The episode starts with a recap of the previous episode.
Next we switch to Mars and the Utopia Shipyards. A caption reveals that it is 2385, 14 years before the date of the episode. A human worker opens a closet to find it full of androids, they have the typical Data style appearance, pale skin and yellow eyes, however, they have designations printed on their heads. One is labelled F8. The human greets them with a sarcastic "Hello, plastic people", to which they respond in unison "Good Morning, Mr. Pincus". An announcement suggests that these are A500 Synthetics. A human team are bemoaning that they have to work on a public holiday. They are joined by one of the androids, F8. The team attempt witty banter with the android, but it's clear that he doesn't really get the jokes. He plays along anyway. One of the humans describe the android as creepy. We see a close up of the android's eyes and they flicker as if he's receiving some sort of transmission. At this point he starts reprogramming a panel on the wall, the humans attempt to stop him and he kills them. Alarms start to sound, the android kills himself and ships start destroying the shipyards.
Back to the present day and at Chateau Picard Jean-Luc, Laris and Zhaban are studying footage of the events at Starfleet. It's clear from the footage that Picard was blown a great distance by an explosion. The computer says that surface scans confirm that there are no matter or trace elements consistent with Dahj or the Romulans. Any evidence has been removed. Zhaban confirms that it certainly seems consistent with a Tal Shiar operational style, but neither he nor Laris think that the Tal Shiar would have the audacity to perform operations on Earth, as it would be an act of war. Laris suggests that it could be the "Zhat Vash". Picard asks what that is and Zhaban says it's a Tal Shiar myth, a bogeyman used to frighten new recruits, and children. Laris explains that she thinks that the Tal Shiar is merely a front for a much older cabal the "Zhat Vash". Sometimes the term is used to refer to the dead, the only reliable keeper of secrets. When she was a young agent Laris's first handler, her mother, got drunk on Romulan Ale and told her that the primary mission of the Zhat Vash was based on a loathing of Artificial Life.
Greater Boston area, Dahj's flat. Picard and Laris beam in. The place is perfectly clean and shows no signs of the fight or Caler's death. Laris is using a Romulan method of "Molecular Reconstruction", which Picard says is illegal in the Federation. Laris's device manages to start a reconstruction of the events of the night, part way through they are interrupted. Laris says that they've performed a wipe in a very clever way. Unable to use her device they look at Dahj's phone. The intruders have messed with the phone but the data is still there. They use the fact that Dahj and her sister are indistinguishable to find information on the phone. The slightest trace leads them to the realisation that the sister is not on Earth.
Back on The Artefact Soji and Narek are in bed together. They are discussing The Artefact and the work there. The alarm goes off and they have to get up for work.
At Chateau Picard Jean-Luc receives a visit from Dr. Moritz Benayoun, an old friend from his Stargazer days and his personal physician. It's been a very long time since they saw each other. Picard is aware that his last remote med-scan had a few technical problems, but nothing that required a personal visit. Picard had requested a "A certificate of interstellar service" in order to allow him to serve on a Federation ship. He was expecting it to be a formality. Moritz has come to give some bad news. Picard's med-scans came in above Starfleet's standard in every category. "For a relic you are in excellent shape" he says "Just that little anomaly in the parietal lobe". Referring to the problem we heard about in "All Good Things". Things have moved on and there's a problem. It could be a number of syndromes. A few of them are treatable but all end the same way. Picard still wants to be certified fit for service and the doctor reluctantly agrees.
We're now at Starfleet headquarters and there's a holographic representation of the Enterprise-A projected high up in the atrium. This switches over to an image of a Galaxy class ship soon after Picard enters. A young ensign is manning the reception desk. Picard says he has a meeting with the CIC. The ensign asks what his name is. Picard is taken aback but eventually says "Picard, P-I-C-A-R-D, Jean-Luc". The ensign eventually catches on and says "It's nice to see you up and around again, Admiral", and hands him a visitor's badge. Picard is not impressed and leaves for his meeting.
We're now in the CIC office, it appears to be the same office as in "Star Trek, 2009". Picard enters and Admiral Clancy is frosty from the start. Picard lays out the story that he thinks that Bruce Maddox is producing androids using a neuron from Data. He requests a command of a small ship and a crew to go and track him down. Clancy is furious with him, she accuses him of hubris and takes him to task over is appearance on the news in the first episode. Picard agrees he shouldn't have talked in public. She says that the Romulans were our enemies and that we tried to help them as long as we could, but, that even before the attack on Mars, 14 Federation species were threatening to leave if they went ahead with the rescue. Picard says "The Federation does not get to decide if a species lives or dies.". Clancy says "Yes, we do. We absolutely do." We didn't have enough ships left and they had to make tough decisions, but the great Captain Picard didn't like his orders. Picard says "I was standing up for the Federation, for what it represents, for what it should still represent." Clancy flips out at this point and it dissolves into a shouting match. Picard's request is denied and she tells him to go home!.
We are now at the Artifact. Soji is getting ready for work, putting on protective clothing. She stops to help a new person, Doctor Kunamadéstifee, get into the gear. She started yesterday, but should have been here six months ago. The Romulan Free State revoked her permit when she was only half way there. Soji says that they don't know how damaged the Cube is, or if they do know they're not saying. They attend the safety briefing together and we learn that they are guests of the "Borg Artifact Research Institute". Doctor Kunamadéstifee asks Soji if she is working with the xBs, the ex-Borg. She says that it's a little more hands on than that. Soji introduces Narak to Doctor Kunamadéstifee, telling him she's from the Trill Polytech. He tells her that the Institute is keen for her work to bear fruit. She asks how likely it is for the Collective to re-establish a link to the Borg, is it wise to release them? Soji says that they are not releasing them, they're reclaiming them. Doctor Kunamadéstifee leaves to go to her work. Narek asks to join Soji for her procedure. She says he would have to ask the Director. Under his breath, Narek mutters "Actually, I don't".
Back at the Chateau, Agnes is visiting, Picard offers her a choice of drink, she requests Earl Grey. He says "I knew there was something about you.". She's gathered all the information about Bruce Maddox she could find, most of it had been removed when he disappeared. She was thinking of the painting, as Bruce and Data were friends, after a fashion, she thinks it makes sense to base them after one of Data's pictures. Picard agrees. She did some digging into Dahj. She was accepted at Daystrom, she was a perfect candidate, perhaps too perfect. Picard asks if her credentials were bogus. She says it was more insidious than that. She checked with Regulus. Their records show she was enrolled there, and her grade transcripts are on file, but there was no record of her ever attending the Academy. Agnes thinks that Dahj's entire history was built at once, about three years ago. Picard asks by whom and suggests Maddox, as he certainly had the ability. But neither know why he would do it. Agnes says that people in the synthetic community tend to get a little "Secrety-planny". Agnes is upset she never got to meet Dahj. Such a marvellous thing and the Romulans just wiped her away. Speculating on what she was at Daystrom for, Agnes doesn't think that that is the most relevant question. She thinks the question is what about the other one. Where is she and what does she want.
Back at the Artifact. We are in a medical lab and there's a Borg on the table. They're continuing a procedure on patient 8923/3. They remove the arm implant and place it in a bag. Soji is monitoring and cataloguing the procedure, while a Romulan doctor, Doctor Kabath, is performing the work. She prepares to remove the eye implant. She keeps referring to the patient as Nameless. Soji objects but Kabath says that Nameless is a name. Soji says "You're free now." to the unconscious ex-Borg. Narek is watching with interest.
Back at the Chateau Picard removes his communicator badge from a drawer, goes outside and puts it on. Tapping it he says "Raffi, it's Jean-Luc. Please don't hang up. I need your help. I need a ship."
Cut to an office and a Vulcan in a Starfleet uniform is sitting at a desk, who will turn out to be Commodore Oh director of Starfleet security, she's talking to the CIC on a video link. She says "All these years, the hermit of La Barre. Now suddenly he's inescapable". Admiral Clancy is complaining that he's going on about Advanced Synthetics and Bruce Maddox. Mention of Bruce certainly attracts the attention of Oh, she wasn't aware he was still alive. Oh's attention is also piqued by talk of Romulan anti synth operations on earth. Oh is told to look into Picard's allegations. The call ends and Oh calls for Lieutenant Rizzo to come to her office.
Back at Chateau Picard, Laris is angry at Picard for wanting to go back into space. He says that the daughter of the man he's been mourning for two decades comes to him for help and is assassinated in front of him by a Romulan death squad, who will then go and find the sister and do the same to her. He, thus, has an obligation to go and help. Laris says that nobody but the Tal Shiar could protect him from the Tal Shiar. Zhaban agrees saying that he can't go without them. Laris doesn't want any of them to go. Since Picard knows about the androids, they will have to eliminate him. Picard says he must go. He plans to get a ship and find Bruce Maddox, wherever he is. He is adamant that he has to do this. He insists that Zhaban and Laris stay and look after the grapes, it's less than a month to the harvest. Zhaban says Picard needs help and protection. He suggests Riker, Worf and La Forge. Picard says no, they would do it in a heartbeat but that's exactly why he can't ask them. He doesn't want them putting themselves at risk for him. Zhaban says that, in that case, he needs someone who hates him and has nothing to lose. Picard says he's already made the call. Zhaban looks confused.
Back in Oh's office. Rizzo enters and Oh tells her of Picard's information. He referred to the Zhat Vash by name. He wanted a ship to find Bruce Maddox. She says it's unexpected, a dirty word in their line of work. Rizzo asks if Oh wants her to take care of Picard. Oh says her zeal and passion are commendable but are nearly overbalanced by her impatience. They need to stay undercover so I won't take care of him impatiently. Oh thinks Clancy has discouraged him adequately, and if the need arises she will take care of Picard. She wants Rizzo to stay on mission and thinks she has made a shambles of the operation here. Her team destroyed the thing before it could be interrogated and nearly blew our cover. She says they have one more opportunity and not to squander it. Rizzo says she's put her best man on it. Oh says she worries about that one, he often does unexpected things and she doesn't want any more surprises. Rizzo says she will vouch for him with her life. Oh agrees, and says she should do it herself.
We're in a new location and a taxi-shuttle is landing. The areas is immediately familiar to any Star Trek fan. It is the Vasquez Rocks, scene of many a TOS episode. Picard exits the taxi and starts to walk. A large modern cabin is set at the foot of the rocks. Picard is carrying wine. A human female comes out of the building holding a pistol. She's telling Picard to leave. He just wants to talk. She claims there's nothing he could say that she would want to hear. Picard turns to leave and says "Secret Romulan Assassins are operating on Earth.". She stops him and asks if the wine is the '86. He confirms it is. She agrees to talk.
On the Artifact. Narek is looking over some data. Rizzo appears, she's a hologram but you can't tell. He asks how life in Starfleet is, saying her disguise is ridiculous especially the round ears. She tells him to shut up. She asks if he has made any progress, he claims he has. It's slow but he's still confident that his approach, which she approved, is still the right one. If he doesn't get progress soon she threatens to revoke the approval. Rizzo wants to know if he has found the nest, and if Soji has given up the location of her other abominations. We discover that Rizzo is Narek's brother. If he hasn't made progress by the time she gets there she will have to try her approach.
OK, now we've had two whole episodes and our main characters have yet to leave Earth. The intrigue level has started to rise but things are still proceeding very slowly. We have discovered that the head of Starfleet security is either a Romulan or is in league with them. Rizzo is a Romulan and they are all part of the Zhat Vash, who hate androids.