Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 7 Review: Just A Few More Details

In the last episode of "Star Trek: Picard," called "The Bounty," it was finally revealed what object the malevolent Changelings had stolen from Daystrom Station, a mystery that was being investigated by Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Worf (Michael Dorn). It seems that when Admiral Picard (Patrick Stewart) had his consciousness shunted into an android golem at the end of the show's first season, someone thought to gather up his old corpse and store it in a Federation archive. The Changelings stole Picard's dead body and plan to use it for as yet unrevealed nefarious purposes. 

It was implied, however, that there was something in Picard's brain that had been assumed to be a disease. Trekkies will recall from "All Good Things...," the final episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," that Picard had been diagnosed with a rare brain ailment called Irumodic syndrome. This syndrome was namechecked in the first season of "Picard," so it seems that he still carried it, even though the events of "All Good Things..." may have been a fantasy. The new episode of "Picard," however — called "Dominion" — says that the Irumodic syndrome may have actually been something akin to an X-Men superpower. 

This theory plays itself out in Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers), Picard's son, who seems to have developed comic book psychic abilities. He can read minds now, which is not so unusual in itself for "Star Trek" — Betazoids like Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) are psychic — but he can also project his consciousness into people's bodies and take control of them. 

If "The Bounty" skewed a little too hard into nostalgia with its dreamy shots of old "Star Trek" ships and trinkets, implying that Picard is an evolutionary catalyst dips way too hard into fandom-based hero worship.

Space Jesus Syndrome

"Picard" hasn't yet gone full-bore into "Space Jesus" territory yet, but it seems distressingly poised for an inglorious plunge into fan service. "Picard" seems to be saying that its title character's brain is so unique, it could possibly lead to an age of psychic humans, positioning Picard as some sort of evolutionary fulcrum. While this sort of tale is grist for great sci-fi, it's a little gauche when applied to a character that Trekkies have known for years. 

This is exactly what George Lucas did with Darth Vader in his three "Star Wars" prequel films. Darth Vader wasn't merely a scary Imperial general in a mask, but the result of a virgin birth and the fulfillment of some vague prophecy. All three prequel films were about how the galaxy arranged itself to assure a Darth Vader was brought into existence. Lucas reworked Darth Vader's backstory, of course, because the character was important to audiences. It was not necessarily because he was initially important to the "Star Wars" universe. 

The same seems to be happening with Jean-Luc Picard. While many of the characters on "Star Trek" become celebrities, they're not all necessarily vital to the continuation of galactic life. To imply that Picard is some kind of Space Jesus is to place undue importance on the character. I understand the series is called "Star Trek: Picard," but I have preferred the character when he was kept on the ground, given relatable trials, and was even consistently proven fallible. "Star Trek" is a humanist show ostensibly set in a humanist utopia. It doesn't need a messiah.

Expanding lore

All that said, it's curious how much of the latest season of "Star Trek: Picard" hasn't directly featured Picard. "Dominion" is the beginning of the season's climax, and will feature a lot of action and revelations. The wicked Changeling Vadic (Amanda Plummer) will infiltrate the U.S.S. Titan, as Jack Crusher and Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) will fight off Vadic's goons in the hallways. Briefly, Jack will read Sidney's mind and take control of her body so she can fight better.

Meanwhile, Geordi (LeVar Burton) and Alandra (Mica Burton) will find out that the Data-like android they salvaged contains about 50/50 Data and Lore (all Brent Spiner) sharing its one positronic brain. Lore, Data's evil twin, has such a powerful mind and no compunction about killing, however, so activating him allows him to delete Data's brain and take over. When Vadic invades, they wire Datalore into the Titan's computers, hoping his calculation skills can save them. Lore immediately takes over and lets Vadic succeed. He doesn't give a care. This wasn't the most organic way to incorporate the dead Lore and the twice-dead Data back into the show, but it will do. Spiner, it seems, hasn't missed a step, playing both roles recognizably and effectively. 

The major revelation of "Dominion," however, is Vadic's backstory. When she infiltrates the Titan, she is briefly captured in a force field by Picard and Beverly (Gates McFadden). She explains that the reason she and other liquid Changelings have become so much better at imitating other life forms (she uses the word "solid" as a derogatory term). It turns out that she and several of her kind, after the Dominion War on "Deep Space Nine," were experimented on by a mad Federation doctor who sought their weaknesses. 

Hey! It's Tuvok!

It was a little odd to see a "Star Trek" character using modern-day tasers, bone saws, and hypodermic needles in the flashback sequences, but the visual shorthand is fine; a needle or a saw are scarier than a hypospray or a laser scalpel. Vadic killed her torturer and took her face. The new Changelings evolved because this wicked Federation doctor forced them to against their will. The idea that there will be fallout after a conflict is a very "Star Trek" idea. Thanks to Lore's mental tinkering elsewhere on the ship, Vadic will escape and take over the ship. 

Overall, however, "Dominion" is more of a "communicate and setup" episode than one full of vital information. Given this season's skilled pacing, a straightforward, event-heavy episode will be required every once in a while. This is fine, as it means "Picard" is considering all of its moments and spending more time with its characters. It's also nice that the action never leaves the Titan, as starship life is a vital part of making "Star Trek" feel like "Star Trek." 

There is one fun moment of fan service — free of Space Jesus vibes — right at the head of "Dominion." In order to get information on the kidnapped Capt. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) contacts her old Voyager crewmate Tuvok (Tim Russ), who now appears to be a starship captain. Tuvok was last seen on an episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks," and was still a part of Starfleet Security. In the last 18 to 20 years, he seems to have swapped careers. But no matter, it was a pleasing cameo for its brevity.