Data and Jean-Luc Picard are playing poker in Ten Forward aboard the USS Enterprise-D. They discuss Data’s ability to bluff. Data raises the bet to “fifty,” everything Picard has. Picard makes tea to stall; he doesn’t want the game to end. Picard goes “all in.” Data lays down five queens of hearts, and Picard looks outside the window to see Mars, which begins weathering an attack by rogue synthetics. (ST: “Children of Mars“) He gasps, and wakes up from this dream at his family vineyard, Château Picard.
Meanwhile, in Greater Boston, Dahj and her Xahean boyfriend are sharing a romantic evening. She tells him that she has been accepted for a fellowship in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Consciousness at the Daystrom Institute. Just then, a squad of masked men transport into the room. One throws a knife, killing Dahj’s boyfriend. Forcing the panicking Dahj down on her coffee table, one places a pair of devices on her temples with a holographic interface and quickly swipes through a few screens, reporting that she hasn’t been “activated.” Getting her to her feet and throwing aside the table, they briefly interrogate her, demanding about the location of “the others” and where she’s from, but from her bewildered responses, they determine they can get what they need later. They place a bag over Dahj’s head to render her unconscious, but she begins fighting back, alarming them that she is now “activating”. Behaving like a highly trained and skilled fighter, she incapacitates the squad in moments and shoots them dead with one of their weapons, all while the bag is still on her head. Removing the bag, she looks around in confusion and dropping the weapon in shock. She mourns over the body of her fallen boyfriend and then, with a sudden gasp, she has a vision of the face of Jean-Luc Picard.
At Château Picard, Jean-Luc and his dog, Number One walk through the fields, greeting his workers tending to the grapevines as he passes by. Picard talks to the dog in French. He returns to the house, where he speaks with Laris and Zhaban, two Romulan refugees who work as his housekeepers. Picard talks of his dreams and how he is feeling. As Zhaban makes breakfast, Picard laments his agreement to be interviewed live by the Federation News Network. He goes up to a replicator, and orders “tea, Earl Grey, decaf!.
He dresses in a jacket and tie as the news crew sets up in his study. He’s nervous, making sure from Zhaban that the interview will not address Picard’s separation from Starfleet: Zhaban assures he did so no less than three times. Laris tells him not to forget who he is and what he did, saying “we have not.” Zhaban tells him to “be the captain they remember.“
The FNN interview begins with a capsule biography of Picard.
The interviewer, Richter, asks him about the supernova that destroyed Romulus in 2387. Richter’s questioning grows agressive, with her asking him the very question that he dreaded: why did he leave Starfleet. He says that he left the USS Enterprise-E to command a rescue armada of ten thousand warp-capable ferries to Romulus before the supernova to relocate nine hundred million Romulans. He compares it to the evacuation at Dunkirk during World War II. Picard says that the Federation abandoned its duty to save millions of lives, regardless of whether or not they were Romulan. The unimaginable happened – the rescue armada was wiped out by a group of rogue synthetics who destroyed the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, killing 92,143 residents and igniting the stratosphere, which still burns. The intention of the attack remains unknown, and synthetic lifeforms were banned as a result of the attack – a decision that Picard believes is a mistake.
Richter brings up Lieutenant Commander Data, and asks if Picard ever lost faith in him. “Never“, replies Picard. She asks what he did lose faith in, why he resigned from Starfleet. Picard says, “Because it was no longer Starfleet! We withdrew. The galaxy was mourning, burying its dead, and Starfleet slunk from its duties. The decision to call off the rescue and to abandon those people we had sworn to save was not just dishonorable, it was downright criminal! And I was not prepared to stand by and be a spectator!” He accuses Richter of having no clue of what his reference to Dunkirk was, of being a stranger to history and to war, and ends the interview.
Back at Château Picard, Picard sits on a porch with his dog, drinking wine and quoting Shakespeare: “No legacy is so rich as honesty,” from All’s Well That Ends Well. Number One begins barking as he sees Dahj arriving. Picard stands to look at her, and asks what she wants. She says she saw the interview, and asks if he knows her. He’s not sure. She tells him of the attack in her apartment and her killing of the assailants. She just knew how to fight them; “it was like lightning seeking the ground.” Picard holds her hands and tries to calm her. She tells him she keeps seeing his face. “Everything inside of me says that I’m safe with you,” she tells him.
That evening, Laris and Zhaban heal Dahj’s wound from the fight and offer her a blanket. Picard offers her a cup of Earl Grey and sits with her on the decking. He comments on her necklace. She takes it off and hands it to him when he asks to see it. She asks him if he’d ever been a stranger to himself, and he replies, “Many, many times.” He returns her necklace and asks her name. She already knows his name somehow, not just from history and his recent interview, but from an “older, deeper” place. He agrees, but doesn’t know why. He tells her she isn’t crazy and that she isn’t dangerous (Number One would have let him know, who even now has chosen to rest beside her chair rather than that of his master). He offers her a room, and Laris takes her there. Before Dahj goes, she thanks Picard. As she leaves, he touches her necklace, which is still on the table.
The following morning, Picard awakens, opens his window, and sees Data painting a picture in the vineyard. Picard, wearing his old Starfleet uniform, walks up to Data, who is also dressed in the same style. It’s a painting of a woman with the face not yet started in a hooded cloak standing on a rocky shore in front of a stormy sea. Data asks Picard if he’d like to finish the painting, but Picard doesn’t know how. Data tells Picard that is not true, and as Picard reaches for the brush, he is awakened from his dream by the chiming of a clock. He has been asleep at his desk in his study. He quickly stands up to look behind him at a similar painting on his wall, only with the woman turned away to the sea. Laris enters, announcing that Dahj is gone. She is nowhere to be seen on the feeds covering the property. Picard tells Laris that he has somewhere to go and to contact him if Dahj returns.
He travels to San Francisco to the Starfleet Archive Museum. His belongings have been locked in stasis at the quantum archives, to which he double-checks with his hologram host, named Index, that only he has access to.
He uses a datapad control panel to access the quantum archive and recalls one of his items stored within it, which beams in onto the display case beside the datapad inside a protective case. Placing it onto the glass table in the middle of the room he opens it; it is the painting from his dream, only finished and with Dahj’s face on the woman at the shore. Summoning Index, she reconfirms that no one has entered his archive, even for servicing. On his request, she recites that the painting is an oil on canvas and one of a paired set painted by Data in 2369 and given as a gift to Picard during their service on the Enterprise-D. The title of this one is Daughter.
In Paris, Dahj is on the run. Slumping against an alley wall, she opens up a holographic communicator device to contact her mother and tells her about the attack. She had gone somewhere to be safe, but concerned that her presence would put the people there in danger, she fled. Her mother is concerned, and tells her to go back to Picard. Dahj realizes that she hadn’t told her mother about Picard, and is confused by how her mother knows. The face of her mother glitches and then tells her to focus and to find Picard. Opening her eyes, Dahj conducts a rapid-fire search on her communicator through secured systems to locate Picard at the archives, all within seconds.
Picard is walking out of the building when Dahj appears. He’s stunned to see her, and glad she is safe. She tells him she can hear conversations a block away, and worries she has schizophrenia or suffering from head trauma. Picard tells her she does not, nor is she a “freak” – she might be very special. He tells her about Data, but that Data was not like those who attacked Mars. He insinuates that this is a common prejudice; Data was a decorated Starfleet officer who sacrificed his life for Picard over two decades ago. He was an artist and painted a picture of her thirty years ago. She says that’s impossible. Picard tells her the title of the painting, Daughter, and relates it to her situation; he suggests the attack on Dahj became a “wake-up call,” a “positronic alarm bell” that activated her power as an android. He reminds her of how she stated that “it was like lightning seeking the ground“: the sudden emergence of her fighting abilities, the super hearing, and being able to search through Starfleet tracking systems to find him, which she most certainly did not have the proper security clearances for, all point him to the same conclusion. She protests, telling of her childhood in Seattle, where her father, a xenobotanist, developed a new hybrid of orchid and named it after her. He assures her that it is a “beautiful memory”, but it is still hers and no one can take that away from her. He tells her to look inside, deeply and honestly, and see that she might be something lovingly and deliberately created, like the flower, and not a “soulless killing machine” as she fears. If she is who he thinks she is, she is dear to him. He tells her that they will go to the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa, Japan to see if she is indeed related to Data. He marvels when she tells him of her received fellowship.
She flinches, and warning Picard begins running, pulling him behind her. Someone is after them. Picard, out of breath, follows her up the stairs to a rooftop, where men similar to the group of assassins that killed her boyfriend and attacked her appear.
She begins fighting them, using advanced hand-to-hand combat skills, dodging disruptor blasts, and leaping long distances. She smashes the mask of one of the men, who is revealed to be Romulan. One spits an acid at her, damaging his gun that Dahj is holding and getting it on her lower face and clothes. Dropping the weapon, the acid eats away and burns her, and she screams in pain. As Picard shouts in horror, the compromised weapon causes an explosion that envelops Dahj and blows Picard back some distance.
Flashes of his dreams and events of the day appear as Picard awakens at home, tended by Laris and Zhaban. Picard tells them that Dahj is dead, and they are shocked. The police told them he was found alone on the roof, and according to the feeds, got there alone. They wonder if she has access to a cloaking device that interfered with the feeds. Picard muses she must have had an automatic system that triggered when she was in danger, and that she was a refugee, like Laris, like Zhaban, and like himself. He laments his life in hiding, “nursing [his] offended dignity, writing books of history people prefer to forget.” He declares, “I haven’t been living. I’ve been waiting to die.” He stands up with purpose.
At the Daystrom Institute, he meets with Doctor Agnes Jurati. He asks her if it is possible to make a sentient android out of flesh and blood, and she laughs. She realizes he is serious and says it is impossible, a thousand years away. He tells her he had tea with one.
They walk to the remains of the Division of Advanced Synthetic Research lab area, now a “ghost town” of unused work desks. Jurati explains that the rogue synthetics came from their lab; now they do only theoretical research which can never be developed or tested. The creation of new androids would be a violation of galactic treaty.
Jurati opens a drawer containing a dissembled B-4. Jurati explains that Data’s attempt to copy his neural network to B-4 shortly before his death was an almost total failure; B-4 was too inferior and “not much like Data at all,” and most of the positronic network was lost. (Star Trek Nemesis) Nobody had since been able to redevelop the science to create a Soong-type android. She tells Picard she was recruited by Bruce Maddox out of Starfleet to work on developing such technology, but after the ban, an emotionally crushed Maddox disappeared; she’s been unable to find him.
Jurati tells him that any new android, even one of flesh and blood, would need to be created out of Data’s neural net, now lost. He holds up Dahj’s necklace, and she is stunned. She sits, and tells him the necklace holds a symbol for “fractal neuronic cloning,” a radical idea of Maddox’s that would have allowed a new android, created from Data’s code and possibly including his memories, to be cloned to a degree, reconstituted from a single positronic neuron and thus contain an essence of him. Picard declares Dahj to be Data’s daughter, created by Maddox and modeled after Daughter; he comments that Data “always wanted a daughter“. Jurati says it would be possible to create a female android from Data’s positronic neuron, using the plural “they.” Picard asks, “twins?” Jurati concurs: they were created in pairs. “So there’s another one…” Picard muses.
A Romulan transport flies into a dock at the Romulan Reclamation Site. Narek walks on a catwalk over to a “Doctor Asha.” She looks exactly like Dahj. He introduces himself, and she introduces herself as Soji. He compliments her necklace, identical to the one in Picard’s possession: she briefly explains it was made by her father, a match with the one her twin sister wears. Narek talks about his brother (not a twin), deceased unexpectedly as of last year. She offers to listen to Narek’s “sad story”.
It is revealed that the Romulan Reclamation Site is inside the wreckage of a Borg cube.