Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Theory Points to Return of the Darkest TNG Villain

With the baddies' plan (partially) revealed, Star Trek: Picard could be gearing up for the return of a very dark Next Generation character: Locutus of Borg.

Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden as Jean-Luc and Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: Picard Season 3
Photo: Trae Patton/Paramount+

This Star Trek: Picard article contains spoilers.

For all of its fan-service reunion moments and surprisingly deep character drama, Star Trek: Picard doesn’t forget to give us the spectacle we’ve come to expect from the franchise in 2023. So while the portal gun that Vadic stole from Daystrom Institute is undeniably cool, our interest was more than a little piqued by the reveal that the portal gun caper was just a cover for a different object. And then, as excited as we were to see most of the The Next Generation crew back together again, the reunion hid an even bigger surprise when the Data/Lore/B-4/Noonian Soong sampler platter revealed that the thing actually stolen from Daystrom was Jean-Luc Picard’s human remains.

What in the world would a bunch of Changelings want with an elderly man’s body, so broken down that even he exchanged it for a new one?

Of course, we’ll get an answer over the four remaining episodes of Picard. But attentive viewers have taken to the internet to offer their own theories in the meantime. And there’s one specific character at the center of the biggest theory of the moment: Locutus of Borg. As Captain Shaw memorably put it, Locutus was “the only Borg so deadly, they gave him a goddamn name.” We of course met Locutus in the season three finale of Next Generation, when the Borg assimilated Picard and transformed him into their mouthpiece for the Federation, using his knowledge to wreak chaos during the battle of Wolf 359.

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While the non-serialized nature of Next Generation meant that Picard got over being Locutus by the end of season four’s second episode, the trauma of the event was revisited in the movie First Contact and in the first two seasons of Picard. We’ve seen the Borg return in one form or another in each of these properties, and with them, their attempt to bring Locutus back into the fold.

With its emphasis on the Changelings, the prime antagonists during the Dominion War shown on Deep Space Nine, it seemed like Locutus and the Borg were in the rearview for Picard season 3, save for Shaw’s memorable Quint moment. But a number of fans, ranging from users on Reddit to the hit Star Trek podcast Greatest Trek, have theorized that the Changelings want to bring back Locutus for their own ends. And the theory seems plausible!

One Reddit user proposes that Locutus would have the same regenerative capabilities as the Borg Queen, something that could be of interest to those Changelings who did not receive the cure for the bio-weapon the Federation unleashed on them during the Dominion War: “These Changelings were absent from the Great Link when Odo delivered the cure to the morphogenic virus, so they are still infected. They managed to come up with ways to survive, but it has drastically affected their shapeshifting abilities (remember, Odo’s constant shapeshifting while working with Kira and Damar accelerated his condition).”

“At some point, these Changelings met up with a piece of functioning Borg technology that contains an exact copy of Locutus. Remember, the Queen has been killed at least 3 or 4 times and always comes back more or less the same. Locutus was intended to be her counterpart, and thus was preserved the same way,” Reddit user Captain_Strongo continues. “Locutus offers the Changelings a chance to be able to ‘link’ together again–as a collective. But to do that, he needs a physical body with compatible Borg nanoprobes. The Changelings stole Picard’s body, but maybe there’s something insufficient about it, so Locutus orders the Changelings to bring Jack instead.”

A climactic final battle between our synth Jean-Luc and a reborn Locutus would certainly fit with this season’s theme of legacy. Although a very dark chapter in his life that haunts him in retirement, Locutus is very much a part of what Jean-Luc has left behind for future generations to reckon with. We see how it’s affected a younger Captain Shaw and has shaped his worldview, particularly the way he feels about Seven of Nine, and how it changed Commander Sisko‘s life on Deep Space Nine. Finally confronting what is arguably the darkest villain of The Next Generation era could be a proper send-off for the Starfleet hero.

Another Reddit user posits that Locutus 2.0 could be the latest in a long line of evil AI in Star Trek, not unlike Control or Landru: “Baddie is a Locutus and evil AI (AGMUS, Control, Landru, Peanut Hamper, whatever) combined together. Similar to Picard, Locutus is without a body and has combined with an evil AI to exist. That’s why they stole Picard’s body for Locutus. As well as Jack Crusher for the evil AI so they can have physical form.”

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Bringing in the Borg, AI, and Synths together as a final boss for the Next Generation crew to defeat would certainly bring things full circle for a show which has sought to explore all three in greater detail than ever before. Of course, these are just theories, most of which do not address other big mysteries, like Jack Crusher’s visions seemingly brought about his Irumodic Syndrome. However, if indeed Picard season 3 is the end of the road for Jean-Luc, then it would make sense that he would need to face off one last time with his shadow self. And that catharsis would be even more satisfying than a super cool galaxy-destroying weapon.

Star Trek: Picard season 3 streams on Thursdays on Paramount+.