[This episode contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard, season one, episode seven.]
This week’s Star Trek: Picard featured a mini Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion between two fan-favorite characters — and the death of another.
William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and his wife, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), reunited with their former Enterprise captain for the first time in 18 years, as "Nepenthe" dealt with the themes of family — both the ones you’re born into and those forced upon you — and identity, specifically how lost one can feel (even Picard) without knowing where you come from and who you are and will be when you find out.
"Nepenthe" also delivered one hell of a gut punch: the death of Hugh (Jonathan del Arco), who died not in the arms of his liberator, Picard, but with one of Picard’s proxies that he barely knew. And while Data is dead, you wouldn’t think it given how fondly he is referenced in this emotionally compelling and nostalgic episode — one full of Easter eggs. Here are the highlights:
1. Commodore Oh submits Agnes (Alison Pill) to a Vulcan mind meld; the first ever in Star Trek history was depicted in The Original Series episode "Dagger of the Mind."
2. Rios’ ship, the La Sirena, is caught in the Borg’s infamous green tractor beam — which fans first saw in action in the TNG episode "Q Who?"
3. The knife Romulan spy Narissa/Lt. Rizzo wields appears very similar to the one Shinzon (Tom Hardy) used in Star Trek: Nemesis.
4. Picard refers to his artificial heart in this episode, which he acquired when he was an ensign, after finding himself on the receiving end of one very pissed-off Nausicaan's knife in the season six episode of Next Generation, "Tapestry." The artificial heart was first referenced in season two’s "Samaritan Snare."
5. Former Captain Riker (currently in Starfleet’s active reserves) and his wife, Deanna Troi, share the screen with their old captain for the first time since Nemesis. Fans last saw the two characters appear in the 2005 series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise.
6. Anyone else get some serious Star Trek: Generations vibes from Riker and Troi’s log cabin/smart house? Their homestead could also be a callback to where Riker grew up in Alaska.
7. And it was nice to hear Riker bark "Shields up!" one more time, like he used to on the bridge of the Enterprise-D.
8. When Riker grills Picard about his former captain’s "supernova rescue," he’s referencing J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek and the event that wiped out the Romulans’ homeworld.
9. The episode is loaded with references to Data, thanks to Riker and Troi’s daughter, Kestra, talking to Soji. In their chat, Kestra references Data’s violin playing (season two’s "Elementary, Dear Data" and season four’s "In Theory,"), his affinity for Sherlock Holmes ("Dear Data," again) and his ability to bend steel with his hands (season two’s "Measure of a Man").
10. Kestra also speaks of Data’s desire to be human, in that all he wanted was to have dreams — as he did in Next Gen’s season six two-parter "Birthright" and season seven’s "Phantasms" — and tell jokes ("The Outrageous Okona" in season two and in Generations).
11. Agnes refers to a gormagander, the space whale that played a key role in the plot of Star Trek: Discovery’s season one episode "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad."
12. Riker recognizes that Soji has Data’s famous head tilt, which tells him before he even has to ask that she is somehow related to his late colleague and friend.
13. No Riker and Troi interaction would be complete without the former calling the latter "imzadi," which means "beloved" in Betazed. This term of endearment between the two romantic partners was first uttered in the TNG pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint".
14. The Riker family speaking about a Tyken’s Rift should have been very triggering for Troi, as she had a very unique experience involving this massive rip in space when the Enterprise got stuck in one in season four’s "Night Terrors."