Picard Season 3 Episode 9 Easter Eggs Deliver the True Return of ’90s Star Trek

Star Trek: Picard season 3 can't go more '90s than it has in its penultimate episode!

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 9
Photo: Trae Patton/Paramount+

This Star Trek: Picard article contains spoilers.

As Picard season 3 heads toward its conclusion, Star Trek fans are simply not prepared for how hard these episodes go in the nostalgia department. More than any other science fiction franchise, Star Trek’s history is so rich and varied, that it’s always possible to do something new with old material. For this reason, Picard’s penultimate episode, “Vox,” is still pretty shocking, even if you predicted some of these twists.  

The easter eggs and callbacks here are there for the fan service, of course. But these are also storytelling moments, payoffs that are decades in the making. Here are all the biggest and most and best references and easter eggs in “Vox,” the next-to-last episode of Picard ever.

The Crimson Arboretum on Raritan IV

As Jack and Deanna try to get that red door opened, Jack remembers visiting the “crimson arboretum” on Raritan IV. We actually saw Raritan IV at the start of Picard season 2, and it appeared to be populated by Deltans. Raritan itself is a real city in New Jersey, and in SyFy’s 12 Monkeys — produced by Picard showrunner Terry Matalas — it was the site of Project Splinter, a time machine. On top of that, the crimson arboretum is probably a reference to the “red forest,” a time-altering concept from 12 Monkeys.

Ad – content continues below

We Are the Borg

Turns out behind the red door is a giant Borg cube. Jack has dormant genetic Borg DNA and that’s what’s been causing trouble all this time. Later in the episode, Data and Geordi figure out that Jean-Luc had similar Borg DNA, too, which is why the Changelings stole his human body. Their plan was to harvest that genetic code. 

The Borg references in this episode are numerous. Early in the episode, we actually hear dialogue from the TNG episode “The Best of Both Worlds.” Also, the revelations about Picard’s ability to “hear” the Borg even after he was assimilated references the opening of First Contact, when Picard told Troi he could “hear” the Borg when they tried to attack Earth at the start of that movie.

Deanna Troi’s “Gifts”

This is a small one, but when Jean-Luc and Beverly question what Troi saw in Jack’s mind, she says “My gifts aren’t perfect, but I have never mistaken Borg.” This may go without saying, but Deanna Troi is not a full telepath like other Betazoids, she’s mostly an empath. Trek canon has played fast-and-loose with her ability to speak exclusively inside of other people’s minds, but there’s always been a limitation, which is why Deanna doesn’t have straight-up mind-reading skills. This small line of dialogue actually helps with some of these decades-long canon inconsistencies. Troi can speak to Riker and her mom via what seems like telepathy directly in their minds, but she can’t always get thought patterns 100 percent correct. Her gifts aren’t perfect!

Which Borg again?

Beverly says, “No one has seen from or heard from the Borg in over a decade.” For those who watched Picard season 2 this might be a bit confusing. But, as Shaw pointed out in episode 4 of this season, the Jurati-led Borg were from an alternate timeline and had nothing to do with the Borg in the Prime Universe. Over a decade means that the last time the “regular” Borg appeared would have been sometime before 2391. This would be roughly around the time the Borg Cube known as the “artifact” went offline before the events of Picard season 1.

Picard and the Borg Queen

Jean-Luc tells Jack, he “came close to killing everyone I knew, everyone I loved,” referencing the events of “The Best of Both Worlds.” He also references the Borg Queen, saying that Jack can’t know “what she can make you do.” This foreshadows the arrival of the true Borg Queen, as played by Alice Krige, later in this episode! 

Voice of Alice Krige

As the credits reveal, the Borg Queen is once again played by the voice of Alice Krige. She first played the character in First Contact, and later, in the Voyager finale. Krige also voiced the Borg Queen in Lower Decks Season 2.

Ad – content continues below

The Changeling-Borg Alliance 

In two scenes full of a lot of new information, Data, Geordi, and Worf lay out what’s been going on all this time. The Borg and the rogue Changelings made a pact to destroy the Federation. Vadic discovered the genetic Borg code in Picard’s body when she broke out of Daystrom Station. The Borg, as still controlled by the Borg Queen, accepted the Changelings’ help for reasons that will likely become clearer in the finale. The Borg introduced Picard’s genetic code into all the Starfleet transporters, which embedded the Borg juice into anybody who uses the transporter.

The Borg were unable to put this code in the transporters on their own, because, as we were told in season 2, the Prime Universe Borg were hobbled by Janeway’s actions in the finale of Voyager. 

A Huge Amount of Starship Easter Eggs 

Throughout the episode, we see countless Starfleet ships and many of those names are easter eggs and references. Here’s a list of the biggest ones:

  • USS Okuda: This references Michael and Denise Okuda, longtime designers and artists who have worked on the Star Trek franchise since The Next Generation.
  • USS Sutherland: This was the name of the ship Data took command of in the TNG episode “Redemption.”
  • USS Drexler: This references Doug Drexler, a longtime and influential Star Trek artist.
  • USS Akira: The Akira-class starship was first glimpsed in First Contact and is named after the anime sci-fi classic Akira.
  • USS Luna: Riker’s Titan from Lower Decks was a Luna-class ship, and we do see at least a few Luna-class ships in fleet formation.
  • USS Excelsior: Obviously, a reference to the Excelsior from the classic Trek films, although a new Excelsior was introduced in the Picard season 2 premiere.
  • USS Ross: Likely a reference to Admiral Ross from Deep Space Nine.
  • USS Reliant: The ship Khan stole in The Wrath of Khan. But another Reliant was the first ship Picard served in deep space, which was established in Picard season 1 and TNG.
  • USS Castillo: This references Richard Castillo, the first officer of the USS Enterprise-C, from the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” 
  • USS Zheng-He: An Inquiry-class ship we saw in the finale of Picard season 1. This was Riker’s ship at that time, and it’s named for an ancient Chinese naval explorer. All the Inquiry-class ships are named for ancient explorers or scientists
  • USS Ibn al-Haytham: Named for an Arab astronomer who was born in the year 956. Likely another Inquiry-class ship.
  • USS Harlan: Probably named for Harlan Ellison, the science fiction writer who penned The Original Series classic “City on the Edge of Forever.”
  • USS Forrest: This references Admiral Forrest from Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • USS Hikaru Sulu: Obviously a reference to Sulu from TOS and all the classic films.
  • USS Intrepid: We’ve actually seen this new Intrepid earlier this season. This was the ship that tried to trap the Titan in episode 5.
  • USS Cochrane: Named for Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive, introduced in the TOS episode “Metamorphosis” and made famous by the film First Contact.

The USS Enterprise-F

Since the first episode, we’ve known that the Enterprise-F has been scheduled for decommissioning. In the game Star Trek Online, the Enterprise-F is an Odyssey-class ship, and it appears here much as it does in that game. 

Admiral Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy)

Elizabeth Dennehy reprises her role as Shelby, who first appeared in “The Best of Both Worlds.” At the time, she was Starfleet’s leading Borg expert, which is why Picard cracks wise about “the irony of her endorsing something so Borg-like.”

The Anniversary of the NX-01

We learn here that Frontier Day celebrates the voyage of the Enterprise NX-01 from the series Enterprise. We hear cues from the Dennis McCarthy score from that series as Shelby explains the voyages of the NX-01 “would lead to…the birth of what we know as Starfleet.” To be clear, Starfleet existed in Enterprise. But the Federation did not. This is a small distinction, but the Federation version of Starfleet and the Enterprise version of Starfleet are a bit different. Basically, Frontier Day draws a line at the NX-01 as the end of the old Starfleet and the beginning of the new. The first version of Starfleet clearly existed before 2151, but now, it appears Starfleet thinks of those days as different from the Starfleet we know. This makes a decent amount of sense. Everything in Enterprise indicates that Starfleet wasn’t doing much boldly going before the NX-01.

Ad – content continues below

Shaw Gives Seven Command

After Shaw is tragically blasted by the newly assimilated Titan crew, he gives command to Seven, and poignantly calls her “Seven of Nine,” instead of Commander Hansen. Shaw had previously refused to call Seven by her name, and instead, had used her pre-assimilation name.

The Fleet Museum and Docking Bay 12

When Geordi takes the crew back to the Fleet Museum, we finally get to see what’s inside Docking Bay 12. Back in episode 6, “The Bounty,” Geordi’s daughter Alandra, suggested they try to use something in Docking Bay 12. Now we know what it is.


The biggest plot point in this episode of Picard is the return of the Enterprise-D. When Picard questions how the half-destroyed ship can even be here, Geordi says, “Thanks to the good old Prime Directive, the saucer was retrieved from Veridian III so as to not influence the system. I’ve been restoring it bit-by-bit over the last 20 years, the engines and nacelles come from the USS Syracuse.”

This quick bit of dialogue tells you everything: The saucer section, which crashed on Veridian III in Generations, was retrieved, and Geordi rebuilt the rest of the ship by salvaging other ships!

What Happened to the Enterprise-E?

Geordi quips that “we obviously can’t use the Enterprise-,” and everybody gives Worf the stink eye. He replies, “That was not my fault.” This references the fact that at some point after Nemesis, Worf was the captain of the Enterprise-E. We don’t know what happened to it, but clearly, it’s in no shape to get restored! We wrote way more about Worf and the Enterprise-E here.

The Enterprise-D Bridge and Majel Barrett

When the crew boards the Enterprise, the easter eggs mostly speak for themselves. The style of the bridge is exactly as it was on TNG, emulating the look of the ship from the series rather than from Generations. We see the classic dedication plaque, and Jean-Luc even makes a joke about the carpet. (A lot of contemporary Trek bridges don’t have carpet.)

Ad – content continues below

When Picard takes command of the ship, we hear the voice of Majel Barrett, the late wife of Gene Roddenberry, who played the voice of the computer throughout TOS and TNG. This is the first time we’ve heard her voice in a new Star Trek show or movie since 2009 when she was the voice of the computer in the first J.J. Abrams reboot. 

The computer recognizes Picard as “Captain” not as “Admiral,” and Jean-Luc says that he accepts the “field demotion.” Data’s been calling him “captain” since episode 6. Riker called him “captain” in episode 1, and now, everyone’s calling him “captain.” Clearly, Captain Picard is back, and as Riker says, “We are the crew of the USS Enterprise.”

As the Enterprise-D makes its way out of Spacedock, we can see the NX-01 parked behind her in the Fleet Museum. And just before the ship goes to warp, the ship looks just as it does in Picard’s famous painting in his ready room. The Next Generation has returned and fans are not ready for this finale.