Published Mar 3, 2023
RECAP | Star Trek: Picard 303 – Seventeen Seconds
Those are Jean-Luc Picard-sized enemies.
By Christine Dinh
In Episode 3 of Star Trek: Picard, directed by Jonathan Frakes, “Seventeen Seconds,” Picard grapples with an explosive, life-altering revelation during a decades-overdue heart-to-heart with Beverly — Jack Crusher is indeed his son, and he alone made the decision to not seek his father out.
Meanwhile, the Titan and her crew try to outmaneuver a relentless Vadic in a lethal game of nautical cat and mouse with a saboteur aboard the Starfleet starship. In addition, a severely injured Captain Shaw transfers command of the ship to Riker.
Elsewhere, in District Six, Raffi meets her Starfleet Intelligence handler, Worf, and together they uncover a nefarious plot from a vengeful enemy Starfleet has long since forgotten.
Red alert! The Shrike is still on the Titan’s tail as they head deeper into the nebula. Despite evasive maneuvers, the Shrike still manages to deliver two blows to the Federation starship. As the Titan tries to weather out their current predicament, its crew lets Jack Crusher know in Sickbay that this is his fault. Knowing her son, Beverly reels him in and assures him that the ship’s going to need them. Back on the Bridge, there are reports of widespread damage; they can’t warp away while they’re inside the nebula. While they’ve lost contact with the Shrike (for now), the nebula brings down their sensors.
In a flashback, Admiral Picard and Captain Riker are celebrating the birth of Thaddeus, Riker’s newborn son, at 10 Forward on Earth. Riker recalls Thad’s arrival; how upon being hailed on the Bridge from Sickbay on the Titan, it took him 17 seconds — the longest turbolift of his life — to reach his son. In those mere moments, he thought he was losing his unborn son, and it was in that instance, he realized he became a father. Will wishes one day for Picard to share that feeling as well, of wanting to burn the world for his child. The merriment is interrupted when a sleep-deprived Deanna messages Will demanding he return home to his son who possesses the ability to projectile vomit. Oh, and bring the whiskey.
Star Trek: Picard - Commander Seven
Back in present day, the Titan experiences an energy surge, with electrical and biological signatures, from the nebula. He relieves the bridge crew allowing them some rest after their 36-hour shift. Ensign La Forge goes to check on “Commander Seven” who’s frustrated from being relieved of command and confined to her quarters. They connect over not belonging in Starfleet and their difficulty making friends.*
In Sickbay, Picard and Riker arrive; Will takes Jack in order to give Jean-Luc and Beverly some alone time for a long overdue heart-to-heart. Two months before she left the Enterprise-E, they were enjoying shore leave together “on borrowed time” on Casperia Prime. He’s hurt that he didn’t know he would never see her again after that trip for 20+ years, questioning what he had done. Beverly revealed she got pregnant that night when they ended their romantic relationship for the fifth and final time.**
She wanted to tell him about Jack, but never had the opportunity as something always came up. It was then she realized it will be what it always was — attempts on his life — and she didn’t think he could ever give up that life. Besides, he never wanted a family. Frustrated and angered that he was being condemned for what he confided in her in confidence to justify her decisions, Jean-Luc expresses the loss potential of what he could have been, a father and/or husband, had he only known. Beverly reminds him that she lost her entire family — her parents, her husband Jack, her son Wesley — to the same stars that owns him. She was terrified when Jack was born; she knew she could protect her own child, but she didn’t know if she could protect his.
Outside Sickbay in the hallway, Riker delights in Jack’s resemblance to his dad; the outcome of a science experiment that was cooked up two decades before he was born. Will assures him that his dad is one of the finest men he’s ever known. Jack, however, has only known one thing to be true — the bigger the legend, the more disappointing the reality. Hey, it just means we’re human. The two men are suddenly interrupted by the ship’s crewmen and their disdain for Jack. He doesn’t think their snide glances are warranted, but Riker counters those aboard the Titan have a right to know what they’re putting their lives on the line for. While he understands that Jack didn’t ask for this, a piece advice for the hot-headed son of Jean-Luc Picard — own it. Give them a reason to feel good about it. Jack knows Will’s a good man based on the stories his mother would begin to tell about her old crew before she got sad and stopped.
At an impasse, Picard asks Beverly about the situation at hand with the Shrike. Beverly reveals she doesn’t know anything; she and Jack have been helping those in need on worlds Starfleet has forgotten. They’ve encountered skirmishes here and there, but nothing at this scale. As for why she cautioned Picard to trust no one, Beverly reveals a series of incidents that gave her concern. On a supply run to Sarnia Prime, Jack was jumped by Fenris Rangers. The following day, they were boarded by Klingons who were trying to take him. They even went to Starfleet; everywhere they went, someone turned on them. Picard was the only one she could trust. She doesn’t believe these antagonists want Jack though; Vadic isn’t their run-of-the-mill bounty hunter ship. The Shrike is a warship with Jean-Luc Picard-sized enemies behind it. Before he returns to the Bridge following turbulence from an energy surge, he questions did they not deserve a chance to get to know one another. Beverly admits that when he was old enough, she told Jack about him and where to find him; he made the choice not to. The revelation stings Picard.
As the admiral and captain walk back to the Bridge, Picard expresses guilt for putting the Titan and its crew in unnecessary danger. All their efforts must be focused on that. Will encourages Jean-Luc to talk to his son; moments with your kids, you never know what you might regret. However, the admiral thinks their relationship is irreparable. Instead, he plans to apologize to Captain Shaw for their current predicament. Suddenly, Shaw orders everyone to battle stations as he questions how the hell the Shrike has found them once again. The Shrike’s crewman alerts Vadic that the Titan is exactly “right where it should be.” After a few blasts, the Federation ship takes severe damage. Shaw is badly injured; with blood gushing from his mouth and the need of crew to help him to his feet, he begrudgingly transfers command of the Titan to Riker and demands the two Starfleet legends to clean up their mess. On his order, Riker commands them to detonate a torpedo halfway between the two ships, using the concussion to knock the Shrike back into the nebula. Carrying out Riker’s orders, Jean-Luc tells his friend to refer to him as “Number One.”
On La Sirena in District Six, Raffi awakens to a replay of a news report on the attack at a Starfleet recruitment base that left 117 dead. The report states Starfleet Intelligence has confirmed Lurak t’Luco, a Romulan dissident, is to blame for the deadly yet isolated attack. Hearing Klingon operatic music in the background, Raffi grabs her phaser and discovers a figure practicing meditative movements with their kur’leth. With the swift throw of his Daqtagh, the Klingon disarms Raffi’s phaser and introduces himself — Worf, son of Mogh, House of Martok, son of Sergey, House of Rozhenko, bane to the Duras family, slayer of Gowron.
Raffi acknowledges Worf as a legend; Jean-Luc Picard talked about him all the time and he’s exactly as how she imagined, but also not so much. Worf admits that one must access calm as much as fire; he’s, as the humans would say, working on himself. Raffi recalls the last thing she could remember; the Ferengi Sneed was going to kill her at the bar. Worf states it is not her time to join the dead, helping her realize that he is in fact her handler. His interests align with Starfleet, and she should think of him as a subcontractor. He cautions that something bigger is coming. Feeling the effects of the narcotic withdrawals, in a moment of vulnerability, Raffi questions why she jeopardized her life, her family, her sobriety, on a mission everyone told her not to take. Worf assures her she has the heart and instincts of a warrior. Despite the setbacks of recent events, Worf has learned who really paid the Ferengi to lie — a human named Titus Rikka. Together, they’ll track him down and stop whatever bigger plan is in play.
In Sickbay, Jack and Beverly Crusher are tending to patients, while the badly wounded Shaw is ushered in. Jack apologizes to the ship’s captain as Beverly deduces internal bleeding. Shaw questions how Vadic keeps finding them? Looking at the trail of blood, an idea occurs to Jack.
On the Bridge, T’veen states what they’re experiencing is not a nebula disturbance, but rather an unknown anomaly due to the electrical and biological signatures. Jack tries to approach the Bridge, however, the crew won’t allow him to talk to command as they’re currently on red alert. Suddenly, the Shrike appears with orders from Vadic to ready their portal device. As she toys with them, opening a portal and pulling them deeper into the nebula, the two long-time friends argue over their next course of action. Jean-Luc thinks now is the time to fight, while Will commands they set a course for the nearest starbase.
Unable to speak to those on the Bridge, Jack visits Seven’s quarters to test out his theory. Recalling her time as a Fenris Ranger, Jack notes that blood in the water is the oldest trick in the book. The Titan must be leaving a subtle trail of breadcrumbs for the Shrike to follow; something that doesn’t require long-range sensors. Seven deduces verterium, which insulates their warp coils. In order to be sure, they need to head to their controls room. However, the security officer posted outside of her quarters reminds them that Shaw’s orders are still in effect. With time of the essence, Jack clocks the guard knocking him out.
Grabbing respirators, Seven states that verterium is poisonous in its gaseous form. They discover someone has disabled diagnostics, so the ship was unable to detect the leak. The phaser burns reveal it’s deliberate. Seven alerts the Bridge that there’s a saboteur aboard the ship and that’s how the Shrike has been able to follow them. Picard and Riker think they can use the leak to their advantage as a diversion. Riker wants to use it as a way to escape, while Picard wants to use it as a trap. It makes tactical sense, but Riker refuses; he will not risk the lives of this crew again.
Jack continues to monitor the verterium levels while Seven assesses another chamber of the controls. Suddenly, Jack is attacked by Ensign Foster, who rips off Jack’s respirator exposing him to the poisonous gases. As Jack fights back, he strikes Foster’s face, which begins to distort. Over comms, Foster hears that Seven is returning forcing him to hastily exit leaving Jack to die painfully and slowly.
As Jack struggles to breathe and regain consciousness, he begins to hallucinate. Seven stands over him, urging him to “connect the branches” and find her as red roots and branches grow wildly behind her, leading to a red door. Unable to wake Jack, Seven hails Picard that Jack is injured and lifts him to Sickbay. Riker urges him to go be with his son. Reminiscent of his convo with Riker, he’s now experiencing the longest 17 second turbolift of his life. As Jack flatlines, Dr. Crusher and Dr. Ohk try to resuscitate him. When Jack gasps for air, there’s an unspoken sense of relief and dread dissipating as his parents look over at one another.
Returning to the Bridge, Picard once more pleads with his friend to not be fearful of loss; they can’t run any longer to protect the crew. His failing strategy getting them nowhere. Angered, Riker finds Picard out of line; he is thinking of the crew by committing to get them home. He orders Picard to sit down; he’s the captain of this ship.
In District Six, Worf and Raffi apprehend Titus Rikka and take him aboard La Sirena for interrogation. Titus threatens that the worlds of humans and solids are on the verge of destruction. The Federation will crumble. As Titus begins to warp his shape, Worf and Raffi realize he’s not going through withdrawals; he’s a Changeling struggling to keep his form. He’s been away too long from the Great Link.*** With this revelation, elsewhere on the Titan, Jack reveals his attacker’s face moved. There’s a Changeling on board, which causes Seven great concern. We suddenly see Ensign Foster acting suspiciously in the ship’s control room.
Worf explains, “In the past, the Changelings were a powerful enemy of the Federation, united in purpose. But when the Dominion War ended, there was a schism. A terrorist faction broke away, unwilling to accept defeat. I was contacted by a close friend within the Link, a man of honor. He informed me of this rogue group.” However, if Starfleet were to acknowledge their existence, they would be reigniting the Dominion War. Worf believes they’re planning another attack with Starfleet as the target. The stolen portal weapon from Daystrom was a mere distraction, drawing attention away from the real weapon. With the Changelings’ ability to look and sound like any species, their only hope of finding any answers, Worf and Raffi will head to Daystrom Station… now, as partners.
Back on the Titan, the leak is repaired. As Commander Seven hails the Bridge about Jack’s suspicions of a Changeling, Ensign Foster’s bombs are detonated, destroying the ship’s warp capability. Out of options, the Titan has to fight, or they die. As Riker orders the Titan around for a rear assault, the Shrike uses its portal weapon to turn the Titan’s torpedoes against them. With their starship engines down and the ship not responding, the Titan sinks further towards the gravity well. Coldly, Riker orders Picard from the Bridge blaming him for killing them all, leaving everyone in shock.
* “The Enemy” — Like father, like daughter. Sidney expresses she's like her father in the way she has difficulties making friends. In this episode, after being left behind on an inhospitable planet, Geordi La Forge had to put aside his differences to work together with an antagonistic Romulan to survive. While it was likely they would never see each other again after this, Geordi established a relationship with Bochra built on mutual respect.
** “Attached” — After a mission gone awry, the captain and the good doctor were privy to each other’s innermost thoughts via a telepathic link. A key episode to understanding Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard’s star-crossed relationship.
*** “The Search, Part II” — For further context on Changelings and the Great Link, this episode where Deep Space 9’s head of security (and Worf’s “close friend”) Odo travels in search of his homeworld gives viewers a deeper understanding of the shapeshifting entities, their abilities, and their contempt for solids.
- “Rollin” – J Clearwater
- “Ave verum, K. 618” – Mozart
- “Les Troyens, Op. 29, H 133, Act V: No. 38 – Vallon sonore” – Hector Berlioz