Published Apr 24, 2023
RECAP | Star Trek: Picard 309 – Võx
Jack Crusher is Borg.
By Christine Dinh
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Star Trek: Picard.
After their failed gambit with Vadic, the Changeling captain commandeered control over the U.S.S. Titan. With the lives of the crew hanging in the balance, Jean-Luc Picard and Jack Crush make one more final play with the latter surrendering himself on the Bridge. The ruse proved successful, giving Geordi La Forge enough time to merge Data and Lore's personality matrixes in the Daystrom Android M-5-10 positronic body. Regaining control of the Titan, Vadic and her soldiers are forced off the starship and their warship, the Shrike, destroyed.
Picard’s original crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-D — Geordi, Worf, Will Riker, Beverly Crusher, Deanna Troi, and Data — are all finally reunited, and not a moment too soon as Picard needs them all now more than ever. They must stop the Changeling conspiracy at the Frontier Day celebration. However, to unlock what is planned, Troi, sensing a great darkness within Jack, agrees to use her Betazoid abilities to probe his mind in hopes of understanding how he's connected.
In Episode 9 of Star Trek: Picard, “Võx,” a devastating revelation about Jack alters the course of Picard’s life forever – and uncovers a truth that threatens every soul in the Federation. The final battle begins as Picard and his crew race to save the galaxy from annihilation – but not without a gut-wrenching cost.
Deanna Troi acknowledges the red door Jack Crusher’s mind desperately doesn’t wish to open, as well as his reluctance and fear. With her Betazoid abilities, Deanna appears alongside Jack in front of the red door flanked by red vines that has been haunting him. The counselor reassures him that she’s here with him; he’s safe. She asks about the red vines, but Jack persists that he does not know what they are or what they could mean. Thinking hard, Jack recalls the Crimson Arboretum on Raritan IV that his mother took him when he was a child as well as a song she adored, one that was “coded” in the melody, passed down from his father to his mother then to him. Remembering the thousands of blossoms, so much life, as red petals drift around them in the corridor, Jack tells Deanna each of those flowers were different and connected below the soil with the vines. While the thought isn’t comforting, he does find it right, true, purposeful, and perfect. Jack confirms he’s seeking a connection, many connections, while a voice calls out to him to hear her, find her, and fear nothing. Deanna asks if he’ll allow her to open the red door for him, promising once more he won’t be alone despite whatever they find behind it. Upon his approval, Deanna approaches the door with trepidation.
With her hand on the doorknob, Deanna opens the door, first seeing darkness, and then… Suddenly snapping back to reality in Jack’s quarters, Deanna gasps and recoils back from Jack, still processing the terror she witnessed in his mind. She apologizes while fleeing from the room while an anguished Jack asks what she saw. Deanna rushes to Sickbay seeking out Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard, who are pacing and worried about their son. She tells the concerned parents behind the red door, she saw a Borg Cube and heard their Collective voices.*
The parents are aghast by the startling revelation. While Beverly states that Jack has never been assimilated, Picard internally recalls when he spoke for the Collective as Locutus of Borg before bringing up the lack of nanoprobes within Jack’s system. Beverly reasons that “biology doesn’t always need words to communicate,” noting some transceivers and receivers are organic. Still, they’re all shocked as the Borg have not been seen in over a decade, believing they must have evolved and had the ability to pass on the technology organically. Picard vehemently shuts down the discussion, stating that the only thing he’s ever passed on was Irumodic Syndrome.
Echoing Data’s previous revelation about how the Changelings were interested in Picard’s parietal lobe, Beverly asserts he never had the disease; Soong kept his body at Daystrom to search for something else. Vadic must have known that the Borg passed some organic form of technology through Locutus. Picard gravely processes that he is responsible for passing this onto their son. He takes responsibility in telling Jack as he believes the entire ordeal is his fault. Before Picard can head out, Deanna tells her former commander and Beverly that there are protocols. Vadic sought a weapon against humanity aka Jack, and with Jack’s ability to enter the minds of others and control them, he is therefore dangerous.
Exasperated, Jack laments his life of disconnection only to end up as an emblem of a Collective and its Queen. Still struggling, he wants to know how much of himself is broken. He has always known the world was imperfect, with its broken systems, wars, suffering, violence, bigotry, and poverty, but he still held out an inkling of a belief that if people could see and hear each other and act in one mind together… who knew that the answer all along was just a cybernetic authoritarianism. But if the Borg doesn’t feel and don’t care, while he does both immensely, he cannot comprehend how he factors into their plan. Picard softly suggests they take some precautions, which further confuses and wounds Jack as he asks his father what he sees when he looks at him. Picard, regretful, tells him this isn’t just about him anymore; when he was assimilated, he nearly killed everyone he knew and loved. Embarrassed and angry, the admiral admits how Jack does not understand what it feels like and what it means to be controlled by the Borg Queen. Softening, he tells Jack he believes there’s a place where Jack will be safe, a research academy on Vulcan — Keslovar.
Jack knows of it; he bites back believing his own father wants to send him to a prison where they’ll “lobotomize the Borg” from him. He declines and states he’ll handle his problem by himself. As he exits his quarters, he finds two Starfleet security officers armed with phasers at his door, realizing he was never going to get out of there on his own. Looking at his father pointedly, Jack reminds Picard that he once told him he’d never give up on him. Picard explains that Starfleet protocols dictate that they act in the interests of everyone else. And what about the protocols of a father? Jack questions if Picard were never issued those. Heartbroken but resolved, Jack uses his abilities to control the two officers in his quarters as they both now point their phasers at Picard. Responding to the admiral, he states the act is one of “futility.”
Beverly chases her son down the Titan’s corridor; however, the possessed security officers hold her back. Jack tells his mother he’s going home. She pleads that they can find another solution and undo all of this. All this time, the voice in his head that he thought was hers was in fact that of the Borg Queen. Resigned to his fate, he tells her he’s going to trade himself for answers, and once he’s close enough, he will show the Queen exactly who and what he is.
Beverly desperately pleads with him not to do this, worrying he will get himself killed, as Jack continues forward taking a shuttle. Focusing his mind, he inputs the Borg’s coordinates. As he departs, Picard and Beverly helplessly watch on from the Observation Lounge. Somberly, Picard notes that Jack inherited the best of her and the worst of him, while Beverly regretfully admits she gave her first son, Wesley Crusher, space and lost him to it; as a result, she watched Jack closer, so close she couldn’t see what was in front of her. Overcome with emotion and guilt, Beverly is determined to find something she can do to fix this. Data approaches the admiral, alone in the lounge, letting him know they've been unable to track Jack's shuttle, believing he is jamming his transponder. Unable to find the right words, Data places a comforting hand on Jean-Luc’s shoulder in support, who is touched by the gesture. He's interrupted by his communicator with Geordi La Forge requesting he head down to Sickbay to learn more about Jack.
Jack’s shuttle finds itself in the middle of a red storm; he’s unable to find the Borg. The computer system’s alarm warns him of tachyon radiation pulses, neutrino emissions, and gravitational flux. Believing it to be a wormhole, the shuttle’s computer corrects him that it’s a transwarp conduit when he’s suddenly wracked with pain, hearing a dissonant tone and voices. Jack soon looks up to discover a massive Borg Cube looming over him with its threatening presence.
Geordi informs Picard, Data, Beverly, Will Riker, and Worf that all Borg undergo genetic alterations in order for their organic bodies to communicate with their cybernetic components. However, when Picard was captured by the Borg, he endured a far more extensive alteration — new genetic code was written and stored inside of him. They were unable to detect it 35 years ago, but when Picard transitioned from his organic body to his synthetic one, Dr. Soong uncovered an anomaly in his brain, which were the dormant biological Borg adaptions. The Borg never truly let him go, which explains why Vadic sought his organic body from Daystrom; they needed the portion of his altered DNA in order to weaponize it. While Jean-Luc as Locutus was a receiver of sorts, able to still hear the Borg long after assimilation, in the case of Jack, he appears to be a transmitter, able to send instructions. Despite the Jack-controlled officers had not been assimilated before, they were still able to receive his signal. The fact that Jack was able to keep this dormant for most of his life is a testament to Beverly’s care and Jack’s will that he was able to resist for as long as he had. Geordi assures them that while Jack may be Borg, that was not all he was.
The Changelings have been working with the Borg since the beginning. As it stands, all of Starfleet is currently gathered in one location for Frontier Day. The entire conspiracy hinges on this very moment. Outnumbered and outgunned, the crew believes they still have to warn Starfleet any way they can. Calling the Bridge, Picard requests they return to the Sol System. Captain Shaw disagrees with the plan as all of Starfleet present for the celebration is running exercises where everyone aboard the Titan is flagged as dangerous fugitives. Unfortunately, it’s their only options, prompting Shaw to relent.
The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-F, under command of Fleet Admiral Elizabeth Shelby, ceremonially departs the spacedock above Earth’s orbit.** Addressing the entire fleet, Shelby makes a speech on why they’re all gathered for Frontier Day; it’s in celebration of the Enterprise NX-01’s maiden voyage 250 years prior. The first Warp 5-capable vessel’s journey led to the birth of Starfleet.***
Now, a quarter millennium later, on this day, they take their next vital step with a demonstration of their newest advancement — Fleet Formation — synchronistic technology that allows every ship in Starfleet to operate as one. An “impenetrable armada” allows them the ultimate safeguarding through unity and defense. And, in case of the unthinkable, fleetwide incapacitation is factored ensuring the safety of their crew. Listening to the address and recalling her unrelenting ambition decades prior, Riker clocks Shelby’s rise in Starfleet while Picard is flabbergasted by the irony of her endorsement of something so Borg-like. Examining the representation of starships assembled for Fleet Formation, Commander Seven notes that they’ll be crashing one hell of a party, with Ensign Sidney La Forge updating the crew that they’ll reach Sector 001 in less than an hour.
Elsewhere, Jack boards the Borg Cube with his phaser armed. As he navigates the dark vessel, the Borg Queen welcomes him home. She calls out to her “child” of her flesh and blood, telling Jack that he is the light for all her darkness, the light for all her suffering. Jack dismisses her assertions stating what while he does not know what he is, he surely isn’t hers. The Queen has thought of many names for him, including Regenerati and Puer Dei, which once more, Jack dismisses the notion that he is her rebirth nor is he a child of god, leading her to land on naming him Võx. While his father is Locutus, the one who speaks, he as Võx is the voice itself. Confident, she tells Jack he knows he has felt it too and urges him to believe in it. She explains that what she and Vadic saw in him was an end — the vindication of both their species. Jack states he believes in mercy as he raises her phaser to him; the Queen laughs at the gesture confirming if it was possible for him to kill her, he would have done so already. The anguishing Jack screams out in frustrating before resigning to the truth and dropping his phaser. After all, resistance is futile. At her urging to end his struggle, Jack allows himself to be assimilated, as a black cable connects to the back of his neck.
In Sickbay, Geordi and Data, after combing through the intel Raffi uncovered from the Shrike systems, alert Beverly that they’ve found Starfleet transporter code, which the Changelings have implemented parts of Picard’s Borg-altered DNA into Starfleet’s transporter systems. To her horror, Beverly cross-references the Titan’s transporter system code, discovering the code is now part of the transporter system architecture. Data deduces that, among the system’s storage of coding common to all species, the transporters now consider Picard’s DNA as common biology to all species. This was the Changeling-Borg’s plan — as the Changelings infiltrate Starfleet ships, the new Borg-altered DNA is introduced to anyone who steps inside a transporter, assimilating entire fleets this whole time, without anyone ever knowing.****
Arriving in the Sol System, the Titan witnesses the summation of their decades-worth of technological advancements, which Riker compares to that of a firing squad. Suddenly, alarms blare throughout the Titan as the ship enters Fleet Formation mode. Shaw orders countermeasures; unfortunately, their systems are shutting down as part of the automation. Picard demands they transmit an emergency hail, alerting the entire fleet that the Changeling infiltration has made them all vulnerable to their greatest enemy, the Borg. In a direct transmission between the Titan and Shelby, Picard urgently pleads with the admiral to trust them. Before he can continue, their connection is lost with Mura detecting a massive energy spike from…
Deep within the Borg Cube, a beacon is initiated, resulting in a dissonant tone blaring across the Federation starship. As the Titan’s monitors glitch with green markings on the Bridge, Seven winces in pain before stating that the Borg just sent out a signal. In Sickbay, after reviewing a Borg genetic simulation, Data suggests based on the data, their genetic material doesn’t propagate in a species past a certain point in their developmental cycle. For humans, that’s the age of 25; while they’re unaffected, the same can’t be said for the youngest members of their crew, as both parents, Beverly and Geordi, suddenly realize. Back on the Bridge, Shaw orders a red alert. The young Bridge crew — Mura, Sidney, Esmar, and Alandra — is unresponsive to his commands; veins begin to visibly appear on their skin similar to the vines Jack saw in his visions of the red door. At the helm, an assimilated and despondent Sidney turns around and, speaking as the Collective, tells the senior commanders, “We are the Borg.”
Overhearing what transpired on the Bridge, Geordi, reeling, asks the computer for the location of his other daughter Alandra. His worst nightmare actualized, the computer informs him that Alandra’s lifesigns are no longer compatible with human designation. There’s confusion among the senior commandeers on the Bridge as they look on at their unresponsive crew. Comms momentarily resume as the Titan picks up on a distorted feed of a terrified Shelby questioning what’s happening to her crew as well before being attacked from within by two of her own officers. The connection is lost again; hitting a button on his chair, Shaw picks up a chorus of screams from other Starfleet ships also attacked from within. The realization dawns on them — the entire fleet has been assimilated. The Bridge crew stand in unison and collectively drone out, “Eliminate all unassimilated,” and drawing phasers. As the senior officers are swarmed, with more assimilated crew arriving on the Bridge, Picard reminds them to set weapons to stun only as they flee. Geordi desperately runs to find his daughters, but Data holds him back saying they need a plan first. Heading to the captain’s chair, the Borg-controlled Esmar, flanked by the La Forge sisters, informs the Collective that they are now in command of the Titan.
Seeking refuge in the turbolift, Shaw questions why they haven’t been assimilated, with Seven quickly replying, with all the grey hair between them, it must have skipped a generation. They cannot save their ship, let alone the rest of the fleet, from inside; they need to find a way off the Titan. They receive an emergency hail on a maintenance channel from Captain Benbassat of the Excelsior; they’ve managed to retake their Bridge, but it’s short-lived as they discover the fleet synchronization has them controlled remotely, pulling them out of formation and placing them in front of the Riker-deemed firing squad. To anyone who can hear them, the captain asks they notify his family just as the fleet destroys the starship. The Collective reports that with the Excelsior eliminated, the fleetwide assimilation is complete. With an idea brewing, Shaw changes course and has the turbolift head to the unmanned maintenance deck; there’s a repair shuttle they can use to escape. Touching his combadge, Picard relays a message to anyone who is listening and capable to meet them on the maintenance level. The Borg Collective, moving in fleet synchronization, dispatches a new transmission to those who resist — their armada has been added to theirs, and their weak and willful will soon be eliminated while their strongest has already been assimilated. Starfleet now is Borg.
The turbolift crew (Shaw, Picard, Riker, and Seven) reunite with Geordi, Data, Beverly, Raffi, Deanna, and Worf. They’ve been trying to get the doors to the Maintenance Bay open. Seeing Geordi, Picard assures him that they will get his daughters back, but right now, they need to get off this ship. Data asserts that the repair shuttle is their only means of escape as those small vessels are autonomous and do not connect to the new systems. Worf doesn’t like the odds of one single shuttle against the entire fleet; however, Geordi has another idea. Unfortunately, Borg-controlled officers arrive at the corridor, firing phasers. Shaw, Raffi, and Seven offer them cover as Geordi and Data board the shuttle. As Data adjusts to his new merge personality and thinks about their odds of success, Geordi tells his friend to be a little more positive, to which Data quips that he hopes they die quickly. As Shaw orders the rest of the crew to board the shuttle, the captain’s hit with a blast dead-center. Picard refuses to leave without everyone, but as Seven lunges towards the fallen Shaw, she tells Picard to go with the crew and find a way out of this for them. Raffi stays back on the Titan with Seven. The dying Shaw acknowledges “Seven of Nine” with her preferred designation, noting the ship isn’t his anymore; the conn is hers. The weight of it lands on her as Shaw is gone. From aboard the shuttle, the crew looks on in horror as the Borg-controlled Esmar orders the fleet to advance on the Spacedock with weapons ready to eliminate Earth's planetary defenses.
Dropping out of warp, the shuttle arrives at the Fleet Museum on Athan Prime. Geordi notes they need an older ship, one that’s analog and offline, and he has just the one at Hangar Bay 12. He intended to save the surprise for another day as he’s not done with restoration, but there’s no time like the present. Emotional, the crew takes in their former starship — the Enterprise-D — in all her glory. Thanks to the Prime Directive, the saucer was retrieved from Veridian III as to not influence the system. He’s been restoring their ship bit by bit and repairing the damage over the last 20 years. The engineer cheekily remarks that they unfortunately could not use the Enterprise-E as they all turn to face Worf, who maintains that was not his fault. Hanging on their last glimmer of hope, they all board the Enterprise-D, for the first time in over 30+ years, marveling at Geordi’s work and reminiscing about their former home.
Geordi assures the crew that this starship is the only functioning one left in the fleet that isn’t connected to the new systems. Returning to their old stations, Picard initiates system reactivation procedures, which acknowledges the ship is now under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who accepts his field demotion. He then pauses and reveals he’s reluctant to ask them all to put their lives on the line to face the Borg threat again. Riker confidently asserts, “We are the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. But more than that, we’re your family.” Deanna adds that Jack, Sidney, and Alandra are their family as well. Wherever Jean-Luc goes, they go.
The admiral orders his crew to stations. Clearing the museum’s spacedock, they set a direct course for Earth, maximum warp. And from his old captain’s chair, Picard orders them to “engage.”
* “Endgame" — The Borg and the Borg Queen were last seen in the Star Trek: Voyager series finale where the future Admiral Janeway cripples the Collective by infecting them with a neurolytic pathogen. The Borg, an ancient cybernetic life-form that’s part organic and part artificial, and their relentless pursuit of perfection and technology brought fear to all quadrants of the galaxy. The collective consciousness, where each drone is linked through the subspace network, allows for the Borg to adapt quickly and eliminate threats as they arise. Obsessed with power, the Borg Queen didn’t create the Borg; she was merely tasked with leading them.
** “The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I and II” — Lt. Commander Shelby made her first appearance in this two-parter following Picard’s abduction and assimilation by the Borg. The ambitious Borg expert boarded the Enterprise as Acting Captain Riker’s first officer. Their working relationship faced a bumpy road as she made it abundantly clear she intends to replace him as Picard’s first officer.
*** "Broken Bow" — Earth’s Starfleet sent its first ship, the Enterprise NX-01, with an interspecies crew to return a wounded Klingon back to his homework. Before the conclusion of the voyage, Captain Archer and his crew would initiate the first interstellar cooperation between humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites — the four founding species of the United Federation of Planets — with their actions creating many of the essential policies enacted in the Federation Charter, establishing the foundation of Starfleet.
**** "Dark Frontier, Part I and II" — In this two-parter, the Borg Queen attempts to lure Seven of Nine back to the hive. Upon learning of Captain Janeway's plan to steal a transwarp coil from a damaged Borg sphere, the Queen delivers a new assignment to Seven — assist in the programming of nanoprobes to assimilate humans or witness the Voyager crew be assimilated. It will take a few years to assimilate them without their knowledge, but they can be patient.
- “I Can’t Stop Crying” – Will Grove-White