Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 5 Review: ImpostersDiana Keng at . Updated at .
Of all the fan service we've been gifted this season, Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 5 is the most emotionally impactful and psychologically satisfying.
Ro Laren's history with Starfleet, in general, and Picard, in particular, has been an open case for so long that most fans probably believed it would remain without conclusion forever.
Her return binds the season's two narratives together for the first time. Her reunion with Picard brings closure to the betrayal he's carried for thirty years. Her death may prove to be the most meaningful sacrifice Starfleet ever records.
Despite not appearing on Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 4, Worf and Raffi's mission is never far from mind as unmasking the Changeling posing as Titus Rikka linked (!) their investigation to the personnel issues aboard the Titan.
When Worf's handler denies them their requested authorization to access Daystrom Station, we see how Worf and Raffi respond differently to orders.
In the seasons since Raffi was first introduced, we've watched her struggle to find and stay on a healthy and balanced path.
She is a supremely capable and brilliant operative, but the people she loves have never been enough for her to give up on the people she knows she can save.
Worf: Your enemy’s aggression will always reveal their weakness. You could have sacrificed a move to reveal mine.
Raffi: I already know yours. It’s talk.
Worf: Impulsiveness, stubbornness, short-sightedness is yours.
Worf sees and names the warrior in her and recognizes that the warrior will die a needless death if she does not learn patience and flexibility.
I suspect he sees himself in her, possibly Alexander and Kurn as well. After all, Alexander harbored resentment for a long time, allowing it to cloud his judgment and weaken his battle readiness. Kurn felt dishonor so deeply he had to be reconned and adopted into a different Klingon House.
Worf can see a better path for Raffi. One that allows her to serve the justice that compels her to constant action while granting her the peace she needs to become the mother and grandmother she wants to be.
After Jadzia's death, Worf devotes himself to his work, whether as Federation Ambassador to Qo'noS, as Enterprise-E crew, or, evidently, as a Starfleet intelligence operative and handler.
Whatever the work, he is alone until he reveals himself to Raffi.
As a team, they may prove to be the found family they need because they cannot be with those they've lost.
I mean, they're already close enough that Worf trusts her to stab him. That's a lot of trust.
Now, whether you like or lump Raffi -- personally, I think she's a phenomenal addition to the Trek-verse, and only part of the reason is I've loved Michelle Hurd since her days on Another World -- you have to admit she provides a perspective on the Federation of the 25th Century we've never seen before.
Raffi: Talk now.
Krinn: Reason suggests that you won’t kill me because you need more information.
Raffi: My friend is bleeding pretty badly. How much of his impatience have you factored in there?
She is Starfleet that is pretty awful at being Starfleet, but she is not willing to give up on making a difference in the world.
In a fascinating way, she's the new Ro Laren.
Commander Ro's role as Worf's handler is the final piece to how the season's Titan and M'Talas IV narratives fit together.
With Changelings in the picture, everyone is suspect. There is subtle brilliance to bringing Michelle Forbes back to reprise the role at the very moment the enemy could look like anyone.
Picard: We have absolutely no reason to believe that she will treat us justly.
Riker: You mentored her. You trusted her when no one else would. You had a bond…
Picard: … and she broke it!
Of all of Picard's past crew, Ro Laren is the most tragic and traumatic lost cause in all of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
There's a reason her defection to the Maquis -- turning against Riker and tearfully rejecting everything Picard offered her as a part of Starfleet -- aired as the penultimate episode of the entire series.
From her first appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Episode 3 (Forbes had previously appeared as Dara on Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Episode 22), Ro Laren was revolutionary in character and effect.
No other recurring character from the Enterprise-D days carries the same level of authority, dignity, or moral rectitude.
She's always done what she felt was right, no matter the expectations of those around her or the hopes of those she respected.
Ro: You have no idea what it was like living under your relentless judgment.
Picard: This wasn’t about judgment. We had a bond based on mutual respect. Based on you and I.
Ro; You and I what?
It cost her the relationship she'd built with Picard and her freedom, but it speaks to the value Starfleet sees in her as well as her fortitude that she keeps coming back.
Picard: You betrayed everything I believed in.
Ro: No, you wanted to mold me in your image, your mentorship, your affection. It was conditional. You dare to question my honor? I joined the Maquis because belonging there meant standing up to injustice even if it meant betraying your beloved Starfleet. That was me. But you could never understand that because you confused morality with duty and that, Admiral, is your dishonor.
After Picard and Beverly cleared the air on Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 3, I didn't think there could be another exchange as fraught with history and emotional baggage.
I've never been so happy to be wrong.
Picard and Ro's brutal honesty on the holodeck is everything fans could ask for in closure.
Picard: I believed in you.
Ro: Only when it was easy for you. If I meant so much, you would’ve understood.
Picard: You broke my heart.
Ro: And you broke mine.
Even those watching without a grounding in the canon of Star Trek: The Next Generation can't help but feel the cathartic implosion the admiral and commander trigger when everything is finally said.
Well, if that pain tells us anything, it’s that we are who we say we are.Picard
Everything about Ro aboard the Titan is so damn clever.
Using the shuttle forces the Changeling moles to wait on her arrival and departure. Not trusting the Intrepid's transporter, she inadvertently provides them with a means to frame the Titan for her death but also ensures she has a way to cripple the Intrepid.
I wish, just once, that you could look into my heart and understand that I only did what I thought was best. All these years, I wish you’d known me and that I’d known you. Goodbye, Admiral.Ro
Testing Picard's authenticity, using the holodeck for privacy, hiding her investigation files in for data chipped earring, is it any wonder why Starfleet Intelligence recruited her?
Ro: I’m giving you what you gave me all those years ago. A fighting chance.
Picard: Ro, I do see you. Everything. Forgive me. It’s only now.
While it's a devastating end to a brilliant character, knowing that Picard finally understands what drives her to do what is right at any cost may be the most profoundly fulfilling way to conclude the life of Ro Laren.
And even though he was light years away and playing possum, Worf is right when he declares it a good day to die a worthy death. It just wasn't his.
We nearly have the whole gang together, and with the new crew on board, it's time to address the Jack in the deck.
Why does Jack's subconscious recognize Ensign Esmar as an especially observant crew member?
Why doesn't Jack remember his nightmares from childhood? How did he know he could open the red door in his mind to access ninja skills?
Whose voice is he hearing, and are these superpowers the reason the Changelings are hunting him?
Hit our comments with your best thoughts and theories! Let's figure this out, Fanatics!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.