Star Trek: Picard - 9 Key Things To Know To Understand What's Going On
The last time we saw Captain Jean-Luc Picard before the start of CBS All Access's latest series in the franchise, Star Trek: Picard, was in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, which came out way back in 2002. Before that and three other movies, there was Star Trek: The Next Generation, which ran for seven seasons and ended in 1994. That's a whole lot of material about Jean-Luc Picard to know, and a long time to remember it. Even though it tries to explain some things, Star Trek: Picard's first episode is full of references to TNG history from the show and movies, and picking up story threads begun years earlier.
Luckily, you don't have to rewatch all of Star Trek: The Next Generation and its movies to understand what's going on in "Remembrance," the first episode of Picard--because we've done it for you. Here's a quick rundown of all the Star Trek backstory that goes into setting up Picard's story that you might not remember.
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Star Trek: Picard News and Features
1. The Romulans
The Federation has been in various degrees of conflict with the Romulans for quite a long time. The Romulan Star Empire was a recurring threat throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation and occasionally in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well. War with the Romulans was also the threat in Star Trek: Nemesis, the last of the TNG movies. In that movie, it was revealed the Romulans had created a clone of Captain Picard in hopes of infiltrating the Federation--but the clone, Shinzon, wound up taking over the Empire and attempting to destroy the Federation instead. A few rogue Romulan military leaders allied with Picard and the Enterprise crew to stop Shinzon, circumventing the destruction of Earth and preventing war between the two powers. The Romulans also have a secret, scary, KGB-like spying operation known as the Tal Shiar that has agents all over the galaxy.
2. But Then Romulus Blew Up
A few years later, a supernova threatened to destroy Romulus, the Romulans' home planet (which was covered in JJ Abrams' 2009 Star Trek movie). The Romulans reached out to the Federation for help evacuating their world, and after some convincing by then-Admiral Picard, the plan was to build a rescue armada that could save the Romulan people. That rescue never happened, however. Instead, a group of rogue synthetics (basically worker robots) attacked Mars and its Utopia Planitia shipyard where the armada was being constructed. It was destroyed, and the Federation decided not to help the Romulans. Their planet was destroyed, along with a huge number of Romulans.
3. What Are Synths?
The definition of "synth" isn't super clear yet. They appear to be Data-like robots that aren't as sophisticated as Data was--essentially, they're just machines that look like people, not actual lifeforms. It sounds like synths were used as laborers. A group of them went "rogue" on Mars, destroying not just Utopia Planitia, but the entire planet and its colony--as noted during Picard's interview, Mars "is still on fire today." We're not sure why the synths did what they did, but the result is that the Federation has banned all creation of artificial and synthetic life.
4. Why Did Picard Quit Starfleet?
We don't have all the answers on that score yet, but Picard gives a bit of insight during his interview. After its armada was destroyed in the attack on Mars, the Federation decided not to go forward with the rescue mission to save the Romulans. Picard fought that decision, because he believes that all life is important, even the life of an enemy. When the Federation still wasn't swayed to help the Romulans, Picard apparently retired from his position as admiral and returned to his family home in France.
5. Data And Picard
Other than his maniacal brother, Lore, Data was the only sentient android known to exist--meaning that while he was a machine, he was also considered alive. Picard and Data developed a close friendship during their time serving together on the Enterprise. Data helped save Picard when he was assimilated by the Borg, and Picard, in turn, saved Data from the Borg Queen during the events of the movie Star Trek: First Contact.
Picard also argued on Data's behalf during a legal hearing brought by Bruce Maddox (the same Maddox Dr. Agnes Jurati mentions during the premiere episode of Star Trek: Picard), a Starfleet scientist who wanted to disassemble Data and study him to try to replicate his technology. The hearing was meant to determine if Data was Starfleet's property or actually a person. Picard successfully argued that Data was a person and not property, and while Maddox lost, he gained a respect for Data and the two continued to correspond over the years as Maddox continued his studies. Here's even more Data info to catch you up and a list of Data episodes you should check out, since it seems like he'll be a big deal throughout Picard.
6. Data Had A Daughter Once
During The Next Generation, Data attempted to create another android like himself, using his own brain as a roadmap. Data named his android daughter Lal, and proceeded to try to raise her to fit in with the Enterprise crew. Starfleet eventually wanted to separate Lal from Data to study her, but before that could happen, Lal's android brain broke down and she effectively died. Nobody else has been able to replicate the android technology that made Data possible even to this day--except, maybe, for Bruce Maddox.
7. So Is Data Dead?
Yup. Data's final mission was in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. During that movie, Data sacrificed himself to save Picard and destroy Shinzon's ship, saving Earth and the Federation as well. The ship exploded with Data still onboard. Clearly, Picard is still haunted by the loss of his friend.
8. Wasn't That A Disassembled Data At The Daystrom Institute?
No. What you saw there was B-4, Data's prototypical "brother." Data was built by a cyberneticist called Noonien Soong, who also built two other androids before Data: B-4, the first android who is similar to Data but has a much more limited mental capacity, and Lore, a more human take on Data's design who was capable of emotions. Lore was basically Data's evil twin and was eventually permanently dismantled. The Enterprise discovered B-4 in Nemesis (he was part of Shinzon's plan to lure Picard and kill him), and Data attempted to transfer his memories into the other android to help him become sentient. Apparently that process didn't work--and B-4 has been disassembled and studied in the meantime.
9. What's Up With The Borg?
The final shot of the first episode of Picard reveals that the "Romulan Reclamation Site" is actually a ravaged Borg cube ship. If you're not super familiar, the Borg are a race of cybernetic beings that combine organic beings with technology, in an endless pursuit of becoming "perfect." When they encounter other races, they usually conquer and assimilate them, forcibly incorporating those races' genetics and technology into the Borg race. Here's a big rundown on everything you need to know about the Borg, their history, and Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine.
Suffice it to say the Borg have attempted to conquer the Federation on more than one occasion, but while the battles have been devastating, the Borg hasn't succeeded, largely thanks to the Enterprise and its crew.
Nowadays, the Borg are a seriously diminished threat. They popped up several times in Star Trek: Voyager, where we saw them fighting a losing war against a race they referred to as Species 8472. That war devastated the Collective, and other events that involved Voyager also helped some drones to break free of the Borg Collective and start a resistance from within. At the end of the series, Voyager dealt another serious blow to the Borg by introducing a virus into the Collective and blowing up one of the Borg's "transwarp hubs." The Borg Queen was killed (again) in that explosion.
We're not sure what the state of the Borg is in the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, but it seems like one of the greatest threats to the Federation is still dealing with those major setbacks--at least for now.
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