Following the events of Part 1, Data plays along, simulating damage to the ship. Baran is persuaded by his Romulan flunky Tallera that he should retreat, and grudgingly thanks Riker for his role in keeping them all alive. Picard (undercover as “Galen”) taunts Riker as a “traitor and coward,” and gets a solid punch from his first officer.
Tallera challenges “Galen,” asking why he didn’t keep firing on the Enterprise and why he keeps antagonizing Riker. Picard stays focused on his work, which consists of asking the computer to scan artifacts. It’s supposed to be technical work that requires expertise, but it looks like any NPC could do it.
Baran confides in Riker, without revealing the nature of his mission, but promising to let Riker kill Galen when the time comes.
Data calls the unusually salty Worf into his office for a perfectly delivered private scolding. Worf is used to freely offering tactical ideas, which are usually more aggressive than Picard or Riker’s. But Data cautions that once the captain has issued an order, it is inappropriate for a first officer to continue to disagree in public. Data offers to transfer Worf back to his tactical station without a reprimand, but Worf says he’d prefer to continue as first officer. In a move truly worthy of Picard, Data tersely dismisses Worf, then immediately expresses regret that he may have just ended their friendship. It’s a really good scene, taking full advantage of on opportunity to explore how familiar characters react to new circumstances.
After hearing an update from Riker, Picard decides it’s time to start planning a mutiny, and Tallera emerges as the potential leader.
She reveals herself to Picard as an embedded Vulcan security officer. After Picard reveals his own true identity, she says Baran is on the trail of a mythological Vukcan weapon that amplifies telepathic energy, and that she is willing to destroy everyone on the ship to keep Baran from gathering all the missing parts and assembling it.
Meanwhile the Enterprise-D intercepts the Klingon transport ship that they suspect is waiting to delivering the final piece to Baran. Worf has the chance to test his new professional restraint when Data is reluctant to agree to the pretext Worf suggests for searching the Klingon vessel, and simply says “Yes, sir,” when Data states his reluctance. But Data agrees with the suggestion anyway, leading to some comic scenes with the untalkative and immensely tall Korath (who towers over even Worf).
In a chaotic and fun action sequence, Picard leads a team of mercenaries who board the Enterprise, looking for the artifact. Much pew is pew-pewed, and Picard ends up beaming away with the artifact, after convincing the other raiders that he has killed Riker (leaving him behind).
Back on the raider ship, Picard delivers the final artifact, then turns on Baran, and announces that he’s finishing the mission Baran started. The crew accept him their new leader.
When Riker learns from a Vukcan security minister that they don’t have an operative on a mercenary ship, the plot twists keep coming.
Picard may or may not notice that Tallera is getting super impatient at his archaeological ramblings. He seems far more interested in Vulcan mythology than she is.
After Tallera siezes command of the raider ship, Picard doesn’t really seem to have a plan, but his knowledge of mythology ends up saving the day.
Because this was a two-parter, the episode did not feel rushed, though I thought Baran’s demise came rather quickly. I wish that this had been another quest for Picard and Vash did together, or that instead of a random macguffin that we never see again, this had been one piece of a season-long puzzle that perhaps led up to the emergence of the Prophets on DS9, or a way to connect to the Borg transwarp conduits, or even the “excessive use of warp engines damage the fabric of space” theme.
While the set for the final confrontation seems claustrophobic (without a matte painting or CGI to extend the cramped TV set), the inside of the raider ship was unusually spacious, even though the bridge was obviously a redress of a set we’ve seen many times.