Star Trek: Picard Gave A Surprise Next Generation Character Some Long-Awaited Closure, And It Was Super Emotional

Picard, Riker, and Seven on Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+
(Image credit: Parmaount+)

Warning: SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Picard episode “Imposters” are ahead!

Going into Star Trek: Picard Season 3, we knew that this final season of the show would serve as a big Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion. On top of Jonathan Frakes (who already deserves awards recognition), Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner all joining Patrick Stewart for one final team-up together, we’ll also see Daniel Davis back as Professor Moriarty, and even Thomas Dekker, who appeared in Star Trek Generations, stopped by, although this wasn’t an intentional Next Generation callback. However, the latest Picard episode, titled “Imposters,” delivered arguably the biggest Next Generation-related appearance outside of the main cast.

Michelle Forbes, who recurred as Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s final three seasons, reprised the character in Star Trek: Picard’s fifth episode. Although there had been plans for Ro to be a leading character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Forbes declined the opportunity, so this marked her first time playing the character in almost 30 years. But Forbes didn’t merely pop in and out of this Picard episode; this chapter of Season 3 also gave Ro some much-needed closure, and it was quite the emotional affair.

Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount)

Who Is Ro Laren?

For those unfamiliar with Ro Laren, she is a member of the Bajoran species, which were among the man conquered by the Cardassian Union, and Ro had the unfortunate experience of watching her father being tortured to death by a Cardassain occupier when she was little. As an adult, Ro joined Starfleet and was assigned to the USS Wellington, but she disobeyed orders during a mission, which resulted in eight crew members being killed, and she was subsequently court-martial and imprisoned. However, she was given the opportunity to return to Starfleet if she helped convince a Bajoran terrorist to cease his attacks after a Federation colony was raided.

This mission is what led to Ro Laren meeting Jean-Luc Picard and the other members of the USS Enterprise, and while she initially got off to a rocky start with everyone and the mission didn’t unfold as planned (you can read what specifically went down in “Ensign Ro” for yourself), by the end of her first appearance, Ro was offered a position on the Enterprise. Ro chiefly recurred in Season 5, and returned for an episode each in Seasons 6 and 7. By the time of her final appearance in “Preemptive Strike,” i.e. The Next Generation’s penultimate episode before the two-part series finale, she’d been promoted to Lieutenant. 

In “Preemptive Strike,” Ro Laren was assigned to infiltrate the Maquis, an organization of rebels that formed to fight back against the Cardassian Union after it formed an alliance with the Federation, as part of the treaty led to certain colony worlds that previously were part of the latter being put under the former’s jurisdiction. Finding herself sympathetic to what the Maquis were fighting for, Ro decided to abandon her mission, leave Starfleet and join the rebellion, and it was abundantly clear that Picard felt betrayed by her doing this. Within official Star Trek canon, we never learned what happened to Ro afterwards… until now.

Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren in Star Trek: Picard

(Image credit: Paramount+)

How Ro Laren Got Closure With Jean-Luc Picard

Following the events of “No Win Scenario,” “Imposters” began with the Titan rendezvousing with the Intrepid, and viewers learn that Ro Laren is the security officer who’s been tasked with not only investigating Jean-Luc Picard and William Rider for treason, but learning about the former’s son with Beverly Crusher, Ed Speleers’ Jack. Although it’s been three decades since Picard and Ro last saw each other, the passage of time hadn't dulled the title protagonist’s hurt feelings over what Ro did. Plus, given the trouble they’ve faced with the Changelings, Picard started to suspect that the Ro aboard the Titan might be one of these shapeshifters, who are now able to pass the standard blood test.

What began as Ro Laren trying to interrogate Jean-Luc Picard about the events of the last few episodes led to a more personal conversation, one in which they air out their grievances. Ro shared that after spending years with the Maquis, she turned herself into Starfleet, was courtmartialed and sent back to prison, but was then recruited into Starfleet Intelligence because of her history with terrorist groups. Picard criticized Ro for abandoning her duty and breaking the bond they’d formed, but Ro hit back by saying that she’d lived under his relentless judgement and felt that his respect was conditional. She also accused him of confusing morality with duty, saying that “blind faith in any institution does not make one honorable,” and that being with the Maquis had allowed her to fight injustice.

Jean-Luc Picard and Ro Laren’s conversation started out in one of the Titan’s conferences rooms and eventually moved to the Ten Forward program on the holodeck, and by the end of their verbal sparring, they admitted that they’d broken each other’s hearts. While there was some other business for these two to deal with during “Imposters,” by the end of the episode it was safe to say that Picard and Ro’s relationship had been repaired. As a longtime Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, I was glad to see these two finally work out their differences, even though it took almost three decades for this to happen. We’re at the halfway point with Star Trek: Picard’s final season, but I can confidently say this is one of the best moments not just of this season, but the entire show. 

Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren in Star Trek: Picard

(Image credit: Paramount+)

What Happened To Ro Laren At The End Of This Week’s Picard

After realizing that Jean-Luc Picard was on the up and up, Ro Laren revealed to him that she’d learned that Starfleet had been compromised at the highest level by Changelings, including aboard the Intrepid. Despite 12 incidents involving Changelings happening across multiple starships, these matters were kept quiet, but Ro was able to connect the dots. Unfortunately, when she tried to start an investigation, she was denied at every turn. It’s also revealed that Ro is the handler who’s secretly working with Worf, although when he and Raffi try to get access to the Daystrom Institute, Ro tells them to “find another way” due to interference from her Starfleet superiors, which leads them to the Vulcan criminal Krinn, played by 12 Monkeys alum Kirk Acevedo.

Although Ro Laren was assigned by Starfleet to bring in Jack Crusher, she instead bid farewell to Jean-Luc Picard and gave him her Bajoran earring, a symbol of her faith. (Meanwhile, the Changelings who did try to kidnap Jack where easily dispatched by the young man, who’s… not exactly well.) Unfortunately, while flying a shuttle back to the Intrepid, the two security officers who accompanied Ro, who were actually Changelings, planted a timed explosive near her, beamed out and also placed an inhibitor blocking her transport signal. With just seconds left to live, Ro flew into the Intrepid’s port nacelle to buy Picard some time and give him a “fighting chance” to finish what she started. 

With most of the Titan’s crew having been transferred to the Intrepid, the skeleton crew operating the Titan was forced to flee the scene when it became clear that they would be framed for Ro Laren’s kamikaze attack and captured to be brought back to the compromised Starfleet leadership. The upside is that Picard and Riker discovered that Ro’s earring contained the data from her investigation, and this brought them into contact with Worf. So Ro has passed on, but with her sacrifice, she pushed our main protagonists on a new path to help them uncover the truth behind this conspiracy involving Amanda Plummer’s Vadic.

New episodes of Star Trek: Picard premiere Thursdays to Paramount+ subscribers, and although this will likely be the last time we see Michelle Forbes play Ro Laren, I’m hoping that someday, officially canon Star Trek novels or comics will shed more light on what happened to her character in the decades between The Next Generation and Picard. Should that happen, we’ll let you know, but until then, our 2023 TV schedule is available for you to figure out what other shows are airing or debuting soon.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.