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REVIEW: Star Trek: Picard: “Vox”

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The penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard has arrived! This is our second to last episode of the series, and the plot to the third and final season is finally unfolding. Thankfully, this episode is packed with big reveals and explosive moments. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this episode as it culminates the events of the third season rather well. However, we’ve also got to discuss the episode’s writing and storytelling. 

RED ALERT – SPOILER WARNING, this is our full in-depth review of Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 9!

Jack & Locutus

Last week, we ended the episode on one of the biggest cliffhangers, Jack and Troi opening the Red Door. It turns out that behind the red door is the Borg, a Borg Cube in a nebula. Thankfully we finally got to the point where this mystery was revealed. Also, the vines symbolize connection, which makes sense with the Borg. But it connects with a location from Jack’s past. This is Raritan IV, a Deltan planet seen in the second season of Star Trek: Picard. 

We learn a little more about why Picard’s body was at Daystrom Station. It was Soong when transferring Picard’s mind from his dead body into his new flesh and blood synthetic body, who noticed the structural defect and wanted to investigate it more.

A nice scene is Jack talking to Picard. The emotion running through that room is so tangible. Picard deals with his trauma of assimilation and shares that with Jack. Jack is dealing with his identity issues. Not knowing whether who he was, is who he is and whether he has had free will or just been following instructions.

You then do have Jack trying to escape, taking control of the security guards, and asking Picard about not the protocols of Starfleet, not the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. But the protocols of the father. Where sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.

Patrick Stewart as Picard and Ed Speleers as Jack Crusher in “The Bounty” Episode 306, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Counselor Troi

One thing I will say is that Troi does not give the best Counselor actions in this episode or previous episodes. She took away Riker’s trauma and grief of losing his son, not helping him deal with it. Which I can understand. But her actions in this episode are not good.

She is talking to Jack and saying she is with him, he is not alone. But as soon as she opens the door she runs away and leaves him alone. She goes straight to his parents voiding any counselor patient confidentiality and enacts protocols to section Jack into a Vulcan facility.

Yes, Starfleet has dealt with many gifted children before, Charlie X for example. So probably has protocols in place to deal with things like this, but it still doesn’t look good.

Ed Speleers as Jack Crusher and Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi in “Vox” Episode 309, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Remains of the Borg Uni-Complex?

So Jack goes to the Nebula, which Troi saw behind the door with the Borg Cube, but it doesn’t look like a simple Borg Cube when Jack gets there. It looks more like a fragment of the Borg Uni-complex. It also seems to it appeared through a transwarp conduit, so either it was hiding in transwarp and appeared here, or it traveled there. 

I will say the VFX shots inside the Borg Uni-complex and its transceiver, with the eras and the spinning Dyson ring-looking device was a really cool effect. It reminded me a lot of the donut-shaped Borg interview we see at the beginning of First Contact.

So when Vadic said, “He wasn’t meant for you” to Beverly in a previous episode, we knew it referred to the Borg Queen, but it is nice to have that confirmation. Everything has been leading up to this, with every little thing Vadic said, such as telling Seven it is good she is there to witness where they are going. The Titan was very clearly going to head for this nebula. 

Borg Uni-Complex

New Borg Queen

Talking of the Borg Queen, she looks remarkably similar to the design of Annie Wersching’s Borg Queen from the Confederation timeline. However, she does look a little more messed up, the room is covered in wires, and her looking somewhat frayed as well. So perhaps this is the fallout of the Neurolytic Pathogen that spread throughout the collective at the end of Voyager.

The voice of this Borg Queen is Alice Krige from Star Trek: First Contact. Her body double is played by Jane Edwina Seymour. Unfortunately not reprised by Annie Wersching, who passed away earlier this year. 

So the Borg Queen gives Jack the name of Vox, not Locutus being the One who speaks, but Vox the voice itself. This is interesting because we have a Borg called Vox in Beta Canon. As Locutus was the speaker for the Borg for the Federation, Vox was the speaker for the Borg for the Romulan Empire. Anyway, Jack gets assimilated. So I guess the finale will be Picard trying to reach his son and convince him to turn on the Borg or something.

Pictured: Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Season 2 Borg

I also have to remind anyone who may be confused why the actual Borg collective is here because some people think Season 2 completely changed the Borg timeline, which is not true. Jurati’s Borg Collective, born from a Confederation Timeline Borg Queen, stayed out of the way of time so that time could still progress as normal. That is why at the end of Season 2 of Picard, Picard was still himself, Seven was still herself, and the Timeline was not changed.

Not using The Borg from the second season does feel like an odd choice. Especially when we are using The Borg in this season. Surely the storylines could have been tied together. But then again, the creatives of Picard Season 3 clearly did not want to play in the toy box of the second season actors like Alison Pill, which is a shame as I think she could have done really well.

Pictured: Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen, Alison Pill as Jurati and Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Borg Plan

The Borg Plan is an interesting one. So they put some genetic code into Picard’s brain, and the side effects of that structural defect became Irumodic Syndrome. This is somewhat nice because it actually explains why Picard could still hear the collective in Star Trek: First Contact, despite having none of the technological Borg components in him.

The biological component in his parietal lobe was a receiver, so he could still hear the call of the Borg. Picard may have had the receiver, but that seed, somehow through Jack, became a transmitter. The receiver code was then stolen from Picard’s body by the Changelings and put into the transporter system to propagate it into the brains of everyone using a transporter in Starfleet.

A really big contrivance is that it doesn’t work on anyone over the age of 25. This also explains some limitations of Jack’s abilities. Why could he only control certain people, like Mura on the bridge?

This plan of the Borg to assimilate all the young people of Starfleet is clever and did require the Changelings to infiltrate Starfleet. And take the place of people like low-level transporter technicians aboard the Titan and other ships. The plan almost reminds me of the plan the Borg had to assimilate Earth in Voyager. Using a biological weapon, an assimilation virus, to slowly assimilate Earth after introducing it to the planet.

Borg Receiver & Transmitter

Enterprise-F & Admiral Shelby

Finally, the Odyssey-class USS Enterprise-F shows up! You do not know how long I have been waiting to see the NEXT Enterprise. Actually, if you’ve been here long enough on our channel, you will know how big of a fan of this ship we are. The scene of it leaving Earth Spacedock was fantastic. Who could have seen Admiral Shelby in command of the USS Enterprise F? That was a surprise to be sure. It’s also something that was not leaked about Star Trek: Picard Season 3.

I will say I really like the bridge of the Odyssey class from Star Trek Online, so I am a bit disappointed not to see that. Didn’t even need to be a full set. Just a green screen set would have been fine. But I do understand the need to use the Titan Bridge set just for convenience. It also reveals some of the budget constraints of the third and final season. Clearly, a lot of money was spent on the guest stars and the CGI of the USS Enterprise-D.

Admiral Shelby can be seen speaking about the NX-01 and Jonathan Archer. This is the cornerstone of the Federation Starfleet we find ourselves in. If it were not for Archer and the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise, then none of this would be around right now. Sadly, it does seem like Shelby does not last long. Once the fleet is taken over by the Borg, Shelby seems to be killed in action on her bridge by the Borg Kids. Guess that is what we are calling them.

Enterprise F

Starfleet Automation

It’s actually Riker who points out a rather odd problem here. Shelby endorsing something so Borg-like seems out of character. Naturally, the Changelings appear to have taken out other people who likely would have pointed out the problem with the Fleet Synchronization plans. I mean, has anyone seen ‘Battlestar Galactica’? The characters haven’t, but the writers clearly have. 

Automation has never worked with Starfleet, they have a long history of this. From the M-5 computer in Star Trek: The Original Series trying to destroy other Starfleet ships for its own protection. Control amassing all the Section 31 ships and using them to wipe out life as life is the biggest threat to the Federation in Star Trek: Discovery. Only 20 years prior we had the Texas-Class issue from Star Trek: Lower Decks. And ‘The Battle of Gamma Serpentis’ from Star Trek: Prodigy, so many examples!

How Fares the Titan?

Back on the Titan, things aren’t going any better for them as they did for Shelby. We have Mura, Sidney, and Esmar all being assimilated and taking control of the ship, forcing the senior staff members to try and evacuate the ship.

Funnily Raffi is nowhere to be seen in this entire episode until the end where she appears with the rest of the group on the maintenance deck where they are going to evacuate. 

Shaw, Raffi, and Seven stay on the Titan and make sure the old TNG crew manages to get off the ship. Shaw gets shot, and it is actually a really emotional moment, which I didn’t expect. Todd Stashwick has really been the best of a lot of these scenes, and he finally gets his moment of redemption here. He gives the Titan to Seven and finally says her proper name.

So for all those people asking for a Shaw show… guess that won’t happen anymore. Unless Seven does what she did to Neelix and assimilates him to bring him back to life!

The Humor of Data

Data has been growing on me a lot. I really disliked how they brought him back. I would have preferred Brent Spiner to play a new character, or as originally envisioned – a combination of all his other personalities.

How Brent has managed to give such emotion to this version of Data is so good. I particularly loved the scene where Geordi tells Data to be more positive and Data says “I hope we die more quickly!”.

LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge and Brent Spiner as Data in “Vox” Episode 309, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Your Technological Distinctiveness Has Been Added To Our Own

The Borg now has control of an entire fleet of starships and is going to destroy Earth Space Dock and the Planetary Defences.

To this point, they should have shown the Space Dock being destroyed as well as the Excelsior earlier in the episode. Seeing it on an LCARs display and alluding to the destruction of Earth Space Dock doesn’t really hammer home how big a threat this is. So far we have only seen a couple of people die, and a light on a screen flash out.

Earth Space Dock Concept Art by James Chung

Back to the Fleet Museum

The final part of this episode is the crew heading to the fleet museum, something we all suspected when they started to talk about fleet automation. Using the non-automated to fight the automated. Again as we all suspected, Hanger 12 has the USS Enterprise D. Last season we did see a note on a display saying the saucer of the Enterprise D was recovered from the planet it crashed on. Geordi has been repairing it for the last 20 years, which also gives us a little indication that Geordi has been at the fleet museum since 2381. This does conflict with some ancillary information of Geordi helping out at Utopia Planitia up to 2385, but he could be being vague and saying 20 years.

A nice little note is when Geordi says they cannot use the Enterprise E, “for reasons” and everyone looks at Worf who says “That was not my fault”. I fully believe Worf was captain of the Enterprise E for a short time, and probably rammed the ship into something and caused such major damage to it.

Fleet Museum Concept Art by James Chung

Enterprise D

We get a nice look at the bridge, and I am sure people will talk about how better-lit this bridge is to the bridge of the Titan and other Starfleet ships of this period. And in another weird piece of dialogue, Picard says that he has missed the carpet. I don’t know whether this is mocking fans who have been talking about carpeted floors on starships or agreeing with them.

As you might expect, a handful of people cannot operate a Galaxy class ship alone, but Geordi does mention the ship is being operated by drones. So it may not be automated, but it is indirectly automated. We saw these droids repairing the Titan in a previous episode.

Legacy of Family

There is a lot of talk about family, Sidney, Alandra, and Jack also being part of the family. However, I find it weird that Kestra isn’t mentioned, or Soji for that matter. This season seems to be about the legacy of our TNG crew, and having some of their children hardly mentioned just seems weird.

The planet Soji was on in Season 2 was even mentioned in this episode, Raritan IV, so not mentioning her seems weird. If we do get another show, I so hope Data and Soji can interact. Anyway, with the final member of the family acquired – the Enterprise D – they can finally get to work. Exiting the fleet museum with an “engage”, and that is the end of the episode. A 40-year-old relic against a fleet of automated state-of-the-art starships. I wonder how they are going to fix this one?

Mica Burton as Ensign Alandra La Forge and Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut as Sidney La Forge in “The Bounty” Episode 306, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Conclusion

Episode 9 of season 3 of Star Trek: Picard entitled “Vox” was written by Sean Tretta & Kiley Rossetter, and directed by showrunner Terry Matalas. Overall this is a really good-quality episode, but it is not without its flaws. While some scenes, such as the return of the Enterprise-D and the proper introduction of Enterprise-F are fantastic, other plot elements somewhat fall flat. For example, Jack Crusher and the resolution of his storyline. Well, not an entire resolution, but rather the Borg reveals.

The struggle of the last eight episodes of Star Trek: Picard is invalidated, as the first 5 minutes of the penultimate episode reveal that it was just a choice for Jack to hand himself over. Yes, he tried to do this originally with Vadic. But now the mystery is revealed, he just walks straight into the Borg Queen’s hands, thinking he knows better. We could say this is due to him being isolated by his parents and friends. That is somewhat made clear via his line to Jean-Luc about being a good father. 

Patrick Stewart as Picard in “Vox” Episode 309, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tension

One downside of Picard’s third season is the dragging out of the plot. It’s something this entire series has had a problem with. Thankfully, the penultimate episode gets straight to the point of what Jack’s visions are. These are related to the Borg. We somewhat guessed what direction the season was going here. This type of plotting is described as “Mystery Box” storytelling. 

Another problem is the tension. While the stakes are very high in this episode with the kids being assimilated, in our opinion the narrative tension falls off when we get to the Enterprise-D. They could have assimilated Earth in the time it takes them to get back from the Fleet Museum. In all honesty, getting the Enterprise-D should have been mid-episode. The final cliffhanger should have been something like the USS Excelsior being destroyed by the fleet. The Enterprise-D could have warped into Sol-System, with the cliffhanger watching Earth Space Dock being destroyed. It would effectively highlight the scale and depth of the infiltration. 

USS Excelsior – Excelsior II Class – Concept Art by John Eaves

Enterprise D

Speaking of the Enterprise-D. This is where fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation get fed well. You could not have made this scene better in my opinion. While we somewhat knew something like this was coming, thanks to the signposting in the series writing, the effect of seeing the Galaxy class back on our screens was fantastic and emotional. Seeing the crew walk around this bridge again really sold this reunion for me. While the cast may be the real stars, so are the ships in the Star Trek Universe.

Conclusion

Now we ask ourselves, how the hell are The Next Generation crew going to get themselves out of this mess? The Enterprise-D is like a 40-year-old starship at this point. It’s been updated and restored but there is no way it will take on the entire Starfleet Armada. Not even the crippled Borg themselves. The final episode this season, and for their whole series of Picard is titled, “The Last Generation” and will air next week. With the USS Enterprise-D back and kicking, again, who saw that one coming? It surely is going to be an explosive ending. I hope.

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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📰 – INTERVIEW: Star Trek: Picard Showrunner Talks Season 3!

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🔍️ – Explore Star Trek: Picard’s Stargazer


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Dom Paris
Dom Parishttps://twitter.com/DomDParis
The resident "Loremaster" among the team, Dom is typically found fact-checking videos and articles for the Trek Central team, as well as reviewing the latest episodes and movies.

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