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It was a genuine shock when Dahj was killed at the climax of the first episode of Star Trek: Picard. Her coming to the captain for help after finding herself being hunted by Romulan assassins kicked off the events of the series and thus, to lose her so quickly was unforeseen. However, a new theory suggests that she’s not only still alive, but may return as the villain in season 2.
When Picard is investigating the possibility that Dahj might be Data’s daughter, they’re attacked by the Zhat Vash, a secretive sect within the ranks of Romulan intelligence, resulting in Dahj’s death when a killer she had just defeated spat acid over her and the disruptor rifle she had taken off him, the resulting explosion incinerating the area to the extent that there was no trace of DNA remaining. For her to have survived would have required someone with the power to not only teleport her away at the moment of the explosion, but also salvage her already disintegrating body, and very few characters currently known about could have achieved such a feat.
One possibility put forward was Q, the omnipotent trickster who periodically frustrated Picard throughout the events of The Next Generation, and whose powers could have effortlessly saved Dahj for his own curiosity. However, a second, far more elaborate possibility was her being taken by the Borg Queen.
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It was postulated that by using transwarp beaming, a complicated and nigh-impossible warp process where someone can be beamed across the vast gulf between star systems, the Queen could have transported Dahj to a Borg Cube. With the Romulans now able to reverse the process of assimilation, the Borg as they currently exist are effectively rendered obsolete, and as an alternative, the Queen could be looking for an upgrade. ‘She’ may have found one in the meticulous artificial creation of Dahj, an extension of the cyborg’s previously shown interest in synthetic life when attempting to convince Data to join the collective in First Contact.
The Queen is not an individual – such a concept being the antithesis of the Borg’s nature – but merely an expression of the hive mind that brings “order to chaos,” and using Dahj as an avatar would signify to the galaxy that the Borg are continuing to advance. It would also allow Isa Briones to play a different character, as well as the narrative to be driven by the question of whether or not Dahj can be saved from her new eternal purgatory.
A major aspect of Star Trek: Picard is the trauma both of assimilation and the recovery from it, as well as the nature of identity transcending one’s physical form. And the prospect of rescuing Dahj, who despite her limited screen time was a far more interesting character than Soji, in spite of her apparent death could provide the series with another facet of such themes, reaffirming that be it through memory or advanced technology, nobody is ever truly lost.