Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 as well as for announcements and trailers for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, Voyager, First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis and Discovery.
Today we’re going to talk about Captain Vadic, the villainous commander of the Shrike who appeared in the most recent trailer for Season 3. Based on the information that Paramount has released so far, Captain Vadic appears set to be the main adversary that Admiral Picard and the former crew of the Enterprise-D will face off against in the upcoming final season of the show, and I think we have enough evidence to put together a few theories about who she could potentially be.
One thing we can say for near-certain based on her appearance in the trailer is that Captain Vadic has become obsessed with Picard – and possibly with his former crewmates as well. Her desire to get revenge for some (real or perceived) wrong that was done to her seems to be her driving force, and as a result there are favourable comparisons to one of the Star Trek franchise’s most iconic villains – Khan. Vadic seems to channel much of the same energy as Khan did in The Wrath of Khan, with a passionate quest for vengeance that strays into near-madness.
The question of why Vadic is so obsessed with getting revenge is inherently tied to who she is. Although past iterations of Star Trek didn’t ultimately connect to the big story arcs in Seasons 1 or 2 of Picard, it has to be at least possible that Captain Vadic has a connection to some character or event that we’ve seen unfold on screen before. She could even be a character that we’ve already met.
So that’s what we’re going to take a look at today! Who could Captain Vadic be? And tied to that question is the nature of her revenge plot – why is she seeking vengeance? What could Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D have done to her in the past?
Captain Vadic appears to have scars on her face that superficially resemble those of the ex-Borg that we met in Season 1, so some kind of Borg origin feels like a possibility. We could learn that Vadic was among the survivors of the Artifact when it crash-landed on Coppelius at the end of Season 1, and that could be the beginning of her vendetta against Picard.
It’s possible that Vadic was assimilated by Locutus – Picard’s Borg designation when he was himself briefly part of the Borg Collective. If Vadic was assimilated at, for example, the Battle of Wolf-359, she may have spent years in the Collective before she was freed, and may hold Picard personally to blame for her traumatic experience.
Seasons 1 and 2 both dealt with the Borg to an extent, albeit in different ways, so this could be somewhat of a continuation of that familiar theme. Although Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D faced off against many enemies and opponents during their adventures, few are as ferocious or intimidating as the Borg, so there’d be something significant if the final foe they have to deal with has some kind of Borg connection.
If Captain Vadic is an ex-Borg, that could also explain her interest in both Picard’s crew and the Federation as a whole; she may blame the Enterprise-D and Starfleet more broadly for what happened to her.
We talked a moment ago about the superficial similarities between Captain Vadic and iconic Star Trek villain Khan… but what if there’s more to it than that? The end of Season 2 seemed to imply that Picard’s adversary Adam Soong would either begin or re-start research into Khan-inspired human augments, connecting his story to that of Dr Arik Soong in Enterprise. Could Captain Vadic be a descendant of one of Dr Soong’s augments – or perhaps even an augment who had been kept alive in stasis?
If so, her vendetta may be inspired by Dr Soong – she may blame Picard for changing the timeline and preventing Dr Soong from being celebrated in the Confederation timeline that we saw in Season 2. Successive generations of augments may have carried that grudge, or alternatively Captain Vadic may have been “programmed” to awaken in the early 25th Century by Dr Soong to get his revenge.
This would connect the story of Season 3 to what happened last time in a major way, and I think that would be to the show’s overall benefit. Season 2 could even look better in retrospect if it ends up being one piece of a larger connected story, so giving Captain Vadic a connection to what happened in Season 2 would be a net positive.
There’s also a possibility that Captain Vadic is an augment, but one who isn’t connected to Adam Soong or Khan. There are a couple of episodes of The Next Generation in which Picard and the crew tussled with genetic engineering and human augmentation: Season 2’s Unnatural Selection and The Masterpiece Society from Season 5. Perhaps Captain Vadic is one of the augments from the Darwin Genetic Research Station or one of the Moab IV colonists whose society was disrupted by the arrival of the Enterprise-D.
A Romulan (or Romulan ally)
I know, I know: Captain Vadic doesn’t have the right ears to be a Romulan! But as noted above, she does have significant facial scars – could those hint at some kind of cosmetic surgery to alter her appearance? The design of her warship, the Shrike, definitely feels Romulan to me. It evokes both Nero’s Narada (from the 2009 Star Trek reboot film) and the Scimitar, Shinzon’s flagship in Nemesis. Could that design hint at some kind of Romulan origin for Vadic… or at least for her ship?
Picard has dealt with the Romulans on multiple occasions, and thwarted major Romulan schemes to invade Vulcan, to end the alliance between the Federation and the Klingons, and to use a thalaron radiation weapon to attack Earth, just to name three examples. Then there’s Picard’s failure to aid in the Romulan evacuation in the aftermath of the attack on Mars – perhaps Captain Vadic blames Picard for the deaths of people she cared about. And finally there’s Sela: the daughter of Tasha Yar who was raised by Romulans and eventually held a senior role in the Romulan military. Picard outmanoeuvred and defeated her on two separate occasions.
I don’t think we’ve seen all of the members of Captain Vadic’s “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains just yet, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Denise Crosby reprise her role as Sela in Season 3. So at this point I don’t think we can say “Vadic is Sela,” although that’s a possibility. But she may be an ally of Sela, perhaps a relative or another child of Tasha Yar.
The Romulans played a major role in Season 1 of Picard, and bringing them back in some form in Season 3 could tie things together nicely. We could learn more about the Zhat Vash and Tal Shiar, and particularly what happened to the Zhat Vash’s anti-synthetic crusade after it was exposed. Maybe Captain Vadic is a Zhat Vash zealot who is unwilling to accept her faction’s defeat at the hands of Picard and his crew.
A descendant of Adam and/or Noonian Soong
We touched on a potential connection to the Soong family above, but rather than being an augment or genetic creation, could it be possible that Captain Vadic is a relative or descendant of the Soongs? This could explain how she managed to recruit Lore for her revenge quest, or how she was able to reassemble and reactive him after the events of The Next Generation two-part story Descent.
Clearly the relationship between Picard and the Soong family is complicated. On the one hand, Picard’s strong friendship with Data should mean that he and the Soongs would get along, but on the other hand his actions in Season 2 prevented Adam Soong from becoming one of the most important humans in history, and from establishing a dynasty that was still important in the early 25th Century. Surely some members of the family would want revenge for that – if they knew about it.
Picard also tussled with Altan Inigo Soong in Season 1, disrupting his research into synths and potentially denying him a synthetic body of his own. Although Altan would eventually team up with Picard’s crew to stop Sutra and Soji’s plan to contact the unnamed faction of super-synths, it isn’t clear what happened after that to the Coppelius synths.
If things went wrong, maybe a relative or colleague of Altan Inigo Soong would want revenge. Perhaps Altan sought out and reactivated Lore in order to continue his research; the loss of Data’s neurons may have brought his work to an abrupt halt. Again, this could explain how and why Lore is back!
There are a couple of reasons why the Son’a spring to mind as a possible origin for Captain Vadic. Firstly there are the facial scars that we’ve already discussed; the Son’a had to use technology to keep their skin stretched and to get rid of toxins in their bodies after losing access to the metaphasic radiation of their home planet. Although the Ba’ku believed their physiology would be restored if they returned home, it’s possible that there would be lingering physical effects of being away for so long.
Secondly, the most recent trailer showed off Captain Vadic’s ship, the Shrike, engaging in a battle against the USS Titan in a nebula that looked awfully similar to the Briar Patch – the location of the Ba’ku/Son’a home planet. After Picard was instrumental in defeating the Son’a, could some members of the faction hold a grudge against him personally?
The Son’a had planned their revenge on their Ba’ku cousins for a long time – they had been living in exile for almost a century at the time of the events of Insurrection. Although the Ba’ku welcomed them back, it stands to reason that not every Son’a would have wanted to return home under those circumstances.
Ru’afo, the Son’a leader, was killed, and it’s possible that Captain Vadic may have been his partner or close friend. Even if she wasn’t a true believer in the Son’a cause, she may be seeking revenge for the loss of someone she cared about.
A member of Picard’s crew
Could it be possible that Captain Vadic once served under Picard’s command? She could be an officer or crewman who served on the Stargazer, the Enterprise-D, the Enterprise-E, or during the Romulan rescue and the attack on Mars. Although Picard never deliberately endangered members of his crew – and would go above and beyond to help them on multiple occasions – during his time in command we saw a number of casualties.
Perhaps Captain Vadic was badly wounded during Soran’s attack on the Enterprise-D, or was left behind on Bersallis III during the firestorm that nearly claimed the life of Nella Daren. She could be a victim of the first Borg encounter when a slice was carved out of the Enterprise-D’s saucer section in system J-25, or an officer who was assimilated when the Borg took over the lower decks of the Enterprise-E. She could even be a familiar character, such as Ensign Sito, who was sent on a dangerous mission into Cardassian space by Picard.
The reality is that Picard has no shortage of “victims” – people who were killed or maimed while serving under his command going all the way back to his time on the Stargazer. Any one of them – or their close friends or family – could hold Picard personally responsible, even if he did everything he reasonably could have to prevent what happened to them.
I think this is an interesting idea. Starfleet is far from perfect, and we haven’t often seen the organisation or its leaders having to confront those left behind or caught up in conflicts, battles, or dangerous situations. Whoever Captain Vadic is, she clearly has a personal grievance against Picard, and if she had once served under his command, that could explain why.
An ally of DaiMon Bok
One of the first villains that we ever saw Picard deal with was DaiMon Bok, a Ferengi captain who blamed Picard for the death of his son. Bok is similar to what we know of Captain Vadic insofar as his vendetta against Picard was deeply personal. After being defeated in the episode The Battle, Bok would tangle with Picard one final time toward the end of The Next Generation’s run in the episode Bloodlines – and while he suffered a mutiny from his crew, he was still alive as of the end of the episode.
Most importantly for this theory, Bok’s quest for revenge was left incomplete, his personal vendetta unfulfilled. Bok would almost certainly have carried this grudge for his entire life – and while we don’t know for sure that he would still be alive thirty years after we last saw him, there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be. Perhaps Captain Vadic is an ally of Bok’s, and her quest for vengeance is connected to his.
Even if DaiMon Bok’s revenge mission isn’t the main factor driving Captain Vadic, I would consider it at least a possibility that Bok could be another of the hidden members of her rogues’ gallery. Few characters in Star Trek have such a strongly-felt personal animosity toward Picard, so if someone asked him to join a mission of this type, Bok would surely have jumped at the chance!
So whether Bok proves to be a big part of the story or not, it’s definitely possible that we’ll see him or hear of him in Season 3!
A devotee of the super-synths from Season 1
The super-synths from Season 1 claimed to be “an alliance of synthetic life,” and they left behind at least one beacon to instruct other synths on how to contact them. Whether their offer to help the Milky Way’s synthetics was genuine or part of an elaborate trap was never explained, and the super-synths themselves were only glimpsed on screen very briefly.
But one thing we know is that their beacon – known to the Zhat Vash as the “admonition” – could drive organic minds to madness, and that madness could be so powerful that it could even damage an entire Borg cube if a Zhat Vash initiate was assimilated. Sutra’s behaviour after being exposed to the beacon’s message could also be argued to show that synthetic minds were not entirely immune from this, especially in synths with human qualities.
In short, whether she’s organic or synthetic, it’s possible that Captain Vadic has been exposed to the beacon on Aia – either before or after the events of Season 1. But rather than taking the Zhat Vash approach of fearing the coming of the super synths, maybe she had a different reaction: she wanted them to arrive. If she’s a synth, that could be because she wants to team up and attack organic civilisations – and that may explain why she’s teamed up with Lore and Moriarty, who are both artificial constructs. If she’s an organic, she may have simply been driven mad by the beacon’s vision and somehow come to worship the super-synths.
It was the intervention of Admiral Picard at the end of Season 1 that prevented the arrival of the super-synths at Coppelius, and if Starfleet took further action against the Zhat Vash in the aftermath of Season 1, such as shutting down the beacon on Aia, it may not be possible to construct another portal. Either way, as the person most responsible for stopping the super-synths, a devotee of theirs would surely hate Picard as a result.
Someone entirely new
In Season 1, both the Zhat Vash and super-synths were brand-new to Star Trek. Likewise in Season 2, a new story was told that didn’t rely on events or characters from past iterations of the franchise. So it has to be considered plausible – perhaps even more likely than not – that Captain Vadic is a brand-new character, and that the event in her past that kicked off her revenge obsession will also be new to us as the audience.
Modern Star Trek has, I feel, rather teased longstanding fans with implied or hinted connections that have ultimately failed to materialise. Discovery’s second season seemed to be setting up a possible Borg origin story – before that was ripped away in the season finale. Storylines in Seasons 3 and 4 also could have connected to events in Star Trek’s past, but decisions were taken to go in new directions again, despite seemingly teasing those potential ties. And as mentioned, both seasons of Picard have likewise not made major connections in terms of their main storylines.
Depending on your point of view, this can be a positive or negative thing! I would suggest, though, that after Season 2 spent a long time on an element of Picard’s personal history that was entirely new to us as the audience, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Captain Vadic was connected to an event that longstanding Star Trek fans would be familiar with.
The “mystery box” style of storytelling can work very well, but it can also feel rather hollow if the story doesn’t pull out an excellent ending, and when a connection to past iterations of Star Trek has been teased – as it arguably has been with Vadic’s quest for revenge – it could feel underwhelming if we’re once again confronted with some brand-new story that bears no relation to anything from The Next Generation or other aspects of Picard’s past that we already know. So there’s a potential stumbling block here, I fear.
So that’s it!
We’ve considered a few possibilities for who Captain Vadic could be and what her beef might be with Admiral Picard and his crew. As much as I like the idea of Vadic having a major connection to an event in The Next Generation or one of the films, if you forced me to place a bet right now, in November 2022, I’d have to put my money on her being someone brand-new, with her quest for vengeance stemming from an event that will also be entirely new to us as the audience. Two seasons of Picard in which Star Trek’s past didn’t matter (as well as similar things going on in Discovery) may have left me feeling a little jaded in that respect!
But regardless, it was fun to speculate. All of the suggestions I’ve made feel plausible at this juncture… based on what little we’ve seen of Captain Vadic in her sole appearance in one teaser trailer! It would certainly be fun, in a season that will bring back the main cast members of The Next Generation, if the villain they had to defeat was also someone from the past.
As mentioned, I don’t think we’ve yet seen all of Vadic’s friends and allies in what I’ve termed the “rogues’ gallery.” The most recent trailer showed us Professor Moriarty and Lore, but there seem to be at least four others with Captain Vadic on the bridge of her ship in one of the clips – and her ship will need more than just a handful of people on its crew! I think it’s possible that other villains from The Next Generation era, such as Sela or Bok, could make appearances in Season 3.
I’m looking forward to Season 3, even though I was generally unimpressed with much of Season 2. A return to space and a villain who feels rather Khan-esque promises to be a good combination, one that should lead to a fun and exciting story. When Season 3 premieres in February, I hope you’ll join me for episode reviews and perhaps some theory-crafting, and if we get any more trailers or significant announcements between now and then, I’ll take a look at those as well!
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.