Star Trek Picard: 11 Theories About Data, The Borg, And More
It's nearly time to engage.
The buzz around Star Trek: Picard is running high. It will be Trek fans' first, in-depth look at a post-Voyager universe. It will debut on CBS All-Access in early 2020, with 10 one-hour episodes starring Patrick Stewart in his iconic role.
Picard is completely separate from J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek franchise, which takes place in an alternate "Kelvin" timeline apart from the majority of Trek media. Those Kelvin movies re-envisioned Star Trek as an action-adventure series, with straightforward ethical questions, less talking, and more explosions.
To Trek fans who found this too simplistic--and not in keeping with the comparative moral complexity of the television shows--Star Trek: Picard appears like it might be a "return to form." And there is no better person to re-establish Star Trek's hopeful vision of the future than Jean-Luc Picard, reprised by Stewart. It would be difficult to think of another television character as principled and morally clear as Picard, who sought to communicate with his enemies and only used violence as a last resort. He's not the only returning character, as we've also gotten confirmation that Brent Spiner (Data), Jonathan Frakes (Captain Riker), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine--the Borg will play a significant role), and Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) will appear.
Judging by the available footage, the new show will test Picard's resolve and moral code by confronting him with the obstacles and foes that have previously caused him to falter. Here are 11 fan theories about Star Trek: Picard, based on the footage that we've seen so far.
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1. Is Dahj a former Borg?
It's important to remember that Star Trek: Picard is science fiction; there is always a scientific (if sometimes far-fetched) explanation for whatever happens. So when a mysterious woman approaches Picard and says, "Everything inside of me says that I'm safe with you," this is not the result of something abstract like fate.
The current, most popular theory among Trek fans is that Dahj is a former Borg who has been severed from the collective. That would explain her innate connection with Picard (who himself was part of the Borg collective at one point); it makes sense that she would feel safe with another former Borg, especially one whose memories and knowledge she had direct, intimate access to.
2. Is Dahj the Borg Queen?
We see in the trailer that when Starfleet attempts to detain Dahj, she beats up two officers. We hear characters exclaiming, via voiceover, that she doesn't know how important she is and doesn't know how dangerous she is. We even hear someone shouting, "She is the end of all! She is the destroyer!"
This is not the type of apocalyptic talk that would surround one of countless Borg drones. So perhaps, Dahj has some type of relation to the only Borg who's been shown to have more power than the average drone: the Borg Queen.
The Borg Queen has persisted in Star Trek as a recurring character, despite being killed at least twice; her consciousness simply inhabits another body. Could Dahj be a surrogate body for the Queen or a clone of her? It would also reinforce Dahj's close bond with Picard. In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg Queen intended to take Locutus as her mate.
3. Starfleet is the secondary antagonist
A common recurring theme in every iteration of Star Trek is that the Starfleet admirals are nearly always corrupt, selfish, and obtuse. This gives the captain of each show a foil; if admirals were decent, reasonable people, we would never need Picard or Ben Sisko to step in and make the morally correct but difficult decision.
It seems, at least in the trailer, that once Starfleet discovers Dahj's importance, the organization turns on Picard. It's why Picard assembles a crew of ex-Starfleet officers and social misfits; the traditional channels he once relied upon have failed him.
4. The Romulans are mistreating Borg drones
In the 2009 Star Trek film, we learned that the Romulan home planet, Romulus, was consumed by a supernova, despite the intervention and efforts of Ambassador Spock. That, however, has apparently done little to change the Romulans' ruthless, pragmatic approach to space politics. Romulans are gonna Romulan.
There are several shots in the teaser that suggest that the Romulans are keeping Borg drones detained, experimenting on them, or both. We're shown a holding site, guarded by Romulans, and in the background, you can see what looks like Borg recharging stations in rows--the types common to Borg cubes in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
We also see shots of the Romulans performing some type of scientific experiment on a male Borg drone; he is partially naked in the prone position, and it seems that he's disconnected from his external attachments. The Romulans don't appear to be ridding his body of nanoprobes; he still has the mottled, grey appearance of an assimilated human.
We know that the Romulans are not above humanoid experimentation; after all, they cloned Picard without his knowledge, which led to the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.
5. The Nemesis timeline
In the same holding facility, we can also see the following text written on a prominent sign: “This facility has gone 5,843 days without an assimilation.”
Let's do some quick arithmetic: that means the facility has gone without an accidental Borg assimilation for a little over 16 years. Star Trek: Picard takes place in 2399. That means that the facility has been open since at least 2383. But it's important to remember that 2383 was the last time an accident took place. Likely, the facility been open and operational for longer than that.
Rewind four years more, to 2379, and this is when Star Trek: Nemesis took place. In that film, the Praetor of Romulus and the entire Romulan Imperial Senate were disintegrated by Shinzon (a DNA clone of Picard), who then took over the Romulan Empire.
Picard defeated Shinzon at the end of Nemesis, which probably led to more than a little political strife as the surviving Romulan elite jockeyed for power. It's entirely possible that the Romulan experiment in Star Trek Picard is an outgrowth of that unrest; they may have been secretly attempting to weaponize the Borg while making public gestures towards peace with the Federation. It also complicates Picard's role; the Romulans may blame him for what happened to their government, even though it was his clone who did it. There may even be Shinzon sympathizers who hate Picard for his role in Shinzon's death.
6. Is the Borg cube the prison?
We get a quick shot of a partially destroyed Borg cube; this may be the site of the Romulan prison facility. It is surrounded by Romulan Warbirds and is being reinforced and protected by shields. There would be no need for the Romulans to build recharge stations from scratch if they were already available via the Borg cube.
7. A quintessential Star Trek problem
And thus, if these theories are correct, we are left with a classic Star Trek moral dilemma. The Borg are considered one of the Federation's greatest enemies, and they are responsible for the deaths and assimilation of thousands of worlds. And yet, do they deserve certain basic rights that would be afforded any other living thing? Is the Romulans' callousness toward them acceptable? Even worse, does Starfleet know and turn a blind eye? It wouldn't be the first time that a Starfleet admiral was an amoral clod.
Picard is well-known for his protectiveness over all life. In Season 5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, he attempted to communicate with the Crystalline Entity, a non-verbal, massive creature that destroyed a Starfleet colony, even though it would have been many people's first instinct to destroy it immediately, before learning why. And he also had the opportunity to destroy the Borg by sending a drone back to the collective with a malware program to infect the collective. But Picard decided to decline that opportunity, to the anger and exasperation of his superiors.
If there's anyone who would take up for the humanity and dignity of his greatest enemy, it would be Picard, who always tries to do the right thing even when his decision is unpopular or difficult.
8. The Hugh / Seven of Nine connection
Both Hugh and Seven of Nine are notable for the same reason; they are former Borg drones who escaped the collective and have struggled (and succeeded) at asserting their individual identities. And since both of them are in the new show, it's probably significant and deliberate.
If the Borg subjects are being mistreated by the Romulans, are being unfairly detained, or are being experimented upon without their consent, Hugh and Seven of Nine are the living proof of a human rights violation. The original people clearly do still exist underneath the Borg technology, and they deserve empathy rather than indifference. This is especially true in Seven's case; she was assimilated when she was six years old but was still able to recover her humanity.
9. Is Data's consciousness in a different body?
Data appears in the final moments of the Picard trailer. But is this the real, physical Data, or is it someone else? Data's original body was apparently destroyed in an explosion at the end of Star Trek: Nemesis. So is this Data's consciousness in a new robot?
There two other Soong robots that look identical to Data: B-4 and Lore.
At the time of Star Trek: Nemesis, B-4 was simpler and less advanced than his brothers, but it's possible he's developed in the two decades since, especially since Data uploaded his core memories to B-4's positronic brain. But it's unlikely that Data would ever want to overtake B-4's individuality, since that would be immoral and contradictory to his oft-stated values.
Lore would be a better option. He was dismantled at the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation's Season 7, and Data could "borrow" Lore's body. It's not like Lore was going to be using it in the near future.
10. Is Data just a holodeck projection?
There's also some speculation that the Data we see at the end of the trailer is from a holodeck; he's still wearing a Nemesis-era uniform, and he still refers to Picard as Captain, which was true the last time Data was alive.
11. Recurring Vasquez Rocks
And lastly, an eagle-eyed Redditor noticed that the rock formation behind Picard in the teaser trailer closely resembled a rock formation in the Season 3 Star Trek: The Generation episode "Who Watches the Watchers." This suggests that we might see the Mintakan, a proto-Vulcan society that lived on Mintaka III. Perhaps Picard visits Liko again for advice, reflection, and insight into his current problems.