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The Ending Of Picard Season 2 Explained

Season 2 of "Star Trek: Picard" started in media res, with the good admiral aboard the USS Stargazer, invaded by the Borg, and ready to self-destruct the ship. Since that thrilling opening moment, audiences have been led on a rollercoaster journey that has seen the return of the godlike trickster Q, a dark alternate timeline, and a time travel story that took Picard back to 2024. We've seen Picard meet a long-lost ancestor, come face-to-face with a never-before-seen member of Commander Data's human lineage, seek the help of Guinan, and plenty of surprises along the way.

Leading up to the conclusion, there was still a lot left to resolve: Adam Soong was determined to sabotage the launch of the Europa Mission, while his daughter Kore was still dealing with the revelation that she was little more than a science experiment. Rios had fallen in love with a 21st century woman, and Raffi still hoped that fixing the timeline might restore Elnore's life.

Now that the highly anticipated finale to Season 2 of "Star Trek: Picard" has dropped, we're ready to see how it all wrapped up. It was a doozy of an ending, but don't worry, we're here to explain it all to you.

One Renée must live, another Renée must die

In the previous episode "Hide And Seek," the departing Jurati/Borg Queen hybrid had a final message for Picard as she left Earth: to restore the timeline, one Renée Picard must live, while another must die. As the season finale begins, Picard is initially mystified by the message's meaning, but he soon he has a lightbulb moment, and Tallinn gives him a knowing glance. The group splits up, with Picard surprising Tallinn by entering her transport window and going with her to the Europa Mission launch site. There they must ensure that Renée Picard boards the flight and takes off successfully. 

At the launch site, we soon learn just what the Jurati Queen meant, but not before Tallinn visits Renée and earns her trust. Tallinn explains how she has watched over Renée all her life, and she must trust her now: it is critical that she get on the Europa flight, but her life may be in danger. And Tallinn is right, because Adam Soong is there to assassinate Renée. As he bumps into her in a hallway, Soong strikes, using a neurotoxin laced on his palm, and Renée collapses deep in shock. 

We soon learn, however, that this is not Renée at all: Tallinn has used her holographic disguise to impersonate Picard's ancestor, allowing the real Renée to board the shuttle. One Renée dies, the other lives. Discovering  Tallinn near death, Picard cradles her, and he repeats the words his mother told him as a child: "Look up." They watch the Shango X-1 shuttle take off, fulfilling their mission to ensure the future.

Soong's desperate final gambit

Murdering Renée wasn't Soong's only plan to sabotage the launch of the Europa Mission. While Picard and Tallinn had gone to the launch site to save her, Seven of Nine, Raffi, and Rios headed to Soong's lab, and discovered his last, desperate failsafe: a series of drones designed to destroy the Shango X-1 shuttle, even if it was in flight. While they are unable to stop the drones from launching, Raffi works to take manual control over them and abort their deadly mission. It's a nail-biting sequence as the drones take off one by one, but in the end Raffi manages to get control of one of them, with Rios uses his piloting skill to destroy them all.

With Tallinn having thwarted his assassination attempt of Renée, and Rios destroying the drones, Soong has failed, and Europa successfully takes off. Returning to his lab, Soong watches news reports of Renée Picard aboard the Shango X-1 shuttle on its way to Europa. But as he wallows in frustration, he is shocked to see his computer terminals buzz to life, as data begins to be deleted. A system-wide purge of all of Soong's research wipes out any hope that he'll be able to revive his eugenic research. Remotely, his daughter Kore has found a way to prevent him from continuing his horrific genetic experiments.

But just as all hope seems lost, Soong pulls out a paper file, a folder with a sinister title: Project Khan. It would seem he has some work ahead of him, perhaps to be fulfilled by his descendant Arik Soong, seen on "Star Trek: Enterprise" set a hundred years later.

A traveler arrives

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the finale, if not the entire season, is a shocking cameo from Wil Wheaton reprising his role as his "Next Generation" character Wesley Crusher. It all happens after Kore has remotely destroyed her father's research — she receives a mysterious invitation to a Los Angeles address via her tablet computer, to learn more about "what's next" for her. She arrives and meets a strange man we recognize as Wesley Crusher, who tells her that he is a being that travels all of time and space ... and he wants her to join him. 

This follows the events of the "Next Generation" Season 7 episode "Journey's End," in which Wesley left the Enterprise with an enigmatic being called the Traveler after exhibiting incredible, nearly godlike powers. In the "Picard" finale, Wesley finally clears up two long-unresolved pieces of franchise lore, tying together the Traveler from "TNG" and the character of Gary Seven from the original series. It seems the Traveler and those like him — a group that now includes Wesley — have access to all time and space, and have tasked themselves with ensuring the sanctity and balance of the universe. It is these "Travelers" that recruited people like Tallinn and Gary Seven to watch historical events to ensure their proper outcome. He refers to himself as watching all of time, meaning the Travelers are the so-called "watchers" referenced by Guinan earlier in the season.

Ultimately, Kore leaves with Wesley, presumably to become a new supervisor or watcher, with a new mission to keep tabs on the fate of the universe.

Picard's skeleton key

As Season 2 unfolded, it became clear that Picard's personal journey was at the center of the story. While the mission to save history in the 21st century and Jurati's merging with the Borg Queen were exciting elements, the real adventure was in Picard facing up to a dark moment in his past: the death of his mother Yvette when he was a child. In the final stretch of the season we saw how Picard's mother experienced severe mental illness, and one fateful evening, her husband locked her in her room to keep her safe. But the young and naive Jean-Luc, responding to his mother's desperate cries for help, used an old skeleton key to let her out, after which she ended her own life.

Picard had felt responsible for her death ever since, and in the climax of the finale, Picard — in the 21st century — finds the skeleton key and places it in the same spot where he found it as a child, allowing the future to fulfill itself even though it means the death of his mother. Q later points out that he could have taken it, hidden it, and changed history, but here Picard is choosing to be the man that his mother's death helped him become — a lesson that Trek fans will recall he learned from Q back in the "Next Generation" episode "Tapestry."

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Q's final trial

The time travel story of Season 2, of course, was kicked off with the arrival of Q, who altered history and changed the timeline, forcing Picard to travel back in time and fix all of history. We learned that this final test was instigated because Q was slowly dying, a shocking twist for a self-described immortal being. Q forced Picard not just to save the future, but to confront his past, and forgive himself for the death of his mother. To seek absolution, and learn that the fate of others isn't always his responsibility. This turned out to be a central theme of the season, mirrored by Raffi and the death of Elnor.

After history has been set right, Picard meets with Q one final time. "You chose the Jean-Luc you are," Q tells him after he puts the skeleton key back in its place. "And because you choose him, perhaps you will now be worthy enough for someone else to choose." Picard has never allowed himself to truly, fully love, and now perhaps he will.

Q wants Picard to be happy and fulfilled after he is gone, and he explains why. "You matter to me. Even gods have favorites, Jean-Luc. You've always been one of mine." Q then says that he doesn't want to die alone, and he has chosen one last visit to be with his friend Picard. He wanted to impart one final lesson, to set his heart free, and to leave him "unshackled from the past." In a touching final moment, Picard hugs Q before he moves on.

Rios leaves, Elnor returns

The "Picard" Season 2 finale moves at warp speed, wrapping up every character's journey and tying off every loose plot thread. After Q and Picard speak one final time, Q reveals that he's going to use the last of his powers to send Picard and his friends back home to the 25th century. But they're not all going back: Rios announces that he intends to stay behind, saying he never really felt at home in the future, and the 21st century is where he belongs. Though Picard is concerned, he ultimately supports his friend in his decision to build a life in 2024.

Later, when Picard gets home to the 25th century, Guinan tells him about what happened to Rios after they left: He and Teresa started a medical movement together called the Mariposas. Teresa's son, Ricardo, grew up to become a leader who helped developed new technologies that cleaned the oceans and healed the sky. Over the years, the three became friends with Guinan, and she had always kept a photo of them in her bar ... that she was surprised Picard had never noticed.

But that's not the only twist: With Rios left behind, Q says he has energy left for one more surprise, and we get it when Picard, Raffi, and Seven return to the bridge of the Stargazer. Raffi sends a message to the USS Excelsior, and it is Cadet Elnor who responds. Resurrected by Q with his dying breath, Raffi and Elnor are finally reunited.

The Borg plot revealed

The first plot line to begin the season saw Admiral Picard brought back into service to respond to a mysterious alien signal that was calling his name. A fleet of Federation starships arrived at the scene of a massive anomaly where a strange Borg vessel emerged with a request to join the United Federation of Planets. Before Picard could decide how to respond, a new kind of Borg Queen materialized on the bridge and attempted to take control of the ship. But just as Picard ordered the Stargazer to self-destruct, he was hurtled into an alternate reality by Q.

Now back in the present and in the proper reality, we learn the truth about this new Borg: they are led by the Jurati hybrid queen created in 2024, and she has spent 400 years forming a new, better Borg collective. They've come for Picard's help because a dangerous threat has emerged, one that can only be stopped by the combined efforts of the Borg and the Federation fleet. Jurati takes control of the fleet, and together they avert a catastrophe that would have killed billions. But in the wake of their victory, a new danger emerges: the anomaly gives birth to a strange transwarp conduit, but its purpose — and who created it — remains a mystery.

In her parting words to Picard, Jurati asks for provisional Federation membership so they can monitor this new threat, perhaps laying the groundwork for the third and final season of "Picard."

The Europa Mission explained

Throughout the second season of "Picard" we follow the fate of Picard's ancestor Renée, an astronaut on the verge of an important spaceflight that is key to Earth's history in the future. While Picard had stated in earlier episodes that historical records from the 21st century were spotty, and nobody quite knows why the Europa Mission was so important, it became clear that without it, Earth would become a totalitarian nightmare. In the finale, we get some answers as to why, and the importance Renée Picard's mission had on the fate of planet Earth.

Upon returning to the 25th century, Picard is filled in by Guinan on what happened after they left 2024. Rios lived out his life with Teresa and young Ricardo helped save the planet, but the Europa Mission also played a critical role. On her mission to Europa, Guinan reveals that Picard's ancestor Renée would help discover a unique alien organism that would prove instrumental in the creation of technology and methods of solving Earth's pollution crisis. Adding to "Trek" history, it seems that Picard — who once proclaimed he was one of the few Picards to leave the solar system — has an explorer in his blood after all.

Picard finds love

Picard learns many lessons in Season 2 of the series, mostly thanks to his old nemesis Q. In finally accepting that his mother's death was not his fault, he has found absolution within himself, the one thing that has been keeping him from getting close to people in his life. It explains why he so often kept his distance from both friends and lovers, never pursuing a serious romance, whether it was with Dr. Crusher, Lt. Darren, or the rabble-rousing relic hunter Vash.

In the premiere, Picard and Laris made clear a mutual romantic interest known. Unfortunately, Picard wasn't ready, and kept his distance far from Laris' heart. But now, in the finale, having accepted himself as he is thanks to his adventure in time — and worked through his past trauma — he returns to the 25th century a renewed man. Ready to love, he meets with Laris, who is preparing to leave Picard's vineyard. He stops her, asking in his own way for a second chance. It remains to be seen where this relationship will go, but after all these years, it appears Jean-Luc Picard is finally ready to fully embrace loving another.

As the episode closes, we see Picard and Laris holding hands, embarking on a new romantic journey together.