Published Apr 1, 2023
RECAP | Star Trek: Picard 307 – Dominion
The Titan is on their own…
By Christine Dinh
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Star Trek: Picard.
As Worf details in the previous episode, 25 years ago, a rogue branch of Starfleet developed and deployed a virus against the Changelings turning the tide and ending the Dominion War, producing shame and scars on both sides. As a result, they’ve now radicalized a faction of Changelings that have compromised Starfleet at the highest levels; on the run, they’re unsure, if anyone, they can trust.
Meanwhile, in her pursuit of Jack Crusher, Vadic has now captured both Will Riker and Deanna Troi. While they’ve lost one friend in battle, they’ve gained another — a golem positronic body, which houses Data in its system, but also the personalities of Lore, B-4, and Altan Soong.
In Episode 7 of Star Trek: Picard, “Dominion,” crippled, cornered, and out of options, Picard stages a gambit to trap Vadic and reveal her true motive – a gamble that puts the Titan in the crosshairs and forces Picard and Beverly to question every moral code they’ve ever held.
In the Chin’toka System*, the U.S.S. Titan-A hides in a starship scrapyard following their run-in with Starfleet at Daystrom Station. Commander Seven reaches out to her friend and former U.S.S. Voyager crewmate, Captain Tuvok, on Captain Will Riker’s whereabouts as he was apprehended at Daystrom. Tuvok informs Seven that there’s no report of Riker in Starfleet’s custody. Captain Shaw and Lt. T’Veen analyze Tuvok’s vocal patterns, determining a match. Proceeding, Seven confides that she and Admiral Picard have been trying to reach Admiral Janeway as the late Commander Ro’s investigation and the events at Daystrom Station all confirm a Changeling conspiracy within Starfleet. They believe the entire Frontier Day ceremony is in danger, and request Tuvok’s help in finding others who they can trust. As the Titan continues to monitor Tuvok’s voice in real-time, they spot an inconclusive match prompting Seven to test his knowledge of their former interactions to determine if he's the real Tuvok.
Tuvok proposes a rendezvous in order to help her locate additional allies, which Picard silently declines. Seven suggests meeting at Aklion 7, where she underwent a procedure to stabilize her neural pattern, which Tuvok agrees to, infuriating the Titan’s first officer. No Vulcan would ever go to Aklion 7 after the anti-Kolinahr demonstrations; in addition, it was her friend Tuvok himself who stabilized her neural pattern via mind meld on Voyager** — exposing this “Tuvok” as an imposter. Commodore La Forge alerts the crew that their comms are being traced and he’s unable to slow them as Shaw orders his second-in-command to shut it down. Before doing so, Seven demands to know what the imposter did with the real Tuvok; they learn the Changelings are not done with the Vulcan captain yet. The Changeling imposter warns that once they’re done with all of them, “death will come as a relief.” Picard steps forward demanding to know where Riker is, and if he’s still alive. The Changeling shapeshifts into a dead-eyed Captain Riker corpse and taunts Picard. Geordi cuts the connection and pleads that they cannot keep continue like this; they need to accept the situation. They’re on their own.
The admiral, commodore, and Beverly Crusher deliberate in the Observation Lounge. Worf and Raffi have left the Titan to monitor Starfleet Security at Exo-port and are on their way back as there’s no mention of Will in custody. Geordi admits, short of junkyards like the one they’re currently in, he’s running out of places to hide them as Picard reminds them, they’re running out of time to expose the Changeling conspiracy before Frontier Day. Beverly brings up a moral dilemma that has been weight on her; she believes there’s a way to exploit their newfound uniqueness, not necessarily tailoring a weapon, but perhaps a tool that could help identify them. The morality issue at hand — targeting a species on biology alone is “tantamount to genocide” — reminiscent of the virus that was used against the Changelings in the Dominion War. Beverly worries about them crossing a line. Picard recalls his participation in the Frontier Day activities requires genetic confirmation of his identity; Geordi wonders if the theft of his human body at Daystrom and their pursuit of Jack Crusher may be an attempt to create his doppelgänger.***
Heading to Sickbay, Ensign Alandra La Forge is working on a padd connected to the disabled, Daystrom Android M-5-10 and shows her father and Picard her findings. Turning the golem on, the Data identity acknowledges he’s no longer on the Enterprise or Scimitar. Data glitches and suddenly, the android now presents as the Lore identity.**** The elder La Forge informs the admiral that Lore wasn’t deactivated; he was archived. Within this positronic body, the unit is home to both Data and Lore, simultaneously. The other two identity matrixes in the unit, Soong and B-4, operate as a memory file only. They posit Soong created this golem in an attempt to give Data what he always wanted — to be human.
Picard implores his old friend to reveal why the Changelings stole his original human body. As the two identity matrixes fight for dominance, Data shares that Soong’s research archive called into question the anomalous form inside his brain and the previous diagnosis of Irumodic Syndrome. Unfortunately, Lore interrupts before Data can reveal more as a desperate Data pleads with his former captain to help him. Shaken, Picard finds this too much, as La Forge disables the Data/Lore android. Years ago, Data requested a favor from Picard; to let him go, to die in peace — the second time Picard had to witness Data’s death.***** Now, their android friend has called upon for their help once more.
Picard inquires to Geordi if they can free Data by erasing Lore. Unfortunately, this positronic body is more complex than the Data he once knew. The engineer worries that if he lifts the partition and Lore prevails, they may lose Data forever this time. The admiral and Geordi agree they cannot live through that again.
Aboard the Shrike, the liquid Face reminds Vadic that Frontier Day is almost upon them; the captain’s usual resolved and merciless demeanor faltering as she gives an updated report to superior. Issuing a warning, the Face broadcasts a sound triggering painful sonic vibrations that ripple through Vadic’s flesh, stating that the Changeling’s physiology isn’t as special or complex as they believe. They’re malleable and made to bend. If she does not deliver Jack Crusher soon, Vadic and her kind will find their own existence meaningless, cautions the Face.
In the Titan’s turbolift, Jack, still haunted by the voices in his head, finds himself alone with Sidney La Forge. Awkwardly flirting, Jack suggests that they hang out. Thinking to herself, the helmsman wonders if Jack is flirting, but wishes he’d be subtle first, like touch her hand or something. Yielding to her thoughts, his hand gently grazes hers. Surprised, Sidney steps out of the lift and questions why he did that, quietly insinuating, how did he know to touch her hand. Not responding, a confused Jack continues to hear her thoughts as branches begin to form behind her.
On the Bridge, Esmar informs the captain that she’s detected another long-range trace attempt from Starfleet. As Shaw tells her to dismiss it, Seven alerts the crew that subspace carrier wave matches the frequency of the Shrike and has a Compromised Prefix Code — a code that a captain in distress can give that will ping their designated starship; it will give the enemy their location, but lets the crew know that the captain has been caught and compromised. Picard realizes it’s Will, and he’s in Vadic’s custody. Shaw orders Esmar to block the signal; they cannot give up their location. Concerned, Jack requests a moment with his father.
Jack does not know what’s wrong with him; he just knows it’s not anything good. He wants to trade himself for Riker, who was good to him the very first moment, which Picard adamantly refuses. Struggling to get the words out, he tells Jean-Luc that Riker has a wife and child; there are people who have died, are dying, will die for him. He’s the cause of all of this, and Picard doesn’t understand what it feels like to walk around with that guilt; he’s not worth it. It has always troubled him that he’s always been different and that there’s something wrong, deep inside him. He admits he hears things in his head, but he can’t explain. Concerned for his son, Jean-Luc assures Jack that he doesn’t deserve any of this, except Jack believes he does. Jean-Luc tells him he won’t give up on him and that he shouldn’t either, before proposing he may actually have a plan to get Vadic.
The Shrike arrives, dropping out of warp, and discovers the Titan’s warp core offline, running on emergency power. The Changelings are unable to read any life signs due to radiation from a destroyed Vulcan warship nearby. They uncover a staticky final subspace transmission from the VSS T’Plana, which acknowledges they’ve engaged the fugitives aboard the Titan in gunfire. Both the T’Plana and Titan appear dead in the water. Acknowledging the possibility that it may be a trap, however, with no time left and Jack Crusher essentially right there, Vadic orders her crew to prepare a shuttle.
Vadic and her soldiers board the Titan, finding the ship quiet and in disarray, with life signs displaying only red dots. Jack appears at the end of the corridor, stating everyone aboard is dead. She’s not interested in the others; she just wants to take him to a better place. Putting their plan in motion, Jack takes off sprinting, instigating a chase. Meeting up with Sidney at a junction, they separate the Changeling soldiers down two corridors. Soon, Shaw and Seven drop force fields, trapping their pursuers. In Sickbay, Jack gets command to drop shields around Vadic, as she calls off one of her soldiers from attacking Jack. However, in trying to corral the remaining Changeling boarding party, Jack and Sidney inadvertently trap themselves between their enemies. In the control room, Geordi desperately tries to transport Sidney and Jack off that deck but is unable to do so due to forcefield interference. As they move to a different terminal, Alandra alerts her dad that they are now locked out of the control room by Lore. Sidney calls to her father saying there’s not much time left as a Changeling commander asks Jack how he’ll feel when she dies for him.
Beverly approaches the trapped Vadic in Sickbay and notes her calm and relaxed demeanor as the Changeling is humming to herself. The doctor explains that she has taken the Hippocratic oath to do no harm, but after being hunted by the Changeling captain for so long, she’s rethinking her stance. She wants to know why Vadic wants her son so badly. As Beverly and Jean-Luc reveal their cards, informing her, that they know what was stolen from Daystrom as well as the Changelings’ evolved physiology. Amused, Vadic questions if they know their son’s physiology before stating that they could bond over the fact that Jack isn’t for her and he certainly was never for Beverly either. Picard recognizes the travesty of the Dominion, leaving both sides incensed and arguing their perspective. Shaw and Seven listen to their exchange from the Bridge. Vadic corrects Picard’s revisionist history — the Federation never provided her kind with the cure for their Starfleet-created virus; one of their own had to steal it.*******
Speaking on her appetite for the inevitable extinction of the “solids,” Vadic reveals that it was Starfleet itself that was responsible — they gave her the ability to mimic their blood, hold her form, and pass every test — experimentations via Project Proteus. It’s not that she has no regard for love, innocence, or pain; it was their very organization that inflicted untold pain on her and her loved ones in a science lab that fuels her disdain. She was a prisoner of war, held captive at Daystrom Station, with nine of her brothers and sisters, and it was there where she learned a great deal about solids. Her Starfleet tormenter whistled as she experimented and tortured them with more pain than any being should ever be expected to endure, with the goal to weaponize them as undetectable spies capable of dropping into any species and spread chaos. The result of Project Proteus — the creation of the “perfect monster.” In her flashback to the Daystrom genetics lab, Vadic evolved and killed her Starfleet tormenter, taking on her face as a reminder of her hate. Not only that, she was able to pass on biological evolution to others just by linking with them. The trade-off for acquiring the ability to fool those who took from them was a shorter life and eternal pain.
Regretful, Picard states he didn’t know. Vadic wonders how such an enlightened species could ignore each other’s pain. Turning on the two, she asks Picard if Beverly would have kept him away from his son if she could feel his loss? The Changeling shapeshifts into Jack and pointedly asks Beverly if she’s prepared to lose another son.******** The Federation took Vadic’s family and now she intends to take theirs.
Sidney alerts her dad that the shield regulators are failing; they won’t last much longer as the Changelings stalk them and pound on the forcefield. While looking at Lore, Geordi makes a desperate plea to Data, who he believes can hear him. Lore proclaims that Data can’t fight him; he’s gone. Now emotional and scared for his daughter, Geordi begs Data to listen to him; life rarely gives one second chances to say the things they should. Geordi is a better man, a better father, and a better friend because of his relationship with Data. And when he died, it broke him, and it was the memory of Data that repaired him. The android glitches as if Data and Lore continue to fight for dominance, however, it’s Lore who tells Geordi his appeals to his brother’s memories of friendship were indeed power. He’s here fighting for the very thing the Changelings want and what Geordi wants for his daughters — survival.
Back in Sickbay, Beverly tells Picard she believes Vadic has a plan as she’s too calm and confident, and if they allow her to slip out of their grasp, the Changeling, an executioner for her cause, will take their son. Sharing an unspoken understanding, the two concerned parents weigh the cost of compromising their moral code. Being hunted by Vadic for as long as she had, Beverly admits she’s losing her compass. The two draw their phasers.
Inflicting chaos and “leveling the playing field,” Lore takes full control of the Titan and drops all force fields trapping the Changelings. At that very moment, Vadic returns to her goo form and escapes Sickbay, while the Changelings are unleashed on Jack and Sidney. Unfortunately, for the two legacy children, Lore drops a partition separating the two as they fight their assailants on their own. Jack is able to kill his opponent, however, the commander slams Sidney against the forcefield in front of Jack, dropping her to the floor. Locking eye contact, both Jack and Sidney are able to hear each other’s thoughts. He realizes his abilities allow him to control the young La Forge’s movements as he helps her battle the commander, completely in sync.
Suddenly, Data regains control of his body and opens the door to the control room, assures Geordi that he’s here, and reattempts to access the shield regulators. After bringing down her opponent and the forcefield drops the pair, a confused and frightened Sidney clings to her phaser pointed at Jack and questions if it was him in her head. He begs her to trust him when they hear whistling down the corridor. Spotting Vadic, they both take off running as the Changeling commander slowly begins to twitch and move.
Meanwhile, in Sickbay, Beverly and Jean-Luc pull up the files regarding Project Proteus in the Daystrom manifest where they learn that the subjects were injected with a formula containing Thelomium-847, a stabilizing agent with a 100-year half-life. In theory, each of the Changeling subjects should contain trace amounts that they can use to track them. Alerting Shaw, Picard warns that the Changelings cannot reach the Bridge access lift. In an exchange of fire, the commander takes out Shaw’s accompanying officers. Shaw shoots the commander and walks past him; however, as soon as he passes, the commander rises and attacks him.
Shaw orders the Bridge to blow the turbolift; unfortunately, they arrive at the Bridge. The crew draw the weapons, but once the lift doors open, a severely beaten Shaw collapses in front of them. Vadic and her soldiers seize the Bridge and take the crew hostage. Making her way to the captain’s chair, Vadic takes the opportunity to address her ship. She commends their guile before reminding them that she had warned them that this was how it was always going to end; what defense is formidable against the formless? Her actions did not stem from cruelty, but from mercy. Her goal, the same, to bring Jack Crusher where he most belongs. Sitting in the captain’s chair, Vadic announces herself as the captain of the U.S.S. Titan, and then addressing Jack, tells him it’s now time for him to learn who he truly is.
* “Tears of the Prophets” — The Chin’toka System was noteworthy through the Dominion War arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as several battles were fought there, including the Siege of AR-558 and Second Battle of Chin’toka. As a result of the war, many Starfleet and allied ships were destroyed and met their end there.
** “Infinite Regress” – Upon encountering a Borg vessel’s debris field, and its Borg neural interlink frequency planted by Species 6339, Seven of Nine begins to adopt personalities of those she assimilated when she was part of the Collective. As Seven’s own neural pattern is erased, Tuvok engages in a Vulcan min-meld to help Seven isolate her true self and guide it to the surface.
*** Star Trek Nemesis — The Romulans created a clone of Jean-Luc Picard, Shinzon, in hopes of replacing the real captain with a Romulan agent. Now, the Federation and Romulan Star Empire must contend with Shinzon as he attempts to united a divided Romulus and Remus under his power. The name of Shinzon’s warship is the Scimitar.
**** “Datalore,” “Brothers,” and “Descent, Parts I and II” – Lore is first introduced in “Datalore” when the Enterprise visit Omicron Theta, the site Dr. Noonian Soong and his wife created Data and his “brother” Lore. “Brothers” explores Lore’s sentiments towards their creator/father and Data. And in the two-parter “Descent,” Lore controls Data by transmitting the negative parts of his emotional program into him after dismantling his brother’s ethical program. Later, once he’s regained full control of himself, Data deactivates Lore.
***** “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” — In this episode, Picard could not comprehend how Data could not recall his first death at the Battle in the Bassen Rift (seen in Nemesis); Data explains that his consciousness was created from the memories he downloaded into B-4 just prior to his death. Picard admits he could never shake himself from the grief that Data died in order for him to live. Data compares the act to Picard’s sacrifice of his life for Data’s daughter Soji and her people.
****** “Attached” – Jack inadvertently reads Sidney’s minds as his hand grazes her and can allow her to hear his when they fight off their Changeling assailants, reminiscent of when his parents, Jean-Luc and Beverly were privy to each other’s thoughts after being abducted by the Prytt and had an electronic device implanted into their necks.
******* “What You Leave Behind” – While Dr. Bashir did find a cure, Starfleet didn’t elect to administer the cure of the morphogenic virus to the Founders; it was Odo who provided it to the Great Link against the Alliance’s wishes.
******** “Journey’s End” – While taking a break from Starfleet Academy, Beverly Crusher's son Wesley accompanies the Enterprise crew to an enclave on Dorvan V, where he goes on a spiritual journey, coming face-to-face with his father, the late Jack Crusher. The young Crusher resigns from the Academy; his mother understanding that he was always destined for something different. Starting his new journey, he accompanies the Traveler to other planes of existence.
- "Three Blind Mice"