The fourth episode of Star Trek: Picard’s second season begins with Raffi and Seven tracking down Rios’s combadge and bursting into the clinic — but, of course, they’re too late. Someone is there cleaning up after the raid, and she tells them that Cris was taken into custody. She warns that if they don’t find him soon, ICE will make sure he disappears forever.
Back in France, Jean-Luc cloaks La Sirena and he and Agnes go into the house in search of a source of warmth while the ship is self-repairing. As they walk through the abandoned chateau, intrepid viewers get the answers to questions they’ve been asking for decades — why does Jean-Luc Picard have a French name and background, but an English accent?
It turns out that during World War II, the Nazis used Chateau Picard as a base, and the Picards fled to England. In 2024, the chateau is still abandoned, though the family retains ownership. It seems as though it stays empty until a young Jean-Luc arrives at the house with his family, as we’ve seen in flashbacks. We are treated to another one, again with hints of darkness in Jean-Luc’s past (possibly incidents of domestic violence?).
Back in 2024, Jean-Luc figures out that Agnes’s subconscious is surfacing the number 15 — and Agnes calls him Dixon Hill, a callback to a private investigator program that Picard was fond of during his days on the Enterprise. They realize that it has to do with the information she lifted from the Borg Queen. Specifically, the divergence in the timeline will happen on April 15, 2024 — three days from now.
That gives the mission a new level of urgency. Since Jurati and Picard still can’t reach their other crew members, Jean-Luc decides that he needs to go and seek the Watcher himself. Agnes is left alone with the Borg Queen, which is never a good thing.
Jean-Luc heads to the coordinates that Agnes got from the Borg Queen and materializes in a very familiar place — Forward Street, Number 10. Wherever he’s being guided to, it’s clear Guinan is going to play a key role.
This Guinan is not the person we’re familiar with, though. She’s younger, for one. (El Aurians are very long lived, and as Guinan pointed out in the season premiere, they can age when they choose to but don’t have to.) She also doesn’t recognize Picard, which is interesting given that they should have already met. In The Next Generation episodes “Time’s Arrow, Parts I and II,” the Enterprise crew travels back in time to the 1800s and encounters Guinan from that time period living on Earth. It’s not clear how that fits into this timeline, but this Guinan doesn’t recognize Jean-Luc.
She’s also not inclined to help him. She’s angry and disillusioned, upset that Earth has so much potential and yet humans are intent on squandering it. She’s ready to give up on the planet altogether and to move on (it’s the bar’s closing day), though Jean-Luc begs her not to.
Meanwhile, Raffi and Seven are on a bus, and someone is playing very loud music on a boom box (a hilarious callback to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). Happily, he agrees to shut off the music, and Seven is able to have a conversation with Raffi about Elnor. It’s clear that Raffi blames herself for Elnor’s death; she’s angry and impulsive as a result.
At a police station, they try to track down Rios but aren’t having any luck. A good samaritan tells Raffi that they’re at the wrong place, and that they need to find Immigration and Customs.
We then finally get to see Rios, who’s in a grim looking detention center. It’s clear the ICE officers are getting ready to deport these people, denying them access to legal representation and treating them terribly. Teresa finds Rios and assures him she’s okay, and that because she’s a citizen she’ll be getting out of there. Rios isn’t so lucky.
Raffi breaks into a police car and accesses the Immigration and Customs database. Unfortunately, they discover that Rios is being held 25 miles away. Raffi contacts La Sirena to see about transport, and it’s a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that Agnes responds and the communicators are working again. The bad news is that transporters still aren’t operational.
It’s a good thing they’re still inside the police vehicle. After a little coaxing, Seven turns the car on and it’s immediately clear she never got a holodeck driving lesson from Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager. A car chase ensues with the police in pursuit (and the Raffi/Seven couple bickering is fantastic). Dr. Jurati tries to get the transporters online, and the Borg Queen creepily offers her help.
Meanwhile, Jean-Luc has told Guinan the sketchy details of their mission — that he’s from the future and he’s trying to prevent an alteration in the timeline. What he hasn’t told her is his name (to prevent things from getting even more messed up). He asks her to have patience with humanity, and Guinan rightly points out that it’s someone like Picard who has the luxury of patience, versus someone who looks like her.
Back at the detention center, Teresa is allowed to leave, and the terrible ICE officer informs Rios that he’s going to be deported on a bus. Cris finally decides to cooperate and gives his full name and the true story of how he ended up in that cell. Of course, the officer doesn’t believe him, which Rios fully expected. He ends up on the bus, headed to a “Sanctuary District,” and time’s running out for Seven and Raffi to rescue him.
Agnes resorts to asking the Borg Queen for her help with the transporters because she can’t get them back online in time. The Queen taunts Agnes, and talks about how she's always alone, but Agnes turns it around. She promises that if the Borg Queen promises to assist her, then Jurati will talk to her. Apparently, the Queen agrees because Jurati manages to pull Raffi and Seven out in the nick of time. They materialize by a deserted stretch of road and have to figure out how to hijack the bus without drawing attention to themselves. Meanwhile, Agnes once again limits the Borg Queen’s access to La Sirena and leaves her alone. Is she just taking some time for herself or reneging on their deal?
Jean-Luc is getting nowhere with Guinan, and she’s about to climb in her car and drive into the sunset. Finally, he gives her the last piece of information he has in order to convince her: his name. And it works. It’s not clear if it’s because she recognizes the name or senses some sort of trans-temporal importance around it, but she tells him to get into the car.
Guinan tells Jean-Luc that he’s looking for a supervisor, also known as a Watcher. They’re assigned to protect the destiny of certain people, but it’s not clear who’s in charge of the whole thing (could it have something to do with protecting the timeline, as we’ve seen from the timeships in Star Trek: Voyager?) Guinan takes Jean-Luc for a face-to-face meeting with the Watcher he’s been waiting to meet.
Apparently the Watcher has the ability to take over other people; she wants to make sure Picard isn’t being followed before she reveals herself. He follows a string of people who’ve been taken over, their eyes clouded, before he finally gets to meet the Watcher herself: Laris, or someone who looks a lot like her. She’s human, though, and it’s clear that this isn’t the person Picard knows (and possibly loves). She transports him away, but there’s one last scene before the episode ends.
A young woman we haven’t yet met walks out of a building reading a book, and an older man is watching her. It turns out it’s Q, and he’s talking to her about her fear and saying she can’t do whatever it is she’s supposed to do. He’s wearing a Europa mission lab coat and reading about space exploration, so it’s quite possible that this young woman is involved with some sort of space mission. He snaps his fingers, presumably to make her fear and doubt stronger than anything else in her head (is this how he changes the timeline?), but nothing happens. Instead, she laughs. “That’s unexpected, and most unfortunate,” Q says worriedly to himself.
This makes it clear that Jean-Luc was right. There is something wrong with Q and his powers. It seems as though Q is trying to interfere in the timeline, otherwise why would he be there? But there’s something larger going on here — What’s wrong with Q? Who does the Watcher work for? Who is this young woman? — and we’ll just have to keep watching in order to uncover what that is.
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.