Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 5 recap. In last week’s episode, the USS Titan escaped the nebula and gave the Shrike a bloody nose. Now, with the latest episode we open with Jack Crusher having another one of his visions.
However in this week’s outing of Star Trek Picard season 3, these visions are much more aggressive than what he’s seen before: in it he kills the bridge crew. In his mind’s ear (is that something people say?) he hears a voice that tells him to, “return home.” This heavily suggests that he’s a Changeling and just doesn’t know it.
You can’t be certain (and Star Trek loves a surprise) but Changelings have always been protective of their own kind, and it would explain why Vadic and the Shrike were assigned to capture him, rather than just destroy the USS Titan. Is the voice calling him back to the Great Link? Let’s see.
In the observation lounge Riker, Picard, Seven, and Captain Shaw discuss how a Changeling was able to slip onboard the Titan unnoticed. Ever since the Dominion War, Starfleet crews are scanned to check their identity, and this is supposed to prevent Changelings infiltrating the ships. So, something fishy is going on.
Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 5 recap – Riker relinquishes command
Riker re-assigns command back to Captain Shaw, and Shaw then informs the trio that Starfleet is on its way to recover the Titan, and interrogate Picard, Riker, and Seven. In a turbolift with the two Starfleet veterans Shaw whistles a happy tune now that his ship is back in his command, and in safety. In his most ‘Picard’ moment yet, a grumpy Jean-Luc tells him to shut up. Glorious.
Having apologised for her role in the situation, Beverly goes off to scan the remains of the Changeling that Seven killed. Her results show the Changelings – or at least these Changelings – have evolved, and could now pass the blood tests that are typically used to identify them.
Raffi and Worf are back (unfortunately) and they’re doing some physical training, and Raffi is a good match for him. The pair get a message from Worf’s handler at Starfleet intelligence, rejecting their request for access to Daystrom station. The pair think the Changelings stole other more sinister weapons from there along with the portal gun so naturally, they want to make their way to Daystrom anyway, and they start tracking down their latest lead.
They return to M’Talas prime on the hunt, and they’re confronted by their lead – a former associate of Sneed. That associate has laid a trap for them, and they’ve fallen into it. Raffi and Worf are pitted against one another, and they are forced to duel each other. She manages to bury her knife into Worf, seeming to kill him.
But it’s a fakeout, and seeming to rise from the dead Worf gains the upper hand from their captors. They get a piece of tech from their lead, which will allow them to break into Daystrom station and exploit the weaknesses within the AI system that guards it.
Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 5 recap – Starfleet’s return
Starfleet arrives to deal with whatever’s just happened with the USS Titan, and it’s the USS Intrepid that has the pleasure of confronting them. The Intrepid sends over a shuttle of security officers, rather than beaming aboard – assumedly because the Changelings have found a way to bypass the transporters, and have infiltrated higher up Starfleet.
Captain Shaw’s very happy about all this, and in a good mood knowing that Riker and Picard are about to face the consequences of their actions. He reels off a list of times they broke the rules and had various other misadventures (dropping the saucer section of the Enterprise-D, bypassing the Prime Directive so that Picard could “snog” the woman on Ba’ku) and it’s notably leaning on the Star Trek movies here, rather than the TV series. This is where Star Trek Picard season 3 is finding its inspirations.
The shuttle docks with the Titan, and a security team led by none other than ensign Ro Laren come aboard. Except she’s not an ensign anymore. Despite betraying Starfleet for the Maquis, she’s back, and she’s a commander. She tells them, ironically, that they’re accused of treason. She interrogates Picard first, and it’s a pretty frosty affair. Meanwhile Jack Crusher’s visions are getting worse.
Picard gets the news about the Changeling evolution from Beverly, raising his suspicions that Ro Laren is a Changeling herself. This suspicion is compounded by her insistence in learning about Jack Crusher. However the frankness of their conversation, and the emotion that fills it, shows him that Ro really is Ro, and shows her that Picard really is Picard. With that out of the way, she explains that Starfleet has been compromised.
She thinks Changelings have infiltrated the layers of Starfleet, going right up to the top. She’s concerned that Frontier Day could be the target for something big, and her trust in those around her is non-existent. It’s all very ‘Conspiracy’. Picard asks why she’s so interested in Jack Crusher, and she says it’s an interest that’s come from the top-down. People throughout Starfleet security – and therefore the Changelings – have an interest in the young man.
Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 5 recap – Intrepid vs Titan
Having transferred most of the crew off the Titan, Ro leaves the ship with a skeleton crew and tells Picard to take it and run. She says she’s going to buy them time, and she gives Picard her Bajoran earpiece. Picard explains the situation to Riker, Seven, and Captain Shaw, imploring Shaw to listen to him and allow them to flee from Starfleet.
Aboard her shuttle back to the Intrepid, Ro’s two security officers set up a bomb and beam away. Unsurprisingly, they’re Changelings. Realising that she’s been backed into a corner, Ro Laren crashes her shuttle into the Intrepid’s port nacelle to give the Titan a head start, sacrificing herself in the process and buying time.
This convinces Captain Shaw that things really are not as they seem. The Intrepid raises its shields and prepares to attack the Titan (the shot of the Intrepid rearing its head to face down the Titan is lovely). Captain Shaw gets the picture, and they warp out of there just before two of the Intrepid’s photon torpedoes can take them out.
Picard and Riker inspect Ro’s earpiece and find that it contains a data chip with all the findings of her investigation. The Changeling conspiracy has gone right up the Starfleet ‘chain of command’ – words which are displayed onscreen in a not-so subtle reference. The earpiece receives a transmission, and it’s from none other than Worf. Worf’s handler was Ro Laren, and he had been reporting to her with the results of his mission.
The Changelings finally find Jack Crusher on the Titan, and try to beam him away. But, with his visions in full flow he kills all four. As Beverly says, remarkable odds.
Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 5 recap – the verdict
Though it’s now linked with the main plot, Worf and Raffi’s sidequest has simply been a drag right from the start. It’s just worse than the rest of the show, as if written and designed by a different team entirely. In Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 4, we were spared some of that and we were allowed to focus on the main event, and the episode was much better for it.
Jack Crusher’s visions also take central stage here. But this whole plot thread does feel tired, and strangely like the plot of Soji and Dahj. It’s a retread, and while Ed Speelers does his best with it, it does leave Jack Crusher and his story feeling 2D.
Then there’s the main plot, which is revealed to us fully in this episode. Basically, it’s Conspiracy, but with Changelings. That, combined with the Jack Crusher story (which is lifted from Picard season 1) and the overt influence from The Wrath of Khan (the secret son, and the extended nebula battle) means that there’s nothing new in Star Trek Picard season 3, yet.
Each part individually is largely ok or better, but there are no new ideas – just old things mushed together (even down to little aspects, like Captain Shaw’s Sisko backstory) – and it’s less than the sum of its parts.
That leaves a sour taste in the mouth, which not even Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren could sweeten. She was great upon her return, and she brought a genuine sense of emotion and baggage to the Titan. Unfortunately, to make space for her, Seven, Beverly, and Captain Shaw were all sidelined again.
If I’d never seen Star Trek before I might be more impressed by the way the plot has developed in Star Trek Picard episode 5. But I have seen Star Trek, so the lack of originality leaves me disappointed.
Finally, surprisingly little happened this episode and you could feel the momentum being drained away. It could be distilled down into: Ro Laren tells Picard and the Titan that there’s a bigger changeling conspiracy which somehow involves Jack Crusher, and the Titan flees from Starfleet with a skeleton crew. This was overly drawn out, whereas the previous episode was so tight. Like Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 2, this episode did not warrant 50 minutes of TV.
So, a definite decline then sadly. Let’s see if Star Trek Picard season 3 can finally bring something new to the table now that we’re past the halfway point.
For more on Star Trek Picard, check out our Star Trek Picard season 3 review and our guides on Rachel Garrett and the Red Lady. Or, learn more about the Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 release date and find out our picks for the rankings of the Star Trek captains.
Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 5 recap
The return of Ro Laren and the threat posed by the USS Intrepid are both thrilling, but as the crew now flee from Starfleet Star Trek Picard is still a series lacking in originality.