As we reach the middle of the season, the plot is beginning to thicken into a rich, meaty, amorphous goo. The Changelings, who were revealed a couple episodes ago, have infiltrated even the highest echelons of Starfleet command. We still don’t know what their true aims are. Every action seems to be a feint to hide something bigger.
Back on M’Talas Prime we rejoin Worf and Raffi as they try to uncover the conspiracy. It seems that all roads lead to Daystrom Station, but Worf’s Federation handler isn’t going to allow any direct action, despite commanding Worf to “find another way.” The last lead died with Sneed, but Worf quickly identifies a Vulcan break-in artist, Krinn, who worked with Sneed. Krinn is going to be their way in. However, the pair fail to get the drop on Krinn and his crew; instead he and his henchmen overpower them.
“Ye olde fight to the death”
For the second time this episode, we see Raffi and Worf fight (this time for real). Worf again brings up his sacrifices before sacrificing himself to Raffi’s well-placed blade. When Krinn is satisfied that he’s dead, he lets his guard down to gloat and monologue…before Worf reappears! He’s gone full monk/samurai this season, right down to the old “slow down the heart rate so as to appear dead” trick (aka the Kayless Technique).
Now that they have Krinn, they learn about the neat little device he gave the Changelings to facilitate the break-in on Daystrom Station. So now they have what they need to break back in and investigate. Prepare for Brent Spiner next episode!
Picard faces down his old protégé
On the Titan, chickens are coming home to roost, it’s time to face the music, and more clichés. Shaw has alerted Starfleet to Picard and Riker’s crimes. It already seems suspicious that Starfleet’s response is to send a delegation to this far-flung corner of Federation space to give the boys a stern talking-to. Even more suspicious is that Ro Laren (possibly the first Bejoran in the galaxy) shows up to do the interrogating. Right away, she knows about the Changeling problem and is quick to prove she bleeds. She’s also much more interested in Jack than she is in Picard’s “crimes.”
Commander Ro and Picard have a difficult history, which we learn about in a tense holodeck 10 Forward chat over drawn phasers and Bejoran Spring Wine. Ro Laren was at some point Picard’s protegé, but then she betrayed him and Starfleet by joining the Maquis in the days leading up to the Dominion War. Picard blames her for turning her back on Starfleet, but she believes she was standing up against injustice and that blind faith in institutions is a bad thing.
The privacy of the holodeck is where she is able to reveal to Picard the degree to which Starfleet is comprimised. Picard is the last hope (of course he is) to save the Federation, even if it means working against the institution itself.
We learn from Dr. Crusher that the Changelings can now replicate internal organs and blood (shoutout to Ensign LaForge for witnessing her own autopsy). During the Dominion War, the quick test of “are you a Changeling?” was “Do you bleed?” The Changelings have now evolved beyond the blood test. Starfleet’s antiquated approach to security has allowed the Changelings to infiltrate with ease.
Ro believes her crew on the Intrepid is compromised. When she and her security officers return to the shuttle, she kamikazes the Intrepid’s port nacelle in one final, glorious sacrifice. Before her departure, she gives Picard her oft-mentioned Bejoran earring. Riker cleverly deduces that the earring is a storage device containing everything she’s uncovered about the Changeling conspiracy so far. Furthermore, we learn that Ro was Worf’s handler, and now the separate plot threads are joined. Next stop: Daystrom.
What’s the deal with Jack Crusher?
The biggest unanswered question that remains at this point in Star Trek: Picard is: “What is going on with Jack Crusher?” We’ve seen flashes of his bizarre nightmares of red doors and black tentacles, and in this episode we have more nightmares about murdering innocent crewmen before he goes full River Tam and takes out a four-Changeling hit squad single-handedly. It seems like something bigger is going on around Jack; Dr. Crusher mentions that he had similar nightmares as a child. And why would Ro know about him ahead of time? What was Vadic’s role here? Did the weird hand thing mean she was also a Changeling?
Could it be that Jack’s very existence means he’s some sort of sleeper agent for the Dominion? The timeline would roughly fit. We are currently in the year 2401. If Jack is 22-23 years old, he was “born” in 2379. The Dominion War ended in 2375, giving the Changelings six or seven years to develop the technology to fake a pregnancy with Beverly Crusher…
Okay, this has gone off the rails. I don’t know what’s happening here, but it could very well be SOMETHING, given the series’ fascination with characters not knowing their true selves (Soji in season 1, Juarti/Borg Queen and Kore Soong season 2).