Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

Vadic forces Picard to make an impossible choice – deliver what he can never give... or watch his crew perish. Their only salvation lies in the mind of an old friend and old foe.



Making herself comfortable in the captain's chair while smoking on the USS Titan-A's bridge, Vadic orders her followers to "take [the crew's] eyes" and lock down the ship's controls, just as Geordi La Forge unplugs Daystrom Android M-5-10 (controlled by Lore) from the ship's computer. As the lights go out, his daughter Alandra asks if he had in fact disconnected the android, and Geordi assures her he did; he knows Vadic has the bridge. Vadic then decides to "take their ears" by disabling internal communications, her crew ambushing that of the Titan in the corridors. Vadic herself takes "the very road ahead of them" by sealing the doors. As she forces her prisoners – Captain Shaw, Seven of Nine, and the remaining bridge crew – to listen to the screams of their comrades, Vadic rises, eyes closed and hands waving like a conductor at the sound, before she closes the channel, walking down the line of the crew. Most stare at her with either fear or contempt; a tear falls down Esmar's face at the fate of their shipmates.

Picard and Beverly Crusher attempt to access the security systems from sickbay, but cannot break the security lockout. As he watches his parents work, Jack Crusher backs up against a wall, his eyes beginning to glow red, as Sidney La Forge wonders what he is doing; he is able to hear that thought in her head. His focus goes outside sickbay, and he is able to hear the thoughts of the Titan's crew. He is able to get inside the mind of a security officer, who wonders where the rest of his squad is. Seeing through his eyes, he advances down the corridor, finding several shipmates either dead or trying to hide, before the man is shot dead by one of Vadic's crew. Jack returns to himself, gasping in pain, before he tells the others that it was no use: The Titan is Vadic's now, and her crew controls most of the ship.

As if to emphasize this, Vadic addresses the entire ship, telling the crew that she has left them without sight, sound, or freedom of movement; if she so wished, she could leave them without air to breathe or gravity to stand, or make the environmental controls boil them or freeze them – or, she adds, she could be on her way with Jack in tow. She tells them to consider this, while she considers which of the bridge crew they would miss the most. "So, Jack Crusher to the bridge, would you please," she finishes.

Act One[]

While Vadic and most of her crew are on the Titan, Riker and Troi are kept in a holding cell aboard the Shrike, where Troi tries to clean the blood from Riker's injuries. He tells his imzadi that he missed her, and she jokes that she should have taught him another word, like yintaru, which means "baby of immense size". She can sense that he has changed; he admits that when they were in the Ryton Nebula, he had come face-to-face with "bleakness", something he hadn't felt since their son Thad died. When they came out of it, the first thing he wanted was to see her face, having missed loving her. Troi is sure this is Riker's concussion talking, and he agrees, but adds that when Vadic's people kill them, he will die knowing he'd given his last dose of the "old Riker charm" for her. Troi mentions that the Changeling who had impersonated him had been "charming" too – "good in bed, bad at pizza," is her assessment, which Riker laughingly sees as being much like himself. Troi had known they were impostors before she even knew they were Changelings, and that she knows these Changelings are different. Riker confirms their evolved physiology. Most of the Changeling crew is off the ship along with Vadic, and Troi wonders if they did the right thing, sending out the compromised prefix code. Riker confesses that he couldn't bear to see them torture her anymore, and also believes Picard will know what to do. He is convinced Vadic is about to be caught in a "classic Captain Picard trap" even as they speak.

Back on the Titan, Vadic finds the captain's chair quite "cozy" and expresses a desire to take it with her. Shaw is glaring at Seven, who tells him not to give her that look; she doesn't intend to apologize. He tells her she should have destroyed the turbolift he was on, but Seven didn't, and would make the same decision again, refusing to trade lives. Shaw reminds her she is a Starfleet officer, and doesn't have the luxury of making decisions that feel "hunky-dory" to her, and that everything has consequences. Seven asks whether those consequences include saving his life, and when he addresses her as "Commander Hansen," she puts her foot down and uses the name she prefers. Shaw warns about the consequences that haven't happened yet, not just to either of them, but to the entire ship. Vadic then orders a team sent down to find Jack, while she tries to coax him out with "fresh meat." She sounds the all-hands again, but addresses Jack directly, asking if he enjoys "forcing chaos" upon the crew. She gives him ten minutes to come to the bridge, or she will begin executing the bridge crew, one for every ten minutes that she is forced to wait.

Jack is prepared to give himself up, but both his parents refuse; Picard points out that once Vadic has him, she will destroy the ship anyway before taking him wherever she plans to. Jack thinks she is just planning to take him to the Great Link, but Picard recalls how she spoke about seeking revenge, and thinks the plan is far more complicated. Jack emphasizes that he himself is not a Changeling, becoming increasingly upset as he admits that how he presented was a way to distract himself from this constant feeling that he is different. He wants to tell them something, and before he can finish the sentence, both Beverly and Picard assure him they are there for him. Jack believes he can retake the ship, as he has the ability to connect to other people, see through their eyes, and control their movements. He knows it sounds crazy, but he is not hallucinating, and Beverly runs her medical scanner to confirm this. Sidney backs him up, saying that he had done so with her, and had saved her life by using this ability of his. Picard thinks this is why Vadic is so bent on capturing him, because of this unique gift. He knows that high-ranking Starfleet officers have access to an override codex that can allow them to lock down the ship in the event of a hostile takeover, but it can also be used to lift said lockdown. However, the only controls that can do so are on the bridge, as Vadic has locked down the rest of the ship. Jack thinks he can get up to the bridge, and take control of a member of the bridge crew to access the controls, emphasizing that he has to try it.

Vadic warns that Jack has one minute left. Just then, Mura's eyes begin to glow red; Jack has taken control, and Picard tells him to input the codex into a console. Just as Jack/Mura is about to input the override, however, Vadic catches him. She wonders how Mura knew Picard's override codex, but realizes that Jack is in control, and seems glad to see he's realizing his full potential. As he returns to himself, Jack tells the others that Vadic knows about him. Vadic then speaks over the all-hands again, warning that his first ten minutes are up. She first forces Esmar to their knees, and Esmar identifies themself by name, rank, and position. She then repeats this for Mura, but as he identifies himself similarly, she stops him, saying she wants to know if he had people who love him. Mura admits he has a son. Vadic points out that Picard has a son too, and suggests Mura tell him to come up to the bridge. Mura refuses, because he is Starfleet. Vadic threateningly asks if the others want to see what control looks like, before coming around behind Esmar and putting her phaser to their head. As she is about to pull the trigger, however, she suddenly turns and vaporizes T'Veen instead. She again demands that Jack come to the bridge, or she will continue to kill the bridge crew.

Act Two[]

Aboard the Shrike, Riker believes the Titan's strategic advantage will not last, and that they are still outgunned; he and Troi might not survive. He is worried that their daughter Kestra will lose everyone in her life now because of this. Troi bluntly asks him if he is giving up again, pointing out he left the second Picard called, putting half a galaxy between them. She knows he was angry about what she did when Thad died, but believes he gave up. Riker doesn't feel like he gave up, but admits to feeling numb because their son died, and he needed to feel the grief. Troi felt the grief was taking him over, and he was disappearing from them. He retorts that she used her Betazoid powers to push herself into his head to dull the pain, and when that wasn't enough, they both gave up. Unlike Riker, she could feel everyone's grief, not just her own. He accuses her of trying to erase his last connection to Thad; she replies she had tried to take it, to help him carry it. However, she had forgotten what all counselors have to remember, and that was that they can't skip to the end of healing. She confesses to disliking Nepenthe; though she knows they went there for Thad. She dislikes their house, thinking it was designed by "retro prairie hipsters," and compares the sound of the local birds (Nepenthian red-winged banshees, Riker recalls) to screaming babies. Riker agrees, remembering how even the front steps of their home groaned at him. She admits to missing the sounds of a city, and the crowds of people. When Riker asks why they had gone to Nepenthe, she answers that one has to go through the door to what's next.

One of Vadic's crew enters, weapon in hand. Riker pushes it away from Troi, and is promptly shoved down for his trouble. As the Changeling's weapon raises, however, a blade goes through its back. As it collapses to the deck, Worf vaporizes it with a phaser. Both are overjoyed to see him, hugging him (to the point where Worf protests that he has a right to personal space). Worf admits he has counted the days since he had last seen Troi, and thought of her empathic gifts often during his self-evaluation (something Troi considers "wonderful" and Riker "inappropriate"). He goes on about his self-improvement, to which Riker wonders if it is a rescue or a continuation of the torture. Worf finally agrees they have to leave, but first there is something they have to see. Outside the Shrike, a cloaked Starfleet shuttlecraft holds position.

Horrified by T'Veen's execution, Jack is now adamant that the only way to end the standoff is to turn himself over to Vadic. Meanwhile, Sidney continues to try to access the security lockout. She thinks she could come up with an override in about a year, and her father in about a month, but not in mere minutes. They would need an AI matrix capable of trillions of operations a second. Picard realizes there is someone onboard the Titan who can.

In the computer room, Geordi continues to try to reach out to Data inside the android, and turns when the doors open, phaser in hand, seeing Picard, Beverly, Jack, and Sidney. Both sides are wary that they have been replaced by Changelings. Geordi begins by saying that six years earlier, Picard had given him an anniversary gift. Picard recalls it had been a Chateau Picard Bordeaux, which Geordi had called "too dry" because his taste in wine is "pedestrian" at best, assuring Geordi that he is dealing with the real Picard. They explain that they need to use the android to regain control of the ship. Geordi is not too keen on the idea, however, as Data is not alone inside the android. Picard recalls the partition that separates the two personalities, something Geordi thinks is a good thing, as there would otherwise be nothing to prevent Lore from erasing Data otherwise. Picard wonders if there is a way to reverse this, so that Data could erase Lore and take full control. Geordi warns that Data's ethical subroutines would prevent that, but with no other option and with Sidney's urging, he tries to get to work. Jack leaves to buy them the time they need. Geordi warns Data to "buckle up" as he lowers the partition in the android's positronic brain.

Inside the mind of the android, Lore sees that the partition is coming down, and mocks the crew's hopes that Data will overcome Lore to help them regain control of the ship. Data begins to recall his memories, finding himself holding Sherlock Holmes' cap as he recalls a conversation he had with Geordi decades before, about how Holmes had a place for everything in his office. Lore taunts Data about collecting "trinkets," while his mind would hold symbols of power and conquest, which he believes to be the only sensible measure of the success of a life. Data holds Holmes' pipe, as he replies that the "trinkets" are his memories, the only sensible measure of the worth of a life. As the partition comes down, Lore steps right into his face, raving about how he was left abandoned and alone while Data was "showered" with love and affection, calling it a waste because he can't even feel it. He takes the pipe from Data's hand, and Data begins to glitch. He looks somewhat frightened as he asks what Lore has done, and Lore smugly replies that he is overpowering him, as he always could – one lifeform replacing another. "Evolution, my dear Watson," he says mockingly while smoking the pipe.

Aboard the Shrike, Worf, Riker, and Troi meet up with Musiker, where Worf shows what they have found: Picard's preserved biological remains, taken from Daystrom Station. However, the Changelings have removed sections of Picard's parietal lobe affected by Irumodic Syndrome. Riker wonders why they would want that, and Musiker accesses the ship's database. Musiker and Troi introduce themselves to one another, remarking on the "strange days" they've recently had. As Musiker completes the download, Riker tries to reach the Titan, but the shields are up and communications down. An alarm begins to sound at the same time: Riker and Troi's absence has been discovered. They immediately leave to return to the shuttle.

Vadic learns the prisoners have escaped, and decides to give another demonstration of her impatience, preparing now to execute Mura. Just then, the turbolift activates – someone is on their way up. It proves to be none other than Jack himself. Vadic had been sure the "baby boy" would decline her invitation, and Jack quips that his mother taught him better manners than that. "I even brought you a gift," he adds, as he raises an unknown device in his hand.

Act Three[]

Geordi worriedly watches as Lore's red matrix begins to overcome Data's blue, slowly changing color in a patchy, random order. Picard wonders if they can do anything to help, but Geordi knows they can't; this battle is all Data's now. Inside, Data, now holding a tricorder, finds it difficult to maintain focus, but Lore counters that it is not his focus he is losing, but his existence. Soon Lore will consume him utterly, and all of his memories, so priceless to him, would simply fade away. Data admits that his memories define who he is, as he conjures up another: the hologram of Natasha Yar he had kept for many years. He recognizes that in his current state, he is powerless to stop Lore. Lore agrees, and is glad that Data does too, as he takes the hologram and tosses it aside. Picard pleads with Data to fight, needing his help to retake the ship.

Vadic wonders if Jack thinks his "gift" will kill her. Jack concedes it may or may not, but he is certain it will kill him. He demands that she release the Titan's crew if she wants him alive. Vadic tells her crew to lock the Titan officers in the conference room. Shaw exchanges a look with Jack, who nods in reply. Seven hangs back, before returning to the bridge. When Shaw demands to know what she is doing, she retorts that she is "accepting the consequences." Jack tells her she should have gone, and she counters that he shouldn't have come up. Vadic finds it fitting that Seven stays to witness what is coming, but Jack returns her attention to him: He is there now, and asks what she wants. "Your gifts," she replies. Jack angrily tells her to enlighten him about those "gifts," since she seems to know so much about them. She asks him how it felt, roaming from planet to planet, species to species, trying to outrun the "constant shadow" of his isolation and loneliness. Jack tells her that when she wanted to stop talking in "batshit circles," he would be "all ears." She knows he has heard voices, and wonders what they were, hearing so many voices after years of silence. She offers to help "put the pieces together," give him the answers he seeks. She knows he has seen a red door in his hallucinations, and asks if he has ever wondered what is behind it.

Geordi warns that Data's primary functions are shutting down, and that Lore is writing his own code; they are about to lose Data forever. Inside, Data hands Lore a pack of playing cards, recalling all the times he had spent playing poker with his friends. Lore is confused as to why Data is giving him these things. "Because you have had nothing, and I have had everything," Data replies. Outside, Picard admits he is no expert, but it looks like Data is surrendering to Lore. Inside, Data recalls his pet cat, Spot, remarking how a "simple creature" managed something he considers "miraculous" – teaching Data how to love. Spot was the best of him, and indeed the last of him. Lore simply takes Spot from his arms… and with that, Data fades away. Geordi tearfully tells his friends that that is it: Data is gone, and Lore has now taken complete control. But as Lore holds Spot in his arms, he now begins to glitch… and Data returns. The scan of the android's positronic brain shows the red of Lore's matrix being completely overwritten by a great, overwhelming wave of Data's blue matrix. Lore, now fearful and confused himself, wonders what has happened. Data tells him he discovered the error in Lore's deception: Lore had claimed that Data's memories meant nothing to him, but because they meant something to Data himself, Lore could not resist seizing them as trophies. Lore had taken the things that were Data, and in that way has become Data: the two are now one. He embraces his older brother one last time and they bid one another goodbye, as Lore digitally dissipates as a separate entity to be absorbed by Data.

Daystrom Android M-5-10 regains control of Titan

"Greetings, USS Titan. This is your friendly, positronic, pissed-off security system back on line."

The android awakens with a gasp, taking in his environment. Geordi cautiously asks if they are speaking to Data, and he confirms they are. Picard tells him the ship is in trouble. Data, now more confident-sounding, urges him to say no more, as he accesses the ship's systems. They are able to regain communications, and make contact with Riker on the shuttlecraft Emerson. Sidney explains the situation and clears them to dock. Meanwhile, Data now addresses the ship, saying that the "friendly positronic, pissed-off security system" is back online, and is initiating an "immediate shift change." Vadic sends all but one of her crew to find them. Musiker is waiting for them, blades in hand; as one is about to get the drop on her, however, Worf vaporizes it with a phaser. Data now calls to Jack, telling him he's up. Jack activates the device in his hand and stands close to Seven – but it proves to be a personal force field bubble, protecting him and Seven. Picard orders the evacuation hatch on the bridge opened, and as the two Changelings spin towards the noise of the hatch unlocking from behind the viewscreen, Seven tells Vadic to get off her bridge. "Oh, fucking solids," Vadic seethes, just before she and the other Changeling are vented into space. Vadic begins to freeze from exposure to vacuum before impacting with the Shrike's deflector, shattering into pieces.

Shrike destroyed

The Shrike is destroyed

Seven releases the crew, and presents Shaw with his ship back. Shaw orders the crew to stations; they aren't done yet. Esmar reports that Riker's team is back onboard. Shaw elects to give Seven the honor of destroying the Shrike. Seven orders Mura to target the Shrike and give it everything they have, something Mura does gladly.

With the Titan unleashing a volley of five photon torpedoes, the Shrike is no more.

Act Four[]

Musiker vaporizes the downed Changelings, as Worf commends her on her performance, but points out flaws in her combat style, something Musiker considers to be "bullshit." Riker and Troi catch up to them, Riker considering Musiker "scary." Just then, Troi feels an overwhelming sensation, what she calls an "all-consuming darkness" somewhere on the ship.

Picard is glad to see Data has returned to them again. Data expresses the hope that they will see the friend they once knew, and that for better or worse, he has changed; he is clearly older now, for one thing. Beverly thinks it good to see him anyway, young or old. Data had always wanted the totality of the Human experience, and had already tasted death, but admits this is a new experience now, as he actually feels his neck crack slightly while doing his characteristic head tilt.

As the Titan leaves the Shrike's wreck behind, Data expresses the belief that they are "good" here now, and Geordi points out he has used a contraction. Data counters that he didn't (again using a contraction), before Geordi realizes that Data is joking. It is one of many new changes for him; he is Data, but also Lore, B-4, and all else that Altan Soong programmed into this new body. When Geordi asks how he feels, Data replies simply that he does feel now. Geordi hopes that he can now sense how happy he is to have his old friend back, and Data admits that his gratitude for that friendship has remained forever constant.

Geordi brings Data (who has gotten changed into uniform of his familiar operations gold) to the conference room, introducing him as the "newest version of a very old friend". Troi joyfully embraces him. Riker mentions he has had an "upgrade", and Data assures him that he is mostly himself, albeit with a bit of "computational joie de vivre" as he puts it. Picard mentions that the last time they spoke, Data had expressed his wish to experience death, and hopes that, glad as everyone is to see him, they have not betrayed that wish. Data knows that version of him is "resting peacefully," but this new Data would rather be there with them more than anywhere else in the universe. They assemble around the conference table, Riker thinking it had been a long time since they had all sat around a table like this. "Too long, really, by far," Geordi agrees. Beverly admits while it was her hardship that brought them all together, she is glad to see them, as she has missed them all over the years. Troi confesses she had spoken to Beverly in her darkest times, and even in happy times, glad to be able to do so even when she wasn't there. Worf says that he had slaughtered "countless" enemies, and considered sending their heads to his former shipmates, but was advised that it would be "passive-aggressive," earning a laugh from the others. Picard is glad to be able to be with his old friends again, because he needs their help to deal with the Changeling infiltration of Starfleet. Geordi reminds them that Frontier Day is just hours away, and Riker adds that they still have almost no answers, though they are analyzing the information from the Shrike's computers to find out what exactly they were extracting from Picard's body. Data points out that this was all factual information, which ignores an "emotional truth." Troi agrees, recalling what she sensed when she came onboard – whatever the Changelings' plans for Frontier Day are, they seem directly tied to Jack. Beverly reveals what he had told them of the visions and voices, and what they have seen of the abilities he has. Picard adds that whatever the cause, they are also getting stronger. Troi thinks the darkness she sensed is not directly inside Jack, but around him – along with an ancient and weak voice that is not his own. She thinks it is time she meets him.

As the Titan engages her cloak, Jack meets with Troi, who asks if he is ready. Jack admits that one did not practice a lifetime of charismatic deflection to simply let people in. Troi concedes that as a counselor, it would be normal for him to seek her out, but given the circumstances, the quickest path to the truth is the one they need now. She holds out her hands to him, and after a moment's hesitation, he takes them. She tells him to focus, before asking if, in any of his dreams or imagination, or even when awake, if he had ever seen a door. Jack confirms he has seen a red door, a talking door, and he has no desire to open it because he is terrified of what's behind it. Troi urges him that it might be time to open it. Jack refuses, but Troi assures him they will do it together, that he won't be alone. Inside Jack's mind, he stands with Troi inside a corridor on the Titan, the door at the end of it. As Troi places her hand on the knob to open it, the voices continue to whisper Jack's name.

Memorable quotes[]

"I've missed you, imzadi."
"Imzad… I should have taught you another word. Yintaru?"
"Yintaru? What does that mean?"
"Baby of immense size."

- Riker and Troi

"We went there for Thad but it's really not my cup of tea."
"Honey, it's not mine either!"
"That house, it's like it was designed by a cabal of retro prairie hipsters!"
"Even the way the-the front stairs groaned at me."
"It's a very judgy foyer."

- Troi and Riker

"One's personal space is a right."

- Worf, while being hugged by Riker and Troi upon rescuing them

"Deanna, I have counted the days since I last saw you, like waves in the ocean. Constant and unending. I have thought of your empathic gifts often during my self-evaluation."
"Well, that's wonderful, Worf!"

- Worf, upon seeing Troi again, and Riker's response

"Six years ago, you brought a gift to my anniversary dinner on Rigel."
"A Chateau Picard Bordeaux, which you said was too dry, because your taste in wine is pedestrian at best."
"Definitely Picard."

- Geordi La Forge and Picard, when Picard and his family enter Engineering.

"While I was left abandoned, alone, you were showered with all the love and friendship the galaxy could offer. What a waste. You can't even feel enough to enjoy it."

- Lore, to Data

"This is Spot. This simple creature managed something quite miraculous. Something of which I did not know I was capable. In a way, he taught me to love. He is the best of me. The last of me."

- Data, to Lore

"Strange days, huh?"
"You're telling me."

- Musiker and Troi, introducing themselves while on the Shrike

"Greetings, USS Titan. This is your friendly positronic, pissed-off, security system. Back online. Unwanted guests and monologuing protoplasms, I am initiating an immediate shift change."

- Data, after taking control of the Titan

"Bridge, open the evacuation hatch now."
"Get off my bridge!"
"Oh, fucking solids."

- Picard, Seven of Nine, and Vadic, shortly before the changeling is blown out into space from the Titan's bridge

"Well, tell me. How do you feel?"
"I feel… I feel."
"Well… I hope that you can sense as fully as any Human has ever felt anything how happy I am to have my friend back."
"And it would be negligent of me not to say, despite my many changes, the one thing that will remain forever constant is my gratitude for your friendship."

- Geordi La Forge and Data

"It's been a long time since we all sat around a table like this."

- Riker, as the former senior staff of the Enterprise-D all take a seat in the Titan's observation lounge

"I have slaughtered countless enemies over the years and considered sending their heads to all of you but I was advised that that was… passive-aggressive."

- Worf

Background information[]


Cast and characters[]


Links and references[]


Special guest stars[]

Guest starring[]


Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]

  • Alyma Dorsey as stunt double for Michelle Hurd
  • Quinn Early as stunt double for Michael Dorn
  • Josh Fried as stunt double for Ed Speleers



2395; admiral; B-4; baby; Bajoran; bed; Betazoid; birds; blood; body; Bordeaux; boy; bridge; brother; cadet; captain (rank); captain (title); cat; Changeling; Chateau Picard; "Chevalier, Le"; cigarette; combadge; commander; commodore; comms; Constitution III-class; contraction; copulation; days; Daystrom Station; death; deception; docking; doctor; door; ears; Emerson; error; evacuation hatch; evolution; eyes; father; Federation; friend; "fucking"; Great Link; grief; Haliian; hat; head; "hell"; Holmes, Sherlock; holocube; hologram; hybrid; impatience; imzadi; Irumodic Syndrome; Klingon; kur'leth; lighter; manners; memory; month; mother; Mura's son; name; Nepenthe; Nepenthian red-winged banshees; Nonnikcam; ocean; partition; personal force field generator; personal space; pipe; "pissed off"; pizza; playing card; poker; powers; protoplasm; red; rescue mission; Rigel; right; Riker, William T. (Changeling); road; robot; Ryton Nebula; security system; Shrike; shuttlecraft (aka shuttle); "solids"; son; Soong, Altan; Soong-type android; Starfleet; Starfleet tricorder; Starfleet uniform; telepathy; Titan-A, USS; torture; Troi-Riker, Kestra; Troi-Riker, Thaddeus; Troi-Riker house; trophy; turbolift; type 2 phaser; Vulcan; Watson, John; waves; wine; woodpecker; year

LCARS references[]

auxiliary fusion generator; atmospheric distribution; engram cluster; EPS network; optical data network; override; positronic matrix; power distribution; reaction control system; security override; security protocol; subspace communication wave

External links[]

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Picard
Season 3
Next episode: