on spending more time with him and less confident that he could carry a new series.

As with other narrative threads in Farewell, Rios’ departure was rushed. The episode dedicated less than two minutes of its runtime to Rios saying his goodbyes, and whatever decisions or discussions he’d had with Teresa appear to have happened entirely off-screen. Did Rios, for example, offer to take Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century? Did he consider the consequences of staying – both for the timeline and for himself? I mean… World War III is literally right around the corner (in Star Trek, not in the real world… I hope), and the first three-quarters of the 21st Century is arguably one of the worst and most difficult parts of Earth’s entire history in the Star Trek timeline. I know that Rios stayed “because he was in love,” but even so… couldn’t he have thought of something else? Maybe he skipped history class.

Rios chose to stay with Teresa and Ricardo.

As the culmination of a season-long arc, one that took Rios away from much of the rest of the action and that marks his final end as a Star Trek character, the send-off Rios got was poor. So much more could have been made of this moment – but at the same time, with Rios having been so disconnected from almost everyone else all season long, it’s perversely fitting that his goodbye was brief and to the point. Despite what he said in an earlier episode about viewing Picard as a “father figure,” and the words they shared as he prepared to remain behind, I never felt that Rios and Picard were especially close. They were acquaintances; business colleagues. Work friends but not real friends.

One of the things that I wanted from Picard, going all the way back to the show’s initial announcement, was to meet some new characters and spend time with them. Obviously in a series with a clear protagonist there’s going to be a limit on the number of characters that can be included and how much detail their story arcs can receive, but there was so much potential in someone like Rios. It was never mentioned in a big way, but Rios is only one of a handful of Hispanic characters to have appeared in a big way in Star Trek, and the first major Hispanic character to be given the rank of captain and to command a starship. There was so much scope to do more with Captain Rios, and I guess I’m just disappointed that a character with potential – perhaps even spin-off potential – was sidelined, regressed, and kind of wasted in this mad rush to bring back The Next Generation characters in Season 3.

So long, Captain Rios…

Another character who fell victim to this need to trim the main cast was Dr Jurati, but in her case at least she seems to have had more of a substantial arc this season. Although I would be remiss not to point out that in both seasons of the show Dr Jurati ended up causing massive, catastrophic problems for Picard! She didn’t do so on purpose, of course, but it’s interesting to see that the writers chose to follow up her murder of Bruce Maddox by transforming her into the new Borg Queen!

It was obvious, of course, by the time Picard and the crew returned to the bridge of the USS Stargazer that Dr Jurati would be the face behind the mask, and so it proved. I was a little surprised that Farewell seemed to treat this as some kind of big revelation; I can’t imagine that even the most casual and uninterested of viewers wouldn’t have been able to put two and two together long before Picard set up Dr Jurati’s unmasking.

The Borg Queen unmasked.

As above, Dr Jurati was a character with potential. She was also someone who felt closer to Picard in terms of friendship than Captain Rios, and there was certainly scope to see her continue in her un-assimilated role in future stories. Unlike with Rios, though, there’s definitely a substantial season-long arc for Dr Jurati that worked well enough. She felt lonely and isolated, never being able to hold down a relationship or partnership, and through a strange marriage with the Borg Queen ended up with hundreds, thousands, or perhaps even millions of friends. She also got the chance to become partially synthetic – which I have to assume she would approve of based on what we saw of her last time.

Since we’re dealing with the Borg, the reason for their appearance at the beginning of the season was paid off. The sudden appearance of an unexplained anomaly that threatened the quadrant meant that the Borg wished to team up with the Federation to save lives, and generally I liked this angle and I think there’s potential in it. My initial thought was that it could be connected to the Season 1 super-synths, but again that’ll be something to discuss in a future theory article.

What is this strange anomaly? And crucially… will we revisit it next time?

My concern on this side of the story stems from the fact that we know that Alison Pill, who plays Dr Jurati and the new Borg Queen, doesn’t seem to be returning for Season 3. If the Borg chose to remain at the anomaly as a “guardian at the gate,” as Borg-Jurati put it, that seems to imply we won’t have anything to do with her next time around – and thus we may not be revisiting this anomaly. I certainly hope that won’t be the case, because if we don’t get back here it will seriously jeopardise this season’s entire story by making it feel meaningless. Thirty seconds of screen time for a weird anomaly that one character believed could be damaging doesn’t really justify an entire season wandering in the past, nor the loss of two (or three) major characters.

The question of what the Borg wanted loomed large over the entire season, even while Picard and the crew scrambled to save the future from their base in 2024. Now that we have an answer to that question – they wanted help to stop the anomaly from harming the Alpha Quadrant – we need to go deeper. There needs to be some greater story arc that can tie into the closing moments of Season 2, even if it isn’t the main storyline of Season 3.

The Borg vessel and the strange anomaly.

One thing that Farewell didn’t have time to explain was the relationship between the Jurati-led Borg and the Borg Collective that we’ve seen elsewhere in Star Trek. Is the Jurati-Borg faction separate from the Borg or did they somehow replace the rest of the Collective? Are there now two distinct Borg Collectives? It seems like there must be – because everyone involved seems to believe that the prime timeline has been restored, and that couldn’t have happened if the Jurati-Queen took over the entire Borg Collective. Events like the Battle of Wolf 359 and the attempted assimilation of Earth in First Contact wouldn’t have happened – or would have been changed entirely – if the Jurati-Queen was leading the whole Collective. But this is something that should’ve been given more of an explanation – and it’s indicative of the fact that Farewell was overstuffed with story threads.

The season also ended without detailing in any way how the Confederation were able to defeat the Borg using 25th Century technology. While this may not have been important for wrapping up the stories that were in play, it was a pretty big point earlier in the season. There was the potential for something that the Confederation had developed to come into play, even at this late stage, and although I’d pretty much given up on learning anything more about the Confederation several weeks ago, the way the season ended now leaves the entire Confederation timeline feeling like one massive contrivance.

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

The Confederation timeline existed as a spur for other storylines, and if we had never seen it and only heard about it in passing, maybe that would be fine. But for those of us invested in the Star Trek universe, creating an entirely new setting, populating it with characters, and telling us that those characters did something as monumental as defeating the Borg, only to leave all of the hows and wherefores unexplained is disappointing. With no return to the Confederation timeline on the agenda – and the question of whether it still exists in any form in serious doubt – it feels like it served the story but in an unrealistic way.

Presumably Adam Soong had to survive because with Kore taking off with Wesley and the Travelers, there needs to be some way for his family line to continue in order to reach Data’s creator and the other Soongs we’ve met. Villains don’t need to be killed off in order for their defeats to feel satisfying, and seeing Adam Soong realise that he’d been beaten was a well-done sequence overall. I also appreciated the Khan reference – and the date-stamp.

Is this merely an Easter egg… or could it be a tease of something yet to come?

Star Trek’s internal timeline can feel inconsistent if you go all the way back to The Original Series and watch episodes that reference events in the late 20th or early 21st Centuries. I’ve always assumed that Star Trek and the real world diverged sometime around the 1960s, and the reference to “Project Khan” being in 1996 ties in with what we know from Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan about legendary villain Khan’s origins. I’m glad that Star Trek isn’t trying to overwrite any of this – and it makes me wonder if there may yet be a reprieve for the proposed Ceti Alpha V miniseries! At the very least, Adam Soong looking up “Project Khan” seems to imply that he’ll be returning to his work on genetic engineering – tying in with the appearance of another Dr Soong in Enterprise.

As a character who we’ve only just started getting to know and who has great potential, I’m glad that Elnor survived the season and I look forward to his continued participation in Picard – and hopefully in future Star Trek productions as well. However… his survival renders one of the best and most emotional moments from last week completely impotent, and I’m left wondering why Hide and Seek even bothered to include it.

Elnor’s survival makes one of last week’s biggest emotional moments entirely irrelevant.

One of the things driving Raffi all season has been Elnor’s death – and after speaking with a holographic recreation last week in one of the season’s best and most powerful emotional sequences, she seemed ready to come to terms with it and let go of the guilt she’d been feeling. That was one of the highlights of last week’s episode, and a significant moment that seemed to signal that the shocking decision to kill off Elnor in Assimilation would indeed be permanent.

However, that moment now feels like wasted time, even more so considering that several of the storylines present in Farewell could’ve used a few extra minutes. Had holo-Elnor’s role been cut from Hide and Seek, replaced with literally anyone else to fill the “combat hologram” role, the wasted moment with Raffi and the now-gratuitous sequences that seemed to be bidding goodbye to the character could’ve been reallocated to other, more pressing stories. Seeing how Raffi dealt with Elnor’s death earlier in the season isn’t undermined by his survival – but the scene in which she came to terms with it absolutely is. As deeply emotional as that moment was, it now feels like a total waste.

Raffi was relieved to see Elnor again.

Perhaps this is my dislike of the 21st Century storylines showing, but I never really felt all that invested in Renée and the Europa Mission. For the supposedly-most important event in the show that our characters had to protect, the Europa Mission and Renée herself had been absent for several episodes as the season’s story continued its slow plod to this rushed conclusion. I wasn’t mad that the rocket launch was raced past to allow Farewell to get to other storylines… but it wasn’t exactly a spectacular ending for what has been the driving force in the story of the season since the third episode.

There were some moments of tension as Adam Soong’s drones appeared to be in danger of blowing up Seven, Rios, and Raffi, and again when he’d managed to successfully infiltrate the Europa Mission launch. I stand by what I said a couple of weeks ago, by the way: that Adam Soong having been kicked out of the scientific community should be a pretty serious barrier to his involvement in something like the Europa Mission… but his status and finances are something that, once again, Picard Season 2 didn’t find time to go into any detail on.

How Adam Soong was able to buy his way into Europa Mission HQ wasn’t really explained.

This part of Farewell secured Renée’s mission – one which seems to have been beneficial for Earth itself and set humanity on a path that would eventually lead to first contact and the creation of the Federation. It was also an opportunity to kill off Tallinn – her death being the “price” for Renée’s survival rounds out her arc in a reasonable way.

I didn’t understand why Q believes that Tallinn always dies at this stage in “every” timeline; it seems to me that the only threat to Renée came about because of Q’s interference, and thus had Q not intervened there’d be no reason for Adam Soong or the Borg Queen to go after her or try to prevent the Europa Mission at all. So I guess I don’t get that line – it was included, perhaps, to make Tallinn’s sacrifice feel more justifiable, but it raises as many questions as it answers (if not more!)

Why does Tallinn die in “every” timeline?

This sets up a discussion about the nature of Q’s intervention. Although establishing a Jurati-Borg seems to have prevented some kind of cataclysm in the 25th Century, that isn’t why Q did it – at least, not based on what he told Picard in Farewell. This was all about Picard learning to come to terms with his past and his loss and because Q considered him a friend and a favourite.

But there are some pretty notable problems with this setup – and with Picard’s ultimate reaction to it. People died as a result of Q’s actions, and whether directly or indirectly he’s responsible for that. Q was able to wave away Tallinn’s death and resurrect Elnor – so from the point of view of main characters I guess he gets somewhat of a pass. But what about the dozen or more assimilated semi-Borg who died last week? They were human beings; people whose lives were cut short as a direct result of Q’s intervention. Picard was clearly willing to forgive Q for this extended Tapestry redux – but even if we assume that there are no timeline consequences from the loss of those individuals… they’re still people who died and who won’t be resurrected as a result of what Q did. The morality of it bugs me.

Q’s actions cost lives – and Picard seems okay with it.

So we’ve come to the purpose of the entire story: Q wanted to teach Picard to overcome the traumatic moment in his own past. He wanted Picard to learn to embrace the person that he is; to choose to become that person. That’s a familiar theme that we’ve seen from Q in the past, most notably in the episode Tapestry. In that story, Q gave Picard the opportunity to change mistakes in his past – but he did so in order to demonstrate to him that the mistakes are what made him the person he is. It’s not exactly the same story, because in this instance Picard had to embrace a dark and traumatic event that was beyond his control, and recognise that he can’t always save everybody. But it’s close – and I like that. It means that at least thematically, Q stayed true to his characterisation.

In terms of the wider lore of Star Trek, including the role of the Q Continuum in potential future productions, I wish we’d learned why Q was dying. Although Q wasn’t a main character for most of the season, his impending death spurred him on and served as the main motivation for why he was intervening in Picard’s life at this moment – and for that to end without being explained, and without Picard so much as offering to help, feels a bit hollow.

Q’s final snap.

However, on the flip side there’s something very relatable – and dare I say very human – about not knowing what’s happening and finding no explanation for it. Speaking as someone with health conditions, I can relate to what Q has been going through. Knowing that things will only get worse, losing abilities that you’d once taken for granted, and being acutely aware that – as Picard once put it – “there are fewer days ahead than there are behind,” these are all very understandable feelings, and the idea that Q took inspiration from his own failing health to use his remaining time to help someone who he has always considered to be a friend… there’s something sweet about that.

From an in-universe point of view, Q has always been a wildcard. The schemes and puzzles that he concocts can seem incredibly random, but they usually have a point. Riker was given the powers of the Q as a test, Picard was given just enough information to solve the Farpoint mystery, Q helped Picard move through three different time periods to solve the anti-time eruption, and so on. In this case, the point Q wanted to make was served by the actions that he took… but in a very disconnected way. While we eventually got to Q’s point – that Picard needed to let go of his trauma, embrace who he is, and learn to love – it took a very long time through a very jumbled sequence of events. And unlike in stories such as Tapestry, Q’s actions this time had a significant impact on other people.

Q did it all for Picard.

Whatever we may think of the new Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid, would that have been a destiny that Dr Jurati would have chosen for herself? Was it where she needed to end up, or could she have led a perfectly happy life as a 25th Century human? Q stripped that choice from her, and Picard seems content to roll with it. While Renée did ultimately make it onto her spacecraft, Q screwed with her mental health in a major way, sabotaging her therapy and doing what he could to undermine her. Q’s actions directly led to Tallinn’s death, as well as the deaths of a dozen or more humans that had been partially-assimilated. Q also stranded Rios in the 21st Century – and again, while Rios was happy enough to make that choice, he could have also lived a happy life in the 25th Century had Q not interfered.

In short, other Q stories across Star Trek haven’t been so destructive. If there was a bigger purpose – such as the Jurati-Borg stopping some galactic catastrophe – and that was Q’s main objective, perhaps we could overlook it. The scale would be tipped in such a way that, to quote Spock, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” But Q did it all for Picard’s sake – so the needs of the many were, in Q’s view, outweighed by the needs of the one.

Picard with Q.

Maybe that makes sense to Q, but is Picard okay with it? He seems to be fine with learning that Q did all of this, made all of these changes for his sake and his alone – and I’m not sure I buy it. Maybe Q is right – maybe Tallinn always dies in every conceivable timeline. But does Dr Jurati always become a Borg? Does Rios always quit Starfleet to live through World War III? Do all of those paramilitary people die in 2024? Q might be fine with changing people’s lives, but I’m struggling to accept that Picard would be, especially if he knows that Q was doing it all for his sake.

It also raises another question: was there really no other way for Picard to process his trauma? Did it truly require establishing the Confederation timeline, killing all those people, and spending all that time stranded in the 21st Century? Couldn’t Q have just… got Picard into therapy? Or given him those dreams of his mother in the 25th Century?

Picard prepares to embrace Q.

These points may seem nitpicky, but this is the foundation of the story. Everything Picard and the others have been through over the past ten episodes hinges on this explanation. Q set all of this up because Picard couldn’t let go of a trauma he’s been carrying since childhood, and Q felt that trauma was holding him back and preventing him from learning to love and being happy. And because of that, Q decided that the best way to get through to Picard and get him to work through his mental health issues was by changing centuries’ worth of history and forcing Picard to travel back in time.

In a way, it’s a very “Q” thing. But at the same time, where past Q stories have felt at least vaguely connected to the goals he had, this one requires more than a few leaps to get from point A to point B. Maybe you can suspend your disbelief, get lost in this presentation of Q, and happily accept this explanation. For me… I’m struggling a little.

Q’s plot feels quite convoluted this time around.

However, that isn’t to detract from a wonderfully emotional sequence between Q and Picard. Recognising what Q had done and understanding why he did it, Picard found himself willing to embrace the friendship that Q had been offering him for decades. Picard was able to set aside the animosity he had for Q – allowing Q to spend what appear to be his final moments with a friend. As Picard said, he won’t die alone.

Does that make the whole story worthwhile? It was definitely a beautiful sequence, and after clashes, conflicts, and an ongoing “trial,” it was nice to see Picard and Q reconcile as Q reached the end of his life. Themes of love, of letting go, and of acceptance were weaved through these moments, and while we didn’t get an explanation for everything – including why Q is dying and what may have become of other members of his species – it was satisfying enough as we bid what seems to be a final farewell to a character who was first introduced in the very first episode of The Next Generation.

Picard meets with Q for the final time.

Q giving what remained of his life force or energy to send Picard home was likewise a sweet moment; a final act of kindness that, while it arguably doesn’t redeem Q for everything he’s done, went some way to making his final moments positive, and showed that he has perhaps learned a thing or two from Picard along the way. I did enjoy Q’s line that Picard was his “favourite,” along with the implication that, of all the many beings that Q must’ve met over his many years of life, Picard was someone special to him – special enough to spend his final moments with.

I wonder if in a future Star Trek story – perhaps even in Season 3 – we’ll learn what became of Q and why he was dying. As I said above, for the purposes of this story the exact reason (which would likely have been technobabble) doesn’t matter in a narrative sense, but as Trekkies, I think we have a curiosity about the world of Star Trek and a desire to know these things! I would certainly be interested to know why, after seeming to have been alive for billions of years, Q suddenly found himself dying.

An emotional farewell.

That only leaves us with Seven of Nine to talk about – and her field commission as a Starfleet captain that she seemed to receive during the Borg mission. Seven has been one of my favourite characters in both seasons of Picard; the growth and development that she’s received has completely changed my opinion of someone who was once my least-favourite character from Voyager. After seeing how she’d become much more human, how she’d come to terms with the loss of Icheb (something I’m surprised wasn’t mentioned to Raffi as part of the Elnor story, I must say), this season she got to reconcile her history with both the Borg and Starfleet.

Consider where Seven was at the beginning of the season. Like Michael Burnham in Discovery’s premiere episode, Seven wanted to shoot first the moment the Borg emerged. The idea of listening to anything they might have to say was unfathomable to her. Yet by the season finale, after what she went through with Dr Jurati, she was willing not only to listen, but to follow the Borg’s lead. She put her trust in the Borg, overcoming decades’ worth of hostility that she’d been holding onto.

Seven of Nine in the captain’s chair.

Could we see more from Seven in future? The idea of her and Raffi having their own adventures – either within Starfleet or outside of it – is an enticing one, but I guess we’ll have to see what Season 3 has in store for them first. With potentially three departures from the main cast, there’s room for Seven of Nine to stay on board, particularly if the story of Season 3 continues to involve the Borg. At the same time, though, unlike the new characters who won’t be returning, Seven’s arc across both seasons of the show leaves her in a pretty good place. If this is going to be her swansong, she ends the series in a strong position.

Having had a run-in with Q in the Voyager Season 7 episode Q2, it was a shame that Farewell didn’t see Seven and Q say so much as a single word to each other, and again this is the consequence of a season finale that was left with a lot of work to do to wrap everything up. It wasn’t essential, but it would’ve been nice to at least acknowledge that they’d met each other before racing ahead with the rest of the plot.

Seven of Nine and Raffi.

So that was Farewell. It was the best episode since the season premiere, but that’s damning with faint praise. We’ll have to take a broader look at Season 2 as a whole in the days or weeks ahead, because I have to say that, despite an outstanding premiere and a solid final half-episode, this meandering stroll through the 21st Century was far from my favourite season of Star Trek.

Taken on its own merits, though, Farewell tied together as many of the narrative threads as it could. There weren’t huge gaping holes left behind, but a number of story beats weren’t as well-developed as they could’ve been, and the slow, plodding pace of much of the rest of the season meant that we arrived at this point with the season finale having to do a lot of heavy lifting to get across the finish line. Farwell did what it could in the confines of its runtime, but realistically, much of the damage had already been done and there was a limit on how much a single episode could do to redeem an underwhelming season.

The USS Stargazer.

There were some genuinely heartwarming moments along the way. Wesley Crusher’s surprise appearance (which thankfully wasn’t spoiled in advance) may actually be the highlight for me, and I enjoyed seeing Seven of Nine step up to work with the Borg after returning to the 25th Century as well. Picard and Q’s reconciliation feels incredibly sweet – but it isn’t a storyline free from questions. As the season’s main driving force, it ended in a way that left some points feeling unexplained or underdeveloped, and despite the emotional highs, that taints things a little for me.

Where Picard Season 1 was generally a fun ride that was spoiled by an underwhelming ending, Season 2 has been an underwhelming and occasionally frustrating story that somehow managed to pull out a passable ending. Farewell didn’t hit the same high notes as The Star Gazer had ten weeks ago, but by the time Picard and the crew were back home, it came close. If the second half of the episode had been given more time and was stretched out over forty-five minutes instead of twenty-five, perhaps we’d be able to consider it a bit more favourably.

So that’s it for now. I won’t be publishing any reviews or theories for Strange New Worlds over the next few weeks, because unfortunately the series is “officially” unavailable here in the UK. But stay tuned for more Star Trek content here on the website, including the conclusion of my Picard Season 2 theories, some initial thoughts about Season 3, and eventually a proper retrospective-review of Season 2 as a whole. Until next time!

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.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 9

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: DiscoveryEnterprise, VoyagerFirst Contact, and The Next Generation.

After taking a rather meandering route to get there, Hide and Seek wrapped up one of Picard Season 2’s main storylines – that of Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen in the 21st Century. I’m still fully expecting an epilogue or coda to that story, though, so perhaps it wasn’t quite as conclusive as it appeared to be.

With that in mind, the season finale has a lot of heavy lifting to do if we’re to see all of the main narrative elements from Season 2 brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Even to conclude a simple majority of the remaining storylines and arcs feels like a pretty big ask, and while I’m sure we’ll be in for a feature-length extended episode to round out the season, I’m at least a little anxious as I look ahead. The possibility exists, though, that Season 3 will pick up any loose ends left behind – so there’s hope in that regard.

Pew! Pew!

This week the theory list has been trimmed quite significantly! In addition to one theory that’s been confirmed (or at least “close enough” to count as confirmed), we have one that’s been outright debunked. Then there are six theories that I’m choosing to retire! While not entirely “debunked” by anything that we saw on screen in Hide and Seek, with just one episode remaining the season’s story has clearly gone in a different direction making those theories feel impossible at this juncture.

So let’s get started, shall we? As always, we’ll take a look at the theories leaving the list first of all.

Debunked theory:
Q and Picard will team up to stop the Borg Queen.

Q with Picard in Penance.

I have to confess that I rather liked this idea! Though I always caveat all of my theories by warning “don’t get too attached,” I was quite taken by the idea that something Q had started as a test or trial ended up going so far off the rails that he’d have no choice but to work with Picard in order to resolve it. In this case, I wondered whether the Borg Queen being on the loose on Earth in the 21st Century might’ve been so far outside of Q’s plans that, somehow, he and Picard would end up working together.

This theory felt like it could’ve brought together the main story threads: the Borg Queen assimilating Dr Jurati, Picard and the crew needing allies to defend La Sirena, and Q’s declining powers meaning that he couldn’t just snap his fingers and undo it all. There was scope, perhaps, for a more weak and vulnerable presentation of Q; for Picard and Q to need one another’s help equally. There was also the potential to show off Q’s knowledge of the Borg – and maybe even tie in some kind of Borg attack on the Q Continuum into the story to explain what’s happened to Q.

La Sirena’s crash site.

As it turned out, Q was entirely absent from Hide and Seek. Though his influence looms large over the season’s story, we haven’t actually spent that much time with him so far. His biggest role to date came in Penance – and that’s also the last time he had a run-in with Picard. We’ve seen Q deal with Dr Soong and Guinan in subsequent episodes, but I can’t be the only one longing to get Q and Picard back together – even if it isn’t for a team-up!

Of all the theories I’ve concocted about Season 2, this is probably the one I liked best. It seemed to be a genuinely good fit based on what we knew about the story at the end of Mercy, and had the season’s endgame been planned out differently, I think it could’ve worked really well. There’s still time for Q and Picard to reunite, and spend time together in a less-adversarial way… and it’s even possible, I suppose, that we could see Q return in Season 3. I’ve always felt that there’d be something poetic about Q bookending Picard’s story – he appeared in Encounter at Farpoint, so maybe he’ll appear in whichever episode marks Picard’s final end as a Star Trek character.

So that theory was debunked.

Next, we have six theories that I’m choosing to retire from the list. They now seem impossible based on where Hide and Seek ended.

Retired theory #1:
The USS Stargazer will make an appearance.

Picard on the bridge of the USS Stargazer in The Next Generation Season 1 episode The Battle.

For a long time – too long, perhaps – I’d been hanging onto the idea that the mission to the 21st Century wouldn’t be all that Season 2 had to offer, and with time travel on the agenda I wondered if we might visit other eras or other moments from Picard’s past. When a brand-new USS Stargazer debuted at the start of the season, that felt like it could’ve been a hint; why bring it up otherwise, right? It also seemed possible, as Picard wrangled with past traumas, that something from his time in command of the Stargazer might’ve come up. As I mentioned in my review of Hide and Seek, the death of Jack Crusher (husband to Beverly and father to Wesley) was one significant event that was mentioned in The Next Generation but never expanded upon. I always inferred that Picard felt responsible for Jack’s death; there was scope, perhaps, to learn why.

With one episode remaining, this now seems impossible – at least in Season 2. If we get back to a ship named Stargazer before the credits roll, it’ll surely be the new vessel that Captain Rios commanded in the season premiere!

Retired theory #2:
Seven of Nine will choose to remain in 2024.

Seven of Nine has been re-Borgified.

When Seven of Nine found herself in the Confederation timeline, she caught a glimpse of a life she’d never known and saw what it might’ve been like had she never been assimilated by the Borg. After arriving in 2024, it was clear that she was thoroughly enjoying the sense of freedom that not having any Borg implants gave her. I had speculated that, when faced with the prospect of returning to the prime timeline and her old body, Seven might choose not to.

That concept was shot down by Hide and Seek, as Seven was saved by the Borg Queen in a way that restored her implants. The technobabble side of how this worked and why she ended up looking exactly the same as before is something that the episode could’ve dedicated an extra couple of minutes to, but overall this side of the story worked well enough. Although the metaphor was perhaps buried a little deep, the idea of learning to accept oneself and one’s appearance is a good one. It’s also a story well-suited to the franchise, and one that was told in a very “Star Trek” way.

Retired theory #3:
Picard and the crew will have to trigger World War III to save the future.

World War III saw the use of nuclear weapons.

This is one of the longest-running theories on the list! I came up with it months ago, when the concept of time travel to the 21st Century was first teased in one of the pre-season trailers. Even as the Europa Mission and other elements came into play I clung onto it – perhaps for a little too long, in retrospect. There’s been no mention of World War III all season, aside from a couple of very oblique references to the “years leading up to first contact,” so it had felt ever more like a long-shot.

With the Borg Queen having warped away to parts unknown, and World War III not being in any way part of Q’s plan, it now seems certain that triggering the conflict won’t be part of how Picard and the crew restore the timeline.

I stand by what I said when I first posited this theory, though: it would have been one heck of a moral dilemma.

Retired theory #4:
Picard and/or the Federation will use information from the Confederation timeline to defeat the Borg.

The Magistrate – a senior Confederation official.

It seems increasingly likely that we’ll never learn how the Confederation was able to beat the Borg, nor what technological tricks or weapons they may have developed during their conquest of the Collective. I feel a pang of disappointment about that; it was perhaps the one thing from the Confederation timeline that I could’ve happily spent an episode exploring.

Now that the Borg Queen has taken La Sirena – complete with all of its Confederation technology and databanks – there’s no way for Picard and the crew to use anything that the Confederation developed to fight the Borg. And if, as Dr Jurati hopes, the Borg will be convinced to take a different path, there may not be a need to go to war with them in the first place. For those reasons I’m retiring this theory – but with the caveat that if the Borg somehow return as major antagonists in Season 3, I may reprise it!

Retired theory #5:
Dr Adam Soong will create the Borg.

Dr Adam Soong.

I thought an interesting twist on the Borg side of the story could’ve come either from Q or the Borg Queen working with Dr Adam Soong to create the Borg. Although Dr Soong seems to have assisted the Borg Queen by giving her access to resources and a squad of soldiers, the story ultimately went in a very different direction.

Knowing that one of Data’s ancestors had a role in creating the Borg – one of the biggest threats that the Federation has ever faced – could’ve been a story worth exploring, and had it been handled well there was the potential to inform not only Borg stories, but also the characterisations of Data, Soji, and the whole Soong family.

Retired theory #6:
The Federation created the Borg.

The first Borg drone ever seen in Star Trek.

As above, there’d be a delicious irony to learning that the Federation – and perhaps even Picard, inadvertently – had created their own worst nightmare in the Borg Collective. I even wondered if the story taking this route might’ve explained why Discovery Season 2 abruptly abandoned a story with the Control AI that could likewise have been a Borg origin story. However, it didn’t come to pass on this occasion.

The early history of the Borg could absolutely be worth exploring, and despite the fact that the Borg definitely began to feel stale and overused by the latter part of Voyager’s run, the faction still has more to contribute to Star Trek in the future – I’m certain of that. In addition to a story that could explore the Borg’s origins (regardless of whether or not there’s a Federation connection), I’ve also proposed a “Borg Invasion” concept for a Star Trek series, and I think something like that could work exceptionally well as a sci-fi-action-horror hybrid.

On this occasion, though, despite input from Dr Jurati to this incarnation of the Borg Queen, and despite this story taking place in the past, we didn’t get that elusive Borg origin story!

So those theories have been retired.

There was one confirmation this week – or at least a theory that I got “close enough” with that I’m going to call it confirmed. I can do that – it’s my list!

Confirmed theory:
The Borg Queen departed aboard La Sirena, leaving Picard and the crew in the past.

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

So the Borg Queen didn’t ultimately steal La Sirena as I’d proposed in my initial formulation of this theory! But I did correctly predict that the Borg Queen would successfully gain possession of the ship, and that she’d leave Picard and the rest of the crew stranded in 2024. We saw that play out in Hide and Seek thanks to the deal struck between Dr Jurati, the Borg Queen, Raffi, and Seven of Nine.

As I said in my review, I would’ve liked this sequence to have been expanded. I could’ve happily enjoyed an entire episode just on the negotiation, discussing and debating with the Borg Queen how changing her entire philosophy and guiding principles could be the solution she’s been missing. I would’ve also loved to see Picard himself included on this side of the story.

The Borg Queen took La Sirena and left Earth.

Despite those shortcomings, though, what we did get to see was outstanding, and everyone involved deserves a lot of credit for the way they handled this sequence. The concepts here are genuinely interesting, and the idea of a Borg Collective – or a Borg faction – that implements this new guiding principle could be worth exploring. If Picard picks up this story, I hope we get to see it for longer than just a single episode!

The way the Borg Queen departed raises a lot of questions, though. Setting aside the obvious ones like “will she actually keep her word,” we come to more immediate concerns for Picard and the crew. How will they make it home? Can they even make it home? Will someone need to rescue them? Read on, because I have a few ideas on that front…

So that theory was confirmed!

Now we’ll jump into the main theory list, beginning as always with theories that are either new or saw significant movement in Hide and Seek this week. Several of these theories are, I freely admit, looking less and less likely to pan out. But others feel quite plausible as we head into the season finale, and when the story is so unpredictable… who knows what could happen?

Theory #1:
There will be a Borg civil war between a faction inspired by the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid and the rest of the Collective.

Could the Borg be fighting amongst themselves?

How do we connect the events that have just unfolded back to what we saw at the beginning of the season? In The Star Gazer, the Borg sent a message asking for Picard and the Federation to help them. If their message was genuine it suggests that the Borg who sent the message are in danger or under threat. One possibility is that the Borg are fighting a losing war against an external power – and that’s something we’ll consider momentarily. But another possibility, in light of what transpired this week, is that there’s a Borg civil war.

Dr Jurati (and the others) appear to have convinced the Borg Queen to entirely change her philosophy and guiding principles, and this could lead to the creation of a radically different Borg Collective. If the Jurati-Queen hybrid contacts the Borg Collective and tries to get them to join her, there’s a distinct possibility that some or all of them won’t. It might be possible to create a new Borg Collective, but even in the 21st or 22nd Centuries the existing Collective would be difficult to sway. Furthermore, the Borg Collective that already exists may see the Jurati-Queen hybrid as a threat, or may simply want to conquer and assimilate the faction. There are several routes to the same end point: a war between different factions of Borg.

The anomaly encountered in The Star Gazer was said to have some kind of “temporal” signature – so this could be a conflict that took place in the 21st or 22nd Century, almost directly after the Jurati-Queen left Earth.

Theory #2:
Some or all of the main characters from The Next Generation will rescue Picard from 2024.

Acting Captain Riker to the rescue?

How will Picard and the crew make it home? That’s one of the biggest questions I have as we go into the season finale! One way to get Picard and the others home safely would be for someone from The Next Generation – or possibly everyone – to show up at the last minute to rescue Picard. Perhaps Picard was able to leave a message or clue hidden somewhere for them to find, so they’d know where and when to pick him up.

With Season 3 bringing back The Next Generation characters, I’m half-expecting to see some or all of them included toward the end of the Season 2 finale to set up the next chapter of the story. This could be a fun and exciting way to do it. It would also be quite a symmetrical ending to the season, as Acting Captain Riker (and his copy-paste fleet) saved the day in the Season 1 finale, too!

Theory #3:
The “two Renées” comment refers to Picard’s nephew.

Could the Borg Queen be talking about this chap?

The character above is René Picard – not to be confused with Renée Picard! René was Picard’s nephew, the son of his brother Robert. In Generations, Picard learned that his brother and nephew had died in a fire at the vineyard, leaving him the sole surviving member of his family. Family became more important to Picard thereafter, and it seems like it was Robert and René’s deaths that led Picard to choose his family home for his self-imposed exile after the events of Children of Mars.

My theory is that the cryptic comment that the Jurati-Queen made about there being “two Renées” in Picard’s life actually refers not to Renée the astronaut somehow being cloned or copied or sent to an alternate reality, but simply to the existence of young René, Picard’s nephew, and the influence he had on his life.

Theory #4:
Rios will choose to stay with Teresa and Ricardo in 2024.

Rios with Teresa in Hide and Seek.

As Teresa and Rios have progressed their romance, I think that now opens up the very real possibility that Rios might choose to remain behind in 2024 when Picard’s mission is complete. Some people are willing to make big sacrifices for the people that they love, and if Rios truly loves Teresa, maybe he’d be willing to abandon the 25th Century to stay with her – helping to build that future from his position in the past.

In Hide and Seek, Rios seemed to be seconds away from saying “I love you” to Teresa, and for her part she was pushing him to stay with her. I haven’t been enjoying Rios’ story this season for the most part, and the “love story” angle is a bit of a cliché, unfortunately. But in light of the decision to bring back the main cast of The Next Generation in Season 3, we’ve already seen Picard make efforts to slim down its cast and shuffle off main characters like Elnor and Dr Jurati. Rios could be next – and if he survives the season finale, he may choose not to head back to the 25th Century.

Theory #5:
An alternate reality is about to be created.

“An alternate reality?”

With the Borg Collective potentially being pacified and a cryptic message about “two Renées,” I wonder if we might be on the cusp of a permanent divergence in the timeline. One path may lead to the Confederation timeline, the other to the prime timeline – and both may be able to coexist in much the same way as the prime timeline coexists with the Kelvin timeline.

As far as we know based on what Q told Picard in Penance, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline. That seems to have come about by the sabotage or failure of the Europa Mission combined with Dr Soong’s inventions that saved the Earth from an ecological collapse – but is it possible that things aren’t what they seem? Could Q have lied, for example, about the Confederation timeline? Or could something that Picard and the crew are about to do end up creating another alternate reality?

If so, I hope it’ll be possible to revisit the Confederation timeline in future. Though it was very similar in many respects to the Mirror Universe, there were some differences. Having only spent a single episode in that setting, and with tantalising details like the Confederation’s defeat of the Borg remaining unexplained, there’s scope to go back and learn more about this very different timeline.

Theory #6:
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.

Initiates of the Zhat Vash on the planet Aia.

With only one episode left in which to conclude all of Season 2’s storylines, it feels less and less likely that we’ll get closure on all of the points that Season 1’s rushed finale left on the table. However, there’s still a glimmer of hope that we might get some inclusions, even if just by way of a line or two of dialogue.

Here are the main unresolved points as I see them:

  • 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?
The Artifact’s crash site on Coppelius.
  • 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?

Theory #7:
Elnor will be restored to life when the crew make it back to the 25th Century.

Holo-Elnor in Hide and Seek.

After Raffi got a cathartic goodbye with holo-Elnor in Hide and Seek, I’m no longer convinced that this theory will pan out. If Elnor is alive again in the 25th Century, it would actually rob that emotional moment of much of its power. As above, with The Next Generation’s main characters returning in Season 3, it may turn out that Elnor was just another casualty of the need to make room for them.

However, as I said in my review of Hide and Seek, a big part of me hopes to see Elnor saved. Elnor’s story feels incomplete, and he’s a character that we never really had the chance to get to know all that well. Even in Season 1, his impact on the story was limited compared with other characters, and having just been given a new arc as a Starfleet cadet at the beginning of this season, there’s so much potential for him to develop into a wonderful Star Trek character. If the franchise is to survive in the longer-term it’ll need characters like Elnor to stick around.

Theory #8:
The season will end on a cliffhanger.

I first propsed this theory before Season 2 had even premiered based in large part on the fact that Seasons 2 and 3 entered production back-to-back. However, as the season has worn on with many different story threads still in play, it’s seemed even more plausible to think that we won’t see everything neatly tied up by the time the credits roll. That feeling has been amplified by the events of Hide and Seek.

While Hide and Seek concluded the Dr Jurati-Borg Queen story – at least the parts set in the 21st Century – there’s still a heck of a lot left on the table. Even assuming that the season finale will be a feature-length outing, we still have to get through all of the stuff with Q, including finding out why he set Picard this puzzle and what may or may not be killing him, Teresa and Rios’ romance, Picard and Laris’ unresolved romance, the Europa Mission, stopping Dr Soong, explaining the whole “two Renées” thing, tying in recent events to Picard’s past and trauma, and connecting everything to the season premiere.

That might be too much to ask from a single episode – so some or all of it may be left open for Season 3 to pick up next year.

Theory #9:
The masked, hooded figure from The Star Gazer is not the real Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen from the season premiere.

We can’t call this one “confirmed” just yet, but the assumption I’m sure a lot of folks have after the events of Mercy and Hide and Seek is that the masked, hooded Borg from the season premiere is, in fact, the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid. Even if the season ends on a cliffhanger, I would expect that this point will be clarified; it could even be the final scene of the season!

I had previously proposed other “Borg Queen” candidates, but unless there’s going to be some colossal twist in the story’s final act I think we can probably rule them out. Earlier in the season I suggested Admiral Janeway (from the Voyager finale), Renée Picard, and Soji as possibilities for this role – along with Dr Jurati.

So we’ll have to see what comes next. If Picard finds himself back on the bridge of the Stargazer, will the Borg Queen remove her mask?

Theory #10:
Picard and the crew will “borrow” Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft to get home.

Renée Picard.

Now that La Sirena is gone, Picard finds himself stranded – along with Seven, Raffi, and Rios – in 2024. It’s possible that Tallinn or Q could help them get home, but one way that they could do it independently would be to gain control of Renée Picard’s spacecraft. This could tie in with the “two Renées” comment that we’ve already discussed – perhaps with one version of Renée making it home and another being transported to the 25th Century.

Alternatively, this could tie into Picard’s comment earlier in the season that the details of Renée’s mission are lost to history. After making an important discovery, it seems that no one really knows what happened to Renée – so her disappearance from the 21st Century may not impact the history of the prime timeline at all.

If Picard and the crew could find a way to use Renée’s spacecraft to slingshot around the sun, just like they did with La Sirena earlier in the season, it could carry them home.

Theory #11:
The Borg’s request for help from the Federation is genuine.

The USS Stargazer’s communications officer first received the garbled transmission.

If the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid stuck to her commitment and was successful at establishing a new Borg Collective, one with a fundamentally different guiding principle, then maybe that version of the Queen and Collective were genuinely asking for help. Whatever their problem may be, turning to Picard would make sense if the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid was in control.

This could also explain things like the Borg Queen stunning the Stargazer’s crew rather than killing them; preventing them from interfering but doing so in a non-lethal way. It could also explain what she was trying to accomplish by hacking into the Stargazer’s systems.

The Borg Queen’s mechanical tentacles hacked into the USS Stargazer.

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.” If the Borg Queen’s plan was to reach Picard at just the right moment – perhaps to set off this whole time travel saga in the first place – that could explain why.

It does raise the very alarming question of what could possibly have the Borg running scared, though! As mentioned above it could be another Borg faction – the original Collective versus the upstarts. But it could also be someone else… maybe the Season 1 super-synths?

Theory #12:
Q is not responsible for changing the timeline.

Q’s powers are failing.

Although Q was absent from Hide and Seek, we’ve seen enough from him earlier in the season to know that his powers are far more limited than we’ve ever seen before. That could mean that Q simply lacks the ability to make such a complete change to the timeline – even though he seems to have been scrambling around trying to do so.

This would certainly be a twist on the way we expect the remainder of the story to unfold! But with no explanation from Q so far as to why he might’ve wanted to change the entire timeline – save for an ambiguous comment to Guinan about “the escape” from traps being what matters – there’s definitely still scope to say that someone else intervened, and that Q was less involved that we’ve been led to believe all season long.

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.

Theory #13:
Q shielded Picard and the crew of La Sirena from changes to the timeline.

Q in Mercy.

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.

Theory #14:
Who is responsible for damaging the timeline, then?

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

Though I had proposed a number of suspects earlier in the season who could’ve potentially been responsible for setting up this whole time travel saga, at this stage it feels like there’s only one remaining realistic candidate: the Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid. This would set up a kind of temporal paradox, but it could be one that has an escape hatch.

If the timeline splits and an alternate reality is created, perhaps the Borg Queen from that reality could be responsible for the attack on the USS Stargazer and for setting into motion the events of the season. The only thing she’d have to rely on Q to do would be to ensure that Picard, Dr Jurati, and the others would be aware that things had changed.

Theory #15:
The Borg are fighting a war – and they’re losing.

Could the Borg be fighting a war against the super-synths?

As posited above, the creation of a Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid, and the plans she had for establishing a new kind of Borg, could’ve led to a conflict with the rest of the Collective. That would be one potential explanation for why the Borg vessel in The Star Gazer was supposedly seeking help. Alternatively, however, the Borg could be fighting a war against someone else.

One way to connect the two seasons of the series would be for the Borg to be fighting against one of the antagonists from Season 1. The Zhat Vash could, perhaps, have taken the Romulans’ anti-synthetic crusade and targetted the Borg. Or the Borg could be facing off against the super-synths from the Season 1 finale. There are other options within Star Trek’s broader canon, of course, but it starts getting pretty speculative at that point!

Theory #16:
Seven of Nine will join Starfleet.

Seven of Nine wearing a Starfleet uniform in the Voyager Season 7 episode Human Error.

Hide and Seek gave us some additional information about what happened to Seven of Nine in between Voyager and Picard. Apparently she applied to join Starfleet, but even with the backing of Captain Janeway, her application was denied. Seven believes that her Borg background is why the Federation rejected her, and that could explain some of her remarks in The Star Gazer about feeling uncomfortable and unwanted aboard a Starfleet vessel.

However, Hide and Seek also saw Raffi telling Seven that she would make an excellent Starfleet captain – so could that kind of role be in her future? If Seven survives the season (which it seems like she will after her brush with death this week), then maybe she’ll be permitted to join Starfleet at the second time of asking. She could even be assigned to serve under Admiral Picard’s command – potentially setting her up for a role next season. Or she could be given a ship of her own, perhaps with Raffi as a member of her crew. That could tee up an exciting spin-off series!

Theory #17:
The Borg Collective was badly damaged in the Voyager episode Endgame and has been unable to recover.

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

This theory is certainly looking less and less likely. Aside from a single ambiguous reference to the Borg potentially being in a weakened state all the way back at the start of the season, there hasn’t been any mention of or reference to the events of Endgame all season long. Although Endgame was an important episode, the fact that it hasn’t been brought up could mean that it would feel like a bit of a bolt from the blue if a major revelation connected to this episode were to appear in the season finale. All that being said, this theory has been there in the background all season long and I’m not ready to drop it with just one episode remaining. There’s still time for a connection – even if the connection is smaller than I initially imagined it could be!

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.

Admiral Janeway and Reg Barclay with a holographic Borg drone in Endgame.

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.

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

There are still several other big theories in play that Hide and Seek didn’t debunk, confirm, or advance in any significant way. To keep the theory list intact and all in one place, we can take a look at those now.

Theory #18:
Kore Soong will team up with Picard and the crew of La Sirena.

Kore Soong.

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.

Theory #19:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

Captain Janeway, Tuvok, Quinn, and Q in the Q Continuum.

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. Earlier in the season I felt increasingly sure that whatever had caused Q to lose his powers was something that wasn’t just affecting him personally, 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.

Guinan and Q in Mercy.

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.

Theory #20:
Q is angry with Picard for “giving up.”

Grumpy Q.

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?

Theory #21:
At least one character from The Next Generation will make an appearance.

Picard with Dr Crusher in The Next Generation.

In a way, this theory was knocked off-course by the announcement a few weeks ago that Season 3 will be featuring the main characters from The Next Generation in a big way. I had wondered if Season 2 might’ve returned to Nepenthe to see Riker and Troi, for example, but for weeks that has felt very unlikely!

However, there are still ways that one or even all of these characters could be included. Above I suggested that they could rescue Picard from 2024, and that’s one possibility. It’s also possible that the final act of the season finale will begin the process of setting up the story of Season 3, in which case the final moments of the episode could see some or all of these characters return. Although time is running out, I’m keeping this one on the list as we head into the finale!

Theory #22:
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.

Picard awakened in a new synthetic body in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2.

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.

A Borg drone losing a fight against Data.

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.

Theory #23:
The Borg ship from The Star Gazer crossed over from the Confederation timeline.

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

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. If the masked Borg Queen turns out to be the Dr Jurati hybrid, she would have known about the prime timeline and may have considered it her best chance for survival.

Theory #24:
Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century.

Teresa and Rios at the clinic.

This is an inversion of the theory above about Rios potentially remaining in 2024. 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.

Theory #25:
Teresa and Ricardo are Rios’ ancestors.

Teresa with Rios in Mercy.

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!

Theory #26:
Rios will be killed and Picard will assume command of the new USS Stargazer.

Rios in the captain’s chair of the 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, Dr Jurati assimilated, and Soji missing in action, so that really only leaves Raffi, Seven, 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 those sets were only used in a single episode at the start of the season. Even if the crew make it back to the 25th Century next time, 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 Admiral 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.

So that’s it!

Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen.

As we head into the season finale, a lot of questions remain unanswered. I won’t be upset if none of these theories pan out – but I could find myself saying that the season ended in disappointing fashion if questions about Q, Renée, the Europa Mission, and the Borg aren’t resolved satisfactorily. The only exception to that might be if the season ends on a cliffhanger, clearly establishing that Picard’s next outing will continue these storylines.

So it really is all to play for in the final episode of the season. The more I think about the events leading up to this point, the more convinced I am that some of the extraneous fluff should have been cut from several mid-season episodes. That would’ve allowed us to spend more time on things like the negotiation with the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid, as well as potentially more time with Q and Picard to explain what Q did, why he did it, and how whatever’s happened to him is related to Picard. It’s possible that the season finale and/or Season 3 will do justice to all of the narrative threads that remain in play – but I’m certainly a little nervous as the season runs out of track.

Los Angeles at night, circa 2024.

Despite that, I’m trying to stay optimistic! The season finale will likely be a feature-length outing, and there are some potentially exciting and explosive storylines that remain in play. Stopping Dr Soong is one of the big ones, and that could certainly be a source of drama and conflict, but there’s more. Seeing Q and Picard back together and getting a proper explanation for what’s been going on with him would be one of my big requests – and I think we’ll get that, even if it means that other story points will have to wait.

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.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 9: Hide and Seek

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationFirst Contact, and Voyager.

This review deals with the sensitive topics of mental health and suicide and may be uncomfortable for some readers.

If I’ve done my counting right, then I believe Hide and Seek is Jean-Luc Picard’s 200th Star Trek appearance. It gets a little fuzzy when we look at two-part episodes that are occasionally considered as feature-length outings, but if we go in broadcast order then I’m pretty sure that the character of Jean-Luc Picard has now appeared in 200 Star Trek productions (including four films). So that’s pretty neat!

Hide and Seek was an exciting episode that focused on the Borg side of the story in a big way. But it was also an episode that fell into the trap of some pretty clichéd storytelling, something that definitely detracted from some of the impact that the story had. There were some emotional highlights – including some wonderful performances from Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, and Jeri Ryan – but overall, I’m left feeling that the season has taken a slow and meandering route to reach this point, and that more time could’ve been spent on some of these interesting storylines and powerful moments had some of the extraneous fluff been cut out from earlier episodes.

It was a dark and stormy night…

For the first time this season, I wasn’t wild about some of the cinematography in Hide and Seek. Parts of the episode were coloured with a dark blue hue – something not uncommon on television to indicate darkness – but I found that it gave those sequences a washed-out look. Though we aren’t anywhere close to the failures of something like The Long Night in Game of Thrones’ eighth season, the colour palette did not flatter the scenes set at Château Picard, and the episode suffered for this creative choice.

Hide and Seek doubled-down on exploring the trauma that Picard faced in his youth, and it was revealed that the memory he’s been repressing was his mother’s suicide and discovering her body. As in Monsters a couple of weeks ago, though, I’m struggling to see how this story connects with what’s happening in the rest of the season, and why the series has decided that this hitherto unknown chapter of Picard’s life warranted so much time dedicated to it.

Hide and Seek delved once again into Picard’s youth.

In a general sense, I’m not averse to the idea of taking an established character and fleshing them out, giving more detail to their background and history. And as stated earlier in the season, I can’t recall anything from Picard’s past Star Trek appearances that would’ve explicitly ruled out something like this happening to him in his youth. However, when dealing with a character who’s made as many appearances as Picard, these kinds of stories have to serve some greater purpose – and right now, this story of Picard’s youth and his mother’s death doesn’t appear to do that.

As I asked in my review of Monsters: what aspect of Picard’s character, personality, temperament, or personal philosophy does this revelation explain? How do we as the audience feel that we understand Picard any better in light of this season spending a significant chunk of its runtime on this story? We know more about Picard’s past in a factual sense – but the facts that have been brought to light don’t inform his characterisation in any way, neither here in Picard nor in The Next Generation. There’s no “aha!” moment where the way Picard has behaved, or his stance on life, suddenly seems to click.

It doesn’t feel like this moment informs Picard’s character in any significant way.

If the story itself had been handled differently, perhaps in a season with fewer other things going on, I think I could forgive it. But during two out of the season’s ten episodes now, a significant amount of time has been taken away from other, more interesting and engaging stories to flesh out an aspect of Picard’s backstory that feels unnecessary.

A character like Picard, who has made so many Star Trek appearances, has unexplored moments in his past that a story like this could’ve told. We could’ve learned, for example, that a similar trauma stems from his time in command of the USS Stargazer – the death of Jack Crusher springs to mind as an unexplained event that would be both traumatic and ripe for a deep dive. But this story shone a light on a part of Picard’s past that none of us could’ve anticipated – and when there are events in his past that feel like they could’ve been more interesting, I guess I’m left wondering what might’ve been.

Other events in Picard’s past could’ve taken us on a similar journey.

Picard’s story also had a very “20th Century” feel to it, and as I’ve said on more than one occasion, that doesn’t feel very Star Trek-y. We know from The Next Generation that Picard had an upbringing on a vineyard and that his family weren’t in favour of him joining Starfleet, so in that sense none of it is contradictory. But from the point of view of someone sitting down to watch Star Trek and not some other contemporary drama series, it’s a tad disappointing when the series spends so much time either in the modern-day or in a setting that feels also very much like the modern-day.

And again we come to the mental health side of the story. I was deeply disappointed with what we saw in Monsters, and while nothing in Hide and Seek sank to that level, Yvette’s mental health condition was again underdeveloped and fell into the trap of stereotyping. Continuing our theme of feeling like a story from contemporary times, not three centuries in the future, we saw no attempt made to use the technology of the early 24th Century to help Yvette. Did her husband do anything to help her? Locking away someone with mental health issues “for their own safety” is the kind of thing that the Victorians did – and although Picard seemed to get to a place in Monsters where he could understand the burden his father carried and forgive him, the way Maurice treated Yvette raises some seriously disturbing questions.

Maurice Picard.

As someone who is disabled and who has diagnosed mental health conditions, one of the things that I’ve always found inspirational about Star Trek’s future is this idea that many of the ailments people today have to live with will one day be curable. Medical technology that’s akin to magic has been present in the Star Trek franchise since the beginning, and while mental health hasn’t often been depicted in a particularly sympathetic way (look at episodes like Whom Gods Destroy or Statistical Probabilities, for example) I’ve always liked the concept Star Trek proposes: that one day, cures for many health issues – including mental health conditions – will be discovered.

Hide and Seek chose to ignore that, and if it had done so for a better reason, I might be able to overlook it, or at least reduce my negative feelings toward it. But because the story of Yvette’s suicide and its impact on Picard feels so disconnected from everything else going on this season, it just hammers home for me that many of the narrative decisions on this side of the story were, at best, odd. At worst I’d call the whole thing pretty poor.

Yvette Picard’s suicide.

One final note on this aspect of Hide and Seek: for the first time, I felt Star Trek: Picard fall into a storytelling trap that has tripped up sister show Discovery on multiple occasions. Picard and Tallinn were on an incredibly dangerous, time-sensitive mission, with half-assimilated Borg shooting at them, yet Picard allowed himself to become distracted by this event in his past. Being thrown into the room where something bad once happened is, of course, a trigger for post-traumatic stress, and I get that. But even with that understanding and that caveat, I found myself wanting to shout at the episode in frustration that there isn’t time for this right now!

This is something that Discovery does far too often – characters bringing their own personal issues to the fore in a way that clearly interferes with the missions at hand. Picard had never had this issue – not even in Monsters when Picard’s trauma was one of the main storylines – but because of the circumstances of the Borg attack on La Sirena this time, it really did feel that Picard didn’t have the time for such indulgent reminiscing. It’s only through sheer luck that he and Tallinn survived.

Picard allowed himself to become distracted in the middle of a very dangerous situation.

Despite being a relatively long episode at almost fifty minutes, there were a few points, especially as Hide and Seek drew to a close, where I felt some important scenes may have been left on the cutting-room floor. For example, how did Rios know exactly where to transport to save Picard and Tallinn? And how did Picard know that Seven and Raffi had let La Sirena escape when he reunited with them? These questions could’ve been answered, and while they may not feel hugely substantial in terms of the way things turned out, the fact that we didn’t see everything as it unfolded left the final part of the episode feeling rather cut-down and perhaps a little contrived.

I’m glad that Dr Jurati was able to not only wrestle some control back from the Borg Queen, but also talk her down from the most extreme version of her plan. This was Hide and Seek’s emotional high point, and Alison Pill put in an outstanding performance. It was nice to welcome back Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen, too.

Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen.

However, I’m left feeling that this sequence was shorter than it could’ve been, and more importantly that key characters were missing. This is the emotional crux of Dr Jurati’s story this season, and the end of the 21st Century side of the Borg’s story, at least. In a series called Star Trek: Picard, shouldn’t Picard himself have been present? He only showed up after this had happened, seemingly already aware of what had transpired even though we never saw him find out on screen.

After what Picard went through with the Borg from The Next Generation through to First Contact and Season 1 of Picard, there was scope for his inclusion here to wrap up his inner conflict with the Borg; to take the argument he expressed in The Star Gazer about wanting to hear out what the Borg had to say and going one step further. Picard could, in this moment, have come to forgive the Borg Queen and arrive at a place where he’d be willing to give her the opportunity to chart a new path and do things differently.

This sequence was undeniably well done. But it feels like Picard should’ve been involved.

In order for that to have happened, though, this episode – and realistically, much of the season leading up to it – would have needed to be structured very differently. This could even have become the “lesson” that Q had been pushing Picard to learn; that forgiving one’s greatest adversaries and giving them a chance to change is worth doing. Is that something Q might want to teach Picard? I don’t know, but it could’ve worked.

Instead it fell to Raffi, Seven of Nine, and Dr Jurati to strike a deal with the Borg Queen – and while this sequence was emotional and well-constructed, as it ended and the deal was honoured, I felt that, if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t be convinced that the Borg Queen would stick to her commitments. She basically promised, over the span of a few short minutes, that she’d entirely change her philosophy and worldview, and would build a Borg Collective based on an entirely different guiding principle. Because we’ve seen the Borg on a number of previous occasions, I think this moment needed more to be convincing.

Can we feel certain that the Borg Queen will stick to the agreement she made?

Think back to episodes in Voyager such as Scorpion and Dark Frontier. We saw the Borg’s duplicity and deceitfulness on full display in those stories, and we saw how Captain Janeway and others were absolutely correct not to trust the Borg to uphold their end of whatever deal had been struck. Although Dr Jurati felt that she had extracted a solid commitment from the Borg Queen, and I could quite see Raffi being willing to go along with it in exchange for saving Seven’s life, looking in from the outside I have a lot of reservations that Hide and Seek simply didn’t do enough to placate.

The Borg Queen got what she wanted – and everything we know about her from all of her past appearances tells us that she’s the kind of single-minded, domineering character who would say and do whatever was necessary to get the right outcome. Dr Jurati was standing in her way; appearing to concede to her proposal and saving the life of one single individual would be a negligible price to pay – from the Queen’s perspective – if it meant gaining control of La Sirena and the possibility of reuniting with the Borg Collective in the Delta Quadrant.

The Borg Queen ended up getting what she wanted – control of La Sirena.

In short, this concept was an interesting one. The idea of Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen “merging,” rather than Dr Jurati losing her entire personality, is a clever twist on the way the story could’ve gone, and one that had been set up well in Mercy last week. The broader idea of a Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid potentially taking the Borg Collective in a different and perhaps less aggressive direction is likewise a fascinating concept. But neither of these ideas, great as they are, feel complete. It’s true that there’s one more episode of the season remaining – but as the Borg Queen has now warped away in what felt like a pretty conclusive departure, and with a lot of other storylines still in play, it doesn’t seem as though Picard will be able to revisit these ideas right now.

There was potential in the idea of Dr Jurati pacifying the Borg Queen and lending her unique perspective to the Collective. There was potential in the idea of the Borg Queen listening to such a proposal and giving it some degree of consideration. And there was potential in the idea of a negotiated peace (of a sort) at the end of an episode that had these moments of battling and violence. But I don’t feel that Hide and Seek – and Season 2 as a whole – left enough time to really do justice to any of them, at least not as things currently stand.

A powerful moment as Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen discussed the fate of the Borg Collective… but it needed more.

Negotiations with the Borg Queen could’ve been an entire episode in itself – and I’d certainly be up for a story with that kind of diplomatic focus. We’ve seen Star Trek – and Jean-Luc Picard himself – do those kinds of stories exceptionally well, and it could’ve been an interesting coda to the Borg story that has been running this season. Maybe the season finale will bring more of that, but taken on its own, Hide and Seek had some clever concepts and lofty ambitions – but ultimately failed to fully deliver on them.

That isn’t to detract from some wonderfully evocative performances, though. Alison Pill deserves so much credit for the way she inhabited two very different roles in Hide and Seek, and in particular the way she managed to capture the mannerisms, style, and essence of Annie Wersching’s Borg Queen. That kind of acting challenge – playing a different character in someone else’s body – is a Star Trek trope going all the way back to The Original Series, and some actors are better at it than others! Alison Pill really managed to be convincing as the partially-assimilated Borg Queen, and the moment where she donned the iconic outfit was a special effects home run to boot.

The new Borg Queen looks down at her old body.

As mentioned, the idea of a Borg Queen-Jurati hybrid (Borgati? Jurorg?) is an interesting one, and everyone involved did their best to sell it. To me, the fact that this “negotiation” sequence was too short doesn’t negate those wonderful performances. However, the scene immediately afterward, in which Seven of Nine and Raffi agree to honour their deal felt just a little odd. One of Star Trek’s biggest ever villains just kind of… stood around on the bridge of La Sirena, and the way the ship was then turned over to her felt not only rushed, but also rather anticlimactic.

Dr Soong, who had seemed so interesting when we first met him in Fly Me To The Moon, had already lost all pretence of nuance or complexity prior to the events of Hide and Seek. Although the suitably over-the-top performance from Brent Spiner was absolutely delicious to watch – as his villainous performances always have been – I don’t really understand Dr Soong’s inclusion on this side of the story.

Dr Adam Soong.

Q wanted to shut down the Europa Mission to create the Confederation timeline, but to the Borg Queen that outcome isn’t a good one – it’s what she allied herself with Picard and came to the 21st Century to prevent. Despite the fairly weak protestation that the Borg are now “aware” of the danger the Confederation may pose, I don’t buy that she’d remain allied to Dr Soong – especially not after gaining access to several dozen goons that she partially assimilated.

I guess in that sense the Borg Queen acted out-of-character, not by allying herself to Dr Soong but by maintaining her end of the deal even after he’d served his purpose. Perhaps we could argue that it ties in with the merging of Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen; that the Queen’s personality was already showing signs of being altered. But why should the Borg Queen care about Dr Soong? And if Dr Jurati’s influence is present to excuse that contrivance… shouldn’t she be even more inclined to break their deal and stop him?

Dr Soong ultimately escaped to fight another day.

Despite a performance from Brent Spiner that I will unashamedly admit to having thoroughly enjoyed, I don’t find Dr Soong a particularly interesting villain, and when the story has to contort itself into knots to pull out contrived ways to keep him relevant and engaged, it just falls flat for me. Dr Soong may have been an interesting ally for Q, but the way in which he was included this week, and the way in which the Borg Queen stuck to her agreement with him, stretches credulity to breaking-point for me.

Jeri Ryan had some wonderfully emotional and insightful moments as Seven of Nine this week. We got to learn more of Seven’s post-Voyager history, including that she attempted to join Starfleet, but had her application denied. Seven ascribes this to her Borg past, but it raises the interesting question of why Starfleet permitted Icheb to join (as we saw in Season 1), but not her.

We got some interesting information about Seven of Nine’s life during the years in between Voyager and Picard.

Seven’s story this season has now come full-circle, and she’s regained her Borg implants and appearance thanks to the deal Raffi and Dr Jurati struck with the Borg Queen. It’s sad for Seven, who had been enjoying her newfound appearance, to be forced back to the way she had previously been. However, after what she’s been through over the past few episodes, perhaps Seven has reached a place where she can accept herself, despite what she sees as imperfections. There’s a metaphor there, perhaps, albeit one that’s buried quite deeply in the story.

I felt that there was the potential for this new presentation of Seven of Nine to have carried forward, and although it’s perhaps early days to be thinking about spin-offs and future Star Trek projects, one centred around Raffi and Seven of Nine would certainly find supporters! But if Seven of Nine isn’t going to be a huge part of the series in future – and spoiler alert for Season 3 if you missed the announcement, but with the main cast of The Next Generation set to reprise their roles next time around, there may not be as much of a place for her – then her story this season has a cyclical feel to it; she returns to where she began, albeit having been changed somewhat by the experience.

Has Seven’s story come full-circle?

Raffi got two very powerful emotional moments this week, and Michelle Hurd gave her best performance of the season to bring them to screen wonderfully. Dealing with the fatally-wounded Seven of Nine was the latter of the two, and I really felt the pain that she went through in that moment. But the more powerful moment had come a few minutes earlier as Raffi came face-to-face with the “ghost” of Elnor.

It wasn’t exactly made clear how the holographic version of Elnor worked, nor how it came to have the memories of his last moments, and that was something that could’ve been technobabbled a bit better. Again, we’re feeling the constraints of an episode – and a season – that has to make cuts and creative choices in order to fit into a limited timeslot. However, setting that minor gripe aside, the conversation between the two of them was one of the episode’s emotional highlights.

Raffi was able to get closure for Elnor’s death.

Both Michelle Hurd and Evan Evagora excelled as holo-Elnor provided Raffi with the closure and forgiveness that she needed, and the moment was sad but beautiful. Elnor’s death has been one of the things driving Raffi this season, and it felt for a time as if it was something that could be reversed. Raffi now seems ready to accept Elnor’s passing, however, and I think that’s a signal to us as the audience that Elnor’s death is indeed going to be permanent.

On this point – if indeed it comes to pass – I’m not so sure that Picard got it right. Spoiler alert again for Season 3, but as a point of practicality given the return of the main characters from The Next Generation, I can understand why the show is doing everything it can to shuffle its current crop of main characters out of the way. But as I said when that decision was announced, that in itself is something I have mixed feelings about, and Elnor in particular is a character that I feel we never really got the chance to know very well. Aside from his spotlight episode in Season 1 – Absolute Candor – Elnor’s impact on the story of both seasons has been, at best, limited. The decision to enrol him in Starfleet Academy and to give him a new parental figure in Raffi worked well, especially in light of the beautiful scene where Raffi comforted him at the end of Season 1. But there’s so much potential in a young character like Elnor – the first Romulan in Starfleet. If the Star Trek franchise is to survive long-term, characters like him need to stick around.

Is this the end of the road for Elnor?

Despite my great dislike of Rios’ story this season, and the way in which he has regressed as a character from the season premiere, his role in Hide and Seek was largely inoffensive. For the first time I felt that Picard genuinely cared about Rios – he told Tallinn to turn off the transporter to prevent Rios from returning to the battle after he was injured. If I was being cruel I might say that moment felt unearned given the lack of interaction between Rios and Picard for practically the entire season, but we know Picard as a character well enough to know that he does truly care about those under his command.

The Rios-Teresa romance progressed, getting him to a place where he was one transporter beam (or transporter puff) away from saying “I love you” to her. I had wondered, prior to Hide and Seek, if Rios was being groomed for an heroic death. That still could happen in the season finale, but the developing romance with Teresa, combined with Seven’s return to her Borg status, now has me wondering if Rios will choose to stay in 2024 if and when the moment comes to go home. Teresa seemed to be pushing him in that direction this week.

Rios told Teresa he had to go and save the future.

Having talked about everyone present in Hide and Seek, we now turn to one significant absence: Q. Q has been the season’s driving force, seemingly setting up the Confederation timeline and thus also the trip to the 21st Century. But as the story reaches what should be its endgame, Q was once again absent. There’s now just one episode left not only to put a stop to the next phase of Q’s plan, but also to explain what drove him to do all of this in the first place.

As mentioned, it might’ve been possible for Q to be included here – to say that one of his plans or part of his plan was to see how Picard would react to the merging of the Borg Queen with one of his friends. Though a story about mercy, forgiveness, and a willingness to move beyond animosity wouldn’t be as grand in scale as something like learning to perceive time in a non-linear way – as happened in All Good Things at the end of The Next Generation – in another way it’s kind of in line with what Q tried to show Picard in the episode Tapestry. In that story, Q showed Picard an alternate life that he might’ve led, and guided Picard through events in his past that led him to become the person he is. In this story, Q might’ve been showing Picard, in a similar way, that he can grow and learn to let go of the anger, hate, and fear he has toward the Borg and the Borg Queen.

All of this might’ve been part of Q’s grand plan.

But that doesn’t seem to be what this story is trying to say. With Q entirely absent from Hide and Seek, there isn’t much time left to wrap up his story and provide a satisfactory explanation not only for Q’s behaviour, but in a broader sense for the entire story of the season. Why Q did whatever he did, and what his goals and objectives are, are still concealed by the plot – and if they aren’t given a proper moment in the spotlight next week the entire season could fall apart.

As much as I enjoyed a tense story about a battle against modern-day semi-Borg, and as great as those emotional moments were with Raffi, Elnor, Seven, and Dr Jurati, Hide and Seek feels like it has a gaping hole due to the absence of Q. With Q’s henchman Dr Soong still at large and also needing to be stopped, and the Europa Mission still to save, the season finale has been left with a lot of work to do and a lot of story to wrap up – and that’s before we even consider getting Picard, Seven, Rios, and Raffi back to the 25th Century.

The eerie green glow of Borg transporter beams.

Hide and Seek raises a lot of questions – not least of which has to be what will become of the Borg if the new Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid makes good on her promise to effectively restructure the entire Collective and implement a wholly new guiding philosophy. If such a change to the Borg were to happen in the 21st or 22nd Centuries, that could be transformative for the entire prime timeline. Guinan’s people may never have been attacked, Picard may never have been assimilated, the events of The Best of Both Worlds and First Contact may be erased, Captain Janeway’s run-ins with the Borg may have been averted or turned out completely differently, Seven of Nine may never have been assimilated… heck, even Captain Sisko would be affected, with his wife never dying at the Battle of Wolf 359. If Picard and the crew set out to preserve the timeline, then changing more the three centuries’ worth of Borg history means that they very definitely failed!

Setting those implications to one side for now, I think we’ll have to return to Hide and Seek when the season is over and reassess how some of these story points are ultimately borne out. There’s potential for some of them to become better in light of a successful finale – and likewise there’s the potential for some of them to seem disappointing if the season doesn’t wrap up in a neat way.

La Sirena takes flight.

So that was Hide and Seek. A complicated episode, all things considered, with some significant weaknesses and flaws, but one that managed to be exciting and action-packed with a focus on the Borg that I did appreciate.

The Star Trek franchise continues to try some very different ideas, but not all of them stick the landing. The mental health side of storytelling, not just in Hide and Seek, nor even just in Picard Season 2, but in a much broader sense across the franchise, remains an area of concern and disappointment. Star Trek can do mental health stories well, but the producers have to allow enough time to really do justice to big and complex topics. For me at least, Hide and Seek didn’t succeed at that.

I’m anxiously awaiting the season finale. Having seemingly concluded one of its big storylines – at least the part set in the 21st Century – Picard has left itself with two villains to defeat, a mission to save, a cryptic message about “two Renées” to explain, a return to the 25th Century to facilitate, potentially two love stories to bring closure to, and finding a way to connect the events of the past eight episodes to what we saw in the season premiere. There’s a lot of work to do… and I really hope that the season finale will be up to the task.

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.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 8

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: DiscoveryEnterprise, VoyagerFirst 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.

Picard being interrogated by Agent Wells.

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.

Young Agent Wells encounters the Vulcans.

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.

Los Angeles, 2024.

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.

Dr Soong’s legacy.

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.

La’an Noonien-Singh.

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.

A Vulcan expedition to Earth.

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.

Q in Mercy.

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.

Theory #1:
The Borg’s request for help from the Federation is genuine.

Dr Jurati decoded the Borg message.

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?

What did the Borg Queen want?

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?

Theory #2:
Kore Soong will team up with Picard and the crew of La Sirena.

Kore Soong.

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.

Theory #3:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

Captain Janeway, Tuvok, Quinn, and Q in the Q Continuum.

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.

Guinan and Q.

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.

Theory #4:
Q and Picard will have to work together to stop the rogue Borg Queen.

Yummy batteries.

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.

Could Q team up with Picard?

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.

Theory #5:
The Borg Queen/Dr Jurati will steal La Sirena, stranding Picard in the past.

La Sirena’s crash site in France.

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.

New Borg drones.

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.

Theory #6:
Picard and the crew of La Sirena will “borrow” Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft to get back to the 25th Century.

Renée in training for the Europa Mission.

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.

Theory #7:
The masked, hooded figure from The Star Gazer is not the real Borg Queen.

The 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:
Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati and the hallucinatory Borg Queen.

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 Picard.

Renée at the gala.

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 and the Borg Queen.

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:
Soji.

Soji in The Star Gazer.

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.

Theory #8:
Q is not responsible for changing the timeline.

Q’s powers no longer work…

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.

Theory #9:
Q shielded Picard and the crew of La Sirena from changes to the timeline.

A very young-looking Q!

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.

Theory #10:
Who is responsible for damaging the timeline, then?

Dr Adam Soong in Mercy.

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…

Theory #11:
Picard and the crew will have to actively trigger World War III to save the future.

World War III soldiers as glimpsed in Discovery Season 2.

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.

Theory #12:
Picard and/or the Federation will use information from the Confederation timeline to defeat the Borg.

A battle over the planet Vulcan in the Confederation timeline.

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.

The very first Borg drone seen in Star Trek.

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!

Theory #13:
Dr Adam Soong will create the Borg.

Dr Adam Soong.

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.

Theory #14:
The Federation is responsible for creating the Borg.

A rather incredulous-looking Borg seen in The Next Generation.

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.

Nanites used by the Control AI.

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.

Theory #15:
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!

Theory #16:
Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century.

Teresa and Rios at the clinic.

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.

Theory #17:
Teresa and Ricardo are Rios’ ancestors.

Teresa with Rios in Mercy.

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!

Theory #18:
Rios will be killed and Picard will assume command of the new USS Stargazer.

Rios in the captain’s chair of the 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.

Theory #19:
The Borg ship from The Star Gazer crossed over from the Confederation timeline.

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

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.

Theory #20:
The Borg are fighting a war – and they’re losing.

The Borg vessel using its transporter-weapon on the USS Stargazer.

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!

Theory #21:
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.

Picard awakened in a new synthetic body in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2.

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.

A Borg drone losing a fight against Data.

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.

Theory #22:
Q is angry with Picard for “giving up.”

Grumpy Q.

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?

Theory #23:
The USS Stargazer will make an appearance.

The original USS Stargazer.

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!

Theory #24:
The Borg Collective was badly damaged in the Voyager episode Endgame and has been unable to recover.

The USS Stargazer’s communications officer first encountered the Borg’s message.

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.

Admiral Janeway in Endgame.

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.

Theory #25:
Elnor will be restored to life when the crew returns to the 25th Century.

Raffi and Elnor aboard La Sirena in a flashback.

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.

Theory #26:
Seven of Nine will choose to remain in 2024.

Seven of Nine in Los Angeles.

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.

Theory #27:
At least one character from The Next Generation will make an appearance.

The main cast of The Next Generation Season 2.

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.

Theory #28:
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.

The Zhat Vash on Aia.

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?
The super-synths in the Season 1 finale.
  • 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!

La Sirena’s transporter in action!

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.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 8: Mercy

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, First Contact, and Voyager.

Picard Season 2 certainly has enjoyed its episode-ending mini-cliffhangers! I think we’ve had one in every episode now, and last week’s outing, Monsters, ended with Picard and Guinan being apprehended by the FBI. This led to an episode that felt like the season’s second detour in a row, one which dedicated a lot of its runtime to a new character, his background, and a run-in with Vulcans decades in the past.

Agent Wells may yet have a larger role to play, but with only two episodes remaining in the season, it feels like there’s a heck of a lot of story to get through. Mercy made some progress to that end, but it also got bogged down in places, and I feel like the writers aren’t always aware of the time constraints that a ten-episode season has placed on them. The last thing I want, as the season reaches what should be its climax, is for there to be a repeat of the Season 1 situation. At least in that regard we can say that most of the characters and storylines are now in play… but some feel a long way from being wrapped up.

Picard in Mercy.

I didn’t dislike Mercy, though, all things considered. Unlike in Monsters, where the time spent with a comatose Picard felt padded at best, there was purpose to (most) of the story threads weaved in this week’s outing. And if you’ve been keeping up with my reviews this season, you’ll know that I’ve been saying for several episodes now that I wanted Picard to refocus its energies around the Borg Queen story: well, wish granted! Mercy spent much more time on what I consider to be the season’s more interesting story – and one that feels closer to Star Trek’s high-tech 25th Century.

One question I have that feels unexplained right now is how Dr Adam Soong finds himself with such resources at his disposal. As the episode drew to a close he spoke on the phone with someone identified as a “general,” and was able to hire a private military company to assist in the Borg Queen’s mission to capture La Sirena (something I’d been predicting she’d do for a couple of weeks!) But where has Dr Soong found the ability to do something like that?

Where did Dr Soong get the resources and connections to hire a private military company?

When we met Dr Soong in Fly Me To The Moon, he had been expelled from the scientific community, his licenses had been revoked, and he seemed to have lost everything. He still has a fancy house, so clearly he’s someone of financial means, but that shouldn’t allow him to just call up a general and buy mercenaries, no questions asked. I should’ve posed this question a couple of weeks ago when we encountered Dr Soong at the astronauts’ gala – how had he managed to buy his way onto the board of the Europa Mission when he’d been kicked out of the scientific community for his illegal and unethical research?

I doubt it’s a question that Picard has an answer for, and it’s a contrivance that we’ll probably just have to overlook. Still, given the way Dr Soong appeared during his encounter with the board and the consequences he suffered as a result of his work, it feels odd – and more than a little convenient for the sake of the story – that he’s someone with the resources and connections to be of use to both Q and the Borg Queen.

Dr Adam Soong.

One neat inclusion on this side of the story seems to explain why the people from the Confederation timeline that we saw in Penance venerate and celebrate Dr Soong so long after his death. The planetary shield that was keeping Confederation Earth on “life-support” seems to be one of Dr Soong’s most significant inventions – and we saw a smaller-scale version of this technology a couple of episodes ago. Drones that Dr Soong controlled put up a kind of shield to protect Kore from the sun – and it seems like he upscaled that technology to protect Earth from an “ecological collapse.”

The Borg Queen was able to very effectively manipulate Dr Soong, using his desire to have a legacy to leverage him to work for her. She must have something planned, though, because remember in the Confederation timeline the Borg had been wiped out. Establishing that timeline is categorically not in the Borg Queen’s interest – and indeed preventing it from happening is why she agreed to assist Picard in the first place. So Dr Soong is clearly in a lot of danger!

The Borg Queen continues to assimilate Dr Jurati.

Sticking with the Soongs, I’m really hoping that Kore has some unknown role yet to play, because right now she feels like fluff; an extraneous character who’s just here to give Isa Briones something to do in Soji’s absence. Kore may exist solely to inform aspects of Dr Soong’s character, but spending time with a fairly one-dimensional character like that doesn’t add a great deal to the story of the season overall. Her story this week continued to be incredibly repetitive, paralleling Soji and Dahj’s stories in Season 1. Kore pressed her father about her artificial origins – a genetic experiment, in this case, as opposed to being a synth – in a way that was very reminiscent of Soji learning her own backstory in the Season 1 episode The Impossible Box.

Even if characters like Kore and Agent Wells have roles to play in the next couple of episodes, I’d still argue that we probably spent too much time focusing on them this week. These are brand-new characters (albeit that one is played by a main cast member) and we just don’t have the same investment in their stories as we do in those of Picard, Raffi, Seven, Rios, and Dr Jurati. There was scope, perhaps, to cut down some of these sequences and spend more time with the main characters.

Kore Soong.

Having dedicated a lot of words to the presentation of Rios in my previous couple of reviews, I’ll try to avoid being too repetitive here. Suffice to say that Rios’ regression shows no sign of letting up, and the romantic sub-plot he’s now in with Teresa actually amplifies the sad decline in his characterisation compared with where he was at the beginning of the season. As with Kore being created to give Isa Briones something to do, I feel like the writers have invented these moments for Rios out of nowhere, dragging him backwards in terms of what could’ve been a satisfying character arc while simultaneously leaving him pretty disconnected from the rest of the story.

Think about this: when was the last time Rios said two words to Picard? Aside from a very brief conversation with Raffi when the gang infiltrated the astronauts’ gala, when was the last time he spoke to her, either? Or to anyone other than Teresa, come to that? Rios got one significant moment this week, as he identified a problem with La Sirena’s transporter that has a bearing on the stories involving Raffi, Seven, and the Borg Queen. But that moment wasn’t necessarily a “Rios” moment; it could’ve been anyone who discovered the Borg code in the system.

Rios working on La Sirena’s transporter.

As speculated in my last theory post, I wonder if Rios is being set up for an heroic death sometime before the end of the season. Skip this paragraph if you’re concerned about Season 3 spoilers, but after Paramount announced that the main cast of The Next Generation would be coming on board for Picard Season 3 in a big way, it’s not at all clear what that means for the current crop of characters. With Elnor already gone and Soji sidelined, killing off Rios and perhaps the Borg Queen in Dr Jurati’s body would only leave Seven of Nine and Raffi heading into Season 3, and that feels like it could be a more manageable number of characters for another ten-episode outing.

In short, Rios may be drawing the short straw here. His story of being detained and deported was a timely one that shone a light on America’s problem with immigration and the way migrants are handled, and as a Hispanic man, Rios clearly fit the bill for that story from the writers’ point of view. But when that story ended, Rios felt listless. Cut loose by the series and serving a pretty minor role in terms of the main story, his side-story with Teresa could be an attempt to give emotional weight to Rios’ potential death. By showing us his love for Teresa – and thus presumably her reaction to his death – Picard may be trying to score some added emotional points when the moment finally comes.

Rios with Teresa aboard La Sirena.

We learned some really interesting details about the Borg in an understated way thanks to Seven of Nine and Dr Jurati. Mercy may go on to be an important episode that future Borg stories can call back to, and as a Trekkie I’m always fascinated by the minutia of how things like Borg assimilation actually work! In the case of a normal Borg drone, they’re able to assimilate someone by forcing nanoprobes into their body. The nanoprobes bring with them the metals and materials needed to self-replicate, and it sounds as if this process has been honed by the Borg over a long period of time. The process relies on high-quality materials that the Borg must produce or refine somehow.

Without any nanoprobes of her own, or with a very limited number, the Borg Queen inhabiting Dr Jurati’s body must acquire the raw materials to construct more – and this is where the idea of taking lithium from batteries came into play in one of the series’ most disturbing sequences to date! The striking visual presentation of Dr Jurati with the wrecked cars drew on things like zombie fiction in a really tense and horrifying way.

This was an incredibly shocking way to see Dr Jurati, and it felt like it was inspired by zombie films.

I love everything about this side of the story. The concept that the Borg Queen needs to acquire resources, the way in which she’s going about it, the fact that the 21st Century doesn’t really provide her with what she needs… all of this works so incredibly well. In addition to exploring more about Borg technology and Borg assimilation, which would be fascinating in its own right, the story that’s unfolding is engrossing and exciting.

After several episodes in which this side of the story felt like an afterthought, giving it a proper moment in the spotlight felt cathartic. This is the kind of storytelling I’ve been wanting ever since Season 2 took us on this mission back in time, and while it’s come pretty late in the game and in an episode that had those other less interesting elements, I’m glad we finally got to see more from the Borg Queen.

Newly-created Borg nanoprobes.

Seven of Nine was at her best on this side of the story, showing off an emotional and vulnerable reaction to being face-to-face, once again, with the Borg. Her confrontation with the partially-assimilated Dr Jurati clearly brought back bad memories, and led to a minor conflict with Raffi – understandably so, perhaps, but I’m glad it was resolved and didn’t descend into a major relationship drama!

One of the best things that Picard has done has been to give Seven of Nine some much-needed character development, and seeing her reacting like this – in a very human, emotional way – is further evidence of that wonderful arc. I said when Seven was reintroduced in Season 1 that she’d become one of my least-favourite Voyager characters toward the end of that show’s run, and the reason for that was how boring and repetitive she was (combined, perhaps, with the fact that she was overused by the show’s writers). Seven would learn some lesson in “how to be human” one week, then forget it all by the next episode, leaving her feeling static and undeveloped. Picard has completely reworked her character in a way that feels natural; that she’s made genuine and lasting progress since the events of Voyager, now twenty-five years in her past.

Seven of Nine in Mercy.

This progression of Seven’s arc has been shown in a new light by bringing her back into conflict with the Borg. The decision to remove her Borg implants for Season 2 – including, as she noted this week, internal implants that aren’t seen – has added to this new, more human presentation. Coming face-to-face with the Borg again is already proving to be traumatic for her, bringing up awful memories that she can’t escape.

We saw this in Season 1 with Picard himself, particularly in the episode The Impossible Box when he boarded the Artifact. But rather than feeling like a redux of that story, Seven’s feels unique. The way she reacts, as someone who had been assimilated at a much younger age and who remained a member of the Borg Collective for much longer, is completely different to the very visceral reaction that Picard had. Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd played off one another perfectly during these sequences, processing Seven’s trauma while also trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

Raffi and Seven of Nine tracked Dr Jurati to a car park.

Speaking of trauma, Seven isn’t the only one dealing with it. Raffi is also coming to terms with Elnor’s death, and while she had been hoping that restoring the timeline might save his life, I think we got another significant hint here that that isn’t going to happen. In a flashback sequence we saw how Raffi had persuaded Elnor to remain at Starfleet Academy instead of returning to Vashti, “manipulating” him, to use her and Seven’s words. This is making her feel even more responsible for Elnor’s death.

Coming to terms with trauma can require someone to confront unpleasant truths about themselves, and while I wouldn’t say what Raffi did with Elnor was excessive or horribly manipulative, she recoginises that the way she reacted to him – and the way she treats others in her life, including Seven – can come across that way. Her desire to get the right outcome for herself can be overriding, and she knows just what to say to people to get them to do what she wants. I’m not sure what the series plans to do with this revelation, but if Raffi sticks around going into Season 3, perhaps it’ll be something she consciously tries to work on.

Raffi with Elnor in the flashback.

We got confirmation of a theory that emerged as far back as Penance: there’s something wrong with Q. Q believes that he’s dying, as evidenced by his declining powers, and although he seemed somewhat accepting of it at first, he’s clearly rattled and unsure of what’s happening to him. We have no indication right now of what might’ve caused Q’s declining health – nor how far Picard may be involved. After several episodes in which this has been teased, going all the way back to the second episode of the season, I really hope we get a proper and thorough explanation for why Q is dying (or for whatever else might be happening to him) before the story concludes.

One line from Q was particularly interesting: he told Guinan that: “the trap is immaterial; it’s the escape that counts.” To me, that feels like it embodies Q’s entire philosophy, at least insofar as his dealings with Picard are concerned. He sets puzzles not for their own sake, but to see how Picard will react and respond. He judges those reactions, as we saw throughout The Next Generation, but he also possesses a curiosity – he genuinely doesn’t know what Picard will do, and he wants to see it for himself. In that sense, Q is almost, in his own very twisted way, studying Picard and humanity.

Guinan and Q talked in the FBI office.

There were other interesting snippets from Q’s conversation with Guinan. The idea of a “temporal horizon” being part of how members of the Q Continuum perceive the universe is a neat concept, helping to visualise for us as the audience something that’s fundamentally difficult to grasp. Q experiences time in some kind of linear fashion, even though he’s able to travel to different eras at will. His own personal past is still in the past, and he has a future – except that his future is now something he cannot see or perceive. It’s a complex thing to wrap one’s head around, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve fully understood it nor successfully communicated my interpretation of it! But suffice to say that I think we have a better understanding of the Q Continuum after Mercy.

One word that Q used almost passed by unnoticed: “redeem.” Does Q believe that what he’s doing right now is some kind of redemption for himself? If so, is the “penance” he told Picard about earlier in the season part of some kind of punishment he’s inflicting not upon Picard, but upon himself? How would showing Picard a warped, broken timeline redeem Q? And, come to that, what is he seeking redemption from? There are a lot of unanswered questions!

What could Q be seeking redemption from?

As Q showed Guinan the extent of his failing powers, it raised a question that I’d been contemplating since before the season aired (and that has been part of my theory list). Is Q truly responsible for breaking the timeline in the first place? Picard assumed so when Q first reappeared, but as he seems to be losing his powers, it seems plausible to suggest that making such a dramatic change is no longer something that Q is capable of.

In addition to all of that, we have the question of cause-and-effect. When Q emerged at the end of The Star Gazer, the damage to the timeline had already been done. Yet recent episodes have shown us Q running around in the 21st Century seemingly trying to enact the change to the timeline that Picard hopes to prevent. In The Star Gazer and Penance, Q seemed to be in full possession of his powers, even changing his appearance. But if those events happened after what we’re seeing now, from Q’s perspective, does that mean he got better? Or did he somehow break the timeline, travel back in time to continue to observe Picard, and then start to lose his powers? My head hurts!

Are we seeing Q before or after the events of The Star Gazer?

Picard and Guinan’s interrogation by Agent Wells was interesting, but as stated above I think it ran a little too long and took us on a bit of a detour. If Agent Wells comes back and has a significant moment later in the season, maybe that will be excusable; just one part of an evolving and developing story. But if this is to be his sole appearance, it’s certainly an odd choice for the season to have dedicated so much time to his character and backstory. The entire “apprehended by the FBI” story thread could’ve been cut out, with Picard and possibly Guinan joining the hunt for Dr Jurati instead. We’ll have to wait and see what comes next before passing judgement.

One storyline that the FBI interrogation successfully wrapped up was Rios’ missing combadge. This had fallen by the wayside in recent episodes, and after the point of divergence in the timeline was revealed to be the Europa Mission, its potential importance slipped away. It came back this week in an interesting way, but ultimately this was little more than a bluff and a tease – not only from Agent Wells to Picard, but from the show’s writers to us as the audience! The combadge could’ve ended up as a “butterfly,” with its unknown impact rippling along the timeline. As it is, Agent Wells gave it back to Picard and it can once again disappear from the plot.

Agent Wells interrogating Picard.

The Vulcan sub-plot was interesting, and certainly served to give motivation to Agent Wells as he pursued Picard, Guinan, and all things alien. It also led to a moment with Picard that one again highlighted his calm, diplomatic style, and that’s something I’ll never tire of seeing! However, if there was supposed to be a connection with the Enterprise episode Carbon Creek, which saw Vulcans on Earth in the 1950s, it wasn’t particularly well-established by the short flashback sequence that we got.

More could’ve been done to show what the Vulcans were doing on Earth, or even to establish that young Agent Wells was in the town of Carbon Creek, for instance. That would’ve been a fun easter egg to long-time fans. As it is, the connection is more implicit than explicit – which is fine, I guess! But in a story about time travel that hasn’t had many opportunities to connect to the wider franchise (aside from a few references to The Voyage Home and Past Tense) this kind of feels like a missed opportunity to make a solid connection.

A pair of Vulcans on Earth sometime in the 1960s-1970s.

Storylines in which the hero is apprehended by the authorities while on a time-sensitive mission can be irritating for me. I can find myself feeling frustrated and wanting to shout at the show or film to “just get on with it!” But to Mercy’s credit, that didn’t really happen this time around. The episode was entertaining, and even though the FBI interrogation sequences weren’t the highlight, they were well-paced and inoffensive enough. My hope now is that there’ll be some bigger point to all of it – something to tie together Picard, the Borg Queen, Q, and the rest of the characters and storylines currently in play.

So that was Mercy. We got some significant development of key storylines, but those developments have come pretty late in the season – and there’s still a lot of work to do if we’re to see everything neatly wrapped up in just two weeks’ time. I’m hopeful that Picard has an ace up its sleeve – possibly even a season-ending cliffhanger – that will make the detours and side-stories feel worthwhile rather than like fluff.

What I will say in praise of Mercy – and of the show’s writing as a whole – is that the end of the season feels far from formulaic. I can’t tell what’s going to happen next, nor what the ultimate destination of this story is. Several characters feel in imminent danger – Q, Rios, Dr Jurati, Dr Soong, and even Seven of Nine and Raffi. But what will come next for any of them is still up in the air. The only thing we know for certain right now is that the Borg Queen plans to make a move on La Sirena. Rios is aware of that, but with Picard and the others stuck half a world away, will they be able to get there in time? I have no idea… and after more than thirty years as a fan, I love that Star Trek can still take me on a rollercoaster ride that goes 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.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 7

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: DiscoveryVoyagerFirst Contact, and The Next Generation.

Monsters was not my favourite episode of Star Trek: Picard. It wasn’t irredeemably awful, but it didn’t seem to bring a lot to the table in terms of advancing the main (and most interesting) narrative threads of the season, and its attempt at depicting Yvette Picard’s unnamed mental health condition was poor. Despite that, though, we have a few changes on the theory list this week!

In addition to one confirmed theory and one debunking, we have several theories that saw significant movement – either because of events that unfolded on screen or, in a couple of cases, because of things that we didn’t see!

As always, we’ll start off with the theories that are making their exit from the list this week.

Debunked theory:
My various Watcher candidates.

Picard and Tallinn.

I had speculated about the Watcher’s identity before Picard met her at the end of the episode Watcher. After Picard met Tallinn and it was revealed that she worked for the same mysterious faction as Gary Seven had in The Original Series episode Assignment: Earth, several of those possibilities seemed to remain in play.

However, Monsters revealed to us that Tallinn is a Romulan, and unless we get any further information about the organisation she works for, I think that’s as far as her identity goes. She may be an ancestor of Laris, but she isn’t Laris herself – and she clearly isn’t a Q, a Prophet, or anything like that!

Confirmed theory:
Teresa learned the truth about Rios.

Teresa after arriving aboard La Sirena.

We can debate Rios’ decision to tell Teresa (and her son Ricardo) the truth about who he is and where/when he’s from. But I successfully predicted that Teresa would find out the truth one way or another – and this week she did!

I enjoyed Rios’ “I just work in outer space” line in Monsters; a riff on the lines spoken by Dr Gillian Taylor and Captain Kirk in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. That film ended with Kirk bringing Dr Taylor with him to the 23rd Century… so is it possible that there’s more to come from Rios and Teresa? Read on to find out!

So those theories were debunked and confirmed.

Now let’s jump into the main theory list, beginning with those theories that are either new or that saw movement in Monsters this week.

Theory #1:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

Guinan and Picard attempted to summon a Q.

There are several pieces of evidence that Monsters gave us that can arguably be used in support of this theory. Firstly, Guinan mentioned a “cold war” between her people – the El-Aurians – and the Q Continuum. Given that the El-Aurians appear to be a humanoid race who were conquered by the Borg, the fact that they were able to pose any kind of threat whatsoever to the Q could suggest that the Continuum is not entirely impenetrable.

Secondly, the fact that Guinan’s attempt to summon a Q failed. One interpretation of what Guinan said about the magic bottle/ritual could be that it would’ve summoned Q himself – but a more likely use for that item, at least in my view, is that it would make the entire Q Continuum aware that an El-Aurian wants to speak to them, and they would send a representative. Rather than just Q himself being affected, the fact that no one from the Continuum was able to be summoned could mean that they’re all losing their powers – or that many of them are already dead.

The Q Continuum as it appeared in Star Trek: Voyager.

We also have the conversation between Picard and Tallinn after the former awoke from his coma. Picard suggested that Q had put him in a coma deliberately, hoping to use the traumatic memories he re-lived as some aspect of the “trial.” But Picard turned that concept on its head and suggested that maybe there’s something in his past or his mind that could indicate a weakness or vulnerability in Q – something that Picard had never considered before.

There’s also a line from Discovery’s fourth season that could be relevant: Admiral Vance noted that the Federation hadn’t encountered the Q Continuum in 600 years as of the 32nd Century… could that be because the Q have either gone extinct or recused themselves from galactic affairs as a result of the events currently unfolding in Picard Season 2?

Although from our perspective Q and the Q Continuum appear godlike, it no longer seems impossible that someone – perhaps the Borg – could’ve discovered an exploitable weakness. If so, maybe the entire Q Continuum has come under attack, and if something 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.

Theory #2:
The FBI Agent who apprehended Guinan and Picard is a temporal agent or Starfleet officer.

Agent Wells, FBI.

Monsters continued a season-long trend of individual cliffhanger endings when Picard and Guinan were arrested by the FBI. Agent Wells, the man who led the operation to bring them in, had uncovered evidence of Picard using a transporter to beam into Los Angeles, and understandably wants to figure out who Picard is and what’s going on!

But the actor who plays Agent Wells – Jay Karnes – is not a newcomer to Star Trek. In the Voyager episode Relativity, he played Lieutenant Ducane, a 29th Century Starfleet officer aboard the Federation timeship Relativity. Is it possible that Agent Wells and Lieutenant Ducane are the same person, and that Ducane is on a mission of his own to the 21st Century?

If so, perhaps this could line up with Discovery’s temporal war arc, or even connect to Enterprise’s temporal cold war. We’ve seen Starfleet acting as a kind of temporal police before, as well as the organisation that employed Daniels also attempting to police the timeline. Perhaps one of these organisations is aware of Picard’s temporal transgression and they dispatched Agent Wells to figure out what’s happening.

Theory #3:
Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century.

Teresa and Rios at the clinic.

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.

Theory #4:
Teresa and Ricardo are Rios’ ancestors.

Teresa with Rios in Monsters.

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!

Theory #5:
Rios will be killed and Picard will assume command of the new USS Stargazer.

Rios in the captain’s chair of the 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 relatively soon, 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.

Theory #6:
Q is dying.

Q’s powers seem to be failing.

This theory could tie in with the one above about the entire Q Continuum having been attacked – or it could be something that only affects Q himself. Regardless, one possible interpretation for Q’s apparent loss of powers and his comment to Dr Soong about running out of time could be that he’s dying.

Picard had noted as far back as Penance that there’s something different or off about Q, and the generally darker, angrier, and more aggressive presentation of the character could all be indicators that Q is reaching the end of his life.

Q while posing as Renée’s therapist.

This could explain the apparent loss of Q’s powers – or the decreasing control he has over them. If he wanted to prevent Renée Picard’s mission, for example, Q should simply be able to snap his fingers and turn her spaceship into a block of cheese, or make it so that Renée was never born, or change her desire to become an astronaut into a lifelong passion to become a pro YouTuber. Instead, he’s resorted to trying to talk her out of it and trading favours with Dr Soong. Why? Could it be that Q’s declining power is indicative of his declining health?

If one of the defining characteristics of the Q as a race is immortality, what might have caused Q to be approaching death? Is it a punishment inflicted on him by his own people, or the result of some other outside force? Is it natural or artificial in nature? And what does it have to do with Picard?

Theory #7:
Q and Picard will have to work together to stop the rogue Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen is in control of Dr Jurati’s body.

I said in my review of Monsters that I felt the episode kind of had the wrong focus. The fact that the Borg Queen is slowly assimilating Dr Jurati’s body, and is now on the loose in 21st Century Los Angeles, feels like a much more exciting story – and one that’s incredibly urgent for Picard and the rest of the crew to deal with!

The Borg Queen could begin assimilating humans in this time period, and that would wreak havoc with the timeline. Whatever Q’s objective was by preventing Renée’s mission and establishing the Confederation timeline, the total assimilation of humanity in the 2020s wasn’t part of his plan – and that could lead to a big twist in the season’s storyline with three episodes remaining.

Q and Picard together in Penance.

Instead of Q being the “big bad” of the season for Picard and the crew to defeat, a weakened, less powerful Q might have to team up with Picard to stop the Borg Queen. This could happen either because the Borg Queen interfered with part of Q’s plan, or Picard could be the one to reach out and ask Q for help.

Without his powers, or with his powers in a weakened and/or unreliable state, Q wouldn’t just be able to snap his fingers and unassimilate Dr Jurati! But his knowledge of the Borg and how they operate could be invaluable to Picard and the crew of La Sirena if the mission parameters change!

Theory #8:
The masked, hooded figure from The Star Gazer is not the real Borg Queen.

The 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?

The events of Two of One and Monsters in particular could be argued to be setting up Dr Jurati for this role – but there are other candidates that we could consider.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #1:
Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati and the hallucinatory Borg Queen.

Dr Jurati’s assimilation has progressed over the past few episodes, and the Borg Queen has really sunk her claws (and tentacles) into her. This new “endorphin rush” angle is an interesting one, and Seven of Nine believes that it could be key to the creation of a new Borg Queen. Putting two and two together would seem to make Dr Jurati the obvious Borg Queen candidate.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #2:
Renée Picard.

Renée at the gala.

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 and the Borg Queen.

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:
Soji.

Soji in Season 1.

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.

Theory #9:
The Borg Queen/Dr Jurati will steal La Sirena, stranding Picard in the past.

La Sirena on approach to the sun in Assimilation.

The Borg Queen’s next move isn’t clear, although the events of Monsters seem to suggest that she needs to continue to trigger endorphins in Dr Jurati’s body in order to speed up or complete the assimilation process. She may not be fully ready for an armed confrontation with Picard and the crew just yet, so she may need to bide her time and prepare.

But once she is prepared, what next? She certainly could stick around in the 21st Century, assimilating modern-day humans and establishing a new Borg outpost. But she has no way to contact or connect with the Borg Collective in this time period, as they’re thousands of light-years away in the Delta Quadrant. If restoring the Collective is part of the Queen’s plan, then surely she’ll want to get back in touch with the rest of the Borg as soon as possible.

The Borg Queen as she appeared in Assimilation.

One way she could do this would be to steal La Sirena. Borg code has already been planted in the ship’s computer, and it’s possible that the Queen managed to hide even more malicious code that Seven of Nine hasn’t been able to find and purge. Part of the reason for doing that could be in preparation for commandeering the ship!

Whether the Queen plans to head off-world to the Delta Quadrant to link up with the 21st Century Borg Collective or whether she plans to return to the 25th Century, armed with new knowledge about humanity, stealing La Sirena is her best bet – and with most of the crew no longer aboard, it could be relatively easy for her to do so.

Theory #10:
Picard and the crew of La Sirena will “borrow” Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft to get back to the 25th Century.

Renée in training aboard a Europa Mission simulator.

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.

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

Up next, I’ll recap all of the other theories that are still in play. Some of these may seem less and less likely as the season’s storylines evolve, but for now I’m not striking any off the list.

Theory #11:
Q is not responsible for changing the timeline.

Q at Château Picard.

Q is clearly trying to affect some kind of change to the timeline by interfering with Renée Picard’s mission. But his declining powers could suggest that he isn’t as directly involved with the change and the creation of the Confederation timeline as he implied. Q may no longer be capable of doing something on this scale – and even if he was, we still have no idea what his motivation for doing so would be.

The Confederation timeline and the 21st Century don’t seem like typical Q puzzles. He described sending Picard to the Confederation timeline as a “penance,” but what exactly he’s punishing Picard for and why is still not clear. In short, we still don’t know why Q would want to do something like this, and as of Fly Me To The Moon, it’s no longer clear that Q has the ability to do so either.

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.

Theory #12:
Q shielded Picard and the crew of La Sirena from changes to the timeline.

A very young-looking Q!

Regardless of who changed the timeline and why, it seems more and more 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 do next, and why.

Theory #13:
Who is responsible for damaging the timeline, then?

Did the super-synts do it?

If Q isn’t the one who changed the timeline, the obvious question that raises is “who did it?”

In theory, it could be any one of a number of different Star Trek factions. We’ve seen the Klingons having access to time travel in the early 25th Century, for example, in the Voyager episode Endgame, and various time travel stories and stories depicting powerful alien races could all theoretically yield suspects. But considering what we know about Star Trek: Picard specifically, in my view the main suspects are as follows:

  • The Borg. The Borg could be one of the season’s main antagonists after their emergence in The Star Gazer, and we’ve seen in past iterations of Star Trek that they can travel through time.
  • The Zhat Vash. While the Zhat Vash may not have been shown to possess time travel tech, they were the primary antagonist last season, and arguably were not defeated in the Season 1 finale.
How about the Zhat Vash?
  • The super-synths. The super-synths from the Season 1 finale are a wildcard; we don’t know much about them except that they seem to be technologically powerful. Travelling back in time might be on their agenda – but erasing the prime timeline could result in the erasure of the Coppelius synths.
  • The Romulan government or the Tal Shiar. With or without the support of the Zhat Vash, the Romulan government could have taken action against the Federation in response to the events of Season 1.

There are undoubtedly other Star Trek factions who could be implicated, and if we had a free choice we could suggest the likes of the Dominion or the Sphere-Builders. But I think those are far less likely when considering the elements Picard has brought on board.

Theory #14:
Kore Soong will team up with Picard and the crew of La Sirena.

Kore Soong.

I wasn’t wild about Kore’s storyline in Two of One. It felt repetitive and derivative of the story we saw Isa Briones bring to screen so well as both Dahj and Soji in Season 1, as Kore learned that parts of her life may be a lie and that her “father” – Dr Adam Soong – is a mad scientist who seems to have somehow created her through artificial means.

However, this story could set the stage for Kore to team up with Admiral Picard. If she feels betrayed and realises the extreme lengths that Dr Soong has been going to by teaming up with Q and trying to sabotage the Europa Mission, Kore may start to work against him and his interests. If she somehow became aware of Picard’s presence, she could join up with the crew for the remainder of the mission.

Theory #15:
The Confederation is run by augmented humans.

A recording that Kore found of Dr Soong in which he discussed his genetic experimentations.

After an enjoyable and complex presentation when he first appeared, Dr Adam Soong feels like he’s close to slipping into being a “mad scientist” archetype, someone who’s been messing around with forbidden science for years. I feel that’s not a great way for the story or the character to go, but his genetic experiments could be crucial to explaining how the Confederation was so different to the Federation of the prime timeline.

As we saw with augments like Khan, genetic engineering can lead to despotism and a sense of superiority. We saw that first-hand in the leadership of the Confederation, with its xenophobic anti-alien ideology. However, it wasn’t clear how the Confederation managed to conquer so much of the galaxy, defeating races like the Klingons, Cardassians, and even the Borg. Augmentation could be the answer and could explain how humanity in the Confederation timeline was so powerful.

This could be another part of the divergence in time: Q helps Dr Soong perfect augmentation, and augmented humans go on to conquer the galaxy. This would also explain why Dr Soong appears to be a revered figure in the Confederation – being celebrated presumably centuries after his death.

Theory #15-B:
There will be a connection between the augments and Strange New Worlds.

La’an Noonien-Singh, a new character in Strange New Worlds.

One of the few things we know about Strange New Worlds at this early stage is that there will be a character named La’an Noonien-Singh. This new character seems to be related in some way to the iconic villain Khan, and if Khan or Khan-inspired augments play some kind of a role in the Confederation’s power structure, perhaps that will set up a connection between Picard Season 2 and Strange New Worlds.

As things stand right now, Strange New Worlds Season 1 will premiere on the same day as the finale of Picard Season 2, at least in the United States. Could a crossover be on the cards?

Theory #16:
Dr Adam Soong will create the Borg.

Dr Adam Soong.

Dr Soong’s research seems to be primarily on the genetic side of things, and that could tee up a storyline about human augmentation – as we’ve already discussed. However, now that Q has become involved, we have to question what his motives are and what he might be pushing Dr Soong to do. Could Q give Dr Soong nanotechnology, perhaps, in an attempt to save or prolong his life?

If so, maybe Dr Soong’s experiments will somehow lead to the creation of the Borg Collective.

Theory #17:
The Federation is responsible for creating the Borg.

A rather incredulous-looking Borg seen in The Next Generation.

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? With time travel on the agenda, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which the progenitor of the Borg – perhaps even the Queen herself – is able to travel back in time, founding the Collective.

Nanites used by the Control AI.

As suggested above, this could be what Q is manipulating Dr Soong into doing in the 21st Century. 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.

Theory #18:
The mission back in time won’t last all season.

Los Angeles, 2024.

We’re beginning to run out of time for Picard and the crew to figure out what happened and repair the damage to the timeline, but it’s still possible it’ll happen! Perhaps this one is as much a wish as a theory – time travel stories that visit the modern-day have never been my favourites in Star Trek – but I wonder if there could be something truly unexpected coming up.

As suggested above, it’s possible that the next phase of the season’s story will see Picard and the crew wrangling with the Borg Queen – and if she escapes back to the 25th Century, they’ll have to follow her. There are other ways that the mission back in time could end, though… and with the glimpse of the 25th Century that we saw at the beginning of the season being so tantalising, I hope it happens soon!

Theory #19:
The Borg ship from The Star Gazer crossed over from the Confederation timeline.

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

As far as we know at this stage, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline thanks to someone or something changing the past. 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.

Theory #20:
The Borg are fighting a war – and they’re losing.

The Borg vessel using its transporter-weapon on the USS Stargazer.

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!

Theory #21:
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.