The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard Season 2, Episode 9, "Hide and Seek," streaming now on Paramount+.
One of the biggest returning characters on Star Trek: Picard is Seven of Nine, the liberated Borg drone who played a prominent role in Star Trek: Voyager. Years after the USS Voyager returned home to the Alpha Quadrant, Seven has not remained in the direct service of Starfleet but instead forged her own spacefaring path. And as Seven faces a resurgent Borg Collective for the fate of the timeline, she quietly reveals the heartbreaking reason that she ultimately did not stick with Starfleet after returning with Voyager.
When Seven made her big entrance in Picard Season 1, she was serving among the Fenris Rangers, a paramilitary organization taking care of communities neglected by Starfleet. After working with Picard to expose a vast Romulan conspiracy, Seven received command of Chris Rios’ old starship La Sirena to continue her activities with the Rangers. This leads her to help Starfleet confront the resurrected Borg Queen in Season 2, with Seven traveling back to the 21st century to restore changes to the timeline made thanks to the omnipotent Q.
As Seven and her on-again/off-again love interest Raffi Musiker face an army of Borg drones commanded by the Queen (who might have had a chance at redemption) in the 21st century. Seven admits that while she was interested in formally enrolling in Starfleet after serving as a de facto senior officer on Voyager during its journey home, Starfleet brass were unnerved by having a former Borg indoctrinee in their midst. Kathryn Janeway personally advocated for Starfleet Command to reconsider such a fear-fueled decision, but the admiralty remained firm in keeping Seven out -- leading her to join the Fenris Rangers to continue defending those forgotten by the United Federation.
Starfleet similarly approached Picard himself with such a heightened level of caution after he was liberated from the Borg Collective. After an extended leave back with his family in France, Picard’s command is reinstated -- but when the Borg make another play towards Earth in Star Trek: First Contact, he and the Enterprise are ordered to the other side of Federation space. Realizing Starfleet is ordering him away because of their fear he will rejoin the Borg, Picard returns in the nick of time to turn the tide of battle and save the day.
This hypocritical stance by Starfleet regarding Seven and their lingering fears over her connection to the Borg may be more superficially informed. For most of her life, Seven’s cybernetic implants made by the Borg were visible on her face while Picard’s implants were all apparently removed. In this rewritten timeline, Seven’s implants were removed but reincorporated in her body by the Queen to save her life from extensive injuries endured in the fight against the Borg of the 21st century.
Assimilated into the Borg Collective since she was a little girl, Seven of Nine has overcome adversity every step of the way, even after regaining her sense of humanity. Seven more than proved herself to be exemplary Starfleet material by helping Voyager make its lengthy, arduous journey back to the Alpha Quadrant. And yet for all Seven’s service, the bull-headed Starfleet admiralty couldn’t let the heroic character officially join their ranks.
Created by Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer and Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek: Picard releases new episodes Thursdays on Paramount+.