It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of the second season of Star Trek: Picard already! There’s so much to wrap up in this final episode, so let’s get right down to it because it’s jam packed!
The team is still at the chateau in France, trying to decide on next steps. Jean-Luc points at the bullet holes in the walls, left there by the altercation with Soong and the Borg drones. They’re the same as the ones from his memory, explained away by his ancestors who re-occupied the house in the 21st century. It’s a good sign they’re on the right track, but there is still more work to do.
The Borg Queen/Agnes (or Borgati, as we’re calling her now) told the crew that there needed to be two Renées, one who lived and another who died. And from the look on her face, Tallinn knows exactly what she meant — and Picard knows what Tallinn has decided to do. Tallinn beams them all back to her apartment in Los Angeles.
Raffi, Seven, and Rios decided to head to Soong’s home, as it’s most likely where he retreated to. Tallinn’s going to beam into the launch site to protect Renée, and at the last second Jean-Luc decides to go with her. He knows Tallinn is going to sacrifice herself to save Renée, and he doesn’t want that to happen.
In an excellent scene, Tallinn puts Jean-Luc in his place. He won’t “let” her sacrifice herself — but that’s not his decision to make. It’s Tallinn’s decision, and she has spent her entire life protecting Renée. It’s not his place to tell Tallinn what she can and can’t do. Her death won’t be his fault, just like his mother’s death wasn’t his fault.
It turns out Soong is at the Europa launch site as well, but what he left behind at home were four drones and a control center — his backup plan is to destroy the Europa mission rocket if he can’t get to Renée. The system is booby trapped to explode if they mess with it, but Raffi has a plan: to try and gain manual control of the drones in order to stop them.
Soong is counting on his large donation — the one that got him into the party — to give him leverage here at the launch as well, and he isn’t incorrect. He wants to see Renée in private, and his sheer rudeness and arrogance gets him what he wants even though it’s against protocol. (Brent Spiner is in excellent form here playing an unlikeable bully!)
Meanwhile, Tallinn slips into Renée’s room dressed as a member of the suit up crew, but Renée pegs her as an intruder immediately. Tallinn reveals who she is: Someone who’s been watching over Renée all her life, and the young woman’s life depends on listening to Tallinn.
It’s not immediately clear if Renée believes her or not. And things don’t look good when Renée comes running out of the room and encounters Soong. She breathlessly tells him that there’s some sort of strange woman who claims she’s from space in her room, and Soong reaches out and takes her cheek reassuringly and leads her away.
Back at Soong’s house, the drones launch and Raffi still hasn’t found a way to override them. She manages to get Rios control of them in flight, and he uses one drone to destroy the rest. That threat, at least, is gone for now.
It turns out, though, that Soong has already acted. Renee slowly collapses and Soong reveals that he had a neurotoxin on his palm. She’s dying, and she will never make the discoveries on Europa that she’s supposed to. Soong has secured his legacy.
Or has he? Picard finds the dying Renée and cradles her in his arms, and together they watch the Europa mission successfully launch into space. It’s at that point she deactivates her technology, and reveals it’s actually Tallinn who’s dying. With her last words, she begs him to absolve himself of guilt over his mother’s death.
Soong returns to his home, which is in shambles from Raffi, Seven, and Rios, and sees the details of the launch on television. He realizes that he was tricked, and that Renée is just fine and now in space. Soong has lost, and now he will retreat into his work — but suddenly, his files start deleting. Kore hacks into his system remotely and removes every file off his computer, deleting every trace of his work. All he has left is a secret file in a drawer, ominously labeled “The Khan Project.” (For more on Khan Noonien Singh, watch The Original Series episode “Space Seed” and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).
Someone mysterious reaches out to Kore and sends her an address. She goes to it and is greeted by a very familiar face — Wesley Crusher, played by Wil Wheaton. He explains that he’s a Traveler (watch The Next Generation episodes “Where No One Has Gone Before” and “Journey’s End” if you want to learn the basics of Wesley’s journey) and it’s his people who recruit Watchers — Supervisors as he calls them — to protect the threads of the timeline through the galaxy. He offers Kore the chance to become a Watcher and she accepts.
Back at the chateau, the crew who remains is trying to figure out what to do next. After all, they can’t return to the 24th century. Rios is clearly going to settle down with Teresa and Ricardo, while Raffi and Seven solidify their romantic relationship.
Jean-Luc, meanwhile, is on his own. He takes that fateful skeleton key, the one he used as a boy to unlock the room and let his mother out, and places it gently back in the wall for him to find in the future. And with that action, his journey is complete. He turns around and walks down the hall and finds Q sitting and waiting for him. It’s the beginning of an incredibly touching, meaningful, and emotional scene.
By returning the key for his future self to find, Jean-Luc learned the lesson that Q wanted him to: that he can let go of the guilt, and that he has accepted the person he is today, with all of his flaws and regrets. And because he has chosen the person he is, maybe he can at last choose a partner — and allow them to choose him.
Q told him at the beginning of the season that this journey was about forgiveness. But it wasn’t about Picard seeking forgiveness from anyone else — instead, it was about him forgiving himself.
“Why?” Picard asks, more than once. Q prompts him to finish the sentence, and Jean-Luc follows up with, “Why me?”
Q is dying alone, and he doesn’t want his old friend to have the same fate. He wanted Picard to face his demons, his ghosts, so he can love someone and allow himself to be loved. It doesn’t have galactic importance. The fate of the universe isn’t in Picard’s hands. Q wanted to help his friend because he cares.
Jean-Luc leads Q back to the larger group, where Q reveals he’s going to transport them back to the future — and it will be the formerly omnipotent being’s last act. But it turns out Rios isn’t going back. His life in the 25th century was nothing to brag about (as he points out, he lived on a ship with a bunch of holograms of himself). He’s found meaning and a purpose with Teresa. Because Q doesn’t have to take Rios back, he has some extra energy — perhaps for a little surprise on the other end.
“It’s time for me to go,” Q tells Picard. And it is, but Jean-Luc makes one thing clear: Q is not going to be alone when he dies. He gives his old friend a hug, and Q takes them back to the 25th century with a snap.
They’re back on the U.S.S. Stargazer, moments before the self-destruct is going to go off. Picard recognizes where he is, and the song that’s playing (one that he told Agnes that his mother played to calm him), and cancels the auto destruct. Jean-Luc orders everyone to stand down, and the Borg Queen removes her face covering. It’s Borgati.
Let’s be clear — this isn’t the Borg. The Borg still exist as they always have (or don’t, at this point. We know they’ve been decimated but don’t know the status of the Collective or the Queen.) Borgati went off with the La Sirena to build something entirely different. Something part Borg and part human. Both the Borg and Borgati exist as two separate things. The fundamental nature of the Borg has not changed, because Borgati isn’t the Borg.
Borgati is here now because there’s a galactic event happening at the center of the quadrant, and the energy it’s going to expel could kill billions of people. She needs the networked ships and their shields to protect everyone. With Rios gone, Picard is clearly in command, but he recognizes he’s not the one who should be giving orders in this situation. He grants a field commission of Captain to Seven of Nine, who has more experience dealing with the Borg than anyone.
Seven gives Borgati control over the ships, and she gets to work. Unfortunately, the Excelsior’s shields need to be re-calibrated, and when Raffi hails them, Elnor responds. He’s alive — a gift from Q.
The anomaly erupts and thanks to Borgati, they’re able to get through it unscathed and protect the rest of the sector. What’s left is a transwarp conduit, the nature of which they don’t understand. Borgati requests provisional membership in the Federation for her people and promises to monitor the conduit for whatever threat lies beyond it — a thread that’s going to get picked up in the third season, perhaps?
Back on Earth, in Ten Forward, Picard finally gets to talk to Guinan about their real first meeting. Apparently, Rios, Teresa, Ricardo, and Renée became very close to Guinan. Ricardo even used the micro organism that Renée brought back from Europa to heal the environment. Rios ended up dying in a bar fight over medical supplies, cigar in hand. It feels fitting, as it does when the crew toasts to being family.
There’s just one last thing for Jean-Luc to do: Return to the chateau, in the present day, to see if Laris is still there, and if she’ll give him a second chance.
It turns out, she will.
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 Paramount 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.