Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 5

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of KhanThe Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, and Discovery.

We’re a bit late with this week’s theory update – but the latest episode of Picard isn’t out for another couple of hours at least… so I think we got away with it! Barely!

I enjoyed Imposters, and felt that it was a great episode – one of the best that the season has had to offer so far. It was fantastic to welcome back Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren – albeit for the final time! And as the conspiracy angle really ramps up, it feels as though the story could potentially go in some very different directions. And that’s great news for our theory list!

A glimpse behind the scenes!

There are several big changes to the theory list this week – including one “zombie” theory that is coming back from the dead! We’ve also got a couple of confirmations and one debunking to get through.

And as always, that’s where we’ll start.

Confirmed theory #1:
There are changeling infiltrators aboard other vessels.

Two rogue changeling infiltrators.

This one felt obvious as the conspiracy seemed to be growing, but it was still possible that there were only one or two changelings out in the wild! The Deep Space Nine duology Homefront and Paradise Lost saw a changeling infiltrator explain to Captain Sisko that there were only four well-placed changelings… and we saw in other stories that the changelings were less about numbers and far more interested in replacing well-positioned individuals.

This time, however, we learned that there are rogue changelings throughout Starfleet to such an extent that Ro Laren described the entire organisation as being “compromised.” There were at least four changelings aboard the Intrepid – perhaps more – and I think that speaks to there being dozens, hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of changelings spread throughout Starfleet across many ships. Even the admiralty could be compromised.

Confirmed theory #2:
An unannounced character returned!

Ro Laren in Imposters.

I felt it was a solid possibility that we’d get a surprise character inclusion, especially as the crew of the Enterprise-D made a return, and so it proved in Imposters. Ro Laren, who hadn’t been seen since The Next Generation Season 7 episode Preemptive Strike, made a triumphant return to Star Trek – and to Starfleet, too!

Ro’s return isn’t the end of this theory, though, and you can expect to see it remaining on the list. There are dozens of other characters from The Next Generation era that I’d love to welcome back to Star Trek – and in a story with such a strong Deep Space Nine component, characters from that series seem like an especially good fit.

Confirmed theory #3:
Ro Laren was the “prodigal crewman.”

Picard and Ro in The Next Generation.

This was a late addendum to the theory list, as Paramount chooses not to make all of its marketing material available to viewers and fans outside of the United States. Fuck you, Paramount. You useless, “America First” dicks.

Suffice to say that Ro Laren was on my list – along with a dozen others! But she seemed to fit the bill as a “prodigal” crewman with a strong connection to Picard, so I’m claiming this one as a win!

Debunked theory:
All of the other “prodigal crewmen.”

It wasn’t Elnor…

Although I put Ro Laren on my list, she wasn’t the only character I thought seemed plausible to fill that role. I suggested characters like Sela, Thomas Riker, and Lore… and even the possibility that Picard would end up creating a brand-new character to fill this role, as has happened on more than one occasion in the series so far.

There were several characters who felt genuinely plausible – not least those played by actors who we know (or are heavily rumoured) to be involved this season. There were cases to be made for a handful of characters… and cases that I tried hard to make for a few others to round out the list!

So those theories were confirmed and debunked this week.

Now let’s jump into the main theory list, beginning with theories that are brand-new or that saw significant movement as a result of the events of Imposters.

Theory #1:
Vadic is not a changeling.

Vadic’s changeling-hand.

The inverse of this theory was originally on my list, and I called it debunked last week. But I seem to be in a minority of one in interpreting Vadic as not being a changeling, with other outlets seeming to see her changeling appendage and conversation with Floaty McFloatface as confirmation of her own changeling status.

I would like to put forward several points to support this theory!

  • First of all, Vadic’s eccentric demeanour is unlike anything we’ve seen from changelings so far in Star Trek.
  • Secondly, Vadic’s facial scars would be something that wouldn’t happen to a changeling. If they did happen, they’re something we’d expect a changeling would be able to conceal.
  • Thirdly, Vadic hasn’t been seen speaking the clicking language of her crew or the Intrepid changelings.
  • Fourth, if Vadic was a changeling, why would she need to physically cut Floaty McFloatface off her body to have a conversation? They could simply communicate via linking.
  • Fifth, Vadic seems genuinely frightened of Floaty McFloatface.

Theory #2:
Jack Crusher’s hallucinations are connected to the Borg.

Jack is troubled by hallucinations.

At this point, it seems like Jack’s hallucinatory experiences must be connected to the changelings and their conspiracy. But I would like to suggest an alternative explanation: they’re from the Borg, and the feminine voice Jack has been hearing is the Borg Queen’s voice.

There have been multiple references this season to Picard’s assimilation at the hands of the Borg, and so far there isn’t an apparent connection between these references and the changelings’ conspiracy. But why keep bringing it up if it won’t be important? I feel all but certain that there is some kind of greater Borg connection to be revealed – and Jack’s hallucinations could be the key.

Theory #2-A:
Jack Crusher has Borg nanoprobes in his body.

Borg nanoprobes in Season 2.

If I’m right, and Jack’s hallucinations are connected to the Borg, one possible explanation could see Jack having Borg nanites in his system. There are plenty of technobabble ways this could have happened – perhaps they were present from the moment of his conception; dormant nanoprobes from Picard’s body. Or maybe Jack and Beverly used Borg technology aboard their ship, or during one of their medical missions.

We wouldn’t usually associate the colour red with the Borg – and that could count against this theory. Then again, if Jack’s eyes glowed green and his visions were of green tentacles and a green door, perhaps the Borg connection would be too unsubtle!

Theory #3:
The Borg are involved.

Borg drones in First Contact.

We’ve just looked at one possible way in which the Borg could be brought into the story – via Jack Crusher. But there are plenty of other ways to connect the story to the Borg. Firstly, we have the mysterious weapon or technology stolen from Daystrom Station. This could easily be Borg tech, as we know that Starfleet has been heavily involved in researching the Borg, even deploying Borg-derived technology aboard some of their newest starships. Secondly, there could be a changeling-Borg alliance of some kind, as both factions have a vested interest in stopping the Federation.

Again, this comes back to the heavy-handed insertion of Borg stories, particularly about Picard and his assimilation. Why should a story about rogue changelings keep coming back to Locutus and the Battle of Wolf-359 if there isn’t going to be some kind of bigger connection to be made?

Theory #4:
Jack Crusher has changeling DNA… somehow.

Is this Jack’s DNA?

Jack’s story this week delved a little deeper into his hallucinatory experiences, but what was perhaps even more interesting is that we saw two physical changes in him, too. Firstly, Jack’s eyes glowed red for a split second, and secondly, Jack seemed to have a moment of incredible physical strength and fighting prowess.

Jack clearly has no idea what’s going on or why any of this is happening to him. And the question of how Jack might’ve come to have a combination of human and changeling DNA is an open one! Perhaps something happened to him while on one of his medical missions. Regardless, if I’m right then maybe the strand of DNA shown off in the closing credits will be Jack’s.

Theory #5:
Professor Moriarty is the “sophisticated AI” at Daystrom Station.

Professor Moriarty.

Based on the glimpses that we caught of Moriarty in pre-season trailers and images of Daystrom Station seen in Imposters, it seems likely that we’ll encounter Moriarty in the upcoming episode. Access to Daystrom Station is said to be controlled by a “sophisticated AI,” and that description could also apply to Moriarty himself!

Put two and two together and I think we can make the case that Moriarty is the AI, and that somehow he came to be employed as the guardian of Daystrom Station. Whether he’s in that capacity voluntarily… well, I think that’s still to be revealed!

Theory #6:
Daystrom Station is operated by Section 31… and ex-Terran Empress Georgiou will be found there.

Is this just a silly idea?

This one is definitely “out there,” at least in terms of its second part! But I think it would make for a fascinating story if it were to unfold. During Discovery’s third season, Georgiou entered the Guardian of Forever’s portal, being sent to an unknown destination and time period. What if she emerged in the late 24th Century and resumed her work with Section 31? Or perhaps Section 31 didn’t know what to do with Georgiou and placed her in some kind of stasis… aboard Daystrom Station.

Despite the two shows running alongside one another for two full seasons apiece, there hasn’t been a single solid connection between Discovery and Picard… and time’s running out to make one. The shock return of Georgiou could not only be a wonderful crossover, but could prove that there’s still a pathway to dragging the Section 31 series out of development hell.

Theory #7:
At least one more unannounced character will make an appearance!

My money’s on Morn…

It was fantastic to see Ro Laren make a return to Star Trek in Imposters. But will she be the only unannounced character to appear? I’m not so sure!

There were surprises in both of Picard’s first two seasons, so I’m not convinced that we won’t see at least one more character making a return. There have been rumours, theories, and guesses from Trekkies for months as to who may or may not be included… and all I can really say is that Ro’s surprise return has increased the likelihood of this happening.

With the changelings involved in a big way, characters from Deep Space Nine would be perfect to include – but practically anyone from The Next Generation era could show up.

Theory #8:
At least one main character will be killed.

Spock’s funeral in The Wrath of Khan.

The death of Ro Laren has shaken Picard and the crew… but it’s also shaken up this theory! The fundamental question is this: is Ro’s death a harbinger of things to come? Or is it simply a narrative device used to show how high the stakes are? I think there’s a solid case to make that Picard and the crew are in danger.

Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations! It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing it could pay off a character arc that’s been running for well over three decades.

I made a list of who I thought could be in danger before the season began, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

So those theories are new or saw significant movement this week.

Next, as always, I’ll recap all of the other theories that are currently in play. Despite not seeing much attention in Imposters, all of these theories remain on the table as we head into the second half of the season.

Theory #9:
Vadic is a veteran of the Battle of Wolf-359.

The Battle of Wolf-359.

One thing that has confused me about the story so far is that there have been multiple Borg references, and specifically references to the events of The Best of Both Worlds. These references have come in a story about changelings and Dr Crusher’s son – a story that doesn’t have a readily apparent Borg angle.

One way in which this circle could be squared, and these references made to feel meaningful, is if Vadic was herself a veteran of the Battle of Wolf-359. This would give her an immediate connection not only to Picard, Riker, and the crew of the Enterprise-D, but also to Captain Shaw. We could learn, perhaps, that Vadic had been a low-level Starfleet officer or crewman, and that she’d left Starfleet after being traumatised by the events of the battle. She could even turn out to be one of the other survivors of the USS Constance – meaning she’d once served alongside Shaw.

Theory #10:
The rogue changelings are responsible for the mysterious anomaly seen in Season 2.

The anomaly in the Season 2 finale.

It didn’t escape my notice that the events of Season 2 were referenced – albeit incredibly briefly – by Captain Shaw in No Win Scenario. That being said, this theory still feels like somewhat of a long-shot just based on how Picard seems to have moved on from what happened last year.

In short, what I’m suggesting is that the mysterious anomaly that was a big part of the story of Season 2 will turn out to be a weapon of some kind deployed by the rogue changelings, either as part of or as a precursor to their plan to attack Starfleet and the Federation. This would explain Dr Jurati’s comment that the anomaly seemed to be artificial in nature – and it would tie up a massive loose end from last season.

Theory #11:
The rogue changelings are planning attacks on the Klingon Empire and the Romulans.

A joint Federation-Klingon task force during the Dominion War.
Image Credit: JTVFX on YouTube

It wasn’t only the Federation that opposed the Founders during the Dominion War. The Klingons, Romulans, and later a Cardassian resistance movement all played significant roles in preventing the Dominion from conquering the Alpha Quadrant – so it stands to reason that the rogue changelings would be looking to get revenge on these powers, too.

Despite having had two full seasons of Picard already – one of which had a major Romulan theme – we still don’t know much about the state of the galaxy in political terms. Are the Federation, Romulans, and Klingons on friendly terms in this era, or has the Dominion War alliance of necessity fallen apart? After the Zhat Vash plot was exposed, what happened to Federation-Romulan relations? All of these things would be interesting to explore, and the rogue changelings’ plot could lead to such a storyline. For now, though, suffice to say I suspect that the Federation may not be the only target that the rogue changelings have in mind!

Theory #12:
The rogue changelings may also be targeting the Bajorans and Cardassians.

Legate Damar led a Cardassian resistance movement against the Dominion.

These two factions played smaller roles during the Dominion War in some respects, with the Cardassians serving as Dominion allies (and members of the Dominion), and Bajor signing an official non-aggression pact with the Dominion. However, both the Bajorans and Cardassians later opposed the Dominion, and the Prophets – who are strongly aligned with Bajor – arguably turned the tide of the entire war.

If the rogue changelings are on the move, I would suspect that the Federation, Romulans, and Klingons would be their main targets as it was these powers who played the biggest and most obvious roles in the conflict. But Bajor and Cardassia may not be safe.

Again, we don’t know enough about the geopolitics of this era! Bajor may have joined the Federation, and even Cardassia could be under Federation protection. If so, that changes the dynamic.

Theory #13:
The rogue changelings are planning to cripple Starfleet.

The Enterprise-F and other Federation starships as seen in a pre-season trailer.

The precise number of ships that Starfleet has has always been a tad vague, adaptable to different stories. But I think we can safely assume that there are several hundred ships in Starfleet at any one time. Many of these, though, will be science vessels, ships of exploration, or even transport ships. The number of tactical vessels and combat-ready front-line ships is going to be a lot smaller.

With that in mind, a coordinated strike against these ships could cripple the Federation’s ability to defend itself. We already know that the rogue changeling aboard the Titan had a bomb that they used to severely damage the ship – if other rogue changeling operatives are similarly equipped, they could potentially take out Starfleet’s best and most powerful vessels in one fell swoop.

Theory #14:
Vadic backstory ideas.

We still don’t know who Vadic is.

If I’m correct and Vadic isn’t a changeling, then I have some other possible origins in play for the season’s only named villain. I wrote a list months ago, after Vadic first made her debut in pre-season marketing material, and suggested several ways that Vadic could be connected to Star Trek’s past. We looked at one such idea above – that Vadic may be a veteran of Wolf-359 and an ex-Starfleet officer or crewman, but there are a handful of others.

  • A former member of Picard’s crew, perhaps someone who was injured or left for dead while serving under his command,
  • An ex-Borg, either someone who was assimilated while serving on Picard’s crew or perhaps someone from the Artifact in Season 1,
  • An augment, potentially tied to Season 2’s Adam Soong or even Khan himself,
  • A Romulan or ally of the Romulans, with a potential tie to Sela.

Theory #15:
Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.

Vadic with two members of her crew.

I’m close to retiring this theory, to tell the truth, but until we’ve spent a bit more time with Vadic and the masked crew of the Shrike, there’s still a slim chance that it could pan out.

When we first saw Moriarty and Lore in pre-season trailers, I wondered whether they might be members of Vadic’s crew. If so, I theorised that they may just be the tip of the iceberg, and that Vadic may have allies from across The Next Generation era – particularly people who hated Picard and could conceivably want to seek revenge against him. I suggested characters like Sela, Toral, Commodore Oh, and even Thomas Riker as possible candidates.

You can see the full list by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #16:
Vadic’s crew are Jem’Hadar.

A Jem’Hadar warrior as seen in Deep Space Nine.

Another theory that may not pan out! If Vadic is a Founder, she may have brought Jem’Hadar with her, or perhaps the rogue changelings were breeding their own Jem’Hadar. The clicking language spoken by both Vadic’s crew and the changelings aboard the Intrepid could count against this theory – or be a point in its favour!

It stands to reason that, if a group of rogue changelings are making moves against the Federation, that at least some Jem’Hadar could be involved as well. I’d actually quite like to see what an updated Jem’Hadar design could look like in 2023!

Theory #17:
Captain Shaw will be killed.

Shaw in Imposters.

Now that Shaw has had his explosive moment with Picard, revealing his involvement at the Battle of Wolf-359, the end could be near for the “dipshit from Chicago.” We’ve already seen how the Titan having multiple captains on board complicates the story, and if there is to be any kind of “Seven of Nine show” as a spin-off, it makes sense that Shaw might need to be removed from the captain’s chair in order to make that happen.

There’s still a lot of potential in Shaw, and he certainly could have more to contribute to the story. However, there are other potential reasons why killing him off could be on the agenda! If the writers want the impact of killing a major character, but don’t want the controversy of killing off a legacy character, then Captain Shaw could be on the chopping block. His death could raise the stakes significantly as the story has passed its halfway point.

Theory #18:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D in a promo photo for Season 5 of The Next Generation.

I think we can safely say that Picard, Riker, the Crushers, Captain Shaw, and Seven of Nine aren’t changelings. But that still leaves several major characters who could potentially have been replaced!

With changelings on the move, basically anyone could have been replaced, and it won’t always be easy to tell. It seems possible that someone like Geordi, Troi, or perhaps even Raffi could be replaced by changeling infiltrators before they link up with Picard and the crew of the Titan, and it may not be possible to know who to trust.

With one changeling infiltrator storyline having already played out, though, it will have to be handled carefully so as not to feel repetitive! Still, I can’t help but wonder if a changeling imposter may be a big revelation in a future episode.

Theory #19:
Not all of Raffi’s messages were from Worf.

Could someone have hacked Raffi’s comms?

As the changeling infiltration story deepens, I think it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone involved in the conspiracy – Vadic, perhaps – was sending messages to Raffi claiming to be her handler. These messages may have been false leads, irrelevant information, or other attempts to throw her off the trail. If so, it worked – Raffi wasn’t able to stop the attack on the Federation facility in time.

Narratively speaking, there was a good reason to keep Worf hidden until the end of Disengage: it made his last-second appearance all the more dramatic. But could there be another reason why Raffi’s messages came through in text form, read aloud by a disembodied digital voice? I wonder.

Theory #20:
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

Could we learn what Dr Borgati is up to?

I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in the season premiere, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.

But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.

I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!

Theory #21:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

The crew of La Sirena at the end of Season 1.

Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I first saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?

It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!

Theory #22:
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.

Lore.

Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the final trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.

Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, neither posed a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!

Theory #23:
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.

Professor Moriarty.

This theory seems to have moved significantly now that we know the changelings are involved! In brief, I’d suggested that Picard and the crew might be unable to trust organics, and that could explain why they may turn to artificial life forms like Lore and Professor Moriarty to aid them. With the inclusion of the Founders in the story, that possibility feels as if it could’ve just moved one step closer.

If it’s hard or even impossible to detect a changeling infiltrator, then synthetic life-forms may be the only ones that Picard can be certain are who they say they are. That could explain why Picard and the crew might re-activate these one-time enemies. It does raise a pertinent question, though: if Picard needs help from artificial life-forms, why not ask Soji and the Coppelius synths for help?

It does seem like one heck of a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty – both of whom are synthetic – are involved in this story!

Theory #24:
Vadic will be killed by her own portal-weapon.

The USS Titan and one of the portals.

This idea is a pretty simple one: as often happens to villains in stories like these, Captain Vadic will end up being killed by her own powerful weapon. We saw the portal-weapon used against the Titan in Seventeen Seconds, and I can absolutely see a pathway to Picard and the crew capturing it or gaining control of it, and turning it against Vadic.

There can be something poetic about an evil villain being destroyed by their own weapon, so I can’t help but feel that Vadic may meet her end by being spliced through one of her own portals!

Theory #25:
Odo will make an appearance – somehow.

Odo in Deep Space Nine.

I don’t know how I feel about this one. It was sweet to see Worf make reference to Odo in Seventeen Seconds – though the connection could have been clearer, especially for more casual viewers – but I’m not convinced that we need to see Odo for ourselves. The reason for that is simple: the only way we could see Odo is either by re-casting the character or recreating him through some kind of CGI process.

Star Trek has successfully re-cast many characters over the years, so I don’t really take exception to that. But the death of actor René Auberjonois is still recent and fresh in our minds, so bringing Odo back without him just feels… uncomfortable. Although Odo is well-suited to a story in which the changelings are back, I think I’d rather he didn’t appear in person on this occasion. But I wanted to acknowledge that it’s at least a plausible development for the story.

Theory #26:
Lore and/or Professor Moriarty were stolen from Daystrom Station.

The Titan at Daystrom Station as seen in an episode trailer.

I don’t think it’s been confirmed that the Daystrom Institute and Daystrom Station are one and the same, but it’s certainly implied that they’re two parts of the same organisation. The Daystrom Institute, where Dr Jurati worked prior to the events of Season 1, is involved in the development of computer technology within the Federation, and was where Dr Bruce Maddox wanted to disassemble and study Data. We saw in Season 1 that B-4 (an early Data prototype) had been disassembled and was being stored at the Daystrom Institute… and when I heard that “something” had been stolen from there, my thoughts immediately turned to Lore.

Both Lore and Professor Moriarty had been deactivated when we last saw them, and the question of how either will fit into the story of this season is still an open one. I also can’t be sure what Vadic and/or the rogue changelings would want with Lore and/or Moriarty – but given how we saw that synths could be reprogrammed in Season 1, perhaps that could be part of it? Either way, these malevolent artificial life-forms could be dangerous if they allied themselves to the rogue changelings.

Theory #27:
A spin-off series will be announced.

Alex Kurtzman is currently in charge of Star Trek over at Paramount.
Image Credit: StarTrek.com

Sad news came out from Paramount shortly after the episode Seventeen Seconds aired: Star Trek: Discovery has been cancelled and will end after its upcoming fifth season. This moment would have been a good time to announce a new Star Trek project; something to replace Discovery in the line-up. But it didn’t happen.

With Picard also ending, and no confirmation as yet of new seasons beyond what has already been announced for any of the other shows, Star Trek’s future beyond 2024 feels as if it’s hanging in the balance.

I’d already said that this was as much a hope as a theory; I’d love Paramount to announce a new Star Trek series of any kind, but a 25th Century project that would potentially tie in with Picard would be at the top of my list. There are options: a series focusing on Seven of Nine, a revived Section 31 show, or the Starfleet Academy series that has been the subject of many rumours. But so far, nothing has been announced. With all eyes on the Star Trek franchise right now, making such an announcement before Picard comes to an end would be good timing… so watch this space, I guess!

So that’s it!

Dr Crusher performed an autopsy on a dead changeling this week…

As we enter the second half of the season, we sure do have a long and unwieldy list of theories! But that’s okay: there’s plenty of time left to see them all debunked as the story goes in a wildly unpredictable direction! I was thrilled to see Ro Laren come back this week… and sad to see her meet her end. But her death has really communicated the scale of the danger Picard and the crew are facing – and that could mean that not all of them will make it to the end of the season alive and unharmed.

As a final note: I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 4

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of KhanThe Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, and Discovery.

No Win Scenario has certainly shaken up the theory list! Although I’d argue it wasn’t quite as enjoyable an episode as Seventeen Seconds had been last week, there were still plenty of fun and exciting moments. The first chapter of Season 3 has now drawn to a close, but in terms of mysteries, the story is just getting started!

If you missed it, I hope you’ll go back and check out my review of No Win Scenario, as I go into detail about different elements of the episode. Some worked exceptionally well, one sequence in particular was incredibly emotional and cathartic, and some others… well, let’s just say there were a few moments that weren’t as enjoyable as the rest! You can find my review by clicking or tapping here.

A cute spacefaring critter.

There are some big changes this week for the theory list! We have four debunkings, one semi-confirmation, and two confirmations, as well as a couple of brand-new theories that are joining the party!

As always, we begin with confirmations and debunkings.

Confirmed theory #1:
Vadic has an additional reason for chasing Jack and the Titan.

Vadic in this week’s episode.

I felt certain that “money” couldn’t possibly be Vadic’s sole motive for chasing Jack Crusher, and while we still don’t know the details, we at least got confirmation this week that there’s more going on here. Vadic is doing the bidding of a changeling for some reason, and the changeling has a particular interest in Jack.

I’m glad that there’s more to Vadic than something as bland and uninspired as looking for a big paycheck. There’s potential now to explore her character a lot more, really flesh out what’s going on and what her connection to the rogue changelings could be, and provide a satisfying end to the mysteries that have been set up so far.

Confirmed theory #2:
Captain Shaw lost someone to the Borg.

Debris in the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf-359.

Or rather, several someones. Captain Shaw saw the crew of the USS Constance – many of whom will have been friends and colleagues – killed during the Battle of Wolf-359 almost forty years prior to the events of Picard Season 3. This explains his characterisation in the show thus far, and particularly the prejudice he’s shown toward Seven of Nine and Picard.

His anger toward ex-Borg is certainly misdirected, especially insofar as Seven is concerned, and I don’t think we can simply give Shaw a pass because of what he went through. The trauma clearly played a huge role in shaping who he is, though, and while it doesn’t justify his treatment of Picard and Seven, at least now we know he isn’t just being a jerk for no reason at all.

As I said in my review, though: I’m not exactly blown away by this revelation, and it feels very familiar to anyone who’s seen Deep Space Nine.

Semi-confirmed theory:
Jack has a connection to Vadic.

Jack in No Win Scenario.

I’m calling this one “semi-confirmed,” because while I didn’t get the details exactly right, there is still a connection of some kind between Jack and Vadic, as noted above. Vadic’s changeling boss is directing her to pursue and capture Jack – for reasons that are still unclear – so there’s more to this chase than simply trying to cash in on a bounty.

At the moment, Vadic is mostly off to one side in her own little narrative box, and has only been able to interact with the crew of the Titan via viewscreen a couple of episodes ago. I hope that there will be time in the episodes ahead to have more interaction between Vadic and Jack in particular.

Debunked theory #1:
The changelings are hiding in the nebula.

It wasn’t changelings after all…

When the Titan’s science officer flagged up “organic” elements present in the nebula, I wondered if that could indicate that at least some of the changelings are nearby. We saw in Deep Space Nine that the changelings’ homeworld was hidden inside a nebula, so it seemed like a reasonable assumption that the rogue changelings might also use a nebula to keep their base out of sight.

However, it didn’t pan out – and I think it would have felt like quite the contrivance if the Titan had stumbled on the changelings’ hideout seemingly by accident!

Debunked theory #2:
The changelings are the nebula.

The nebula.

For the same reason given above, it didn’t seem impossible to think that the changelings could have actually formed the nebula themselves. We saw in Deep Space Nine that changelings are able to exist in a gaseous state, and appearing as a random, unwelcoming phenomenon on the outskirts of a minor star system could have been a great hiding place!

The story that we got, however, was truly excellent, and one that managed to recapture that occasionally elusive sense of “Star Trek.” Seeing the spacefaring life-forms being born was an incredibly sweet moment, and far better than if the nebula had turned out to be a group of linked changelings!

Debunked theory #3:
Riker is a changeling.

Captain Riker at the end of No Win Scenario.

I wondered about this last week, based mostly on random pieces of evidence that had been scattered across the trailers and the first couple of episodes. In short, I wondered if Riker may have been replaced by a changeling while beaming back to the Titan from the Eleos. We caught a glimpse of Riker seemingly imprisoned in an earlier trailer, and since we know there’s a bigger conspiracy in the offing, it seemed possible that the changelings might seek to replace a starship captain.

However, Riker’s story in No Win Scenario clearly disproves this idea! Riker was dejected for much of the episode, and spent a long time trying to find the right words to leave behind in the event that the Titan didn’t make it.

Debunked theory #4:
Vadic is a changeling.

Vadic on the bridge of the Shrike.

Vadic has a changeling appendage – but I think it’s pretty clear now that she isn’t a changeling herself. This shakes things up in more ways than one, as the relationship between Vadic and the rogue changelings’ conspiracy isn’t cut and dry; there may be conflicting ideas and motivations here.

Still, when we knew that the changelings were involved – and that Vadic was in contact with a changeling spy embedded aboard the Titan – it seemed like a reasonable assumption that she could’ve been a changeling herself!

So those theories have been debunked or confirmed.

Now it’s time for the main event: the theory list! We’ll start with new theories and theories that saw movement as a result of events in No Win Scenario.

Theory #1:
Vadic is a veteran of the Battle of Wolf-359.

The Borg cube that was involved in the battle.

One thing that has confused me about the story so far is that there have been multiple Borg references, and specifically references to the events of The Best of Both Worlds. These references have come in a story about changelings and Dr Crusher’s son – a story that doesn’t have a readily apparent Borg angle.

One way in which this circle could be squared, and these references made to feel meaningful, is if Vadic was herself a veteran of the Battle of Wolf-359. This would give her an immediate connection not only to Picard, Riker, and the crew of the Enterprise-D, but also to Captain Shaw. We could learn, perhaps, that Vadic had been a low-level Starfleet officer or crewman, and that she’d left Starfleet after being traumatised by the events of the battle. She could even turn out to be one of the other survivors of the USS Constance – meaning she’d once served alongside Shaw.

Theory #2:
Jack Crusher has changeling DNA… somehow.

Whose DNA is this?

Why do the changelings want Jack so badly? Why does Jack have strange visions of blood-red vines and an opening door? And why do we prominently see what appears to be a strand of DNA in the closing credits? If I’m right, then Jack will – somehow – have a combination of human and changeling DNA. How this happened… well, he and Dr Crusher have spent years on the front lines delivering medical supplies and taking risks. Perhaps something that happened to them on their travels brought Jack into contact with a changeling.

I don’t think that Jack knows what’s going on, and if such a connection were revealed, it would probably be as much of a surprise to him as it will be to us as the audience!

Having established Jack as the son of Dr Crusher and Picard, it would be difficult to say that he is a changeling; an imposter. But maybe that’s the direction the story will go. I suspect it may be subtler than that, though, and just like Vadic has a changeling hand, Jack may have some kind of changeling DNA without actually being a changeling himself.

Theory #3:
The rogue changelings are responsible for the mysterious anomaly seen in Season 2.

The anomaly in the Season 2 finale.

It didn’t escape my notice that the events of Season 2 were referenced – albeit incredibly briefly – by Captain Shaw in No Win Scenario. That being said, this theory still feels like somewhat of a long-shot just based on how Picard seems to have moved on from what happened last year.

In short, what I’m suggesting is that the mysterious anomaly that was a big part of the story of Season 2 will turn out to be a weapon of some kind deployed by the rogue changelings, either as part of or as a precursor to their plan to attack Starfleet and the Federation. This would explain Dr Jurati’s comment that the anomaly seemed to be artificial in nature – and it would tie up a massive loose end from last season.

Theory #4:
The rogue changelings are planning attacks on the Klingon Empire and the Romulans.

A joint Federation-Klingon task force during the Dominion War.
Image Credit: JTVFX on YouTube

It wasn’t only the Federation that opposed the Founders during the Dominion War. The Klingons, Romulans, and later a Cardassian resistance movement all played significant roles in preventing the Dominion from conquering the Alpha Quadrant – so it stands to reason that the rogue changelings would be looking to get revenge on these powers, too.

Despite having had two full seasons of Picard already – one of which had a major Romulan theme – we still don’t know much about the state of the galaxy in political terms. Are the Federation, Romulans, and Klingons on friendly terms in this era, or has the Dominion War alliance of necessity fallen apart? After the Zhat Vash plot was exposed, what happened to Federation-Romulan relations? All of these things would be interesting to explore, and the rogue changelings’ plot could lead to such a storyline. For now, though, suffice to say I suspect that the Federation may not be the only target that the rogue changelings have in mind!

Theory #5:
The rogue changelings may also be targeting the Bajorans and Cardassians.

Legate Damar led a Cardassian resistance movement against the Dominion.

These two factions played smaller roles during the Dominion War in some respects, with the Cardassians serving as Dominion allies (and members of the Dominion), and Bajor signing an official non-aggression pact with the Dominion. However, both the Bajorans and Cardassians later opposed the Dominion, and the Prophets – who are strongly aligned with Bajor – arguably turned the tide of the entire war.

If the rogue changelings are on the move, I would suspect that the Federation, Romulans, and Klingons would be their main targets as it was these powers who played the biggest and most obvious roles in the conflict. But Bajor and Cardassia may not be safe.

Again, we don’t know enough about the geopolitics of this era! Bajor may have joined the Federation, and even Cardassia could be under Federation protection. If so, that changes the dynamic.

Theory #6:
There are changeling infiltrators aboard dozens of Starfleet vessels.

A Starfleet armada seen in Season 2.

No offence to Captain Shaw and Commander Seven… but the Titan isn’t exactly the most important ship in the fleet. Prior to Picard and Riker commandeering it for their off-the-books rescue mission, it was a minor exploratory vessel that doesn’t seem to have played a significant role in any major event, nor is it at the heart of the Federation’s defensive strategy.

Despite the ship’s relative unimportance, however, the rogue changelings still planted a spy aboard the Titan. If a ship like the Titan has an embedded changeling, it stands to reason that other ships do, too – perhaps a great many others. Their missions may be to sabotage the ships, either subtly, as we saw with the Titan, or more explosively…

Theory #7:
The rogue changelings are planning to cripple Starfleet.

A clip from a pre-season trailer showed a Federation starship suffering damage to one of its nacelles.

The precise number of ships that Starfleet has has always been a tad vague, adaptable to different stories. But I think we can safely assume that there are several hundred ships in Starfleet at any one time. Many of these, though, will be science vessels, ships of exploration, or even transport ships. The number of tactical vessels and combat-ready front-line ships is going to be a lot smaller.

With that in mind, a coordinated strike against these ships could cripple the Federation’s ability to defend itself. We already know that the rogue changeling aboard the Titan had a bomb that they used to severely damage the ship – if other rogue changeling operatives are similarly equipped, they could potentially take out Starfleet’s best and most powerful vessels in one fell swoop.

Theory #8:
Vadic backstory ideas.

We still don’t know who Vadic is.

We’ve ruled out the idea that Vadic is a changeling, but I still have some other possible origins in play for the season’s only named villain. I wrote a list months ago, after Vadic first made her debut in pre-season marketing material, and suggested several ways that Vadic could be connected to Star Trek’s past. We looked at one such idea above – that Vadic may be a veteran of Wolf-359 and an ex-Starfleet officer or crewman, but there are a handful of others.

  • A former member of Picard’s crew, perhaps someone who was injured or left for dead while serving under his command,
  • An ex-Borg, either someone who was assimilated while serving on Picard’s crew or perhaps someone from the Artifact in Season 1,
  • An augment, potentially tied to Season 2’s Adam Soong or even Khan himself,
  • A Romulan or ally of the Romulans, with a potential tie to Sela,
  • A member of Insurrection’s Son’a.

Theory #9:
Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.

Vadic with two members of her crew.

I’m close to retiring this theory, to tell the truth, but until we’ve spent a bit more time with Vadic and the masked crew of the Shrike, there’s still a slim chance that it could pan out.

When we first saw Moriarty and Lore in pre-season trailers, I wondered whether they might be members of Vadic’s crew. If so, I theorised that they may just be the tip of the iceberg, and that Vadic may have allies from across The Next Generation era – particularly people who hated Picard and could conceivably want to seek revenge against him. I suggested characters like Sela, Toral, Commodore Oh, and even Thomas Riker as possible candidates.

You can see the full list by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #10:
Vadic’s crew are Jem’Hadar.

A Jem’Hadar warrior as seen in Deep Space Nine.

Another theory that may not pan out! Now that we know Vadic is almost certainly not a changeling, the likelihood of this one seems to have dropped dramatically. In short, I speculated last time that if Vadic is a Founder, she may have brought Jem’Hadar with her, or perhaps even that the rogue changelings were breeding their own Jem’Hadar.

Given that there is a connection, though, and that Vadic has a changeling (or part of a changeling) aboard her vessel, we could still potentially see some Jem’Hadar warriors amongst her crew.

Theory #11:
The Borg are involved.

The first Borg drone ever seen in Star Trek.

With a surprisingly large portion of No Win Scenario taken up with telling stories about the Borg, perhaps the chances of a bigger Borg connection have just increased! After all, why should the narrative keep returning to the Borg if there isn’t something else going on to make such inclusions relevant?

Last week, I suggested two possibilities for Borg involvement. Firstly, the rogue changelings may have stolen Borg technology from Daystrom Station – tech that could even be from the Artifact. This technology may be part of how they plan to attack Starfleet. Secondly, it doesn’t seem entirely impossible for the rogue changelings to have allied themselves with the Borg – after all, both factions would have reasons for wanting to see the Federation and Starfleet weakened or defeated, and the Borg have shown a willingness to make alliances before.

Theory #12:
Captain Shaw will be killed.

Shaw in No Win Scenario.

Now that Shaw has had his explosive moment with Picard, revealing his involvement at the Battle of Wolf-359, the end could be near for the “dipshit from Chicago.” We’ve already seen how the Titan having multiple captains on board complicates the story, and if there is to be any kind of “Seven of Nine show” as a spin-off, it makes sense that Shaw might need to be removed from the captain’s chair in order to make that happen.

There’s still a lot of potential in Shaw, and he certainly could have more to contribute to the story. However, there are other potential reasons why killing him off could be on the agenda! If the writers want the impact of killing a major character, but don’t want the controversy of killing off a legacy character, then Captain Shaw could be on the chopping block. His death could raise the stakes significantly as the story approaches its halfway point.

Theory #13:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D in a promo photo for Season 2 of The Next Generation.

So we’ve ruled out the likes of Riker and Vadic being changelings, and I think we can safely say that Picard, the Crushers, Captain Shaw, and Seven of Nine aren’t changelings either. But that still leaves several major characters who could potentially have been replaced! The title of the upcoming episode is Imposters, which could also be a hint!

With changelings on the move, basically anyone could have been replaced, and it won’t always be easy to tell. It seems possible that someone like Geordi, Troi, or perhaps even Raffi could be replaced by changeling infiltrators before they link up with Picard and the crew of the Titan, and it may not be possible to know who to trust.

With one changeling infiltrator storyline having already played out, though, it will have to be handled carefully so as not to feel repetitive! Still, I can’t help but wonder if a changeling imposter may be a big revelation in a future episode.

Theory #14:
Not all of Raffi’s messages were from Worf.

Could someone have hacked Raffi’s comms?

As the changeling infiltration story deepens, I think it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone involved in the conspiracy – Vadic, perhaps – was sending messages to Raffi claiming to be her handler. These messages may have been false leads, irrelevant information, or other attempts to throw her off the trail. If so, it worked – Raffi wasn’t able to stop the attack on the Federation facility in time.

Narratively speaking, there was a good reason to keep Worf hidden until the end of Disengage: it made his last-second appearance all the more dramatic. But could there be another reason why Raffi’s messages came through in text form, read aloud by a disembodied digital voice? I wonder.

So those theories are new or moved significantly in No Win Scenario.

Now, in order to keep the theories all in one place, I’ll recap everything else that’s currently in play. These theories weren’t touched in this week’s episode.

Theory #15:
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

Could we learn why Soji isn’t going to join Picard this time around?

I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in the season premiere, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.

But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.

I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!

Theory #16:
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!

Could it be Harry Kim?

There have been theories and guesses from Trekkies for basically a whole year about which other characters from The Next Generation era could appear in Season 3. I don’t claim to know who might be included – but it feels like a pretty solid guess to say that someone from The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and/or Voyager will put in an appearance.

This could be a simple cameo, or an appearance similar to those seen in episodes like Encounter at Farpoint and Caretaker. Or there could be a real hidden surprise, with a character basically joining Picard’s mission. We didn’t really know the extent of Seven of Nine’s involvement in Season 1 until it happened, nor the extent of Brent Spiner’s roles in Seasons 1 and 2… so there’s at least the possibility of some kind of big surprise!

Theory #17:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

The crew of La Sirena at the end of Season 1.

Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I first saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?

It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!

Theory #18:
At least one main character will be killed.

A Starfleet coffin.

It feels like a solid possibility that at least one main character won’t make it to the end of the season. Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations!

It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing, it could succeed at either setting up the story or paying off a season-long character arc.

I made a list of who I thought could be in danger before the season began, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #19:
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.

Lore is coming back…

Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the final trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.

Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, neither posed a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!

Theory #20:
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.

Professor Moriarty.

This theory seems to have moved significantly now that we know the changelings are involved! In brief, I’d suggested that Picard and the crew might be unable to trust organics, and that could explain why they may turn to artificial life forms like Lore and Professor Moriarty to aid them. With the inclusion of the Founders in the story, that possibility feels as if it could’ve just moved one step closer.

If it’s hard or even impossible to detect a changeling infiltrator, then synthetic life-forms may be the only ones that Picard can be certain are who they say they are. That could explain why Picard and the crew might re-activate these one-time enemies. It does raise a pertinent question, though: if Picard needs help from artificial life-forms, why not ask Soji and the Coppelius synths for help?

It does seem like one heck of a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty – both of whom are synthetic – are involved in this story!

Theory #21:
Vadic will be killed by her own portal-weapon.

The USS Titan and one of the portals.

This idea is a pretty simple one: as often happens to villains in stories like these, Captain Vadic will end up being killed by her own powerful weapon. We saw the portal-weapon used against the Titan in Seventeen Seconds, and I can absolutely see a pathway to Picard and the crew capturing it or gaining control of it, and turning it against Vadic.

There can be something poetic about an evil villain being destroyed by their own weapon, so I can’t help but feel that Vadic may meet her end by being spliced through one of her own portals!

Theory #22:
Odo will make an appearance – somehow.

Odo in Deep Space Nine.

I don’t know how I feel about this one. It was sweet to see Worf make reference to Odo in Seventeen Seconds – though the connection could have been clearer, especially for more casual viewers – but I’m not convinced that we need to see Odo for ourselves. The reason for that is simple: the only way we could see Odo is either by re-casting the character or recreating him through some kind of CGI process.

Star Trek has successfully re-cast many characters over the years, so I don’t really take exception to that. But the death of actor René Auberjonois is still recent and fresh in our minds, so bringing Odo back without him just feels… uncomfortable. Although Odo is well-suited to a story in which the changelings are back, I think I’d rather he didn’t appear in person on this occasion. But I wanted to acknowledge that it’s at least a plausible development for the story.

Theory #23:
Lore and/or Professor Moriarty were stolen from Daystrom Station.

Lore in his first appearance.

I don’t think it’s been confirmed that the Daystrom Institute and Daystrom Station are one and the same, but it’s certainly implied that they’re two parts of the same organisation. The Daystrom Institute, where Dr Jurati worked prior to the events of Season 1, is involved in the development of computer technology within the Federation, and was where Dr Bruce Maddox wanted to disassemble and study Data. We saw in Season 1 that B-4 (an early Data prototype) had been disassembled and was being stored at the Daystrom Institute… and when I heard that “something” had been stolen from there, my thoughts immediately turned to Lore.

Both Lore and Professor Moriarty had been deactivated when we last saw them, and the question of how either will fit into the story of this season is still an open one. I also can’t be sure what Vadic and/or the rogue changelings would want with Lore and/or Moriarty – but given how we saw that synths could be reprogrammed in Season 1, perhaps that could be part of it? Either way, these malevolent artificial life-forms could be dangerous if they allied themselves to the rogue changelings.

Theory #24:
A spin-off series will be announced.

Alex Kurtzman is currently in charge of Star Trek over at Paramount.

Sad news came out from Paramount shortly after the episode Seventeen Seconds aired: Star Trek: Discovery has been cancelled and will end after its upcoming fifth season. This moment would have been a good time to announce a new Star Trek project; something to replace Discovery in the line-up. But it didn’t happen.

With Picard also ending, and no confirmation as yet of new seasons beyond what has already been announced for any of the other shows, Star Trek’s future beyond 2024 feels as if it’s hanging in the balance.

I’d already said that this was as much a hope as a theory; I’d love Paramount to announce a new Star Trek series of any kind, but a 25th Century project that would potentially tie in with Picard would be at the top of my list. There are options: a series focusing on Seven of Nine, a revived Section 31 show, or the Starfleet Academy series that has been the subject of many rumours. But so far, nothing has been announced. With all eyes on the Star Trek franchise right now, making such an announcement before Picard comes to an end would be good timing… so watch this space, I guess!

So that’s it!

What’s going on here?

Those are all of the theories that we have in play as we approach the midpoint of the season. There’s still a lot of time for the story to go in completely different directions, though, and even to introduce new characters and factions if it’s done right. We’ve started to see the beginnings of some mysteries being unravelled – but others, such as what may be causing Jack’s mysterious hallucinations, are just getting started!

As a final note: I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 3

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of Khan, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Discovery.

I had a great time with Seventeen Seconds this week – in fact, I’d say it’s almost certainly the best episode of Picard since the Season 2 premiere last year. It was also an episode that shook up our theory list in a pretty big way, with a major revelation that seems to have uncovered the real “big bad” of the narrative.

But we’re only three episodes into a ten-episode season… so it’s all still to play for! I’m sure we haven’t seen all of the twists and turns yet, and that there’s much more to be revealed.

Worf in this week’s episode.

I hope you’ll read my review of Seventeen Seconds if you haven’t already, as I go into a lot more detail about what was a fantastic episode. I found a few nitpicks, as I always do, and I offered my thoughts on some potentially controversial story points, too! You can find my review by clicking or tapping here.

This week we have two confirmations, two theory retirements, and one debunking. There are also a few theories that are barely hanging in there! As always, we’ll look at the theories that are departing the list first.

Debunked theory:
Jack Crusher was conceived during the events of Star Trek: Insurrection.

Picard on the Ba’ku planet in Insurrection.

Based on Jack’s apparent age, Dr Crusher’s absence, and the metaphasic radiation at the centre of Insurrection’s story, I suggested that Jack may have been conceived during or shortly after the events of that film. However, we learned in Seventeen Seconds that Jack was actually conceived sometime after Nemesis, shortly before Picard and his remaining crew left the Enterprise-E. As stated in earlier episodes, this is about twenty years before the events of Picard Season 3, meaning Jack Crusher is supposedly in his early twenties.

Actor Ed Speleers, who plays Jack, is in his mid-thirties… and without wishing to be unkind, I don’t think he readily passes for a twenty-year-old. In addition, I’d suggest that Jack’s backstory of criminality and confidence trickery also better suits a character at least slightly older. But this is Jack’s true origin, so I guess we’ll just have to accept it!

Retired theory #1:
The super-synths from Season 1 are involved.

A device designed by the super-synths to open a portal to their realm.

I feel bad about having to let this one go, but it now seems all but certain that Star Trek won’t be revisiting the super-synths from Season 1: the so-called “alliance of synthetic life” that left behind a beacon and potentially threatened all life in the galaxy.

I proposed a theory shortly after the end of Season 2 that could have tied together all three seasons of the show. In short, I posited that the super-synths created the mysterious anomaly seen in Season 2 as some kind of weapon, and that they’d return as the “big bad” in Season 3. Vadic could have been one of their pawns or devotees, someone obsessed with ensuring their arrival in the galaxy.

But all of that is for the birds now, as the story is clearly going in a different direction by bringing back the Founders.

Retired theory #2:
Captain Vadic and her crew are hosts for the parasite-aliens first encountered in the episode Conspiracy.

The only sign that an individual was playing host to a parasite-alien was this spike at the back of the neck.

This idea was pretty wild, and I was surprised to see that I wasn’t the only one who’d been talking about it! As above, now that we’ve seen the Founders, it seems clear that Picard Season 3 is going in a very different direction – and considering the origins of this particular theory, I suspect that may be for the best!

The parasite-aliens from the episode Conspiracy sprang to mind when we heard Dr Crusher talking about how Picard should “trust no one” in pre-season trailers, and the idea that they might have returned was, in some ways at least, a potentially interesting one. But with Conspiracy being a more-or-less forgotten part of The Next Generation’s first season, one whose story was never revisited and had no influence over the rest of the show, I daresay it would have been a hard sell to bring this particular storyline back. Maybe it’s something better saved for a show like Lower Decks!

Confirmed theory #1:
Vadic has an ally within Starfleet.

Vadic’s spy aboard the Titan.

Though it’s still possible that Vadic has additional spies or allies within Starfleet – either aboard the Titan or elsewhere – we got confirmation this week that she has at least one ally embedded aboard the Titan.

I stand by what I said in my review, though: it would have been more impactful had we met this character before it was revealed that they were a changeling infiltrator!

Confirmed theory #2:
Vadic is not the real “big bad” of the Season.

We now know who else is involved!

We don’t currently know the specifics of Vadic’s relationship with the changelings. Is she a Founder herself, for instance, or does she merely work for them as a “sub-contractor?” There’s clearly more to be revealed about Vadic, but Seventeen Seconds confirmed what I had suspected: that she isn’t the only villain Picard and the crew will have to deal with.

We learned in Seventeen Seconds of the existence of a rogue faction of Founders; a schism in the Great Link has occurred, with followers of Odo’s peaceful path on one side, and a seemingly more aggressive, violent group of changelings on the other. What their specific goals may be, beyond chaos and revenge, is yet to be revealed – but we now know that Vadic isn’t working alone, and that she is either part of or working for this faction. I’m terming them the “rogue changelings” for now – but that may change if they’re given a proper on-screen name.

So those theories have been retired, debunked, or confirmed!

Now we’ll jump into the main theory list, beginning with theories that are either new or saw significant movement this week.

Theory #1:
Lore and/or Professor Moriarty were stolen from Daystrom Station.

Lore will be appearing soon!

I don’t think it’s been confirmed that the Daystrom Institute and Daystrom Station are one and the same, but it’s certainly implied that they’re two parts of the same organisation. The Daystrom Institute, where Dr Jurati worked prior to the events of Season 1, is involved in the development of computer technology within the Federation, and was where Dr Bruce Maddox wanted to disassemble and study Data. We saw in Season 1 that B-4 (an early Data prototype) had been disassembled and was being stored at the Daystrom Institute… and when I heard that “something” had been stolen from there, my thoughts immediately turned to Lore.

Both Lore and Professor Moriarty had been deactivated when we last saw them, and the question of how either will fit into the story of this season is still an open one. I also can’t be sure what Vadic and/or the rogue changelings would want with Lore and/or Moriarty – but given how we saw that synths could be reprogrammed in Season 1, perhaps that could be part of it? Either way, these malevolent artificial life-forms could be dangerous if they allied themselves to the rogue changelings.

Theory #2:
Vadic is a changeling.

Vadic in Seventeen Seconds.

The events of Seventeen Seconds did not confirm this – but it seems like a very likely outcome right now! While Vadic and her crew could be bounty hunters, as they claimed to be, merely working with the rogue changelings, there’s also a distinct possibility that she is herself a changeling.

When Jack Crusher told us in earlier episodes that the people chasing him looked like Klingons one moment, then Starfleet personnel the next, it seemed at least possible that they were shape-shifters – and now we know that one of Vadic’s spies aboard the Titan is a changeling it would make a lot of sense that she and at least some of the members of her crew are too. Not confirmed, but I feel like we’re potentially edging toward some kind of confirmation on this one!

Theory #3:
A few other Vadic origin ideas.

The bridge of the Shrike.

So we’ve ruled out Vadic and her crew playing host to the parasite-aliens from Conspiracy, but as above, her identity has not yet been confirmed. If she isn’t a Founder, there are still a few possible explanations that would tie her into Star Trek’s past. I put together a longer list before the season aired, and here are the possibilities that I consider to still be in play:

  • A former member of Picard’s crew, perhaps someone who was injured or left for dead while serving under his command,
  • An ex-Borg, either someone who was assimilated while serving on Picard’s crew or perhaps someone from the Artifact in Season 1,
  • An augment, potentially tied to Season 2’s Adam Soong or even Khan himself,
  • A Romulan or ally of the Romulans, with a potential tie to Sela,
  • A member of Insurrection’s Son’a.

Theory #4:
Riker is a changeling.

Is this the real Riker?

To be more specific, I’m not saying that Riker has been a changeling the entire time, but that he has been since partway through episode 2, when he beamed aboard the Titan from the Eleos. Let’s break down the evidence in favour of this theory!

Firstly, we have the clip from the extended Season 3 trailer, in which Riker appears to be trapped or imprisoned somewhere. As seen in Deep Space Nine, the Founders would imprison people they replaced – such as Martok and Dr Bashir. Secondly, we know that the crew of the Shrike already have a changeling ally aboard the Titan. Third, the changeling Raffi and Worf confronted said that his people (or rather, his faction of rogue changelings) had plans to attack multiple planets in the Federation and beyond – implying a big conspiracy involving multiple people being replaced. And finally, we could make the case that Riker’s conflict with Picard was out-of-character for him – or at the very least, a convenient way to get the Admiral off the bridge so he could consolidate his power as the ship’s commander.

Theory #5:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

Picard and the crew on a promotional poster for Season 3.

Now that we know the changelings are involved, suspicion should fall on basically everyone! Aside from Picard himself, Jack Crusher, Beverly Crusher, and the wounded Captain Shaw, I think we should be suspicious of practically everybody! I already singled out Riker, and explained in brief several reasons why I think he’s a potential changeling candidate, but there are others, both on the crew of the Titan and beyond.

This would connect with the idea of not knowing who to trust, something Dr Crusher warned Picard about right at the start of the season. We already know that there’s at least one changeling aboard the Titan – but could there be more? Or could the changelings have abducted and replaced the likes of Troi or Geordi?

In Deep Space Nine episodes like Paradise Lost, we saw that the Federation was working on methods to identify changelings or even force them to reveal themselves. It would be interesting to see these make a return.

Theory #6:
Odo will make an appearance – somehow.

Odo in Deep Space Nine.

I don’t know how I feel about this one. It was sweet to see Worf make reference to Odo in Seventeen Seconds – though the connection could have been clearer, especially for more casual viewers – but I’m not convinced that we need to see Odo for ourselves. The reason for that is simple: the only way we could see Odo is either by re-casting the character or recreating him through some kind of CGI process.

Star Trek has successfully re-cast many characters over the years, so I don’t really take exception to that. But the death of actor René Auberjonois is still recent and fresh in our minds, so bringing Odo back without him just feels… uncomfortable. Although Odo is well-suited to a story in which the changelings are back, I think I’d rather he didn’t appear in person on this occasion. But I wanted to acknowledge that it’s at least a plausible development for the story.

Theory #7:
A spin-off series will be announced.

Alex Kurtzman is currently in charge of Star Trek over at Paramount.

My thoughts on this have shifted somewhat this week, and not because of anything that happened on-screen! Sad news came out from Paramount shortly after this week’s episode of Picard aired: Star Trek: Discovery has been cancelled and will end after its upcoming fifth season. This moment would have been a good time to announce a new Star Trek project; something to replace Discovery in the line-up. But it didn’t happen.

With Picard also ending, and no confirmation as yet of new seasons beyond what has already been announced for any of the other shows, Star Trek’s future beyond 2024 feels as if it’s hanging in the balance.

I already said that this was as much a hope as a theory; I’d love Paramount to announce a new Star Trek series of any kind, but a 25th Century project that would potentially tie in with Picard would be at the top of my list. There are options: a series focusing on Seven of Nine, a revived Section 31 show, or the Starfleet Academy series that has been the subject of many rumours. But so far, nothing has been announced. With all eyes on the Star Trek franchise, making such an announcement before Picard comes to an end would be good timing… so watch this space, I guess!

Theory #8:
Vadic will be killed by her own portal-weapon.

The USS Titan and one of the portals.

This idea is a pretty simple one: as often happens to villains in stories like these, Captain Vadic will end up being killed by her own powerful weapon. We saw the portal-weapon used against the Titan this week, and I can absolutely see a pathway to Picard and the crew capturing it or gaining control of it, and turning it against Vadic.

There can be something poetic about an evil villain being destroyed by their own weapon, so I can’t help but feel that Vadic may meet her end by being spliced through one of her own portals!

Theory #9:
Captain Shaw will be killed.

Captain Shaw was badly injured this week.

I almost retired this theory this week, because Captain Shaw survived his injuries. With him off the bridge and out of the way in sickbay, that seems to have resolved the possible “clutter” problem that I talked about; I feared that it might be too complicated, narratively speaking, for the Titan to have an Admiral, a Commodore, and three captains all working together on the bridge.

But Captain Shaw is clearly seriously injured, and while he may have a contribution to make to the story – as we saw this week through his interaction with Jack – there’s still the possibility that he won’t survive to the end of the season. If some kind of “Captain Seven” spin-off series is even a remote possibility, killing off Captain Shaw is one way in which Seven could ascend to the captain’s chair.

Theory #10:
Captain Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.

Vadic with two masked members of her crew.

Another theory that feels as if it’s barely hanging in there! In short, I came up with this idea before the season aired, when we first learned of the involvement of Lore and Professor Moriarty. Having assumed they’d be on Vadic’s side – something I’m no longer sure of, by the way – I wondered if Vadic may have put together an entire team comprised of Picard’s enemies.

The revelation that the changelings are involved – and are the season’s main villainous faction – has massively reduced the likelihood of this theory, but until we can say with certainty who Vadic is, what her objectives are, and how she connects to the rogue changelings… the possibility exists, in my view at least, that some of her crew and allies will be characters we’ve met before; villains who are seeking revenge on Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D.

To see a list of who I thought could potentially be involved, click or tap here.

Theory #11:
The Founders are living in the nebula.

The nebula.

In Deep Space Nine, the Founders’ homeworld was inside a nebula. Obviously the Ryton system isn’t where the Founders lived, nor is it even in the Gamma Quadrant (as far as we know), but I can’t help but wonder whether this nebula could be concealing either a new homeworld for the Founders or a base of operations for this faction of rogue changelings.

Although it feels like a bit of a long-shot, this could explain why Vadic broke off her pursuit of the Titan after it was damaged. Driving the ship deep into the nebula, toward the changelings’ base, could have been her objective.

Theory #12:
The Founders are the nebula.

T’Veen.

Why did Seventeen Seconds prominently feature the Titan’s science officer telling Captain Riker that there are “organic” elements to the nebula that she couldn’t identify? Obviously this is going to be part of the story somehow, but with changelings on the loose… is it too far-fetched to think that they could actually be a nebula?

In the Deep Space Nine episode Chimera, the changeling Laas was able to exist as a cloud of fog on DS9’s promenade, so existing in a gaseous form isn’t beyond the power of changelings. Why they’d seek to do so is, of course, an open question – but it feels like a possibility nevertheless.

Theory #13:
Captain Vadic’s crew are Jem’Hadar.

A Jem’Hadar warrior in Deep Space Nine.

If Captain Vadic is a changeling, then it stands to reason that her crew could be Jem’Hadar – the genetically-engineered Dominion warriors seen in Deep Space Nine. We don’t know how Jem’Hadar would react to a schism in the Great Link, but it seems plausible that either some Jem’Hadar would have followed the rogue changelings, or that the rogue changelings might have set up a new facility to create their own Jem’Hadar warriors.

With the crew of the Shrike being masked, I can’t help but feel that there’s a reason for that. Either we’re dealing with familiar characters or perhaps a race like the Jem’Hadar. Keeping their faces covered keeps the mystery going, anyway!

Theory #14:
Vadic has an unrevealed reason for chasing the Crushers and the Titan.

Captain Vadic in Seventeen Seconds.

If Vadic is a changeling, that could explain why she’s so interested in the Crushers, the Titan, and the Federation. But as above, we don’t have absolute confirmation on that as of yet, so I don’t think we can say with certainty that Vadic has an additional reason for hunting Jack Crusher beyond what she told us in the episode Disengage. I said at the time that I didn’t feel that “money” was a good enough motive for a character who seems to be so over-the-top… so I certainly hope that there will be more to Vadic than that!

The introduction of the changelings into the story – and the fact that Vadic has at least one changeling ally – has certainly shaken up this theory, and I think we can see light at the end of the tunnel! But as we didn’t get to spend a ton of time with Vadic this week, we still don’t know for sure what her motivation is.

Theory #15:
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.

Lore is coming back…

Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the final trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.

Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, neither posed a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!

Theory #16:
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.

Professor Moriarty.

This theory seems to have moved significantly now that we know the changelings are involved! In brief, I’d suggested that Picard and the crew might be unable to trust organics, and that could explain why they may turn to artificial life forms like Lore and Professor Moriarty to aid them. With the inclusion of the Founders in the story, that possibility feels as if it could’ve just moved one step closer.

If it’s hard or even impossible to detect a changeling infiltrator, then synthetic life-forms may be the only ones that Picard can be certain are who they say they are. That could explain why Picard and the crew might re-activate these one-time enemies. It does raise a pertinent question, though: if Picard needs help from artificial life-forms, why not ask Soji and the Coppelius synths for help?

It does seem like one heck of a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty – both of whom are synthetic – are involved in this story!

Theory #17:
The Borg are involved.

An incredulous-looking Borg…

I came close to retiring this theory for the same kinds of reasons I gave for removing the super-synths from the theory list, but for now I think I’m going to hang onto the idea that there may be some kind of Borg involvement. We’re only three episodes in, after all, and the details of the rogue changelings’ plan is still totally unclear.

A couple of ways the Borg could be involved have already come to mind. Firstly, the rogue changelings may have stolen Borg technology from Daystrom Station. Secondly, the rogue changelings’ plan could involve an alliance with the Borg – both groups have reason to want to attack the Federation, after all.

Even if we don’t get a major appearance by the Borg this season, their influence may still be felt.

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

As always, in order to keep the theory list intact and all in one place I’m going to recap the remaining theories that we have in play. These theories didn’t move one way or the other in Seventeen Seconds.

Theory #18:
Not all of Raffi’s messages were from Worf.

Was Raffi always talking to Worf?

There was a good narrative reason to keep Worf hidden until the end of Disengage: it made his last-minute appearance to save Raffi all the more dramatic. But could there be another reason why his messages came through in the form of text with a disembodied digital voice?

Raffi wasn’t able to prevent the attack on the Federation facility, having spent a long time chasing leads in the underworld. But could someone – perhaps one of the rogue changelings – have been feeding her false information to throw her off? This could tie into the idea of not being able to trust anyone in Starfleet that Dr Crusher warned us about – perhaps this conspiracy runs very deep indeed!

Theory #19:
Jack Crusher is connected to Vadic… somehow.

Jack in Disengage.

I originally proposed this theory a couple of weeks ago, speculating that if Picard isn’t Jack’s father, someone on Vadic’s crew might be – or he might be a relative of hers. That didn’t pan out, but there still exists the possibility of a connection between the two. It would explain Vadic’s single-mindedness in chasing him down over a period of weeks or months.

This could be as simple as Jack having stolen from Vadic… but I wonder if such a connection may go deeper. Jack has clearly done bad, criminal things over the course of his life… could his criminal behaviour have brought him alongside, or into conflict with, someone like Vadic? Perhaps he’s responsible for killing someone she cared about – or not saving someone in time.

Theory #20:
Captain Shaw lost someone to the Borg.

The Battle of Sector 001.

Vadic alluded to Captain Shaw’s psychological profile in Disengage, and seemed to suggest that he may have been unwell at some point in his career. This could tie into Shaw’s anti-Borg attitude, which he has mistakenly directed at Seven of Nine and Picard.

In short, Captain Shaw seems old enough to have been serving in Starfleet during at least one of the Borg incursions of the 24th Century, and he may have lost someone – a spouse or close relative, perhaps – during one of those battles. That could explain both Vadic’s comment and his barely-disguised antipathy toward Picard and Seven.

Theory #21:
At least one main character will be killed.

Spock’s funeral in The Wrath of Khan.

It feels like a solid possibility that at least one main character won’t make it to the end of the season. Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations!

It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing, it could succeed at either setting up the story or paying off a season-long character arc.

I made a list of who I thought could be in danger before the season began, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #22:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

The crew of La Sirena at the end of Season 1.

Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I first saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?

It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!

Theory #23:
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!

Could it be Kira Nerys?

There have been theories and guesses from Trekkies for basically a whole year about which other characters from The Next Generation era could appear in Season 3. I don’t claim to know who might be included – but it feels like a pretty solid guess to say that someone from The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and/or Voyager will put in an appearance.

This could be a simple cameo, or an appearance similar to those seen in episodes like Encounter at Farpoint and Caretaker. Or there could be a real hidden surprise, with a character basically joining Picard’s mission. We didn’t really know the extent of Seven of Nine’s involvement in Season 1 until it happened, nor the extent of Brent Spiner’s roles in Seasons 1 and 2… so there’s at least the possibility of some kind of big surprise!

Theory #24:
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

The new Borg Queen/Dr Jurati hybrid at the end of Season 2.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in The Next Generation, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.

But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.

I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!

So that’s it!

The USS Titan falls into the nebula’s gravity well…

That’s the state of the theory list as we head into the fourth episode of the season, which will air later this week. It’s still all to play for, and we’ve netted several theory wins already! There are still plenty of unrevealed story beats to come, I’m certain of that, and some of my theories are only barely hanging on. But we’ll have to wait and see what the next episode has in store for us!

As a final note: I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Episode Review – Season 3, Episode 3: Seventeen Seconds

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of Khan, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Discovery.

For the first time since the beginning of Season 2, I had a genuinely wonderful time with Star Trek: Picard. This week’s episode, Seventeen Seconds, had none of the pacing concerns that were present earlier in the season, and practically every moment was tense, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable. Season 3 is finally hitting its stride, and if the next seven episodes reach the high bar set by Seventeen Seconds, we’ll be able to consider it a rousing success by the time the curtain falls.

But as the dust settles on Seventeen Seconds, there’s a question burning at the back of my mind that I can’t seem to shake. And here it is: did Picard blow its big reveal too early? I mean, we’re only three episodes into a ten-episode season, and it now feels like we know who the “real” big bad of the season is going to be: the rogue changelings. Should this have been dragged out for another episode or two, perhaps with Worf and Raffi taking longer to figure things out?

Worf was instrumental in finding out what was going on.

So let’s talk about this big revelation, because it’s something that a lot of fans had been wondering about. Pre-season interviews with members of the cast and crew had promised a connection with Deep Space Nine – the one Star Trek show from the ’90s that hasn’t gotten as much attention or love from the modern franchise. This connection came with the inclusion of the changelings, seemingly a rogue faction; an offshoot of the Founders who are bent on causing havoc for Starfleet and the Federation.

This angle is a genuinely interesting one to explore – but it has to be handled delicately in more ways than one! Similar to the Borg, the Founders can be completely overpowered as a faction if the story isn’t well-balanced – and we saw how, in Deep Space Nine, the idea of changeling infiltrators was used sparingly. Too many changelings in too many positions of power will completely throw the story off-balance, and risks making a win for our heroes feel like a bit of a deus ex machina!

Changeling infiltrator Titus Rikka.

Also, a story bringing back the Dominion and the Founders has to be careful not to tread on the toes of the truly wonderful ending to Deep Space Nine. It was incredibly touching to hear Worf speaking so highly of Odo – his friend in the Great Link – especially in light of the sad passing of René Auberjonois in 2019. But a huge part of Odo’s story in that final chapter involved communicating to his people that peace was an option and that the Federation didn’t pose a threat, so undoing that would obviously not be my preference.

And I think that’s where the real genius of this “rogue” faction of Founders could come into play! Rather than saying the Dominion are on the march, what Worf and Raffi have uncovered seems to suggest that only some members of the changeling race are involved – that a schism has been created in the Great Link between followers of Odo’s peaceful path and those who disagreed.

Seventeen Seconds paid homage to Odo.

In short, the line to walk here is a tricky one. It requires the story to keep Odo’s reputation intact, with the touching end to his story not being in any way damaged, undone, or overwritten. But at the same time, it has to find ways to make the rogue Founders engaging and menacing – and to give them motivation for their actions that doesn’t merely boil down to “we’re evil for the sake of it.” On the evidence presented in Seventeen Seconds, there’s reason to hope that the writers and producers have struck the right balance.

Having changelings on the loose also raises the stakes in terms of mystery! We know that Picard isn’t a changeling, and it seems safe to assume that Jack and Dr Crusher aren’t, either. But practically everyone else should fall under some degree of suspicion – and perhaps that could explain why Picard will turn to synthetic beings like Lore and Professor Moriarty: they may be the only ones he can be certain haven’t been replaced by changelings! But we’ll save the speculation for my next theory update.

*ahem*

I’m a huge Deep Space Nine fan – it could well be my favourite Star Trek series, all things considered. So bringing back a major faction from that series is fantastic, and it feels like Picard is leaning into Deep Space Nine in a way that modern Star Trek really hasn’t until now. Sure, there have been appearances in Lower Decks and a couple of obscure references in Discovery… but this feels like our first real opportunity to add some kind of epilogue to the Deep Space Nine story. The inclusion of Worf – who was, of course, a main character in the second half of DS9′s run – means that Picard can make these connections in a way that the series really wouldn’t have been able to before, and I guess my only real concern is that this clear fan-service won’t be too offputting or confusing for people who enjoyed The Next Generation but either haven’t seen Deep Space Nine in a while or who may have skipped it during its original run!

Making content “for fans” always carries this kind of risk. As Trekkies, you and I have almost certainly seen every episode of Deep Space Nine multiple times – even the irredeemably crap ones like Move Along Home. But Picard is trying to appeal not only to Trekkies like us, but to a more casual audience, including people who may not have liked Deep Space Nine or who didn’t stick with it for its entire run. I know several people in my personal life who are in that category – fans of The Next Generation and even of Voyager, but who for whatever reason didn’t stick with Deep Space Nine.

Seventeen Seconds provided just enough of a recap of the events of Deep Space Nine to inform viewers without getting in the way of the story.

In Seventeen Seconds, we got enough exposition and backstory to cover the basics. The show can’t spend all of its runtime bringing viewers up to speed on what happened in 175 episodes of Deep Space Nine, but what it has to do now is convey the basic points so that the story will be understandable for folks who didn’t watch or don’t remember those narrative arcs. Seventeen Seconds got this right, providing enough of an explanation without wasting too much time getting bogged down in it.

Again, Worf was well-used here. He didn’t simply drop heavy-handed exposition, he explained who the Founders were and who this rogue group may be in a brief but informative sequence. This older version of Worf, having had many off-screen experiences over the past thirty-plus years of in-universe time since we last saw him, feels like a mentor or elder statesman – precisely the kind of character to provide this kind of exposition in a way that feels natural. And natural is exactly how it felt!

We got an older, calmer presentation of Worf this week.

Sticking with returning classic characters, pre-season marketing focused on the return of the Enterprise-D’s crew for almost a year… so it’s odd, in a way, that three episodes in we still haven’t seen all of them, and that those we have seen aren’t all working together. Seventeen Seconds gave us Dr Crusher’s first significant on-screen interaction with Picard, and of course we’ve had Picard and Riker teamed up for three episodes now. But Worf is still off in his own little narrative box with Raffi, and there’s no sign of Geordi or Lore. Deanna Troi was briefly seen via a flashback, but again, that was hardly a major appearance.

One of the criticisms fans have made in the years since The Next Generation and its films were on the air is that not every character got enough to do. Everyone got spotlight episodes, of course, but genuine ensemble pieces where everyone made a significant contribution to the story were relatively uncommon, and in some episodes, characters like Dr Crusher would only get a handful of lines. Picard Season 3 was an opportunity to fix that – or at least to give these characters a final mission in which they could all collaborate and work together across a single, ten-episode-long narrative. I’m acutely aware that this is Picard’s final outing, and with basically one-third of the season already over, time is running out to make good on those pre-season promises of major roles for all of the returning characters. I’m hopeful that there will be enough time to have an enjoyable reunion with everyone – but it’s at least worth noting that it hasn’t happened yet!

Geordi still hasn’t made an appearance this season.

Another character who played a big role in pre-season marketing was Amanda Plummer’s Vadic. I said last week that I was a little concerned about Vadic, and how her claim to only be interested in Jack Crusher for the sake of money didn’t really justify her over-the-top presentation. As we learned in Seventeen Seconds, Vadic has at least one changeling ally: the spy embedded aboard the Titan. That ties her in some way to the rogue changelings and their conspiracy – and the portal-weapon that she used was similar (or identical?) to that used against the Federation base at the beginning of the season. But the extent of Vadic’s involvement is still up in the air – and I don’t think we have enough evidence at this stage to say that she is definitely a changeling herself!

In fact, I was struck by Vadic’s absence in Seventeen Seconds. She had a couple of moments in which we saw her happily deploying her portal-weapon, but we didn’t get to spend much time with her at all, which is certainly an interesting decision. As the main named villain of the season so far, I think it’s important to get to see her side of the story – and not merely to hear it second-hand via Worf or some other character. Obviously that doesn’t mean we need to have a lot of scenes with her in every episode, nor that her side of the story needs to be told at such an early stage… but it should happen some time!

Captain Vadic didn’t get much screen time this week.

Since I’ve already mentioned Vadic’s portal-weapon, let’s talk about that for a moment. I… was not blown away by this new piece of tech, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from the worst macguffin that Star Trek has thrown at us, but I felt that there was a considerable disconnect between its visual appearance and the way in which the narrative presented it.

In brief: the way the portals appeared on screen made it look like they should be relatively easy to avoid, even for a starship like the Titan. In this specific case, where Vadic’s goal appeared to be to force the Titan to remain inside the nebula, it makes sense to use a portal in this fashion… but that’s a very niche use case, and the military applications of such a device, especially in three-dimensional battles in outer space, don’t seem readily apparent – which also calls into question parts of Worf and Raffi’s story. It’s a powerful weapon, as we’ve seen, but one that I’d argue has some pretty big limitations.

The Titan encounters a portal.

The portal-weapon is also kind of unoriginal, with similar designs having appeared in everything from hard sci-fi all the way through to the likes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The most readily apparent point of comparison is to the video game Portal, which shares a name with this device. Again, I don’t necessarily hate it – and I concede that my criticisms are rather nitpicky – but I really feel a disconnect between the relatively small portals that appeared on screen and the way in which the crew of the Titan seemed to respond to them!

But there may be more to the portal-weapon that is yet to be revealed, and it may have additional uses later in the season. I can certainly see it being a useful tool… perhaps it could be used at the last second to transport characters away from danger, for example. I also suspect that Captain Vadic may meet her end by being spliced through her own portal-weapon! But maybe we should save that for my theory update.

The Titan and a portal aperture.

After a couple of weeks in which Picard looked faded, washed-out, and far too dark, I was pleased to note that this week, Seventeen Seconds only looked far too dark! The problems with colour temperature that had been present in the first two episodes of the season appear to have been fixed, at least on Amazon Prime Video, and I hope that particular issue won’t reoccur. It was a shame that it happened in the first place – and it makes Paramount look pretty unprofessional and incapable, let’s be honest – but at least it has been belatedly repaired.

The darkness issue is still ongoing, though, and this one feels much more like a creative choice. The lights on the Shrike, the Titan, the Eleos, La Sirena and in flashbacks in Guinan’s bar too, were all turned down, and the low brightness is noticeable even when compared to Seasons 1 and 2. With the colour temperature being corrected, there weren’t any scenes this week that I felt were unwatchably dark, or where main events couldn’t be perceived, but there are details in the periphery that I’m sure are functionally invisible as a result of this very deliberate choice of cinematography.

Picard Season 3 is still very dark – even now that the faded, washed-out look has been corrected.

CGI and visual effects were good in Seventeen Seconds, though, and I felt none of the dreaded “uncanny valley” that I flagged up in the season premiere. Whether that’s because there’s been any kind of change in the visual fidelity of Picard or whether I’m just getting reacclimated to the way Paramount and the Star Trek franchise handle their animation and visual effects… well, who can say, really? I’m just satisfied that I’m not being pulled out of the immersion every time the action cuts to the ships in space!

One particular sequence that I’d like to draw your attention to came right at the end of Seventeen Seconds. The moment where the disabled Titan appeared to “fall” – i.e. be dragged – into the nebula’s gravity well was spectacular, and successfully conveyed a sense of helplessness as the ship appears to be headed to its destruction. The effect was akin to a watercraft “sinking” under the surface – and that point of comparison feels apt. It was incredibly well done, and the perfect way to set up a cliffhanger ending.

The Titan falls into a gravity well.

One visual effect that could have been difficult to pull off was that of the changelings in their liquid form. In the 1990s, when Deep Space Nine was on the air, the effect used for Odo and other changelings looked good – by the standards of the time. In 2023, however, that “smooth and shiny” CGI effect is outdated, and the way in which it was brought up to modern spec was solid. The new “changeling goo” feels like a natural progression, and the kind of look that a remastered Deep Space Nine might want to adopt!

There are subtle changes, though. The Deep Space Nine effect was an amber, almost honey colour, whereas the new animation created for Seventeen Seconds had a duller, slightly greyer tone, perhaps closer to an organic compound than anything we’d seen in Deep Space Nine. In addition, the new visual effect feels much more substantial and textured, seeming to flow or ooze in a natural way. I like it, and I think it’s a great update to a classic visual effect!

The updated visual for a changeling in their liquid form.

As mentioned, I feel that the visual effect created for the Shrike’s portal-weapon may have clashed somewhat with the way the weapon was talked about and presented on-screen. But despite that, the effect itself was a clever one, and the way it seemed to unnaturally “bend” the light around it was really neat to see. It reminded me a little of Discovery’s black hole effects in Seasons 1 and 2 – a visual style influenced by the film Interstellar.

The battle sequences between the Shrike and the Titan were great, too, and the technobabble of the nebula “blinding” the Titan’s sensors really amped up the tension. Seventeen Seconds channeled the Battle of the Mutara Nebula from The Wrath of Khan in some of these sequences – but with the addition of forty years’ worth of improvements in visual effects!

The Titan’s crew had to be on lookout duty!

The only thing I’d say about the battle as a negative point is that – to quote Mr Spock from that same film – it “indicates two-dimensional thinking.” The Shrike and the Titan seemed, for the most part, to operate on a two-dimensional plane, not a three-dimensional space, and that was apparent particularly toward the end of the episode as the Shrike was able to “block” the Titan’s escape from the nebula by basically getting in the way. A line or two explaining how the Shrike could accelerate faster than the Titan, or some similar technobabble, could have negated part of this, perhaps.

This was also apparent in the operation of the portal-weapon, at least as presented visually. The relatively small portals opened in front of the Titan, but the ship had multiple routes to avoid it: up, down, left, right, or even simply coming to a halt. Again, this seems to clash with the way the weapon was emphasised in dialogue. Are these nitpicks? Absolutely!

Parts of this battle felt rather “2D.”

It would have been more impactful had we met the Titan’s changeling infiltrator before he was revealed. This anonymous character may go on to be a bigger part of subsequent episodes, but the revelation that there was a spy aboard the ship was blunted, at least a little, by the fact that it was an anonymous “extra” in that role. Had the officer been someone we’d met, even briefly, it would have been more exciting – especially if we’d never suspected that there was anything unusual about him!

This is, I suspect, a consequence of the relatively short ten-episode season. However, I really do believe it would have been worth doing – it’s something that would have turned up the surprise factor in the episode if it had been done well. A short scene or two featuring this character in his role as a Starfleet impostor would have been good enough to achieve this effect.

The changeling spy.

Star Trek has told stories that deal with impostors within Starfleet on many occasions, from episodes like Conspiracy and films like The Undiscovered Country through to the changeling stories in Deep Space Nine like Homefront – and, of course, Discovery’s first season. These stories usually work well and manage to be tense and exciting – but a common hallmark is that we’ve gotten to know the impostor or impostors, at least a little, before the truth of who they are is revealed. In fact, I’d argue that this is a big part of the way this narrative framework is intended to operate; it’s nowhere near as satisfying to say “there’s a spy in our midst!” and then reveal that the spy is just some anonymous background character that we’ve never met.

Look at how well the Michael Eddington story worked in Deep Space Nine, because that’s probably the best example of this kind of storyline in the Star Trek franchise. We got to know Eddington over the course of half a dozen episodes prior to his big reveal, so when he turned out to be a Maquis operative, it was a heck of a shock! The way the changeling infiltration storyline unfolded in Seventeen Seconds worked well, and there was some clever direction and editing to have Worf and Raffi’s uncovering of the plot followed up immediately by Jack’s confrontation with the changeling… but the sequence overall could have been improved, in my view anyway, if we’d met this spy ahead of time.

Michael Eddington was a Maquis infiltrator/rogue Starfleet officer in Deep Space Nine.

When the Titan’s science officer repeated multiple times that the nebula the ship was trapped in was behaving abnormally, my first thought was simply this: I sincerely hope that the story isn’t going to say that this whole thing is one elaborate trap! It’s too much of a contrivance to say that Vadic was purposefully trying to trap Picard and the Titan in the Rykon system given the difficulty involved in getting there and the seemingly obscure location of this nebula.

On the other hand, the fact that this isn’t a normal nebula – and could even be “life, Jim, but not as we know it” – could open up some genuinely interesting story ideas! I feel certain that the “organic” elements of the nebula wouldn’t have been emphasised so prominently were they not going to be significant to the plot later on – but how, exactly, is shrouded in mystery right now.

What’s going on with this nebula?

There were two conflicts central to the character stories present in Seventeen Seconds: one between Picard and Dr Crusher and a second between Picard and Riker. We’ll talk about each in turn, but I think that both worked well in the context of the story.

It was interesting to see Picard and Dr Crusher having this deep and intense conversation about their son – and before we get into specifics, there’s one thing that jumped out at me. Here we have two older characters engaged in what is typically a storyline we’d associate with younger characters: pregnancy, paternity, and raising a child. It wasn’t lost on me that Sir Patrick Stewart is now in his 80s and that Gates McFadden is in her 70s, yet here they were having a discussion that would suit characters a generation younger!

Picard and Dr Crusher had a difficult conversation.

One of the themes that we’ve started to see in Picard’s third season is that of age – something that was also present in The Wrath of Khan, which serves as part of the season’s inspiration. Entering retirement, leaving friends and colleagues behind, and coming to terms with changes to both oneself and the wider world have all been touched upon – though not to quite the extent I’d been expecting, perhaps.

But this storyline – and especially Picard’s conversation with Dr Crusher – felt like it rolled back the years for both of them significantly. The intense discussion of whether Dr Crusher should have told Picard about her pregnancy is something we might’ve expected from far younger characters, so to see it handled – and handled so well – in Seventeen Seconds was great. It completely twisted the expected theme of age, and arguably also reinforces the notion that, in Star Trek’s advanced and optimistic future, humans can live longer, healthier, and more active lives.

Dr Crusher had a child later in life.

There was also a moment in the turbolift after Jack’s injury – the titular “seventeen-second” ride that Riker had talked about in a flashback sequence – in which Picard felt very much the new father, which again gives his story a far more youthful edge than I’d been expecting. Although the focus was on Jack’s injury and survival, those seconds with Picard in the turbolift felt akin to watching an anxious soon-to-be dad in the delivery room, waiting on the birth of his son.

There was deliberate symmetry to the turbolift ride that cut through the Picard-Riker fight, and perhaps has set the stage for their potential reconciliation next week. It’s also noteworthy that Riker was hardly youthful when he became a father – and as someone whose parents were older when I was a child, I appreciate that Star Trek is putting older characters into this position. Not every child is born to young parents – increasingly so, in some communities and cultures – and while many television shows and films do a wonderful job of highlighting the particular problems and issues facing teen parents, for example, it’s actually really nice – and dare I say a little cathartic, personally speaking – to see Star Trek acknowledging that some people become parents later in life. That wasn’t the main focus of Seventeen Seconds in any way, but it’s something that I personally can take away from the story.

Picard’s turbolift ride echoed Riker’s.

Before we get into the weeds too much, let me just say this: I suspect that the decision to pit Picard against both Dr Crusher and Riker in the same episode may not go down well with every fan! Part of the appeal of Picard Season 3 was in reuniting the cast of The Next Generation, and while the characters had disagreements during that show’s run, by and large they were on great terms. Some might say their friendships were a little too perfect, which is why Deep Space Nine and Voyager tried to insert more disputes between characters, and created characters from different backgrounds who had conflicting motivations.

But if the draw of an Enterprise-D reunion was bringing people back together for one last adventure, there’s a danger that these kinds of conflicts – especially if they drag on for multiple episodes – could detract from that, and I understand that argument even if I’m not personally fully signed-up with it. I hope that both conflicts will come to a satisfying conclusion, and that in fairly short order we can see Picard and his crew back on friendly terms – after all, that is a big part of what made this season interesting as a concept in the first place!

Picard and Riker on the bridge of the Titan.

My take on the first conflict is this: Dr Crusher is both correct in her belief that the son of Jean-Luc Picard would be in danger, while also being horribly inept when it comes to keep him “safe.” By leaving Starfleet and the Federation behind to go on a twenty-year unsanctioned medical mission, Dr Crusher has placed Jack in at least as much danger – if not more – than she ever would have if she’d remained in Starfleet. And that’s where this argument and this whole storyline could come unstuck.

Based on everything we know about Starfleet and the Federation, it’s generally a very safe environment. I could absolutely entertain the idea that Dr Crusher would feel a need to resign her commission in order to dedicate herself to raising Jack full-time… but the idea that she felt she had to do so beyond the borders of the Federation, in what is clearly a very complex and dangerous galaxy, risks undermining this aspect of the story. At best I guess we’ll have to call it a contrivance, something necessary to drive this part of the plot forward. At worst… well, it makes Dr Crusher look like a bit of an idiot. A dangerous idiot.

Did Dr Crusher get it wrong? Or are her reasons understandable?

This side of the story also feels as if it’s chafing uncomfortably against a massive part of the main plot from Season 2 – which was on our screens less than a year ago. The entire reason for the Confederation timeline, the mission back in time, and Q’s scheme was, at least as Q explained it, because Picard himself had been unable to let go of childhood trauma enough to settle down in a relationship. We’ve learned in Seventeen Seconds that he and Dr Crusher were once again pursuing a romantic relationship in the months or years after Nemesis, and Picard even stated that he would have been willing to be a husband and father, and that his reasons for not fully committing to Beverly were more to do with Jack Crusher Senior – his deceased best friend.

The story of Season 2 was already a terribly convoluted one that was on shaky ground, so anything that undermines it is a problem. And unfortunately, there’s no escaping the fact that parts of this storyline, as presented in Seventeen Seconds at least, are in that position. The writers tried to throw a bone to this, with Picard making an oblique reference to last season’s events, but that didn’t really go far enough and certainly hasn’t saved this aspect of the story.

Picard’s complicated romantic history with Dr Crusher treads on the toes of last season’s story.

We’ll have to go into more detail about this on another occasion – perhaps after having seen the entirety of Season 3 – but there are actually quite a few areas where these two productions seem to grate against one another. What’s so surprising about that, of course, is that Seasons 2 and 3 went into production back-to-back, with the same production team and showrunner present for both. I’m not saying I wanted or expected Seasons 2 and 3 to form a single ongoing story – though they certainly could have if a suitable story had been written – but it feels odd to see so many small and large points of conflict.

But we’re drifting off-topic! Picard’s second conflict was with Riker, and while the two men seemed to work together seamlessly at first, a radical difference in approach became apparent as the episode wore on.

Picard and Riker had different ideas about how to tackle Vadic and the Shrike.

So there’s a dichotomy here for me. On the one hand, I don’t particularly dislike this idea, and I feel that Seventeen Seconds handled it well. The conflict felt organic and natural, and it was presented as exactly what it was: a genuine difference of opinion and approach. The episode didn’t frame either Picard or Riker as being right or wrong, and there are interpretations as to how to approach a battle of this nature.

But on the other hand… the more I think about it, I can’t escape a simple reality: pitting Picard and Riker against one another would not be my choice, if for no other reason than the story, at least at this point, doesn’t seem to need it. I’ve spoken about this before, particularly in relation to Discovery, but it feels as if this extra element of drama has been concocted and then forced into a story that was already so tense and dramatic that it didn’t need it. Picard, Riker, and the rest of the crew of the Titan were already in a life-or-death, impossibly high-stakes confrontation, so throwing in a personal spat between two main characters didn’t really ramp that up; the tension and drama were already turned all the way up to eleven.

I think a lot of people were surprised by this conflict…

That being said, I have a theory about Riker that, were it to pan out, would completely explain this and basically negate all of those points of criticism. Even if my theory is wrong, the disagreement may end up resolved within the next episode, and that would set the season back on what feels like the “right” path: the path where these characters get back together for one final mission.

Just because I wouldn’t have chosen to tell a story in which Picard and Riker find themselves at loggerheads doesn’t mean that it didn’t work well in Seventeen Seconds, and the way in which their disagreement was built up and then spilled over into argument was well handled. By the time Riker banished Picard from the bridge, we had a solid understanding of both men’s positions and perspectives – and under the circumstances, that’s the most we could have asked from this storyline!

Riker at the end of the episode.

So let’s wrap things up!

Seventeen Seconds was a tense, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable ride from start to finish, and probably the best episode of Picard since the Season 2 premiere last year. There are nitpicks, as there almost always are, but they melt away when confronted with such an outstanding episode of television.

I’d felt that Season 3 had gotten off to a slow start, but the pacing this week felt perfect. There were no truncated or cut-down moments, and practically everyone got something significant to do. All in all, a great episode!

A few scattered final thoughts:

  • I liked the interaction between Seven and Ensign La Forge, showing how Seven has won respect and friendship from her colleagues, even if she doesn’t get it from Captain Shaw. After the “deadnaming” over the past couple of episodes, it was great to see La Forge call her “Seven!”
  • Captain Shaw is injured – but not dead! Will he remain in sickbay for the next few episodes… or will he come roaring back, take command of the ship back from Riker, and find a way out of the nebula?
  • Surely we’ve gotta see Geordi and Troi next week, right?
  • Worf and Raffi were able to track their target pretty easily… is that because of Worf’s skill, or because the story has its focus elsewhere?
  • With the Titan disabled, why did Vadic abandon her pursuit? Is capturing Jack no longer her objective?
  • Time is a bit of an issue: Dr Crusher says she found out about her pregnancy shortly after she last saw Picard – circa twenty years ago. And I don’t mean to be unkind, but actor Ed Speleers, who plays Jack, is clearly not twenty. A poor casting choice, or are we okay with giving a bit of “soap opera ageing” flexibility here?

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 2

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of KhanThe Next Generation, InsurrectionDeep Space Nine, and Voyager.

Disengage was a solid episode – or rather, I hope that’s what I’ll think of it when the season is over! I have a specific concern about Captain Vadic that we’ll talk about in a moment, but other than that my biggest criticism of the episode was its faded, washed-out, unnecessarily dark visual presentation. Perhaps it looked okay on a fancy OLED television set, but for the rest of us? Let’s just say that I hope Paramount can tweak the visuals going forward.

In terms of our ongoing Season 3 theory list, Disengage certainly shook things up! The episode has given me several ideas for brand-new theories, outright confirmed two theories from last time, and has led me to retire one theory, too. That’s in addition to adding new elements into the mix that may have increased the likelihood of some theories panning out… and massively decreased the chances for several others!

Picard and Riker in this week’s episode.

Be sure to check out my review of Disengage if you haven’t already, as I go into more detail about some of the story points, as well as talk about some elements of the episode that I felt worked well – and a few things that I felt needed a bit more time in the spotlight. Literally as well as metaphorically, in this case!

This week, we have two confirmed theories and one theory that I’m choosing to retire. While not outright “debunked” by the events of Disengage, it feels as if the story is almost certainly moving in a different direction, so I’m striking it from the list. We’ll take a look at those first before we jump into the main theory list.

Retired theory:
The crew of the Titan will mutiny against Captain Shaw.

The USS Titan.

I came up with this idea last week based on a couple of presuppositions. The first was that the command structure of the Titan would feel too complicated, narratively speaking, if Admiral Picard, Commodore La Forge, Captain Riker, Captain Worf and Captain Shaw all had to coexist on the bridge. And secondly, Shaw’s own abrasive, unpleasant personality.

When faced with a potential choice between following Picard and Shaw, I wondered whether the Titan’s crew might’ve chosen the former, mutinying against their captain. But Shaw’s actions in Disengage seem to have softened him, at least a little, and at the end of the episode he – albeit somewhat begrudgingly – ended up doing the right thing. There will still be clashes with Picard and the crew ahead, no doubt, but I no longer see a mutiny like this befalling the captain of the Titan.

Confirmed theory #1:
Picard is the father of Jack Crusher.

Dr Crusher wordlessly confirmed this revelation to Picard.

Although it took him the whole episode to come to terms with this revelation, Disengage confirmed what a lot of us had already sussed out: that Picard is Jack’s father. The details of how that came to happen are still up in the air – and we’ll look at one possibility in a moment – but for now, we can chalk up our second theory win of the season!

This is definitely an interesting storyline, one that has the potential to really shake things up as the season rolls on. The ramifications for Picard, Dr Crusher, Jack and the rest of the crew will be significant!

Confirmed theory #2:
Worf is Raffi’s “handler.”

This one seemed pretty obvious, especially when Raffi’s nameless handler started using words like “warrior,” but there was always the possibility that the story could have thrown another character into the mix. I suspect there may be a reason why Worf was kept hidden last week, and why his messages to Raffi were conveyed by text and a digital voice… but we’ll look at that in a moment.

I’d have liked to have spent a little more time with Worf in Disengage – his appearance in the episode was brief. But there will be time in the episodes ahead to rectify that!

So those theories were confirmed!

Two episodes down and we’ve already claimed three theory victories! Surely that can’t last… especially given how outlandish (and contradictory) some of the others on the list are!

Up next, we’ll take a look at the main theory list, beginning with brand-new theories and theories which moved significantly as a result of the events that unfolded in Disengage.

Theory #1:
Vadic is not the real “big bad” of the season.

Who else could it be?

One thing that put me off Vadic in Disengage was the apparent disconnect between her over-the-top presentation and her seemingly banal motivation: money. One thing that isn’t clear at this stage, though, is who may have placed such a large bounty on Jack Crusher’s head – and if this theory is correct, it will be that individual who will turn out to be the true villainous mastermind of Season 3.

Think about it: Vadic is a bounty hunter, and she claims that her interest in Jack Crusher is purely financial. So someone else is bankrolling her – and potentially providing her and her crew with the weapons and supplies that they have, or at least paying for those supplies. Can it be a coincidence that Jack Crusher – the son of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher – is this person’s most-wanted target?

Theory #2:
Vadic has a hidden reason for chasing Dr Crusher.

Vadic lighting a cigarette.

This idea could be connected to the theory above, and it certainly comes from the same starting point. Not only did Vadic seem incredibly over-the-top for someone solely motivated by money, but in pre-season trailers we heard her talking about “vengeance.” Is she seeking revenge on Picard, Jack, and Dr Crusher personally – or the wider Federation?

In either case, this speaks to an additional, hidden motivation that hasn’t been revealed thus far. If Vadic is also the terrorist responsible for the attack on the Federation facility that Raffi and Worf were investigating, that also raises the question of why she’d do such a thing. Even if her interest in Jack is financial, the attack on the Federation base clearly wasn’t motivated by money.

In short, I think we’ve only scratched the surface with Vadic!

Theory #3:
Not all of Raffi’s messages were from Worf.

Was Raffi always talking to Worf?

There was a good narrative reason to keep Worf hidden until the end of Disengage: it made his last-minute appearance to save Raffi all the more dramatic. But could there be another reason why his messages came through in the form of text with a disembodied digital voice?

Raffi wasn’t able to prevent the attack on the Federation facility, having spent a long time chasing leads in the underworld. But could someone have been feeding her false information to throw her off? This could tie into the idea of not being able to trust anyone in Starfleet that Dr Crusher warned us about – perhaps this conspiracy runs very deep indeed!

Theory #4:
Jack was conceived during the events of Star Trek: Insurrection.

Picard in Insurrection.

At some point in the last… thirty-ish(?) years, Dr Crusher and Captain Picard hooked up. They did the nasty. They bumped uglies. She gave him his tea, earl grey… hot. That’s a disturbing mental picture for someone who’s asexual, but it raises a pertinent question: when did this smooshing together of genitals take place?

If we’re assuming that Picard Season 3 takes place in the early 25th Century, perhaps a year or so after the events of the Season 2 finale, that potentially places Jack’s conception in the early or mid 2370s – during Picard’s captaincy of the Enterprise-E. One event in that time period sticks out when it comes to thinking about one-night stands and sexual encounters: the Enterprise-E’s mission to the Ba’ku planet – a planet with strange age-defying radiation that caused the crew to regress somewhat and behave like teenagers. Could the metaphasic radiation of the Ba’ku planet have played a role in Jack’s conception? If so, how did Dr Crusher keep that a secret while continuing to serve on the ship? There are questions… but you have to admit, the timing seems right!

Theory #5:
Someone in Starfleet is working with Vadic.

It wouldn’t be the first time…

Connected to the theory above about Vadic having a paymaster, I wonder if Dr Crusher’s belief in a conspiracy within Starfleet could turn out to be correct. If so, perhaps a shady “badmiral” is actually Vadic’s boss, the person directing her to target Jack and presumably Picard, too.

If so, it would be a much more impactful storyline, at least in some respects, if this were a character we’d met before! Even if that isn’t the case, though, there’s still the possibility that Vadic is getting her information about the likes of Captain Shaw and Picard from a contact or ally within Starfleet itself.

Theory #6:
Jack Crusher is connected to Vadic… somehow.

Jack in Disengage.

I originally proposed this theory last week, speculating that if Picard isn’t Jack’s father, someone on Vadic’s crew might be – or he might be a relative of hers. That didn’t pan out, but there still exists the possibility of a connection between the two. It would explain Vadic’s single-mindedness in chasing him down over a period of weeks or months.

This could be as simple as Jack having stolen from Vadic… but I wonder if such a connection may go deeper. Jack has clearly done bad, criminal things over the course of his life… could his criminal behaviour have brought him alongside, or into conflict with, someone like Vadic? Perhaps he’s responsible for killing someone she cared about – or not saving someone in time.

Theory #7:
Captain Vadic once served under Picard’s command.

Captain Vadic.

I’m keeping this one on the list for now, as Vadic’s true motive seems to be obscured. But it now comes with the major caveat that neither Picard, Riker, nor anyone else seemed to recognise her either by appearance or by name. That’s definitely a mark against this theory… but as Picard had more than 1,000 people just aboard the Enterprise-D, it’s not impossible to think he would forget a few faces over the years!

In short, Picard has no shortage of “victims” from his tenures in command of the Stargazer, the Enterprise-D, Enterprise-E, and the Romulan rescue fleet. Perhaps Captain Vadic was one such officer, and she may hold Picard responsible for being assimilated by the Borg, or otherwise injured in the line of duty.

Theory #8:
Vadic is a Founder.

One of the Founders in Deep Space Nine.

I don’t think Disengage moved the needle on this one particularly, except to say that Vadic doesn’t really have the calmness we’ve come to expect from the Founders of the Dominion, seeming to be a lot more chaotic. However, her being a Founder would potentially explain how she and some of her crew were able to resemble different alien races in their pursuit of the Crushers.

We’ve been promised some kind of connection to Deep Space Nine this season, so I can’t help but wonder if the villain of the piece could be a changeling. If the Dominion and their shape-shifting Founders are on the march once more, that could explain why Picard wouldn’t know who to trust – as we saw in Deep Space Nine, changelings were able to infiltrate Starfleet, the Klingon Empire, and the Tal Shiar, replacing a handful of well-placed leaders as part of a plan to destabilise the major factions of the Alpha Quadrant.

Theory #9:
Captain Vadic and her crew are hosts for the parasite-aliens first encountered in the episode Conspiracy.

One of the parasite-aliens.

This one is quite “out there,” and I freely admit that! It would be a very bold (i.e. odd) decision for Star Trek to return to the plot of Conspiracy, as it’s hardly one of the best-remembered episodes of The Next Generation. But something about the idea of being unsure of who to trust within Starfleet, having to turn to old friends for help, and the possibility of a conspiracy that could be targeting the Federation all flagged up the plot of Conspiracy for me… so it would be unwise to entirely rule it out!

The end of the episode seemed to suggest that the parasite-aliens had been able to send a message into deep space, hinting at a possible return one day. Could that day finally have arrived?

Theory #10:
A few other Vadic origin theories.

The Eleos and the Shrike.

I put together a list back in November about who Vadic may be and what kind of connection she could have to Picard. The three possibilities above seem like the most plausible to me, but I’ll briefly summarise the others here:

  • An ex-Borg, either someone who was assimilated while serving under Picard’s command, or perhaps someone from the Artifact in Season 1,
  • An augment, potentially tied to Season 2’s Adam Soong or even Khan himself,
  • A Romulan or ally of the Romulans, with a potential tie to Sela,
  • A member of Insurrection’s Son’a,
  • A devotee of the super-synths from Season 1.

Theory #11:
Captain Shaw lost someone to the Borg.

The Battle of Sector 001.

Vadic alluded to Captain Shaw’s psychological profile in Disengage, and seemed to suggest that he may have been unwell at some point in his career. This could tie into Shaw’s anti-Borg attitude, which he has mistakenly directed at Seven of Nine and Picard.

In short, Captain Shaw seems old enough to have been serving in Starfleet during at least one of the Borg incursions of the 24th Century, and he may have lost someone – a spouse or close relative, perhaps – during one of those battles. That could explain both Vadic’s comment and his barely-disguised antipathy toward Picard and Seven.

So those theories are new or moved significantly this week.

As always, for the sake of keeping everything in one place, I’ll now run through the rest of the theory list. The fact that certain characters, factions, etc. didn’t appear in Disengage could mean that some or all of these are now a lot less likely… but I’m content to keep them on the list at least for now!

Theory #12:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

The crew of The Next Generation Season 2.

Two lines that we first heard in pre-season trailers leapt out at me: Dr Crusher warning Picard to “trust no one,” and her son asking Picard whether anyone he knew “is still the person [he] knew.” These lines could hint at someone having infiltrated the crew, potentially replacing or brainwashing them.

Additionally, it’s possible that someone on the crew is who they appear to be – but is secretly working for Captain Vadic and/or some other villain. We saw this with Dr Jurati in Season 1, so it wouldn’t be a wholly original story beat. But it would fit in with the idea of Picard not knowing who to trust.

Theory #13:
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.

Lore is coming back…

Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the final trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.

Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, neither posed a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!

Theory #14:
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.

Professor Moriarty.

Connected to the theory above is the idea that, for some reason, Picard and the crew will not be able to trust or rely on almost any organic. Not knowing who to trust – perhaps because something is going on that only affects organic minds – could explain why they chose to reactivate both Lore and Professor Moriarty: they might be immune to whatever’s happening.

I don’t think it can be a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty are involved. Both are sentient artificial life-forms, so surely that connection has to be relevant!

If this theory is even close to being true, though, it would raise an interesting question: why didn’t Picard also turn to Soji for help?

Theory #15:
Captain Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.

Captain Vadic with a couple of her allies.

When we first met Captain Vadic and learned that both Lore and Professor Moriarty would be returning, I speculated that the villain of Season 3 might have put together a crew comprised of past Star Trek villains and adversaries. There’s no shortage of baddies who might want to seek revenge on Picard, the crew of the Enterprise-D, and the Federation as a whole.

The crew of Vadic’s ship – the Shrike – have their faces concealed by bird-like masks… and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a reason why these characters can’t be seen or even heard. It seems at least possible that some of Vadic’s crewmates and allies could be characters that we’ve met in past iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

I suggested the likes of DaiMon Bok, Sela, and even Nicholas Locarno as possible candidates – and you can find a longer list by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #16:
At least one main character will be killed.

A Starfleet coffin, adorned with the flag of the Federation.

It feels like a solid possibility that at least one main character won’t make it to the end of the season. Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations!

It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing, it could succeed at either setting up the story or paying off a season-long character arc.

I have a list of who I consider to be in danger, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #17:
The Borg are involved.

The Borg have already been seen in Star Trek: Picard

Several moments in the season premiere referenced or called back to the Borg – and while we know that Captain Vadic is set to star as an antagonist, there’s still the possibility of Borg involvement in some shape or form. First of all, Dr Crusher was reviewing one of Picard’s logs from his first engagement with the Borg in The Best of Both Worlds. Secondly, Riker referenced Picard’s assimilation experience, and used what he remembered from rescuing him from the Borg in that same episode to decode part of Dr Crusher’s message – something Picard wouldn’t have been able to do on his own as he wasn’t privy to that information at the time. Finally, Captain Shaw seems to have a major chip on his shoulder about the Borg, talking down to both Seven and Picard about their status as ex-Borg.

These could be nothing more than references – little callbacks to Star Trek’s past that are there to tie the events of this story into the franchise’s past. And that’s totally okay if that turns out to be the case! But it’s at least possible, in my view, that some greater Borg connection is going to be revealed. Remember, Season 2 introduced us to a new Borg faction… and the mysterious anomaly that they were intent on stopping is still unexplained.

Theory #18:
The super-synths are involved.

The super-synths’ mechanical noodles.

This theory would tie together the events of Seasons 1 and 2 with Season 3. In short, I’ve suggested that Captain Vadic may be a devotee of the super-synths – the “alliance of synthetic life” outside of the Milky Way galaxy who left the beacon on Aia and kicked off the plot of Season 1. To add to this theory, I posited that the mysterious anomaly in Season 2 was also a super-synth creation, perhaps one designed to attack the Federation or to open up a gateway.

If Captain Vadic had encountered the beacon on Aia (or another similar beacon elsewhere), it could have driven her mad, as we saw it do to Zhat Vash initiates in Season 1. If Vadic became obsessed with the super-synths, instead of becoming obsessed with stopping them, she might blame Picard for preventing their arrival. Furthermore, she might be trying to open a new portal for them, and that could be what Picard and the crew need to stop.

I have two articles that go into a lot more detail on this theory. You can find part 1 by clicking or tapping here, and part 2 by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #19:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

La Sirena in the season premiere.

Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?

It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!

Theory #20:
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!

Could it be Miles O’Brien?

There have been theories and guesses from Trekkies for basically a whole year about which other characters from The Next Generation era could appear in Season 3. I don’t claim to know who might be included – but it feels like a pretty solid guess to say that someone from The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and/or Voyager will put in an appearance.

This could be a simple cameo, or an appearance similar to those seen in episodes like Encounter at Farpoint and Caretaker. Or there could be a real hidden surprise, with a character basically joining Picard’s mission. We didn’t really know the extent of Seven of Nine’s involvement in Season 1 until it happened, nor the extent of Brent Spiner’s roles in Seasons 1 and 2… so there’s at least the possibility of some kind of big surprise!

Theory #21:
Captain Shaw will be killed.

Captain Liam Shaw.

I half-expected Captain Shaw to meet his demise in the season premiere – but it didn’t happen! With Seven of Nine having disobeyed orders, and the Titan now outside of Federation space with an imposing enemy vessel close by, that could still happen – and soon! But it’s also worth noting that Captain Shaw appears to be a more nuanced and potentially complex character than I’d initially expected. His anti-Borg prejudice is just one aspect of his characterisation, and this by-the-book, rather acerbic captain may have a bigger role to play than I thought at first.

Regardless, if for no other reason than pure practicality, I think he has to be gotten rid of… right? How can the Titan operate with a disloyal first officer, an ex-Admiral, and at least one other captain on board? From a story perspective it just seems cluttered, and while I hope we learn more about Captain Shaw and his past, I still don’t see him making it all the way to the end of the season.

Theory #22:
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

Soji in Season 2.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in The Next Generation, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.

But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.

I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!

Theory #23:
A spin-off will be announced.

Alex Kurtzman is in charge of the Star Trek franchise for Paramount.

This one is just as much a hope as it is a theory, but it would be fantastic if a spin-off from Picard were to be announced before the season ends. At present, no new Star Trek projects are in production, and with Season 3 being Picard’s last, it seems like there could be an opening!

A Star Trek show set in this early 25th Century time period could pick up story threads from The Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, or even Lower Decks and Prodigy, so there’s a lot of potential. A direct spin-off could follow Captain Shaw on the Titan, or Seven of Nine and Raffi, or could even bring back Elnor at Starfleet Academy. With the introduction of new characters in the La Forge family, one or both of them could also take a leading role in a new Star Trek production.

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, this era is where I’d love Star Trek to stay. It feels like there’s so much untapped potential in this time period, with many Trekkies wanting to return to characters, settings, and storylines from Star Trek’s “golden age.” I put together ten of my own 25th Century series concepts, and you can find that list by clicking or tapping here.

So that’s it!

The Shrike can use its tractor beam as a weapon…

Despite a retirement and two confirmations, the theory list continues to grow. I suspect we’ll start to see some debunkings soon, as the story really gets going. So far, it feels as if we’ve only just moved off the starting line – so there are eight episodes to go to really whittle down the theory list! Picard continues to lend itself to this kind of theory-crafting, and it’s fun to try to predict what may or may not be coming.

As a final note: I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Episode Review – Season 3, Episode 2: Disengage

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, The Undiscovered Country, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

If you read my review of the season premiere last week, there’s almost no need to read this! In short, many of the points I made last time are the same this time: Disengage was an episode with the same contradictory feel as The Next Generation, one in which the main storyline seemed to edge along at a very slow pace while several story beats rushed past too quickly, or else didn’t get enough time dedicated to them.

And those story beats are more or less the same ones as last time, too: Raffi’s undercover mission seemed to race by, some of the scenes between Picard and Jack could have been extended, Riker didn’t get a lot of time to shine, and even the intrigue on the Titan with Captain Shaw and Seven didn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight. As I said last week, it’s a story with a contradictory feel.

The Shrike looms over the Eleos.

Let’s talk visuals. Both last week and this week, Picard looked incredibly washed-out and faded on my 4K HDR display. I tried adjusting my screen manually, but I could either get the default faded, washed-out look or I could get a horribly over-corrected, over-saturated look. Neither is right or natural, and the colour temperature of the season so far feels off. I hope this is something that Paramount can fix – but I doubt it.

In addition to the colour temperature issue, both episodes of the season so far have been incredibly dark. In multiple scenes and sequences – particularly those set in Raffi’s underworld city, but it wasn’t entirely restricted to that setting – it hasn’t always been easy to see what’s going on. Areas that should be in focus are poorly illuminated, and the washed-out effect doesn’t help here either. Again, this is something I’d hope Paramount would have been able to correct behind-the-scenes when it became apparent… but so far, no luck. I did manage to, shall we say, “source” a second copy of Disengage, but this was also plagued by the same issues.

Picard Season 3 has a dark, faded look in many scenes.

There are really two parts to this complaint. The first is that this is a deliberate choice of cinematography, presenting scenes in a dark, under-illuminated way to try to achieve a certain visual effect. The limitations of this are apparent, and one need only look at similar complaints in other television shows to see why turning the brightness down isn’t a good idea.

Secondly we have the way episodes are compiled and compressed for streaming, and I think there’s a technical issue here that Paramount has yet to get to grips with. Because the episodes were dark to begin with, compressing them down for streaming may have contributed to this faded, washed-out look. My screen isn’t a cheap model by any means, but it’s a problem if the only time Picard can look reasonable is when it’s seen on an expensive, high-end OLED television set.

For illustrative purposes, here’s a promo photo for Disengage featuring Seven of Nine and Captain Shaw…
…and here’s the photographed scene as it appeared in the episode. Note the radical difference in brightness, colour temperature, and tone.

So let’s take a step back. Where are we in terms of story? After two complete episodes – a full 20% of the season – it still feels like we’re at the beginning. The main events of both The Next Generation and Disengage appear to have taken place, for the most part, over the span of a few hours; the exception being Raffi’s sequences, which, despite being rushed, actually seem to take place over a longer spell of time.

This episode focused on Jack Crusher, the character who many of us had guessed was the son – somehow – of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher. This focus on Jack’s identity and backstory was worth doing, and although some moments didn’t quite stick the landing, it’s an interesting and engaging story – one that has me wanting to learn more. But again, in terms of the overall narrative arc of the season, it feels as though Disengage crawled along at a pretty slow pace.

Is the main story progressing at the right pace? Or am I overthinking things?

Two episodes in and we’ve barely gotten off the starting line. Dr Crusher’s plea for help and Picard and Riker’s off-the-books rescue was the starting point for this story, yet after two entire episodes have passed, we haven’t moved much beyond that yet. It makes me feel as though some of the moments in Disengage could and perhaps should have been included last week.

The ten-episode seasons of modern television shows are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Picard would almost certainly never have been made if Paramount insisted on twenty episodes or more per season! And the serialised nature of these stories makes a ten-episode season akin to a ten-part movie, which is a great thing in many ways. But on the other hand, these truncated seasons don’t have as much room for manoeuvre, so getting bogged down at the starting line – or spending too long on side-quests – can end up having a serious knock-on impact. We saw this with Picard in both its first and second seasons… and I can’t shake the feeling, even at this relatively early stage, that the same problem is about to reoccur.

Captain Vadic and her crew on the Shrike.

Now for the contradiction! At several points, I felt that all we were getting of Riker were clips; cut-down snippets of what should’ve been longer scenes. There was scope to spend a lot more time with Riker as he tried to convince Picard of what he already knew: that Jack is his son. Having Riker realise that first was a genuinely great story point – one that showed just how close these two old friends are, and how Riker has a perceptiveness, even years later, that Picard can rely on. But it was blitzed through so quickly that there wasn’t enough time to really showcase this angle, and that’s a shame.

Re-establishing and evolving the relationship between Riker and Picard has been one of the best things about Star Trek: Picard, and feels like a real, solid justification for providing these characters with new storylines after such a long time. But it’s only really when the action slowed down in Season 1’s Nepenthe that the show truly excelled in terms of this kind of character-focused storytelling.

Picard and Riker had an all-too-brief chat about Jack.

I’d have wanted to spend a bit more time with Riker this week, and the moments we got with him felt somehow cut-down. The problem, as I’ve said before in Picard, isn’t that the core idea is in any way bad, it’s that it needed more screen time to properly unfold. There was merit in Riker seeing the obvious, and using him as the point-of-view character to convey the truth of Jack’s parentage; revealing to us as the audience something Picard couldn’t – or wouldn’t – see. But that got lost because of how short most of Riker’s scenes were, unfortunately.

We continue to rush through Raffi’s story to such an extent that certain elements, such as the inclusion of her ex-husband, felt almost gratuitous; the story clearly doesn’t have time to delve into this relationship in a big way. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last we see – or even hear – of Raffi’s ex, and as I’ve said about narrative elements in Picard more than once: good idea, not enough time to do anything meaningful with it.

Raffi with her ex-husband.

Once again, Michelle Hurd excelled – but she did so in spite of the way the season has been scripted and/or edited. And despite jumping from point to point as she tried to chase down the terrorist or terrorists responsible for the attack, her storyline again feels like it hasn’t made a lot of progress from its start point.

Last week, Raffi was desperately trying to hunt down the person who stole “experimental weapons,” and this week she continued to do that. She found the broker who arranged the sale – but that’s all. Again, all of this could turn out to be okay… but I’m just worried about the pacing of the story in light of what happened in Seasons 1 and 2.

Parts of Raffi’s story continue to feel rushed.

All that being said, the moments we got with Raffi this week were among my favourites in the episode – and are probably among Raffi’s most interesting scenes, from a narrative point of view, that we’ve gotten in the entire series to date. It’s absolutely true that Raffi’s underworld planet borrows a lot both visually and thematically from Star Wars and dystopian sci-fi, but I think there’s more than enough room in the Star Trek galaxy for places like this to exist. We’ve caught glimpses of such worlds in past iterations of the franchise, too, so I think it works well.

The scenes with Sneed – the Ferengi broker – were fantastic. At first, I wondered if there might be some kind of connection to Quark or perhaps DaiMon Bok with the introduction of a Ferengi character, but Sneed was perfectly interesting on his own. And the last-minute arrival of Worf to save the day – revealing himself as Raffi’s “handler” – capped off this story in pitch-perfect fashion. There are nitpicks here, sure, but overall I felt it worked well.

Worf is back!

Let’s talk about Vadic, who made her first appearance of the season. I’m convinced that there’s more to Vadic than has been revealed so far – though it was noteworthy in Disengage that no one recognised her, or had even heard of her. That certainly calls into question some of the ideas that I and others may have had for who she could be and how she may be connected to Picard and the crew… but I don’t think it totally destroys all but the most outlandish of fan theories, so we’ll come back to that perhaps in my next theory update.

My concern about Vadic’s presentation in Disengage comes down to a single factor: her motivation. A villain this over-the-top (and Vadic was, for better or worse, certainly over-the-top in Disengage) needs to have a reason for being so. Khan – the character I and others compared Vadic with after her initial appearance in pre-season trailers – had a single-minded quest for vengeance. Like Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick, he was willing to do anything and sacrifice anything to get his revenge on Kirk for years of being abandoned in a desolate wasteland, and that came across in his on-screen presentation.

Vadic lighting a cigarette.

If Vadic is motivated solely by money – as she claims – that seriously undermines her characterisation. Sure, Jack Crusher may be a valuable target – but does that justify the kind of “Khan meets the Wicked Witch of the West mixed with Dr Doofenshmirtz” presentation? Amanda Plummer really dialled it up to eleven with her villainous performance, letting every word, every syllable, drip with malice, and throwing in a wonderful cackle for good measure. But if Vadic only cares about money… I just feel there’s a disconnect between the character and the performance if that’s the case.

But there are still eight episodes left for Vadic’s story to unfold, and for her to become more than just a one-dimensional villain trope. I’d hoped we might’ve seen the beginnings of that in some way this week, and going into the episode I was probably more excited to meet Vadic than I was about any other character. While I wouldn’t describe her as a “let-down,” she’s definitely a character I think we need to see more of before we can really assess whether or not she’s going to work, and whether her inclusion will end up being a positive thing for the season… or might end up detracting from it.

If we’re to see Vadic as something more than a bog-standard villain trope, we need to know more about her and what’s driving her.

What we’ve heard about Vadic and her crew from Jack – as well as a couple of remarks of a rumoured ship matching the Shrike’s design from Seven of Nine – tells us that she has resources at her disposal. The Shrike was armed to the teeth, and more than outmatched the Titan – which Captain Shaw described this week as a vessel of exploration, which I thought was interesting. But that doesn’t really speak to who Vadic is or what her overall motivation might be – especially if, as the season seems to be suggesting, she’s the terrorist mastermind that Raffi and Worf have been chasing and who attacked the Federation facility last week.

So again, we need to learn more about this character. We obviously weren’t going to get her entire backstory and an explanation of her mission in a single episode, and I wasn’t expecting to. But I was expecting to at least see the beginnings of that – and so far, it feels that Vadic’s true identity and motivation is rather obscured. I don’t believe that “money” will be all there is to it… but just in case I’m wrong about that, let me say right now that it will be monumentally unsatisfying if that somehow were to be the case.

The Shrike’s tractor beam attack was neat, though.

In The Wrath of Khan, Kirk learned that he had a son: David Marcus. Continuing the theme of Season 3 being “Picard does The Wrath of Khan,” we have Jack Crusher being Picard’s own son. This revelation – that at least some fans saw coming – is an interesting one, though I hope the mechanics of how it came to be will be explained… somehow. I don’t need a detailed, no-holds-barred flashback sequence (please no) but some kind of explanation of the events surrounding Jack’s conception wouldn’t go amiss.

As I said last week: there’s a question of timing that I find particularly interesting. According to Riker, Dr Crusher has been absent from her friends’ lives for approximately twenty years, but Jack is clearly not twenty years old or younger – no offence to actor Ed Speleers! – which means he had to have been around before her unannounced departure. Could we learn that a threat against Beverly, Jack, or perhaps against Picard might’ve prompted her to take him and leave?

Why did Dr Crusher take Jack and leave everyone behind?

The question of safety is also a pertinent one. Based on one of Dr Crusher’s lines from pre-season trailers, in which she says something to Picard about “attempts on [his] life,” I’d been wondering whether Dr Crusher may have taken her son as far away as possible in order to keep him safe. But Jack’s long list of criminal offences and the huge bounty seemingly placed on his head would seem to run completely counter to that; at the very least, if this was Dr Crusher’s intention, she hasn’t done a very good job of it!

If we’re sticking with comparisons to The Wrath of Khan, will Jack Crusher end up meeting the same fate as David Marcus? And if so, will his death have the same kind of effect on Picard as David’s did on Kirk? It would be cruel to introduce this character and begin to explore his background and his relationship with both his mother and Picard only to see him killed off – but it could be poetic symmetry, too.

What will become of Jack in the end?

We’ve already seen Jack offering himself to Vadic in an attempted act of self-sacrifice – something not incomparable to how David stepped in to save Saavik’s life in The Search for Spock. Saavik’s name was seen, briefly, this week – used for the doomed shuttle that Picard and Riker piloted to the Eleos. According to background details released by Paramount, Saavik was the commanding officer of the original USS Titan in the late 23rd Century.

These references could be to honour the late Kirstie Alley, the first actress to play the role of Saavik, who passed away late last year. They could also just be coincidental references to tie Picard Season 3 into past iterations of Star Trek. But there’s also a very deliberate connection to The Wrath of Khan once again… and in light of what happened with David Marcus and Saavik, I can’t help but wonder whether the season is setting up Jack Crusher for a similarly sacrificial end.

Debris from the shuttlecraft Saavik…
…and Kirstie Alley as Saavik in The Wrath of Khan.

I hope that there will be time to explore some of what Dr Crusher and Jack have been doing. Jack’s crimes can’t and shouldn’t just be hand-waved away by the story; such an important part of his background needs to be fleshed out. It won’t be enough to say “Jack’s a criminal,” and leave it at that – we need to know some of the details of why he broke the law, whether some or all of it could be morally justifiable, and why, when he’s supposedly on a “mission of mercy,” such law-breaking was required in the first place.

As with Raffi’s criminal underworld, I think there’s scope to show off a side of the Star Trek galaxy that hasn’t always been front-and-centre, and there’s definitely a pathway to explain Jack’s criminality in a way that feels natural and even sympathetic. Saying that he “did what he had to do” in order to provide medical assistance is going to be part of that, for sure – but I hope there will be time to go into a bit more detail.

Jack has an extensive criminal record… and a list of aliases.

There’s also clearly more to Captain Shaw than meets the eye. Vadic alluded to his “psychological profile,” and I think that could potentially connect with his anti-Borg prejudice that we saw in last week’s episode. If Captain Shaw had lost someone to the Borg, such an event could have had an impact on him – and could explain why he’s so openly hostile to Picard and Seven of Nine in particular. I keep expecting Captain Shaw to be killed off – but there may be more of an arc for this character than I’d been expecting.

What I liked about Shaw’s story this week was the moral ambiguity of it. It’s tempting to portray Shaw as being cowardly; turning over Jack to Vadic in order to save himself. But there’s clearly more to it than that – he takes the responsibility of command very seriously, and his number one overriding priority seems to be to keep his crew safe. He’s outside Federation space, with no immediate hope of backup, facing an opponent that clearly outmatches him in terms of firepower… so risking the lives of everyone on his ship to save a wanted criminal is a big ask – even if we as the audience would want to see the son of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher kept safe.

Captain Shaw is growing on me.

Am I warming up to Captain Shaw?! That’s certainly not something I expected! But under the rude, unpleasant, and even bigoted exterior, I think we’ve seen glimpses of a good, upstanding captain. Putting aside the anti-Borg prejudice, Shaw reminds me, as I said last time, of the likes of The Search for Spock’s Captain Stiles, Discovery’s Captain Lorca, and The Next Generation’s Captain Jellico. Shaw isn’t wrong in his read on Picard and Riker – who snuck aboard his ship and took it on an unsanctioned mission. His anti-Borg attitude may be extreme, and targeting the wrong people, but I feel we may be on the verge of finding out how it came about. And finally, when he realised the true circumstances he was faced with, Shaw did the right thing – albeit at the last possible moment.

So Captain Shaw has turned out to be more complex than I expected. What’s more, he’s different enough from Chris Rios to provide some kind of justification for the latter’s departure from the series. These storylines wouldn’t have worked with Captain Rios, and while others could have been created to get the rest of the characters to similar narrative places, it would have been a lot more friendly and less adversarial. That’s more “Star Trek” in some ways – but perhaps less interesting in others!

Captain Shaw in the briefing room.

Picard seemed to be struggling with the idea of Jack being his son, and only really came to accept it at the end of the episode. As mentioned, I think there was scope to do a bit more with this idea – explaining why Picard felt that way, and whether he was trying to push those questions aside simply as a point of practicality given the time constraint, or whether it was because he feared the truth. The way Disengage presented Picard left it open as to which it might’ve been – I can see clear cases for both explanations, and the episode doesn’t seem to have picked a side.

The scene in which an injured Dr Crusher wordlessly conveyed the truth, though, was spectacularly well done, and the emotional high point of Disengage. The wordless scene was set to a fantastically evocative piece of music, and told us what I think most viewers already knew: that Jack is Picard’s son.

This was a fantastic scene all around.

Though this story was, overall, a tad rushed, and I’d have liked to have spent more time with Picard, Riker, and Jack in the moments leading up to it, there’s no faulting the final “reveal” itself. This moment also cemented Captain Shaw as an albeit begrudging ally, and has set the stage for the next chapter of the story as the Titan fled into a dangerous nebula.

A battle in a sensor-blind nebula? That sounds like yet another story beat from The Wrath of Khan! This season really is going all-in with the Khan comparisons… and so far, I’m really into that! It isn’t a straight copy; there are enough differences that we can consider it a variation on a theme. But the overt callbacks to one of the best things Star Trek has ever done are not going unnoticed – and after two muddled, lacklustre seasons, maybe this kind of big all-action blow-out is just what the doctor ordered.

The Titan opens fire on the Shrike.

Aside from the danger of coming across as repetitive – which Season 3 has thus far avoided, I have to say – the other potential pitfall here is that this story just feels a bit… safe. Not safe for our characters – not all of whom will make it to the end alive and unscathed, I’m fairly confident of that – but in terms of how the story comes across. This narrative framework is one that Star Trek has used before, and that could mean that we’ll end the season feeling it played things a bit too safe. We’ll have to see – but it’s worth keeping in mind.

So let’s start to wrap things up! Disengage finally saw the season move beyond its starting point, and we now have some idea of how the two main narrative arcs may come together. It was a treat to see Worf again after so long – but a shame he was on screen so briefly. The same can be said for Riker, whose contributions to the episode were a little too rushed for my liking.

Ensign La Forge.

Visually, Disengage was a bit of a disappointment due to a washed-out, faded look that didn’t suit an already dark episode. However, the CGI and other effects work was perfectly okay, and unlike last week I didn’t feel too much of the dreaded “uncanny valley” in CGI sequences featuring the Shrike and the Titan.

Whether Disengage did enough to advance its two main narratives is still an open question, and one that I feel particularly attuned to after the disappointments of Seasons 1 and 2. I’m crossing my fingers that it will all be alright, and that the next eight episodes will see the story advance and unfold at just the right pace. Both this week’s episode and last week’s have left me worried, though.

Time will tell…

Overall, I had a good time with Disengage. I don’t think it’s the best episode of the series or anything, but it feels like there’s the potential to consider it a solid addition, one that advanced key storylines just far enough. I certainly hope so, anyway!

Aside from pacing, my biggest point of concern – or rather, my biggest question-mark – coming out of Disengage has to do with Vadic and the way she’s both written and presented on screen. I feel that we’re going to learn something significant about Vadic in the weeks ahead that will completely reframe her characterisation, and give meaning and purpose to someone who feels a bit out-of-place right now. “Money” can’t be all there is – at least, I hope not!

So that was Disengage. Let’s see what Season 3 has in store for us next time.

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 1

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and Voyager.

With the first episode of Picard Season 3 under our belts, it’s time to update my theory list! If you read my review of The Next Generation (the episode, not the series!) then you’ll know I thought that the season got off to a solid start. Perhaps The Next Generation didn’t quite reach the same level as Season 1’s Remembrance or Season 2’s The Star Gazer, but it was enjoyable.

To my surprise, I must admit, none of the theories that were in place going into the season were outright destroyed by The Next Generation, meaning everything technically remains in play – though some theories are, as I said last time, pretty unlikely to pan out! There were a couple of new theories that I’ve concocted that will be added to the list – and one theory got confirmed right out of the gate. So that’s at least one check mark in the “win” column this season! Will it be the only one, though?

Dr Crusher firing her phaser rifle.

Although I generally enjoyed what The Next Generation brought to the table as the starting point for this new story, I do have a few concerns – especially having gone back to watch it a couple of times. First is the pacing. A couple of big story beats seemed to race past awfully quickly: Raffi’s Federation base being destroyed and Picard and Riker learning the identity of Dr Crusher’s shipmate. But at the same time, the episode didn’t feel like it made a ton of progress in terms of the main narrative arc of the season – I called it a contradiction in my review. Whether these points will be important or not as the season wears on… who can say? But after two seasons where pacing issues contributed to some major disappointments, I’m more keenly aware of this particular issue this time around!

But you can check out my review if you want more details on what I thought of the episode itself. You can find it by clicking or tapping here.

As always, we begin the theory list with confirmations and debunkings. No theories were debunked this week, and we have one confirmation, so before we get into the main list let’s take a look at that!

Confirmed theory:
Dr Crusher’s shipmate is her son.

Crusher Jr.

This character piqued my interest in pre-season trailers, and I wasn’t alone in speculating that he might be Dr Crusher’s son. Although she was unconscious in a medical pod and unable to completely confirm the connection, I think it’s safe to take him at his word. Crusher Jr. wasn’t named in the episode itself, but Paramount has since announced that his name is Jack – a reference to Beverly’s husband Jack Crusher, a friend of Picard who was killed while Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer.

This revelation has raised just as many questions as it answered, and with Crusher Jr. being on screen for only a couple of minutes right at the end of the episode, we didn’t get many answers. I have a theory about who his father may be – and we’ll look at that in a moment. For now, I’m claiming my first successful theory prediction of Season 3!

So that theory was confirmed.

Up next we’ll take a look at the main theory list, beginning with brand-new theories as well as any existing theories that saw significant movement this week. Finally we’ll wrap up by going over the theories that remain unchanged.

Theory #1:
Picard is the father of Crusher Jr.

Picard with another “son” in the episode Bloodlines.

In a series called “Star Trek: Picard,” a connection like this seems like it would be blindingly obvious! Not only that, but Picard’s past romantic relationship with Dr Crusher was referenced in this very episode, with Laris – Picard’s new partner – commenting on it. In addition, Crusher Jr. sports a similar accent to Picard, something that can be used in works of fiction to imply a familial tie between characters.

There also aren’t any other obvious candidates – at least, not among the main cast that we know of at this stage. Crusher Jr’s father clearly isn’t Worf or Geordi, nor could it be Data. That only leaves Riker – and as far as we know, he and Dr Crusher never bumped uglies. Although… Riker did indicate that his marriage has hit a rough spot. Could that be because Deanna figured out he and Crusher once had an affair? I think that’d be pretty silly!

Picard remains the obvious candidate for now, although there is another possibility.

Theory #2:
Crusher Jr. is related or otherwise connected to Vadic.

Captain Vadic and several of her crew.

We have no idea at this stage why the Shrike – which we assume is commanded by Captain Vadic at this point in the story, though that isn’t confirmed – is so intent on chasing Dr Crusher and Crusher Jr. specifically. If they wanted Picard, his retirement on Earth didn’t exactly appear to be something top-secret, so why go for Dr Crusher unless she is the subject of Vadic’s ire?

If so, perhaps the reason for Vadic being so obsessed with catching Dr Crusher is that she’s related to Crusher Jr. He could be a nephew or other close relative, or he could be the son of one of her crewmates. He could even be her child – though that seems like an outside possibility at best. In short, if Crusher Jr’s father is someone on Vadic’s crew, that could explain why she’s chasing them: she wants to reclaim her family member.

Obviously this theory and the one above can’t both be true. If you asked me to place a bet, I’d definitely say that Picard being the father is the most likely outcome based on what we know so far – but this possibility exists right now, and I wanted to acknowledge it.

Theory #3:
Worf is Raffi’s “handler.”

Promo photo of Worf.

Raffi’s storyline didn’t get quite enough time centre-stage for my liking, but what we saw was intriguing. Raffi is working undercover, trying to track a stolen weapon in the seedy underworld of the Star Trek galaxy that we see so rarely. As part of her assignment, she has a handler – a higher-ranking intelligence officer with whom we saw her communicate.

There are several reasons to think that this character may be Worf. Firstly, we saw a couple of clips of the two of them on what seemed to be the underworld planet in pre-season trailers. Secondly, pre-season character bios released by Paramount stated that Raffi’s location was “unknown” and that Worf’s was “classified.” Finally, the handler Raffi spoke with used the word “warrior” to describe her – a term we’ve often associated with Worf and heard him use.

If Worf is Raffi’s handler, all I can say is that I hope there’s a reason for keeping his role a secret!

Theory #4:
The Borg are involved.

The Borg have already been seen in Star Trek: Picard

Several moments in this week’s episode referenced or called back to the Borg – and while we know that Captain Vadic is set to star as the season’s primary antagonist, there’s still the possibility of Borg involvement in some shape or form. First of all, Dr Crusher was reviewing one of Picard’s logs from his first engagement with the Borg in The Best of Both Worlds. Secondly, Riker referenced Picard’s assimilation experience, and used what he remembered from rescuing him from the Borg in that same episode to decode part of Dr Crusher’s message – something Picard wouldn’t have been able to do on his own as he wasn’t privy to that information at the time. Finally, Captain Shaw seems to have a major chip on his shoulder about the Borg, talking down to both Seven and Picard about their status as ex-Borg.

These could be nothing more than references – little callbacks to Star Trek’s past that are there to tie the events of this story into the franchise’s past. And that’s totally okay if that turns out to be the case! But it’s at least possible, in my view, that some greater Borg connection is going to be revealed. Remember, Season 2 introduced us to a new Borg faction… and the mysterious anomaly that they were intent on stopping is still unexplained.

Theory #5:
Captain Shaw lost someone to the Borg.

The Battle of Sector 001.

Why is Captain Shaw so anti-Borg? Sure, we know that the Borg are a threat to Starfleet and the Federation… but it feels like there’s more to it than that. His treatment of Seven and the way he aggressively challenged her and Picard about being former Borg made it seem personal to him, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s come up against the Borg in the past.

Captain Shaw seems old enough to have been in Starfleet certainly by the time of First Contact, and the Battle of Sector 001 took a toll on Starfleet. Did Captain Shaw lose a friend, a shipmate, a relative, or even an entire crew that day? Or did he find himself facing off against the Collective on some other occasion? Perhaps he was responsible for relocating the survivors of the Artifact after the events of Picard Season 1.

Theory #6:
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

Cadet Elnor at the end of Season 2.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in The Next Generation, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.

But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.

I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!

Theory #7:
Captain Shaw will be killed.

Captain Liam Shaw.

I half-expected Captain Shaw to meet his demise in the season premiere – but it didn’t happen! With Seven of Nine having disobeyed orders, and the Titan now outside of Federation space with an imposing enemy vessel close by, that could still happen – and soon! But it’s also worth noting that Captain Shaw appears to be a more nuanced and potentially complex character than I’d initially expected. His anti-Borg prejudice is just one aspect of his characterisation, and this by-the-book, rather acerbic captain may have a bigger role to play than I thought at first.

Regardless, if for no other reason than pure practicality, I think he has to be gotten rid of… right? How can the Titan operate with a disloyal first officer, an ex-Admiral, and at least one other captain on board? From a story perspective it just seems cluttered, and while I hope we learn more about Captain Shaw and his past, I still don’t see him making it all the way to the end of the season.

Theory #8:
The Titan’s crew will mutiny.

The USS Titan in Spacedock.

An unpleasant man like Captain Shaw can’t be nice to serve under, and with another captain and an admiral on board who have already butted heads in a big way, perhaps the crew of the Titan will mutiny against Shaw. Shaw could be locked in the brig with Picard, Riker, and Seven taking over on the bridge. This would leave open the possibility of Shaw continuing to play a role and interact with the rest of the characters… but without getting in the way.

We didn’t spend much time with the Titan’s crew, but Seven and Ensign La Forge would surely side with Picard and Riker if it came to that. Perhaps the other bridge officers might feel the same way, especially if Captain Shaw treats the rest of them as badly as he treats Seven of Nine!

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

Finally, so as to keep everything in one place, we’ll recap all of the other theories that are currently in play. This week’s outing didn’t move the needle on any of these theories in a significant way – though we could argue that the total absence of any mention of certain characters, factions, etc. is indicative of the fact that they won’t appear this season. But I’m content to keep them all in play for now!

Theory #9:
A spin-off will be announced.

Alex Kurtzman is in charge of the Star Trek franchise for Paramount.

This one is just as much a hope as it is a theory, but it would be fantastic if a spin-off from Picard were to be announced before the season ends. At present, no new Star Trek projects are in production, and with Season 3 being Picard’s last, it seems like there could be an opening!

A Star Trek show set in this early 25th Century time period could pick up story threads from The Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, or even Lower Decks and Prodigy, so there’s a lot of potential. A direct spin-off could follow Captain Shaw on the Titan, or Seven of Nine and Raffi, or could even bring back Elnor at Starfleet Academy. With the introduction of new characters in the La Forge family, one or both of them could also take a leading role in a new Star Trek production.

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, this era is where I’d love Star Trek to stay. It feels like there’s so much untapped potential in this time period, with many Trekkies wanting to return to characters, settings, and storylines from Star Trek’s “golden age.” I put together ten of my own 25th Century series concepts, and you can find that list by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #10:
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!

Could it be DaiMon Bok?!

There have been theories and guesses from Trekkies for basically a whole year about which other characters from The Next Generation era could appear in Season 3. I don’t claim to know who might be included – but it feels like a pretty solid guess to say that someone from The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and/or Voyager will put in an appearance.

This could be a simple cameo, or an appearance similar to those seen in episodes like Encounter at Farpoint and Caretaker. Or there could be a real hidden surprise, with a character basically joining Picard’s mission. We didn’t really know the extent of Seven of Nine’s involvement in Season 1 until it happened, nor the extent of Brent Spiner’s roles in Seasons 1 and 2… so there’s at least the possibility of some kind of big surprise!

Theory #11:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

La Sirena in this week’s episode.

Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?

It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!

Theory #12:
The super-synths are involved.

The super-synths’ mechanical noodles.

This theory would tie together the events of Seasons 1 and 2 with Season 3. In short, I’ve suggested that Captain Vadic may be a devotee of the super-synths – the “alliance of synthetic life” outside of the Milky Way galaxy who left the beacon on Aia and kicked off the plot of Season 1. To add to this theory, I posited that the mysterious anomaly in Season 2 was also a super-synth creation, perhaps one designed to attack the Federation or to open up a gateway.

If Captain Vadic had encountered the beacon on Aia (or another similar beacon elsewhere), it could have driven her mad, as we saw it do to Zhat Vash initiates in Season 1. If Vadic became obsessed with the super-synths, instead of becoming obsessed with stopping them, she might blame Picard for preventing their arrival. Furthermore, she might be trying to open a new portal for them, and that could be what Picard and the crew need to stop.

I have two articles that go into a lot more detail on this theory. You can find part 1 by clicking or tapping here, and part 2 by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #13:
Captain Vadic once served on Picard’s crew.

Could Vadic have served under Picard’s command?

Captain Vadic’s desire for vengeance seems very personal, and I wonder if that’s because she once served under Picard’s command. In short, Picard has no shortage of “victims” from his tenures in command of the Stargazer, the Enterprise-D, Enterprise-E, and the Romulan rescue fleet. While we know he always did everything he could to help his crew and see them make it safely home, a lot of people died, were injured, or went missing while serving.

Perhaps Captain Vadic was one such officer. She may blame Picard for being assimilated by the Borg, imprisoned by the Romulans, or being maimed by the Breen – and that’s why she wants to get revenge on him and his crew. This would explain why she appeared to be familiar with Picard, knowing not only his name but seemingly his personality, too.

For a few other ideas about who Captain Vadic might be, click or tap here.

Theory #14:
At least one main character will be killed.

A Starfleet coffin, adorned with the flag of the Federation.

I don’t necessarily expect this to happen right at the start of the first episode, but I feel it’s a solid possibility that at least one main character won’t make it to the end of the season. Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations!

It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing, it could succeed at either setting up the story or paying off a season-long character arc.

I have a list of who I consider to be in danger, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #15:
Captain Vadic and her crew are hosts for the parasite-aliens first encountered in the episode Conspiracy.

One of the parasite-aliens.

This one is quite “out there,” and I freely admit that! It would be a very bold (i.e. odd) decision for Star Trek to return to the plot of Conspiracy, as it’s hardly one of the best-remembered episodes of The Next Generation. But something about the idea of being unsure of who to trust within Starfleet, having to turn to old friends for help, and the possibility of a conspiracy that could be targeting the Federation all flagged up the plot of Conspiracy for me… so it would be unwise to entirely rule it out!

The end of the episode seemed to suggest that the parasite-aliens had been able to send a message into deep space, hinting at a possible return one day. Could that day finally have arrived?

Theory #16:
Captain Vadic is a Founder.

One of the Founders of the Dominion.

We’ve been promised some kind of connection to Deep Space Nine this season, so I can’t help but wonder if the villain of the piece could be a changeling. If the Dominion and their shape-shifting Founders are on the march once more, that could explain why Picard wouldn’t know who to trust – as we saw in Deep Space Nine, changelings were able to infiltrate Starfleet, the Klingon Empire, and the Tal Shiar, replacing a handful of well-placed leaders as part of a plan to destabilise the major factions of the Alpha Quadrant.

Perhaps Vadic’s drive for revenge stems from the Dominion’s defeat, and while Picard wasn’t heavily involved in that, she might be targeting Starfleet and the Federation more broadly.

Theory #17:
Captain Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.

Captain Vadic with a couple of her allies.

When we first met Captain Vadic and learned that both Lore and Professor Moriarty would be returning, I speculated that the villain of Season 3 might have put together a crew comprised of past Star Trek villains and adversaries. There’s no shortage of baddies who might want to seek revenge on Picard, the crew of the Enterprise-D, and the Federation as a whole.

In both of the trailers that featured Captain Vadic, the crew of her ship – the Shrike – were concealed. In the most recent trailer, the Shrike’s crew were seen wearing bird-like masks… and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a reason why these characters had their faces covered. It seems at least possible that some of Vadic’s crewmates and allies could be characters that we’ve met in past iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

I suggested the likes of DaiMon Bok, Sela, and even Nicholas Locarno as possible candidates – and you can find a longer list by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #18:
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.

What’s going on with Lore?

Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the most recent trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.

Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, they were no longer a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!

Theory #19:
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.

Professor Moriarty.

Connected to the theory above is the idea that, for some reason, Picard and the crew will not be able to trust or rely on almost any organic. Not knowing who to trust – perhaps because something is going on that only affects organic minds – could explain why they chose to reactivate both Lore and Professor Moriarty: they might be immune to whatever’s happening.

I don’t think it can be a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty are involved. Both are sentient artificial life-forms, so surely that connection has to be relevant!

If this theory is even close to being true, though, it would raise an interesting question: why didn’t Picard also turn to Soji for help?

Theory #20:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

The crew of The Next Generation in Season 5.

Two lines from the trailers leapt out at me: Dr Crusher warning Picard to “trust no one,” and her son asking Picard whether anyone he knew “is still the person [he] knew.” These lines could hint at someone having infiltrated the crew, potentially replacing or brainwashing them.

Additionally, it’s possible that someone on the crew is who they appear to be – but is secretly working for Captain Vadic and/or some other villain. We saw this with Dr Jurati in Season 1, so it wouldn’t be a wholly original story beat. But it would fit in with the idea of Picard not knowing who to trust.

So that’s it!

Admiral Picard “inspecting” the crew of the Titan…

Those are all of the theories currently in play as we await the second episode of the season. So far, I’ve found quite a few things in Season 3 to speculate about – but as the story progresses, I expect we’ll begin to strike some of them off the list! Even when Picard hasn’t been at its best it’s still been a series that lends itself to this kind of theory-crafting and speculation, so hopefully there will be new theories to come in the weeks ahead.

As a final note: I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Five secondary characters from Star Trek’s past that I’d bring back

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, and the casting of Star Trek: Prodigy. There are further spoilers for older iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

A few days ago I took you through a short list of five main characters from past iterations of Star Trek that I’d love to see come back. This time, in a similar vein we’re going to look at five secondary or recurring characters that likewise could make for interesting returns to the franchise. Though most Star Trek shows have primarily focused on a main cast of characters, every series to date has featured at least one or two recurring characters as well.

For this list, I’m counting characters who appeared on more than one occasion – not one-off guest stars. And as with my previous list on this topic, these are characters I’d like to see return to the franchise in a general sense, not characters I’m predicting will appear in any specific upcoming show or film.

As always, I have no “insider information!” This is purely for fun and a chance to highlight some of these characters, as well as speculate about what their futures (or pasts) might be like beyond what we saw of them in their original appearances.

Number 1: Shran

We don’t know for sure how long Andorians live, but it’s at least a possibility that Shran – who appeared in Enterprise as an antagonist and later ally to Captain Archer – could still be alive in the 23rd Century. If he is he’d be well over 100 years old, but that doesn’t necessarily count against characters in Star Trek!

Jeffrey Combs played Shran, and also played recurring characters Brunt and Weyoun on Deep Space Nine. As someone who has close ties to the franchise, it would be wonderful to bring him back. It was amazing to hear JG Hertzler’s voice in Lower Decks last year, and it would be amazing to welcome back Jeffrey Combs as well.

Shran offers the Star Trek franchise an opportunity to tie in Enterprise in a significant way. At the moment, Enterprise is very much an outlier in the Star Trek canon; cut off all on its own in the 22nd Century. Despite there being opportunities in the three films and two seasons of television set in the 23rd Century, only the briefest references to Enterprise have been made since it went off the air in 2005.

Strange New Worlds is the prime candidate for Shran to reappear, but if the untitled Section 31 series uses a 23rd Century setting, he could potentially appear there as well. Shran was depicted primarily as a soldier, but the passage of time could have softened that side of him, and I would love to see him occupy a less-aggressive role, perhaps as a Federation ambassador. However, if there were a story featuring the Andorians in a major way, we could certainly see him included there as well.

Number 2: Garak

We got to know Garak very well across the latter part of Deep Space Nine, and his backstory as a spy was given plenty of attention. What we don’t know, of course, is what came next – what happened to Garak after the Dominion War was over?

Sooner or later, I hope Star Trek takes us back to Bajor and Cardassia in a major way, looking at the aftermath of that conflict. I know that the Dominion War wasn’t wildly popular with everyone – some of my Trekkie friends regard it as the worst part of ’90s Star Trek! But it was a major event in the fictional history of the franchise, one which seriously impacted the Federation. Exploring its aftermath, and looking at how the Federation managed to rebuild, would be worth doing.

Garak was last seen on Cardassia Prime at the end of the Dominion War. With Damar dead and the Dominion withdrawing, it’s possible he would have been in some kind of leadership role, at least temporarily. His years living with the Federation on DS9 would have put him in a unique position to liaise between Cardassia and the Federation alliance.

However, I don’t think Garak would have necessarily stayed in a leadership position. As a former agent of the Obsidian Order he represents Cardassia’s past – an empire governed from the shadows. Having fought hard to overthrow their Dominion oppressors, the Cardassians may have wanted to look to civilian leadership. I doubt Garak would have been re-exiled or returned to DS9, but may have gone into quiet retirement instead.

Number 3: Morn

Morn was really just a background character in Deep Space Nine, but the fun alien design was unique and made him instantly recognisable. As a result he became a somewhat ironic fan favourite, and ultimately got his own episode in Season 6: Who Mourns for Morn? Though he never spoke a line in the series, Morn was a significant character at points, and during the Dominion War smuggled information to the Federation from the occupied station, allowing for the success of Operation Return.

In at least one future timeline, Morn took over Quark’s bar, so perhaps a story that revisited DS9 could see him in that role. If Quark’s is still around, perhaps Morn is simply seen there as a regular patron – he appeared to be semi-retired, after all. Even if a return to DS9 simply saw him in his familiar background role, that would be good enough!

Who Mourns for Morn already explained a lot of his backstory, so there really isn’t a lot of room to go into more detail in that regard. A story that brought back almost any of the Deep Space Nine cast could include Morn, though, perhaps as a trusted confidante. With Picard and the crew of La Sirena operating outside of Starfleet, if they found themselves in Bajoran space perhaps they’d need someone like Morn – he seems like the type who could be very helpful at flying under the radar!

Maybe this would completely ruin things, but I would dearly love to see Morn speak if he did return. Even a single line of dialogue would be more than enough! I’m sure some fans will scream and say “no! Leave Morn alone!” but I think it could be a really sweet moment if done well. If we did return to DS9, seeing Morn sitting on his usual barstool would feel like a homecoming of sorts – almost as though no time had passed.

Number 4: Naomi Wildman

Naomi Wildman made 19 appearances across Voyager, the majority of which came in Seasons 5 and 6. The show tried to explore the idea of her being the only child on a ship full of adults, but only really managed to land that kind of story once – in the episode Once Upon A Time. The introduction of Icheb and the other ex-Borg children potentially gave Naomi playmates, but we never truly saw much of this. And on at least one occasion, Naomi was not included in a story that focused on the Borg children – the episode The Haunting of Deck Twelve.

As a character who quite literally grew up in space, and aboard the lost USS Voyager no less, Naomi may have a rather unique perspective after growing up. How did she react to Voyager’s return to Earth – which would have happened when she was around six years old? In at least one future timeline she’d joined Starfleet, but whether she’d do so in the prime timeline is unknown.

Naomi had a close relationship with Seven of Nine, who is currently a recurring character in Picard. She was also close with Icheb, who we know was killed a few years prior to the events of Picard. Exploring her post-Voyager relationships with those two characters could prove very interesting. If Picard Season 2 – or any future seasons of the show – spend more time with Seven, we could be reintroduced to Naomi and learn what she’s been up to.

The death of Icheb, if explored in more detail, could also be an opportunity to bring her back. Did they remain in touch after returning to the Alpha Quadrant? Icheb joined Starfleet – did Naomi join too? If so, maybe they served together before Icheb’s untimely demise. Otherwise we could see Naomi return in any story featuring main cast members from Voyager. So perhaps an appearance in Prodigy – where Captain Janeway is set to return – is on the cards?

Number 5: Jack Crusher

Jack Crusher was the deceased husband of Dr Beverly Crusher and father to Wesley Crusher. He served on the USS Stargazer under Captain Picard’s command, and that’s about all we know. He was killed during an away mission, and it was at least implied that Picard bears a degree of responsibility for that, either through something he did or didn’t do.

As a deceased character, Jack Crusher could only come back via a flashback, time-travel story, or story set in the past. But where I think there’s scope to see more of him is in Star Trek: Picard, particularly if Beverly and/or Wesley Crusher return. We could learn the circumstances of his death, and it could be a very interesting story if Jack Crusher’s death were somehow connected to some event taking place in the current Picard era.

For example, Picard, Dr Crusher, and the crew of La Sirena may have to travel to the world where Jack was killed, only to learn that the beings responsible for his death were the super-synths, the Zhat Vash, or someone else that we met in the new series. There would be something cyclical about bringing back, even if just in flashback form, Jack Crusher.

In the future timeline shown in The Next Generation’s finale, Picard had married Dr Crusher. While there was no evidence for or against that outcome in Picard Season 1, any story that explores Picard and Dr Crusher’s post-Nemesis relationship could be made to include flashbacks to Jack. He was a significant character in both of their lives, and in addition, his legacy may have been a factor in Picard and Dr Crusher never taking their relationship beyond friendship in the prime timeline. A story that took them back to his death could be interesting for both of them.

So that’s it! Five recurring or secondary characters who I believe could be welcomed back to the Star Trek franchise in some form.

This was the second part of a two-part miniseries looking at the possibility for certain characters to reappear in the franchise. It’s unlikely to be the last time we talk about such things – with so many different Star Trek projects on the go, practically anyone from the past could come back in some capacity!

Aside from those who have been definitively killed off within the prime timeline, I would argue that basically any character could return. Not all of them would be suitable for the current crop of shows, but if the franchise continues its renaissance… who knows? Maybe we’ll finally get Star Trek: Morn after all!

The Star Trek franchise – including all series mentioned above – is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other territories where the service exists, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including all properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.