Tensions are high this week aboard the Titan, which is to be expected as Star Trek: Picard begins hurtling toward its series finale. But there’s a lot that has to happen before we get there, including finding and hopefully rescuing Riker — and figuring out what the changelings intend to do with Picard’s original body.
This week, Jack’s self-searching gets even weirder, Data’s Jekyll and Hyde thing puts everyone in peril, and a dark secret from the Dominion War rises up to haunt the present. Let’s dig into season three’s seventh episode, “Dominion”!
From the temporary safety of a floating scrapyard, the Titan makes contact with Tuvok. He assures Seven of Nine that he has no idea where Riker is — in fact, he has no record of Riker even being in Starfleet custody. She’s intent on warning him that the changeling infiltration of Starfleet is of grave importance, particularly as Frontier Day approaches. As they speak, we see that everyone on the Titan’s bridge is trying to ascertain if they’re talking to the real Tuvok; voice analysis is inconclusive, but Seven guides the conversation in such a way that tricks Tuvok into revealing the worst: Yep, he’s a changeling. And worse than the worst, he smugly shifts into Riker and taunts Picard directly: “I’m as good as dead… just like you.” The Titan swiftly ends the call, and Geordi and Picard agree it’s time to stop hoping that Starfleet, or anyone, will step up to help them expose this conspiracy and stop whatever disaster is potentially lurking. They can only trust each other, and they’re going to have to go it alone.
But what’s that plan going to be, and how will they put it in motion with Frontier Day so close? Dr. Crusher is turning over an idea she’s not quite morally ok with: coming up with a biological way to target the changelings… “…like the virus used against them in the Dominion War,” Picard adds. It’s a slippery slope, but these are desperate times. Geordi wonders if the changelings be plotting to use Picard’s purloined body, perhaps mixed with Jack’s DNA or the DNA of another Picard relative, to create a precisely perfect Jean-Luc döppelganger. They’ll need more information to figure out what to do, and Geordi suggests they ask the one person aboard who might be able to help: Data!
Except, well, Data’s not quite himself. The personality occupying this current version of him is split into four pieces: Dr. Soong and B4 in the background, with Data and Lore fighting for dominance. It’s a whole good cop/bad cop thing as the kindly, concerned Data switches mid-sentence to become Lore, who is cruel and insulting to everyone in his midst. Geordi theorizes that Soong was hoping the personalities would integrate themselves, allowing Data to become “human” as he always wished to be. That’s food for thought, but there’s a pressing concern here since they need Data’s help — especially after he blurts out “Soong research indicates an anomalous form inside Jean-Luc Picard” — but they can’t get any information out of him when Lore’s aggressive bitchiness is standing in the way.
Meanwhile, Vadic is getting a talking-to by her big boss, a disembodied blob known as “The Face.” Who or what they represent remains unclear, but they’re not changelings. “The hour of Starfleet’s fall nears,” the Face hisses, reminding Vadic that “we must” have Jack, or else Vadic (and every other changeling) will pay the price.
Speaking of Jack, he’s hearing strange whispers, his eyes are giving off weird red flashes, and he’s able to read Sidney’s mind during their awkward flirtation. It’s worrisome enough that he talks to Picard about it: “I don’t really know what’s going on with me, but I know it isn’t anything good.” Now that the Titan has discovered the location of the Shrike, Jack offers to give himself up in exchange for Riker, but Picard has a plan for getting Vadic.
And after the Titan lures Vadic — who’s positively giddy at the thought of sinking her claws into Jack — and her well-armed underlings aboard, that plan seems to be working. After an energetic skirmish, all the bad guys are separated and trapped! But when Geordi goes to beam Sidney and Jack to safety, something’s interfering with the transporter. Actually, it’s someone… named Lore. “Chaos. He loves the chaos,” Georgi explains breathlessly to Alandra as they realise Lore has taken over not just the transporter, but every major system on the ship — including the one keeping the prison walls in place. That means Jack and Sidney, who are caught in the middle of two cells, are in real danger of being attacked by Vadic’s henchmen.
While that reality is settling in for the engineers, Dr. Crusher and Picard attempt to interrogate Vadic as the Titan bridge listens in. The big question is, naturally, why’s she after Jack? “He’s not for me,” she snaps. “We could bond over that, since he was never really for you either.” The bad blood between changeling and “solids” rises up; Vadic’s clearly still nursing plenty of hatred in the wake of the Dominion War, and there’s a good reason for that. She stops short of explaining the Jack situation just yet and instead, she weaves a tale of being held aboard Daystrom Station during the war, where she and several other changelings were forced to be part of something called “Project Proteus.”
That could not sound more ominous. As we see a flashback of a scientist who looks like Vadic’s current form, the changeling remembers, “She whistled while she injected us, exposed us, inflicted us with more pain than any being should ever be expected to endure… and all to turn us into weapons.” The perfect spies, in other words, and “the perfect monster,” able to pass on their abilities to others. Picard is shell-shocked. “I didn’t know,” he stammers. “The Federation took my family, and now I will take yours!” Vadic declares.
While Picard and Crusher realise they’re not going to get any more information out of Vadic and discuss what to do next (Crusher’s ready to off her, it seems? And Picard agrees?), Geordi pleads with Lore, trying to draw Data out, delivering a touching speech about the restorative power of friendship. It doesn’t work. “The enemy of my enemies, well, you know the rest…” Lore smirks as he takes complete control of the Titan. Hey, he loves the chaos! Vadic’s able to splooge to safety — preventing Crusher and Picard from having to commit murder, apparently — and Sidney and Jack are able to use Jack’s ESP to work together and defeat Vadic’s soldiers, though Sidney’s understandably a bit freaked out by the experience. But even though Data manages to wrest control briefly from Lore, Vadic’s team reassembles and very easily takes the Titan’s bridge. A beaming Vadic sends a message out to the entire ship while settling into the captain’s chair. “I am Vadic, captain of the USS Titan. And Jack, my dear, if you can hear me, it’s time you learned who you truly are.”
The episode ends there, because of course it does! Episode eight will surely pick up that thought and address that huge-arse cliffhanger when Picard returns next week to Paramount +.
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