Star Trek: Picard Season 2 theory – what happened to Q?

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 2. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

As the dust settles on Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, there are still questions that remain. Season 3 may build on some of what Season 2 brought to the table – the strange anomaly, most notably – but other narrative elements will fade into the background and won’t be revisited. For me, one of the unexplained elements that I found intriguing as the season wore on concerns Q. Specifically, what was it that caused this once-immortal superbeing to be reaching the end of his life? What caused Q to die?

For the sake of the story that Picard Season 2 aimed to tell, finding a cause for Q’s death was not strictly necessary. The point of Q’s story and Picard’s relationship with him wasn’t to figure out what was happening, find a cure, or reverse it, but to come to accept it and for Q to find forgiveness and redemption at the end of his life. In that sense, there wasn’t really a narrative problem with the idea of Q dying – but as Trekkies and as fans who’ve followed Q’s journey over the span of more than three decades, it definitely feels like there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. Even if Q’s death was inevitable, explaining why it was happening in the first place would have felt satisfying.

I’m such a Q fan that I have this Mego action figure of him!

We’ll probably have to address this in more detail when I get around to writing a proper retrospective-review of Season 2 as a whole, but one aspect of Q’s death that I feel wasn’t handled well is how nonchalant Picard seemed to be about it. Despite all the trouble he’s caused, the story here was about Picard finding a way to forgive Q and embrace the friendship he had been offering for decades. Wouldn’t someone like Picard have wanted to find out why his friend was dying? And wouldn’t someone like Picard want to do everything in his power to prevent it?

Even if we drop the “friendship” angle, Q is a unique life-form from Starfleet’s perspective. As a being who had been considered to be functionally immortal – or as close to it as the Federation has ever encountered, at least – learning more about the Q as a race and what could possibly harm them seems like an opportunity that a Starfleet Admiral shouldn’t have passed up. Even if it wasn’t possible to find a way to save Q’s life, I would have expected Picard to offer to try. And even if Q was unwilling to share too much information about his condition, his people, and the state of the Q Continuum, I would have expected Picard to have at least asked – and to have not immediately taken “no” for an answer.

Wouldn’t Picard have wanted to understand why Q was dying – and perhaps have offered to help save him?

Perhaps a longer season (or a season that was better-paced and didn’t waste time reaching its conclusion) could have dedicated more time to Q and included some of those questions. In Farewell, the Season 2 finale, Picard seemed to very quickly acknowledge that Q was dying, accept that fact at face-value, and made no effort to follow up on it or ask questions about it. While I understand why it happened that way in terms of the story, it leaves Q’s death feeling like it’s missing something critical – something that could’ve furthered our understanding of both Q himself and the Q Continuum as a whole.

So today, that’s what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to consider a handful of possibilities for why Q might’ve died at the end of Picard Season 2 and look at the pros and cons of each from both an in-universe and production-side perspective. It goes without saying that all of this is speculative and purely subjective; Q’s cause of death is highly unlikely to be explained on screen in the near future, and if you don’t like my ideas or I miss out something you do like, remember that this is all just the opinion of one person!

With all of that out of the way, let’s begin.

Theory #1:
Q was being punished by the Q Continuum.

Q after having been made mortal. And nude.

In The Next Generation Season 3 episode Deja Q, we saw Q come face-to-face with mortality for the first time. In that story, Q had his powers taken away by the Q Continuum – or whatever passes for the leadership of the Q – and found himself a mortal human. This seems to establish the principle that the Q Continuum has the power – in both a legal and physical sense – to strip individual Q of their immortality.

Though somewhat contradicted by the events of the Voyager episode Death Wish – in which it was strongly suggested that a member of the Q Continuum dying is something its leaders sought to prevent at any cost – Deja Q at least gives us something to work with. It was the first episode that established that certain members of the Q Continuum could inflict this kind of punishment on others, and while the specific nature of the Q Continuum and its power structure (if such a thing exists) is suitably vague, we at least have a starting point of sorts!

Another member of the Q Continuum – someone with the ability to make Q mortal.

Based on what we know about Q himself, and specifically his role in causing the death of a fellow Q, sparking a Q Civil War, and creating the first “baby” Q in thousands of years, perhaps we can piece together that the Continuum were not happy with Q’s behaviour and actions. Could it be possible that, after what Q did in episodes like The Q and the Grey, the leadership of the Continuum turned on him?

Given that we’ve also seen the Q Continuum strip powers – and immortality – away from at least two other Qs, this kind of punishment by the Continuum has to be a pretty high probability for explaining what happened to Q. Regardless of what reasons the Continuum may have had, as far as we know they’re the only ones powerful enough to force a Q to become mortal.

Theory #2:
The entire Q Continuum has been attacked.

The Q Continuum as it appeared in Voyager.

This was a theory that I hatched during Season 2 – so it may be familiar to you if you followed along with my weekly theory posts! In short, it seemed possible to me that one explanation for Q’s condition could be related to the Q Continuum itself. If the Continuum had been attacked by some outside force, maybe that could explain what was happening to Q – and it could also explain a cryptic line in Discovery Season 4. Admiral Vance explained to Captain Burnham that the 32nd Century Federation has had no contact with the Q Continuum in over 600 years – and while the events of Picard Season 2 took place approximately 780 years before that conversation, perhaps the two are linked somehow.

One line from Guinan in Picard Season 2 is also of interest here. Guinan described a “cold war” between her people and the Q Continuum in the past, a conflict that was eventually resolved. But based on what we know of the two races, a “cold war” doesn’t seem plausible, does it? The Q are immortal and god-like, and while the El-Aurians certainly have abilities of their own, they’re very much a race of mortals – a race who were conquered by the Borg. So any conflict between the Q and the El-Aurians should’ve been a one-sided rout. That is, unless the El-Aurians knew of some kind of weakness inherent in the Q.

Did the El-Aurians discover some kind of weakness in the Q Continuum?

Some kind of weak point in the Q Continuum would seem to be the only possible explanation for how the El-Aurians could pose any semblance of a threat. That weakness (whatever it may be) could be something that another faction discovered, and instead of negotiating as the El-Aurians had, they might’ve gone on the attack. Or after the El-Aurians were assimilated by the Borg, the Q Continuum’s weakness could’ve become known to them – which could mean that the Borg are responsible for attacking and defeating the Q.

So there are possibilities here – some of which are more plausible than others, admittedly – based on what we know! It isn’t clear whether the powers of an individual Q are tied in any way to the Q Continuum – but it’s possible that they are. If so, perhaps a weakness in the Continuum weakens every surviving Q, and the defeat or destruction of the Continuum would reduce the power of any Q who remained. It seems a possibility to me – even though it was never stated on screen.

Theory #3:
The Q Continuum was destabilised after its Civil War.

“Colonel Q” led one of the factions during the Q Civil War.

Voyager established that the Q Continuum devolved into civil war in the late 24th Century, with two opposing factions. The war came to an end with the birth of a new Q – the first such child in thousands of years. However, as Captain Janeway suggested toward the end of the episode: it doesn’t seem like having a baby would solve the underlying tensions within the Q Continuum.

While the causes of the war and its details were, in Q’s words: “beyond the understanding of humans,” it stands to reason that not only were the underlying issues not fully resolved, but that the fact that the Q Continuum was at war with itself in the first place would be hugely destabilising. After what seems to have been millennia of peace and quiet the Q Continuum was shattered by civil conflict, and as we know from out here in the real world, the consequences of wars – even brief ones – can be incredibly devastating and long-lasting.

Q was injured during the conflict.

Even if war never resumed between the two factions, there was still a lot of cleaning up to be done, rebuilding to achieve, and the need for reconciliation between one-time enemies. We don’t know for sure what kind of resources the Q Continuum might need to sustain itself, but it’s possible these were reduced or exhausted by the war, too. In the conflict’s aftermath, it’s even possible that two distinct Q Continuums were created.

Taking the Q Civil War as a starting point, we could argue that a general destabilisation of the Q Contniuum itself may have occurred. In the aftermath of the Civil War, perhaps the Q Continuum even collapsed, and individual members of the Q were left to fend for themselves. Without the support and resources of a united and undamaged Continuum, perhaps individual Q began to lose their powers and their immortality.

Theory #4:
Death by natural causes.

Did Q simply reach the end of his natural lifespan?

This seems to be what Picard Season 2 at least implied was happening to Q. Q gave no explanation for his impending death, seeming not to know why it was happening, and the explanation could simply be that Q reached the end of his natural life. To us, members of the Q Continuum may seem immortal, but it’s possible that they have a natural lifespan – even if it’s imperceptible to humans because it’s measured in millions or billions of years.

Q, despite appearances, may be one of the oldest members of the Q Continuum, and could thus be the first – or the first in many years – to reach such a ripe old age. He may not know what’s happening to him because death is incredibly rare in the Q Continuum, and a death by natural causes or old age simply hasn’t happened in a very long time.

Perhaps Q is the first of his race to reach this point.

We also don’t know how long Q has been flitting about the galaxy – nor how long it has been for Q in between visits to Picard. From Picard’s point of view, he last saw Q approximately 30 years ago (during the events of All Good Things at the end of The Next Generation). But has it only been 30 years for Q?

A being that can travel through time could have spent millions or billions of years away from Picard before reuniting with him. Q could have travelled back in time to the Big Bang and done other things for 13.8 billion years… then gone back to the Big Bang again and spent another 13.8 billion years killing time and doing his own thing before finally returning to Picard. In short, Q may be far, far older than we assume, and it might’ve been a lot longer in between visits than the 30 years of linear time that Picard experienced. All of these could explain why Q was coming to the end of his life.

Bonus Theory:
Q didn’t really die or was saved at the last moment.

Q’s final snap.

If there’s no body, is anyone in film or TV really dead? Star Wars uses this trope to an excessive degree! But maybe it’s true in Star Trek, too. After Q’s final “snap” that sent Picard and the crew of La Sirena back to the 25th Century, we don’t know what became of Q. Did his body dissipate into energy? Was he vaporised? Did his empty corpse collapse in a French vineyard while Rios and Teresa looked on?

Though it would completely undermine the powerful and deeply emotional sequence at the end of Season 2, maybe the real end to this story has yet to be written. Somehow – perhaps through the intervention of another member of the Q Continuum – Q actually survived, or was reborn immediately after sacrificing himself.

Q in what he described as “the afterlife.”

This… would not be my choice. As much fun as Q can be, establishing his death – and making it a huge part of the story of Picard Season 2 – was incredibly important and felt final. To undo that in any way would devastate the entire narrative arc of Picard Season 2. Given that most of the rest of that season’s storylines were weak, taking away one of the most powerful and most emotional moments would leave very little left.

There is scope for Q to return. His time-traveling nature could see him pop up in other stories as long as they took place prior to the events of Picard Season 2 from his perspective. His cameo in Lower Decks Season 1 is a case in point. But to bring back Q in a big way and claim that he somehow survived… I can’t see it working. It would take away so much of what made Picard Season 2 matter. With Picard seemingly ending after Season 3 as well, there’s less of an argument for including Q in a big way in future stories. He’s primarily a Picard-centric character, so if Picard is killed off or his departure from Star Trek is made permanent, there’s less of a reason to bring back this individual Q. Other members of the Continuum, sure. But this Q should probably remain dead.

So that’s it!

Picard and Q embrace.

Picard Season 2 didn’t explain what happened to Q. In terms of the way the story unfolded, it was ultimately “unnecessary” in order to get Picard and Q to come together and for Q to send Picard home to the 25th Century. The reason for Q’s declining health could have been built into the story, giving him additional motivation and focus, but again that didn’t have to happen based on the way the story was written. Finally, Q’s decline meant two things for the story: firstly, he wasn’t unbeatable any more, potentially giving Picard and the others a chance to stop him. And secondly, it meant that Q’s final act of the season – and final moment as a Star Trek character – was one of self-sacrifice, giving up his life to get Picard and his friends home.

Whether all of that worked just as well without an underlying cause is debatable. And I definitely believe that there was room within the story of the season to explain why Q was dying – and perhaps even to tie that into some other part of the franchise – even if such an explanation wasn’t entirely necessary for the story. The season’s story may not have been hanging from this one narrative thread, but even so it might have been worth it. It would certainly have been satisfying for returning fans from The Next Generation era.

Q as he appeared in Lower Decks.

I don’t think anything we saw on screen during Season 2 of Picard actively rules out any of the theories above – although I’d certainly entertain the argument that Q might’ve mentioned something incredibly major such as the Borg assimilation of the entire Q Continuum! But with Star Trek seemingly setting Q aside for the foreseeable future, it falls to us as Trekkies to speculate and propose answers to one of Season 2’s biggest unexplained story points.

I hope this was a bit of fun – or at least interesting. Personally I’d have liked the writers of Picard Season 2 to have come up with some explanation for Q’s death that felt conclusive. Although the Q Continuum and its denizens are difficult for humans to understand, that doesn’t mean there’s total free rein to throw Q into all kinds of different stories and just use “it’s a mystery” or “you’d never get it” as excuses to cover up the fact that no real answer to the question was created in the first place! So while the cause of Q’s death may not have been critical for the story that Picard Season 2 aimed to tell, not even attempting to make up some semblance of an explanation for it definitely leaves me feeling like something was missing as the story came to an end.

In a better and more enjoyable season of Star Trek, maybe I could see past that and revel in the story that was told rather than picking at threads and asking “why wasn’t this included?” But because Picard Season 2 was, at best, a mixed bag with episodes of inconsistent quality… the fact that it ended leaving behind something that feels like it could’ve been significant feels all the worse. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard theories – Season 2 finale

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

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

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

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

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

Wesley Crusher!

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

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

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

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

Captain Seven!

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

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

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

This is the disaster that the Borg wanted to prevent.

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

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

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

The Borg Queen, unmasked.

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

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

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

Cadet Elnor aboard the USS Excelsior.

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

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

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

Rios chose to stay behind.

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

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

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

Oh, Q.

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

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

So those theories were confirmed.

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

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

The mysterious anomaly.

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

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

So that theory was semi-confirmed.

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

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

The main cast of The Next Generation in Season 5.

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

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

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

René Picard – not to be confused with Renée Picard.

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

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

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

“An alternate reality?”

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

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

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

What happened to Narek?

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

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

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

The Europa Mission launch.

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

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

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

Q’s final snap.

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

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

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

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

The super-synths.

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

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

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

The Borg ship in Farewell.

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

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

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

Kore Soong.

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

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

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

Picard and Q.

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

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

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

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

Grumpy Q.

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

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

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

Debunked theory #12:
The Borg are aware that Picard is now a synth – and his synthetic status is part of the reason why they waited until now to make contact.

Robo-Picard.

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

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

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

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

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

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

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

Teresa and Rios aboard La Sirena.

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

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

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

That could’ve been awkward…

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

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

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

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

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

So those theories were debunked.

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

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

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

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

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

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

The Dr Jurati-Borg Queen hybrid.

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

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

So those theories may return in time for Season 3!

The USS Excelsior.

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

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

The USS Stargazer.

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

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

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

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

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

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

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

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

Admiral Picard on the bridge of the USS Stargazer.

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

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

The USS Excelsior.

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

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

The Borg vessel and the Federation fleet stop the anomaly.

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

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

Kore’s story also came to an end.

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

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

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

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

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

Wesley and Kore.

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

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

Rios’ story was disappointing this season.

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

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

Rios chose to stay with Teresa and Ricardo.

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

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

So long, Captain Rios…

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

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

The Borg Queen unmasked.

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

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

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

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

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

The Borg vessel and the strange anomaly.

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

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

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raffi was relieved to see Elnor again.

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

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

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

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

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

Why does Tallinn die in “every” timeline?

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

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

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

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

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

Q’s final snap.

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

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

Q did it all for Picard.

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

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

Picard with Q.

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

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

Picard prepares to embrace Q.

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

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

Q’s plot feels quite convoluted this time around.

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

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

Picard meets with Q for the final time.

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

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

An emotional farewell.

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

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

Seven of Nine in the captain’s chair.

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

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

Seven of Nine and Raffi.

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

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

The USS Stargazer.

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

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

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

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 9

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

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

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

Pew! Pew!

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

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

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

Q with Picard in Penance.

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

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

La Sirena’s crash site.

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

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

So that theory was debunked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven of Nine has been re-Borgified.

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

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

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

World War III saw the use of nuclear weapons.

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

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

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

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

The Magistrate – a senior Confederation official.

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

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

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

Dr Adam Soong.

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

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

Retired theory #6:
The Federation created the Borg.

The first Borg drone ever seen in Star Trek.

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

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

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

So those theories have been retired.

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

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

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

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

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

The Borg Queen took La Sirena and left Earth.

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

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

So that theory was confirmed!

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

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

Could the Borg be fighting amongst themselves?

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

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

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

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

Acting Captain Riker to the rescue?

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

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

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

Could the Borg Queen be talking about this chap?

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

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

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

Rios with Teresa in Hide and Seek.

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

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

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

“An alternate reality?”

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

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

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

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

Initiates of the Zhat Vash on the planet Aia.

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

Here are the main unresolved points as I see them:

  • What will become of the synths on Coppelius, and will they have to be relocated for safety?
  • Did Starfleet attempt to visit Aia and shut down the beacon at the centre of the Zhat Vash’s prophecy? Leaving it out in the open seems dangerous.
  • Will Starfleet contact the super-synths and attempt to make peace or convince them that they pose no threat?
  • Why did Bruce Maddox go to Freecloud?
The Artifact’s crash site on Coppelius.
  • With the Zhat Vash plot exposed, what will become of their crusade against synthetic life?
  • Did Federation-Romulan relations suffer as a result of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Mars and attempted attack on Coppelius?
  • What happened to Narek after he was captured by the Coppelius synths?
  • Who controls the Artifact and what will happen to the surviving ex-Borg?

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

Holo-Elnor in Hide and Seek.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Borg Queen from the season premiere.

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

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

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

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

Renée Picard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Borg Queen also seemed to accept what was about to happen in her final moments, playing Non, je ne regrette rien and speaking with familiarity to Picard, telling him to “look up.” If the Borg Queen’s plan was to reach Picard at just the right moment – perhaps to set off this whole time travel saga in the first place – that could explain why.

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

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

Q’s powers are failing.

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

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

I have a longer article that goes into more detail about this theory that I wrote before the season premiere, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

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

Q in Mercy.

Regardless of who changed the timeline and why, it seems clear that Q is responsible for ensuring that Picard and the crew of La Sirena were the only ones unaffected by the change. If his goal was to change the timeline to punish Picard that makes sense – but it also leaves open the possibility that Picard will be able to figure out what happened and prevent it. That could be Q’s goal.

I’m not quite ready to call this one “confirmed,” though. I think we need to spend more time with Q to understand what he’s done, what he hopes to achieve by it, and why.

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

The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theory #16:
Seven of Nine will join Starfleet.

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

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

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

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

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

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

Endgame, the final episode of Voyager, depicted a time-travelling Admiral Janeway introducing a neurolytic pathogen – a type of virus – into the Borg Queen, seriously damaging her, her base of operations, and several Borg vessels in the vicinity. Because the Borg hadn’t been seen since – until The Star Gazer, that is – we never got to learn just how deadly Admiral Janeway’s actions were.

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

I’ve always assumed that the Borg Collective is vast enough, powerful enough, clever enough, and most importantly adaptable enough that Admiral Janeway’s actions weren’t going to strike a fatal blow. Whatever damage she had done seemed like something the Borg could eventually fix – and their existence 25 years later during the events of The Star Gazer seems to prove that. The Borg’s technology and weapons are still streets ahead of anything Starfleet has at its disposal… but even so, it’s still possible that the Borg are on their last legs facing defeat.

If that’s the case, maybe we’ll discover that it was Admiral Janeway who’s responsible – that her actions in Endgame are either wholly or partly to blame for the Borg’s weakened state. Dr Jurati seemed to know that the Borg Collective isn’t as strong as it once was, so that could be another clue pointing to this theory.

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

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

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

Kore Soong.

I haven’t been thrilled with the depiction of Kore Soong so far. Her story feels like a bland repeat of Soji and Dahj’s from Season 1, and she appears to exist in Season 2 more for the purpose of informing us about Dr Adam Soong than to do anything meaningful in her own right. I’m hopeful that that will change, however!

Mercy saw Kore Soong take the antidote or cure for her genetic condition, granting her freedom from her father. She left Dr Soong’s house and struck out on her own for what seems to be the first time – and I wonder if she’ll either seek out Picard or if they’ll run into one another. Kore may know something about Dr Soong that could be useful to the crew of La Sirena… so watch this space. Her story may not be done yet.

Theory #19:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

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

Following Guinan’s chat with Q in Mercy, this theory feels a little less plausible. However, as we still don’t know what’s going on with Q, I’m keeping it on the table for now. Earlier in the season I felt increasingly sure that whatever had caused Q to lose his powers was something that wasn’t just affecting him personally, and there’s definitely been evidence to that end across the season so far – and beyond.

In Mercy, Guinan reminded us that members of the Q Continuum can kill one another, and that seemed like a very deliberate line to include. Was it just there to avoid nitpicking Trekkies saying “but what about the Q civil war in Voyager?!” or is there a hint there about something else? I don’t believe that the El-Aurians would be to blame if the Q Continuum has been attacked, but with the Borg in the story, they could certainly be a suspect.

Guinan and Q in Mercy.

In earlier episodes we had talk of a “cold war” between the Q and El-Aurians, a conflict that you’d imagine would be fantastically one-sided unless the El-Aurians know of some kind of weakness that the Q have. Then we had Guinan’s failed attempt to summon a Q – not the Q, but any Q. Q suggested that he basically had to walk from wherever he was to the FBI office because Guinan summoned him – but why didn’t another Q respond to the summons? Picard also suggested, after awakening from his coma, that Q may be weaker and more vulnerable than he had previously considered. And going back to Discovery Season 4, the episode The Examples told us that the Federation hadn’t seen any members of the Q Continuum in over 600 years as of the 32nd Century.

All of the pieces of evidence above could suggest that something is happening to the Q Continuum as a whole rather than just to Q himself. If the El-Aurians discovered a weakness, and then were assimilated by the Borg, perhaps the Borg came into possession of a way to harm the Q – attacking them and wiping them out.

In any case, if something that Picard did or didn’t do is connected to those events, that could explain why Q is so angry and why he felt the need to punish Picard. It could even explain Q’s desire to radically alter the timeline.

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

Grumpy Q.

Over the course of The Next Generation, Q took a particular interest in Picard. More so than anyone else, Q seemed to see potential in Picard as a representative of the human race, someone who potentially showed him what humanity could be… with a little prompting and guidance. Q seemed fascinated by that idea, so seeing Picard’s fall from grace may have shocked him and left him feeling disappointed and bitter.

Picard spent more than a decade away from galactic affairs, retiring to his vineyard and seemingly just waiting around to die. Someone like Q might take that personally; he might feel that Picard was not living up to the potential he had. Perhaps Picard’s absence had some kind of unknown consequence, something that harmed Q or the Q Continuum. In any case, Q’s animosity to Picard seems to be personal – could disappointment at Picard’s attitude in the years prior to Season 1 be the cause?

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

Picard with Dr Crusher in The Next Generation.

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

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

Theory #22:
The Borg are aware that Picard is now a synth – and his synthetic status is part of the reason why they waited until now to make contact.

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

The timing of the new Borg incursion is interesting, especially considering that they asked for Picard by name. Are they aware of his newfound synthetic status? And if so, could Picard’s transition to a new synthetic body be the reason why the Borg chose to launch their attack?

The Borg seek “perfection” through a synthesis of organic and synthetic components, and while Picard’s new synthetic body is a far cry from the Borg drones we’ve seen, the idea of an organic mind in a synthetic body isn’t a million miles away from that same basic idea. Although Picard’s body was said to be comparable in practically every way to his original one, synthetics can have enhanced abilities that allow them to easily overpower humans – and, as we’ve seen with Data on more than one occasion, they can outmatch individual Borg drones as well.

A Borg drone losing a fight against Data.

Perhaps the Borg want to re-assimilate Picard now that he’s synthetic. If the Collective is still reeling from the damage inflicted upon it by Admiral Janeway or if they’re on the losing side of a war, perhaps they hope to use fully-synthetic bodies like Picard’s to replace damaged or destroyed drones, or as cannon fodder on the front lines. There are many reasons why the Borg might be interested in synthetic technology, and that could explain their re-emergence.

Even if the Borg don’t plan to assimilate Picard or the Coppelius synths, the timing of their appearance is certainly interesting and there could be a connection.

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

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

As far as we know at this stage, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline thanks to the past being changed. But timelines and parallel universes often go hand-in-hand in Star Trek, and after we learned about the Borg’s defeat in the Confederation timeline, I wonder if their ship from the season premiere might have found a way to punch through or cross over into the prime timeline.

If the Borg were facing defeat, as their message seemed to suggest, perhaps that could explain why. Also, the anomaly that the ship emerged from was not a typical transwarp conduit; we’d seen transwarp corridors as recently as Season 1. Finally, the Borg Queen of the Confederation timeline was aware of Picard and the history of the prime timeline. If the masked Borg Queen turns out to be the Dr Jurati hybrid, she would have known about the prime timeline and may have considered it her best chance for survival.

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

Teresa and Rios at the clinic.

This is an inversion of the theory above about Rios potentially remaining in 2024. Rios has clearly abandoned the idea of making as little impact on the timeline as possible! Just like Kirk did for Dr Gillian Taylor in The Voyage Home, perhaps Rios will seek to bring Teresa and Ricardo forwards in time. Teresa may have her clinic to attend to – although its status is in doubt after it was raided by ICE earlier in the season – but she may want to leave the world of the 21st Century behind to head into a more optimistic future.

If Teresa and Rios continue to pursue a romantic relationship, and Rios begins to offer himself as a father figure to Ricardo, maybe the stage will be set for Teresa heading to the 25th Century. It wouldn’t be the weirdest or wildest possibility, especially not now that Teresa and Ricardo are both aware of Rios’ true identity and the existence of La Sirena.

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

Teresa with Rios in Mercy.

This could be a heartbreaking end to Rios and Teresa’s burgeoning romance! In true Back to the Future style, perhaps Rios will learn that Teresa and Ricardo are his distant ancestors, bringing their relationship to a screeching half and preventing either of them from taking things further.

We’ve seen Star Trek deal with time travel on many occasions, including fixed moments in time and people too important to be changed or killed. And in a story in which Picard has already met a distant ancestor of his own – Renée – there could be a kind of poetic symmetry if Rios were to discover a connection to Teresa and Ricardo. If this pans out, I hope Rios and Teresa discover the truth before they… y’know!

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

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

One thing I can’t figure out at the moment is what sort of role the new cast will have in Season 3. If you somehow missed the cack-handed announcement, it’s been revealed that the main cast of The Next Generation (sans Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby) will be reuniting in Season 3, and that they will have major roles to play. If that’s the case it seems all but certain that the main cast of Picard will be sidelined. We’ve already seen that happen this season with Elnor killed, Dr Jurati assimilated, and Soji missing in action, so that really only leaves Raffi, Seven, and Rios.

If the teases and hints about Season 3 that we’ve heard so far prove to be true, it seems as though Picard and the crew will need a ship… so could that ship be the new USS Stargazer?

New sets were built from scratch for the Stargazer, including a conference room, bridge, turbolift, and corridors, yet those sets were only used in a single episode at the start of the season. Even if the crew make it back to the 25th Century next time, that’s still a massive investment for relatively little screen time! So my theory is that the new sets will be used more extensively in Season 3 when Admiral Picard assumes command of the USS Stargazer. Why would there be a vacancy in the captain’s chair? Because Captain Rios is going to be one of the characters shuffled out of the way to make room for the returning crew of The Next Generation.

So that’s it!

Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen.

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

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

Los Angeles at night, circa 2024.

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

I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction. But for some folks, fan theories can be frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 2. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

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

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

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

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

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

It was a dark and stormy night…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maurice Picard.

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

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

Yvette Picard’s suicide.

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Jurati and the Borg Queen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new Borg Queen looks down at her old body.

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

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

Dr Adam Soong.

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

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

Dr Soong ultimately escaped to fight another day.

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

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

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

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

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

Has Seven’s story come full-circle?

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

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

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

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

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

Is this the end of the road for Elnor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The eerie green glow of Borg transporter beams.

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

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

La Sirena takes flight.

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

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

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

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 8

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

Mercy was an interesting episode, one that finally spent a bit more time advancing what I personally consider to be the more exciting part of the season’s story. Some of my big theories are rapidly running out of road, and this week three have been debunked outright. We got a couple of confirmations as well, so this week the theory list will shrink!

With only two episodes of the season remaining, there isn’t a lot of time for everything to be neatly wrapped up so that the story can move on in time for Season 3. I know I’m not the only one wondering about a possible cliffhanger ending!

So let’s take a look at the theories that were confirmed and debunked in Mercy, before moving on to the main theory list.

Debunked theory #1:
Agent Wells is a Starfleet officer or temporal agent.

Picard being interrogated by Agent Wells.

I wondered if we might learn that Agent Wells, the FBI Agent who apprehended Guinan and Picard, wasn’t who he seemed to be. We’ve seen Starfleet operating as a kind of temporal police in previous iterations of the franchise, and there was also the faction from Enterprise that employed Crewman Daniels.

This theory was given additional energy by the fact that the actor portraying Agent Wells, Jay Karnes, had appeared in the Voyager Season 4 episode Relativity, where he played a 29th Century Starfleet officer.

However, it turned out that that was just a coincidence! Agent Wells was a 21st Century native, albeit one who’d had an encounter with Vulcans in his youth.

Debunked theory #2:
Romulans are spying on Earth… and could be time-travelling Zhat Vash.

Young Agent Wells encounters the Vulcans.

When we caught a glimpse of young Agent Wells interacting with Vulcans in one of the pre-season trailers, I wondered if they might actually be Romulans, and possibly members of the secretive Zhat Vash organisation. If the Zhat Vash had a major role to play in the story – which it now seems like they don’t – perhaps that could’ve lined up.

However, with Season 2 seemingly leaving behind practically all of the main story threads from Season 1, that wasn’t the case.

Debunked theory #3:
The mission back in time won’t last all season.

Los Angeles, 2024.

This one has been as much a wish as a theory, because time travel episodes that visit the modern-day have never been my favourites in Star Trek. I wondered whether we might see Picard and the crew find a way back to the 25th Century sooner, but with only two episodes remaining it’s now not plausible. Even if the next episode sees them make it home, they’ll still have spent the majority of Season 2 in 2024.

So those theories were debunked!

There’s one two-part theory that I’m choosing to retire at this stage, too. Although it hasn’t been firmly “debunked,” the events of Mercy now seem to have taken the story in a different direction.

Retired theory #1:
The Confederation is run by augmented humans.

Dr Soong’s legacy.

The question of why the Confederation seemed to celebrate Dr Adam Soong centuries after his death was an open one… until Mercy. The Borg Queen told Dr Soong that his invention – seemingly a scaled-up version of the drones that protected Kore from sunlight – would save the Earth from ecological collapse in that timeline. That explains his legacy and why he’s so famous in the Confederation.

This seems to rule out another possibility for his fame: that he created human augments. There were two parts to this theory, really. The first came from Dr Soong himself; that his work was focused on genetics. The second came from his family legacy – Dr Arik Soong, presumably a descendant of his, had worked on creating human augments in the 22nd Century.

Although the Borg Queen is hardly what you’d call a “reliable source,” I don’t believe that there’s room now, at this late stage, for there to be the kind of augment connection that I’d been theorising about.

Retired theory #2:
There will be a connection between the augments and Strange New Worlds.

La’an Noonien-Singh.

Inextricably tied to the theory above was a possible Strange New Worlds connection. In short, the character of La’an Noonien-Singh seems to be related to iconic villain – and famous augmented human – Khan Noonien Singh. If Picard Season 2 has no connection to genetic engineering and the creation of augments, though, this theory won’t pan out.

So those theories have been retired.

We have a couple of confirmations this week, so we’ll take a look at those next.

Confirmed theory #1:
Vulcans are on Earth… as hinted at by Discovery Season 4.

A Vulcan expedition to Earth.

In the Discovery Season 4 episode The Galactic Barrier, a seemingly-innocuous line from the enigmatic Dr Kovich stood out to me. He noted that the Vulcans had been present on Earth for “decades” prior to official first contact taking place in 2063. That line kick-started this theory… though to be fair, the pre-season trailers had already revealed a character who could only really be a Vulcan or Romulan!

As noted above, we finally got to see this flashback sequence for ourselves. Young Agent Wells encountered a Vulcan expedition to Earth sometime in the 1960s or 1970s (based on Wells’ age in Mercy) and that’s that. Though Picard and Discovery really ought to do more to connect with one another, I do like that this line that we heard in an episode a couple of months ago seems to tie in to the events we saw unfold on screen this week.

Confirmed theory #2:
Q is dying.

Q in Mercy.

After wondering for weeks what might be going on with Q, he seemed to finally confirm to Guinan that he’s approaching the end of his life. There’s still scope, in my view, for this to be expanded upon – or even changed entirely – but for now it’s safe to say that Q certainly believes that he’s dying.

The language used in Mercy to communicate this was excellent, and gave us an interesting glimpse into how members of Q’s species view time and the universe. Q spoke of a “temporal horizon,” and how it had grown dark and unknowable. Combined with his failing powers, the stage seems to be set for Q’s life coming to an end.

So those theories were confirmed!

Now we’re going to jump into the main theory list, beginning with those theories that are either new or that saw movement in Mercy.

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

Dr Jurati decoded the Borg message.

If Dr Jurati is going to be fully assimilated and potentially incorporated into a new incarnation of the Borg Queen, could her stewardship of the Borg Collective mean that their desire for help from Picard and the Federation – that we saw in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season – is actually for real? It’s possible, of course, that the Borg’s message was a plain and simple trap, but there are elements from the Borg Queen’s appearance on the Stargazer’s bridge that we still can’t explain.

Setting aside her identity for a moment, regardless of whether there’s Dr Jurati or someone else underneath the mask, the Borg Queen’s actions were not what we’d expect. Why did she stun the Stargazer’s crew instead of killing them – and why did the episode draw attention to that fact and make sure it registered with us as the audience? What were her goals on “assimilating” the ship? She claimed she needed “power” – but to what end?

What did the Borg Queen want?

The Borg Queen also seemed to accept what was about to happen in her final moments, playing Non, je ne regrette rien and speaking with familiarity to Picard, telling him to “look up.” What was that all about?

In short, I’m positing that the Borg’s plea for help was genuine – but that raises a very interesting and alarming question in and of itself. What could be so deadly and so terrifying that it has the Borg Queen running in fear? And what does all of this have to do with Q and Picard?

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

Kore Soong.

I haven’t been thrilled with the depiction of Kore Soong so far. Her story feels like a bland repeat of Soji and Dahj’s from Season 1, and she appears to exist in Season 2 more for the purpose of informing us about Dr Adam Soong than to do anything meaningful in her own right. I’m hopeful that that will change, however!

Mercy saw Kore Soong take the antidote or cure for her genetic condition, granting her freedom from her father. She left Dr Soong’s house and struck out on her own for what seems to be the first time – and I wonder if she’ll either seek out Picard or if they’ll run into one another. Kore may know something about Dr Soong that could be useful to the crew of La Sirena… so watch this space. Her story may not be done yet.

Theory #3:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

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

Following Guinan’s chat with Q in Mercy, this theory feels a little less plausible. However, as we still don’t know what’s going on with Q, I’m keeping it on the table for now. Last week I was increasingly sure that whatever had caused Q to lose his powers was something that wasn’t just affecting him personally, but the entire Q Continuum, and there’s definitely been evidence to that end across the season so far – and beyond.

In Mercy, Guinan reminded us that members of the Q Continuum can kill one another, and that seemed like a very deliberate line to include. Was it just there to avoid nitpicking Trekkies saying “but what about the Q civil war in Voyager?!” or is there a hint there about something else? I don’t believe that the El-Aurians would be to blame if the Q Continuum has been attacked, but with the Borg in the story, they could certainly be a suspect.

Guinan and Q.

In earlier episodes we had talk of a “cold war” between the Q and El-Aurians, a conflict that you’d imagine would be fantastically one-sided unless the El-Aurians know of some kind of weakness that the Q have. Then we had Guinan’s failed attempt to summon a Q – not the Q, but any Q. Q suggested that he basically had to walk from wherever he was to the FBI office because Guinan summoned him – but why didn’t another Q respond to the summons? Picard also suggested, after awakening from his coma, that Q may be weaker and more vulnerable than he had previously considered. And going back to Discovery Season 4, the episode The Examples told us that the Federation hadn’t seen any members of the Q Continuum in over 600 years as of the 32nd Century.

All of the pieces of evidence above could suggest that something is happening to the Q Continuum as a whole rather than just to Q himself. If the El-Aurians discovered a weakness, and then were assimilated by the Borg, perhaps the Borg came into possession of a way to harm the Q – attacking them and wiping them out.

In any case, if something that Picard did or didn’t do is connected to those events, that could explain why Q is so angry and why he felt the need to punish Picard. It could even explain Q’s desire to radically alter the timeline.

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

Yummy batteries.

Whatever Q’s plan was for changing the timeline in the 21st Century, unleashing a rogue Borg Queen upon humanity or setting one loose in the Alpha Quadrant was categorically not on the agenda! I think that’s a fairly safe assumption, and while Q has messed around with humanity and the Borg before – such as in the episode Q Who – it’s never been his goal to see humanity assimilated.

With his full powers at his disposal, presumably it would be relatively easy for Q to stop the Borg Queen who’s now in possession of Dr Jurati’s body, but without them, Q may need to work with Picard to ensure that the Borg Queen is stopped. Although the Borg Queen seems to weirdly have the same goal as Q – to stop the Europa Mission – their objectives beyond that don’t align in the slightest.

Could Q team up with Picard?

If the Borg Queen were to interfere in Q’s plans, or if Q were to learn of the threat to Picard, perhaps he will voluntarily involve himself, make a truce with Picard, and work with him to stop the Borg Queen. Alternatively, Picard could realise that his options are limited and try to reach out to Q to ask for help, setting aside his pride and his anger at his old adversary.

Q’s knowledge, even without his powers, could be invaluable to Picard and the crew of La Sirena. He clearly knows a lot more about the Borg than anyone else, and he may know how best to counteract the Borg Queen’s coming attack. If the Borg have attacked the Q Continuum, as theorised above, maybe Q will even have a personal reason to get involved.

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

La Sirena’s crash site in France.

I was tempted to slap this one on my “confirmed” list, because I successfully predicted that stealing La Sirena would be the Borg Queen’s plan going all the way back to Watcher earlier in the season! However, she hasn’t actually enacted her plan yet, so let’s hang fire for now. At least I can say I got the idea right even if the Borg Queen’s plan is defeated!

However, the Borg Queen has a formidable army on her side thanks to Dr Soong’s (highly convenient) military connections. Despite being banned from the scientific establishment, Dr Soong apparently continues to have a lot of sway over the right people, and as a result he’s been able to hire a private military company – one that the Borg Queen promptly began to assimilate.

New Borg drones.

Whether she plans to head to the Delta Quadrant to link up with the Borg Collective in this era or whether she plans to head to the 25th Century, stealing La Sirena is the Queen’s best move. Picard and the crew will struggle to defend the ship, especially considering that the Borg Queen had a lot of time while alone to install rogue code in the computer that both Seven of Nine and Rios have struggled to purge. With only Rios, Teresa, and Ricardo there right now, the ship is also largely undefended.

Even if Picard and the others make it in time, they’ll still be outnumbered and outgunned. The Borg Queen and her forces could easily take possession of the ship and fly away, stranding Picard (and anyone else who survives the confrontation) in the 21st Century.

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

Renée in training for the Europa Mission.

If La Sirena is stolen by the Borg Queen – or otherwise damaged and rendered unusable – Picard and the rest of the crew will need to find another way to get back to the 25th Century. Could they hitch a ride on Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft?

Earlier in the season, Picard seemed to imply that no one really knows what happened to Renée and the Europa Mission ship after she discovered signs of life in the outer solar system, so does that mean it would be possible for her ship to simply disappear without corrupting the timeline? Perhaps the reason why history has no record of what happened to Renée after the Europa Mission isn’t because of World War III and the loss of that information, but because she and the ship simply disappeared while in space.

There’s nothing that we know of to suggest that the slingshot manoeuvre can’t be performed by a ship like Renée’s, and the fact that she’s an astronaut at all with her own spacecraft could open up a vital doorway for Picard and the crew if they suddenly find themselves in need of a new way home.

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

The Borg Queen?

The Borg Queen – the hooded figure who materialised on the bridge of the Stargazer – was absolutely terrifying, evoking feelings for me that the Star Trek franchise hasn’t hit in decades. The way this character was presented, with her shrouded face, flowing robes, monochromatic aesthetic, and blend of humanoid and decidedly non-humanoid mechanical features was simultaneously riveting and frightening!

This character was presented as the Borg Queen in the episode, and the Borg have no reason that we know of to lie about that. But at the same time, she was very different not only from how we’ve seen the Borg Queen in past iterations of Star Trek, but also from the Borg Queen that Picard and the crew met in the Confederation timeline. Could this character actually be someone else – perhaps someone that the Borg have assimilated?

Since Two of One, the story seems to be setting up Dr Jurati for this role. The Borg Queen has almost completely taken over her body as of the end of Mercy… but some part of her still remains. Could there be another possible candidate?

“Borg Queen” Candidate #1:
Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati and the hallucinatory Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen has well and truly sunk her tentacles into Dr Jurati, taking over her body and creating new nanoprobes. If the Borg Queen’s plan to steal La Sirena succeeds, that could easily set the stage for the events of The Star Gazer to unfold. With no obvious way to un-assimilate her, Dr Jurati has to be the number one Borg Queen candidate right now.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #2:
Renée Picard.

Renée at the gala.

Renée could be the Borg Queen if she’s assimilated. Perhaps she will be attacked and assimilated during the course of the Europa Mission, or maybe the Queen will try to get to her to gain possession over the Europa Mission’s spacecraft. If La Sirena is damaged and unusable, the Europa Mission vehicle could be the best option for the Queen to get into space in this time period. Renée being the masked, hooded Borg could explain why the Borg were asking for Picard by name, and why Non, je ne regrette rien played shortly before the Stargazer’s self-destruction.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #3:
The time-travelling Admiral Janeway from Endgame.

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

Admiral Janeway was assimilated by the Borg Queen as part of her plan to introduce a neurolytic pathogen into the Collective, and appeared to have been killed when the Borg Queen’s complex exploded. But is there a way she could have survived?

Her assimilation could have been a turning point for the Borg. She did untold damage to the Collective, but also potentially gifted them knowledge and information about future events and technologies that were decades ahead of their time. Just like the Borg once chose Captain Picard to become Locutus – their “spokesperson” or representative – perhaps they might have chosen Admiral Janeway to fill a similar role during this latest incursion. Admiral Janeway could even have been incorporated as part of the Borg Queen.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #4:
Soji.

Soji in The Star Gazer.

The Borg seek “perfection” through the synthesis of organic and synthetic parts; if Coppelius synths like Soji have something that the Borg want, perhaps we’ll learn that they assimilated her to get it. The anomaly from which the Borg vessel emerged was not a standard transwarp corridor, and was specifically noted to emit some kind of temporal radiation. Thus the Borg vessel could be from a future date after Soji has already been assimilated. We could even learn that the super-synths from the Season 1 finale are actually the Borg; that could be how they first became aware of Soji and the Coppelius synths.

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

Q’s powers no longer work…

With Q’s powers seemingly all but gone, the question of what happened to the timeline has to be considered. I’ve been running some form of this theory all season long, and with no explanation from Q as to why he wanted to change the timeline being forthcoming, it’s still on the table right now.

Yes, it’s possible that parts of Q’s conversation with Guinan in Mercy could count against this theory, particularly the parts where Q talked about the “escape” from the traps he set being what he’s interested in. But I really do believe that there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Add into the mix Q’s inability to use his powers, and I think the stage could be set for a big surprise before the season wraps up.

I have a longer article that goes into more detail about this theory that I wrote before the season premiere, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

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

A very young-looking Q!

Regardless of who changed the timeline and why, it seems clear that Q is responsible for ensuring that Picard and the crew of La Sirena were the only ones unaffected by the change. If his goal was to change the timeline to punish Picard that makes sense – but it also leaves open the possibility that Picard will be able to figure out what happened and prevent it. That could be Q’s goal.

I’m not quite ready to call this one “confirmed,” though. I think we need to spend more time with Q to understand what he’s done, what he hopes to achieve by it, and why.

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

Dr Adam Soong in Mercy.

For much of the season I’ve been proposing a few different candidates who could be responsible for changing the timeline. However, as we’re getting closer to the end of the story I’m actually going to strike most of them from that list.

The Zhat Vash and the Romulans both seemed plausible earlier in the season, partly because we still don’t know what happened after Season 1 to either the Zhat Vash or with relations between the Romulan government and the Federation, but also partly because there was still that unexplained Romulan or Vulcan figure from the trailers. With no Romulan involvement anywhere else in the season, and no mention of the Zhat Vash at all since Season 1, I’m striking those from the list. The Season 1 super-synths are also gone from the list because they likewise haven’t been mentioned all season long.

That only leaves us with the Borg, and with the Borg Queen manipulating Dr Soong into helping her, he could set in motion a chain of events that leads to the failure of the Europa Mission and the creation of the Confederation timeline. That is, unless someone can stop them in time…

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

World War III soldiers as glimpsed in Discovery Season 2.

This one is now on its last legs! Since well before Season 2 aired, I’d been proposing that one of the points of divergence in the timeline – and thus the event that Picard needs to preserve – could be World War III. In Star Trek’s timeline, World War III began in the late 2020s and ran through to the mid-2050s, with first contact with the Vulcans taking place a few years after it ended. It’s an incredibly important event in the history of humanity, and without it Star Trek’s entire future is in doubt.

It’s still possible that Dr Adam Soong’s story could connect with the outbreak of war, and Picard may have to commit to the war starting by ensuring that Dr Soong – or one of his inventions – is in the right place at the right time. However, with the story having focused on the Europa Mission, Renée Picard, and now this Borg Queen confrontation, there isn’t much time left for a World War III connection.

You can find a full write-up of this theory from prior to the season premiere by clicking or tapping here.

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

A battle over the planet Vulcan in the Confederation timeline.

If Picard and the crew manage to make a stand aboard La Sirena, information contained within the Confederation starship’s computers could help them defeat the Borg. Somehow the Confederation was able to beat the Borg in their timeline, and if Picard and the others could understand how that happened, perhaps they will be able to form an effective defence against the Borg Queen’s attack.

Alternatively, I originally pitched this theory as a way to explain how the Federation could potentially stop the Borg incursion that began during the events of the season premiere. If Picard and the crew manage to survive and make it back to the 25th Century, they may bring with them crucial tactical information from the Confederation timeline that will help the Federation stop the Borg.

The very first Borg drone seen in Star Trek.

This would be a great way to include what has been one of the season’s most interesting and least-explained narrative elements: how the Confederation, which supposedly had technology comparable to the 25th Century Federation, was able to do something as massive as defeating the entire Borg Collective.

There are a couple of ways that Picard and the crew could potentially use information about the Borg that may be stored in La Sirena’s computer banks, so let’s wait and see if anything comes of it!

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

Dr Adam Soong.

Although Dr Soong’s research seems to be mainly on the genetic side of things, such as the creation of Kore and possible human cloning, his alliance with the Borg Queen could lead to him becoming instrumental in creating the Borg Collective. The Borg already exist as of the 21st Century, but as we seem to be seeing the Borg Queen creating a new Collective on Earth, there are open-ended possibilities for how this story could go.

With time travel on the agenda, it’s possible to imagine a situation in which Dr Soong and the Borg Queen are thrown backwards in time, perhaps emerging millennia in the past. Dr Soong could thus become one of the progenitors of the Borg Collective.

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

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

This is a total wildcard, but I’m just throwing it out there!

The Borg Queen – and the Borg in general – appear to have a fascination with humanity and with Picard. Could it be that the explanation for that is that the Federation and/or humanity are somehow responsible for their creation? As mentioned above, with time travel on the cards, anything seems possible.

Nanites used by the Control AI.

As above, this could be the end result of the alliance between Dr Soong and the Borg Queen. The Borg could therefore be a human creation, the offspring of one of Data’s ancestors. Could that link be the key to defeating them? Maybe that preserved knowledge and the veneration of Dr Soong is how the Confederation was able to defeat the Borg in their timeline!

Discovery Season 2 ran a story with the Control AI that could have also been a Borg origin story. Was it known as early as 2018-19 that Picard wanted to tell a story like this, and if so, could that explain why the Control storyline ended the way it did? I have a write-up of Discovery’s abandoned Borg origin story that you can find by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #15:
The season will end on a cliffhanger.

The announcement a few weeks ago that the cast of The Next Generation will be back in Season 3 seems to suggest that a new story will unfold next time. But there’s still the possibility of a connection between Seasons 2 and 3, or that the final act of Season 2 will set up the story of Season 3.

I originally proposed this theory because Seasons 2 and 3 went into production back-to-back, but now there’s an additional reason to consider this possibility. In short, many of the narrative threads introduced in Season 2 feel a long way from being concluded, and with just two episodes left there may not be time to wrap up everything. A cliffhanger ending may be on the cards after all!

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

Now, as always, I’ll run through the other theories that are still potentially in play. I find that it helps to keep the entire theory list intact and in one place!

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

Teresa and Rios at the clinic.

Rios has clearly abandoned the idea of making as little impact on the timeline as possible! Just like Kirk did for Dr Gillian Taylor in The Voyage Home, perhaps Rios will seek to bring Teresa and Ricardo forwards in time. Teresa may have her clinic to attend to – although its status is in doubt after it was raided by ICE earlier in the season – but she may want to leave the world of the 21st Century behind to head into a more optimistic future.

If Teresa and Rios continue to pursue a romantic relationship, and Rios begins to offer himself as a father figure to Ricardo, maybe the stage will be set for Teresa heading to the 25th Century. It wouldn’t be the weirdest or wildest possibility, especially not now that Teresa and Ricardo are both aware of Rios’ true identity and the existence of La Sirena.

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

Teresa with Rios in Mercy.

This could be a heartbreaking end to Rios and Teresa’s burgeoning romance! In true Back to the Future style, perhaps Rios will learn that Teresa and Ricardo are his distant ancestors, bringing their relationship to a screeching half and preventing either of them from taking things further.

We’ve seen Star Trek deal with time travel on many occasions, including fixed moments in time and people too important to be changed or killed. And in a story in which Picard has already met a distant ancestor of his own – Renée – there could be a kind of poetic symmetry if Rios were to discover a connection to Teresa and Ricardo. If this pans out, I hope Rios and Teresa discover the truth before they… y’know!

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

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

One thing I can’t figure out at the moment is what sort of role the new cast will have in Season 3. If you somehow missed the cack-handed announcement, it’s been revealed that the main cast of The Next Generation (sans Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby) will be reuniting in Season 3, and that they will have major roles to play. If that’s the case it seems all but certain that the main cast of Picard will be sidelined. We’ve already seen that happen this season with Elnor killed and Soji missing in action, so that really only leaves Dr Jurati, Raffi, and Rios.

If the teases and hints about Season 3 that we’ve heard so far prove to be true, it seems as though Picard and the crew will need a ship… so could that ship be the new USS Stargazer?

New sets were built from scratch for the Stargazer, including a conference room, bridge, turbolift, and corridors, yet so far those sets were only used in a single episode. Even if Season 2 sees the crew make it back to the 25th Century in the next episode, that’s still a massive investment for relatively little screen time! So my theory is that the new sets will be used more extensively in Season 3 when Picard assumes command of the USS Stargazer. Why would there be a vacancy in the captain’s chair? Because Captain Rios is going to be one of the characters shuffled out of the way to make room for the returning crew of The Next Generation.

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

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

As far as we know at this stage, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline thanks to the past being changed. But timelines and parallel universes often go hand-in-hand in Star Trek, and after we learned about the Borg’s defeat in the Confederation timeline, I wonder if their ship from the season premiere might have found a way to punch through or cross over into the prime timeline.

If the Borg were facing defeat, as their message seemed to suggest, perhaps that could explain why. Also, the anomaly that the ship emerged from was not a typical transwarp conduit; we’d seen transwarp corridors as recently as Season 1. Finally, the Borg Queen of the Confederation timeline was aware of Picard and the history of the prime timeline – perhaps the Confederation timeline Borg knew of the prime timeline and this was a last-ditch effort to survive.

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

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

Possibly connected to the theory above, one explanation for the Borg’s message and appearance in The Star Gazer is that in the prime timeline the Collective has found itself on the losing side of a war. Penance told us that the Confederation had been able to defeat the Borg using technology that Dr Jurati believed was roughly equivalent to the Federation’s in the prime timeline – so clearly it’s possible to fight and beat the Borg.

Could mentions of Gul Dukat or Martok in Penance be hints at something to come later in the story? Both characters were major players during Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War arc; maybe the Cardassians and/or the Dominion have been aggressively attacking the Borg in the late 24th Century. The other big culprit is the Confederation – assuming that it’s possible for the two timelines to mix!

Theory #21:
The Borg are aware that Picard is now a synth – and his synthetic status is part of the reason why they waited until now to make contact.

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

As mentioned above with Soji, the timing of the new Borg incursion is interesting, especially considering that they asked for Picard by name. Are they aware of his newfound synthetic status? And if so, could Picard’s transition to a new synthetic body be the reason why the Borg chose to launch their attack?

The Borg seek “perfection” through a synthesis of organic and synthetic components, and while Picard’s new synthetic body is a far cry from the Borg drones we’ve seen, the idea of an organic mind in a synthetic body isn’t a million miles away from that same basic idea. Although Picard’s body was said to be comparable in practically every way to his original one, synthetics can have enhanced abilities that allow them to easily overpower humans – and, as we’ve seen with Data on more than one occasion, they can outmatch individual Borg drones as well.

A Borg drone losing a fight against Data.

Perhaps the Borg want to re-assimilate Picard now that he’s synthetic. If the Collective is still reeling from the damage inflicted upon it by Admiral Janeway or if they’re on the losing side of a war, perhaps they hope to use fully-synthetic bodies like Picard’s to replace damaged or destroyed drones, or as cannon fodder on the front lines. There are many reasons why the Borg might be interested in synthetic technology, and that could explain their re-emergence.

Even if the Borg don’t plan to assimilate Picard or the Coppelius synths, the timing of their appearance is certainly interesting and there could be a connection.

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

Grumpy Q.

Over the course of The Next Generation, Q took a particular interest in Picard. More so than anyone else, Q seemed to see potential in Picard as a representative of the human race, someone who potentially showed him what humanity could be… with a little prompting and guidance. Q seemed fascinated by that idea, so seeing Picard’s fall from grace may have shocked him and left him feeling disappointed and bitter.

Picard spent more than a decade away from galactic affairs, retiring to his vineyard and seemingly just waiting around to die. Someone like Q might take that personally; he might feel that Picard was not living up to the potential he had. Perhaps Picard’s absence had some kind of unknown consequence, something that harmed Q or the Q Continuum. In any case, Q’s animosity to Picard seems to be personal – could disappointment at Picard’s attitude in the years prior to Season 1 be the cause?

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

The original USS Stargazer.

Okay, technically the USS Stargazer has already appeared, but not in the way I expected! Captain Rios is (or was) in command of a new USS Stargazer, and not only that but he had a model of the original vessel in his conference room! So that’s it. Theory confirmed, everybody can move on to the next one!

Just kidding. The inclusion of a brand-new USS Stargazer brings the ship and its legacy back to the fore. Picard himself commented in The Star Gazer that the original vessel was his first command, and as far back as Season 1 we had a reference to his time in command through the character of Dr Benayoun. All of these things could be leading to some bigger role for the original USS Stargazer – and with a story that seems to include time travel and a strong focus on Picard’s own personal history, a flashback or even a visit to the ship could be on the agenda!

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

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

In The Star Gazer, it seemed as if the Borg Collective was reaching out, asking the Federation – and Picard specifically – for help. If so, the question is why? Was it just a shallow ploy to launch another attack on Starfleet? Or is there at least a degree of truth to the Borg’s request?

Endgame, the final episode of Voyager, depicted a time-travelling Admiral Janeway introducing a neurolytic pathogen – a type of virus – into the Borg Queen, seriously damaging her, her base of operations, and several Borg vessels in the vicinity. Because the Borg hadn’t been seen since – until The Star Gazer, that is – we never got to learn just how deadly Admiral Janeway’s actions were.

Admiral Janeway in Endgame.

I’ve always assumed that the Borg Collective is vast enough, powerful enough, clever enough, and most importantly adaptable enough that Admiral Janeway’s actions weren’t going to strike a fatal blow. Whatever damage she had done seemed like something the Borg could eventually fix – and their existence 25 years later during the events of The Star Gazer seems to prove that. The Borg’s technology and weapons are still streets ahead of anything Starfleet has at its disposal… but even so, it’s still possible that the Borg are on their last legs facing defeat.

If that’s the case, maybe we’ll discover that it was Admiral Janeway who’s responsible – that her actions in Endgame are either wholly or partly to blame for the Borg’s weakened state. Dr Jurati seemed to know that the Borg Collective isn’t as strong as it once was, so that could be another clue pointing to this theory.

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

Raffi and Elnor aboard La Sirena in a flashback.

The decision to kill off Elnor so early in the season certainly succeeded as a shocking story point… but I’m not so sure he’ll stay dead. Is Raffi’s belief that restoring the timeline will save his life something that the series has carefully set up so it can be paid off later? Or was it simply part of her reaction to his death; the bargaining stage of the grieving process? I’m not sure!

Elnor is a character who had potential – the first Romulan to be a main character on a Star Trek series (or the second, after Narek) and the first Romulan to enlist in Starfleet. If the Star Trek franchise were to stick around, I could happily follow his adventures as a Starfleet officer over the course of several years, giving him an arc somewhat comparable to someone like Tilly in Discovery, growing into his new role.

But Elnor is also a character who was underused in Season 1, and the decision to make him a Starfleet cadet at the beginning of Season 2 was only the beginning of a new arc for him. His death didn’t hit as hard as it could’ve because we don’t know Elnor very well – and I wonder if that could be a reason to bring him back later in the season.

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

Seven of Nine in Los Angeles.

For the first time in her life, Seven of Nine is feeling a sense of freedom. Not only is she free from her Borg implants, changing the way she looks, but she’s also unencumbered by her Borg past. No one she meets in 2024 will be aware of the Borg, and she’s clearly enjoying the way that makes her feel.

In The Star Gazer, Seven spoke to Picard about feeling judged by the ship’s crew – and in a broader sense, by practically everyone in the 25th Century. Her Borg past is a hurdle for her; she feels the weight of unspoken criticisms and judgements made against her. Her Borg implants are the biggest physical manifestation of this, but the fact that most people she meets in the 25th Century know who she is and where she came from is a burden – one she no longer feels in 2024.

With that in mind, could Seven choose to remain behind when Picard and the crew of La Sirena are ready to leave? Even if she’s ultimately talked out of it (or even forced out of it), I wonder if she’ll try to stay in the past.

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

The main cast of The Next Generation Season 2.

As above, this theory has been knocked by the Season 3 announcement. It seems less likely now that we’ll see major roles for any of the characters announced for Season 3. However, the final act of Season 2 could bring back some or all of these characters if it’s going to set up the next phase of the story, and cameos and smaller appearances still feel possible.

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

The Zhat Vash on Aia.

The Star Gazer already crossed off two things from the list of Season 1 leftovers! Dr Jurati’s legal status was clarified, as was her relationship with Captain Rios. There are still a number of points that I’d like to see addressed before the season ends, though, as Season 1 unfortunately left quite a lot of story on the table thanks to a rushed and underwhelming finale.

Here are the main ones:

  • What will become of the synths on Coppelius, and will they have to be relocated for safety?
  • Did Starfleet attempt to visit Aia and shut down the beacon at the centre of the Zhat Vash’s prophecy? Leaving it out in the open seems dangerous.
  • Will Starfleet contact the super-synths and attempt to make peace or convince them that they pose no threat?
The super-synths in the Season 1 finale.
  • Why did Bruce Maddox go to Freecloud?
  • With the Zhat Vash plot exposed, what will become of their crusade against synthetic life?
  • Did Federation-Romulan relations suffer as a result of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Mars and attempted attack on Coppelius?
  • What happened to Narek after he was captured by the Coppelius synths?
  • Who controls the Artifact and what will happen to the surviving ex-Borg?

So that’s it!

La Sirena’s transporter in action!

As we head into the final two episodes of the season we’ve cleared a few theories off the list – one way or another – but there are still a lot that remain in play! After two or three episodes in which Picard Season 2 got bogged down in an unexciting time travel story, Mercy seems to have begun to refocus the story on a much more interesting and exciting conflict. I have high hopes for next week’s outing, which may be titled Hide and Seek.

I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction. But for some folks, fan theories can be frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 2. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

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

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

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

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

Picard in Mercy.

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Adam Soong.

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

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

The Borg Queen continues to assimilate Dr Jurati.

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

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

Kore Soong.

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

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

Rios working on La Sirena’s transporter.

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

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

Rios with Teresa aboard La Sirena.

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

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

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

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

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

Newly-created Borg nanoprobes.

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

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

Seven of Nine in Mercy.

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

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

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

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

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

Raffi with Elnor in the flashback.

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

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

Guinan and Q talked in the FBI office.

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

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

What could Q be seeking redemption from?

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

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

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

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

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

Agent Wells interrogating Picard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 7

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

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

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

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

Debunked theory:
My various Watcher candidates.

Picard and Tallinn.

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

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

Confirmed theory:
Teresa learned the truth about Rios.

Teresa after arriving aboard La Sirena.

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

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

So those theories were debunked and confirmed.

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

Theory #1:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

Guinan and Picard attempted to summon a Q.

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

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

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

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

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

Although from our perspective Q and the Q Continuum appear godlike, it no longer seems impossible that someone – perhaps the Borg – could’ve discovered an exploitable weakness. If so, maybe the entire Q Continuum has come under attack, and if something Picard did or didn’t do is connected to those events, that could explain why Q is so angry and why he felt the need to punish Picard. It could even explain Q’s desire to radically alter the timeline.

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

Agent Wells, FBI.

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

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

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

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

Teresa and Rios at the clinic.

Rios has clearly abandoned the idea of making as little impact on the timeline as possible! Just like Kirk did for Dr Gillian Taylor in The Voyage Home, perhaps Rios will seek to bring Teresa and Ricardo forwards in time. Teresa may have her clinic to attend to – although its status is in doubt after it was raided by ICE earlier in the season – but she may want to leave the world of the 21st Century behind to head into a more optimistic future.

If Teresa and Rios continue to pursue a romantic relationship, and Rios begins to offer himself as a father figure to Ricardo, maybe the stage will be set for Teresa heading to the 25th Century. It wouldn’t be the weirdest or wildest possibility, especially not now that Teresa and Ricardo are both aware of Rios’ true identity and the existence of La Sirena.

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

Teresa with Rios in Monsters.

This could be a heartbreaking end to Rios and Teresa’s burgeoning romance! In true Back to the Future style, perhaps Rios will learn that Teresa and Ricardo are his distant ancestors, bringing their relationship to a screeching half and preventing either of them from taking things further.

We’ve seen Star Trek deal with time travel on many occasions, including fixed moments in time and people too important to be changed or killed. And in a story in which Picard has already met a distant ancestor of his own – Renée – there could be a kind of poetic symmetry if Rios were to discover a connection to Teresa and Ricardo. If this pans out, I hope Rios and Teresa discover the truth before they… y’know!

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

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

One thing I can’t figure out at the moment is what sort of role the new cast will have in Season 3. If you somehow missed the cack-handed announcement, it’s been revealed that the main cast of The Next Generation (sans Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby) will be reuniting in Season 3, and that they will have major roles to play. If that’s the case it seems all but certain that the main cast of Picard will be sidelined. We’ve already seen that happen this season with Elnor killed and Soji missing in action, so that really only leaves Dr Jurati, Raffi, and Rios.

If the teases and hints about Season 3 that we’ve heard so far prove to be true, it seems as though Picard and the crew will need a ship… so could that ship be the new USS Stargazer?

New sets were built from scratch for the Stargazer, including a conference room, bridge, turbolift, and corridors, yet so far those sets were only used in a single episode. Even if Season 2 sees the crew make it back to the 25th Century relatively soon, that’s still a massive investment for relatively little screen time! So my theory is that the new sets will be used more extensively in Season 3 when Picard assumes command of the USS Stargazer. Why would there be a vacancy in the captain’s chair? Because Captain Rios is going to be one of the characters shuffled out of the way to make room for the returning crew of The Next Generation.

Theory #6:
Q is dying.

Q’s powers seem to be failing.

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

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

Q while posing as Renée’s therapist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q and Picard together in Penance.

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

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

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

The Borg Queen?

The Borg Queen – the hooded figure who materialised on the bridge of the Stargazer – was absolutely terrifying, evoking feelings for me that the Star Trek franchise hasn’t hit in decades. The way this character was presented, with her shrouded face, flowing robes, monochromatic aesthetic, and blend of humanoid and decidedly non-humanoid mechanical features was simultaneously riveting and frightening!

This character was presented as the Borg Queen in the episode, and the Borg have no reason that we know of to lie about that. But at the same time, she was very different not only from how we’ve seen the Borg Queen in past iterations of Star Trek, but also from the Borg Queen that Picard and the crew met in the Confederation timeline. Could this character actually be someone else – perhaps someone that the Borg have assimilated?

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

“Borg Queen” Candidate #1:
Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati and the hallucinatory Borg Queen.

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

“Borg Queen” Candidate #2:
Renée Picard.

Renée at the gala.

Renée could be the Borg Queen if she’s assimilated. Perhaps she will be attacked and assimilated during the course of the Europa Mission, or maybe the Queen will try to get to her to gain possession over the Europa Mission’s spacecraft. If La Sirena is damaged and unusable, the Europa Mission vehicle could be the best option for the Queen to get into space in this time period. Renée being the masked, hooded Borg could explain why the Borg were asking for Picard by name, and why Non, je ne regrette rien played shortly before the Stargazer’s self-destruction.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #3:
The time-travelling Admiral Janeway from Endgame.

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

Admiral Janeway was assimilated by the Borg Queen as part of her plan to introduce a neurolytic pathogen into the Collective, and appeared to have been killed when the Borg Queen’s complex exploded. But is there a way she could have survived?

Her assimilation could have been a turning point for the Borg. She did untold damage to the Collective, but also potentially gifted them knowledge and information about future events and technologies that were decades ahead of their time. Just like the Borg once chose Captain Picard to become Locutus – their “spokesperson” or representative – perhaps they might have chosen Admiral Janeway to fill a similar role during this latest incursion. Admiral Janeway could even have been incorporated as part of the Borg Queen.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #4:
Soji.

Soji in Season 1.

The Borg seek “perfection” through the synthesis of organic and synthetic parts; if Coppelius synths like Soji have something that the Borg want, perhaps we’ll learn that they assimilated her to get it. The anomaly from which the Borg vessel emerged was not a standard transwarp corridor, and was specifically noted to emit some kind of temporal radiation. Thus the Borg vessel could be from a future date after Soji has already been assimilated. We could even learn that the super-synths from the Season 1 finale are actually the Borg; that could be how they first became aware of Soji and the Coppelius synths.

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

La Sirena on approach to the sun in Assimilation.

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

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

The Borg Queen as she appeared in Assimilation.

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

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

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

Renée in training aboard a Europa Mission simulator.

If La Sirena is stolen by the Borg Queen – or otherwise damaged and rendered unusable – Picard and the rest of the crew will need to find another way to get back to the 25th Century. Could they hitch a ride on Renée’s Europa Mission spacecraft?

Earlier in the season, Picard seemed to imply that no one really knows what happened to Renée and the Europa Mission ship after she discovered signs of life in the outer solar system, so does that mean it would be possible for her ship to simply disappear without corrupting the timeline? Perhaps the reason why history has no record of what happened to Renée after the Europa Mission isn’t because of World War III and the loss of that information, but because she and the ship simply disappeared while in space.

There’s nothing that we know of to suggest that the slingshot manoeuvre can’t be performed by a ship like Renée’s, and the fact that she’s an astronaut at all with her own spacecraft could open up a vital doorway for Picard and the crew if they suddenly find themselves in need of a new way home.

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

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

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

Q at Château Picard.

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

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

I have a longer article that goes into more detail about this theory that I wrote before the season premiere, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

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

A very young-looking Q!

Regardless of who changed the timeline and why, it seems more and more clear that Q is responsible for ensuring that Picard and the crew of La Sirena were the only ones unaffected by the change. If his goal was to change the timeline to punish Picard that makes sense – but it also leaves open the possibility that Picard will be able to figure out what happened and prevent it. That could be Q’s goal.

I’m not quite ready to call this one “confirmed,” though. I think we need to spend more time with Q to understand what he’s done, what he hopes to do next, and why.

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

Did the super-synts do it?

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

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

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

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

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

Kore Soong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Adam Soong.

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

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

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

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

This is a total wildcard, but I’m just throwing it out there!

The Borg Queen – and the Borg in general – appear to have a fascination with humanity and with Picard. Could it be that the explanation for that is that the Federation and/or humanity are somehow responsible for their creation? With time travel on the agenda, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which the progenitor of the Borg – perhaps even the Queen herself – is able to travel back in time, founding the Collective.

Nanites used by the Control AI.

As suggested above, this could be what Q is manipulating Dr Soong into doing in the 21st Century. The Borg could therefore be a human creation, the offspring of one of Data’s ancestors. Could that link be the key to defeating them? Maybe that preserved knowledge and the veneration of Dr Soong is how the Confederation was able to defeat the Borg in their timeline!

Discovery Season 2 ran a story with the Control AI that could have also been a Borg origin story. Was it known as early as 2018-19 that Picard wanted to tell a story like this, and if so, could that explain why the Control storyline ended the way it did? I have a write-up of Discovery’s abandoned Borg origin story that you can find by clicking or tapping here.

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

Los Angeles, 2024.

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

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

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

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

As far as we know at this stage, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline thanks to someone or something changing the past. But timelines and parallel universes often go hand-in-hand in Star Trek, and after we learned about the Borg’s defeat in the Confederation timeline, I wonder if their ship from the season premiere might have found a way to punch through or cross over into the prime timeline.

If the Borg were facing defeat, as their message seemed to suggest, perhaps that could explain why. Also, the anomaly that the ship emerged from was not a typical transwarp conduit; we’d seen transwarp corridors as recently as Season 1. Finally, the Borg Queen of the Confederation timeline was aware of Picard and the history of the prime timeline – perhaps the Confederation timeline Borg knew of the prime timeline and this was a last-ditch effort to survive.

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

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

Possibly connected to the theory above, one explanation for the Borg’s message and appearance in The Star Gazer is that in the prime timeline the Collective has found itself on the losing side of a war. Penance told us that the Confederation had been able to defeat the Borg using technology that Dr Jurati believed was roughly equivalent to the Federation’s in the prime timeline – so clearly it’s possible to fight and beat the Borg.

Could mentions of Gul Dukat or Martok in Penance be hints at something to come later in the story? Both characters were major players during Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War arc; maybe the Cardassians and/or the Dominion have been aggressively attacking the Borg in the late 24th Century. The other big culprit is the Confederation – assuming that it’s possible for the two timelines to mix!

Theory #21:
The Borg are aware that Picard is now a synth – and his synthetic status is part of the reason why they waited until now to make contact.

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

As mentioned above with Soji, the timing of the new Borg incursion is interesting, especially considering that they asked for Picard by name. Are they aware of his newfound synthetic status? And if so, could Picard’s transition to a new synthetic body be the reason why the Borg chose to launch their attack?

The Borg seek “perfection” through a synthesis of organic and synthetic components, and while Picard’s new synthetic body is a far cry from the Borg drones we’ve seen, the idea of an organic mind in a synthetic body isn’t a million miles away from that same basic idea. Although Picard’s body was said to be comparable in practically every way to his original one, synthetics can have enhanced abilities that allow them to easily overpower humans – and, as we’ve seen with Data on more than one occasion, they can outmatch individual Borg drones as well.

A Borg drone losing a fight against Data.

Perhaps the Borg want to re-assimilate Picard now that he’s synthetic. If the Collective is still reeling from the damage inflicted upon it by Admiral Janeway or if they’re on the losing side of a war, perhaps they hope to use fully-synthetic bodies like Picard’s to replace damaged or destroyed drones, or as cannon fodder on the front lines. There are many reasons why the Borg might be interested in synthetic technology, and that could explain their re-emergence.

Even if the Borg don’t plan to assimilate Picard or the Coppelius synths, the timing of their appearance is certainly interesting and there could be a connection.

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

Grumpy Q.

Over the course of The Next Generation, Q took a particular interest in Picard. More so than anyone else, Q seemed to see potential in Picard as a representative of the human race, someone who potentially showed him what humanity could be… with a little prompting and guidance. Q seemed fascinated by that idea, so seeing Picard’s fall from grace may have shocked him and left him feeling disappointed and bitter.

Picard spent more than a decade away from galactic affairs, retiring to his vineyard and seemingly just waiting around to die. Someone like Q might take that personally; he might feel that Picard was not living up to the potential he had. Perhaps Picard’s absence had some kind of unknown consequence, something that harmed Q or the Q Continuum. In any case, Q’s animosity to Picard seems to be personal – could disappointment at Picard’s attitude in the years prior to Season 1 be the cause?

Theory #23:
Picard and the crew will have to actively trigger World War III to save the future.

World War III soldiers as glimpsed in Discovery Season 2.

Although the Bell Riots are the main event of 2024 that we know about in Star Trek’s internal timeline, the 21st Century was arguably dominated by another event: World War III. The war may have kicked off as early as 2026 (as suggested in The Original Series) and concluded by the mid-2050s as seen in First Contact. The “post-atomic horror” that followed was the backdrop for Q’s trial in Encounter at Farpoint.

World War III is integral to Star Trek because without it, it’s hard to see how warp drive would’ve developed and how humanity would’ve made peaceful first contact with the Vulcans. Just like the end of the Second World War brought about major technological and societal changes that ultimately made the world a better place, Star Trek’s World War III is integral to the events that led to the founding of the Federation. If it were prevented, the timeline would change dramatically.

We now know that Renée Picard’s mission seems to be the divergence in time. But her mission could be connected, somehow, to the outbreak of hostilities. By sending her on her way and preserving the timeline, Picard and his crew may be committing to the outbreak of war. You can find a full write-up of this theory by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #24:
Romulans are spying on Earth in the 21st Century… and could be time-travelling Zhat Vash.

A young boy encounters a Romulan or Vulcan.

In the third pre-season trailer, a young boy wearing what seemed to be 21st Century clothing was seen encountering a Romulan or Vulcan. If the Zhat Vash are involved in the story somehow, perhaps this individual is a Zhat Vash operative. This could confirm that the Zhat Vash were able to travel through time, or send a message back in time to their 21st Century counterparts. The Romulans had achieved interstellar flight centuries earlier, so travelling to Earth to spy or place operatives seems plausible for them.

Theory #25:
The Vulcans are on Earth in the early 21st Century… as stated in Discovery Season 4.

A meeting of senior Federation and allied officials in Discovery Season 4.

Another theory about the unnamed Romulan or Vulcan is tied into the Discovery Season 4 episode The Galactic Barrier. This could easily be a complete overreaction to a throwaway line, but at the beginning of the episode, the enigmatic Federation leader Dr Kovich stated that Vulcans were on Earth for decades prior to official first contact taking place.

This one line could be a reference to Carbon Creek, an episode of Enterprise that saw Vulcans crash-land on Earth in the 1950s. But the timing seems odd given the scene mentioned above from the Picard Season 2 pre-season trailers! If the character seen above is a Vulcan, perhaps there will be a connection of some kind between Discovery and Picard.

Theory #26:
The USS Stargazer will make an appearance.

The original USS Stargazer.

Okay, technically the USS Stargazer has already appeared, but not in the way I expected! Captain Rios is (or was) in command of a new USS Stargazer, and not only that but he had a model of the original vessel in his conference room! So that’s it. Theory confirmed, everybody can move on to the next one!

Just kidding. The inclusion of a brand-new USS Stargazer brings the ship and its legacy back to the fore. Picard himself commented in The Star Gazer that the original vessel was his first command, and as far back as Season 1 we had a reference to his time in command through the character of Dr Benayoun. All of these things could be leading to some bigger role for the original USS Stargazer – and with a story that seems to include time travel and a strong focus on Picard’s own personal history, a flashback or even a visit to the ship could be on the agenda!

Theory #27:
The Borg Collective was badly damaged in the Voyager episode Endgame and has been unable to recover.

Dr Jurati decoded the Borg message in The Star Gazer.

In The Star Gazer, it seemed as if the Borg Collective was reaching out, asking the Federation – and Picard specifically – for help. If so, the question is why? Was it just a shallow ploy to launch another attack on Starfleet? Or is there at least a degree of truth to the Borg’s request?

Endgame, the final episode of Voyager, depicted a time-travelling Admiral Janeway introducing a neurolytic pathogen – a type of virus – into the Borg Queen, seriously damaging her, her base of operations, and several Borg vessels in the vicinity. Because the Borg hadn’t been seen since – until The Star Gazer, that is – we never got to learn just how deadly Admiral Janeway’s actions were.

Admiral Janeway in Endgame.

I’ve always assumed that the Borg Collective is vast enough, powerful enough, clever enough, and most importantly adaptable enough that Admiral Janeway’s actions weren’t going to strike a fatal blow. Whatever damage she had done seemed like something the Borg could eventually fix – and their existence 25 years later during the events of The Star Gazer seems to prove that. The Borg’s technology and weapons are still streets ahead of anything Starfleet has at its disposal… but even so, it’s still possible that the Borg are on their last legs facing defeat.

If that’s the case, maybe we’ll discover that it was Admiral Janeway who’s responsible – that her actions in Endgame are either wholly or partly to blame for the Borg’s weakened state. Dr Jurati seemed to know that the Borg Collective isn’t as strong as it once was, so that could be another clue pointing to this theory.

Theory #28:
Elnor will be restored to life when the crew returns to the 25th Century.

A hallucinatory Elnor.

The decision to kill off Elnor so early in the season certainly succeeded as a shocking story point… but I’m not so sure he’ll stay dead. Is Raffi’s belief that restoring the timeline will save his life something that the series has carefully set up so it can be paid off later? Or was it simply part of her reaction to his death; the bargaining stage of the grieving process? I’m not sure!

Elnor is a character who had potential – the first Romulan to be a main character on a Star Trek series (or the second, after Narek) and the first Romulan to enlist in Starfleet. If the Star Trek franchise were to stick around, I could happily follow his adventures as a Starfleet officer over the course of several years, giving him an arc somewhat comparable to someone like Tilly in Discovery, growing into his new role.

But Elnor is also a character who was underused in Season 1, and the decision to make him a Starfleet cadet at the beginning of Season 2 was only the beginning of a new arc for him. His death didn’t hit as hard as it could’ve because we don’t know Elnor very well – and I wonder if that could be a reason to bring him back later in the season.

Theory #29:
Seven of Nine will choose to remain in 2024.

Seven of Nine in Los Angeles.

For the first time in her life, Seven of Nine is feeling a sense of freedom. Not only is she free from her Borg implants, changing the way she looks, but she’s also unencumbered by her Borg past. No one she meets in 2024 will be aware of the Borg, and she’s clearly enjoying the way that makes her feel.

In The Star Gazer, Seven spoke to Picard about feeling judged by the ship’s crew – and in a broader sense, by practically everyone in the 25th Century. Her Borg past is a hurdle for her; she feels the weight of unspoken criticisms and judgements made against her. Her Borg implants are the biggest physical manifestation of this, but the fact that most people she meets in the 25th Century know who she is and where she came from is a burden – one she no longer feels in 2024.

With that in mind, could Seven choose to remain behind when Picard and the crew of La Sirena are ready to leave? Even if she’s ultimately talked out of it (or even forced out of it), I wonder if she’ll try to stay in the past.

Theory #30:
The season will end on a cliffhanger.

Because Seasons 2 and 3 went into production back-to-back, that made me wonder if they might form one continuous story – or if the final act of Season 2 might set up the story for Season 3. That still seems plausible to me, but the ill-timed announcement about the return of the main cast of The Next Generation in Season 3 may make it less likely.

However, it’s still possible that the two seasons will form one continuous story, or that the final act of Season 2 will lay the groundwork for the story of Season 3. There could also be a minor cliffhanger that is connected to just one character, or that is unrelated to the main story.

Theory #31:
At least one character from The Next Generation will make an appearance.

The main cast of The Next Generation Season 2.

As above, this theory has been knocked by the Season 3 announcement. It seems less likely now that we’ll see major roles for any of the characters announced for Season 3. However, the final act of Season 2 could bring back some or all of these characters if it’s going to set up the next phase of the story, and cameos and smaller appearances still feel possible.

Theory #32:
The Federation will use information from the Confederation timeline to defeat the Borg.

A battle over the planet Vulcan in the Confederation timeline.

Depending on how the end of the season shapes up, this may be a theory we’ll need to come back to next year! But for now, suffice to say that the Confederation’s defeat of the Borg in their timeline is one of the most intriguing unexplained events in the entire series. How did the Confederation – an organisation with technology comparable to the 25th Century Federation – manage to defeat the Borg Collective?

If a Borg invasion is coming – as we seemed to see in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season – the Federation will need every advantage at their disposal to fight back. Technology, tactics, and information from the Confederation’s own battle against the Borg could prove invaluable, and if Picard and the crew manage to take La Sirena back to their own time, maybe they’ll bring with them just what they need.

Theory #33:
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.

Whatever happened to Narek?

The Star Gazer already crossed off two things from the list of Season 1 leftovers! Dr Jurati’s legal status was clarified, as was her relationship with Captain Rios. There are still a number of points that I’d like to see addressed before the season ends, though, as Season 1 unfortunately left quite a lot of story on the table thanks to a rushed and underwhelming finale.

Here are the main ones:

  • What will become of the synths on Coppelius, and will they have to be relocated for safety?
  • Did Starfleet attempt to visit Aia and shut down the beacon at the centre of the Zhat Vash’s prophecy? Leaving it out in the open seems dangerous.
  • Will Starfleet contact the super-synths and attempt to make peace or convince them that they pose no threat?
Dr Bruce Maddox in Season 1.
  • Why did Bruce Maddox go to Freecloud?
  • With the Zhat Vash plot exposed, what will become of their crusade against synthetic life?
  • Did Federation-Romulan relations suffer as a result of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Mars and attempted attack on Coppelius?
  • What happened to Narek after he was captured by the Coppelius synths?
  • Who controls the Artifact and what will happen to the surviving ex-Borg?

So that’s it!

Picard and Guinan in Monsters.

With three episodes remaining, the theory list has grown again! Right now, the story feels like it could go in several different directions, and I’m curious to see whether Q or the Borg Queen will turn out to be the “big bad” of the next phase of the story. The season feels like it took a while to reach this point, and with so much story to potentially resolve and only three episodes left to do it, I’m at least a little concerned that the mistakes of Season 1 will be repeated. Let’s hope not, though!

I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction. But for some folks, fan theories can be frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 2. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard review – Season 2, Episode 7: Monsters

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

I found Monsters to be a frustrating experience – with the odd moment of sheer brilliance. While the story edged along in incremental steps, overall this side-mission inside Picard’s mind seemed to drag just a little too long. That being said, when the amateur Freudian psychoanalysis let up, we got some interesting moments with Seven of Nine and Raffi as they hunted for Dr Jurati, and from Picard and Guinan as the episode drew to a close.

Despite having mixed feelings about the season overall – particularly its time travel story – some of the promotional images released for Monsters looked intriguing, so after a couple of weeks where I’d been uninterested to the point of near-apathy in Picard, this time around I managed to work up some excitement and interest for the latest outing. To summarise, I guess I’d say that Monsters didn’t deliver what I’d hoped for, and the show’s 21st Century setting continues to be a drag, but there were some genuinely insightful and interesting moments, especially as the episode neared its end.

The final few minutes of the episode were the best.

As last week’s episode drew to a close, I felt that there was potential in a story that explored some of Picard’s psyche, and that seemed to be borne out by a couple of the promotional images released before the episode aired. These pictures showed Picard sitting aboard a 24th Century vessel, meeting with a new character who was wearing what looked like a new Starfleet uniform variant. Based on those pictures and that setup, I was hopeful that a season which has been content to stay in the modern-day for the most part might actually show us a little more of Star Trek’s future – the part that I find a thousand times more interesting, exciting, and inspiring.

Unfortunately we didn’t really get any of that – at least, not in the way I had hoped. We returned to the château of Picard’s childhood, and spent a lot of time running around in the dungeons while monsters from low-budget horror films chased after Picard, his mother, and later Tallinn. I think the problem with this story is more fundamental than just its B-movie horror aesthetic, though. If a decision is made to psychoanalyse a character in this fashion, diving deeply into their subconscious mind and buried memories, by the time we reach the end we should feel like we learned something – anything, really – that could inform and educate us about why the character behaves a certain way or has a particular personality trait. We came to the end of this coma-dream with Picard awakening… and I don’t feel like I understand him any better than I did before watching this entire drawn-out storyline.

Tallinn was attacked by one of the B-movie monsters.

We’ve spent a lot of time with Picard over the past thirty-five years, and in that time we’ve seen him go through many significant and traumatic events. There are more things from his past that we’ve only heard about in passing; lines of dialogue in The Next Generation that informed a story or gave us a tidbit of information about the man and his personal history. This episode, and the framework it used, could have explored any of those. Just off the top of my head, we could’ve seen Picard wrangle with the death of Jack Crusher – husband of Beverly Crusher – during his time in command of the Stargazer. We could’ve seen him dealing with the trauma of Tasha Yar’s death, or the loss of his family in a fire at the château that we heard about in Generations.

Instead, Monsters chose to introduce a wholly new backstory element to Picard’s character, giving him a moment in his youth in which he was traumatised by being trapped in the passageways below his family’s château, as well as his mother’s mental health condition. I can deal with the fact that this seems to clash with depictions of Picard’s mother in The Next Generation; the two shows are very different, and while there’s definitely a major difference in tone, there’s nothing that stands out to me as being wholly contradictory. But what I find difficult to get on board with is the fact that this entire sequence feels meaningless to the story overall – we didn’t learn anything significant about Picard, nor did we unlock anything that might be key to understanding the story of the season.

A faded memory from Picard’s youth.

I don’t recall it ever being mentioned prior to Monsters that Picard had a fear of confined spaces. I can recall many occasions in the past where we’d seen him in the Jeffries’ tubes, for example, and that never seemed to bother him. If it had been mentioned even an episode or two ago we could’ve at least said that Season 2 was trying to set it up, but even that didn’t happen, so I find it being brought up here particularly odd. Not only that, but this supposed claustrophobia didn’t even feature in a big way in the story at all – there was no moment where Picard was in a confined space either in reality, in his mind, nor in his memories. The dungeon was certainly a frightening place, but young Picard seemed to be trapped in a pretty large room.

Obviously trauma and the development of phobias is a more complicated thing than that, and I get that. But even so, this attempt to depict Picard’s supposed trauma feels weak. More importantly, though, it doesn’t seem to have accomplished much of anything, certainly not enough to justify producing an entire episode dedicated to it.

Picard and Tallinn inside his subconscious mind.

Star Trek: Picard promised to show us the beloved character in his later years, going on new adventures with a new crew but still fundamentally the same man we remembered from his debut thirty-five years ago. There was scope in a story about memory and digging into someone’s trauma and psyche to draw on something from Star Trek’s past – either something that was underdeveloped during The Next Generation era or something merely referenced – to flesh out some unknown or unseen part of Picard’s character. This episode took that open goal and missed it by a country mile by telling a disconnected and just plain odd story that feels functionally and narratively irrelevant. A ten-episode series can’t afford to waste time – something Picard learned to its cost in Season 1 – so Monsters feels not only like a disappointment, but an episode that could potentially be a weight around the neck of the entire season.

When I deconstructed the failings of Et in Arcadia Ego (the two-part Season 1 finale) a few weeks ago, I concluded by saying that I hoped the lessons of that rushed pair of episodes had been learned. Whole storylines ran out of road, characters disappeared, new factions came and went in the blink of an eye, and narrative threads that could’ve been weaved together had there been more time ended the season just dangling, unresolved. With three episodes remaining in Season 2 to resolve this new story, I feel a sense of anxiety. The past three episodes essentially revolved around the astronauts’ party and its aftermath, without much input from Q or significant progression of the season’s main story arcs. There isn’t a lot of time to get back on track – especially if we get any more short episodes like the half-hour Two of One last week.

We’ve spent a significant chunk of the season’s runtime dealing with Picard’s comatose mind.

To return to the dungeon and the monsters, when this storyline kicked off with young Picard and his mother, it seemed like it had potential. As someone with mental heath issues myself, I briefly felt some of what I’ve experienced being reflected in the depiction of Yvette Picard. There was scope to expand upon this – and perhaps a future episode will tell us more about her nameless condition. Unfortunately, though, what we got in Monsters may have began in a relatable way – so much so that, for a brief moment, it felt uncomfortably close to my own personal experience – but it quickly descended into pantomime and farce.

Mental health conditions are not easy to depict in fiction. It takes time, it needs a nuanced portrayal, and it requires a creative team who all understand the condition in question and what the purpose of its depiction is. Yvette’s condition wasn’t shown for its own sake, and wasn’t even trying to be a sensitive or sympathetic depiction of whatever unnamed condition she suffered from. It existed purely to attempt to inform us as the audience about the trauma Picard himself feels from those events, and that already relegates it to a kind of secondary status that perhaps was always going to prevent a nuanced or at least decent attempt to portray it.

Yvette Picard’s mental health condition was basically a backdrop for other parts of the story.

The Star Trek franchise hasn’t always dealt with mental health particularly well. I noted as recently as Season 1 of Picard how the franchise can lean into unhelpful one-dimensional stereotypes, and Yvette feels barely a step ahead of that. The decision to include hallucinatory elements was potentially an interesting one – but to then turn around and make those hallucinations B-movie horror monsters rendered any impact it could’ve had utterly meaningless.

I’ve tried to be an advocate for better depictions of mental health in fiction, but more than once I’ve found myself exasperatedly saying that if a story can’t get it right – or at least make an effort to do better with the way mental health is depicted – then maybe it’s preferable to leave it alone. If there isn’t time in a series like Picard – which understandably has its focuses elsewhere – to show Yvette’s mental health condition in more detail and more sympathetically, then maybe this angle shouldn’t be included. With a few rewrites, the story could get to the same place while skipping over a pretty uninspired and occasionally problematic one-dimensional depiction of an unnamed but somewhat stereotypical “mental illness.” Otherwise it feels like the series is paying lip service to an important subject; touching on it in the most basic and meaningless of ways.

The nature of Yvette’s condition wasn’t revealed or explained.

So what was this story trying to say? That Picard’s desire to explore strange, new worlds is connected to trauma related to his mother? That seems incredibly clichéd and basic, even by the generally poor standards of mental health stories that we’ve just been talking about. I want to believe that this story has more to give; some twist or turn that will pull out a passable ending to a narrative thread that will otherwise be disappointing in the extreme. I’ve jumped the gun before with these kinds of things and been too quick to criticise, so I guess we need to wait and see what comes next. On its own merits, though, this part of Monsters – the part that took up the majority of the episode’s runtime – was poor.

There was a glimpse of something better (or at least something different) at the close of the episode. Picard visited Guinan’s bar to try to “summon” Q (or another member of the Q Continuum, this wasn’t 100% clear). I liked that we got callbacks to past iterations of Star Trek; Guinan’s “claw” pose that we saw in Q Who made a comeback, for example. And this part of the story filled in a blank from all the way back in The Next Generation’s second season, potentially explaining the animosity between Guinan and Q, or at least the El-Aurians and the Q Continuum.

We learned a little about the relationship between the El-Aurians and the Q Continuum this week.

This is the kind of thing I’d hoped Picard Season 2 would do more of. Season 1 had a fairly narrow focus on the Romulans and synths, and while we got a deeper dive into one aspect of Romulan culture in particular, there was a lot more that the last season could’ve done to connect its narrative threads to Star Trek’s broader canon. Because of how it quickly stepped out of the prime timeline and then shot back in time, Season 2 hasn’t really had much of an opportunity to do this, and when elements from Star Trek’s past have been introduced they haven’t really been explored or fleshed out in a substantial way; take Tallinn and the mysterious organisation she works for as a case in point. So I greatly appreciated the Guinan-Q connection here.

Picard and Guinan being apprehended may yet have a deeper significance to the story – if the “FBI Agent” isn’t who he claims to be, for example. Stay tuned for my theory post for more on that! But if it really is the FBI and 21st Century Earth authorities, I’m actually kind of glad that the story went down this road! Picard and the crew, despite their best intentions, have made a lot of noise since arriving in the 21st Century – so it makes perfect sense that, in the highly-surveilled world of 2024, the authorities would be attempting to track them.

Agent Wells, FBI.

We got several cute moments this week with Seven of Nine and Raffi. Their relationship, which had been teased at the end of Season 1, hadn’t developed as much as I’d hoped or expected this season, and with Seven being sidelined for the entirety of last week’s outing, I’m glad that the show’s writers haven’t entirely forgotten about this angle. We caught snippets of their conversation aboard La Sirena that suggested that their relationship is built on solid foundations, even if they don’t always have time to acknowledge it to each other, and I think in a busy episode with a lot of storylines on the go, I can accept such moments of exposition.

What I would say, though, is that we’re really feeling the impact of modern Star Trek’s shorter seasons, and I noticed that in particular with Seven and Raffi this week. After they returned to La Sirena, tracking down Dr Jurati, figuring out how the Borg code got into the ship’s computers, and coming up with a plan to counteract it and figure out what happened could’ve been an entire episode in itself during The Next Generation and Voyager eras. As it is, we got a couple of lines of dialogue and a cut-down sequence. That isn’t bad, but it’s definitely something that could’ve been expanded upon.

Raffi and Seven of Nine discovered that Dr Jurati has been assimilated.

Rios now officially irks me. His regression from the Starfleet captain we were reintroduced to in The Star Gazer to the Han Solo-inspired rogue that we met at the beginning of Season 1 had been bugging me all season long, but now it feels like there isn’t time to do anything about it. If we hadn’t seen Rios in such a different – and arguably better – state in The Star Gazer, I guess I’d just roll with his storyline. But because we’d got a glimpse of Rios at his best and seen what he can be, this Season 1 presentation feels wrong. The fact that he doesn’t seem to care at all about the ship and crew he left behind (on the brink of self-destruction and death, no less) is the icing on a particularly unpleasant cake.

One of Rios’ lines this week also felt unearned. He referred to Picard as a “father figure” that he had been seeking, but I just don’t feel that from Rios in any way. I can’t actually remember a significant moment that the two characters have shared in either season of the show, aside perhaps from Picard’s remark all the way back in Season 1 that Rios kept his ship to Starfleet standards. They’ve just been on different narrative trajectories, and while they seem quite happy to work together, I’ve never felt that Rios saw Picard that way.

Rios told Teresa how he feels about Picard.

“Show don’t tell” is the advice that creative writing teachers often give their students; show the audience how a character feels, what they’re thinking, etc. through their actions and behaviour, don’t just try to dump clumsy lines of expository dialogue and assume that’s good enough. And that’s basically the Rios situation. I’d seen nothing from him to make me feel he saw Picard as a father figure, so this line of dialogue didn’t land in the way it should’ve.

One of Rios’ lines this week was pitch-perfect, though, and continues a season-long trend of making references to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. When Teresa was figuring out the truth about who Rios is, we got a riff on the lines spoken by Dr Gillian Taylor and Captain Kirk in that film when Rios told her that he’s from Chile, but works in outer space. It was an incredibly neat reference, and I genuinely wasn’t expecting to see The Voyage Home called back to in so many different and unexpected ways this season.

Rios probably got the episode’s best line while speaking to Teresa.

Was Rios right to tell Teresa the truth? And then, having done so, was taking her and Ricardo to La Sirena a good idea? Part of me feels that Rios will bring Teresa and Ricardo to the 25th Century with him – as Kirk did with Gillian Taylor – so stay tuned for my theory update for my thoughts on that! Regardless of whether it was a smart idea, the moment where Teresa materialised on La Sirena’s transporter pad was pitch-perfect, and Sol Rodriguez captured that moment wonderfully.

Dr Jurati was only glimpsed this week, but the Borg Queen’s influence is clearly growing. The “endorphin rush” concept is an interesting one, with the Borg Queen needing to trigger endorphins in order to speed up or help the assimilation process. I certainly hope we learn more about how this works, as well as what exactly the Borg Queen is doing. Is this, as Seven seemed to think, the “birth” of a new Borg Queen? If so, that presumably tees up Dr Jurati (or rather, her assimilated body) for being the masked Borg Queen seen in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season! There’s also the possibility on this side of the story to learn more about the Borg and how Borg Queens work in a general sense.

Will Dr Jurati become the new Borg Queen?

I would’ve liked Monsters to spend more time on this side of the story. With the bulk of the story dealing with the coma-dream that Picard was experiencing, it feels as if the episode had its focus in the wrong place. Whatever’s happening with Q is clearly still important – but the potential for a Borg Queen to be loose in the 21st Century and growing in power should bring everything to a screeching halt. Picard and the crew need to tackle this problem, and they need to do so urgently! But as far as we know based on what we saw on screen this week, Seven of Nine and Raffi haven’t even told Rios or Picard what they’ve learned about Dr Jurati.

As I suggested in my last theory post, there’s all sorts of ways that this story could go. A Q-Picard truce or even a temporary alliance is one possibility, with a weakened Q working with Picard to prevent the assimilation of Earth. But it feels like the season is running out of road to tell all of the stories that have been set up. We didn’t get any advancement this week of Kore or Dr Soong’s stories, for example, and Q himself – despite being mentioned – was also absent. If we’re to see this Borg Queen story play out in anywhere close to as much depth as it deserves, a change in focus is urgently needed.

Picard in Monsters.

So I guess that was Monsters. It was an episode that dragged in places, one that feels like an unnecessary sojourn in a short season that really doesn’t have time for such indulgences. Yes, it’s possible that the story of Picard’s youthful trauma will come back later in the season in a way connected with Q. But even assuming that will be the case, Monsters feels like a gratuitous and self-indulgent look at this part of Picard’s backstory and psyche that simply ran too long.

I’m reminded in a way of Nepenthe and, to a lesser extent, Absolute Candor from Season 1. These two episodes advanced the main story of Season 1 in increments, but given the way the story ran out of road by the time we got to Et in Arcadia Ego, they feel somewhat like wasted time in retrospect. Monsters feels like it could end up the same way – but unlike the two Season 1 outings mentioned, it wasn’t a strong or particularly enjoyable episode in its own right. If we look back on the season later and feel that more time was needed to allow things like the Borg Queen story, Q’s story, or Kore and Dr Soong’s stories to play out, Monsters will feel like the standout example of what should’ve been cut.

There were interesting ideas here, and if the same framework or story concept had been used in a different way, I think we could’ve been looking at the episode in more of a positive light. But the barebones and clichéd depiction of Yvette’s mental health condition, the uninspired “haunted castle” and B-movie monsters, and the more interesting storylines being sidelined makes it one of the season’s most disappointing outings so far.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

17.04.22
Additional thought:

It only occurred to me as I was re-reading this review, but one thing to say about Monsters – and the season overall by extension – is that the season’s main characters, as well as important secondary characters all feel disconnected from one another. They don’t seem to be communicating at all, with Rios taking Teresa and Ricardo to La Sirena seemingly without consulting Picard or anyone else, and Raffi and Seven of Nine chasing Dr Jurati also without a word to Picard or Rios. This is in addition to Q doing his own thing away from everyone else, and Kore and Dr Soong off on their own, too. There are occasional bridges between these groups of characters; meetings or pairings in which they get together. But for the most part, everyone feels like they’re in their own little narrative box, taking part in their own story that’s disconnected from everything else. This is a very odd way to structure a season of television in a show like Star Trek: Picard.

Star Trek: Picard theories – week 6

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

In my review of Two of One, I said that the episode had some highlights, such as Picard’s speech to Renée and the continuing interplay between the Borg Queen and Dr Jurati, but that it wasn’t the best episode of the series overall. Season 2’s time travel to the modern-day chapter is really beginning to drag, and a story that was set up so perfectly by The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season has become bland and even, in parts, downright unenjoyable.

That being said, Two of One raised some interesting points from a theory-crafting point of view! We have one theory that has been outright debunked, one more that I’m choosing to retire, a couple of new additions, and movement on some of our other theories.

As always, we’ll start with the debunked and retired theories before we jump into the main list.

Debunked theory:
Dr Jurati hasn’t been assimilated.

Dr Jurati’s assimilation in Fly Me To The Moon.

I posited this one last time as a kind of twist on the expected direction of the story. Rather than being assimilated by the Borg Queen at the end of Fly Me To The Moon, I suggested that the extremely traumatic events that Dr Jurati has been through could be causing her to hallucinate or otherwise believe that the Borg Queen – whom she had just killed – was still alive and part of her.

What we saw this week seems to debunk that, as the Borg Queen demonstrated abilities that Dr Jurati simply doesn’t possess: extreme feats of strength, sending out an electronic-disrupting pulse, and so on. The end of the episode also saw the Borg Queen assume control of Dr Jurati’s body, potentially taking the story in a very different direction.

Retired theory:
The Watcher will be aware of Sisko and the USS Defiant in this time period.

The USS Defiant in orbit of 21st Century Earth in Past Tense.

After we got several overt references to Sanctuary Districts, UHC cards, and the like after the crew arrived in the 21st Century, I wondered if we might get more of an explicit reference to the events of Past Tense – the two-part Deep Space Nine episode that saw Sisko and his crew also visit California in 2024. I didn’t expect to see Sisko or anyone make an appearance in person, of course, but there could’ve been a connection between the Watcher and Sisko.

As it is, the Watcher – a.k.a. Tallinn – hasn’t mentioned anything from Past Tense. Now that we know more about her mission and her focus on Renée, it seems as though we won’t get that kind of reference or connection. Hence I’m striking this one off the list!

So those theories are officially off the list!

Now let’s take a look at the theories currently in play, beginning with those that are new or that saw significant movement in Two of One.

Theory #1:
Kore Soong will team up with Picard and the crew of La Sirena.

Kore Soong.

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

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

Theory #2:
Q and Picard will have to work together to stop the Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen is now on the loose!

At the end of the episode, it was revealed that the Borg Queen has been able to take control of Dr Jurati’s body. That means she’s now on the loose in 21st Century Los Angeles, and if she’s able to regenerate some or all of her abilities, there’s basically nothing to stand in her way. She could begin assimilating 21st Century humans in droves, not only radically altering the timeline but potentially wreaking havoc.

Whatever Q has been trying to do in the 21st Century and with the Confederation timeline, it wasn’t this. His plan wasn’t to unleash a rogue Borg Queen upon 21st Century Earth – the consequences that would have for humanity and the wider galaxy are unknowable. If both Q and Picard realise what has happened to Dr Jurati, they may need to make a truce.

Q’s powers seem to be failing him, leaving him in a weaker and more vulnerable state than usual. He may need to enlist Picard’s help to stop the Borg Queen – or Picard could be the one to reach out.

Theory #3:
The masked, hooded figure from The Star Gazer is not the real Borg Queen.

The Borg Queen?

The Borg Queen – the hooded figure who materialised on the bridge of the Stargazer – was absolutely terrifying, evoking feelings for me that the Star Trek franchise hasn’t hit in decades. The way this character was presented, with her shrouded face, flowing robes, monochromatic aesthetic, and blend of humanoid and decidedly non-humanoid mechanical features was simultaneously riveting and frightening!

This character was presented as the Borg Queen in the episode, and the Borg have no reason that we know of to lie about that. But at the same time, she was very different not only from how we’ve seen the Borg Queen in past iterations of Star Trek, but also from the Borg Queen that Picard and the crew met in the Confederation timeline. Could this character actually be someone else – perhaps someone that the Borg have assimilated?

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

“Borg Queen” Candidate #1:
Dr Jurati.

Dr Jurati and the hallucinatory Borg Queen.

With Dr Jurati having seemingly been assimilated, she would appear to be the top candidate for being the masked Borg Queen! The anomaly from which the Borg vessel emerged was said to be giving off temporal radiation, which could explain how an assimilated Dr Jurati is a Borg Queen while a younger Dr Jurati is present on the bridge of the Stargazer in the same moment.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #2:
Renée Picard.

Renée at the gala.

Renée could be the Borg Queen if she’s assimilated. Perhaps she will be attacked and assimilated during the course of the Europa mission, or maybe the Queen will try to get to her to gain possession over the Europa mission’s spacecraft. If La Sirena is damaged and unusable, the Europa mission vehicle could be the best option for the Queen to get into space in this time period. Renée being the masked, hooded Borg could explain why the Borg were asking for Picard by name, and why Non, je ne regrette rien played shortly before the Stargazer’s self-destruction.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #3:
The time-travelling Admiral Janeway from Endgame.

Admiral Janeway and the Borg Queen.

Admiral Janeway was assimilated by the Borg Queen as part of her plan to introduce a neurolytic pathogen into the Collective, and appeared to have been killed when the Borg Queen’s complex exploded. But is there a way she could have survived?

Her assimilation could have been a turning point for the Borg. She did untold damage to the Collective, but also potentially gifted them knowledge and information about future events and technologies that were decades ahead of their time. Just like the Borg once chose Captain Picard to become Locutus – their “spokesperson” or representative – perhaps they might have chosen Admiral Janeway to fill a similar role during this latest incursion. Admiral Janeway could even have been incorporated as part of the Borg Queen.

“Borg Queen” Candidate #4:
Soji.

Soji in Season 1.

The Borg seek “perfection” through the synthesis of organic and synthetic parts; if Coppelius synths like Soji have something that the Borg want, perhaps we’ll learn that they assimilated her to get it. The anomaly from which the Borg vessel emerged was not a standard transwarp corridor, and was specifically noted to emit some kind of temporal radiation. Thus the Borg vessel could be from a future date after Soji has already been assimilated. We could even learn that the super-synths from the Season 1 finale are actually the Borg; that could be how they first became aware of Soji and the Coppelius synths.

Theory #4:
Teresa will discover the truth about Rios (and the crew of La Sirena).

Teresa with Rios in Two of One.

I’m glad that we got to spend a little more time with Teresa in Two of One. I’m not sure a romantic entanglement between her and Rios is something the season needs to have, but as a character I feel that she brings a lot to the story. As a 21st Century native, she could be a valuable ally to the crew as their mission enters its next phase.

Rios came closer to letting Teresa know the truth in Two of One than he had so far. As she tended to Picard at her clinic, his synthetic form caused a defibrillator to short-circuit, so she clearly knows that there’s something going on. There’s also the issue of Rios’ missing combadge – it was last seen at Teresa’s clinic and could be in her possession, or perhaps the possession of her son.

In order for Teresa to help Picard, or in order for her to be of assistance to Rios and the crew as they remain in the 21st Century, she may end up learning the truth about Rios – including where (and when) he is originally from.

Theory #5:
The Confederation is run by augmented humans.

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

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

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

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

Theory #5-B:
There will be a connection between the augments and Strange New Worlds.

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

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

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

Theory #6:
The Borg Queen/Dr Jurati will steal La Sirena, stranding Picard in the past.

La Sirena on approach to the sun in Assimilation.

What is the Borg Queen’s next move? She’s successfully gained control of Dr Jurati’s body, but can she remain in control? If she can, what would be her best option for returning to her own time and restoring the Borg Collective? All of these questions are open right now!

One option that I think the Borg Queen has is to steal La Sirena. She alone possesses the ability to guide the ship through a slingshot manoeuvre back to the 25th Century, and that would seem to be the easiest and quickest way home for her. The ship is currently empty, as Picard and the rest of the crew are still in Los Angeles at the clinic, so if the Borg Queen were to act fast she could be back aboard the ship and on her way before anyone realised what she’d done.

This would leave Picard and the rest of the crew trapped in the 21st Century… how would they get home?

Theory #7:
Who is Tallinn, a.k.a. the Watcher?

Picard with Tallinn shortly before the mission to the gala.

Tallinn works for the same mysterious organisation that Gary Seven did in The Original Series episode Assignment: Earth. But that doesn’t fully explain who she is or what the exact nature of her mission is. It will be disappointing if we get to the end of the story without learning more about her identity and the faction she works for. It feels like we may be getting closer, but Two of One didn’t really make a lot of progress in that regard.

I have several possible Watcher identities still in play, and we’ll look at each of them in turn.

Watcher Candidate #1:
A younger version of Laris.

Laris at the beginning of Season 2.

Perhaps the obvious answer really is the right one: the Watcher is simply Laris as she appeared in the 21st Century. That doesn’t solve every question, nor does it rule out all of the other entries on this list. In fact, it arguably raises just as many questions as it answers! But there was one moment in Two of One that could’ve been a hint that Tallinn and Laris are one and the same: Tallinn appeared to speak in the Romulan language at one point, and subtitles even identified what she was saying as being “Romulan.” Could that be an indication that Tallinn and Laris are the same person?

Watcher Candidate #2:
A member of the Q Continuum.

There’s more than one Q!

Given Q’s role in the story, one possibility has to be that the Watcher is a member of the Q Continuum. Perhaps they’re aware of the important role that Picard will play in the future and are watching over his family, or perhaps their objective is to meet Picard himself, knowing that he would journey to this moment in the past. If there’s some kind of internal conflict between different Q factions – as we saw in the Voyager episode The Q and the Grey – perhaps the Watcher is another Q who is trying to stop the Q we know from doing too much harm.

There are many different ways for this theory to pan out!

Watcher Candidate #3:
A Temporal Agent from the Temporal Wars.

Crewman Daniels was a Temporal Agent.

Is it possible that the Watcher is a Temporal Agent, someone whose intention is to prevent anyone meddling with the timeline? If so, this story could connect with the ban on time travel that was established in Discovery Season 3 but not elaborated on. It still wouldn’t explain why the Watcher looks like Laris – but again, perhaps she has taken a particular interest in Picard or the Picard family for some reason?

Watcher Candidate #4:
A Borg (or Borg ally).

A Borg Cube over Earth in The Next Generation.

Considering who it was that told Picard about the Watcher’s existence, some kind of Borg connection cannot be ruled out! Despite having spent a lot of time with the Borg over the past thirty years, there’s still a lot we don’t know about them – for example, do they send scouts to planets they hope to assimilate to watch over them? That could be the Watcher’s purpose, and considering we already know that the Borg are capable of time travel, it seems possible that the Watcher is one of theirs!

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

Up next I’ll recap all of the other theories that I currently have in play. I find that it helps to keep everything in one place! The rest of these theories saw little or no movement in Two of One, but remain plausible as we head into the remainder of the season.

Theory #8:
The Federation will use information from the Confederation timeline to defeat the Borg.

A battle over the planet Vulcan in the Confederation timeline.

Depending on how the end of the season shapes up, this may be a theory we’ll need to come back to next year! But for now, suffice to say that the Confederation’s defeat of the Borg in their timeline is one of the most intriguing unexplained events in the entire series. How did the Confederation – an organisation with technology comparable to the 25th Century Federation – manage to defeat the Borg Collective?

If a Borg invasion is coming – as we seemed to see in The Star Gazer at the beginning of the season – the Federation will need every advantage at their disposal to fight back. Technology, tactics, and information from the Confederation’s own battle against the Borg could prove invaluable, and if Picard and the crew manage to take La Sirena back to their own time, maybe they’ll bring with them just what they need.

Theory #9:
Dr Adam Soong will create the Borg.

Dr Adam Soong.

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

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

Theory #10:
Q is dying.

Q in Fly Me To The Moon.

What did Q mean when he said that he didn’t have a lot of time left? One interpretation is that he’s coming to the end of his life. Picard noticed that there was something wrong with Q as far back as Penance, and Q’s attitude in general seems to have shifted to something darker and more overtly antagonistic than we remember. One possible explanation for this is that Q is dying.

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

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

Theory #11:
The season will end on a cliffhanger.

Because Seasons 2 and 3 went into production back-to-back, that made me wonder if they might form one continuous story – or if the final act of Season 2 might set up the story for Season 3. That still seems plausible to me, but the ill-timed announcement about the return of the main cast of The Next Generation in Season 3 may make it less likely.

However, it’s still possible that the two seasons will form one continuous story, or that the final act of Season 2 will lay the groundwork for the story of Season 3. There could also be a minor cliffhanger that is connected to just one character, or that is unrelated to the main story.

Theory #12:
At least one character from The Next Generation will make an appearance.

Most of the main cast of The Next Generation in Season 1.

As above, this theory has been knocked by the Season 3 announcement. It seems less likely now that we’ll see major roles for any of the characters announced for Season 3. However, the final act of Season 2 could bring back some or all of these characters if it’s going to set up the next phase of the story, and cameos and smaller appearances still feel possible.

Theory #13:
Q is not responsible for changing the timeline.

Q looking very young!

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

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

I have a longer article that goes into more detail about this theory that I wrote before the season premiere, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #14:
Q shielded Picard and the crew of La Sirena from changes to the timeline.

Q and Picard in Penance.

Regardless of who changed the timeline and why, it seems more and more clear that Q is responsible for ensuring that Picard and the crew of La Sirena were the only ones unaffected by the change. If his goal was to change the timeline to punish Picard that makes sense – but it also leaves open the possibility that Picard will be able to figure out what happened and prevent it. That could be Q’s goal.

I’m not quite ready to call this one “confirmed,” though. I think we need to spend more time with Q to understand what he’s done, what he hopes to do next, and why.

Theory #15:
Who is responsible for damaging the timeline, then?

Did the Borg do it?

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

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

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

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

Theory #16:
The Federation is responsible for creating the Borg.

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

This is a total wildcard, but I’m just throwing it out there!

The Borg Queen – and the Borg in general – appear to have a fascination with humanity and with Picard. Could it be that the explanation for that is that the Federation and/or humanity are somehow responsible for their creation? With time travel on the agenda, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which the progenitor of the Borg – perhaps even the Queen herself – is able to travel back in time, founding the Collective.

Nanites used by the Control AI.

As suggested above, this could be what Q is manipulating Dr Soong into doing in the 21st Century. The Borg could therefore be a human creation, the offspring of one of Data’s ancestors. Could that link be the key to defeating them? Maybe that preserved knowledge and the veneration of Dr Soong is how the Confederation was able to defeat the Borg in their timeline!

Discovery Season 2 ran a story with the Control AI that could have also been a Borg origin story. Was it known as early as 2018-19 that Picard wanted to tell a story like this, and if so, could that explain why the Control storyline ended the way it did? I have a write-up of Discovery’s abandoned Borg origin story that you can find by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #17:
The loose ends from Season 1 will be tied up.

A Zhat Vash/Romulan armada at warp in Season 1.

The Star Gazer already crossed off two things from the list of Season 1 leftovers! Dr Jurati’s legal status was clarified, as was her relationship with Captain Rios. There are still a number of points that I’d like to see addressed before the season ends, though, as Season 1 unfortunately left quite a lot of story on the table thanks to a rushed and underwhelming finale.

Here are the main ones:

  • What will become of the synths on Coppelius, and will they have to be relocated for safety?
  • Did Starfleet attempt to visit Aia and shut down the beacon at the centre of the Zhat Vash’s prophecy? Leaving it out in the open seems dangerous.
  • Will Starfleet contact the super-synths and attempt to make peace or convince them that they pose no threat?
Dr Bruce Maddox in Season 1.
  • Why did Bruce Maddox go to Freecloud?
  • With the Zhat Vash plot exposed, what will become of their crusade against synthetic life?
  • Did Federation-Romulan relations suffer as a result of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Mars and attempted attack on Coppelius?
  • What happened to Narek after he was captured by the Coppelius synths?
  • Who controls the Artifact and what will happen to the surviving ex-Borg?

Theory #18:
Seven of Nine will choose to remain in 2024.

Seven of Nine in Los Angeles.

For the first time in her life, Seven of Nine is feeling a sense of freedom. Not only is she free from her Borg implants, changing the way she looks, but she’s also unencumbered by her Borg past. No one she meets in 2024 will be aware of the Borg, and she’s clearly enjoying the way that makes her feel.

In The Star Gazer, Seven spoke to Picard about feeling judged by the ship’s crew – and in a broader sense, by practically everyone in the 25th Century. Her Borg past is a hurdle for her; she feels the weight of unspoken criticisms and judgements made against her. Her Borg implants are the biggest physical manifestation of this, but the fact that most people she meets in the 25th Century know who she is and where she came from is a burden – one she no longer feels in 2024.

With that in mind, could Seven choose to remain behind when Picard and the crew of La Sirena are ready to leave? Even if she’s ultimately talked out of it (or even forced out of it), I wonder if she’ll try to stay in the past.

Theory #19:
Elnor will be restored to life when the crew returns to the 25th Century.

A hallucinatory Elnor.

The decision to kill off Elnor so early in the season certainly succeeded as a shocking story point… but I’m not so sure he’ll stay dead. Is Raffi’s belief that restoring the timeline will save his life something that the series has carefully set up so it can be paid off later? Or was it simply part of her reaction to his death; the bargaining stage of the grieving process? I’m not sure!

Elnor is a character who had potential – the first Romulan to be a main character on a Star Trek series (or the second, after Narek) and the first Romulan to enlist in Starfleet. If the Star Trek franchise were to stick around, I could happily follow his adventures as a Starfleet officer over the course of several years, giving him an arc somewhat comparable to someone like Tilly in Discovery, growing into his new role.

But Elnor is also a character who was underused in Season 1, and the decision to make him a Starfleet cadet at the beginning of Season 2 was only the beginning of a new arc for him. His death didn’t hit as hard as it could’ve because we don’t know Elnor very well – and I wonder if that could be a reason to bring him back later in the season.


Theory #20:

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

Dr Jurati decoded the Borg message in The Star Gazer.

In The Star Gazer, it seemed as if the Borg Collective was reaching out, asking the Federation – and Picard specifically – for help. If so, the question is why? Was it just a shallow ploy to launch another attack on Starfleet? Or is there at least a degree of truth to the Borg’s request?

Endgame, the final episode of Voyager, depicted a time-travelling Admiral Janeway introducing a neurolytic pathogen – a type of virus – into the Borg Queen, seriously damaging her, her base of operations, and several Borg vessels in the vicinity. Because the Borg hadn’t been seen since – until The Star Gazer, that is – we never got to learn just how deadly Admiral Janeway’s actions were.

Admiral Janeway in Endgame.

I’ve always assumed that the Borg Collective is vast enough, powerful enough, clever enough, and most importantly adaptable enough that Admiral Janeway’s actions weren’t going to strike a fatal blow. Whatever damage she had done seemed like something the Borg could eventually fix – and their existence 25 years later during the events of The Star Gazer seems to prove that. The Borg’s technology and weapons are still streets ahead of anything Starfleet has at its disposal… but even so, it’s still possible that the Borg are on their last legs facing defeat.

If that’s the case, maybe we’ll discover that it was Admiral Janeway who’s responsible – that her actions in Endgame are either wholly or partly to blame for the Borg’s weakened state. Dr Jurati seemed to know that the Borg Collective isn’t as strong as it once was, so that could be another clue pointing to this theory.

Theory #21:
The USS Stargazer will make an appearance.

The original USS Stargazer.

Okay, technically the USS Stargazer has already appeared, but not in the way I expected! Captain Rios is (or was) in command of a new USS Stargazer, and not only that but he had a model of the original vessel in his conference room! So that’s it. Theory confirmed, everybody can move on to the next one!

Just kidding. The inclusion of a brand-new USS Stargazer brings the ship and its legacy back to the fore. Picard himself commented in The Star Gazer that the original vessel was his first command, and as far back as Season 1 we had a reference to his time in command through the character of Dr Benayoun. All of these things could be leading to some bigger role for the original USS Stargazer – and with a story that seems to include time travel and a strong focus on Picard’s own personal history, a flashback or even a visit to the ship could be on the agenda!

Theory #22:
Romulans are spying on Earth in the 21st Century… and could be time-travelling Zhat Vash.

A young boy encounters a Romulan or Vulcan.

In the third pre-season trailer, a young boy wearing what seemed to be 21st Century clothing was seen encountering a Romulan or Vulcan. If the Zhat Vash are involved in the story somehow, perhaps this individual is a Zhat Vash operative. This could confirm that the Zhat Vash were able to travel through time, or send a message back in time to their 21st Century counterparts. The Romulans had achieved interstellar flight centuries earlier, so travelling to Earth to spy or place operatives seems plausible for them.

Theory #23:
The Vulcans are on Earth in the early 21st Century… as stated in Discovery Season 4.

A meeting of senior Federation and allied officials in Discovery Season 4.

Another theory about the unnamed Romulan or Vulcan is tied into the Discovery Season 4 episode The Galactic Barrier. This could easily be a complete overreaction to a throwaway line, but at the beginning of the episode, the enigmatic Federation leader Dr Kovich stated that Vulcans were on Earth for decades prior to official first contact taking place.

This one line could be a reference to Carbon Creek, an episode of Enterprise that saw Vulcans crash-land on Earth in the 1950s. But the timing seems odd given the scene mentioned above from the Picard Season 2 pre-season trailers! If the character seen above is a Vulcan, perhaps there will be a connection of some kind between Discovery and Picard.

Theory #24:
Picard and the crew will have to actively trigger World War III to save the future.

World War III soldiers as glimpsed in Discovery Season 2.

Although the Bell Riots are the main event of 2024 that we know about in Star Trek’s internal timeline, the 21st Century was arguably dominated by another event: World War III. The war may have kicked off as early as 2026 (as suggested in The Original Series) and concluded by the mid-2050s as seen in First Contact. The “post-atomic horror” that followed was the backdrop for Q’s trial in Encounter at Farpoint.

World War III is integral to Star Trek because without it, it’s hard to see how warp drive would’ve developed and how humanity would’ve made peaceful first contact with the Vulcans. Just like the end of the Second World War brought about major technological and societal changes that ultimately made the world a better place, Star Trek’s World War III is integral to the events that led to the founding of the Federation. If it were prevented, the timeline would change dramatically.

We now know that Renée Picard’s mission seems to be the divergence in time. But her mission could be connected, somehow, to the outbreak of hostilities. By sending her on her way and preserving the timeline, Picard and his crew may be committing to the outbreak of war. You can find a full write-up of this theory by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #25:
The Q Continuum has been attacked.

The Q Continuum, as seen in Voyager.

What’s wrong with Q? That was a question Picard asked that went unanswered in Penance, but there’s clearly something different about Q this time. Though at times he has the same impish charm that we remember from his earlier appearances in the franchise, at other moments he seemed incredibly angry – even hitting Picard at one point.

Perhaps there’s something going on in the Q Continuum – the Continuum could have come under attack, for example, and Q could be one of the few survivors. If something that Picard did or didn’t do is partly to blame, that could explain Q’s antagonistic behaviour.

Though the Q Continuum and the Q species seem god-like from our perspective, it’s not impossible to think that someone found a weakness to exploit. Could it be the Borg, perhaps? Q’s anger could stem from the fact that Picard didn’t do enough to stop them.

Theory #26:
Q is angry with Picard for “giving up.”

Grumpy Q.

Over the course of The Next Generation, Q took a particular interest in Picard. More so than anyone else, Q seemed to see potential in Picard as a representative of the human race, someone who potentially showed him what humanity could be… with a little prompting and guidance. Q seemed fascinated by that idea, so seeing Picard’s fall from grace may have shocked him and left him feeling disappointed and bitter.

Picard spent more than a decade away from galactic affairs, retiring to his vineyard and seemingly just waiting around to die. Someone like Q might take that personally; he might feel that Picard was not living up to the potential he had. Perhaps Picard’s absence had some kind of unknown consequence, something that harmed Q or the Q Continuum. In any case, Q’s animosity to Picard seems to be personal – could disappointment at Picard’s attitude in the years prior to Season 1 be the cause?

Theory #27:
The Borg are aware that Picard is now a synth – and his synthetic status is part of the reason why they waited until now to make contact.

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

As mentioned above with Soji, the timing of the new Borg incursion is interesting, especially considering that they asked for Picard by name. Are they aware of his newfound synthetic status? And if so, could Picard’s transition to a new synthetic body be the reason why the Borg chose to launch their attack?

The Borg seek “perfection” through a synthesis of organic and synthetic components, and while Picard’s new synthetic body is a far cry from the Borg drones we’ve seen, the idea of an organic mind in a synthetic body isn’t a million miles away from that same basic idea. Although Picard’s body was said to be comparable in practically every way to his original one, synthetics can have enhanced abilities that allow them to easily overpower humans – and, as we’ve seen with Data on more than one occasion, they can outmatch individual Borg drones as well.

A Borg drone losing a fight against Data.

Perhaps the Borg want to re-assimilate Picard now that he’s synthetic. If the Collective is still reeling from the damage inflicted upon it by Admiral Janeway or if they’re on the losing side of a war, perhaps they hope to use fully-synthetic bodies like Picard’s to replace damaged or destroyed drones, or as cannon fodder on the front lines. There are many reasons why the Borg might be interested in synthetic technology, and that could explain their re-emergence.

Even if the Borg don’t plan to assimilate Picard or the Coppelius synths, the timing of their appearance is certainly interesting and there could be a connection.

Theory #28:
The Borg ship from The Star Gazer crossed over from the Confederation timeline.

The Borg vessel identified as “Legion.”

As far as we know at this stage, the Confederation timeline replaced the prime timeline thanks to someone or something changing the past. But timelines and parallel universes often go hand-in-hand in Star Trek, and after we learned about the Borg’s defeat in the Confederation timeline, I wonder if their ship from the season premiere might have found a way to punch through or cross over into the prime timeline.

If the Borg were facing defeat, as their message seemed to suggest, perhaps that could explain why. Also, the anomaly that the ship emerged from was not a typical transwarp conduit; we’d seen transwarp corridors as recently as Season 1. Finally, the Borg Queen of the Confederation timeline was aware of Picard and the history of the prime timeline – perhaps the Confederation timeline Borg knew of the prime timeline and this was a last-ditch effort to survive.

Theory #29:
The Borg are fighting a war – and they’re losing.

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

Possibly connected to the theory above, one explanation for the Borg’s message and appearance in The Star Gazer is that in the prime timeline the Collective has found itself on the losing side of a war. Penance told us that the Confederation had been able to defeat the Borg using technology that Dr Jurati believed was roughly equivalent to the Federation’s in the prime timeline – so clearly it’s possible to fight and beat the Borg.

Could mentions of Gul Dukat or Martok in Penance be hints at something to come later in the story? Both characters were major players during Deep Space Nine’s Dominion War arc; maybe the Cardassians and/or the Dominion have been aggressively attacking the Borg in the late 24th Century. The other big culprit is the Confederation – assuming that it’s possible for the two timelines to mix!

Theory #30:
The mission back in time won’t last all season.

Los Angeles, 2024.

There are still four episodes remaining for Picard and the crew to figure out what happened and repair the damage to the timeline. Perhaps this is as much a wish as a theory – time travel stories that visit the modern-day have never been my favourites in Star Trek – but I wonder if there could be something truly unexpected coming after Picard and the crew accomplish their goal.

With Q involved in the story, he could send Picard and the crew to another alternate timeline or parallel universe, for example. Or after the timeline is repaired, we could see Picard and the crew engage in a battle against the Borg – we still don’t know what was going on with the new Borg Queen and the Legion ship from The Star Gazer. In short, there are many different ways that the season could go after a jaunt to the past.

The season already kept a lid on some pretty big surprises – could there be more to come?

So that’s it!

Raffi and Rios in Two of One.

As we approach the seventh episode of the season – which will premiere in the United States in just a few hours’ time – there’s still a lot on the table! Despite my criticisms of the time travel aspect of the story, I’m hopeful that the season will continue to go in unexpected directions, and will bring more of those wonderful moments of characterisation to the table. We didn’t see much from Q or Seven of Nine this week – maybe Monsters will give one or both of them more to do!

I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction. But for some folks, fan theories can be frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 2. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Australia, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.