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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

Prologue

At the Utopia Planitia Shipyards when the synths revolted, it is First Contact Day and a skeleton crew is working during the holiday. A full collection of artificial lifeforms is in storage; they each have a designation with a letter and number branded on their foreheads. 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 that 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 offend him.

Later in the day as the crew are having their lunch, F8 appears to either malfunction or be taken over by an unknown source; he begins tampering with the consoles and compromises other synthetics and lowering the shields for the base. When a crew member attempts to stop him, 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 the situation. As she is doing this, F8 walks to the 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

Back at Château Picard, 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. Zhaban suggests that the Tal Shiar might have erased Dahj's presence, but Laris believes the Zhat Vash, a secretive facade for the Tal Shiar, is more likely to have done so.

The housekeepers, former members of the Tal Shiar, 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 her Tal Shiar handler had told her the Zhat Vash holds a deep loathing and fear of artificial lifeforms. Laris justifies the existence of the Zhat Vash, pointing to the absence of androids, artificial intelligence and cybernetics studies in the Romulan culture.

Picard and Laris travel to the home of Dahj, where her boyfriend Caler was murdered. Laris took out a device to conduct molecular reconstruction, a Romulan forensics technique. Picard reminds her that the technique is illegal in the Federation and its results dubious. Unwavered, she tells Picard that is what 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, molecules converge to re-create Dahj and Caler conversing moments before Caler's death.

But the molecules disbanded moments later, which Laris finds extraordinary and suspects that the Zhat Vash has wiped the particle residuals and saturated the room with antileptons. 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, Laris and Picard scour Dahj's digital assistant for records that Dahj had contacted her sister. They find that even though the data still exists, the index sorting the data is 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 misidentifies Soji for Dahj. Incoming records cannot show where Soji is located, but it indicates that she is not on Earth.

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Act Two

Act Three

Memorable quotes

"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

Production

Visual effects

  • 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

Continuity

  • This episode features the first appearance of a Starfleet commodore in the 24th century.
  • Chronologically, this episode marks the first appearance of a Borg drone since VOY: "Endgame".
  • This episode confirms that the events seen in ST: "Children of Mars" occurred fourteen years earlier in 2385. This means that that the events of Star Trek: Picard occur in 2399.
  • Despite being credited in the episode, Douglas Tait didn't appear in the episode itself, but appeared in previous footage from "Remembrance".
  • Both Laris and Zhaban are revealed to have been members of the Tal Shiar. Laris still apparently retains equipment from that previous role. Exactly why two former agents of an enemy power should be allowed to reside with a retired admiral of Starfleet remains unrevealed.
  • Although Laris says that Romulans do not study cybernetics, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector" mentions Romulan cyberneticists interested in Data.
  • 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 an problem in his parietal lobe. In TNG: "All Good Things...", a future Picard, retired to his vineyard, is said to be suffering from Irumodic Syndrome. While that was an alternate future with aspects that have not appeared in "prime" continuity (Picard retired as an admiral, not an ambassador, for example), it appears he will not escape that fate.
  • Dr. Jurati says that people in the synthetic humanoid field tend to get a little "secret-planny", which was certainly true of Noonian Soong.

Links and references

Starring

And

Guest starring

Co-starring

Uncredited co-stars

References

2385; 2396; A500; admiral; aircar; alpha shift; amen; Andorian; android; Artifact; antilepton; Asha, Dahj; Asimov, Isaac; beta shift; binoculars; blackboxing; boson-enriched nanopolymer; Borg Artifact Research Institute; Borg Collective; Borg cube; Borg drone; Borg reclamation project; brown; cab; cake; Calyx; captain (rank); cascade failure; Central; certificate for interstellar service; Château Picard (location); Chateau Picard (wine); chess; Class C shuttlecraft; colorful metaphor; commander in chief (CNC); commodore; Complete Robot, The; conference room; Constitution-class; Data; death; death squad; deflector shield; dementia; digital asistant; director; disruptor; doctor; dream; drone (technology); duty log; duty shift; Earl Grey tea; emergency evacuation protocol; ensign; Federation; Federation shuttle; Federation tug; fireforest; forensics; forensic molecular reconstruction; Galaxy-class; Gorn Hegemony; gradient badge; grape; graveyard; Gray Zone; Greater Boston; green tea; Gurdy; hazard protocol; hermit; Hermit of La Barre; heuristic; holo-communicator; hologram; hubris; IDIC, isonucleic residue; Kir'Shara; Klingon Empire; La Barre; La Forge, Geordi; loss of appetite; Maddox, Bruce; maintenance regulator; maven; milk; mood swing; mothball; omnipotence; ops cycle; orbital defense system; PADD; parietal lobe; particle residuum; patient 8923/3; primary reactor control sector; recreational area; reconnaissance ship; regenestasis; Regulus III; Regulus III Science Academy (R3SA); remote medscan; replicator; residency; rescue armada; Riker, William T.; Romulan; Romulan ale; Romulan Free State; Romulan language; Romulan Reclamation Site; safe zone; San Francisco; science fiction; Sector 3; secret police; security alert; security badge; security grid; security training; shift break; shift change; skeleton; skeleton crew; space pineapple; spittlebug; Starfleet; Starfleet Headquarters; Starfleet uniform; Stargazer, USS; stick; submatrix collapse; subspace relay; suicide; supervisor; synth; Synthetic Personnel; Tal Shiar; Tellarite; teratogenic coolant; titanium; tri-hy station (tri-hy station A19); Trill; Trill Polytech; twin; undercover; unnamed; Una amino matrix; Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards; Vulcan; wakak; Worf; xB; Zhat Vash

External link


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