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Vadic watches her reflection on the ceiling of the Titan-A’s bridge as she lights her cigar. She says they’ll start by taking their eyes. In Engineering, Commodore Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) unplugs Daystrom Android M-5-10 (Brent Spiner). Simultaneously, the lights go out. Alandra La Forge (Mica Burton) says she thought the android was unplugged, and Geordi confirms. He concludes Vadic is locking them out from the bridge.
Via voiceover, Vadic says to take their ears. In a corridor, several lower-ranking officers run afoul of Vadic’s henchmen. Vadic says to take the very road ahead of them as the officers are cornered. On the bridge, Vadic moves her hand as though conducting a symphony.
In Sickbay, Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) urges Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) to access comms. Meanwhile, Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) and Ensign Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) look on. Beverly says the bridge is locking them out.
On the bridge, Vadic has lined up Titan crew members. These include Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura (Joseph Lee), Ensign Kova Rin Esmar (Jin Maley), Lieutenant T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski), Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick). Esmar cries quietly as Vadic menaces them.
While Picard and Beverly debate, Jack steps back. The music shifts and his eyes turn red. He seems to astral project and can hear Sidney mentally wondering what he’s doing. Passing through the door, he possesses the Starfleet officer on the other side. Dead or cowering officers fill the corridor. One of Vadic’s henchmen kills the officer.
Vadic addresses the crew again. She monologues and threatens to take away their oxygen or gravity. Once again she offers to leave instead of torturing and killing them if Jack is surrendered. Vadic instructs them to consider that as she considers which captured officer they “might miss most.” She calls Jack to the bridge.
Meanwhile, the Shrike continues to keep its sights set on the Titan. Aboard the Shrike, Captain William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) shares a cage with his Imzadi, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Deanna tells Riker not to be so dramatic. She says she can feel that he changed. Riker says he came face to face with bleakness in the nebula (see “No Win Scenario”). But when he emerged, he found himself missing Deanna.
Deanna tells Riker that the Changelings adopted his form and approached her on Nepthene. However, she immediately knew it was a fake. Deanna wonders if they did the right thing by giving them the compromise code (see “Dominion”). Riker assures her that Picard has set a classic trap and has Vadic on the ropes.
Vadic spins the Captain’s Chair in a lazy circle on the Titan. Shaw eyes Seven. She says she won’t apologize. He says she should have “blown the turbo,” but Seven says she’d make the same decision again. She draws the line at trading lives. He says she doesn’t always have the luxury of making the “hunky dory” decisions when she’s a Starfleet officer. Seven says she saved his life. Shaw calls her “Hansen” and she says her name is Seven of Nine. He says more consequences are in store for the entire ship.
Vadic dispatches a team to find Jack. She opens a channel. Vadic accuses him of forcing chaos and suffering aboard the crew. She gives him ten minutes to come to the bridge and says she’ll start executing one crew member every ten minutes after that.
In sickbay, Jack prepares to head to the bridge. Picard says he can’t. They wonder where she wants to take Jack. He postulates it must be the Great Link. Picard suggests she has something more complicated in mind. Jack says he isn’t a Changeling.
Jack says he thinks he can retake the bridge. He can pass from one body to the next. “It’s all in my head.” Beverly begins scanning his head with a tricorder. Sidney confirms he’s telling the truth, revealing she’s seen and felt him do it. Picard suggests this ability might be why they’re hunting him.
Picard says if he really has this ability, there’s a possible solution. High-ranking Starfleet officers are given a special override codex to use in the event the ship is compromised. But in this case, it can be used to unlock the ship systems locked down by Vadic. Jack suggests he try controlling one of their own on the bridge.
On the bridge, Vadic paces in front of the captured officers. She says one minute left. Meanwhile, Mura’s eyes glow red. His hand begins inputting the codex Picard gives to Jack in sickbay. But Vadic catches Mura’s hand just before the override can be executed. She asks him how he knew Picard’s codex. Vadic identifies the body’s occupant as Jack. She says he’s finally living up to all his potential. His consciousness leaps back to his body. Vadic knows what he’s capable of.
Vadic opens comms. She says his first ten minutes have expired. She pushes Esmar to their knees. Seven tries to offer herself. Shaw says there’s nothing she can do. Esmar identifies themself. Vadic turns her attention to Mura. She instructs him to tell her about someone who loves him. He mentions his son. Vadic tells Mura to tell Picard’s son to come to the bridge. Mura says he can’t, he’s Starfleet.
Vadic asks Seven if she sees what control looks like. She circles, as though she’s about to execute Esmar. But at the last moment, she kills T’Veen instead. Seven tells them what happened. Esmar sobs. Vadic says that she’ll keep repeating the exercise unless Jack comes to the bridge.
On the Shrike
On the Shrike, Riker says the Titan’s strategic advantage may not last. Deanna says she knows Riker was angry at what she did when Thad died. It’s revealed she used her Betazoid powers to numb his pain without his consent. He says his grief was his last connection to him. Deanna says she was trying to help him carry his load. But she says she had forgotten you can’t skip to the end of healing.
They both agree they want to leave Nepthene. Deanna says she misses the city. One of Vadic’s guards opens their cell. But Worf (Michael Dorn) appears, dispatching and disintegrating the guard. They both embrace him but he says personal space is a right. He then delivers a particularly heartfelt greeting to Deanna. Worf largely ignores Riker’s protestations. Then he says he must show them something.
What appears to be a cloaked Starfleet shuttlecraft passes by the Shrike and the Titan-A. On the Titan, Vadic’s guards patrol the corridors. Meanwhile, Jack says their only choice is for him to turn himself over, hoping she’ll spare the rest. Beverly protests. Sidney says in a year she could write a code to regain control of the Titan. While Geordi could do it in a month, they’d need an A.I. matrix capable of spectacular computational speeds in order to accomplish it in minutes.
In engineering, Geordi works on Daystrom Android M-5-10. Picard, Beverly, Jack and Sidney enter with their phasers drawn. Geordi draws his own phaser. They identify each other to one another using savagely honest personal anecdotes. “Definitely Picard,” Geordi confirms to Alandra. Picard tells Geordi they need Data’s help. Geordi points out the partition mentioned in the previous episode. Picard asks if they can remove the partition. Geordi says Data’s ethical subroutines will prevent him from taking a life of any kind. Removing the partition is an irreversible procedure. Geordi says that if Data can hear him in there, he’d “better buckle up.”
Lore approaches Data within a “mental realm” of white light. He says Data has no hope. Meanwhile, Data hears lines from Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Elementary, Dear Data” as he picks up a deerstalker cap. In the memory, Data tells Geordi that “Holmes collected nothing, neither trinkets nor thoughts, which were not specifically significant to him.”
Lore tells him that in his mind, one would find mightier things. Data pulls a gourd Calabash pipe from the ether. Lore mocks him for collecting trinkets. Data says these “trinkets” are his memories, the only sensible measure of a life. Then, the partition between them is removed. Lore laments being left to languish while Data was showered with Galaxy class affection. He says it’s a waste, as Data can’t even feel enough to appreciate it. Then he takes Data’s pipe.
Data’s body shimmers with static. He asks his brother what he’s doing. Lore says he’s overpowering him. One life form replaced by another. “Evolution, my dear Watson,” he says in a faux British accent as he clamps his teeth down on the pipe.
On the Shrike, Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) is scanning with a tricorder. She satisfies Worf’s inquiry as to her identity. Deanna and Riker take in Picard’s cryogenically preserved corpse. “Do not worry, it is not him,” states Worf. “It is his former shell.” The biological body that was replaced with his current positronic body at the conclusion of Picard season 1.
Worf says it wasn’t this body itself the Changelings wanted, but what it contained. They removed portions of his brain’s parietal lobe, “sections that were infected with Irumodic Syndrome.” Raffi attempts to download the Shrike’s database to learn why. She and Deanna introduce themselves to one another in the meantime.
Riker attempts to contact the Titan. Worf notes the shields are up and comms are down. They conclude they’ve lost control of the ship. An alarm sounds. The prisoners’ escape has been discovered. Worf says they must return to the shuttle.
On the Titan, one of Vadic’s soldiers states, “It’s possible they have a cloaked ship nearby.” Vadic says it’s time for another demonstration of her impatience. She approaches Mura. Seven says, “Don’t you dare.” However, they are interrupted by the activation of the turbolift. Jack emerges onto the bridge. Vadic says she was sure he’d turned down her invitation. Jack says his mother taught him better manners. Then he says he even brought her a gift. He opens his hand to reveal a small unknown device that whirs and comes to life with a red light.
In engineering, Geordi says that Lore’s matrix is growing, and overpowering Data. Picard says there must be a way to stop it. But Geordi says, “This battle is all Data’s now.” Inside the mindscape, Data says he’s finding it difficult to maintain focus. Lore says it isn’t focus that Data’s losing, its existence. He takes a tricorder out of Data’s hands and lets it dissolve. Data says his memories define him, but he’s powerless to stop Lore’s progress. He hands over his small memorial hologram of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). Lore disintegrates it. In engineering, Picard implores Data to fight. He says they need his help to retake the bridge.
Meanwhile, on the bridge, Jack flashes his unknown device around. Vadic asks if he thinks that will kill her. Jack says he’s not sure if it’ll kill her, but it will kill him. He says she must free the others if she wants him. Vadic assents to lock the captured Titan crew in the observation lounge. Except for Seven, that’s what happens.
Vadic says it’s fitting for Seven to stay and witness this. Jack calls her attention back to himself. He asks what she wants from him. She says his “gifts.” He asks her to explain those gifts to him. Vadic asks what it’s like to never outrun isolation and loneliness. She asks if it’s a calling or guilt, and wonders if he knows what he is “deep down.” Vadic says he’s heard the voices. She asks what that’s like, after years of silence. Vadic says she can help him find the answers. She says the choice is his. Vadic asks if he isn’t curious to see what’s beyond “that red door.”
In engineering, Geordi says they’re about to lose Data. Inside the mindscape, Data says a deck of cards is a memory of playing poker with his friends on the Enterprise-D. Lore asks why Data is giving him these things. Data says that Lore has had nothing while Data has had everything. Picard says to Geordi that the brain scan looks like surrender. In the mindscape, Spot the cat appears. Data says Spot taught him to love. He says Spot is the last of him. Lore takes Spot from Data. Data seems to disintegrate.
Lore grins. But then he drops Spot. Data reappears. He explains that he allowed Lore to take his memories. Lore took the things that were Data, and in doing so, he became Data. They have become one. “We are me,” says Data as Lore disintegrates.
Data awakens in engineering. Picard says they need help. Data tells him to “say no more.” The Titan lights flicker to life. Comms return and Sidney clears Riker and company to dock. Data addresses the Titan via shipwide broadcast. “This is your friendly positronic pissed-off security system, back online. Unwanted guests and monologuing protoplasms: I am initiating an immediate shift change.”
In a corridor, Raffi dispatches a half dozen of Vadic’s soldiers. On the bridge, Jack activates the device. Raffi continues sparring with the soldiers. Jack moves beside Seven. A forcefield activates and engulfs them. Raffi gets backup from Worf. Jack says, “Now.” Picard orders the bridge evacuation hatch opened. Alarms sound. “Get off my bridge,” says Seven. The Titan’s viewscreen begins to part. “Fucking solids,” says Vadic. Then she is blown out into space. The hatch closes. In space, Vadic freezes. She drifts into the Shrikes and shatters.
Shaw and the rest of the crew emerge from the lounge. He orders stations and says they aren’t done yet. Seven orders Mura to give the Shrike everything they’ve got. The Titan dispatches Vadic’s ship.
In a Titan corridor, Raffi and Worf disintegrate incapacitated soldiers. Worf gives Raffi notes. Riker and Deanna join them. Deanna is overwhelmed by an “all-consuming darkness” on the ship. Picard welcomes Data back. Data says he is changed. Beverly says they’re glad to have him back. Data says he has always desired to know the totality of human existence. He’s tasted death. But old age is new.
Meanwhile, the Titan flies away from the exploding Shrike. Geordi notes that Data is capable of both contractions and jest. Data says he is still Data, but also all that Soong programmed into the body. He says he feels. Geordi says he hopes he can “sense as fully as any human has felt anything” how happy he is to have his friend back. Data says no matter what else changes, his gratitude for their friendship remains constant.
Data and Geordi arrive at the lounge. There they join Deanna, Beverly, Worf, Riker and Picard. Geordi reintroduces Data as the newest version of a very old friend. Picard asks if they have betrayed Data’s wish to experience death by bringing him back. Data says he knows “that me” is resting peacefully, while “this me would rather be no place else in the universe.”
They all sit around the table. Beverly says she missed all of them. Deanna says she found herself talking to Beverly on her darkest days. Worf says he’s considered sending the heads of countless slaughtered enemies to them over the years, but was advised this would be “passive-aggressive.”
Picard says all that matters is they are together once more. He says he needs all of them. Changelings have infiltrated Starfleet. Frontier Day is only hours away. They have no answers. Riker says they’re analyzing the data pulled from the Shrike to determine what was extracted from the body.
Deanna says whatever the Changelings have planned for Frontier Day, it’s tied directly to Jack. She says there’s a “darkness” that surrounds him. She says there’s a voice within him. It’s “ancient and weak,” and it isn’t his own. Deanna says she should meet Jack.
Soon, Deanna is sitting across from Jack. Deanna says she’d usually wait for Jack to seek her out but they need “the quickest path to the truth.” She holds out her hands. After a moment, he reaches out. She tells him to follow her voice.
Deanna asks if he’s ever seen a door. “The red door,” confirms Jack. “The talking door. The door I have no desire to open… because I’m terrified of what’s behind it.” Deanna tells him it’s time to open it. She says they’ll go together; he’s not alone. The visions and whispering persist. Deanna stands beside Jack as he reaches out to touch the door handle.
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