How Unfair Time Is

This episode kicks off where and when the last one left off, at Chateau Picard with Picard and Q together in a world that is not… quite right. Picard seems to notice that something is wrong with Q, but he cannot figure out what. Q is angry, rather than jovial. He tells Picard that this is “not a lesson” but “a penance.” Q takes Picard on a tour of this dystopian reality where humanity has destroyed the planet. Now, the Federation (including Picard’s home) is staffed by alien slaves.

Picard is a hero of the Federation (well, Confederation). A warlord who keeps a room full of trophies, including the skulls of his enemies (a few with names we recognize: Gul Dukat, General Martok, and Sarek). In this world, Picard is a Confederation version of Himmler/Goebbels – a mass murderer bent on conquering the galaxy, conquering alien worlds, and eradicating alien species. Q suggests that Picard can leave this world through atonement, even with forgiveness. When Picard asks “forgiveness for what?” Q responds “I think you know.”

A Safe Galaxy is a Human Galaxy

Picard looks over his old propaganda videos, clearly disgusted with himself in this world. He asks Harvey to look for Laris and learns that he killed both Laris and Zhaban during the Romulan uprisings at the gates of Romulus. He then boards a shuttle to the Palace to celebrate “eradication day.”

At the palace, Seven (called Annika here) wakes up as President of the Confederation – no sign of her Borg implants. She is quickly greeted by her husband. Like Picard, Annika has awoken in this new universe with her original memories, but operates in a life she doesn’t know.

During her morning briefing, she learns that the Confederation is at war with the Vulcans. In her search for another familiar face, she reaches out to Rios on the front lines.

We’re Shoot to Kill!

Rios, disoriented, is on the front of the Vulcan war. He watches powerlessly as Confederation ships destroy the Vulcans. He gets an unexpected call from President Hanson. The two quickly learn they’re in the same situation – in an alternate reality, but retaining their original memories. Using Presidential authority, Seven calls Rios back to Earth.

In Okinawa, there is an uprising in the camps. This is where we find “Space Legolas”, Elnor. The Romulans are rebelling in the camp. Elnor is quickly taken captive by Confederate soldiers where he is rescued by a cloaked figure, Raffi. She has her troops take him captive so she can keep him safe.

Seven continues her tour with her husband. He explains to her that Eradication this year is special, as they will be executing one of Earth’s greatest enemies. He then leads her to Jurati’s lab. It appears that all of Picard’s cadre (except Soji) are in this dystopia retaining their memories. 

Time Has Been Broken

In Jurati’s lab, Seven’s husband continues to be suspicious of his wife’s odd behavior coupled with Jurati’s even odder behavior. He directs Jurati to show the prisoner that will be executed today – a Borg Queen. The Borg Queen can also see that reality is broken. 

At the Palace on Eradication Day, the team reunites and confirms they are all themselves but in the wrong world. Seven explains to them that the Confederation has a Borg Queen (not the one from the Star Gazer) who theorizes that there has been a divergence in time. Picard explains to his crew that Q has done this.

The Fiction of the What if of What Was

In Jurati’s lab, Picard and the team question the Borg Queen to learn more about what has happened. The Queen recognizes Locutus immediately. She tells them that the change in the timeline originates in 2024 in Los Angeles. Also, there is someone there to help, a watcher. To go back in time, the team plans to use the Borg Queen. She agrees to help so that she can return to her own time and hive.

Because of additional security protocols, Rios is unable to beam them aboard his ship. As Eradication Day begins, the Borg Queen is put back in stasis. Picard is scheduled to execute the Queen on stage. They continue with the ceremony as Raffi and Elnor try to find a way to break through security so they can beam out.

On stage, Seven gives her speech to a blood-thirsty crowd and introduces Picard. He is set to execute the Borg Queen and tries to buy time. Raffi and Elnor are able to break a hole through the defenses and Rios beams them out just in the nick of time.

As the Crew prepares to use the ship to travel back in time, they are surprised by a security detail led by Seven’s husband. Elnor is shot and the First Husband takes them all into custody as traitors to the Confederation and kidnappers of the President.

Episode Analysis

In our second season of Picard, it is clear that the Borg will be the main focus of the three-season series. I absolutely love this as Picard’s experience with the Borg was a traumatic one. We saw its impact throughout The Next Generation when Picard wanted to turn a Borg who had developed an independent identity (Hugh) into a bomb to destroy his people. In Star Trek First Contact the Borg Queen captured him. Then again in Picard throughout Season 1 and his engagements with Seven, as well as the Borg Cube held by the Romulans (and run by a re-humanified Hugh). Once again, the Borg represents to Picard his greatest nightmare (losing his individuality) while conflicting with his highest ideals (the right of all species to exist). 

Watching Picard operate in a world where he is a madman who promoted everything our Picard detests (racism, conquest, and destruction) is an interesting one. He is able to slip on the mantle of warlord easily, like when he dresses down a cadet to save Raffi but struggles with the values of the world he is in. I have always found the human struggles of Jean-Luc to be more fascinating than his leadership ones. Picard has done a phenomenal job exploring his ego, internal conflict, and trauma (the borg, his family, his relationships…).


This season, there is no shortage of Easter Eggs, sprinkled throughout the episode just to make nerds like me happy. During the episode’s opening, Q dresses down Picard and says “How Yesterday’s Enterprise of you!” A reference to an episode during the 3rd season of The Next Generation where a time-rift brings the Enterprise-C into the future, disrupting the timeline. It is an incredibly popular episode (and one of my favorites). When Picard is watching his propaganda videos, it’s a slightly modified version of his opening monologue from The Next Generation. At one point, President Seven asks for an update on the Vulcan War and her husband suggests putting her in touch with Captain Sisco (Deep Space Nine). 

This second episode sets us up for the premise of the season → time has been altered by Q. They need to go back to the year 2024 to figure out what change has taken place by using a dangerous enemy (the Borg Queen) to do so. There are still some mysteries to explore. Who is “the Watcher” in 2024? My guess is that it’s Guinan. She spent time on earth during the 18th century (hanging out with Mark Twain in San Francisco).

We know that Alorians don’t age like humans. Perhaps she is there? What change did Q make to the timeline to so radically alter the trajectory of Earth’s history? Also, what is wrong with Q? Even at his most menacing, Q was almost child-like in the joy he took tormenting Picard and the crew of the Enterprise. Now, he is angry, almost unhinged. Is he sick? Mad? How does this all trace back to the explosion on the StarGazer? 

Let me know what you think the answers to these mysteries are in the comments!