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The Red Door
Once again, Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) faces the red door. It’s at the end of a corridor on the Titan-A. Red vines grow on the walls, moving towards the door. Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) tells Jack, “Nothing is more elusive than a door the mind doesn’t wish to open.” The song “I Can’t Stop Crying” by Will Grove-White plays. Deanna says she’s with Jack in his mind. While she can feel his reluctance to open the red door, she tells him he’s safe. She asks him to tell her about the vines. Deanna says they’re like neurons. Jack says he doesn’t know what they are.
Deanna tells him that symbols have nothing but meaning. She compels Jack to remember what they mean to him. Jack recalls the Crimson Arboretum on Riverton 4. He says his mother, Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), took him there as a child. “She adored this song.” As the corridor fills with red leaves, Deanna tells Jack not to get lost in memory. He says the song was passed down from his father to his mother to him. Jack waxes poetic about the many different species of flowers, biologically distinctive but connected by roots beneath the surface.
Deanna says his truth is behind the door and asks to open it. Meanwhile, the voice behind the red door continues to whisper to Jack that “they will be together soon.” Voices continue to whisper as Deanna approaches the door. She opens it.
In the Titan counselor’s office, Deanna gasps as she awakens. She stares at Jack and then excuses herself. Deanna heads to the observation lounge and is met by Beverly and Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). A flashback reveals what’s behind the red door: a Borg cube.
Part Nine: “Võx”
As Picard reacts to the news, he remembers dialogue from Locutus of Borg (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “The Best of Both Worlds”). He says it’s impossible. Beverly notes he’s never been assimilated. Picard states there are no nanoprobes in his system. Deanna says the voices in his head are distinctive, and she’s never mistaken Borg.
Beverly notes that some receivers and transceivers are organic, citing flocks of birds and bee colonies. She concludes this must be similar to the technology in Jack. The Borg haven’t been seen or heard from in a decade. In the meantime, they may have evolved. Picard says all he passed on was his Irumodic Syndrome. Beverly counters he never had Irumodic Syndrome. This explains why Soong sent his body to the Daystrom Institute. He had seen that there was something else in play. She says that Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) must have known that some organic connection to the Borg had been passed on to Jack as a result of Picard’s assimilation.
Picard says it’s his responsibility to tell Jack since he’s at fault. Deanna apologetically says there are protocols. Vadic was searching for a weapon to use against humanity. That weapon turned out to be Jack. They’ve seen him enter the minds of others and control them. She says Jack is dangerous.
Son of Locutus
In his quarters, Jack paces. Picard arrives. Jack rants a bit and demands to know what Deanna saw. Picard explains that 35 years ago, he was assimilated and survived without visible scars. However, he was not unchanged. While Starfleet cleared him, he was later diagnosed with Irumodic Disease. This eventually proved fatal.
However, this was a misdiagnosis of side effects from “a seed” planted in him during his assimilation. He explains he passed this on to Jack. Jack says “the Borg” is quite an explanation. He wonders about his life of solitude compared to being a member of a bee hive.
Jack says he’s always known the world was imperfect. He thought that if people could really connect and understand each other, harmony would be achieved. “Who knew a little cybernetic authoritarianism was the answer?” He asks how he can be Borg if he feels emotions.
Picard says they must take precautions. Jack asks what Picard sees when he looks at him. Picard says Locutus came close to killing everyone he loved. He says Jack doesn’t know what it’s like to be controlled by the Borg; by the Borg Queen. Picard says Jack could be safe at the Research Academy on Vulcan. Jack says it’s not an academy, it’s an institution. “A prison where they can mind meld and lobotomize the Borg from me.”
Jack says it’s his own problem. But when he tries to leave his quarters, he’s confronted by a pair of Starfleet officers wielding phaser rifles. He accuses Picard of giving up on him. Picard cites Starfleet protocols and says they must act in the interests of “everyone else.” Jack asks about “the protocols of a father, or were you never issued those?”
Without saying anything further, Jack’s eyes glow red. Both guards step forward and raise their rifles to point them at Picard. Picard asks Jack what this is. Jack replies, “Futility.” Both guards flank Jack as he leaves the room.
In the corridor, Beverly approaches the trio. She asks what’s going on. Jack reveals that the voice in his head is the Borg Queen (Alice Krige). He says that if she wants him, he’ll trade himself for answers. “And when she’s close enough to give them, I’ll show her exactly who and what I am.”
The pair of guards remain behind to restrain Beverly. She begs Jack not to go, saying he’ll get himself killed. Soon Jack climbs aboard one of the Titan’s shuttles. He focuses on the voice in his head and receives a bearing (019.73/Mk 62.32). He lays in the course and then disables the shuttle transponder. The shuttle jumps to warp.
On the Titan, Picard laments to Beverly that Jack inherited the best of her and the worst of him. Beverly says she gave Wesley space and lost him to it, so she watched Jack closer. But she says it was so close she missed what was right in front of her. She says there must be something she can do and vows to find it.
Soon, Data (Brent Spiner) approaches Picard. Data informs Picard that they cannot track the shuttle. He asks if Picard would like him to say something comforting. Picard says this would be impossible and Data says he knows. Instead, he places a hand on Picard’s shoulder. They’re interrupted by Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) recommending Picard get down to sickbay because there’s more he needs to know about Jack.
Meanwhile, Jack’s shuttle arrives in what seems to be the stormy nebula that Deanna saw behind the red door. Jack asks why he was brought here. The shuttle computer detects Tachyon radiation pulses, neutrino emissions, and gravitational flux. Jack postulates that it could be a wormhole. But the computer identifies it as a transwarp conduit.
Jack clutches at his head before hearing the Borg Queen’s voice again. Then, he looks up to see a Borg Cube has emerged from the conduit.
Understanding Jack’s Sitch
On the Titan, Geordi explains all Borg undergo genetic alterations. This allows their bodies to communicate with their cybernetic components. However, those alterations undertaken on Picard were more extensive than previously thought. A new genetic code was written and stored inside Picard. This was overlooked by the crew 35 years ago after Picard was rescued from the Borg.
Data surmises that the anomaly detected by Soong during Picard’s transition to synthetic form was actually dormant biological Borg adaptations. Worf (Michael Dorn) states this is why Vadic stole Picard’s body from Daystrom. The Changelings extracted the altered portion of Picard’s DNA. William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) states that Locutus was a kind of receiver. This also explains why Picard could sometimes still hear the voice of the collective (see: Picard season 2; Star Trek: First Contact).
Beverly asks how Jack is different. Geordi says their son appears to be a transmitter, “able to send simple instructions.” A visual representation on a screen shows Jack’s “Transmitter Protein” sending a signal to Picard’s “Receiver Protein.” Worf says it appears the Changelings stole Picard’s body to appropriate this genetic code. Picard notes that the bodies Jack controlled had never been assimilated. Worf says they don’t know the answer to this question.
Beverly asks how she could have missed this dormant part of Jack for his entire life. Picard says it’s a testament to her parenting that he could resist the latent programming for so long. Geordi says he may be Borg, but that’s not all he is.
Beverly says the Changelings have been working with the Borg all along. And Worf notes that as they speak, the whole fleet is gathered in a single location. He says the outcome of the conspiracy was intended for this moment. Today is Frontier Day.
Beverly says they have to warn them. “Of what, exactly,” asks Riker. Geordi says they’re going to blow them out of the water. Picard contacts Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) and says they have to get to the Sol system. Shaw says this is a bad idea on Frontier Day. The Titan is the Federation’s most wanted.
Meanwhile, hundreds of ships gather above Earth. Fireworks explode around Spacedock. Admiral Elizabeth Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) is in command of the Enterprise-F as it makes its ceremonial voyage. Shelby addresses the fleet, speaking about the NX-01 Enterprise and how its voyage led to the birth of Starfleet.
Elsewhere, Jack beams into the Borg cube. Phaser drawn, he traverses the corridors. The Borg Queen’s voice welcomes him home.
Meanwhile, the Titan travels towards Earth. Shelby’s speech continues. She says they’ll be demonstrating their newest capability, “Fleet formation.” The “synchronistic technology” will allow every ship in Starfleet to operate “as one,” creating “an impenetrable armada.” The ships begin to form. She states that this system will protect crews in the face of the unthinkable: fleetwide incapacitation.
On the bridge of the Titan, the young Starfleet officers watch the speech. This includes Ensigns Alandra La Forge (Mica Burton) and Kova Esmar (Jin Maley), Picard says it’s ironic that Shelby is “endorsing something so Borg-like.” First Officer Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) says it looks like they’ll be crashing “one hell of a party.” Picard asks how much longer. Ensign Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) reports they’ll arrive in less than an hour.
Jack and Queen
On the Borg Cube, Jack continues to hear the Borg Queen. She declares him to be her child. Jack says he doesn’t know what he is, but he isn’t that. She says she has considered many names for him and proffers two examples. However, they agree neither is appropriate. Instead, she names him Võx. While Picard was Locutus (“The One Who Speaks”), Jack is Võx (“The Voice itself”).
Jack raises his phaser. We see the Queen from behind. The Queen says she sees “an end” in Jack. “A vindication of both of our species,” she continues. “To take everything back from those who live like shattered glass.” The Queen says Jack would have already killed her if it was possible for him to do so. Jack screams and lowers his weapon. Pointed cords creep toward him. The Queen tells him resistance is futile. One of the cord’s needles enters the back of Jack’s neck.
On the Titan, Geordi, Data, and Beverly comb the sample of Picard’s DNA taken from the Shrike computer. Geordi says they’ve found something. It matches Starfleet transporter code. Portions of Picard’s Borg-altered DNA were added to the transporter system, says Data. Cross-referencing the code with the Titan’s code reveals it is already part of the ship’s system architecture.
Data explains that for expediency, the transporter system saves common portions of each species’ genetic coding. Captain Picard’s DNA is now considered “common biology” by the transporter system. Changelings have been replacing transporter personnel, thereby ensuring the new code was added. As a result, this genetic coding will be implanted in every person who uses a transporter. “They’ve been assimilating the entire fleet this whole time, without anyone ever knowing.”
The Titan arrives above Earth. Shelby says the “next demonstration is the summation of decades of technological advancements.” Riker says it looks more like a firing squad than a fleet formation. Suddenly, the Titan’s screens display “Fleet Formation Mode.” Matthew Arliss Mura (Joseph Lee) reports that, as expected, the ship’s computers have locked them out. Esmar says they’ll lose comms soon.
Picard begins to broadcast a warning over emergency hail. He says Changeling infiltration has made them “vulnerable to our greatest enemy, the Borg.” Shelby contacts the Titan directly and Picard begins to make an appeal. But the connection is lost. Esmar reports all comms are down. A strange static signal begins to be broadcast. Mura reports a massive energy spike. A spherical device that appears to be Borg tech begins to spin and glow with green energy.
The signal continues, causing Seven head pain. She reports it’s a Borg signal. Meanwhile, Data analyzes the data and reports that Borg DNA doesn’t propagate in people past a certain point in the development cycle. For humans, this is age 25, when the brain’s frontal cortex concludes development. However, while the D crew won’t be affected, the youngest members of the crew will be.
On the bridge, Shaw asks Mura for a tactical report. Mura doesn’t respond. The music grows ominous. A different angle reveals Mura is being assimilated. Shaw orders Sidney to execute evasive maneuvers, but she’s also being assimilated. “We are the Borg,” the young crew members say simultaneously. The computer (Amy Earhart) reports that Alandra’s life signs are no longer compatible with human designation.
Over comms, other ships report similar situations. On the viewscreen, Shelby announces an attack from within before being shot with phasers by young crewmembers. Shaw and Picard realize the fleet has been assimilated. This includes Esmar. “Eliminate all unassimilated,” repeat the Borg. They begin firing phasers upon the unassimilated. “Stun only,” orders Picard as he, Riker, Shaw and Seven fall back into the turbolift.
Geordi says he needs to get to his girls. But Data stops him and says they need a plan. Meanwhile, Borg march through the corridors searching for unassimilated to eliminate. The assimilated Esmar takes the Titan bridge’s center seat. “Collective, we have the Titan,” they report.
In the turbolift, Seven observes that the assimilation process seems to have skipped a generation. Riker says they have to get off the Titan before it’s too late. They arrive at deck 4 and find a firefight. Shaw redirects the lift to deck 11.
As they travel there, they overhear a broadcast on frequency 99-Delta from Captain Bnbassat (Nolan North) of the Excelsior. They’ve managed to take the ship back from the Borg. But the map shows the ship being redirected by the automated navigation. Excelsior is destroyed by phaser fire from other Starfleet ships.
Seven asks how the Excelsior was able to broadcast. Shaw explains that 99-Delta is a maintenance channel. Shaw changes the lift’s destination to the maintenance deck. Since there’s no staff posted there, they should be able to escape with the repair shuttle. Picard uses his comms to call any other survivors to the sub-level maintenance corridor.
Meanwhile, the armada has been assimilated. The Borg broadcast a message claiming that Starfleet is now Borg. In the Titan’s maintenance corridor, Picard, Riker, Seven and Shaw reunite with Deanna, Beverly, Data, Geordi, Worf, and Raffi (Michelle Hurd). Geordi says he’s trying to get the door open and laments that they took his girls.
Riker worries the shuttle will also be under Borg control, but Data informs him that shuttles don’t connect to the new system. Seven says, “The robot is right.” Worf asks if they’ll use a single shuttle to face the entire fleet and Geordi says he has a better idea. They are soon besieged by phaser fire.
Geordi and Data begin starting the shuttle. Data asks how Geordi knows their destination hasn’t already been destroyed and Geordi tells him to be a little more positive. “I hope we die quickly,” smiles Data.
In the corridor, Shaw instructs the others to get aboard the shuttle. Then he’s struck by phaser fire in the abdomen. Seven leans over Shaw and tells Picard to find a way out of this. She tells Raffi to go too, but she says, “Not a chance.” Shaw’s wound is fatal. Before dying, he says the Titan isn’t his ship anymore. “You have the con, Seven of Nine,” Shaw says, then dies.
The repair shuttle escapes the Titan. Meanwhile, the assimilated armada targets spacedock and prepares to eliminate planetary defenses.
The repair shuttle arrives at the Fleet Museum. Geordi says they need an older analog ship, one that’s offline from the others. They enter Bay 12. The lights activate and reveal the Enterprise-D. The crew beholds the ship from the shuttle.
As the shuttle approaches the Enterprise, Picard asks how the ship is here. Geordi explains that due to the Prime Directive, the saucer section had to be removed from its resting place at the conclusion of Star Trek: Generations. Geordi has been restoring it bit by bit for the intervening decades.
Data admits seeing the ship makes him choked up. Deanna says he isn’t the only one. Geordi says they obviously can’t use the Enterprise-E. Everyone turns to look at Worf. “That was not my fault,” he states. Riker and Beverly say the Enterprise-D is beautiful. Worf asks if she’ll fly. Geordi asks Picard what he thinks, and Picard says, “Oh yes. She’ll fly.”
On the bridge, the crew is reintroduced to the familiar space. The LCARS displays activate and the ship hums to life. Worf says he misses the weapons systems on the E. Data asks for reassurance that the ship isn’t connected to the system. Picard says that standing together on the bridge with everyone, he realizes what he missed most: the carpet.
Boldly Going Once More
Picard initiates system reactivation procedures. The Enterprise-D computer (Majel Barrett Roddenberry) acknowledges his authorization. The ship is once again under the command of Jean-Luc Picard.
Picard says he’s reluctant to ask everyone to face these stakes again. Riker says they’re the crew of the Enterprise – and more importantly, they’re Picard’s family. Deanna says Jack, Alandra and Sidney are also family. Riker tells Picard they go wherever he goes. The music swells as the rest of the crew nods their agreement.
“Thank you, Number One,” Picard says before ordering them to stations. The ship systems power up as the Enterprise-D leaves spacedock. Picard orders a course to Earth at maximum warp: “Engage.” The ship points towards the screen and jumps to warp.
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