The adventure on the Titan-A has just begun in Star Trek: Picard season 3’s fifth episode. “Imposters” was written by Cindy Appel & Chris Derrick and directed by Dan Liu.
The bridge crew of the Titan-A is hard at work. The ship has escaped the Ryton System and a starfield fills the main viewscreen. Lieutenant T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski), Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura (Joseph Lee), Ensign Kova Rin Esmar (Jin Maley), and Ensign Sydney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) are all hard at work. Then Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) enters wearing a Starfleet uniform.
Jack pulls a phaser out and begins firing on the crew. Esmar is the sole survivor. They say they know what Jack “really” is. The red branches begin to appear behind Jack. Branches also appear behind Esmar and begin to grow on their face. He fires the phaser at them, point blank.
But as Jack does so, he awakens. He’s standing alone in his darkened quarters. It was a dream. However, he is holding his phaser. A red glow fills his irises, surrounding his pupils. Then a familiar voice whispers: “Jack. Come home.”
Part Five: “Imposters”
A shot establishes the command crew of the Titan-A is still alive and at work on the bridge. Acting Captain William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) records his log for Stardate 78186.03. The Titan has reached the Alpha Quadrant and paused for essential system repairs. The Shrike has yet to reappear. Riker wonders if Federation space has offered them a reprieve.
In the observation lounge, Riker meets with Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick), and Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Picard wonders how a Changeling got aboard. Riker recounts that Changelings can mimic most species, but not internal physiology. Seven observes that this should have been caught by a pre-boarding internal scan: protocol since the Dominion War.
Riker states Starfleet will be looking into it. He notes that they’ll want answers from him and Picard about their role in commandeering the Titan. Picard says it’s time to face the music. Riker transfers command back to Shaw. Shaw relieves Riker. He then reveals he has already contacted Starfleet and they are en route. With Seven’s consent, Shaw reinstates Seven. He then steps outside so the trio can get their “bullshit story straight.” Picard states that he will bear responsibility.
In the corridor, he repeats this sentiment to Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Jack. Beverly apologizes. Picard says their safety is the most important concern. He continues that he hopes to continue to be a part of their lives. But Beverly states that she doesn’t believe they’re out of the woods. She asks for permission to examine the Changeling corpse.
“The Starfleet Do-Over”
Jack asks if he should prepare for arrest. Picard says that Starfleet values reason, and he’s a persuasive speaker. He continues that many from every corner of the galaxy have joined Starfleet. Picard suggests Jack might join. However, Jack pushes back on the idea. Picard almost says something more, but leaves. After he does, Jack catches a glimpse of Esmar passing.
On the La Sirena, Raffi Muskier (Michelle Hurd) and Worf (Michael Dorn) are battling: truncheons versus kur’leth. Worf disarms Raffi but she retrieves her weapons and attacks again. After fighting her one-handed for a moment, Worf begins to meditate. The score by Stephen Barton pays homage to Jerry Goldsmith’s Klingon motif.
A priority message from Worf’s Starfleet Intelligence handler arrives. However, Worf’s request for access to Daystrom Station is denied. Worf assumes the denial came from above his handler. Raffi says they’re hiding something. She vows to break in.
Worf states they are standing down. He tells her not to presume what he has sacrificed for the mission. Daystrom Station is guarded by a sophisticated artificial intelligence. Access is impossible without Starfleet Command authorization. So Raffi asks how the heist occurred. Worf states that only the late Sneed (see “Disengage”) could answer that.
Raffi asks about Sneed’s associates. Worf has an idea. He brings up a mostly-empty file on Krinn, a crime syndicate kingpin.
In District 6, Worf and Raffi walk empty streets. The residents are afraid. Raffi fires her phaser in the air and demands Krinn be turned over. Meanwhile, Worf begins to meditate. Raffi says they need a backup plan.
A second Starfleet vessel, the U.S.S. Intrepid, joins the Titan. The Titan is ordered to power down and wait for instruction. Seven reports they’re sending over a shuttle of security officers. Shaw wonders why they don’t use transporters. Esmar confirms the security officer is insisting on a shuttle. Picard says he may need to ask Seven for one more favor.
Picard, Riker, and Shaw ride the turbolift. Riker notes that they saved the galaxy a few times. Shaw recounts several instances but then characterizes them as instances where they were cleaning up messes they made. Once Shaw leaves the turbo-lift, Picard and Riker agree those were good times. The trio meets Intrepid’s security team. It’s headed by Commander Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes). Ro reveals that she’s authorized to arrest Picard under charges of treason.
Elsewhere aboard the Titan, Seven encounters Jack. She tells him she’s taking him somewhere they can’t find him. She gives him a Starfleet uniform, stating they’ll hide him in plain sight.
In sickbay, Beverly and Doctor Ohk (Tiffany Shepis) prepare to autopsy the Changeling corpse. It retains the appearance of Ensign La Forge. La Forge is also present to verify for the recording she is alive. Beverly observes Changelings are expected to return to a liquid state upon death. But this one has retained its final mimicked form. While there’s no DNA, the corpse possesses blood-like plasma. Beverly states that this Changeling could pass the traditional blood test.
Riker and Picard are alone in the observation lounge. Picard states that Ro should be in prison for her actions during her final appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s incredulous that she’s back in Starfleet. Riker counters that it was three decades ago. The Maquis are no longer enemies of the Federation. Picard says Ro had a mission to protect the Federation from terrorists but instead became one.
Riker says Ro has always been an outsider. He notes that Picard sent her to infiltrate the Maquis knowing she might empathize. Picard says empathizing is not the same as betraying a commanding officer. He cites her audacity in accusing them of treason. Further, he says there is no reason to believe she will treat them justly.
Riker says Picard was her mentor and they had a bond. Picard counters that she broke it. Then Ro and her guards enter. She states that the Titan is under “official security review” and the process of transporting most of the ship’s crew to the Intrepid is underway. They are to be reassigned. Ro demands to be addressed as “Commander.” Then she has Riker escorted out of the lounge for Picard’s interrogation.
Suspicion of Imposters
Picard asks how a disgraced Lieutenant could be reinstated. Ro asks whether or not Picard boarded the Titan under false pretenses. He counters by asking how a “traitor” could pose as a Starfleet Commander.
Ro states Shaw informed her they had a Changeling onboard. She pulls out a knife and says she’ll get it out of the way. Ro cuts her palm to show her blood. But Picard observes she’s not wearing her Bajorian earring. He asks if she’s turned her back on another institution. Ro tells him to save his animosity. She says it isn’t entirely about him and mentions Jack.
Elsewhere Jack is haunted by voices that urge him to find them, to connect. He leaves his quarters and heads to the transporter bay. As the crewmembers beam over to the Intrepid, Jack sees them subsumed by red branches. The red light reflects in Jack’s eyes again. As Jack snaps out of it, the perspective switches to the transporter chief. The red branches are gone. The chief asks Jack if he was ordered to beam over to the Intrepid. Jack has a vision of killing the chief before exiting the transporter room.
In District 6, phaser sights target Worf. This heralds the arrival of Krinn (Kirk Acevedo), a Vulcan. He wears a golden IDIC necklace. Krinn accuses Worf of pridefulness. Worf demands they yield their weapons, assuring Krinn he has the advantage. Krinn fires at Raffi, revealing she is a hologram (25th century mobile emitter confirmed). Elsewhere, the real Raffi targets Krinn with a sniper phaser. However, she is apprehended by one of Krinn’s lackeys. Krinn states it was logical he prepare.
Ro vs. the Machine
In the Titan sickbay, Beverly states the autopsy has revealed how the Changeling avoided detection. It has completely replicated human organs. Only under extensive dissection does the tissue liquify. Ohk asks if it’s a new species. Beverly states it’s evolution. But that means that anyone anywhere could be a Changeling.
Meanwhile, Ro demands Picard tell her about Jack. Picard says he’s only known him a few days. He asks how he is relevant to the investigation. Beverly calls Picard via communicator. Ro orders him to answer. He does, informing Beverly that Ro is present. Beverly says, “I understand. But I have your test results. My recommendation is: you look at them as soon as possible.”
Picard has them sent to the lounge. He tells Ro it’s an “urgent medical issue.” Beverly’s message informs him Changelings pass the blood test. It tells him to trust no one. Picard asks Ro why she’s so interested in Jack. The two trade barbs. At Picard’s urging, Ro explains how she returned to Starfleet. After years with the Maquis, she surrendered. She was subject to a court martial and sent to prison. But her experience meant that she was subsequently recruited into Starfleet Intelligence. She proved herself and slowly and steadily worked her way up the ranks.
Picard asks why Ro betrayed her honor. Ro answers: “My honor? Or do you mean Starfleet’s? Blind faith in any institution does not make one honorable.” She demands Picard tell her everything he knows about the Changeling onboard. When Picard says they know nothing, she asks to see the remains.
Elsewhere, the Intrepid officers search for Jack. Meanwhile, Picard and Ro are on the way to sickbay. But Ro pulls a phaser on him. She orders him into the holodeck. Inside, the Ten Forward program is running.
Ro locks entry. Picard plays the role of bartender. Concurrently, he deactivates safety protocols. Ro orders him to put his hands up. She says the walls of the Titan are thin, requesting music. As she’s momentarily distracted by the activation of the jukebox, Picard pulls Guinan’s phaser from behind the bar. He asks Ro if she remembers Guinan (who befriended her in her first TNG appearance).
They suspect each other of being imposters. Picard brings up Ro’s earring again. He speaks to her in Bajoran. She compliments his improvement in the language. Picard says he’s rehearsed this conversation for three decades. He further accuses Ro of betraying him. Ro counters that Picard’s respect was conditional on being able to mold her into an image of himself. She states she joined the Maquis because she valued standing up to injustice above loyalty to Starfleet. “But you could never understand that because you confuse morality with duty, and that, Admiral, is your dishonor,” Ro says.
Picard says he believed in her. Ro says, “Only when it was easy for you.” She says if she meant so much to him, he would have understood her choice to leave Starfleet. They both admit they broke each other’s hearts. Ro and Picard put down their weapons. Their mutual pain cannot be mimicked by a Changeling. Picard asks Ro why she is here. “Starfleet is compromised at the highest level,” answers Ro. She asks Picard if he trusts her, and he confirms he does.
On M’Talas, Krinn takes Worf and Raffi to the location where Sneed was decapitated. While Sneed was a Ferengi, he and Krinn grew up together in District 7. Krinn congratulates Worf and Raffi on uncovering his role in the Daystrom Institute break-in. Raffi accuses him of being dumb for being a crime lord. “There can be no utopia without crime, ergo an organized criminal enterprise is logical,” he states.
Krinn reveals his plan to make Worf and Raffi knife-fight each other to the death. Classic. Worf and Raffi are forced to battle. Raffi stabs Worf in the abdomen. She apologizes, but Worf states that “today was a good day to die.” As he collapses, he states it is a worthy death.
On the Titan, the Intrepid officers continue searching the corridors. In the Holodeck, Ro tells Picard that she believes the Changelings have infiltrated every sphere of power in Starfleet, including key personnel. She admits she doesn’t trust anyone on the Intrepid, including the Captain and the transporters. Fleetwide issues have occurred for months.
She asks Picard what he knows about Frontier Day. Picard says he was supposed to give a speech. Ro says their entire fleet will be on display. However, security preparations remain classified only days before the event.
She reveals there have been a dozen Changeling incidents across multiple starships. However, the pattern is being kept quiet. Ro is simply connecting the dots. Picard asks how Jack is involved. Ro tells him that she’s unsure, but she’s been ordered to retrieve him. However, his name has come up before among intelligence chatter. She cites the destruction of the Starfleet Recruitment Center by Changeling terrorists using the same portal weapon used by Vadic.
Picard suggests taking the information to Admiral Janeway or the Chancellor. Ro says she’s tried and intimates that Picard won’t have success getting past their gatekeepers, either. She tried both opening an investigation and going to the media. All she has is a pair of intelligence assets on the ground.
On the ground
Raffi bends over Worf’s fallen form. Krinn says her victory is most unexpected. One of his lackeys checks Worf. Krinn says the smell of Klingon blood makes him sick. He orders Worf to be taken away, then menaces Raffi. But soon, his lackeys fall to an unseen assailant. It is shortly revealed to be Worf. “Klingons never disappoint,” he says. Worf has mastered the Kahless technique of regulating his heartbeat. He still needs medical attention after being stabbed, however.
Raffi underscores Worf’s impatience in order to goad Krinn into talking. Krinn reveals that Daystrom Station is guarded by a sophisticated A.I. system. However, the system has illogical flaws. Krinn created a device that exploits these flaws. Raffi says he’ll give them the device. Krinn concedes that would be logical.
On the Titan
Ro tells Picard she has transferred most of the Titan crew to the Intrepid. She says he must ensure the loyalty of the remaining skeleton crew. They must take the ship and run. The Intrepid officers locate Ro and she tells them to prep the shuttle. Ro pulls Picard aside and puts something in his hands. “I wish, just once, that you could look into my heart and understand that I only did what I thought was best,” she says. “All these years, I wish you’d known me, and that I’d known you.” She says goodbye and wipes tears away before ordering the guards to follow her to the shuttle. Picard opens his hand, revealing Ro’s earring.
On the bridge, Picard tells Shaw they must run. Picard says that Starfleet and the Intrepid are compromised. Shaw calls security. Picard implores Shaw to trust him. Meanwhile, Ro’s shuttlecraft leaves the Titan. As it is cleared to approach starboard bay, the two officers accompanying Ro place a bomb. Then they beam back to the Titan, transforming into ensigns when they arrive.
On the shuttlecraft, Ro calls Intrepid and receives no response. The bomb is timed. Ro contacts the Titan. A transport inhibitor won’t allow the Titan to beam Ro out. They tell her to move closer. But she doesn’t have time to disarm the bomb. La Forge reports she’s moving away from the Titan. She’s going towards Intrepid’s port nacelle. Ro tells Picard to finish what she’s started.
Picard tells Ro that he does see her. He asks for her forgiveness that it’s only now. The connection is lost as the shuttlecraft collides with the Intrepid nacelle and explodes.
Intrepid vs. Titan
The Intrepid raises shields and arms torpedoes. The Titan is ordered to surrender. Riker says they’re being framed for what just happened by the Changelings masquerading as officers aboard the Intrepid. He says they need to run. Shaw says he can’t turn the entire crew into fugitives. But Seven points out most of the crew has been transported to the Intrepid already. This means engagement with that ship is engagement with their own crew.
Picard says that Ro’s death will mean nothing if they don’t run. Riker says it’s fine if Shaw can’t trust them, but he must trust his own eyes. The Intrepid further powers up weapons. Shaw finally snaps into action: shields up, warp core online. Battlestations. Emergency Order 762A in effect: Starfleet is compromised.
Elsewhere, the two Changeling ensigns confront Jack. They report his presence to the Intrepid. Two more “officers” beam in. Jack sees a few more flashes of red visions. Then he dispatches all four opponents. Afterward, the red branch visions continue. The red door appears at the corridor’s terminus.
On the bridge Seven reports Intrepid has given them one final warning. Intrepid fires torpedoes at the Titan, but Esmar reports the warp core is online. The ship jumps to warp and escapes unscathed. On the bridge of the Titan, Riker tells Shaw that everyone is coming for them.
In the lounge, Riker tells Picard he’s sorry and he knows what she meant to him. But Picard tells him that he doesn’t, and neither does Picard himself. He shows Riker the earring Ro gave him. Riker says he knows why she gave it to him. He reveals it’s old-school spycraft. Ro’s entire investigation is contained in a data chip concealed in the earring.
They’re interrupted by an incoming encrypted message. It’s a communication from Worf. He’s happily surprised by the appearance of Picard and Riker. But he quickly asks after Ro.
In sickbay, Shaw consults Ohk and Beverly about the four dead Changelings. Shaw congratulates Jack on his shooting. Then he and Ohk leave Jack and Beverly alone. She confronts Jack about not sleeping. Jack says no one is sleeping. Beverly tells Jack she remembers a time when he was little and stopped sleeping because he was afraid of his nightmares.
Jack doesn’t recall this. But Beverly assures him that he got through them. She tells him he can get through this, too. However, she urges him to share with her. Beverly asks Jack how he knew they were Changelings. Jack admits that he didn’t: “I think there’s something very wrong with me.”
New episodes of Picard season 3 are available for streaming on Paramount+ on Thursdays.