Star Trek is full of “No Win Scenario” situations in which our heroes win, but is there a deeper conflict here? Star Trek: Picard “No Win Scenario”, episode 4 of season 3, contains all the action on the Titan and lets our characters be open about what they are experiencing. Jonathan Frakes directs and stars in this episode, showing us the grief behind Riker. We also have Ed Speleers continuing the fascinating character of Jack Crusher and his relationship with Picard.
This week also marks the introduction of seemingly the one pulling Captain Vadic’s strings and sets us up for the rest of the season. Who is this changeling? Could it be someone we know and induct them into the ranks of Trek Villains akin to Khan? Who knows but let’s take a look at this latest episode!
5 Years Ago – Same Uniforms!
One thing which is great about these flashbacks is that they finally reuse a previous uniform instead of making a brand new one. The previous flashback to 2381 when Thaddeus Riker was born and Riker and Picard were celebrating in Ten Forward, they introduced a new Starfleet Uniform which was sort of an in-between of the First Contact Starfleet grays and the 2385 uniform.
However in this flashback, of just Picard having some Fish and Chips in Ten Forward alone in 2396, all the ensigns who surround him for stories are wearing the uniform previously seen in Season One of Picard. So at least we know that Uniform lasts from 2396 to 2399.
5 Years Ago – Jack Crusher
And finally the reveal that Jack Crusher did meet Picard 5 years ago in that bar. Beverly told him where to find Picard, and he would be 18 or 19 at this point in time, about whether he had a family outside of Starfleet. Picard, not knowing who this young man was at the time, just says that Starfleet is his only family. This is what the ensigns expect to hear. But where Picard was at the time, retired admiral from Starfleet after their mishandling of the Romulan relocation mission, where has that family of Starfleet got him?
He may get applause, something he would still get from his speech at Starfleet academy in season 2, but it didn’t get him anyone to share that lunch with. Actual connection that he needed and wanted. When those ensigns leave, when Starfleet leaves, he (at that point in time) had no one left.
In this episode, we learn that Riker has been running from his grief over the death of his Son. In a way, this almost makes the episode of “Nepenthe” in season one that much sadder. Riker smiles happily, but now we know how much pain is underneath. It is no surprise that when Picard asks for help at the end of Star Trek: Picard Season One, Riker is there ready, back in an active role as the Captain of the Zheng He.
Not just because Picard needs help but it is a further opportunity for him to not deal with his repressed grief and feelings around his son’s death. It is also sad that Troi couldn’t help, despite being a counsellor. Therapy only works if someone wants it to work, and it seems like Riker wasn’t even ready to address the feelings around his son’s death.
I am actually really glad that their relationship issues are this, and not like some fan theories suggested that Riker was a changeling in disguise. This adds the human element to this show and is prime Star Trek of dealing with someone’s grief around the death of their son.
Seven on the Hunt
With a changeling revealed in the last episode, and knowing that Ensign Foster was the one who attacked Jack, goes straight to his quarters. She finds the dead foster, which at least lets us know the changeling infiltration was recent, and possibly while at spacedock.
The question is brought up about why the Changeling would decide to take the place of an ensign who is a transporter officer. I would then wonder if the transporter has anything to do with Jack’s current condition with the hallucinations and the red branches, though this probably isn’t the case considering it wasn’t him who used the transporter to beam them from the Eleos in episode 2, only that he was on the transporter when Jack wanted to hand himself over.
Seven is now on the hunt for said changeling. Riker allows her to hunt it down, but in an unofficial capacity. Funnily enough she goes for Shaw to help, and it is interesting that he seems to be an expert on Changelings, though I suppose he must have been active during the Dominion War while Seven was not and in the Delta Quadrant.
Seven and Shaw
Seven and Shaw get to work in the Nacelle control room, and it is actually really nice to see these two work together. Shaw still has a lot of stuff to deal with, but you can see an actual healthy effective working relationship between the two. In the process of working, they are also laying a trap for the Changeling, telling no one to be sent to nacelle control. So when Sidney La Forge comes to Nacelle control and calls Seven “Commander Hansen”, they know that is the changeling and seemingly stun it.
I do have to say it’s nice that not only was the Commander Seven scene from Sidney to Seven a nice scene for these two characters, but also foreshadowing this scene and giving us the audience enough knowledge to know what is up, was some great writing.
Vadic & her Boss
Since the reveal of the changelings, people have been wondering if Vadic and her crew are also changelings. The weird residue Riker remarked from the disintegrated goons of Vadic on the Eleos would lead me to believe this. However we get a scene with Vadic on the shrike, where she cuts her hand and a changeling goo comes out, which makes me think Vadic isn’t 100% a changeling, but just her hand is part of a changeling.
Vadic even uses a Reman knife to cut her hand off, which has our theory crafting brains wild at work. Could she be Shinzon’s surrogate mom? Perhaps someone against the Romulan Relocation Effort? We’ll have to see if this is a connection, or just a cool knife she has.
The Hand Goo forms into a Changeling face, But who could this be? I believe it might be Laas, one of the One Hundred Changelings who was sent out by the Great Link, and wanted to find his other changeling siblings in order to create a new great link. He had a hatred for solids, and maybe after seeing the dominion losing and the original great link refusing to continue their crusade, split and went to start his own crusade.
This probably makes the most sense, but also because it’s one of only other Changelings we know, as I doubt it’s the female changeling as surely she is still in Federation holding after the war.
Picard & Jack
Picard wants time with Jack, and goes to the Holodeck to discuss things with him. Even while watching this scene, I was wondering why they would be using the holodeck if the ship is having power issues. Jack even brings up this point with Picard stating it has independent power for moments just like this, something previously noted in Star Trek: Voyager.
This has been a question on the mind of a lot of people, why did Beverly call her and Picard’s son after her former husband? Obviously Picard and Jack were good friends in the academy and in their stargazer days, but we even get some confirmation from Picard himself, that even he would have called his Son Jack Crusher.
We get a story from Picard about him and Jack during their stargazer days, before Picard was captain of the ship, of stealing a shuttle to make a date with some women on a planet. Their ship was hit by asteroids and they had very little power, but together, with one of them on navigation and one of them on thrusters, they made it out alive. Their own “No Win Scenario” that they managed to survive by working together.
And this story not only foreshadows the solution for escaping the “No Win Scenario” of the current titan in the present story, but is also the reasoning behind the solution in the actual story. Jack actually uses this story, told to him by Picard mere minutes prior, as a solution to get them out of the nebula.
Shaw & Wolf 359
Something we had all theorized since the first episode when we saw the ending credits and the report on the destruction of the USS Constance at the same stardate as Wolf 359, was that Shaw was at Wolf 359 and is the reason he hates the borg and was so spiteful towards Seven and Picard in the first episode.
Shaw is probably only vocal about this due to the pain meds, but talks about how Picard, as Locutus caused wolf 359. He is clearly dealing with a lot of survivor guilt from this, being a low level “grease monkey” as he refers to himself, and also just a dipshit from Chicago but still being one of the 10 picked to escape the USS Constance.
This probably is the reason why Vadic was talking about Shaw being nonfunctional in the past by having access to his profile, knowing about his history.
In my eyes, this makes Shaw such a fascinating character, and seems to be part of his character arc. Working with Picard and Seven to actually get over this trauma and become a better person.
Crusher throughout the episode is counting down the power surges from the nebula, and deduces that from the organic readings that the nebula is a womb that is in labour. The gases they are inside are the amniotic fluid.
In quite an amazing briefing scene around a table, you have the Picard-Crusher family actually coming up with a plan to get out of the gravity well, using the energy surges of the labour contractions to power the ship and get them out of there. Again like previously, Jack Crusher recalling the story he was just told by Picard, as a solution to get the ship out.
Riker agrees, and they get to work as a full on team to get out of the nebula. Riker even gives Picard the Conn, given his experience, and Picard asks Jack to spot the incoming asteroids to move around them. They rely on each other, and manage to power the ship with the help of Shaw as well, requiring an old time grease monkey to open the nacelle grills, considering the ship is a refit of a 20 year old model and none of the current engineers could do it in time.
We even have a role reversal between the shrike and the titan, with Riker managing to throw an asteroid at the Shrike to get it out of the way, as revenge for the Shrike throwing the Eleos at the Titan.
Our crew may have escaped this “No Win Scenario” but with a changeling threat infiltrating Starfleet, will they be returning home to friend or foe?
Frakes as a director in this episode did an exceptional job, even better than last episode in my opinion. His grasp of not only trek, but also filmmaking, in general, is excellent. His use of blocking and where characters are in the shots further enhances the script written by Matalas and Tretta.
In a way this episode dealt with many emotional ramifications between characters, and they were quite open about what they needed and how they were feeling. We have Riker, Picard and Shaw all talking about their issues. Riker running from grief. Picard wants a connection with his son. Shaw reeling from survivor guilt. All this, while in a giant space womb, make this a fantastic Star Trek episode!
We’ve captured our changeling on the Titan, seen the face of our villain, and escaped the Shrike. But what is next for our intrepid crew? We’ll have to keep watching to find out.
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 airs on Paramount+ in the United States and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel and Crave in Canada. However, the series will be available on Amazon’s Prime Video service for most international locations in the following days. For coverage of all things Star Trek: Picard Season 3, follow Trek Central!
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