SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Star Trek: Picard.
Picard and Riker came together, in the previous episode, to lead the U.S.S. Titan-A out of the nebula and avoid certain destruction, while narrowly evading Vadic and the Shrike. Though, the ship is now in dire need of repairs.
In Episode 5 of Star Trek: Picard, “Imposters,” caught by Starfleet and facing court martial, paranoia grows as Picard struggles to uncover whether a prodigal crewman from his past has returned as an ally – or an enemy hellbent on destroying them all.
- Matthew Arliss Mura
- Kova Rin Esmar
- Sidney La Forge
- Jack Crusher
- Jean-Luc Picard
- William Riker
- Seven of Nine (Annika Hansen)
- Liam Shaw
- Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Dr. Ohk
- Raffi Musiker
- Ro Laren
- Krinn (known associate of Sneed)
- U.S.S. Titan-A
- Alpha Quadrant
- La Sirena
- District Six
- U.S.S. Intrepid
Out of danger away from the Shrike, the Titan Bridge crew, exhausted but finally serene, analyze samples from the nebula event found in their hull as they await all systems to return online so they return home. As the turbo doors open, Jack Crusher, wearing a Starfleet uniform, picks off each officer present on the Bridge one by one with his phaser. The dying Esmar looks up at Jack and exclaims they know what he really is as red branches grow behind Picard’s son. With tears in his eyes, Jack watches the red branches begin to overtake Esmar’s face and body and fires his phaser. Jack suddenly opens his eyes; he’s standing in the middle of his quarters, sweating from the nightmare and in his civilian clothes, gripping his phaser. He drops the phaser and looks at his trembling hands while he begins to hear voices in his head again urging him to “come home.”
In the present reality, the U.S.S. Titan-A has limped to the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, pausing for much needed repairs on their warp core and other essential systems, and taking a reprieve from Vadic and the Shrike now that they're back in Federation space. In the Observation Lounge, Jean-Luc Picard, Will Riker, Commander Seven, and Captain Shaw question how a Changeling was able to get aboard the ship undetected. Riker recalls that Changelings can mimic most species on sight alone, but not their internal physiology. Seven asserts that standard protocol dictates, since the Dominion War, every crewmember passes through an internal imaging chamber before reporting. Riker notes that Starfleet will want to investigate that, as well as his and Picard’s actions in commandeering the Titan and endangering its crew. Standing to face Shaw, Riker officially returns command of the Titan back to its captain. Energetically, Shaw informs the room he has already alerted Starfleet and they’re on the way before giving Seven the option to face the music stated or un-instated as first officer. As a “courtesy” for all of them surviving the harrowing ordeal together, he gives the three officers time to get their story straight before Starfleet’s arrival. Picard tells Seven and Riker he will bear the brunt of situation, taking responsibility for his actions.
Meeting Beverly and Jack Crusher in the corridor, Picard informs them that Starfleet is on their way, and he’ll handle the situation the best he can. He reminds them the most important thing is that they’re both safe, with the opportunity to return to their lives, which he hopes to be a part of them. Beverly requests to examine the Changeling saboteur’s body to see how it was able to bypass the ship’s internal security scans, providing Jack and Picard another opportunity to connect. Recalling his time on the Brig, Jack quips if he should find himself a pair of comfortable restraints, to which Picard states that Starfleet’s an organization “built on the ideals of reason,” and he can be persuasive when he needs to be. The admiral makes his case to his son that rebels from all reaches of the galaxy have found their way into Starfleet, and perhaps he would consider choosing a more “honest vocation.” Jack dismisses the idea and chides Picard for not paying attention; he intends to be on his way after this entire ordeal, which wounds his father.
Aboard La Sirena, Worf and Raffi spar with a kur’leth and fighting sticks. Worf states that an enemy’s aggression will always reveal their weakness, noting that Raffi’s weaknesses are her impulsiveness, stubbornness, and shortsightedness. They’re interrupted by a priority communications alert; an encrypted message from Worf’s Starfleet Intelligence handler. Worf once again urges Raffi to exercise patience due to her eagerness to prevent another Changelings terrorist attack. Worf informs her that he requested access to Daystrom Station so they can investigate what else the Changelings stole from the vault. Unfortunately for the duo, the decrypted message reveals that Worf’s handler has denied his request. Before ending the transmission, the handler tells them to “find another way.” Raffi is frustrated by Worf’s acceptance of Starfleet Intelligence’s denial believing he has not sacrificed as much as she has. Worf tosses his dagger to floor in anger, telling her never to presume to know what he has or hasn’t sacrificed for this. On the monitor, Worf pulls up a hologram of the Daystrom Station, which details its heavily fortified series of security chambers. It’s guarded by a sophisticated AI system and access is impossible without authorization from Starfleet Command. Wondering how a couple of low-life goons were able to break in, Worf pulls up Sneed’s known associates and the two decide to return to District Six for answers — from Krinn, Kingpin of the V’Lashi crime syndicate.
As Worf and Raffi walk the streets of District Six, several denizens spot them and quickly scatter, perplexing Raffi. Worf explains that they are feared because they’ve destabilized the criminal element; they’re now the alphas of District Six. Taking advantage of the situation, Raffi fires her phasers into the air and announces on the main drag that they’re looking for Krinn; what happened to Sneed will happen to every person in District Six unless they turn him over. As the locals remain hidden, Worf kneels and begins to meditate, waiting for “the ecology of District Six to right itself.”
Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Intrepid warps near the Titan, commanding them to power down and to await further instructions. The Intrepid’s security officers insist on sending over a shuttle instead of transporting over. Concerned with the strange circumstances, Picard turns to Seven asking for another favor. In the turbo lift, heading down to meet Starfleet, Shaw gleefully hums as Picard and Riker stand tense. Shaw muses that he’s just chipper, not for any reason, particularly not because they’re about to have their “asses handed to them.” Riker asserts that they’ve saved the galaxy more than a few times, which Picard hopes they remember. The amused Shaw then recounts other instances that Starfleet may call upon, such as the time “someone hot-dropped the saucer section of the Enterprise-D onto a planet,”* the time someone threw the Prime Directive out the window so “they could snog a villager on Ba’ku,”** or the time they "nearly wiped out all of humanity by creating a time paradox in the Devron system.”*** As they exit the turbo lift, Commander Ro Laren,**** flanked by two security officers, approach them in the corridor, stopping Riker and Picard in their tracks. Looking to Shaw, Ro requests permission to come aboard the Titan. Commander Ro informs Admiral Picard and Captain Riker that Starfleet requests they submit to questioning, and charges of treason may be introduced against them.
Elsewhere on the ship, Seven pulls Jack aside telling him he's going somewhere Starfleet can’t find him. Jack doesn’t think this is necessary as he’s fully capable of handling the situation at hand by himself. Seven states that his father asked her to hide him, handing him a duffle bag. Looking in the bag, Jack’s mood darkens as he refuses. Seven demands he just do it stating that when security comes looking for him, it’s easier to hide him in plain sight. As she exits the quarters, Jack pulls out a Starfleet uniform, reminiscent of the one he was wearing in his nightmare.
In Sickbay, Beverly, Dr. Ohk, and Sidney La Forge stand over the body of the dead shapeshifting saboteur, which still resembles the ensign, on the exam table. Performing an autopsy, Beverly asks Sidney to confirm, on record, that the corpse before them is not her. Cupping her mouth, Sidney pukes. Beverly notes that upon death, Changelings typically revert to their liquid state; however, the corpse before them still retains its last replicated form. Examining the epidermis, Beverly takes a scalpel and slices the corpse’s forearm as blood begins to run. Curious and concerned, the good doctor runs her tricorder and discovers there is no DNA represented whatsoever but the presence of the blood-like plasma would allow the Changeling to pass a traditional blood test.
Despite over 30 years since he last saw Ro, Jean-Luc’s unresolved hurt, anger, and betrayal bubbles over as he paces the Observation Lounge. He cannot comprehend how she’s back in Starfleet instead of in prison. Will states the Maquis are no longer an enemy, before reasoning that Ro had always been an outsider, and his former captain sent her on a mission, despite knowing the strong likelihood she would empathize with the Maquis’ cause.***** Unable to let go of her actions decades prior, Jean-Luc does not believe she will treat them justly — he mentored her, trusted her when no one else would, and she broke their bond.
As Ro Laren enters the room, Will tells Jean-Luc that he will do the talking. Ro informs her two former commanding officers that the Titan is under official security review, and most of the crew will be transported over to the Intrepid for reassignment, and Picard and Riker will be each questioned separately. Ro has her security escort Riker out as she elects to begin proceedings with Admiral Picard. In a tense exchange, Picard wants to know how a lieutenant who betrayed Starfleet was able to get reinstated. Dismissing his question, Commander Ro begins her formal questioning regarding his actions aboard the Titan. Unable to temper his anger, Picard questions how a traitor could stand there before him as a Starfleet commander. Ro scoffs in disbelief at Picard’s assessment that she’s posing as an imposter, remarking that she was briefed on Shaw’s report of the Changeling saboteur. She draws her dagger and slices her hand, showing her bloody palm. Suddenly, Picard notices that the commander is not wearing her Bajoran earring, the mention causes Ro to pause, before chiding her for turning her back on another institution. Ro coldly tells him to save his animosity as this investigation isn’t entirely about him. She then states they should talk about his son, leaving Picard speechless.
In his quarters, Jack wears a Starfleet officer’s uniform, shaking, as he’s overwhelmed and fighting the voices that beckon him to find her, hear her, connect them. He soon walks the hallway in a trance-like focus towards the Transporter Room. He watches as five officers step onto the transport pads. As the transporter begins to energize, Jack witnesses the red branches materialize and engulf them within the beam, hearing their violent screams. He’s interrupted by a security officer asking if he was ordered to beam aboard the Intrepid. Out of his trance, he pleads with the officer if there’s anywhere he can go that’s not a Starfleet ship. Upon hearing the officer’s “no,” Jack shoots him with his phaser. Jack realizes that was a waking nightmare and not reality, as the officer, still alive, asks him if he’s alright. Fighting whatever’s happening to him, Jack backs away and quickly exits.
Back on the main drag of District Six, when green targeting lasers appear on Worf and Raffi’s chests. As Worf rises to his feet, the two intelligence officers are surrounded by a cadre of Vulcan gangsters with their rifles trained on them. Krinn emerges from the group talking about how a Vulcan master once cautioned him about pride, “the natural evolution of pride is downfall,” before commenting on their very public killing of Sneed. Worf states he wants information regarding Krinn's criminal activities before demanding they yield their weapons. Krinn then shoots Raffi revealing that she’s a hologram, and she’s safely hidden on a roof nearby, covering Worf with a scoped phaser rifle. Unfortunately, one of Krinn’s henchmen sneers at her from behind and takes her weapon. Krinn comments how it would be illogical not to suspect they would prepare for him, so he prepared for them.
Back in Sickbay, furthering their autopsy, Beverly and Ohk discover the Changeling was able to evade detection because it had the ability to fully replicate internal human organs, and it’s only under intense dissection that the tissue reverts to its natural state. Beverly doesn’t think it’s a new species; it’s evolution, which means they can be anywhere or anyone.
Commander Ro continues her official questioning wanting to know more about Jack Crusher. Picard deflects saying he does not have much to say as he's only known him for a few days. Beverly then pages Picard alerting him of his test results. Reviewing his “private” matter at a terminal, Jean-Luc heeds Beverly’s warning, “Changelings can pass the blood test. Capabilities beyond superficial – trust no one.” Ro informs Picard that Jack is now central to her investigation since he’s avoiding her questions. Picard pushes once more how she was able to “claw” her way back into Starfleet. Ro relents, revealing she was with the Maquis for years before she turned herself in. She was court-martialed and imprisoned again. Due to her experience with terrorist groups, she was recruited into Starfleet Intelligence, which included an arduous rehabilitation program. She proved herself and worked her way up slowly. Jean-Luc states that’s not what he wants to know; instead, he wants to know why she joined the enemy and betray her honor. Ro counters that “blind faith in any institution does not make one honorable.” She then demands to know everything about the Changeling saboteur. Giving nothing, Picard tells her they don’t know anything because they killed it. Ro then requests to see the remains.
The two Intrepid security officers parole the Titan searching for Jack Crusher. As Picard and Ro head towards Sickbay, the admiral suggests they alert Sickbay of their arrival. Suddenly, Ro points her phaser at Picard and directs him inside a holodeck and locks entry. Leveling the playing field, Picard discreetly disables the holodeck’s safety protocols and then pulls Guinan’s concealed phaser from the 10 Forward holodeck simulation on Ro. In a tense and emotionally loaded volley, Picard and Ro unleash the hurt and betrayal they’ve carried with them from the last 30 years, while also trying to determine if the other has been compromised as a Changeling. Picard reveals he’s been waiting and rehearsing for a long time for this conversation, speaking in Bajoran and telling Ro it was her “ego that would lead [her] to betray [him],” breaking their bond “based on mutual respect.” Picard unable to voice into words their mentor-mentee/father-daughter-like relationship they shared. Ro asserts that he tried to mold her into his image, that his mentorship and affection was conditional. She joined the Maquis because she saw it as standing up to injustice, admonishing him for “confusing morality with duty,” which represents his dishonor. Ro exclaims that if she meant anything to him, he would have understood. Laying everything on the table, Picard states that she broke his heart, and she retorts that he broke hers. Emotionally and vulnerably laid bare, they set their phasers on the bar leaving both defenseless. Acknowledging their mutual raw pain, Picard is convinced they’re both who they say they are. He then questions why she is here. Absorbing then addressing him as Jean-Luc, Ro reveals that Starfleet is compromised at the highest level, and she desperately needs to know if he trusts her. He nods his head and tells her “yes.”
In District Six, Krinn’s crew push Worf and Raffi to their knees with Krinn revealing that he considered Sneed a brother as they grew up together in District Seven, protecting each other like family. Loyalty is what passes for family, and they had made a blood oath. Krinn sneers that Starfleet “Intelligence” thanks them for their service as Raffi ridicules him for being a Vulcan dumb enough to become a gangster. Krinn explains, “There can be no utopia without crime. Ergo, an organized criminal enterprise is logical.” Encircled by Krinn’s men, two daggers are thrown at Worf and Raffi’s feet. Krinn states that his associates have wagered a bet between the Klingon and the human on who would be able to kill the other within 30 seconds. If they do not act, both will be killed in 60 seconds. Worf addresses Raffi that sacrifice is required again and picks up a dagger, alarming Raffi. Both begin to spar aggressively, not holding anything back. Raffi stabs Worf in the gut, unable to hold back her tears, apologizing. Worf tells her to not be, today was a good day to die. She is a warrior, and this is a worthy death.
The Intrepid officers enter the Observation Lounge and realize Ro and Picard are gone, exchanging chittering noises. In the 10 Forward holoprogram, Ro shares her intel with Picard, stating that Changelings have infiltrated Starfleet in all levels of power and replacing key personnel, including Admiral Janeway and Chancellor Roll. Not only that, but she also believes they’re on the Intrepid and she doesn’t trust the transporters on the ship, which was why she took a shuttle over to the Titan. She reveals there’s been fleet-wide issues, suspecting it will culminate into something for Frontier Day, which is days away and she still hasn’t been provided access to the security preparations. She discloses that the Titan is not the only starship with a Changeling problem; 12 other incidents occurred across multiple starships, and it’s all been swept quiet. How it connects to Jack? Ro is unsure; all she knows is that Starfleet has been insistent that she retrieve him before revealing that she’s heard his name mention amongst Intelligence chatter. She informs Picard that a Starfleet recruitment center was attacked with a portal weapon like the one used by Vadic. She’s been denied opening an investigation; all she has is a pair of intelligence assets on the ground trying to link the portal weapon to something else the Changelings want.
Krinn’s men check Worf’s pulse and breathing and confirm his death to Krinn, who concludes the outcome as most unexpected. Disgusted by the smell of Klingon blood, Krinn orders his crew to discard his body. Krinn informs Raffi that she works for him now before threatening those she cares about — her ex-husband, son, granddaughter. Defiantly, Raffi asserts he’ll never own her. Suddenly, the lights go out around them as Krinn’s crew is taken out by Klingon throwing blades. Worf, then, appears from behind holding a blade to Krinn’s throat. Raffi is relieved, worried that she went too deep. The Klingon warrior states he’s lost a considerable amount of blood. He wasn’t dead; he merely has mastered the Kahless technique of regulating his heart rate. However, he is in desperate need of medical attention and demands information from Krinn now. Krinn relents. Daystrom Station is guarded by a highly sophisticated AI system, but it has flaws that are most illogical. He had brokered a device that exploits them, without it, no one can get it. Raffi demands the device, and Krinn concludes that course of action would be logical.
Exiting the holodeck, with time of the essence, Ro urgently tells Picard she’s transferred most of the Titan personnel onto the Intrepid, leaving them with a skeleton crew, that he needs to make sure they’re loyal. She urges him to take the ship and run. She’s heading back to the Intrepid now to buy him some time. As her security officers approach, Ro commands them to prepare the shuttle; they’re leaving, causing her officers to exchange looks. Ro pulls her former mentor aside, with tears in her eyes, expressing her regret for their lost time, wishing that he could look into her heart and understand she did what she thought was best. As she tells him goodbye, she discreetly slips her Bajoran earring into his hand. Her officers push back that they were instructed to return with Jack Crusher. Pulling rank, she orders them to leave with her. Urgently entering the Bridge, Picard tells Captain Shaw, Seven, and Riker that they must run. Without much time to explain, he states that Starfleet is compromised and so is the Intrepid; it’s all much worse than they thought. Shaw calls security on Picard, as the admiral pleads with Shaw to trust him.
Ro’s shuttle is cleared to approach starboard bay when suddenly the two Intrepid officers place a bomb on the shuttle and beam away. The Intrepid does not respond to her hails. They materialize back on the Titan, revealing themselves to be Changelings, as they take on appearances of Titan crew and continue to search for Jack Crusher. Commander Ro hails the Titan, informing them that her officers know and planted an explosive on her shuttle. Resigning to her fate, Ro tells Jean-Luc it’s up to him now to carry on what she started. She’s heading to the Intrepid’s port nacelle; she’s giving him what he gave her all those years ago — a fighting chance. Overcome with emotion, Jean-Luc asks for her forgiveness for taking so long; he does see her, everything. Their connection is lost as she explodes into the Intrepid’s nacelles. The Bridge falls silent.
With little time to process, Mura informs the Titan that the Intrepid is raising shields and arming torpedoes. Seven states they’re being ordered to surrender; Riker realizing they’re being framed for what just happened. Stunned, Shaw refuses to run and turn the entire ship into fugitives. Seven reminds the captain that most of their crew is aboard the Intrepid. Picard pleads if they don’t run, Ro died for nothing, and she won’t be the last. As the Intrepid prepares to attack, Shaw issues a red alert and orders La Forge to get them out of there, alerting the entire ship that Starfleet has been compromised.
The two Changelings find Jack and raise their phaser at him as two additional Intrepid officers beam onto the Titan. They attempt to attach a transport beacon onto him. Unable to fight the dark places in his mind and the red branches, Jack gives in and lets go as the red branches explode. Jack swiftly, with intense focus and precision, kills the four officers in front of him. As the red branches swell around the corridor, Jack sees a red door at the end. Shaken, Jack closes his eyes and opens them to see the door has disappeared, before turning around and walking away.
Issuing a final warning, the Intrepid fires their torpedoes just as the Titan’s warp core comes online, narrowly missing the gun fire. Riker remarks everyone will be coming for them now.
Will finds Jean-Luc alone in the Observation Lounge and places his hand on his friend’s shoulder, both mourning the loss of someone they used to care about. Jean-Luc laments how he didn’t even realize how much Ro meant to him before showing Will that Ro left him her earring. Smiling, Riker shows Jean-Luc what it really is — old-school spycraft. Suddenly, a series of holo-images appear in front of them; her entire investigation, which shows the Changeling conspiracy going all the way up to Starfleet Command. They're overwhelmed by the scale and depth of her investigation when they suddenly receive an encrypted incoming transmission. To everyone’s surprise, it’s their old friend and colleague – Worf! The Enterprise-D’s former chief of security questions where is Commander Ro, leaving both Riker and Picard to regretfully look down.
In Sickbay, Shaw, Ohk, and Jack are present as Beverly examines the four Changeling bodies. Incredulous, Shaw comments how one Starfleet ship was able to have four Changelings on board before commenting on Jack’s impressive shooting. Beverly requests a moment alone with her son, who remains back in the room lost in thought. Concerned, the worried mother tells Jack that he can’t hide from her; she knows when he’s not sleeping. She recalls a time when he was little and decided to stop sleeping because he was afraid of his visions when he did. An alarmed Jack doesn’t remember having nightmares when he was younger. She assures him he got through it then, and he’ll get through this as well. She pleads with him to talk to her because he’s not okay, recognizing all the stressors currently placed on him — his father, being hunted — she needs to know what’s happening. On his silence, Beverly notes the odds of him eliminating four Changelings and inquires how he knew they were all Changelings. Shaken, with tears in his eyes, he tells his mother he didn’t before breaking down and sharing his worry that there’s something very wrong with him.
* Star Trek Generations – The U.S.S. Enterprise-D’s saucer crash lands on the inhabited Veridian III.
** Star Trek Insurrection – Picard had a romantic encounter with a Ba’ku villager despite knowing they were not a pre-warp species.
*** “All Good Things…” – In the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard experiences a time paradox after learning from Q that he's the cause of humanity's annihilation.
**** “Ensign Ro" - The Enterprise takes on Ensign Ro Laren for a crucial mission despite her previous court-martial and imprisonment. Picard ultimate sees potential in the Bajoran officer, asking her to remain on the Enterprise, and allowing her to break Starfleet dress code and wear her Bajoran earring.
***** "Preemptive Strike" - Lt. Ro returns to the Enterprise after training at Starfleet Tactical on Picard's recommendation. Ro is sent on an undercover mission to infiltrate a Maquis cell. She ultimately turns her back on Starfleet believing in the Maquis' cause, deeply betraying and affecting Picard.
- "White Rabbit" – Jefferson Airplane
Christine Dinh (she/her) is the managing editor for StarTrek.com. She’s traded the Multiverse for helming this Federation starship.
In addition to streaming on Paramount+, Star Trek: Picard will also stream on Prime Video outside of the US and Canada, and in Canada can be seen on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
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