Let’s Talk About That ‘Next Generation’ Cameo in ‘Star Trek: Picard’ No One Saw Coming

Picard and Riker are shocked when this blast from the past returns in Episode 5 of the Paramount+ series


The third and final season of Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Picard” reunites the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise D for one final journey.

So far, audiences have seen Picard (Patrick Stewart) reunite with his former Enterprise first officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and former ship’s doctor and surprise baby mama Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). Riker’s wife and former ship’s counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) also made a brief holographic appearance. Separately, ex-security chief Worf (Michael Dorn) has been working on a clandestine mission for Starfleet intelligence.

While we’ve yet to see Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and Data (Brent Spiner) in the new series, they’ve appeared in promotional materials.

Thursday’s episode of “Picard” features an appearance by another popular “Next Generation” character who hasn’t been included in any promos. Who is it?

Read on to find out, but warning — major spoilers ahead.

Which “Next Generation” Character Makes An Unexpected Guest Appearance?

In the fifth episode of “Star Trek: Picard,” Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) tells Starfleet is on its way to question Picard and Riker for stealing a shuttle to rescue Crusher.

Turns out the officer sent to question Picard and Riker is Commander Ro Laren. The last time viewers saw Ro Laren was in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Season 7 episode “Preemptive Strike,” which aired in 1994. She is played by actress Michelle Forbes.

Headstrong and rebellious, Ro Laren was a marked departure from other Starfleet officers who blindly followed orders.

Who is Ro Laren?

A young Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes) serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, 30 years before the events of “Star Trek: Picard” (Paramount)

Ro Laren is a Bajoran Starfleet officer. Her first appearance was in the “Next Generation” Season 4 episode “Ensign Ro.”

Ro’s past precedes her. When she was aboard the U.S.S. Wellington, she disobeyed orders, resulting in the deaths of eight crewmen. She was court-martialed and jailed. She was later reinstated and brought to the Enterprise upon Admiral Kennelly’s request, despite concerns from his crew.

Riker meets her when she comes aboard the Enterprise, and tells her to remove her Bajoran earring — a symbol of faith — as it violates the Starfleet uniform code.

When they first meet, Picard calls her “Ensign Laren” but she reminds him that Bajoran surnames come first. From henceforth she is called “Ensign Ro.” It’s revealed that Kennelly brought Ro on the mission to make a secret deal with a suspected Bajoran terrorist Orta. But when she discovers Orta is innocent, Ro reveals the deal to Picard.

Picard is impressed by Ro’s principles. Despite her rebelliousness, he feels she possesses the qualities to be a fine Starfleet officer, and invites her to stay aboard. He also allows her to wear her Bajoran earring.

What ‘Next Generation’ Episodes Does Ro Laren Appear in?

Ro became a recurring character on “The Next Generation” appearing in the following episodes:

  • “Ensign Ro”
  • “Disaster”
  • “Power Play”
  • “Cause and Effect”
  • “The Next Phase”
  • “Rascals”

Despite her recurring status, she held a major role in many of the episodes, notably “Ensign Ro,” “Power Play” and “The Next Phase.” She was also featured as a member of the bridge crew, usually sitting at the conn.

She returns as a lieutenant in the Season 7 episode “Preemptive Strike,” where she is sent to infiltrate the Maquis, a resistance group that fought the Cardassians — the alien species that annexed her homeworld of Bajor. She ends up sympathizing with the Maquis and defect. Before she leaves, she tells Riker to tell Picard she is sorry for betraying his trust.

What Is Ro Laren Doing on “Picard”?

After confirming his identity, Commander Ro (Michelle Forbes) reveals the truth to Picard (Patrick Stewart) in “Star Trek: Picard” (Paramount+)

Sometime after her defection, Ro turned herself in, was court-marshaled, jailed again, rehabilitated and reinstated with the rank of commander in Starfleet Intelligence. She arrives on the Titan via shuttlecraft with two armed security guards.

Riker and Picard are shocked to discover she was back in Starfleet after her betrayal.

Ro coldly interrogates Picard. He notes she no longer wears her Bajoran earring. She only cares to know about the Changeling who has infiltrated the Titan.

They eventually enter the holodeck, where they each profess how badly they hurt each other. Realizing that neither could possibly be a Changeling, Ro reveals her true mission. She tells Picard that Changelings have compromised Starfleet and reveals she has two trusted operatives working on gathering more intelligence. Her investigation points to something happening on Frontier Day, but she has yet to connect the dots.

Ro and Picard leave the holodeck and she is rejoined by her security detail. They board the shuttle to return to the Intrepid, but her guards plant a bomb and beam off. Ro, realizing the Intrepid has been compromised by Changelings, only has seconds to act. She sets a collision course for the Intrepid and crashes her shuttle into it, disabling it and giving the Titan a chance to escape. Before she dies, Picard tells her he finally sees her and asks for her forgiveness.

After they flee, Riker and Picard examine Ro’s parting gift — her Bajoran earring. It contains all of her files on the Changelings and connects them with her trusted operatives, who turn out to be Worf and Raffi.

What Is Ro Laren’s Legacy?

Ro was like a daughter to Picard. Now that she’s gone, he may be extra protective of his newly discovered son, Jack Crusher.

Ro also serves to reconnect Picard with Worf and Raffi, as well as merge the plotlines of the stolen weapons tech from Daystrom and the Changelings.

“Star Trek: Picard” streams every Thursday on Paramount+