Admiral Picard stays earthbound again this week, as he continues his search for clues into Dahj’s origin, sister and killers. The show, however, does not, as the audience is treated to an extended visit to the decommissioned Borg cube known as the Artifact. The cold open shows the synth rebellion on Mars from the perspective of one synth, giving viewers a glimpse into how Picard’s Starfleet career ended.
The CBS All Access companion series Star Trek: Short Treks season 2 released a companion episode about the day of the Mars attacks, titled Children of Mars, that’s worth checking out. Besides showing the day of the attack from a different perspective, the episode shows a slice of modern day life in the Federation and contains hints of conspiracy similar to those in ST:Picard. All of the Short Treks season 2 episodes are delightful and worth watching for long time Trek fans. (More in the commentary section.)
Happy First Contact Day!
Episode 2’s cold open brings us to Mars in the year 2385, 14 years ago, which is a flashback to one of Picard’s worst days ever. This is the day that he was leading an armada of warp capable ships as they ferried the population of Romulus away from their home planet before their sun went supernova. The rescue was abandoned when the synths working on Mars went rogue and attacked, killing those living on the planet and destroying the infrastructure, including the Utopia Planitia Shipyards, where starships, including the Enterprise D and Voya were built. Picard was blamed for the losses, because the Federation’s emergency responses were crippled by the lack of warp capable ships ready to respond quickly. As a result, the Romulan rescue attempt was abandoned, Picard quit Starfleet in protest, and has been in disgrace ever since.
Or so the story goes, as we’ve been given it so far. In the film First Contact, we learned that the legend of First Contact and the way that day actually went were two very different things. The Zephram Cochrane who invented the warp drive was a very different man from the one who history remembered. It’s a good idea to keep that in mind as ST:P unfolds its stories and clues. It’s not only spies who live more than one life.
Okay, speech over, back to the episode- On this First Contact Day, the shipyard is running with a skeleton crew. I’m assuming the worker who states this is referring to the living workers having time off, since the synths appear to live in closets and be working a normal day. Pincus liberates the synths from their closet with a big smile and they all get to work. Synth F8 joins the crew in their banter, though he doesn’t quite get the humor. Most of the humanoids are tolerant toward the synths and defend F8 from an intolerant coworker.
Announcements have been continuously coming over the coms. Now someone is called to report to the primary reactor control sector. Though ships have also been taking off, the camera specifically notes one taking off outside the workroom window. Another announcement: “Hazard protocol in effect until further notice.”
The crew gets lunch from the replicators and complains about the food. They wish the base matrix that food is created from hadn’t been switched out to the current inferior one.
F8 stands still, as if he’s powered down, then his eyes light up and the irises do something strange. He turns to the workroom wall behind the replicator, which is covered with lighted service panels. As he manipulates one panel after another, he’s still silent and intensely focused, unlike the social F8 we met earlier. His coworkers don’t notice. They’re joking that he’s lucky he doesn’t have to eat from the replicator.
But where does his fuel come from? He may actually eat the same base product as they do, in a different form.
Finally, his coworkers notice something’s wrong, just as alarms sound and the lights flash red. The computer announces that there’s a security alert: “Multiple synthetic units have been compromised.” The deflector shields are down.
That leaves Mars open to not just attack, but robbery.
As humanoids attempt to stop F8, he shoots them all. The computer announces that the security grid has failed and tells staff to move to designated safe zones. Containments have failed. The orbital defense system is compromised. An emergency evacuation is in effect, but there are ships firing on the planet, so that doesn’t seem likely to go well.
Once F8 has killed everyone who might interfere with what he’s set in motion and a cascade failure is in progress, he shoots himself in the head.
F8= fate. Get it?
Call me crazy, but it looked to me like someone took control of the synths, not like they did this on their own. Either someone wanted to destabilize the Federation or to steal from Utopia Planitia without anyone noticing what they’d taken, or both. They could have taken synths, raw materials and ships. They drove Picard, a prominent voice for a particular point of view, into retirement. They pulled off an act of terrorism which traumatized the Federation and has affected policy decisions ever since.
What did the synths have to gain from this act? Did enough of them escape for it to matter? Or were they kidnapped? Because of this attack, they were banned from the Federation, labeled terrorists and are now hunted down and killed, so it’s hard to believe that most of them agreed with such extremism.
Picard, Laris and Zhaban do a forensic examination video of Dahj’s fight on the Daystrom roof. Dahj and the assassins she fought have been completely erased from the physical and digital records. Laris concludes that the only group who have the ability and nerve to scrub the evidence this clean are the Zhat Vash, a Romulan spy group that’s buried so deep they’re only whispered about as myths, even among the Tal Shiar, the Romulan secret police. Laris and Zhaban are both former members of the Tal Shiar.
Laris explains that all of Romulan society is secretive, but she has reason to believe that the Tal Shiar are a front for a far older cabal, the Zhat Vash. Zhaban says that Zhat Vash also refers to the dead, the only truly reliable secret keepers. Laris tells Picard that the purpose of the Zhat Vash, “is to keep a secret so old and terrible, just learning it can break a person’s mind.”
The Zhat Vash have effective PR, if nothing else.
Picard asks what the deep, dark secret that breaks men’s minds is. Laris says that when she was young, one of her first handlers, Zhaban’s mother, got drunk on Zhaban’s father’s special Romulan ale (Zhaban is really proud to come from such a kick@$$ family- this is why he gets to help with the wine) and whispered to her that the secret has to do with a powerfully deep loathing of any form of artificial life. The Zhat Vash have been guarding this secret for many thousands of years and are embedded throughout the regularly traveled worlds to carry out their mission.
She notes that Romulan culture has no synthetic life, no cybernetics, and their computers are limited to numerical functions, due to the Zhat Vash’s hatred and fear of artificial life. But she has no idea how the fear and hatred got started or why they are so intense. She doesn’t know why the Zhat Vash guard their secret so closely.
Picard and Laris beam into Dahj’s apartment to investigate. The Romulan scrubbers have been there as well, but Laris figures out a couple of workarounds. She starts by scanning the room using a Romulan forensic reconstruction scanner, which Picard reminds her is both illegal and unreliable. She informs him that the Romulans just want everyone else to think it’s unreliable, and continues.
The scanner turns Dahj and her boyfriend’s last evening into a hologram, which ends just before the assassins appeared and shot him. Laris is impressed by the thoroughness of the erasure. She says they’ve overwritten the particle residuum in a sophisticated way which most investigators would read as instrument failure. They saturated the apartment in antileptons, making the data unrecoverable.
But the operatives wouldn’t have wanted to be so thorough in their wipe that the place looked unrealistic, so Picard and Laris look deeper for clues and find a call record which has had its data tampered with, but not destroyed. Laris is able to find calls where the computer briefly mistook Soji for Dahj, and to determine that they came from off-world.
Meanwhile, back on the Romulans’
Borg cube Artifact, Soji and Narek enjoy a little pillow talk about the Romulans’ exploitation of the Borgs’ technology, Soji’s fascination with the paradox of the weakened Borg, and the Romulans’ all encompassing desire for secrecy. Narek won’t even tell Soji what his job on the Artifact is. Their relationship will also stay a secret from the rest of the cube’s denizens, obviously.
Narek flirtatiously asks Soji if she’s a subversive, sent by their enemies to foment revolution among the researchers. She playfully answers yes, and now she’s made him an accessory to her plot. He rolls on top of her and tells her he’ll have to silence her. She switches their positions, says, “Try it,” then kisses him. His alarm goes off, indicating they need to get ready for their work shift.
Or they’re both in big trouble, and that foreshadowing will eventually get serious, choose your interpretation.
I’m not sure which spider is caught in which fly’s trap here, but both are setting them. Either the characters are very good actors or we’re meant to think their feelings could become an issue that will affect their loyalty to their original sides. Narek, in particular, seems like he’s unexpectedly fascinated with Soji.
Their conversation establishes that both are new to the Artifact and Soji speaks Romulan.
Picard gets a house call from Dr. Moritz Benayoun, his old friend and the medical officer from the Stargazer, Picard’s first command. Moritz brings the results of Jean Luc’s physical, which are mixed. Overall, Jean Luc is in good health, but the brain abnormality in his parietal lobe, which was first mentioned in the finale of TNG, All Good Things, has worsened enough to worry Moritz.
Moritz lists some potential symptoms, including unsettling dreams and inappropriate displays of anger during news interviews. Jean Luc simply smiles ruefully and asks if Moritz has a diagnosis. Moritz says he’d need to run more tests, which suggests the abnormality hasn’t progressed all that far yet. It could be one of several conditions, may or may not be treatable, and all eventually have dire outcomes. Then Moritz questions Jean Luc’s intentions in detail, asking if he has secret plans.
The writing is interesting here. It’s important to remember that there’s no condition that doesn’t ultimately end in death. The outcome of life is always dire, especially for an elderly person. Jean Luc has been living with this abnormality for decades.
And his anger at the reporter certainly wasn’t inappropriate. He was baited into his reaction, when the reporter had explicitly agreed not to bring up certain subjects. Maybe he should have walked out on the interview or steered her toward another subject, but maybe he deserved a chance to finally have his say, publicly, before it was too late.
When was there going to be a better time? In cases like this, the person going against the extablishment is typically silenced at every opportunity. Imagine the pressure he was under at the time to publicly remain silent on the Romulans, after all of those deaths on Mars.
So why is Moritz making a big deal of this abnormality? Did someone in Starfleet ask him to discourage Jean Luc from going back into space and/or to find out what his plans are? It sounds like Jean Luc should be aware that his brain condition could progress, but at his age he’s just as likely to die from something else first. Why sit at home, waiting to die, instead of doing what’s important to him?
Once he gets Moritz’ certification that he’s physically fit to serve in interstellar space, Jean Luc transports back to San Francisco to see the current head of Starfleet. The receptionist doesn’t recognize him, which shows that the world has moved on without him while he’s been holed up on his vineyard.
He meets with Admiral Kirsten Clancy in her office. She’s cool toward him, but asks how she can help. He explains that he’s discovered evidence of a plot involving the Romulans, Data and Bruce Maddox. He wants her to reinstate him and outfit him with a small, warp capable ship and crew. He’ll condescend to being demoted to captain if necessary.
Mind you, he doesn’t offer any apologies, explanations, ask how she is, etc. Just gets straight to the point of expecting the woman he basically criticized on Federation wide television a few days ago to give him exactly what he wants, no questions asked.
I love Jean Luc, but he deserves the response he gets from Admiral Clancy. She reminds him of everything that went wrong 14 years ago, and exactly why the Federation pulled out of the rescue mission. There are 2 sides to this story, and he’s never tried to see the other side. Even before the synths attacked Mars, 14 species had given them an ultimatum- either stop aiding their enemy, the Romulans, or they’d exit the Federation.
The admiral and others decided that the Federation as a whole was too important to let the Romulans force it to implode. Jean Luc counters that the Federation doesn’t get to decide whether a species lives or dies. Kirsten says that it does, when it impacts the survival of thousands of other species which depend on the unity of the whole. Jean Luc feels that the Federation and its members should be above such petty differences, when it comes to the ideals it represents.
Kirsten takes offense at Picard’s lecture and he tells her she’s in peril, she just can’t see it yet. She tells him he’s crazy and throws him out.
Since it’s Picard’s show, Admiral Clancy is clearly making the wrong decision here, in the long run, which is too bad.
Their argument made the important point that sometimes both sides are right in their own way and the best solution is a compromise that won’t make either side happy, but will give each side some of what they want. It sounds like 14 years ago, the attack on Mars made the possibility of a compromise impossible, which was probably one of the goals of the attack. Jean Luc’s idealism is, y’know, ideal, but real life politics is complicated by mistrust born from experience. And Kirsten’s argument echoes Spock’s in The Wrath of Khan: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or the one).”
Soji helps a young Trill scientist, Dr. Naáshala Kunamadéstifee of Trill Polytech (Let’s just call her Naash), gear up for their shift in the Gray Zone. Naash is even newer to the Artifact than Soji, so Soji explains the rules to her before a Romulan makes them sound scary. There’s some kind of toxin in the Zone, so they need to wear a badge to measure how much they’ve absorbed during their shifts and make sure it’s turned on. But really, it’s no big deal.
The facility has proudly gone 5,843 days or 16 years without an assimilation.
That means the Artifact’s been out of contact with the rest of the Borg since well before the Romulan supernova and the attack on Mars.
The Artifact’s full name is the Borg Artifact Research Institute and the Romulan who gives the introductory speech describes it like it’s a volcano that could erupt at any moment. He notes that any piece of the Artifact could be malignant and tells them to run if their badges start to flash. On the flip side, the Romulans will do dire things to any guest researchers who break or steal parts of the Artifact.
Narek joins Soji and Naash as they pass through the checkpoint. He already knows exactly who Naash is. She asks if it’s wise to release the ship’s Borg, fearing they might still be able to establish contact with the collective. Soji tells Naash that, “They’re former Borg and we’re not releasing them, we’re reclaiming them.” Narek assure her that there’s no danger, because “when a cube undergoes a submatrix collapse, the Collective immediately severs its link to the afflicted population.”
The Borg consider this a graveyard. Soji asks what that makes them. Narek gives a list for an answer, but doesn’t include the most obvious answer- graverobbers. We’ve already been told that the Romulans are exploiting Borg technology, so it’s interesting that he focuses on everything but their real purpose in his answer.
His other answers are true, so he lies by omission. That was also his method of choice with Soji in the earlier scene. He told the truth and gave evasive answers when he couldn’t.
Soji, on the other hand, is kind and appears open, but mostly gets others talking about themselves so they hardly notice when she doesn’t say much about herself. When pressed, she’ll answer truthfully, but moves quickly to evasiveness or playfulness, like Narek.
In his list of motives, Narek lists Soji as hoping for resurrection. We’re consistently shown them understanding underlying truths about each other.
Then he tells her he’d like to watch her work, and she says it’s not her decision. He needs permission from the Director of the Borg Reclamation Project. Once she’s out of earshot, he smugly says that he doesn’t. Either he secretly is the Director, he’s Zhat Vash or Tal Shiar and thus outranks the Director, or he’s both secret police and the Director.
Is there a Romulan alive who doesn’t have a dual role?
Dr Agnes Jurati visits Jean Luc at the vineyard and peeks at one of his books by Isaac Asimov while she waits for him to bring in the tea tray. When he arrives he cheekily tells her that he’s never cared for science fiction. He just doesn’t get it.
Too many predictions for the future that didn’t pan out, no doubt.
Agnes asks for Earl Grey tea, proving that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They look like they could be father and daughter, but I doubt we’ll get that storyline.
Agnes has dug up what she could on Bruce Maddox, but most of his material was black boxed after he left. She’s concluded that Bruce is modelling the synths’ appearance after Data’s painting, since he and Data were friendly. Dahj’s entire identity seems to have been built all at once, about 3 years ago, possibly by Bruce. Those who work in the synthetic humanoid field tend to be as secretive as Romulans, for obvious reasons.
Agnes is crushed that she didn’t get to meet Dahj before the Romulans killed her. She believes their next step should be to search for the other twin and to figure out what she’s up to.
Soji, the other twin, is curently monitoring the reclamation procedure on a Borg member of a nameless species who’s been in regenestasis for 14 years. A Romulan, Dr Kabath, removes the Borg’s cybernetic implants one at a time, precisely, but not terribly gently. The Romulan refers to her subject as “The Nameless”, but Soji takes offense, since their species had a name, the Romulans just don’t know what it is yet. Dr Kabath isn’t interested in change.
Once the ex-Borg’s implants are all removed, Soji speaks to him in his native language. “You are free now, my friend.” Narek, who did indeed watch the entire procedure, is surprised and seems moved.
Picard removes his old communicator from its place of honor in his desk and attempts to contact an old crewmate named Raffi. He asks her not hang up, explaining that he needs a ship. Apparently he ticked off more than a few friends at the end of his Starfleet career,.
Back at Starfleet Command, Admiral Clancy calls Commodore Oh, who is seemingly a Vulcan, but we’ll discover later she’s a Romulan in disguise. There’s that peril Jean Luc was warning Clancy about, popping up already. The two women kvetch about the “Hermit of La Barre”, who they’d thought safely mothballed in rural France, suddenly popping up everywhere and dredging up old news about Bruce Maddox, humanoid synths and Romulans. Oh takes notice when Maddox’s name comes up. She asks if he’s still alive. To her credit, Clancy gives an evasive answer, suggesting this call could be more than it seems.
Oh assures Clancy that if the Romulans were running clandestine operations on Earth, as Picard suggested, she would know, and she’d tell Clancy. Soon, all of Starfleet would know, but she doesn’t actually say how they’d know, let me note. She does acknowledge that Romulan clandestine operations on Earth would be an overt and intolerable Act of War.
Well, that’s food for thought, isn’t it. Reminder- the Romulans are running clandestine operations on Earth, which means overt and intolerable Acts of War did take place, right in front of Picard. But they were against a banned synth, which would seem to complicate things.
The admiral tells the commodore that she was just checking, she’s sure there’s nothing to worry about. Then she signs off. Interesting, that the admiral smoothed Oh’s ruffled feathers. It seemed like she might know Oh is a Romulan.
Oh immediately calls Lieutenant Rizzo to her office
Laris drops the tea tray
and sends Picard to detention with Rizzo and Zhaban when she hears Picard is going back into space with a vague plan that will probably get him killed. Zhaban is supportive of Picard’s cause, figuring he and Laris also need to go as bodyguards, because only the Tal Shiar can protect you from the Tal Shiar. Plus he says Picard needs his old crew of LaForge, Riker and Worf. Picard doesn’t want to ask them, because they’re too nice for this job. He needs people who’ll say no if necessary, but probably need the job too much to bother.
Jean Luc isn’t above a little opportunism and manipulation when necessary. Plus, he’s getting tired of having the women in his life yell at him and/or tell him what he wants is probably impossible. By my count, he’s 3 for 3 this episode, but at least Agnes was nice. Even though she struck out with Bruce Maddox, she stayed for tea and gave him a little hope at the end.
Lieutenant Rizzo appears human, but is actually a Romulan spy under Commodore Oh’s command, in whichever of the Romulan secret forces they work for, most likely the Zhat Vash. Rizzo was in charge of the operation which was meant to capture and interrogate Dahj. Oh reprimands her for the sloppiness and impatience that allowed Dahj to die before she could be questioned and also allowed Picard to gain knowledge of the operation. Oh says that she’ll monitor Picard and take care of him herself, if necessary. For now, Oh believes he’s been sufficiently discouraged.
Oh wants Rizzo to ensure that her operative remains reliable when it comes to their opportunity with the other one. Rizzo assures Oh that she has her best operative on it. Oh says that in the past, this operative has “shown a penchant for the unexpected”. This time, failure won’t be tolerated. She strongly suggests that Rizzo supervise on site.
Picard’s old buddy Raffi Musiker is living out at Vasquez Rocks, a spot that’s been used multiple times as a Star Trek location, as well as by other shows, especially the original Roswell series. He gets dropped off by a flying taxi and seconds later, Raffi’s on the porch, pointing a gun at him and telling him to get off her property.
Maybe the doctor’s diagnosis was correct. I remembered Picard as being much better at charming the ladies than this old codger has been for the last 2 episodes.
He turns to leave, but as he does so, says there are secret Romulan assassins operating on Earth and makes sure she can see the bottle of wine he’s brought. She asks if it’s the ’86 and pours the water out of her glass to make room for wine.
Finally, he’s getting his groove back. Maybe he should have brought some wine or juicy gossip to Admiral Clancy, instead of demanding a ship straightaway.
Lieutenant Rizzo appears in Narek’s room via hologram to pass along Commodore Oh’s concerns and let him know she’s on her way to the Artifact. They are loyal but rivalrous siblings. She asks if he has any new information about the machine or its nest. Though Rizzo approved of the method Narek is using with Soji, she’s tense and worried he’ll fail, leading to Oh punishing both of them with death. She’ll let him continue to use his method until she arrives, then she’ll take over with her own tactics, even though they’ve already failed once.
Narek would seem at the moment to have more in common with Soji than with Rizzo. He and Soji are both subtle secret keepers who work slowly, with compassion, whereas Rizzo impatiently uses blunt force and threats, and cares for no one but herself.
Rizzo is the complicated bad girl from Grease who isn’t so bad after all. It’s a strange name to give a Romulan spy.
Admiral Clancy doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. She seems like she’s been burned by Picard before and she’s over his high-handed ways, just as she said. She was straight-forward with him and I think if he’d come to her and presented good evidence in a humble way, the way one would to their commanding officer, she would have listened.
Instead he walked into her office like he owned the place and expected her to hand him a Starfleet ship and crew based on nothing but his say-so after he’d left in disgrace many years ago. She was right- it was hubris, and he would have reacted the same way in her place. When the time comes for her to change her mind, I expect she’ll also have been given some bad intelligence by the Romulan spies in her midst, so it will take a bit to get her to see the truth, but then she’ll be reasonable again.
Narek not so playfully asked Soji if she’s brewing revolution among the researchers. Her job is to cleverly help turn former Borg drones back into normals, after removing their cybernetics, which is the opposite of what the Zhat Vash would expect her to be doing. So what does she want? Why is she there?
Maddox could have sent her to recruit the researchers who work on the implants after their removal, but that’s more likely to be to aid in his research, rather than to incite revolution. She appears to want the opposite of revolution. She’s trying to help the former drones be seen as people again. To the Romulans, maybe that is revolution, since maybe the next step would be to give Soji, cyborgs and other synths human rights.
Could Picard eventually be helped by a repurposed Borg brain implant? Would he allow it if he could?
I get the feeling that since Picard retired to the vineyard, the rest of his space crew cronies also decided to go back to nature by way of whatever roots they have and we really should refer to his current endeavor as getting the band back together. Expect at least one old officer to insist on shrooms by the campfire before signing back up for duty.
The Zhat Vash, Secret Society Straight Out of The Da Vinci Code
I don’t think we’ve previously been told the current year in Picard’s time- it should be 2399, the turn of the century, which is all kinds of interesting. It adds to the feeling of change, endings and beginnings. Whenever you include a year 99, you automatically signify a sense of doom, since it’s so often associated with the end of the world/Armageddon. The 399 also takes me back 1,000 years in European history, to the Middle Ages and 2,000 years, to the beginning of the Dark Ages. ST:P is evoking both of those times with the use of Picard’s timeless vineyard and the talk of the Zhat Vash, who are ancient and existed before Earth’s Industrial Age. Picard is even referred to by Commodore Oh as the Hermit of La Barre, as if he were a medieval villain or mystic. As a secret society with a dark secret and a glorious mission that they carry out with religious zeal, Zhat Vash evoke the secret societies of Dark and Middle Ages such as the Knights Templar and the Freemasons.
When Laris described the way the Zhat Vash loathe artificial life, we all thought of the Cylons and The Matrix, right? The Romulans clearly had some terrible experience with artificial life in the distant past. Maybe they began as machines who killed their creators and don’t want to let anyone else do the same to them, or they’ve seen a world where the machines took over, and have a horror of allowing that to happen.
Or maybe they created the Borg. Both could originally be from the same distant quadrant of the galaxy. Maybe they lost control of their creation and have been outrunning them ever since. Part of the Borg’s endless journey could be the search for the rest of their original people.
If I can get into an unlikely level of touchy-feeliness for the Borg, maybe they need to assimilate others because they are lost and searching for their origins, like everyone else. There could be some weird, misunderstood command at the center of the Borg’s obsession- such as “seek out new life, new civilizations and new technology, then bring them back to the Creator”. This would echo and expand on the original series episode The Changeling and the first Star Trek film (“The Movie”), which expanded on the episode.
Which puts a whole different spin on the Romulan disection of the Borg cube and their certainty that the Borg can’t find them. Maybe they understand the underlying Borg technology and how to avoid detection because they created the Borg’s original code themselves and the Zhat Vash are charged with protecting all of the secrets that go along with the Borg, hiding from the Borg and never creating anything like them again.
However, that doesn’t seem to be stopping the Romulans from reaping the harvest of the Borg’s experiences, which is somewhat contradictory to being anti AI, no matter what their previous relationship to the Borg may or may not be. Opportunism wins out, presumably as long as those working in The Artifact don’t publicly encourage the creation of new AI tech.
Children of Mars
In the episode, F8’s eyes react to something right after the replicator is used and then he frantically manipulates buttons on a wall of screens before he becomes violent toward the living workers.
The humanoids eat a meal just before they are attacked and complain about the replicator food, mentioning the particular chemical matrix used on Mars as inferior. Dahj’s nameless boyfriend used the replicator in the pilot, just before the assassins beamed in and complained that she wasn’t activated yet. She later told Picard that right after the assassins arrived, suddenly, she knew how to fight.
She’d been activated.
In the Short Trek episode Q&A, which takes place in the pre original series era. Captain Pike is in charge of the Enterprise. His Number One escorts new Ensign Spock to the bridge via turbo lift, but they get stuck. She encourages him to barage her with questions to pass the time. One of the subjects they discuss is the replicator matrix the Enterprise uses: the Una matrix is essentially a hybrid of the Gupta and Katzman glucose matrices, which is more reliable, nutritious and palatable than either alone. In the ST:Picard opening, the Mars workers complain that they wish the replicators were still using the uno-amino matrices.
Then there is the post credits cereal commercial at the end of Short Trek: The Trouble with Edward which encourages kids to “Override your food replicator’s safety protocols!”
I think whoever started the Mars rebellion hacked in through the food replicators. Dahj’s boyfriend then “activated” her in the same way, using her food replicator, just before the Romulan tac team arrived. It just took a minute longer for her to activate than it does for other synths because she’s more complex. The unnamed boyfriend was in on the conspiracy and probably isn’t dead.
The real Children of Mars are the synths and the ships, not the two little girls living on Earth in the episode with that title.
This ScreenCrush video goes over so much more than Easter Eggs: backgrounds on the new characters, what familiar characters like Geordi LaForge were doing between the last TNG film and now, discussion of alien species such as the Borg and Romulans, pulling together history from disparate canon sources such as comic books and all of the series, going back to the original series. It puts main events and small details in context in a well done package.
Image courtesy of CBSAllAccess.