WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard season 3, episode 4, “No Win Scenario.”Star Trek: Picard season 3 has brought back the Changeling villains from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and they’ve undergone some significant changes in the years since the Dominion War ended. As they’re plotting a revenge attack against the Federation, it makes perfect sense for the Changelings to adapt to cheat the security precautions introduced during the Dominion War. Picard has revealed that at least one Changeling has infiltrated Starfleet, when it impersonated Ensign Foster (Chad Lindberg) aboard the USS Titan-A.
It remains to be seen if there are more Changeling infiltrators within Starfleet, but at this stage it seems inevitable that the institution has been compromised. During Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Dominion War arc, the Changelings impersonated several DS9 characters to gain a tactical advantage against the Federation. In Star Trek: Picard season 3, it appears that the Changelings are up to their old tricks, but with significant updates to their methods of operation. Here’s every significant change made to the Changelings in Picard season 3.
7 A Rogue Changeling Schism Has Separated From The Great Link
In Star Trek: Picard season 3, episode 3, “Seventeen Seconds”, it was revealed that a rogue Changeling faction was behind the theft of weapons from Daystrom Station. Captain Worf (Michael Dorn) was notified of the dangerous schism by his old DS9 colleague, Odo (Rene Auberjonois), who had returned to the Great Link to reverse centuries of prejudice against Solid lifeforms. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo was one of 100 Changelings who had been scattered across the universe. However, Picard‘s Changeling villains are considerably different in the sense that they have specifically chosen to separate themselves from the Great Link to seek vengeance against the Federation.
6 Changelings Can Now Avoid Detection
During the Dominion War, Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and Odo were instrumental in creating various security protocols to limit the risk of Changeling infiltration. Blood tests and phaser sweeps were implemented to identify Changeling infiltrators. The blood tests would identify any Changeling that was impersonating a Starfleet officer or Federation citizen, while the phaser sweeps were designed to reveal Changelings that had assumed the form of everyday objects. Either Starfleet has grown lax in their testing in the years after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Dominion War, or the rogue Changelings have biologically augmented themselves to fool a blood test and evade phaser sweeps.
5 Dead Changelings Retain Their Solid Form
One of the biggest indications of a shift in biology is that the Changeling impersonating Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) retained her form when it was killed by Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). During Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Changelings could be killed by a phaser at a high setting, but they would either return to their liquid form, or, in the case of the Changeling impersonating General Martok (Robert O’Reilly) explode. This isn’t true of the Changeling aboard the Titan.
Sidney La Forge’s Changeling wobbles slightly, which is presumably the liquid life form dying, but it leaves behind a solid corpse. This suggests that the new Changeling villains have bonded with a physical body, similar to the android body inhabited by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The corpse left behind by Sidney’s Changeling impersonator leaves an intriguing biological mystery for Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) to investigate as Star Trek: Picard season 3 continues.
4 Captain Vadic Is A Changeling And Can Remove Body Parts
Another clue to the Changelings possibly bonding with some form of solid matter comes in the scene where Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) converses with The Face (Garth Kemp). She removes her hand, which morphs, Changeling-style, into an ominous face. It’s possible that separating parts of themselves is how the Changeling schism communicates with each other, with her hand assuming the liquid state required to link with other Changelings. Vadic’s hand, combined with the Sidney La Forge impersonator’s body suggests that Star Trek: Picard‘s Changeling villains have evolved or hybridized themselves. The more visceral quality of the Changeling goo also suggests that the rogue schism’s biology is very different from the original Dominion Founders.
3 The Changeling Goo Is Thicker
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Changeling’s liquid state was just that, liquid. The Changeling goo seen in Star Trek: Picard has a degree of viscera to it, looking more like muscular tissue than the clear goo that made up the Great Link. As these Changelings have severed their connection from the Great Link, they’ve perhaps had to find another way to maintain their solid form by combining their physiology with solid matter. Picard showrunner Terry Matalas has teased on social media that viewers should keep watching for the answer as to why the VFX effect is different for the Changelings in the 25th century.
2 Picard’s New Changelings Use Odo’s Bajoran Bucket
Star Trek: Picard has an Odo Easter egg in the shape of the bucket gifted to him by Bajoran scientist Doctor Mora Pol (James Sloyan). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine revealed that it was Pol who was assigned to study Odo at the Bajoran Center for Science. As Changelings have to revert to their liquid state to regenerate, Pol provided Odo with a bucket, or pot, of Bajoran design. It’s strange, therefore, that Commander Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) retrieves a very similar-looking bucket from Ensign Foster’s quarters.
The simplest explanation is that Odo’s influence on Changeling society was so great when he returned to the Great Link, that these Bajoran pots became ubiquitous among Changelings. Alternatively, the Changeling Ensign Foster had it replicated when he infiltrated Captain Shaw’s Titan crew, because he required a vessel to revert to his gelatinous state. As Odo aided Starfleet in their struggle against the Dominion, it would make perfect sense for the replicator pattern for Odo’s Bajoran bucket to be stored on the system.
1 The Changelings Have A New Leader – The Face
Star Trek: Picard season 3, episode 4 revealed that Captain Vadic isn’t the big bad of the season, and is instead working for someone else. The Face creates a Changeling hierarchy that didn’t exist in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, beyond the Dominion’s Founders’ superiority over the other member species. The Face in Picard is definitely calling the shots, ordering Vadic to take the Shrike deeper into the Ryton Nebula to recover the Titan and Jack Crusher (Ed Speelers).
It’s still unclear what’s happening to Jack Crusher, or what will happen if The Face and his Changeling schism get hold of Picard’s son. Whatever the reason for their interest in Beverly and Jean-Luc’s son, Jack is clearly at the center of the mystery surrounding the Changeling’s surprising new look. There’s clearly a strong narrative reason for these changes to the Changelings in Star Trek: Picard season 3, and they could have huge implications for the post-Dominion War future of the Star Trek universe.
MORE: Picard Season 3 Answers A Huge Borg Vs. DS9 Dominion Question
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.