In the penultimate episode of Picard Season 3, the show’s biggest twist redefines not only the entire season but one of the most epic conflicts in Star Trek canon. Although the primary villain this season has its origins in Deep Space Nine, it turns out that somebody else has been pulling the strings. But the return of this specific villain isn’t just a twist for the sake of it. Instead, a very old mystery from 1996 has finally been solved. Here’s what that huge twist from Picard Season 3, Episode 9 means, plus some clarification from showrunner Terry Matalas about a very specific floating head.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Picard Season 3, Episode 9, “Vox.”
Early in the episode, the mystery of what’s behind the “red door” in the mind of Jack Crusher reveals the unthinkable: Jack has the Borg in his blood!
Turns out Jean-Luc Picard accidentally passed down what Data calls “dormant biological Borg adaptations.” Although the Prime Universe Borg was (mostly) defeated by Janeway in the Voyager finale “Endgame,” it turns out the original Borg evolved in a new way, which allows assimilation via Jean-Luc’s altered genetic code. The entire Changeling plot was specifically designed to slip Picard’s old Borg code into every Starfleet transporter and give everybody a piece of Borg in their body. Meanwhile, Jack — as Jean-Luc’s son — inherited a huge chunk of this genetic tech; which, has turned him into an unwitting transmitter; exactly what the ailing Borg Queen (Alice Krige) wanted all along.
First Contact set up this Picard twist in 1996
Although Jean-Luc Picard was rescued from the Borg Collective in the 1990 TNG episode ‘The Best of Both Worlds Part 2,” we later learned that he retained an ability to “hear” the Collective in the mega-popular 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact. In that film, Picard was able to sense the Borg, and thus, give Starfleet the ability to destroy one specific Borg Cube. But, at that time, we never knew why he had this superpower. Because Jean-Luc never faced the Borg again, it’s taken this long to actually solve this mystery.
In “Vox,” Data and Geordi explain that the genetic alterations that the Borg made to Picard’s DNA turned him into a “receiver,” of Borg communication, while Jack is a “transmitter.” Jean-Luc realizes the significance of this revelation, saying that it “was why I could still hear them after I was assimilated.” Data adds that Picard’s “body” was the thing that could still hear the “voice of the Collective.”
Who controlled the Changelings for the Borg?
Throughout Picard Season 3, Vadic’s handler appeared as a mystery floating face, who some fans have dubbed “meathead.” We later learned this was not a Changeling at all. Although some fans might miss this detail, that floating face was, in fact, the Borg Queen all along. When directly asked the identity of the floating face that bossed around Vadic, Picard showrunner Terry Matalas told Inverse “That’s the Borg Queen.”
“That’s the Borg Queen.”
Although “Vox” drops a lot of info that seems to change everything about Picard Season 3, all the clues have been there. The Changelings have been messing with the transporter since Episode 4 and Commander Ro told Picard she didn’t trust the transporters back in Episode 5. In Episode 7, we learned that Vadic busted out of Daystrom Station on her own, and it was at that point she discovered the dormant Borg Code within Picard. In this episode, we learned that the Changelings wanted to weaponize the dormant Borg Code, and the Borg Queen was happy about the team-up.
As Beverly Cruhser says, “Cleary the Changelings have been working with the Borg since the beginning.”
Later, the Borg Queen clarifies this alliance slightly, saying to Jack that the Borg-Changeling team-up was “the vindication of both our species to take everything back from those who live like shattered glass.” Like the Borg, the Changelings have a kind of shared hive minds in their Great Link. Also like the Borg, they have a huge beef with the Federation. Both groups also view individualized humanoid consciousnesses as basically ridiculous.
This episode also makes it clear that the Borg Queen could not have stuck all this Borg genetic code into Starfleet’s systems without the help of the Changelings. This suggests the Borg Queen might be in worse shape than we know. In “Vox,” we don’t even see her face, and her ship seems badly damaged. Clearly, the Borg Queen was desperate enough to enlist the help of the Changelings.
But, that doesn’t mean all of our questions have been answered. Going into the massive Picard Season 3 finale, the vengeance of the Borg feels nearly complete. Unless, of course, one last starship can save the day.