This Star Trek: Picard article contains spoilers.
What’s behind the red door? No matter how much Star Trek: Picard keeps insisting that we’ll soon learn the truth about Jack Crusher, the son of Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard, the show keeps moving the goalposts, shoving the explanation off to the next episode. Unsurprisingly, the internet has filled in the gaps with their own theories. One of the latest would bring back one of the most mysterious villains from Deep Space Nine: the Pah-wraiths.
For those who don’t recall, the Pah-wraiths are the evil counterparts to the Prophets, central figures in the Bajoran religion. Where Bajorans worship the Prophets for their benevolent guidance, they fear the Pah-wraiths for their destructive meddling. Through Benjamin Sisko‘s encounters with the Prophets, we learn that they are not gods, but an alien race living in the wormhole outside of Bajor. The Pah-wraiths are enemies of the Prophets, non-corporeal figures who take the form of fire spirits.
Throughout Deep Space Nine, the Pah-wraiths appear to wreak havoc on the space station, possessing characters such as Keiko O’Brien, Jake Sisko, and Gul Dukat — the last example leading to the death of Jadzia Dax. But in the series finale, Sisko seemingly trapped the Pah-wraiths for good, containing them in fire caves by sacrificing himself and Dukat.
But for several internet commenters, Jack Crusher’s strange behavior proves that somehow, the Pah-wraiths have returned. The most thorough explanation comes from Reddit user RealViserys. The user argues that much of Jack’s behavior — including super strength, red eyes, and visions — are in line with Pah-wraith possession. The user even predicts that Gul Dukat will make an appearance on the show, played by original actor Marc Alaimo.
To be sure, RealViserys’s theory has several things working in its favor. While Picard season 3 is absolutely a sequel to The Next Generation, it has incorporated several aspects from the other ’90s Trek shows. Not only is Voyager‘s Seven of Nine a major character (and not-Tuvok appeared in a recent episode), but the season’s major villains are Changelings seeking revenge for the Dominion War, all plot points from Deep Space Nine.
That said, a big Pah-wraith reveal would be slightly out of left field, if only because the show hasn’t been laying any other groundwork. Even though Bajorans have been heavily featured in the series, in the form of Titan bridge crew member Lt. Mura and Commander Ro Laren, there’s been no talk of their religion, neither the Prophets nor the Pah-wraiths. Previous theories have argued that the Changelings will use Picard’s stolen body to bring back Locutus, which would be more in line with TNG and has been referenced in a previous episode. Plus, episode nine of the series is titled “Vox,” the Latin word for voice, which connects to “Locutus,” the Latin word for “having spoken.”
And then there’s the Romulan in the room. Even in its first two seasons, Picard has been interested in bringing back characters from The Next Generation. By this point in season three of Picard, we’ve seen the return of nearly every major character from the series — the entire bridge crew, bad guy Q, Wesley Crusher, and supporting characters Guinan and Ro. While there are a few more recurring characters who have yet to make an appearance, including Miles and Keiko O’Brien, Doctor Pulaski, and Reginald Barclay, the biggest omission involves the first person to leave the show: Tasha Yar.
The security chief in season one of TNG, Yar famously died at the hands of a sentient trash bag midway through the season (not, strangely, from embarrassment from having sex with a fully functional Data in “The Naked Now”). Actor Denise Crosby did return at several points throughout the series, both as Yar and Yar’s half-Romulan daughter, Sela.
“Surrender” references Yar as one of the memories Data used to defeat Lore, but that doesn’t really count. Meanwhile, Sela would be a bad guy with greater ties to Picard, especially after Yar and the Captain’s interactions in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “All Good Things…”. However, with the exception of Laris in the first episode, Romulans have been largely absent from this season of Picard.
In short, there are many good explanations out there for Jack Crusher’s behavior. And with only two more episodes left in the season, Picard can’t keep dodging the question much longer.
Star Trek: Picard season 3 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.