Star Trek’s Biggest Traitor Just Returned In The Most Painful Way

This week's episode of Star Trek: Picard sees the return of Michelle Forbes as the Bajoran defector Ro Laren.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

star trek ro laren

“Imposters,” the fifth episode of Star Trek: Picards third and final season, sees the return of Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren, Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s recurring Bajoran Starfleet officer who defects to join the Maquis in TNG‘s penultimate episode. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there’s any chance we’ll be seeing more of her in the franchise. Toward the end of “Imposters,” the villains back Ro into a corner and she sacrifices herself for the other heroes.

Star Trek hasn’t seen a canonical Ro Laren appearance since “Preemptive Strike,” when her undercover work to infiltrate the Maquis leads her to leave Starfleet and join the doomed cause. In “Imposters” we learn she eventually turned herself in to Starfleet — presumably before the Dominion eradicated the Maquis — and was eventually allowed to rejoin. When she reunites with Picard and Riker aboard the Titan, she’s working for Starfleet Intelligence, and later turns out to be the same Intelligence officer giving Worf and Raffi their orders.

We’re led to suspect this isn’t Ro but a Changeling infiltrator, but an emotional exchange between Ro and Picard proves otherwise. Picard is still furious at Ro for turning her back on Starfleet, while the Bajoran is still heartbroken by her former captain not understanding her need to join the Maquis. Rather than a Changeling, Ro is actually one of the few who has been sensing something wrong in Starfleet for months and working in the shadows to stop the worst from happening.

Star Trek: Picard shows us Ro Laren isn’t a Changeling, but unfortunately the same can’t be said of the security officers who come with her to the Titan from the U.S.S. Intrepid. On the way back, the pair plant a bomb on her shuttle as well as a transporter inhibitor before making their escape. Rather than try to save herself, Ro steers her shuttle toward the Intrepid in the hopes of crippling the ship before it can attack the Titan.

star trek ro laren
Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan and Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren in “Ensign Ro” – Star Trek: The Next Generation, S5 E3

Though Michelle Forbes made her first Star Trek: The Next Generation appearance the previous season in a different role, Season 5’s “Ensign Ro” marked her debut as Ro Laren — a rebellious and disgraced Bajoran officer who Picard recruits to help him track down terrorists. Forbes enjoyed a recurring role for the rest of the series, appearing five more times in Season 5 and once each in Seasons 6 and 7.

The folks behind the camera at Star Trek actually wanted Ro Laren, as opposed to Nana Visitor’s Kira Nerys, to be Avery Brooks‘ second-in-command on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Forbes passed, however, because she wanted to focus more on her movie career. The year before TNG ended, she made a big splash alongside David Duchovny, Juliette Lewis, and Brad Pitt in the thriller Kalifornia.

If you haven’t seen Ro’s Star Trek return yet, you can stream the new episode of Star Trek: Picard now on Paramount+.