The third episode of Star Trek: Picard starts out just as action packed as the first two from this season. We’re back on La Sirena’s bridge and things aren’t looking good for our intrepid alternate timeline crew. But they manage to fight back and overcome their captors. Raffi runs to care for the critically injured Elnor, while the rest of the crew race to get away from Earth and any pursuers.
Elnor’s wound is bad, and there are no medical supplies aboard this alternate timeline ship. While Agnes tries to hook the Borg Queen up to the ship so she can slingshot them around the sun and take them back in time, Q appears to Picard and tells him that he’s lost so much because of his fear. It’s becoming clearer that what Guinan and Q have been referring to vaguely over the first few episodes is something specific in Jean-Luc’s life, perhaps a decision he made. Could it be related to his mother and that disturbing memory from the second season premiere? Or maybe something from his Stargazer days?
In the chaos of battle, the Borg Queen escapes from the stasis chamber and finishes what Agnes started — she hooks herself up to the ship, takes control away from Rios, and begins calculations to go back in time. She points them straight at the sun, picking up speed, and everything slows down before going black.
The ship emerges at what seems to be the right time, in 2024, but the La Sirena isn’t doing well. Everything is offline, there’s minimal power, and the ship is caught in Earth’s gravity and is going to crash. They get enough control back to target where the ship will crash, and Jean-Luc offers up his family estate in France.
It turns out the Borg Queen has been draining the ship’s power in order to keep herself alive, which poses a problem — the biobed is the only thing keeping Elnor alive. Rios tries to shoot her, but Picard stops him. Jean-Luc knows they need the Borg Queen and, more specifically, the information she possesses about the change to the timeline and the identity of the Watcher in Los Angeles for the mission to succeed. As a result of this decision, Elnor dies.
It’s hard to take. It certainly wasn’t his intention, but Jean-Luc sacrificed Elnor for the mission. It was the right call, but Raffi isn’t wrong to be absolutely infuriated with him, for making these casual decisions about who lives and who dies. Q’s fascination with Picard has led them to this, in Raffi’s estimation, and it’s hard to argue with her (though it’s clear there’s more going on here than any of us, or the crew, are aware of). It’s possible that restoring the timeline means that Elnor will come back.
They decide to try and find the Watcher by tracking any alien technology or subspace signals — it’s as good of a place as any to start. Seven, Raffi, and Rios head to Los Angeles, while Jurati and Picard stay behind on the ship and try to help the Borg Queen.
Before the group leaves, Jurati warns them not to do anything that might draw attention — after all, they don’t want to change the timeline even more than it’s already been altered. Then Agnes and Picard get to work. Jean-Luc theorizes that the Borg Queen is trying to communicate — she just can’t do it verbally. They might be able to enter her mind and help, but there’s a problem. Because she knows Jean-Luc’s mind intimately from his time as Locutus, he wouldn’t be able to resist her assimilation attempts for long enough to revive her.
Agnes, on the other hand, is an unknown quantity. Over Jean-Luc’s strenuous objections, she decides to hook herself up to the Borg Queen. She thinks it’s safe because Jean-Luc will be talking to her subconscious while her active mind enters the queen’s. He'll be able to pull her out if it seems as though the Borg Queen is winning and assimilating her.
The transporters aren’t exactly working well, so Raffi, Seven, and Rios materialize near each other in Los Angeles, but not together. Their aim is to get to the highest point in the city and scan for alien signals. They grab subspace relays to ensure the La Sirena can find them to bring them back, and then they head out into yet another strange new world.
Raffi and Seven end up near one another and find each other quickly; Rios isn’t so lucky. He materializes a few stories up and falls hard on the concrete — it’s unclear how bad his injuries are, but it doesn’t look good. After making it clear he didn’t want to go to a hospital, Rios is taken to a clinic. He drops his subspace relay and a kid picks it up.
Back on the ship, Jean-Luc talks to Agnes’s subconscious and tries to encourage her to resist the Queen’s machinations within her mind. As the Queen grows stronger and begins to take over, Picard becomes alarmed and pulls the plug.
Rios wakes up with a massive headache and tries to walk out of the clinic, but his concussion isn’t exactly helping. The doctor, whose name is Teresa, tells Rios she’s not going to report him for not having identification and finishes treating his wounds.
Seven and Raffi are scanning for signals in the meantime, and they detect some sort of blip near MacArthur Park — but it disappears quickly. They also detect Rios’s combadge, which he manages to almost get back from the kid who found it (he also happens to be Teresa’s son). But before he can take it, Teresa intervenes and decides to put it at the front desk.
On the La Sirena, the Borg Queen is back up and running. She’s less on the fritz than she was before because they’re now before the shift in the timeline. That could be good news, except her lucidity also means she’s less willing to help the crew without something in exchange. That means that she’s holding the identity and location of the Watcher hostage until Jean-Luc turns the ship over to her.
But what the Borg Queen didn’t expect is Dr. Agnes Jurati. While the queen was trying to assimilate her, Jurati located the information they needed — specifically the location of the Watcher — and extracted it. Agnes also thinks she might know when the divergence happens. It’s a dangerous thing to attract the notice of the Borg Queen, and Agnes has done just that.
Unfortunately, there’s more trouble for Rios. Before he can get his combadge back, the police arrive. The doctor instructs him to leave, and Rios starts to, but he just can’t leave her behind to fend for herself, even if it means catching the notice of the authorities. He is arrested, along with Teresa, just as Admiral Picard’s voice comes through the combadge calling for him.
Swapna (she/her) writes about space, technology, and pop culture at outlets such as Wired, NPR, Engadget, and more. You can find her on Twitter @skrishna.
Star Trek: Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and is distributed concurrently by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.