This post contains spoilers for the third season of "Star Trek: Picard."

To offer a rundown on the events of "Star Trek: Picard" thus far:

Adm. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Capt. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) have secured passage on the U.S.S. Titan with the hopes of convincing its captain to fly out to the edge of Federation space on an unauthorized rescue mission. Just beyond the border, Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and her son Jack (Ed Speelers) are just barely avoiding capture by a mysterious assailant. The Titan, however, is commanded by one Capt. Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick), and he operates brusquely, directly, and entirely by the book. He refuses to leave Federation space, even if it is the legendary Picard and Riker asking.

The two old commanders manage to convince the Titan's first officer, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) to go behind her captain's back and take the ship to dangerous territory anyway. When they arrive, they find that Dr. Crusher and Jack have been engaged by a massive, terrifying warship called the Shrike captained by the villainous Vadic (Amanda Plummer). Jack, it seems, has a bounty on his head, and Vadic is not afraid to use her ship's overwhelmingly powerful arsenal to obliterate the Titan to get to him.

The conundrum, then, is thus: Picard, with Jack in his possession, is putting the Titan at risk. They are outside of their jurisdiction, Jack may be a criminal for all they know, and Capt. Shaw rightly points out that turning Jack over to Vadic will keep him and the hundreds on his crew safe. Vadic has proven herself to be powerful and cannot be taken in a firefight. Will Picard keep the crew of the Titan safe, or will he protect a criminal who, as far as he knows, will likely be turned over to some kind of authority?

The Shrike Problem

For Capt. Shaw, the ethical course is clear: Turn over Jack Crusher. Not a lot had been learned about him in the brief time — literally only hours — that Picard knew him. Audiences, however, saw that Jack plays on the edge of ethics. In a flashback, Jack gives a case of weapons to some rough-looking characters, but in exchange for access to a sick planet that he has the medicine to cure. Jack, of course, sees that curing people is a more immediate ethical need than the distribution of guns.

For viewers who agree with Jack, the character could be described as good. For viewers who object to his giving of weapons to violent-looking men, then he might be argued as bad. Overall, little is known about the character in general, and Picard only trusts Jack because of his association with Dr. Crusher, who is in a stasis coma and can't explain what the issue is.

As such, Capt. Shaw, as the one in charge of 500 lives, is 100% in the right for wanting to turn over Jack. Perhaps on a calmer "Star Trek" series, Capt. Shaw would have the time to investigate the man in his custody, but on "Picard," a bloodthirsty supervillain gives him mere hours to provide an answer. For Shaw, the answer is clear.

Picard, of course, senses something fishy, and is reluctant to play into Vadic's hands. Why would she be so willing to blow up an entire ship, murdering hundreds, just to apprehend one criminal? Is the bounty on Jack's head worth that much? Or could it be that some other, more insidious power is at work, and Jack has value to villains other than a payday?

The Truth Comes Out

Until that can be discovered, Picard refuses to negotiate. Which is a problem, because he is essentially putting Shaw, his crew, and his ship at risk without Shaw's consent.

The solution to this conundrum, perhaps unfortunately, is solved thanks to a personal connection. For the brief time Riker and Picard were in contact with Jack, Riker openly noticed that Jack … looks a lot like Picard. This is a tantalizing notion, as Picard and Dr. Crusher always displayed a quietly professional yet smoldering attraction for one another. There's a reason to believe that Jack is actually Picard's son.

Picard, then, takes command of the Titan at the moment he decides to acknowledge Jack as his progeny. He wouldn't necessarily take a risk for a random dangerous criminal, but he's certainly willing to protect a member of his own family. For Picard, the path becomes that much clearer. The ethical dilemma, however, would have been more interesting had Picard been required to go out on a limb for a stranger. Like in Akira Kurosawa's film "High and Low," a rich man is perfectly willing to pay ransom to retrieve his kidnapped child, but when he learns it's the chauffeur's child and not his own, he balks. Ethics are easier if you have a personal stake in the outcome.

More than anything, though, the conflict in "Picard" illustrates the ethical priorities of Picard in relation to Capt. Shaw. They both want to do the right thing, are both panicked about it, and both seem to have a clear answer. The dilemma is fun because, well, a viewer can easily sympathize with both sides.

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