Lower Decks Sends Up the Beloved Picard Finale
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The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard was widely viewed as a triumph by the franchise faithful. Billed as a de facto Season 8 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it witnessed Picard's old crew from the Enterprise-D reunite just in time to take down an existential threat to the Federation. Not only did it give the characters an ending they deserved after the misfire of Star Trek: Insurrection, but it told an outstanding story in its own right. It balanced an exceptionally larger cast to deliver the kind of Star Trek story to make every fan happy.
It took Star Trek: Lower Decks about six months to start sending it up. Season 4, Episode 7, "A Few Badgeys More" ostensibly focuses on an existential threat of its own, as its three biggest villains each launch a plot against the Federation. It also quietly emulates the specifics of the Picard finale, poking fun at one of the franchise's most recent home runs in the process. Its success lies in the way it completely reverses Picard's approach, ironically leading to a more peaceful solution
How Star Trek: Picard Ended on a High Note
Season 3 of Picard concerns a conspiracy between the remnants of the Borg and group of extremist Dominion Changelings to destroy the Federation. It entails a complex scheme involving transporters, hidden conspirators, and Picard's son Jack raised by his mother Beverly Crusher. Jean-Luc and the Next Generation crew respond by resurrecting Data and claiming a rebuilt version of the Enterprise-D to shut the Borg plan down before disaster strikes.
Their success depends on three specific plot points, which Lower Decks quietly takes note of. Data's return comes via a "golem" amalgamation of himself, his evil twin Lore, and ancillary figures such as B-4 and Data's daughter Lal. The key moment arrives in Picard Season 3, Episode 8, "Surrender," as Lore believes he is absorbing Data's identity only to learn too late that actions are actually merging them together. Data emerges from the ordeal as himself, though with a full set of emotions and a much better handle on controlling them.
The Borg plot is a comparatively simple one, though the details are quite complex. Using elements of Jack's DNA, they infect anyone under 25 with Borg technology, transforming them into drones of the Collective. The converts quickly murder the unaffected and take control of the fleet, intending to repeat the process on Earth before Picard's crew intervenes. The final step that saves the galaxy entails Picard confronting a now transformed Jack in the Borg cube and convincing him to return to humanity. Once Jack abandons them, the Borg lose their fulcrum over the fleet and the assimilated Starfleet drones return to normal.
Lower Decks' Badgey Is Surprisingly Borg-Like
"A Few Badgeys More" doesn't directly match the threat of the Borg as it's mainly concerned with addressing some of Lower Decks' lingering plot threads. The titular Badgey does, however, have similar abilities and goals. The Borg in Picard aren't interested in assimilation, but annihilation; anyone they can't convert will be killed. That makes a sharp difference from their earlier ethos (which used to be simple enslavement), which was born from a desire for revenge against Picard and humanity in general.
This matches Badgey's arc in "A Few Badgeys More," as he goes from simply wanting Rutherford and the Cerritos dead to becoming an omnipotent god. He takes over the crew of a Drookmani salvage ship by connecting his implant to the captain (and soon the rest of the crew) before launching a surprise attack on the Cerritos. Rutherford's attempts to convince him otherwise split him into a duplicate, "Goodgey," who carries all of his better angels and leaves him more psychotic than ever. A third duplicate, "Logic-y," emerges as well, though Badgey appears to kill him in the midst of the ensuing donnybrook.
All of this leads up to Badgey's big move, which also closely resembles the Borg's plan in Picard. He succeeds in taking over every computer system in the quadrant, granting him limitless knowledge and power. But like Lore absorbing Data, that process fundamentally alters his outlook. His omniscience reveals the preciousness of life, prompting him to renounce his intended genocide and ascend to a higher plane. The threat ends and Badgey vanishes, leaving Goodgey to hopefully atone for the damage done.
Lower Decks Sends Up Picard on the Way to a Happy Ending
Badgey's plan centers on variations of Picard's three plot points. In each case, however, it reverses nearly every step Picard takes. Rather than merging into an amalgamation like Data did, he splits into three, growing more dangerous, not less. Similarly, Rutherford's attempt to emotionally reach him backfires, leading to the creation of Goodgey, but leaving the original model in a state of hatred and fury. (Jean-Luc Picard did a lot better with Jack.) While the crew of the Enterprise-D stopped the Borg takeover before Earth could fall, Badgey succeeds in his goals.
Ironically, not only is the galaxy saved regardless, but it arrives in a more morally enlightened form. He's stopped by his own enlightenment, rather than any do-or-die heroics from the crew of the Cerritos, and there's no clever disconnect button once he links up to the Federation. While he presumably leaves a better version of himself behind in Goodgey, there's no promise at all that his friendly doppelganger won't go rogue at some point in the future. Data, for his part, ends Picard happily in the company of his friends.
In other words, the Lower Decks heroes fail and Badgey succeeds, only for the universe to be saved by the wisdom that comes with omniscience. The Star Trek franchise constantly champions learning and knowledge, which shows Badgey the error of his ways far more effectively than simply being overcome by Starfleet. "A Few Badgeys More" underscores the point with its other two malevolent AIs -- Peanut Hamper and AGIMUS -- who similarly realize that life is more than endless conflict. It's a gentle dig, to be sure, but considering the high standing of the Picard finale among fans, it might have been just a little too much for Lower Decks to resist.
New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks stream every Thursday on Paramount+.