Picard’s “Dominion” in Review
The seventh installment of Star Trek: Picard’s third season is a lower-key episode in comparison to the last few outings. Although tense and featuring the return of another legacy character, it feels more like an episode designed to set up a second part rather than an episode in its own right.
While the USS Titan is hiding among the wreckages of old starships at the Chin’toka scrapyard, Seven of Nine is on the bridge and in contact with Tuvok, who is now a captain (again played by Tim Russ). It’s very enjoyable to see his return. Seven attempts to confirm that Tuvok is not a Changeling infiltrator but, unfortunately, it’s quickly revealed that that is indeed the case. This plot development helps to sell the idea that Starfleet has been compromised at the highest levels.
Before their Changeling adversary can trace the source of the Titan’s transmission, Picard demands to know the location of Riker. Taunting him, the Changeling takes on the face of a deceased Riker, telling Picard that he’s as good as dead. The crew then cut the transmission.
After the episode’s opening titles, Geordi shows Picard that he and Alandra have been working on Data in sickbay. Unfortunately, the Lore personality intermittently takes control of the android, since both he and Data are occupying the same positronic body.
Meanwhile on the Shrike, Vadic contacts her mysterious handler. He chastises her for being unable to break Riker and Troi.
On the Titan, Jack demonstrates an ability to read Sidney La Forge’s mind. The ship receives an SOS communication from Riker, indicating that he’s onboard the Shrike. Jack asks for a moment of Picard’s time. In the observation lounge, Picard tells Jack that he has a plan to turn the tables on Vadic.
The Shrike arrives to find the Titan disabled and adrift, apparently damaged after a battle with a Vulcan ship. Vadic, excited by her apparent good fortune, leads an invasion team aboard the Titan. They encounter Jack, who taunts the invaders. This in turn leads to a chase throughout the starship, leading to the Starfleet crew trapping the Changelings behind forcefields.
Vadic is held in sickbay, where she has a tense conversation between herself, Picard and Doctor Crusher. Vadic reveals that she was a prisoner-of-war at the end of the Dominion War and was subjected to various experiments which has led to her “evolved physiology.”
Unfortunately, the Lore personality takes control of the Titan’s computer and releases the Changelings from their forcefields while Vadic, in her liquified form, escapes into an airduct. Jack manages to telepathically motivate Sidney to overcome a Changeling they were previously guarding.
Vadic soon rendezvous with the other released Changelings. They throw Captain Shaw into a turbolift and manage to hitch a ride with him. Along with her men and a beaten and bruised Shaw, Vadic arrives on the bridge and takes control. She gleefully addresses the crew, declaring that she is the new captain of the Titan.
After two outstanding episodes of Picard, this installment is a bit of a letdown. The drawback with a serialised story arc is that certain episodes are there to set up the next part of the story and can feel incomplete without seeing what happens next. So far, Season 3 has managed to counter that by having each episode tell a memorable story within the framework of the arc. This installment establishes Vadic’s background but perhaps there was a more interesting way to do this. The episode could have had the Titan crew finding the Daystrom Station lab where Vadic was experimented on, rather than being yet another episode set within the halls and sickbay of the Titan.
There is a commendable sense of tension in Picard and Doctor Crusher’s interrogation of Vadic. Although not an original idea, the flashback scenes work well, helping to convey the suffering she felt. It’s interesting that she has taken the face of the doctor who tortured her. Every time she sees her reflection, she must remember all the pain and suffering which, in turn, would fuel her hate of the Federation.
Jack Crusher exhibits another new ability this week, able to read Sidney La Forge’s mind and even take control of her body. It’s an intriguing development but leaves the audience with more questions than answers. Is Jack an Augment? Is his telepathy some residual aftereffect of his dad being assimilated? With Jack’s eyes turning red, one can’t help but think of DS9 antagonists the Pah-wraiths. Personally, I would be disappointed if they’re involved in this season, as their return would be more suited for a DS9 revival than a TNG reunion.
While Seven and Shaw are again relegated to background characters, Raffi and Worf have disappeared altogether. The episode suffers without their presence.
Geordi and Data/Lore share a number of scenes. Both LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner excel throughout the episode. It’s remarkable how Spiner can switch between his two characters effortlessly.
We are now entering the endgame for Season 3 and it’s time for some answers. Hopefully, they’re not saved for the final episode. They deserve the time to be explored and developed, especially whatever is going on with Jack. In the final three episodes, I hope Shaw and Seven will return to the forefront and that the real Tuvok will be rescued and have an on-screen reunion with Seven. But for now, things are looking bleak for the crew of the Titan and they will probably get worse before they get any better.
Jamie Flint has been a Star Trek fan since he was four years old and caught the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on television. He quickly devoured the other movies and TV episodes and can fondly remember being the youngest person in the cinema watching Generations.
Thirty years later, you’ll find him watching all the series — both new and old — with his little family. Oh, and he is a big defender of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier!