This episode marks the halfway point of Star Trek: Picard’s sophomore season, and it seems like all the answers we’ve gotten to this point have just brought up more intriguing questions. This fifth episode opens with the young woman from the end of the last episode, but she’s on a spaceship and she’s in trouble. There’s a problem, apparently debris from a Russian satellite collision that’s endangering the ship.
Juxtaposed against this tense scene is a calm apartment that the Watcher and Admiral Picard beam into. The woman confirms she’s not Laris, and she has no idea who Q is.
Back on the ship, things are getting critical. The ship is about to be destroyed, and then . . . the lights come on. The young woman is in a simulator; if she’d been in space, she’d be dead. She’s very frustrated, but a voice assures her that she’ll be fine, and that it’s just pre-launch jitters. We learn that launch is in three days, which is especially interesting because it’s becoming clear that this launch (or maybe the lack thereof?) is what is going to create the timeline divergence.
Back in the Watcher’s apartment, Tallinn (the Laris look-alike) reveals that she’s devoted to protecting one person, and she doesn’t know anything about the changes to the timeline. But what she does know is that the person she’s protecting is Renée Picard, Jean-Luc’s ancestor and the woman in the spaceship.
At the chateau, it seems that Agnes hasn’t held up her end of the bargain and has left the Borg Queen alone. The Queen decides to wreak some havoc and manages to place a call to the local authorities, claiming that a woman was being attacked at the Picard vineyard.
That doesn’t bode well, but there are more pressing matters. Specifically, Raffi and Seven still have to rescue Rios, and they can’t quite agree how to go about it. Seven wants to maintain the timeline’s integrity, while Raffi wants to get him out at any cost. Raffi relents, and Seven manages to generate an EMP that stops the bus.
Rios knows exactly what’s happening and warns his fellow passengers to be ready to move quickly. Raffi and Seven manage to rescue Rios and help the other passengers escape from ICE custody.
Back in the apartment, Tallinn says that she was chosen as a Supervisor. Jean-Luc makes a connection to Gary Seven from The Original Series episode “Assignment: Earth,” in which Mister Seven is on a mission to 1960s Earth to make sure humans don’t wipe themselves out with nuclear weapons. He was also recruited to protect history; there’s a definite connection.
Jean-Luc asks to learn more about Renée, and Tallinn tells him that she’s never met the young woman — she watches, but makes sure never to be seen. Tallinn also shares Renée’s struggles: depression and anxiety. She’s not doing well, and she may not be on the Europa mission (one that changes history) in three days.
Tallinn shows Picard video of Renée’s therapy sessions, of her self-doubt and numbness, and Jean-Luc is astonished that her therapist is encouraging her to give into her fear. Telling her she’s not ready for the mission. He asks to change the camera angle to see the doctor, and it turns out it’s Q. The omnipotent being is using this young woman to alter the timeline; presumably, if she’s not on the mission, the grim future that Picard and his crew experienced will come to pass.
In the next scene, we’re greeted by a familiar voice: Adam Soong — the first time we’ve seen him, besides the hologram on Eradication Day —i s telling a group of people about the potential of the human genome. Based on what he’s saying, it seems as though he’s advocating for genetic manipulation to unlock “perfection” – eugenics, in other words.
The presentation doesn’t go well, and Soong returns to a (very nice) home, driving his Tesla, and his daughter, Kore greets him. All of a sudden, it becomes clear where the inspiration for the android Soji came from — Kore is played by Isa Briones.
It turns out that Soong is obsessed with the human genome because Kore has a genetic defect that means she can’t even breathe a speck of dust and any exposure to UV light is deadly. He wants to save his daughter, and he doesn’t know how. Soong tells Kore he’ll do anything to cure her, and it’s ominous because it’s easy to see how his desperation might make him the villain.
Then, a flashback to the time with the committee reveals that Soong was involved with military experiments on soldiers. We know that Adam Soong’s descendent, Arik Soong, was working on genetic engineering in the 2100s thanks to the Star Trek: Enterprise episode arc that begins with “Borderland.” It’s possible that the experiments the committee refer to are tied to Khan Noonien Singh and the Augments, who we learn about in The Original Series episode “Space Seed” and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The committee head, who’s played by Lea Thompson, chides Soong for breaking the Shenzhen Convention (presumably it has something to do with genetic experimentation). She revokes his funding and his license, and he’s left with nothing, unable to continue his genetics research.
As Soong watches his daughter sleep, desperate, he gets a lifeline. Research suddenly appears on his computer, and he receives instructions to call Q.
Soong meets with Q, and he has no patience for the omnipotent being’s games. But Q points out that Adam is desperate, and he’s right. Q gives Soong a supposed cure for Kore, but doesn’t name his price — that will, apparently, come later.
At home, Soong hands the cure to Kore, and she injects herself. They’re protected by a shield that’s remarkably similar to the one surrounding Earth in the Confederation future. But there’s a problem: It appears to be temporary. It wears off, and Kore almost dies. Soong is going to need more of it if he wants Kore to live a normal life.
Back in Tallinn’s apartment, the Watcher is asking some very good questions about Q — questions we’re all asking ourselves. If Q is omnipotent (which might not be the case at this point, given what we’ve seen), then why is he messing with this mission in such a subtle way?
Either way, they need to make sure Renée gets on that flight — which means ensuring that she makes it into pre-launch quarantine. They have fifteen hours before that happens. Renée is attending a gala that evening, and Jean-Luc wants to monitor her to ensure nothing happens to her at the party. He decides to contact the ship.
Unfortunately, things aren’t going well over there. A police officer arrives in response to the Borg Queen’s call. He thinks everything is normal, but then he catches a glimpse of the ship as its cloaking device fluctuates. While Agnes is asleep, the officer enters La Sirena, with the Borg Queen imitating the voice of a frightened woman calling out in order to draw him in. Their meeting is not pretty, and she attacks him.
The Borg Queen calls out to Agnes, who wakes up to find the Queen slowly strangling her captive. The Queen could assimilate the officer, but she really wants Agnes. She understands Dr. Jurati’s loneliness, but Agnes’s response is to shoot her.
Agnes beams Rios, Seven, and Raffi back, who are immediately concerned because Dr. Jurati is covered in blood. She confirms that she killed the Borg Queen, but managed to save the police officer. Agnes heals him and gives him a serum to make him forget his traumatizing experiences; now they just have to move him back into his car. That’s just when Picard and Tallinn beam in, just as Picard is trying to convince the Watcher that working with his team is the correct move.
At the same time, Q confirms to Adam Soong that he has an actual cure, not just a temporary one, and Adam Soong is resigned to do whatever it takes to save his daughter. Q confesses he has certain “limitations” (is this why his powers aren’t working correctly?) and he needs Soong to remove an obstacle: Picard. (It’s not clear whether he means Renée or Jean-Luc).
Jean-Luc briefs his team on what he’s learned, and that if Renée isn’t on that Europa flight, it will lead to the Confederation. He also reveals that Renée will discover a sentient micro-organism on Io and will bring it back to Earth. They have to protect her at this gala, but security is incredibly tight (cue the heist montage music). Tallinn can get one person in, but it will only work for a short amount of time because there are active facial recognition scans during the party.
Someone has to get inside the security room in order to hack in and add their profiles to the guest list. That’s where Agnes comes in. She gets into the party but is flagged by security and ends up handcuffed in the surveillance room. It seems like everything is going to plan, until we see a flashback to Agnes shooting the Borg Queen. It turns out before she died, the Queen managed to inject her with nanoprobes, possibly either starting the process of assimilation or maybe transferring her consciousness into Agnes. And now, the Borg Queen is in Agnes’s head.
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.