The penultimate episode of Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard – ‘Vox’ is here. I don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye to these characters. Showrunner Terry Matalas has demonstrated he can do an amazing finale before, so the series couldn’t be in safer hands. But, like all good Star Trek fans, we’re not short of fan service. And with the events of Frontier Day upon us, there’s no better time to get into the easter eggs that have made this season so special!
The Red Door
The episode opens with the resolution to last week’s cliffhanger. Deanna (Marina Sirtis) is seen running out of the room scared after seeing inside Jack’s (Ed Speleers) head. She confirms what we all knew: the Borg are back. And they’re inside Jack. Despite the reveal being pretty obvious, it was executed nearly perfectly.
We open with a few seconds of ‘I Can’t Stop Crying’ by Will Grove White. Like the opening of the first episode, this is a part of the mixtape that Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) gave Beverly (Gates McFadden). He flashes back to memories of him and Beverly visiting a place known as the Crimson Arboretum. This is a not-so-secret nod to the Red Forest from 12 Monkeys, Matalas’ mystery box plot from his other series. We’ve gone nine for nine on me making a 12 Monkeys reference, fingers are crossed we can go for ten!
This appears to have taken place on a planet called Raritan IV. It’s not a massive planet in Trek lore but was the planet visited by Soji (Isa Briones) and Jurati (Alison Pill) at the start of Picard Season 2. References to Season 2 are very welcome, especially after the number of references to Season 1. In approaching the door, Jack hears voices, including his mother, mostly recordings of Gates McFadden, but also a freshly revealed Alice Krige. Not only are the Borg back, but so is their Queen!
Big Bad Borg
For the first time since ‘Endgame‘ from the end of Star Trek: Voyager, Alice Krige has returned as the Borg Queen. Or at least her voice has. The scene in Star Trek: Picard – ‘Vox’ uses a body double and we don’t actually see her face. Last we saw, the Queen was being attacked by the virus brought to her by future Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). Could the version we see here be horribly disfigured from the incident? Might it even be a fully assimilated Janeway? Jack also didn’t fire, which has also got me thinking it might have taken Beverly’s shape.
The Borg has Jack through some genetic modifications made to Picard during his assimilation, which were then passed down to the next generation. It also explains his ongoing connection to the Borg, especially the dream sequence at the start of Star Trek: First Contact. Usually, these sorts of retcons would annoy me, but this one actually slots in really nicely with the rest of everything else we’ve seen.
We’ve seen her want Jack as a weapon, who now appears to be all but a Borg King. We know she wants the Federation to be a pile of ashes. But this plan actually has an interesting connection to a line from Voyager’s ‘Dark Frontier‘, where the Queen (Susanna Thompson) wants to assimilate humanity through a virus, where by the time we know, it’ll already be too late.
The Changeling Conspiracy Revealed
The purpose of having transport officer Ensign Foster (Chad Lindberg) has finally been revealed. It’s also, unsurprisingly, connected to the visions we saw of vines in the transport room. I am a fan of all these seemingly random clues all seeming to be very deliberate. In hindsight, the plan all seems so spelled out, truly genius writing.
But using Picard’s Borg material to infect the underdeveloped brains of everyone under the age of 25, and then assimilate them all at once. All while the fleet is gathered together and trapped in a formation. It’s perfect, and it seems unbeatable. I don’t know what the solution to this dilemma is, but I hope there is one. Their only hope seems to lie in Jack, who’s been assimilated using the same black eye effect we’ve seen in the previous seasons of Picard.
With the cutoff age being 25, it warrants saying that due to the time difference, all the characters from the contemporary series Prodigy and Lower Decks will come out okay. Killing off major characters unceremoniously, or even worse offscreen, would be a bad move. Sadly, one of the core cast dying has been all but confirmed, and with Beverly’s reaction to Jack running off, may she make the ultimate sacrifice to save him? All signs seem to be pointing to this.
After a few weeks of speculation as to what these ceremonies might have to offer, Frontier Day is here! It didn’t disappoint either. Not only did we get to see the USS Enterprise-F, but it was commanded by returning guest star Elizabeth Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy). A very welcome surprise, even if it was a short-lived cameo. Being a character viewers aren’t supposed to like, her supposed death isn’t all that upsetting. Her speech was majestic, however, and the references to Archer (Scott Bakula) and the NX-01 were very cool.
Starfleet festivities are nothing without a fleet, though, and Star Trek: Picard – ‘Vox’ is no different. For some unknown reasons, they’ve decided that fleet formation systems are a good idea. As recently as the end of Star Trek: Prodigy‘s first season, we’ve seen ship networks just fall on their faces. I don’t know who approved this concept again. At least we also get a vocal cameo from the legendary video game voice artist Nolan North to distract us. North has also contributed voice work to numerous characters on Star Trek: Lower Decks.
We also get a decent look at the fleet, filled with ships galore! Way too many to list, but some favorites include the USS Excelsior (named for Sulu’s legendary ship), USS Hikaru Sulu (named for George Takei’s Sulu), USS Archer (named for Scott Bakula’s Archer), and USS Pulaski (for Diana Muldaur’s doctor, who must have passed away in-universe). Beyond character references, I also noted the USS Okuda, USS Drexler, and USS Trumbull, named for behind-the-scenes Trek royalty Michael Okuda, Doug Drexler, and Douglas Trumbull.
The episode’s called ‘Vox’, the name given to Jack while finally talking to the Queen. He is to be the voice of the Borg/Federation armada. She also suggests the names Regenerati (rebirth) and Puer Dei (son of god), which perhaps hold clues as to what is to come. Will Jack, as Vox, rise as the Borg King? His assimilation doesn’t fill me with a lot of hope of resistance, which the Queen pointed out was futile. Speaking of, her saying “resistance is futile” sounds like it has been edited in some way, potentially obscuring another voice.
But Jack’s not the only voice of the episode. Not only is Alice Krige’s voice back properly after her short cameo on Lower Decks, but we hear a voice we haven’t heard in far longer. Although reconstructed using clips from old episodes (specifically “Starship Mine” and “Chain of Command“), it’s an absolute pleasure to hear the voice of Majel Barrett as the ship computer’ It was a resource that could’ve been employed earlier, but saving it for the bridge of the Enterprise-D was the perfect decision.
The location of the cube was also particularly noisy. There are a lot of angry orange clouds, even spots of lightning. It’s not clear exactly where they are, but this supposed Transwarp Conduit appears to be no ordinary nebula. While it could simply be the Badlands, the colors also match the Changelings. I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t a twist about this nebula too, just like in the fourth episode of this season, admittedly on a far more sinister scale.
She has the Conn
I’ve written at some length about the subplot of Seven’s (Jeri Ryan) identity before, even highlighting it as analogous to queer and trans experiences. I’m unsurprisingly really happy to see this arc close itself off really nicely. Despite deadnaming her for the rest of the episode, Shaw (Todd Stashwick), now mortally wounded, finally refers to Seven appropriately before he dies. It’s the perfect conclusion to Shaw’s arc and the resultant trauma he has from his experiences on Wolf-359.
However, if Matalas’ plans come to fruition, Shaw will be coming back. Just how remains a mystery, but there are some intriguing possibilities. His being saved and resurrected by Borg technology would be really fitting and is probably the avenue to take. But we’ve also seen another Genesis device, and a Search for Spock successor would be a great sequel to this largely Wrath of Khan-based season.
As Shaw has said though, it’s Seven’s ship now. Raffi (Michelle Hurd) seems to be by her side, with literally the one thing she did in this episode was being chosen to stay behind on the Titan. Not only do I see them reconciling on the horizon, but this could well end up being the setup for the hypothetical Legacy spinoff series.
The cast of The Next Generation all get into a shuttle together, and then the moment we’ve all been waiting for happens. Another offscreen adventure! I don’t know what Worf did to the Enterprise-E, but I’d love to see a comic pick up on that. Nah, that’s not it… we called it weeks ago, but the sheer joy of seeing the USS Enterprise-D again is immeasurable. It’s where these characters belong. They mentioned earlier that “nobody wants the fat ones”, but now that ship is going to save the Federation one last time. Perfect.
I did think it was interesting however that Deanna only mentions Jack, Alandra (Mica Burton), and Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut). Deanna has her own daughter in Kestra (Lulu Wilson), but she’s gone mostly completely ignored. Not only this, but Data’s daughter Soji and Worf’s son Alexander exist too. Their collective absence in the season is a little disappointing given the focus on legacy and passing the torch.
The bridge is recreated, from scratch to the last detail. A beautiful sight to behold. It was all brand new except for that plaque, the same one from the show. The explanation for its existence also seems believable, with the complete clearing of Veridian III first being teased when we saw that James Kirk’s body was recovered at Daystrom. I seriously don’t think I’ll recover from seeing the bridge so perfectly recreated. I all but called it from the start, all 7 of them are exactly where they belong for the sendoff. Engage!
Looking Forward to ‘The Last Generation‘
That’s right. Next week’s the finale. The synopsis teases a “thrilling, epic conclusion”, and with all this setup, that’s sure to be true. I hope the episode is nice and long to accommodate everything set up. The legendary cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation deserves a sendoff on the same level as The Undiscovered Country. It also looks like they just might get it too, using the past 9 weeks as a metric.
I like this tease of “crews both old and new” as well. It could be referring to the Enterprise and whatever Seven does on the Titan. However, there’s also a tease of more cameos to come. Tuvok (Tim Russ) is set to be making an appearance based on Russ’ statement to be appearing in 2 episodes. May there be more Voyager cameos beyond this? Although not based on evidence, I’d also adore some cameos from the Deep Space Nine cast. I’m confident in the 24th-century crew getting the sendoff they deserve, and can’t wait!
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 airs on Thursdays via Paramount+ for those in the United States. Additionally, on Crave and the CTV Sci-Fi channel for viewers in Canada. However, new episodes air Fridays via Amazon Prime Video in international regions like the United Kingdom. Paramount+ also streams the episodes in select locations, such as Italy, Germany, and France.
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