Star Trek: Picard Season 3 is all about giving long-running character and story arcs fitting endings and/or epilogues, even as some new doors to the future of the franchise get opened. Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 9 epitomized that agenda, delivering an episode that brought the past and future of Star Trek together into one epic story that has caused fans to feel a swell of nostalgic pride in the Star Trek franchise.
However, the latest episode of Picard Season 3 also delivers a character death that's really kind of twisted when you step back and look it at...
(WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS)
In the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode "Võx" Picard and allies (both old and new) aboard the USS Titan finally Unpack the mystery of what the Changelings infiltrating Starfleet have been up to, and what they want from Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his son Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers).
The answer to it all is The Borg; Picard's time as Locutus of Borg left him imprinted with Borg code in his DNA, which evolved over time to create a purely organic connection between Picard and the Borg collective – a trait that Jack inherited in the form of psychic powers that allow him to connect and sway others – much like a Borg Queen with her collective. The endgame for the Borg was using the Changelings and their new remote system of assimilation against Starfleet. The Federation's big Frontier Day fleet gathering becomes the perfect opportunity for the Borg to strike – and they start with one of the biggest targets: Fleet Admiral Elizabeth Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy).
Who Is Star Trek's Fleet Admiral Elizabeth Shelby?
Shelby appeared in the now-classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "The Best of Both Worlds" and "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". She was a Lt. Commander in Starfleet Tactical, who specialized in The Borg threat. When word came that The Borg were on the move for an imminent invasion of Federation space, Shelby and Admiral Hanson worked with Picard, Riker, and the Enterprise-D crew to prepare defenses. Shelby was also in line to take Riker's spot as Picard's first officer when Riker was offered his own command. Riker and Shelby bumped heads until the Borg kidnapped Picard and assimilated him, forcing Shelby and Riker to work together to rescue Picard and stop the Borg invasion. At the end of the pivotal Battle of Wolf 359, Shelby was assigned to rebuild Starfleet's decimated armada of ships.
The Death of Elizabeth Shelby
Clearly "Fleet Admiral" Shelby made good on her mission, as Frontier Day marks her big debut as commander of the USS Enterprise-F, as well as a new cutting-edge Starfleet tech upgrade, that allows Federation ships to sync their computers and operate as one collective. However, that "achievement" once again reflects Shelby's hubris (overconfidence and overzealousness): the person who once defended Starfleet against the Borg becomes the one who gives them the perfect side door to commandeering Starfleet's entire fleet and posing the greatest threat to Earth seen in years.
As punishment for her mistake, Shelby dies horribly: the members of the Enterprise-F crew assimilated by the Borg turn on her while she issues an emergency order to the fleet, and Shelby is disintegrated by multiple phaser blasts right in her captain's seat.
In a season that is tracing the paths of so many characters (big and small) from the '90s era of Star Trek (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager), this small subplot about Shelby dying from the Borg is kind of disturbing, no?
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 is now streaming on Paramount+.