‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3 Episode 7 Recap: A Changeling of Command
Mar 30, 2023
The seventh episode of Star Trek: Picard’s third and final season opens with an unexpected appearance from a familiar character: Tuvok (Tim Russ). When “Dominion” begins, it appears that some time has passed since William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) was taken into custody by the Changeling-infested Starfleet, and Seven (Jeri Ryan) and the rest of the Titan’s crew have mounted their own operation to locate him. Which is precisely why the two former Voyager officers have reunited.
While the rest of the crew closely monitors the situation, by looking for any signs that the Tuvok they’re speaking to is actually a Changeling, Seven presses him for answers. Does he know where Riker is? Has he heard from Janeway recently? When both of these answers arrive as rather dismissive negatives, Seven decides to switch up her tactics by referencing the games of Kal-toh they used to play aboard the Voyager. Tuvok’s answer doesn’t seem suspicious at first, but something about it causes Seven to set another trap for the Changeling to walk into. Once he takes the bait to arrange a rendezvous location, Seven suggests a planet that no Vulcan would ever agree to meet on. Paired with Tuvok’s sudden lapse of memory when it comes to the assistance he once offered to help Seven stabilize her neural patterns, it becomes blatantly obvious that they’re dealing with another Changeling.
With the Changeling’s ploy revealed, Picard seizes on the opportunity to ask the fake Tuvok about Riker’s whereabouts. The Changeling transforms into a terrifying, deathly-looking version of Riker and claims that Riker is “as good as dead” just like the rest of the crew of the Titan is about to be if they don’t turn over Jack (Ed Speleers). Once the call ends, Geordi (LeVar Burton) tells Picard that they can’t keep doing this, which implies that Tuvok wasn’t the first ally they reached out to, and Picard, at last, comes to terms with the fact that they’re on their own now.
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RELATED: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3 Promotes Seven of Nine, But Demotes Jeri Ryan
Later, in the Ready Room, Picard asks Geordi if they’ve had any word from Worf (Michael Dorn) and Raffi (Michelle Hurd), who have taken off on their own mission to rescue Riker, but there’s no new news on the situation. With the ever-present Changeling threat still looming over them, Beverly (Gates McFadden) suggests that there might be a way to exploit the Changelings’ unique physiology to stop them, but cautions that going after biology is essentially tantamount to genocide—which is something the Changelings already faced during the Dominion War (which is where the episode’s title is borrowed from). With physiology and biology on their minds, the conversation shifts to what the Changelings might try to do with Picard’s body. In order for him to be present at Frontier Day, Picard explains that he would need to provide genetic confirmation of who he is. This leads Geordi to theorize that the Changelings may be attempting to create the perfect Picard doppelgänger by utilizing his body and Jack’s DNA. The why of it all is not quite apparent—yet. But Geordi suggests Data (Brent Spiner) may be able to help answer that question.
Since bringing Data aboard the Titan, Alandra (Mica Burton) and her father have been trying to problem-solve Data’s current Lore-shaped predicament. While this specific version of Data does remember his time on the Enterprise, Soong designed him to house both Data and Lore, leading to a rather jarring case of dueling personalities. Lore is still as cruel and snide as he was in The Next Generation, taking every opportunity to taunt Picard about his age. Geordi explains that Lore and Data are essentially fighting for dominance, which Soong seemingly hoped would lead them to integrate themselves and become more human.
In between Lore’s nasty outbursts, Data does reveal that there was some interest in Picard’s Irumodic Syndrome, though it doesn’t really shed any illumination on the issue at hand. As Lore takes control again, Data begs Picard for help—which is too much for Picard to handle because it reminds him of the Data that asked for his help to die. Overwhelmed, Picard posits that they could potentially free Data by deleting Lore from the program, but Geordi is reluctant, considering how this version has been designed. If they lift the partition, there’s every chance they might lose Data to Lore’s personality, and that’s a risk Geordi simply cannot take.
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Across the galaxy, on the Shrike, Vadic (Amanda Plummer) reveals that Picard’s allies—meaning Riker and Deanna (Marina Sirkis)—proved to be difficult to break and, with time running out, they’re not going to break nearly fast enough. The disembodied Changeling head, which seems to be the architect behind all of their plans, thoroughly reams out Vadic for failing to capture Jack on the timetable that was discussed and essentially alludes to the fact that she is an expendable piece of malleable flesh. With a new fire lit under her, Vadic is now prepared to do what she must to bring the Changelings to victory.
Back on the Titan, Jack’s red-tinged situation is brought to the forefront once again. Building off the fun flirtation in last week’s episode, Jack tries a little smooth seduction on Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) while they’re riding the turbolift. He tells her about the “cracking little suite” that he found on the starship and invites her to join him there—but she makes it clear that he’s going to have to put in a little more effort. Well, she thinks that and Jack overhears those thoughts. While Sidney thinks about how Jack should brush his hand against hers, he impulsively does just that and, understandably, Sidney is a little put off by it. As she heads off the turbolift, he’s once again confronted with the ominous hallway that dead-ends at that equally ominous red door. Jack’s eyes flash red, though it doesn’t seem like it’s visible to anyone other than the audience.
With his weird symptoms flaring back up again, Jack heads straight up to the bridge to find Picard. Of course, when he gets there, they’re interrupted by another trace attempt by Starfleet, in addition to an incoming compromised prefix code that is presumably from Riker. Jack and Picard head into the ready room to have a little heart-to-heart about Riker, and Jack admits how guilty he feels about everything. He hates knowing that people are dying—and are willing to die—for him. You can tell he’s a Picard because he’s a bleeding heart for all the best reasons. Ultimately, Jack doesn’t think he’s worth all of this, and a lot of that stems from the fact that he thinks there’s something wrong with him, deep down inside of him. He finally admits to his father that he can hear things, which alarms Picard to a certain degree, but not enough to really delve into whatever it is that makes him “different,” most likely because he thinks this is a side effect of the syndrome Jack inherited from him. Instead, Picard assures him that he is absolutely worth everything they’re doing to protect him and, with the kind of optimism that comes from a long history of skating through dicey situations, Picard reveals that he thinks they actually have an advantage on Vadic.
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When “Dominion” pivots back to the Shrike, Vadic and her Changeling crew have finally tracked down the Titan—only it’s very clear that Picard’s plan has been set into motion. The Changelings recover a recording that shows that the Titan is dead in the water after getting into a scuffle with another vessel. Aboard the Titan, things seem almost too good to be true. As soon as the Changelings board the vessel, they run straight into Jack, who taunts them into pursuing him deeper into the ship, and straight into the trap they’ve laid. He and Sidney then lead the Changelings on a merry ole chase through the Titan, leading them down various corridors, and trapping the Changelings, including Vadic, behind force fields. However, their little game goes awry when they inadvertently trap themselves inside one of the force fields. Geordi attempts to use the transporter to beam them out of the trap, but his plan is thwarted by Lore, who cruelly locks them out of the system.
With Vadic now in custody, Beverly confronts her in the sickbay about why they want Jack. Vadic evades that line of questioning, prompting Beverly to admit that, while she took an oath to do no harm, she’s beginning to rethink that oath. When Picard shows up to tag-team the interrogation, Vadic taunts them about their good-cop bad-cop dynamic, in addition to a lot of other taunts that may shed some light on the Jack situation. Picard tells Vadic that he thinks he knows what the Changelings are up to with his body and Jack’s blood, and she doesn’t deny it. Instead, she seizes on Beverly’s line of questioning about their advanced physiology, pointing out that Jack isn’t for her, in the same way “he wasn’t really for you either.” What could that possibly mean?
While she doesn’t answer that question, Vadic does reveal why the Changelings are so keen to destroy Starfleet, and as Worf explained several episodes ago, it all has to do with the Dominion War. Picard tries to diminish the gravity of the Dominion War, since the Federation provided the Changelings with a cure—but Vadic points out that’s just a story that is told. The cure may have been created, but the Changelings didn’t receive it. Instead, they were taken hostage and used for horrifyingly cruel experiments. She reflects on her time as a captive and explains that the face she wears is that of the scientist that experimented on her and her family. The experiments were designed to turn them into perfect, undetectable spies that could be used, but instead, they became the perfect monsters.
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As her story comes to a close, Vadic changes into Jack and taunts Beverly about the fact that she’s going to lose another son—alluding to Wesley (Wil Wheaton)—just as she has lost her family. Picard pulls Beverly aside and points out that everything that Vadic has told them was intentionally designed to manipulate them. Vadic is fueled by revenge: she’s an executioner for her cause. Picard questions if they have both been so fundamentally changed that they’re both willing to compromise their moral compass and Beverly admits that she is. Bringing Vadic on board the Titan meant inviting death on board. Right as they make the decision to kill Vadic, Lore lowers the force fields across the ship, helping Vadic escape and causing all hell to break loose.
Newly freed from the force field that had them trapped, Sidney and Jack face off against the Changeling’s brute force, and things go pear-shaped fast. With Sidney briefly down for the count, Jack jumps into action—and into her body. He takes control of her body, puppeting her through the motions to take out the Changelings with a level of skill she wouldn’t possess on her own. Once the Changelings are handled, Jack relinquishes control and Sidney pulls her blaster on him. It doesn’t take much of an explanation to get her to trust him again, albeit reluctantly, and the pair take off to find Beverly and Picard in sickbay.
While Geordi desperately tries to haggle with Lore to let Data back out, Vadic and her henchmen overtake the bridge crew to seize control of the Titan. In Engineering, Geordi appeals to whatever humanity may exist within Lore, sharing how much Data’s death affected him. He admits that Data made him a better friend and a better father, and Lore admits that all he wants is to survive—just like everyone else. Data does manage to break through, but the victory comes far too late to sway the odds stacked against them.
With Seven held at blaster point and Shaw (Todd Stashwick) a crumpled-up, bloody mess on the floor, Vadic situates herself in the captain’s chair to gleefully inform the rest of the crew aboard the Titan that she is the new captain. As the episode draws to a close, Vadic taunts them with the fact that it’s time for Jack to learn who he really is. As Star Trek: Picard’s final season draws to a close, the stakes seem to be soaring even higher. There are so many questions still left unanswered, but with each new tease about who—or what—Jack is, it seems like a guarantee that the series will provide satisfying closure about all of it.
The first seven episodes of the final season of Star Trek: Picard are streaming now on Paramount+.
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