Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Picard: The Romulans' Moles In Starfleet Explained

Star Trek: Picard has introduced Commodore Oh and Lieutenant Narissa Rizzo, two Romulan moles within Starfleet. The oldest enemies of the Federation, the Romulans have always been known for their secrecy. Until Star Trek: Picard, viewers had believed their darkest organization was the Tal Shiar, the infamous Romulan secret police. Now, though, Jean-Luc Picard has discovered an even worse menace; the Zhat Vash.

"Zhat Vash" is a Romulan term referring to the dead, "the only reliable keepers of secrets," and even the Tal Shiar generally consider them to be a myth. But they're very real, and apparently driven by a fanatical hatred of synthetic lifeforms and artificial intelligences, explaining why Romulan technological development is so inconsistent. They're active on Earth, where their agents were responsible for the assassination of Dahj, Data's "daughter." It's unclear how many field operatives they have, but they're surprisingly open in their activities.

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Star Trek: Picard episode 2 has revealed the scale of the Zhat Vash presence on Earth. It seems the Zhat Vash have even infiltrated Starfleet; at least two ranking Starfleet officers are secretly Romulan, presumably meaning there are more.

Commodore Oh & Lieutenant Rizzo, The Romulan Moles In Starfleet, Explained

Commodore Oh appears to be the ranking Zhat Vash officer in Starfleet. She seems to have concealed her true identity by pretending to be a Vulcan, taking advantage of the Romulans' ancestry; it's interesting to speculate how long she's been active, and whether she started out as part of a Romulan cell on Vulcan itself. Certainly Oh has been with the Federation long enough to rise through the ranks, and as a Commodore she'd be perfectly positioned to conceal Zhat Vash activity on Earth and in Federation space. Star Trek: Picard episode 2 implies she's the one calling the shots, the Machiavellian master-spy who coordinates Zhat Vash operations. She may well have another superior, though.

Lieutenant Rizzo and her brother Narek number among Commodore Oh's direct reports in the Zhat Vash, tasked with running specific ops in both Federation and Romulan space. Rizzo was the one in charge of capturing Dahj; the Zhat Vash intended to interrogate her in order to learn more about the synthetics. Unfortunately for Rizzo, her field agents bungled the mission, and they killed Dahj instead. They also unwittingly alerted Jean-Luc Picard to their presence.

How Does Rizzo Look Human?

Commodore Oh may be the puppet-master, but Lieutenant Rizzo is the puppet - and she's the one Picard will have to take on in the field. Unlike Oh, Rizzo seems to have undergone some sort of surgery in order to allow her to appear human. At the very least it's resulted in dramatic modification of her ears, but it probably goes a lot further; after all, Rizzo would risk exposure every time she traveled through a transporter, because her Romulan bio-patterns would be recorded. Rizzo's surgery may well parallel what was done to Voq/Ash Tyler in Star Trek: Discovery season 1, when the Klingon was subjected to brutal and traumatic experimentation in order to disguise himself as a human. Voq's entire skeletal structure was compressed, his internal organs were altered, and human DNA was grafted into his body. The experience was likely less traumatic for Rizzo - Romulans are closer to human in base physiology - but could have been just as unpleasant.

Rizzo's brother Narek has remained active in Romulan space, and is still clearly Romulan in appearance. That doesn't necessarily mean he too hasn't undergone surgery, though; he's surprisingly hot for a Romulan, physically attractive to human women, and that could be a result of surgery as well. If so, it would explain why Narek's go-to method for drawing information out of a woman is sex; it's what he's been trained to do.

Is Starfleet Working With The Romulans?

It's tempting to conclude that the Federation is secretly working with the Zhat Vash in Star Trek: Picard; after all, both organisations are opposed to the development of synthetic lifeforms, meaning they'd share a goal in this particular matter. That assumption is, however, probably incorrect; note the dramatic lengths the Zhat Vash are going to in order to conceal their activities and even their presence on Earth. Commodore Oh even calls out Lieutenant Rizzo on accidentally leaving the reflection of a disruptor blast on a metal post; that indicates just how clandestine all this really is.

Reinforcing this, although Fleet Admiral Kirsten Clancy told Commodore Oh of Picard's visit, she appears to have omitted key details. It's unclear whether this was through a lack of trust, a general sense of disinterest in the subject, or simply respect for the chain of command. Still, Admiral Clancy's reticence was ultimately meaningless in effect, because Commodore Oh knew everything anyway. It looks as though Commodore Oh has her superior's offices bugged.

What Do Oh, Rizzo & Narek Want?

The very existence of the Zhat Vash is a closely guarded secret, and even members of the Tal Shiar believe them to be a myth. As a result, it's difficult to guess at their agenda, let alone predict the lengths they will go to in order to achieve their goals. So far, the only real indication has been a comment from Picard's housekeeper Laris, herself a former member of the Tal Shiar. According to Laris, the Zhat Vash is driven by an obsessive hatred of synthetic lifeforms. This certainly fits with Star Trek: Picard, where they're hunting down Dahj and Soji with an almost religious zeal.

It's interesting to note that the modern Federation has banned the development of synthetics, a direct consequence of the synthetic uprising on Mars. Zhat Vash moles may well have helped push the Federation to this policy position; indeed, given Star Trek: Picard episode 2 hinted the synthetics had been hacked, it's possible the Zhat Vash themselves were responsible for the terrorist attacks on Mars. If this is the case, then their opposition to synthetics is more pronounced than their desire for the survival of the Romulan race. The Mars attack led to the Federation withdrawing from the galaxy, abandoning the Romulan Empire to destruction in a supernova.


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