Curious as to who Seven of Nine is working for in Star Trek: Picard? It turns out Jeri Ryan has already revealed her character's affiliations in the new series, and it's pretty badass.
So badass in fact, all of this feels like a tribute to another great work of fantasy from before the time of Star Trek. Could Seven's new buddies in the Fenris Rangers be inspired by the Rangers from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? Here's why one small line in Picard, episode 4, "Absolute Candor" reveals a new faction in the final frontier, which is straight outta Middle-Earth. Spoilers ahead.
Though Seven of Nine only has about two seconds of screentime in "Absolute Candor," we do get a small hint what she is up to earlier on. When Picard learns the planet Vashti is super-dangerous now, he protests saying that it's in the "Fenris Ranger" territory. The Fenris Rangers have never been mentioned in Star Trek canon before, and they are a brand-new creation for Picard, even if the basic concept seems slightly borrowed from other fantasy worlds.
According to an IGN interview with Ryan, Seven shows up when she does because she is a member of the Fenris Rangers. "She's been working ... with sort of a group of freedom fighters called the Fenris Rangers, who are trying to keep some semblance of order in the mess that is the galaxy," she explains.
Basically, the Fenris Rangers are nearly exactly like the Rangers of the North from Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien's Middle-Earth, the Rangers are a group of wandering knights, who tried to restore their fallen kingdom. On some level, this makes Seven of Nine kind of like Aragorn. (The analogy might not be spot-on, because there's no technical royalty in the Federation, but who could object to calling Seven a "Queen"?)
The concept of "Rangers" fighting to restore the ideals of a once-great kingdom perfectly fits this moment in Star Trek canon. In LOTR, the Rangers eventually restored their kingdom. It's a little different in Trek at this moment, but the use of the name "Rangers" doesn't feel like an accident. Picard showrunner Michael Chabon was likely making a deliberate hat-tip to LOTR. (It wouldn't be the first time a space franchise borrowed Tolkein's Rangers In Babylon 5, there's also a group of space-faring "Rangers," nearly identical to those of Middle-Earth.)
Just in case anyone is worried about bad blood between the LOTR and Trek franchises, it's a good time to remember that Gandalf — Sir Ian Mckellan — is literally best friends with Patrick Stewart. Did Stewart and McKellan's decades-long friendship create a dimensional door that allowed the Middle-Earth Rangers to entire the Final Frontier? The answer, for now, seems like an obvious "yes."
Picard airs episodes Thursdays on CBS All Access.