Trigger Warning: this episode features depictions of suicide.
La Sirena is in trouble. The penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard’s second season begins with the Borg Queen coming for the ship, and there’s nothing that Rios can do to prevent it. His first instinct isn’t to protect the ship, though. It’s to get Teresa and her son, Ricardo, to safety.
Upon coming on board, the first thing the Borg Queen/Agnes does is to seek out the former queen’s corpse and absorb some of her material. Now she has a black Borg Queen suit to complete her new look.
The rest of the La Sirena crew, along with Tallinn, uses Tallinn’s transporter to beam back to the chateau. Rios meets up with them and gives them the bad news: Not only is Agnes on the ship already, but she’s brought drones with her.
While the Borg Queen is trying to take the ship, Agnes is still inside her fighting back. She’s taken the opportunity to go through the Borg Queen’s mind in an effort to understand why the Queen has laid waste to entire civilizations, yet she’s never satisfied by any answer. Agnes’s theory is simple: The Queen is lonely. It’s the only reason Agnes can come up with for why the Borg Queen has kept her alive.
Agnes points out that if the Borg Queen takes the ship and destroys the Europa spaceship, allowing Soong to win, then she’ll lose everything because of the Confederation. But the Borg Queen responds with knowing the future means she can change it — the Borg Collective has time to prepare to meet the threat.
What the Queen didn’t expect, though, is that Agnes remotely locked her out of La Sirena’s systems. And because she knew it would only be a matter of time before the Borg Queen wrenched it out of her, she handed the digital key over to the Emergency Combat Hologram, who appears in the form of Elnor. He’s going to be hard for the drones to catch.
Outside, things aren’t looking great, and an explosion triggers one of Picard’s early memories. We witness a sweet, funny, typical family interaction between him, his mother, and his father (Morris), after which Morris subtly and caringly inquires about his wife’s mental health. It’s clear his mother doesn’t want to discuss the subject in front of Jean-Luc (and that, despite Morris’s hopes, things aren’t getting better for her), which makes it all the more apparent why his memories of all of this are muddled — it wasn’t openly discussed in his home.
Back outside, the team has recovered and is getting ready to make a run for the house. Rios is shot in the arm, and Jean-Luc asks Tallinn to beam Rios, Teresa, and Ricardo to safety. Once Rios is gone, Jean-Luc requests that Tallinn deactivate the transporter — he doesn’t want Rios coming back and risking himself, especially with his injury. Rios is devastated when he realizes he’s locked out and can’t go back to help.
Seven decides that it’s time to switch strategies: They’re going to retreat through the chateau and split up. That way, maybe one team can make it and recapture the ship.
Soong manages to catch up with Jean-Luc and Tallinn, and Jean-Luc reads the situation right from the start. He figures out everything Soong has been promised and what he’s sacrificing in order to preserve his legacy. As Soong morphs into a complete villain, he asks Jean-Luc to surrender, offering them their lives in exchange. Jean-Luc declines, challenging Soong to find them first — after all, he grew up in this house and knows its secrets better than anyone.
His idea is to escape into the tunnels under the house — the stuff of Jean-Luc’s own nightmares. We see a flashback to his mother insisting they play hide and seek in the tunnels, even though Morris has forbidden the boy from going down there. It’s clear that all of this is not going to end well, and we’re going to find the other part of the darkness in his past he hasn’t faced yet.
Raffi and Seven aren’t having great luck either. They’re creeping through the chateau trying to get to the ship, but they’re getting attacked by drones. As Raffi patches Seven up and they get ready for the next fight, Seven reveals something surprising: She tried to join Starfleet after Voyager returned from the Delta Quadrant, and they wouldn’t let her in because she was an ex-Borg. Captain Janeway threatened to resign over it, but Seven found a home with the Fenris Rangers.
Before they dive back into the fray, Seven makes one thing clear. They’re not going to get out of this alive. With a nod from Raffi, they make a run for the ship.
Back on La Sirena, Elnor is doing an admirable job hiding from the Queen and her drone forces, while in Tallinn’s apartment, Rios is desperately trying to wire the transporter to take him back to his crew. Teresa rightly points out that he’s a liability to his friends with his injury and will just end up getting himself killed.
Soong finds the tunnel entrance, while Picard and Tallinn navigate their depths. In a flashback, young Jean-Luc finds his mother and worriedly asks her if they can return to the chateau (and normalcy). It’s clear he’s scared and worried and is taking on much, much more than any child should have to. They hear Morris in the distance, calling for them, and Jean-Luc’s mother runs. It’s at this point that young Jean-Luc gets left behind, his foot caught in a broken floorboard, which is where his father finds him. Morris found Jean-Luc’s mother and locked her in a room — the one we’ve seen in his flashbacks, the one with a white door.
Raffi and Seven manage to board La Sirena, and Raffi comes face to face with hologram Elnor. He informs her that he’s not the Elnor she knows, but it doesn’t matter. It gives Raffi the time she needs to find some closure, as he tells her that Elnor loved her and didn’t blame her for his death. Elnor unlocks the ship’s systems for Seven, and she clears a path to the transporters.
Seven manages to beam the drones into the walls of the tunnels under the chateau, neutralizing them. The only Borg left on the ship is the Queen/Jurati. Unfortunately, Seven is unable to transport her to the brig. They manage to take her down, but their attempt to appeal to Jurati is futile. The Queen stabs Seven through the stomach with one of her tentacles and it does not look good. What’s more, because Elnor unlocked the ship so Seven could access the transporters, the Queen now has full control of La Sirena and sets its course for the Delta Quadrant.
She’s ready to end Seven’s life, but something stops her. The Queen realizes there are tears running down her cheeks — Agnes’s tears. Because the Queen has been hurting innocent people and Jurati’s crew, Agnes was able to use that sadness she felt to regain some control of her body.
The Borg Queen always loses. It doesn’t matter which universe. Her hubris and arrogance catch up with her. But Agnes proposes a different way forward: Rather than forcing people to connect with the Queen, and become drones, why not give them a choice? But do it together — Agnes and the Queen both, as one. Why not save the people who need it?
It infuriates the Queen at first — “You’d have us collect scraps???” — but Agnes offers her the chance to build a Collective based on salvation. One that not only allows its members to retain their uniqueness, but celebrates it. Individuality, which the Borg Queen has always written off as a weakness, is actually a strength. People will fight for this Collective because they chose to be a part of it.
It is Seven who sets the shining example of what the Borg could be: a mixture of Borg and human, who fights for others.
Back at the chateau, in the solarium, Soong catches up with Picard and Tallinn and is ready to end their lives. Meanwhile, Rios manages to reboot the transporter, as Teresa begs him not to go. She wants him to stay with her, to stay in this time. He kisses her, and then beams away, and just in time. He’s able to save Tallinn and Jean-Luc, while Soong makes an escape.
The Borg Queen chooses to listen to Agnes and save Seven, returning her to her former half-Borg state, complete with the familiar implants. As Seven comes to terms with it all, it becomes clear the Borg Queen and Agnes have really merged and are something entirely different.
As Rios runs to the ship to find out what is happening, Picard is transfixed by a key he finds on the floor. It’s the key to that white door, the one his mother was behind. When he was a boy, he opened it and let her out after she begged him to, and a suppressed memory comes to the surface: her body, hanging from a noose. She committed suicide in the solarium. He thinks that if he hadn’t let her out, she would have remained alive. Jean-Luc was just a child, and it’s not his guilt to carry. He comes to terms with his memory and finds some peace.
It seems as though Seven may be on a similar journey. Raffi points out that she’s been fighting her implants and the fact that she’s part Borg for a long time. Maybe it’s time to just accept it’s who she is.
Agnes is still planning on taking the ship, and Seven does something extraordinary: She lets her go. We’ve seen Seven fight the Borg again and again, showing no mercy and reiterating again and again how they can’t be trusted. It shows how much potential this new union has, and what the Collective could be, that Seven accepts it and even says that perhaps they could be friends. It’s also starting to become clear who that mysterious Borg Queen was in the season premiere, who had her face strangely covered so we couldn’t see it.
What the Queen says next is key: There must be two Renées. One who lives and one who dies. It’s not exactly clear what she means, but it’s probably something like this. To change the Collective in the future, to preserve what Agnes is trying to do, Renée must die. But she must also live to make sure the darkness of the Confederation never sees the light of day.
It’s unclear what exactly has to be done, but it’s safe to say the season finale is going to be exciting.
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.