Flashback to 14 years ago - Picard and Raffi Musiker have just left Starfleet headquarters, trying to convince Starfleet to continue the plans to help the Romulans after the attack on Mars destroyed the evacuation fleet. Picard explains that he'd given Starfleet an ultimatum to either help, or accept his resignation. And to his surprise, they took his resignation. Meanwhile, Musiker is called in by the C-in-C, which she knows means she's getting "fired" from Starfleet. Back in the present - Musiker is pissed that Picard never bothered to call her to see how she was going in all these years, while he lives in a fine Chateau, and she lives in a trailer (goes against the whole idea that poverty, hopelessness and despair all disappeared from Earth hundreds of years ago... why is she living in a trailer?). She has become an alcoholic that smokes "snakeleaf", living in a trailer near the Vasquez Rocks. But never-the-less, she helps out Picard, telling him about a pilot, Cristóbal Rios, that owns his own ship. Meanwhile, Dr. Jurati is visited by Commodore Oh (wearing sunglasses, which... if she's an undercover Romulan posing as a Vulcan, shouldn't this blow her cover? It's established Vulcans have an inner eyelid that protects their eyes from the glare of the sun, which would be very sloppy for an undercover agent to forget, especially after she criticized "Lt. Rizzo" for doing a sloppy job attempting to capture Dahj...) wishing to talk about her recent talks with Picard.
On the Borg cube, Soji and Hugh (who is in-charge of the efforts restoring the Borg drones as individuals. It's not explained how/why he's ended up here from when we last saw him, which I'm hoping they will explain) go to talk to one of the Romulan "ex-B's" (what they call the Borg drones that they've removed the implants). Turns out, the Romulan drones were from the last ship the cube had assimilated, but something went wrong, causing the cube to be cut off from the Collective. Hugh says they are the only Romulans ever assimilated (he's wrong
, not to mention, before the Borg were eventually introduced, it was established they were assimilating entire Federation and Romulan colonies along the Neutral Zone borders). It seems these "ex-B" Romulans have developed a shared mythology. Picard goes to talk to Rios and "hire" him and his ship. Picard notes that Rios is a former Starfleet officer himself, after noticing the impeccable condition of his ship. Rios confirms this, but claims the ship he served on was erased from all records by Starfleet (seems to be happening a lot in Star Trek these days), which has left him bitter towards Starfleet. The former Borg Romulan that Soji talks to flips out realizing who Soji is, saying that she knows her "from the future", that her sister is dead and calling her the "destroyer". After the incident, she calls her "mom", whom assures her Dahj is fine, and says a code phrase that puts Soji to sleep. At the same time, Picard, Laris and Zhaban (and are joined by Dr. Jurati) are attacked by Zhat Vash at his Chateau. They are defeated, and the last one alive also tells them Soji is the "destroyer", before doing the same acid spit thing as the Romulan in the first episode, killing himself.
Picard and Dr. Jurati (likely unwillingly working for Oh now) beam up to Rios' ship, where they've also been joined by Musiker. She explains she found a clue Maddox is on a gambling world known as Freecloud. Picard gives his famous "Engage" command as the TNG theme plays and Rio pilots the the ship to warp.
As as aside, I feel that Rios ship could look more... Star Trek. I mean, I think it's a fine enough design on its own, but it looks more like something from Star Wars to me, like a bigger version of the speeder Zam Wesell had in Episode II, than something we'd see in Star Trek. It has a dozen blue engines on the back rather than one or two impulse engines and no apparent warp nacelles, or really any Federation starship design cues at all. It's also odd that he has two seemingly sentient holograms onboard, an Emergency Medical Hologram as well as an Emergency Navigational Hologram (each looking like Rios himself, but each having a different accent), when synthetic lifeforms were supposedly banned in the Federation. Why do holograms seem to be an exception? And I'm not a fan of how the bridge connects directly to a... long hallway? cargo bay? I dunno what its even supposed to be. It's just odd to me the bridge isn't at least divided by a wall or something, making it this huge, mostly empty space.
They also give sort of an explanation as to why some Romulans have forehead ridges, and others don't. Apparently it is just northern Romulans that have the ridges. I guess this is actually a reference to something Gene Roddenberry once joked about being the reason Klingons suddenly got forehead ridges. I suppose this sort of works, although, I find it hard to believe it's just "northern" Romulans that have the ridges, like nobody ever moved around on Romulus.