Star Trek: Picard's latest Next Generation cameo was all about 'doing a paranoia thriller'
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Star Trek: Picard season 3, episode 5.
Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc is touring his greatest hits in the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard by bringing back a bevy of familiar faces from The Next Generation. The reunions keep coming in episode 5, titled "Imposters," which sees a character showrunner Terry Matalas says he really wanted for his story arc.
Actress Michelle Forbes returns as Ro Laren, a Bajoran member of Starfleet who served on the U.S.S Enterprise-D. Trekkies last saw her in season 7 of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1994. The character now arrives on Picard to question Jean-Luc and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) about the Titan's activities, but similar to her past story arcs, there's a secret, more pressing reason why she's really there.
"There was nothing I wanted to do more than bring Ro Laren back," Matalas tells EW. "It felt like such a hanging chad from Next Generation. That episode to me is very special. It's the idea of doing a paranoia thriller."
Ro made her first appearance on The Next Generation in 1991 in the episode "Ensign Ro," and her colorful background includes a conviction for disobeying orders and getting eight crewmen killed. She was first stationed on the U.S.S. Enterprise on a secret mission to make a deal with a suspected Bajoran terrorist, but her principles in the matter are what gained her respect from Picard.
The last time Picard saw her — at least on screen — was in season 7 when she was sent to infiltrate a resistance group known as the Maquis and ended up defecting. A lot has seemingly happened to Ro off screen since that time. To use Picard's own words, "How the hell is Ro Laren back in Starfleet?!" It turns out she was once again rehabilitated and brought up through Starfleet Intelligence.
She beams aboard the U.S.S Titan in Picard season 3 with two armed security guards from the U.S.S Intrepid as Jean-Luc and Riker face potential treason charges. Once both Picard and Ro break the ice and confirm neither of them are Changelings, she reveals her true purpose for being there is because Starfleet has been infiltrated at the highest level by Changelings.
"The only way to be sure that the person that you're talking to is actually the person you hope they are is by getting through a catharsis of trauma of the past of this relationship, [which] to me felt like it could be really good television," Matalas says. "That was Ro and Picard, and I so desperately wanted to see the conclusion to that relationship."
Closure comes just in time. The episode concludes with the death of Ro, who realizes too late that her own detail has been infiltrated by Changelings who plant a bomb on her shuttle. She's at least able to leave behind her Bajoran earring containing all her files on the Changelings before crashing her shuttle into the Intrepid.
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