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The crew of the Titan-A can’t shake that sinking feeling in Star Trek: Picard season 3 episode 4, “No Win Scenario.” This outstanding episode was written by Terry Matalas & Sean Tretta and directed by Jonathan Frakes.

RELATED: Read our recap of last week’s episode, “Seventeen Seconds.”

Five Years Ago

At Guinan’s Bar, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) prepares to eat his meal. But he’s approached by a group of Starfleet cadets. They ask about his encounter with the Hirogen, hunters who originate in the Delta Quadrant. Did Admiral Janeway offer him any advice? Picard tells them, “There will come a time when you will need to remember that no matter how bleak or unwinnable a situation, as long as you and your crew remain steadfast in your dedication one to another, you are never ever without hope.”

In the present day, a damaged Titan-A sinks toward a gravity well at the center of an anomaly. Picard observes the darkening nebula outside.

Acting Captain William T. Riker (Frakes) orders power to be transferred to the shields. But Ensign Kova Rin Esmar (Jin Maley) informs him that there’s no power to be had. Ensign Sydney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) informs him engines are down. Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura (Joseph Lee) says they’re “bleeding to death.” Riker postulates they could force energy into the warp core, but Lt. T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) informs him they won’t have the ability to reverse this action. Mura confirms weapons are offline and T’Veen emphasizes that they’re sinking. 

RELATED: Star Trek: Picard season 3: Who’s who on the Titan-A bridge crew.

The bridge crew analyzes the situation and finds options that afford them only a few hours, at best. Riker orders the crew to be gathered in common areas. All other systems should be shut down and all power transferred to life support. But another bio-electrical wave from the anomaly threatens to knock the Titan’s shield offline unless they are lowered between regular impacts. Riker orders the shields to be lowered.

Part Four: “No Win Scenario”

Picard attempts to apologize as Riker approaches him. Riker interrupts him and says the Titan is “dead in the water,” with an estimated four hours until the ship is crushed. Riker says Picard was right before. He delivers a heartwrenching speech about the loss of his son. Riker says he tried to escape this darkness, only to find it again. He advises Picard to make amends with his son while he can.

Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) draws her phaser before entering Ensign Eli Foster’s quarters. She finds his corpse. Riker says they need to keep it quiet. Seven is outraged. Riker clarifies that the Changeling has failed in his mission to turn Jack over to Vadic (Amanda Plummer). There’s no advantage to further crippling the Titan. Riker isn’t telling her not to locate the saboteur, he just wants her to be quiet about it. While Riker could reinstate her, he says leaving her in an unofficial capacity could work to their advantage.

Patrick Stewart as Picard and Ed Speleers as Jack Crusher in "No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

Photo: Monty Brinton /Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In sickbay, Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) counts down, culminating in another wave colliding with the Titan. Picard approaches and asks if he can have a moment along with Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers).

RELATED: Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: Beverly Crusher.

In his quarters, Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) repeatedly responds to the door chime with, “Don’t come.” He eventually yields. Seven enters. Shaw doesn’t want to talk. But Seven informs him that there’s a Changeling onboard. Judging from the decomposition of Foster’s corpse, it’s been on the Titan since before they picked up Jack. Something larger is at play. Seven says they have a major personnel problem and no one knows the ship better than Shaw.

Holodeck Ten Forward

Riker begins a message for Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). However, he cannot complete it.

Meanwhile, Jack and Picard enter the holodeck, where the Ten Forward program is activated. Picard says it’s a place of significance for him, but Jack denies ever having visited. The pair agree to share a drink.

Patrick Stewart as Picard and Ed Speleers as Jack Crusher in "No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

Remaining Photos: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Picard offers a bottle of Chateau Picard. Jack says he isn’t a wine guy. Instead, he prefers whiskey (preferably cheap and on the rocks). Jack wonders why the holodeck is still open given the circumstances. Picard explains that it operates on a small independent power source. This is so the crew can use it as a sanctuary, even in the direst situations.

RELATED: Star Trek: Picard season 3: everything to know about Hologram Moriarty.

They toast. Jack says he thinks they should talk about the elephant in the room. Then he asks when the hair went. Picard says Jack should enjoy it while he can.

Picard asks to know more about Jack and his life. Jack is unsure where to begin. Picard asks for the reason he decided not to be introduced. Instead, Jack begins to share an anecdote about a medical supply run to M’Talas Four.

Changeling Games 

Seven shares the details she knows with Shaw. He explains that while a Changeling can replicate the appearance and mannerisms, they don’t possess the knowledge of the person they’re impersonating. But it would cause a huge amount of knowledge about all five hundred people on the crew to use this. 

Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine in "No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

Seven.

Shaw suggests Seven make the Changeling come to her. To accomplish this, he suggests that she steal the Changeling’s receptacle. He demonstrates this with an image on a PADD, which is accompanied by an image of Odo (embarrassing). By locating the receptacle, Seven can use the residue contained inside to have the Titan scan for the interloper.

In sickbay, Beverly once again counts down an energy wave. Meanwhile, Seven trashes Foster’s quarters searching for the Changeling’s bucket. Eventually, she locates it and finds the residue inside.

RELATED: Read all of our Picard recaps here!

The Shrike leaves the nebula. Vadic approaches a basin. She uses a blade to cut off her hand. The flesh, blood, and bone reform into a face. The face demands a report. Vadic says that unfortunately, the starship carrying Jack couldn’t escape the gravity well. The face orders her to pursue. Vadic says pursuit isn’t possible with the gravimetric distortion utilized by the portal device. The face repeats the demands. Vadic says this is suicide. The face says that to decline is suicide. Vadic accepts the mission and the face reforms into her hand.

She orders the portal system to be disengaged and ejected. The Shrike heads back into the nebula.

Shaka, When the Walls Fell

Five years ago, Picard regales the cadets with the story of First Contact with the Tamarians. Picard attempts to go back to eating, but one of them asks about being stranded in a shuttlecraft with Jack Crusher Senior. 

Current day. Several crewmembers ask permission to enter Ten Forward. Picard welcomes them. Jack says Picard might think that he needs this, but Jack insists that he doesn’t. Picard says everyone needs connections. Jack says that he grew up mostly on his own. He says he feels comfortable being on the outside. He says both Picard and Jack have their separate things. Jack says this isn’t a moment he needs, but Picard says he needs the moment.

RELATED: Star Trek: Picard – How Michael Chabon’s Maps & Legends influenced the series.

In sickbay, Beverly once again successfully counts down the time until a wave hit. Seven walks towards the chem lab with the bucket. But a passing crewmember sees her carrying it. The Changeling! He kills the crewmember he’s walking beside and disintegrates the bucket. But when Seven fires at him, he escapes by turning into goo. 

Patrick Stewart as Picard and Ed Speleers as Jack Crusher in "No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

Jack and Picard.

Picard and Jack discuss the younger man’s namesake. Picard says that Jack was his closest friend at the Academy and he would have approved the name. In order to illustrate the point, Picard shared the story he began telling in Ten Forward five years earlier. After borrowing a shuttle from the Stargazer without authorization, a meteor knocked out shuttle systems. While the duo obviously made it back, it was a harrowing task of inching along blind in order to do so. Picard asks if Jack has heard the story before, and Jack replies, “Well, actually…”

Shaw’s Trauma Revealed

But then Shaw enters. He says it’s a great story of survival. Shaw notes he’s been heavily medicated. He asks if Picard ever told Jack about the time Shaw and Picard met. Shaw was in Engineering aboard the Constance at the battle of Wolf 359. Fifty made it down to an escape pod, but there were only ten seats. They were all friends. Shaw says they didn’t fight over who fought or who should die, instead waiting for orders. 

A lieutenant comes down and points at ten of the crew, with Shaw being the tenth. “Why me? I’m just some dipshit from Chicago, and now I’m lucky number ten. She didn’t even count herself.” He was ordered into the escape pod. 11,000 died in that battle. Shaw has severe survivor’s guilt. He points out to Jack that Picard was aboard the Borg Cube, battling against Starfleet as Locutus. Shaw says to forget that “weird shit” with the Stargazer.

RELATED: Find out about said “weird shit” in our recap for Picard season 2’s finale, “Farewell.”

He says the “real Borg” are still out there. Locutus is the only Borg to have a name because he is so deadly. Picard says he understands and excuses himself from Ten Forward. The rest of the crew looks on. “Forgive me,” says Shaw. “At some point, asshole became a substitute for charm.”

Persistent Hope

Beverly confronts Jack and Picard. She says that the anomaly is pulling in and then ejecting material. This means its center converts matter into energy. She has determined that the waves constitute a countdown, which she calculated, just like contractions. They must escape before they are destroyed by the climactic wave.

Jack concocts a plan to use the energy from the waves to power the Titan so it can escape. In order to stay with the waves to absorb their energy, they divert all power to the thrusters. They can navigate manually around debris. Riker cites protocol, which states they wait for rescue. But Picard says no help is coming. They’ll die of suffocation if they don’t escape. Riker says too much could go wrong.

Beverly says, “Deanna would say it’s about trust.” Picard agrees: if this is the end, they should spend it doing what they do best. Riker is convinced. He says the nacelle covers prevent the plasma conduits from absorbing too much radiation. As such, they could open them and channel the power directly to the core.

RELATED: Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: Deanna Troi.

A classic captain’s speech by Riker rallies the crew of the Titan: “If we all hang tight and work together, we’re gonna get through this.” Meanwhile, Picard and Seven head to the Captain’s Quarters. They need help from Shaw to hotwire the old-school tech under the Titan’s flashy new exterior. Soon, Seven is helping Shaw with the nacelle controls. He observes these circumstances would be ideal for additional changeling sabotage.

Jonathan Frakes as Will Riker and Patrick Steward as Picard in "No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

Riker and Picard.

On the bridge, all non-essential systems are shut down. Two minutes remain until the final wave. Given Picard’s experience flying blind, Riker gives the admiral the con. Picard issues a few orders, followed by “Engage.”

The Old Fashioned Way

As the Titan works its way out, more systems have their power diverted to thrusters. Shaw orders Seven to make sure the manual locks are off. That’s when La Forge arrives and offers her help. Shaw asks why she isn’t flying the ship. She cites her father as being the legendary Geordi La Forge. She begins to ask unnerving questions.

Seven returns and points her phaser at La Forge. La Forge says was sent to help. Seven demands La Forge state Seven’s name. La Forge answers, “Commander Hansen.” Seven kills the changeling. “Ensign La Forge always calls me Commander Seven,” she explains. “Out of respect.”

RELATED: Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: Seven of Nine.

On the bridge, the real La Forge is piloting. The second nacelle is opened. But there are asteroids obstructing the way. Picard orders Jack to call out their positions. With Jack’s assistance, the Titan avoids disaster.

Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut as Sidney La Forge in "No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

The real La Forge.

But they need more power. Riker orders all power be transferred from life support. T’Veen counts down to detonation. Fortunately, Beverly’s calculations are correct. The energy wave carries the Titan and charges the ship. Systems come back online. Picard orders La Forge to gun it. The warp drive counts down to activation. T’Veen notes the nebula is changing.

But then the Shrike appears. Fortunately, one’s enemy can be the best teacher. Riker uses the tractor beam to hurl an asteroid at the ship blocking their escape. The Shrike is knocked aside and incapacitated for at least an hour.

Rebirth

The nebula begins breaking up. Composer Stephen Barton’s score swells as the Titan is surrounded by gorgeous glowing lifeforms. The bridge crew looks on in awe. “I think we should boldly get the hell out of here,” orders Riker.

Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut as Sidney La Forge, Joanthan Frakes as Will Riker and Patrick Stewart as Picard in"No Win Scenario" Episode 304, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+.

Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As the bridge crew embraces each other, Jack observes. The flashback to Ten Forward resumes. As Picard concludes his story, he’s interrupted by Jack, who’s seated at the bar. He asks if Picard had a “real family.” Picard replies that Starfleet is all the family he’s ever needed. The cadets applaud this as Picard turns to his meal and Jack vanishes. In the present, Jack and Picard share a long look with one another.

RELATED: Could the adventure continue with Star Trek: Picard season 4?

“You can’t hide from the pain by being alone,” Riker tells Deanna over subspace. He shares the experience they’ve been through on the Titan. He says it reminded him of the beauty in the universe. Deanna notes that he hasn’t said anything so lovely in a long time. Riker takes responsibility. He admits he doesn’t know if he and Picard are in trouble or not.

In a supplementary log, Picard notes their escape from the Shrike is temporary. He wonders about Vadic’s identity, and what she wants from his son. In his quarters, Jack splashes water on his face. But then he hears voices. They call his name and urge him to find them. Then the red branches appear behind him in the mirror. He’s subjected to red-colored visions of storms and an opening door. The vision dissipates when he smacks his skull, but the whispers linger.

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Avery Kaplan