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Picard begins investigating the mystery of Dahj as well as what her very existence means to the Federation. Without Starfleet's support, Picard is left leaning on others for help, including Dr. Agnes Jurati and an estranged former colleague, Raffi Musiker. Meanwhile, hidden enemies are also interested in where Picard's search for the truth about Dahj will lead.

Summary Edit

Prologue Edit

In 2385, at the Utopia Planitia Shipyards, it is First Contact Day and a skeleton crew is working during the holiday. A full collection of the A500 artificial lifeform is summoned out of storage for the work day; they each have a designation with a letter and number branded on their foreheads. Created by the Daystrom Institute's Division of Advanced Synthetic Research, each has the same yellow-gold skin and golden eyes as Data did.

The synth F8 interacts with the skeleton crew, having them banter back and forth with him; they try telling jokes and, as with Data, the synth has no understanding of humor. It seems that these artificial lifeforms are far less advanced than Data was as they have no ability to interact with the people on any manageable level, leaving an awkwardness to the people working there.

F8

F8 smiles at a joke without understanding it

As they continue, one of the workers comments that F8 creeps her out and another admonishes her for it, with the retort being that the synths are not people and it does not matter if she says things that would offend a Human.

Later in the day as the crew is having their lunch, F8 appears to either malfunction or be taken over by an unknown source as his irises glitch; he begins tampering with the consoles and lowering the shields for the base. When the crew begin to notice his actions, one crew member attempts to stop him; when he gets within arm's length, F8 breaks the man's neck without hesitating.

What appears to be the planetary defense grid is activated and turns towards the planet. One of the station's crew calls for security, explaining that F8 has been compromised. As she is doing this, F8 walks to the side of the room and picks up a welder, using it to murder the entire staff and the security officers who arrive to respond.

His job done, as the planetary defenses fire, F8 raises the welder to his head, terminating himself.

Act One Edit

Back at Château Picard in 2399, Jean-Luc Picard and his housekeepers Laris and Zhaban review the security footage at Starfleet Headquarters showing the blast that injured Picard and killed Dahj Asha. The computer tells them that there was no trace of Dahj at the scene. To have erased Dahj's presence, Zhaban states that it matches the Tal Shiar's methods except for the fact that this happened out of their reach on Earth, but Laris believes the Zhat Vash, a secretive facade for the Tal Shiar, is more likely to have done so.

The housekeepers, former Tal Shiar operatives, explain to Picard that the Zhat Vash is known as a myth for scaremongering, but is actually an organization established thousands of years ago to keep secrets. Laris reveals that as a recruit, one of her first handlers had told her the Zhat Vash holds a deep loathing and fear of artificial lifeforms. (Zhaban interjects that his father had gotten the handler, his mother, drunk on Romulan ale at the time.) Laris justifies the existence of the Zhat Vash, pointing to the absence of androids, artificial intelligence, and studies on cybernetics in Romulan culture. Romulan computers are limited purely to numerical functions.

Picard and Laris beam into Dahj's apartment, where her boyfriend Caler was murdered and find the place lived in but otherwise undisturbed. Laris takes out a device used to conduct molecular reconstruction, a Romulan forensics technique. Picard reminds her that the technique is illegal in the Federation and its results are dubious. Grinning, Laris explains that is exactly what the Romulans wish the Federation to believe. She holds the device in her hand and sweeps it across the room, emitting a thin blue ray. When the ray reaches the couch, a reconstruction shows Dahj and Caler conversing moments before Caler's death: even the music that was playing can be heard.

But the reconstruction terminates moments later, immediately prior to the three Romulans beaming in; Laris finds the termination extraordinary and suspects that the Zhat Vash has wiped the particle residuals and saturated the room with antileptons, even though this would have been at no small risk to themselves. Seeing the Zhat Vash's ability to remove forensic traces, Picard begins to believe the Zhat Vash exists.

To find the whereabouts of Soji Asha, Dahj's identical twin sister, Picard suggests they scour Dahj's digital assistant for records indicating that Dahj had contacted Soji. They find that even though the data still exists, the index sorting the data has been deleted. Laris then taps into the heuristics that the computer has built to quickly identify its owner, which may contain tags created when the digital assistant corrected itself after misidentifying Soji for Dahj. Incoming records cannot show where Soji is located, but it indicates that she is not on Earth.

Narek and Soji talk about living in the wreckage of the Borg cube that she calls the Artifact. The Artifact is severed from the Borg Collective and thus is vulnerable. Narek complains that the ship itself is not very Romulan, with the exceptions of the owners and the extraction of Borg technology, which creates a sizable profit. They both joke that Soji was sent by their enemies and since she slept with Narek, he became an accessory to the fact; now she has to be silenced. They both share an intimate moment before the alarm goes off and it's time for both to get going to work. Soji asks if it's allowed for the two of them to be sleeping together, and Narek says definitely not and asks in Romulan if she can keep a secret, which she can. Kissing her on the forehead, he replies that so can he, at which she scoffs at while smiling.

Back on Earth, Picard is visited by Dr. Moritz Benayoun, an old friend from his time on the USS Stargazer; Picard says it's been a very long time. Picard offers some tea and mentions that his office will be forwarding the medical information to Starfleet once he's seen the results. Mortiz stays silent and suggests to the retired admiral that he should get something stronger.

Act Two Edit

Moritz says that his medical scan results were at or above Starfleet minimums in every category and he was amazed that even at his age Picard is in excellent health, with one exception: an abnormality in the parietal lobe in his brain, which Picard was aware could be a problem. (TNG: "All Good Things...") When asked what it could be, Mortiz says bluntly that while there are a number of prognoses and treatment options, they all end the same way. Picard asks Mortiz to certify him for interstellar travel with Starfleet. Mortiz questions why he wants to go back out in space knowing his condition but, says if Picard's lucky, the trouble he's going to get into will kill him first.

Arriving at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, Picard enters the building and views a hologram of the USS Enterprise before it changes to a familiar ship: the USS Enterprise-D. He is greeted by a young ensign at the desk and mentions he has a meeting with the CNC (commander in chief). The ensign gives him a visitor badge and mentions to the admiral that it's nice to see him up and around again. Picard goes upstairs to an office where he meets Fleet Admiral Kirsten Clancy. Clancy questions why he's at Starfleet Headquarters, and Picard says he is looking for Bruce Maddox and mentions that Maddox is using neurons from the late Lieutenant Commander Data to create a new organic synthetic. Clancy confirms that is exactly what he's doing, and says it gets better when Picard mentions Romulan involvement. Picard says that if there's a chance that whatever is left of Data is somewhere out there, the Federation owes it to him to investigate. While Picard concedes that they have frequently not seen eye-to-eye, he requests that she temporarily reinstate him to Starfleet and be given command of a small reconnaissance vessel with a minimal crew for one mission only. He also suggests that if his rank of admiral is too conspicuous, then he will accept a demotion to captain.

Right away, Clancy blasts Picard's suggestion, calling it "sheer fucking hubris", and mentions Picard's FNN interview, which Picard concedes that was a mistake. The admiral reminds Picard that the Romulans were their enemies and even before the Attack on Mars, there were fourteen species within the Federation that were threatening to cut ties with them, so they were faced with either saving the Romulans and allowing the Federation to implode or leaving the Romulans to their fate. Picard says that it's not up to the Federation to decide which species lives or dies, but Clancy says they do, as thousands of species within the Federation rely on one another for unity and cohesion. She also adds that they didn't have enough ships so they had to make choices, but she mentions that Picard didn't like his orders. Immediately Picard gets up from his chair and states he was standing up for what the Federation represents, what it should still represent. Clancy immediately takes offense at his lecturing and Picard warns that she can ignore him at her cost and that she's in peril, but all she sees are pitiable delusions from a once-great man desperate to matter, and she tells him in no uncertain terms to go home, and officially denies his request to be reinstated.

Act Three Edit

At the reclamation site, Soji is in the changing room, dressed in an orange overall. She helps a female Trill having trouble with the fasteners on her overall who had just arrived. Noting that the Romulans either don't yet know the extent of the damage the cube sustained – or maybe they do and don't tell anyone – she puts a device on herself and the Trill, and turns it on. She smiles and tells her new friend she's going to be fine.

Just before entering the gray zone, the checkpoint supervisor welcomes a group of workers, telling them that, as guests of the Borg Artifact Research Institute, their safety is very important. He reminds them not to venture outside their designated areas.

The Trill suddenly notices Narek, wondering who he is. Soji tells her his name. The Trill remarks that she didn't know Romulans could be so hot. Soji concurs, with a smile on her face.

The supervisor remarks that it's possible they will encounter former members of the Collective, and if the badge starts to blink green, they must run.

The doors open, and the workers pass through some sort of screening field to enter the gray zone. Narek approaches, and Soji starts to introduce her new friend, but he already knows her: Doctor Naáshala Kunamadéstifee, of Trill Polytech. Naáshala is worried that the cube could be reconnected to the Collective, but both Soji and Narek reassure her there is no danger: the link is broken, and to the Collective, this cube is just a graveyard.

As she is begins to enter, Narek stops Soji and asks if he can join her for the procedure. She responds that he needs to get approval from the director of the project. She leaves, and Narek mutters that he actually doesn't.

Back at La Barre, Doctor Agnes Jurati is visiting Picard. When he thanks her for coming over, she jokes that it was hard to tear away from the action at her lab. When asked what tea she'd like, she responds Earl Grey, much to Picard's delight. She gathered Maddox's work from his ten years at the institute, but it's mostly redacted. She also did some digging into Dahj and confirms that she was accepted into Daystrom. In fact, she was a little too perfect a candidate. Doctor Jurati has a feeling that her entire identity was created all at once, around three years ago. Picard wonders if Maddox could have done that, and she says he had the ability but doesn't know what his motive could be. Jurati tells Picard that he should not look for what Dahj was after, but rather look for the other android. If she's out there, where is she, and what is she after?

Back at the reclamation site, Dr. Kabath, a Romulan scientist, is recording her procedure as she removes the left arm implant of a "nameless" Borg. Soji resents Kabath calling the Borg "nameless", arguing that he had a name, and they just don't know what it was. Kabath responds that "Nameless" is a name. She then removes the ocular processing core from the drone's left eye. Soji holds the drone's hand, and whispers in Romulan: "You are free, my friend."

It's 9 pm at Château Picard, and the admiral is in his study. He picks up a silver box and takes something out of it. He walks outside, pins what looks like his old combadge on his chest, and, after a second or two of hesitation, he taps it and calls Raffi, telling her to not hang up, he needs her help: he needs a ship.

Act Four Edit

At Starfleet headquarters, Commodore Oh, a Starfleet officer appearing to be Vulcan, has been contacted by Admiral Clancy about Picard, of whom Oh says that they all thought that the "Hermit of La Barre" was safely mothballed at his vineyard; suddenly he is inescapable. When Clancy mentions Maddox's name, Oh is interested in knowing if he is still alive, but Clancy doesn't think it matters. Clancy goes on about Picard's "wild talk", saying it was sad. Oh reminds Clancy that if there were clandestine Romulan operations on Earth, she would know, and then Clancy would know, because it would be an intolerable act of war. Clancy agrees, but says she just wanted to check in with her. She doesn't put any stock into what Picard claimed, but out of an abundance of caution, she wants Oh to look into it. As soon as the conversation is over, Oh calls for Lieutenant Rizzo.

Back in La Barre, Laris is furious about Picard's plan to seek out Soji. He states that the daughter of his good friend has come to him for help, and was killed in front of his eyes by a Romulan death squad that will probably seek and destroy her twin sister, and wonders if Laris wants him to sit here doing nothing. She responds she wants him not to die. He says he has to go, and even though he doesn't fully understand all of it, he knows that it's important, and not only to him. Laris tells him to go, and take Zahban with him, so they can die together.

After Laris storms out of the study, Zahban notes that she does understand, but is simply worried for Picard. Arguing that the grapes are far more in need of protection than he is, the admiral tells the Romulan that he needs to stay behind for Laris and that the harvest is in less than a month. Zahban suggests that Picard contact his old crew, such as Riker, Worf, or La Forge because he'll need the help. Picard had considered it, but ultimately decided against it: he won't ask them because he knows they would do it in a heartbeat and put themselves at risk out of loyalty to him, and he just can't go through that again. Zahban concludes then that he needs someone who hates him and has nothing to lose. Picard informs him that he's already made the call.

In San Francisco, Lt. Rizzo, a Human female, enters Commodore Oh's office, who is examining a freeze-frame of the rooftop feed. She asks the lieutenant if the reflection off a metal handrail happens to look like disruptor fire, but Rizzo denies it. The commodore relates her conversation with Admiral Clancy, and tells the lieutenant that Picard has information about clandestine Romulan operations on Earth. Oh also reports that Picard named Zhat Vash, and that he tried to get a ship to find Bruce Maddox, although she adds that Clancy didn't mention either of those points. The lieutenant wonders how the commodore knows, but Oh takes offense at the question. Rizzo apologizes, noting that the situation is "unexpected", which Oh says is a "dirty word", perhaps the worst of all in their "line of work". Rizzo asks if she needs to take care of Picard, but Oh responds that while Rizzo's zeal and passion are commendable, they are nearly overbalanced by her impatience, which is not a good thing for an undercover agent. Oh believes that Clancy has adequately discouraged Picard but if the need arises, Oh will take care of him herself. She wants Rizzo to stay on her mission, and even though her team destroyed "the thing", losing the opportunity to interrogate it and nearly blew their cover, she now has a second opportunity that she must not squander. Having avoided eye contact during the reprimand, Rizzo says she has her best man on it, but that doesn't seem to reassure the commodore, noting that Rizzo's agent has a "troubling penchant for the unexpected", and she's had it with surprises: "everything is at stake". Rizzo vouches for the agent with her life; Oh agrees that her life is very much at stake and strongly recommends that Rizzo personally see to it that her man, and thus Rizzo, do not fail.

Picard gets out of a taxi shuttle in the middle of Vasquez Rocks, the only thing with him a bottle of Chateau Picard in a net bag. He walks to a house, from which a woman emerges with an energy rifle. She tells him he can call the taxi back and go back the way he came. His hands raised, Picard responds he just wants to talk, but there is nothing he can say she wants to hear. He turns around, noting as he walks away that secret Romulan assassins are operating on Earth. She asks if the bottle he brought is "the '86", powers down her weapon, and reluctantly invites Picard back.

Back on the cube, Rizzo appears to Narek as a hologram. He opines that her surgically-rounded ears look ridiculous, making her look "like a plucked wakak"; she tells him to shut up. On his progress, he says that indeed he has made some and that his approach (which she signed off on), although slow, is the only sound one. She hopes so for both their sake: if it doesn't start paying off soon, she'll have to un-approve it. She tells him that Commodore Oh is "quite distressed" and that having long been a useful ally, they can't afford her turning on them. She then informs Narek that she will arrive soon. He takes offense, stating that he is on top of it. Turning to the unmade bed, Rizzo confirms that it would seem so. She then asks if he found the nest, and if "the machine" has given up the location of its fellow abominations. He doesn't respond and walks through her image. She says that a lot of people have reservations about his approach, and calls him "baby brother". If he doesn't have any results by the time she arrives, she will have to try her own approach, and that won't be a pleasant one; another disastrous outcome will consume them both.

Memorable quotes Edit

"Yo, F8. You get into any trouble last night?"
"Hell yeah."
"Hell yeah? Doing what?"
"... Nothing."
"Hell yeah."
"Hell yeah."

- Shipyard Worker and F8


"What is Zhat Vash?"
"A Tal Shiar myth. It's a kind of boogeyman they use to frighten new recruits, and children."

- Picard and Zhaban


"Zhat Vash is a term sometimes used to refer to the dead; the only reliable keepers of secrets."
"Ominous."
"No, fitting, because that's the sole purpose of the Zhat Vash. To keep a secret so profound and terrible, just learning it can break a person's mind."

- Zhaban, Picard, and Laris


"Romulan methods of forensic molecular reconstruction are illegal in the Federation."
"Really? I had no idea."
"They're also unreliable, and the results are dubious at best."
"Ah yes, that's exactly what we wanted you to think."

- Picard and Laris


"Is everything Romulans do a secret?"
"Ooh, I'm not at liberty to divulge that."
"Is your name actually Narek?"
"One of them."
"So is there anything you can tell me about yourself?"
"Yes. I'm a very... private person."

- Soji Asha and Narek


"Commander Data was not only my colleague, he was my dear friend and he gave his life, body, and soul to the Federation."

- Jean-Luc Picard, to Kirsten Clancy


"The sheer fucking hubris. You think you can just waltz back in here and be entrusted with taking men and women into space?"

- Kirsten Clancy, to Jean-Luc Picard


"The Romulans were our enemies, and we tried to help them for as long as we could, but even before the synthetics attacked Mars, fourteen species within the Federation said 'Cut the Romulans loose, or we'll pull out.' It was a choice between allowing the Federation to implode, or letting the Romulans go."
"The Federation does not get to decide if a species lives or dies."
"Yes we do. We absolutely do. Thousands of other species depend upon us for unity, for cohesion. We didn't have enough ships left. We had to make choices, but the great Captain Picard didn't like his orders."
"I was standing up for the Federation for what it represents! For what it should STILL represent!"
"How dare you lecture me!"

- Clancy and Picard


"This is no longer your house, Jean-Luc, so do what you're good at: go home. Request denied."

- Kirsten Clancy, denying Picard's request for reinstatement


"When a cube undergoes submatrix collapse, the Collective immediately severs its link to the afflicted population. As far as the Collective are concerned, this is just a graveyard."
"And what does that make us?"
"The same as you find in any graveyard. Some have come to feed on the dead, some are ghosts, and a few, like you, Dr. Asha, have pinned their hopes on resurrection."

- Narek and Soji Asha


"I never really cared for science fiction. I guess… I just didn't get it."

- Picard, seeing Dr. Jurati reading Isaac Asimov's The Complete Robot


"Why do you call them 'the Nameless'? Their species had a name, we just don't know what it was."
"Nameless is a name."

- Soji Asha and the Romulan Artifact Worker


"What?! Have you gone mad?! Is it dementia?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Sorry, but you're not a stupid man, so when I hear you say a stupid idea, I have to ask for other explanations."

- Laris and Picard


"You can't do it alone. You need help, you need protection. You need a crew. Riker, Worf, La Forge."
"No. I thought about it, and they would do it in a heartbeat, and that's precisely why I cannot ask them. They would put themselves at risk out of loyalty to me, and I do not want to have to go through that again."
"Okay, you need someone who hates you, and has nothing to lose."
"I've already made the call."

- Zhaban and Picard


"You can turn around and call that cab to take you right back where you came from."
"Just want to talk."
"There isn't anything you could say that I want to hear."
"Secret Romulan assassins are operating on Earth."
"... Is that the '86?"

- Raffi Musiker and Picard

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

  • This episode features two prominent examples of real-world profanity. Admiral Clancy reacts to Picard's plea to reinstate him with "The sheer fucking hubris," while Laris refers to the Zhat Vash with the more mild Irish insult "cheeky feckers". This is only the second time "fuck" or a variation thereof is heard on an episode of Star Trek, following "Choose Your Pain".
  • "Sneaky feckers" was originally written as "sneaky bastards" but changed by Irish actress Orla Brady with the approval of writer Michael Chabon. [1]

Cast and characters Edit

Production Edit

Visual effects Edit

  • The replicator used in the work room at Utopia Planitia is a modified and de-branded FlashForge Dreamer 3D printer. The nozzle and heater block are visible; with the bed replaced, this would be a fully functional "replicator".

Reception and aftermath Edit

Continuity Edit

  • This episode confirms that the attack on Mars occurred in 2385, two years before the Romulan supernova. The events of this episode happen fourteen years later, confirming the setting of the first season of Star Trek: Picard as the year 2399.
  • The opening scene of this episode offers another perspective of the events shown in "Children of Mars". This time, an android and workers at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards are shown shortly before the attack.
  • The treatment of F8 and other androids at Utopia Planitia is reminiscent of the situation of outdated EMH Mark Is, which were reassigned to do manual labor at Federation mining colonies by 2378, as mentioned in "Author, Author". It was even implied that their access to the writings of The Doctor could lead to increased discontent among the former EMHs.
  • Laris and Zhaban are revealed to be former operatives of the Tal Shiar. Laris also retains access to Tal Shiar equipment, some of which is illegal in the Federation.
  • The existence of the Romulan Free State is established. Its connection to the Romulan Star Empire is not explored.
  • An introspective into Romulan culture is offered by Laris, confirming the Romulans' tendency towards secrecy. This aspect was also explored in many previous Star Trek installments which prominently featured Romulans, such as "Balance of Terror", "The Defector", "Face of the Enemy", "Eye of the Needle", and Star Trek Nemesis.
  • This episode establishes that a deep fear and loathing of artificial intelligence and synthetic life is embedded within Romulan culture, which includes a ban on cybernetics. Curiously, Alidar Jarok mentions in "The Defector" that he knows Romulan cyberneticists who would be interested in studying Data.
  • Laris claims that the long-established Tal Shiar is only a facade for a more ancient and secret cabal, the Zhat Vash. The Zhat Vash are said to protect a profound secret, the nature of which remains unknown.
  • Doctor Moritz Benayoun served as a medical officer on the USS Stargazer under Picard's command.
  • Picard is revealed to be suffering from one of several possible forms of neurological disorder, indicated by a problem in his parietal lobe. Picard claims that he was made aware of such a possibility long ago, referring to the events of "All Good Things...". In the alternate timelines presented in that episode, Picard is diagnosed with Irumodic Syndrome by Dr. Crusher and suffers from the disease by 2394. Although these events ultimately did not happen, Picard was implied to retain his memories of the timelines he experienced.
  • Zhaban suggests that Picard should seek out help from William T. Riker, Geordi La Forge, or Worf in his quest to find out the truth about the synthetics created by Bruce Maddox. Picard declines, citing fears that these former colleagues and friends would be all too eager to put their life in danger for him.
  • Dr. Jurati says that people in the synthetic humanoid field tend to get a little "secret-planny", which was certainly true of Noonian Soong.
  • Kirsten Clancy is the first fleet admiral and first commander in chief shown in the 24th century.
  • Oh marks the first 24th century appearance of a commodore and only the second appearance of a flag officer in a gold uniform, as opposed to the usual red command uniform.
  • A star chart of Federation territory and its surroundings is visible on a wall panel in Admiral Clancy's office. No details are discernible, but the star chart seems to follow a similar layout to maps introduced in reference works such as Star Trek: Star Charts. Ever since the release of Star Charts in 2002, graphics based on the book have been included in Star Trek productions, such as Star Trek Into Darkness and "Context Is for Kings".
  • A holographic display of a Constitution-class and a Galaxy-class starship can bee seen inside Starfleet Command. The Constitution-class appears with the updated visual design seen on Star Trek: Discovery.
  • Chronologically, this episode marks the first appearance of a Borg drone since "Endgame". The Borg appeared last in "Regeneration", set in the 22nd century.
  • This is the first episode to introduce the term "xB", for ex-Borg. Jean-Luc Picard was the first of the ex-Borgs, after his disconnection from the hive mind in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". Other previous ex-Borgs include Hugh, Seven of Nine and Icheb, all of whom appear later in the series.
  • Two Andorians are seen at the Romulan Reclamation Site, marking a rare 24th century appearance of the species. They appear similar to their depiction on Star Trek: Enterprise and not their updated design from Star Trek: Discovery.

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

And

Guest starring Edit

Co-starring Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

References Edit

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External links Edit


Previous episode:
"Remembrance"
Star Trek: Picard
Season 1
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"The End is the Beginning"
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