With the first episode, Remembrance, the long-awaited return for this most beloved character, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is at last here. In the run-up to Star Trek: Picard, I read many articles on how The Next Generation saved Trek and made it a viable franchise. TNG was different from The Original Series in many, many ways. But most noticeable was its main character, portrayed by Sir Patrick Stewart. Twenty years after the franchise-killing film (Nemesis), he returns to the Trek Universe, this time, to lead it into a new golden era.
To learn more about the cast of Star Trek: Picard, check out this article.
The show begins with the song “Blue Skies,” sung by Bing Crosby, as the audience gazes at the beauty of open space — stars and nebulae. If you recall, it was this same song that Mr. Data (Brent Spiner) sang at Riker and Troi’s wedding at the start of Nemesis. Nice.
From there, we’re treated to a view of the beautiful Enterprise-D in space. The camera zooms through the window of Ten Forward to see Picard playing cards with Data. After some chit-chat, Picard is not trying to rush things.
NOTE: Is there any way that anyone could ever out-gamble Data? Remember the TNG episode “The Royale,” when Data must-win millions of dollars to win the release of himself, Riker, and Worf? The guy with the yellow eyes knows how to play cards.
“Why are you stalling, Captain?” asked Data.
“I don’t want the game to end,” said Picard. He then pushed all his chips to the center of the table and said that he was “all in.” Data laid his cards down — five queens.
Wait? FIVE QUEENS? Yup. Like I said before, you don’t mess with the yellow eyed-guy. Anyhow, just at that moment, Picard looked out the Enterprise’s window to see that they were in orbit over Mars, which appeared to be under attack.
Picard awoke in his bed at his family property in France. His pitbull, Number One, greeted him. He then woke and took a walk out to the vineyards, Chateau Picard. The sprayers and other equipment are all automated, which is interesting because GPS-controlled tractors are being implemented now. The sprayers are floating on Picard… ours certainly don’t.
We cut to Boston, to see a young woman (Isa Briones) and her male companion celebrating in an apartment. He was Xahean, and she was human, named Dahj. She told him that she’d been accepted into the Daystrom Institute (of Advanced Robotics). Suddenly, men beamed into the room and attacked. They tossed a knife into his chest and threw a hood over Dahj’s head. The attackers moved fast before she “activated.” She suddenly attacked and killed them all. In her panic, she saw a vision of Picard’s face.
Back in France, Number One picked up some kind of dead bird or something and ran it up to Picard. You know, to show it off. Picard knelt and spoke in French to the dog, and the “help” came as well. Picard lived on his acreage with two Romulan refugees, Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane), who help with daily tasks like cooking and cleaning. Picard complained about his lack of sleep, while Laris nagged him to get ready for his “interview.” As Zhaban and Picard talked in the kitchen, the TV (or projected hologram with news) showed remembrance ceremonies for the 14th anniversary of the Romulan Supernova.
When it was time for the interview, Picard was dressed in a suit and tie, and Zhaban assured Picard that the reporter would not ask questions about his separation from Starfleet. Laris encouraged Picard to remember the good things that he did in Starfleet.
“Be the captain they remember,” said Zhaban.
The FNN (News of the Galaxy) interview began with a quickie highlight of what Picard accomplished as captain of the Enterprise. Among the highlights were that he was a diplomat, humanitarian, and author of many historical books. The reporter (Merrin Dungey) said that this was Picard’s first interview since retiring from Starfleet.
“Raising awareness of the supernova’s lingering impact is work that I am extremely passionate about,” said Picard.
“Be the captain they remember,” said Zhaban.
She asked him a series of questions about when the Romulan’s sun was about to explode and its aftermath. Picard’s role in the crisis was to lead an armada of ships to Romulus to rescue the millions from certain death. The reporter pointed out that many Federation member planets objected to helping the “Federation’s oldest enemy.”
Picard said that there were 900 million lives at stake during this crisis. “Romulan lives,” said the interviewer.
“No, lives,” Picard corrected. The reporter compared the mission, with its 10,000 warp-capable ships to a logistical feat like the building of the pyramids. Picard countered to say that it was more like Dunkirk.
She then started asking questions about the attack on Mars by the synthetics (androids, like Data). Picard chafed, saying that this wasn’t supposed to be part of the interview. She detailed how the androids hacked the Martian defense system, destroyed the rescue fleet, and the Utopia Planitia Shipyard. Due to those attacks, the atmosphere of Mars is on fire, 14 years later. 92,143 lives were lost in the attack, and that led to the ban on synthetics.
Picard said the cause for why the synthetic attacked was still unknown, but the decision to ban them was a mistake. She asked if Picard ever lost faith in Data.
“Never,” said Picard. She then asked him why he left Starfleet, a decision that he’s never spoken about publically. He noted that it was “no longer Starfleet.” He said Starfleet withdrew from its duties when they called off the rescue of the Romulans.
Enraged, he ended the interview.
As he spoke, Dahj watched him on a screen in a street corner shop through the rain.
Back at his chateau, Picard and Number One relaxed in the shade. As quoted Shakespeare to his pooch, the woman who watched him on the street appeared in hooded, wearing all black. She told him that she and her boyfriend had been attacked, and there was something that told her to seek Jean-Luc Picard. She had very few details of who attacked her, but she did describe how she killed her attackers while wearing a bag over her head.
Picard brought her inside, gave her some Earl Gray, and tried to hash things out. The old captain asked to see her necklace, which had a silver pendant made of two circles intersecting each other. She said her father gave her the necklace.
She told him that her name was Dahj, and she said that she knew him somehow. Laris showed Dahj to her room for the night.
The next day, Picard woke to see Data under a tree by the vines, painting. Suddenly, Picard was in his uniform, walking toward Data. The android asked if Picard would like to finish the picture. Picard said that he did not know how. When Data offered him the paintbrush, Picard woke in his study.
Laris strode in and told Picard that Dahj left sometime in the night. Picard looked shocked, but then looked up to the painting over his mantle, which was the same one Data had been working on in the dream. It was a painting of Dahj.
Picard left suddenly en route to Starfleet Quantum Archives in San Francisco. Picard went into his private storage area (which was chock full of cool stuff, like his “Captain Picard Day” banner, a model of the U.S.S. Stargazer — his first command, a Klingon bat’ leth, a model of the captain’s “yacht” which he used in Star Trek: Insurrection, and more).
He opened up a drawer and pulled out another copy of the painting. He asked the digital assistant for details on the art. She told him that it was painted by Data, there were two copies, one here and one at his home, and that it was titled “Daughter.”
Later we see Dahj in an alley. She appeared to be on the run, and she contacted someone… her mother (Sumalee Montano). Dahj tells her mom that someone tried to kill her, but she was not sure whom. The mom told her to go back to Picard. Dajh pointed out that she hadn’t told her mom about Picard, but the mom insisted that she had talked about Picard. The mom then told Dahj to focus and to find Picard.
Dahj used the “phone” she had to jump through screen after holoscreen to learn the location of Jean-Luc. Her hands moved as fast as Data’s used to on the Enterprise.
She found him as he walked out of the archives, and told him that she can do new things, and could even hear conversations from far away. She thought she might have schizophrenia. Picard said she was not, and that she might be extraordinary.
He told her about Data and how Data sacrificed his life for Picard. He then explained how Data painted a picture of Dahj over 30 years ago. Picard started adding up all of her abilities and said that the attack woke up a “positronic alarm bell” within her.
She pushed back, citing all the memories of her childhood in Seattle. Picard said that she might have been lovingly and deliberately created. He told her that they would journey to the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa … she told him that she had been accepted as a research fellow at Daystrom.
As they were talking, Dahj suddenly stood and said that they had been found. She and Picard started to run. But poor 92-year-old Jean-Luc. He was slow.
The bad guys beamed in and started to fight with Dahj. She smashed the helmet off one, and Picard saw that he was a Romulan. Eventually, the Romulans in black beat her, as one of them spit something onto her. She burst into flames and exploded. Picard was thrown back from the blast.
NOTE: This fight scene was pretty darn cool. Dahj had some great moves, but the Romulans were slick as well. They looked like guys who just pulled up on Kawasaki cycles and had disruptors that emerged from their wrists.
Picard woke up back at home with Laris and Zhaban tending to him. Picard told them that Dahj was dead, buy Zhaban said the police didn’t mention anyone else. He explained that the assassins were Romulans and that Dahj was a synthetic. Picard said that he owed Dahj to find out who killed her and why. Laris said that was too much.
The admiral said that he’s been sitting for years nursing his “offended dignity,” and that he had just been waiting to die.
Picard traveled to Okinawa to visit Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), where he asked if it was possible to make a sentient android from flesh and blood. She said it was possible, but not for a thousand years.
“That makes it even more curious that recently I had tea with one,” said Picard.
Jurati showed him around the “Division of Advanced Synthetic Research” facility, which was mothballed. The androids that destroyed Mars were created there, but now no one makes “synths” anymore. She showed him the parts of B4 and ran through how Data tried to download his neural net into B4 before he perished (as seen in Star Trek: Nemesis). She noted that no one has been able to replicate the science that made Data so special.
Except for Bruce Maddox (whose backstory is detailed in the TNG episode, The Measure of a Man), who recruited Jurati out of Starfleet for this work. Maddox disappeared after the ban on synthetic life. Jurati said that any advanced synths would have to use Data’s neural net as a starting point. Even an organic “synthetic” would be possible.
Picard had Jurati examine the necklace worn by Dajh. She said it was a symbol representing “fractal neuronic cloning,” which was a theory of Maddox’s that supposed that Data’s memories could be reconstituted from a single positron neuron. This means that a part of Data could have been “alive” in Dahj.
Oh, and Jurati told Picard that one would make these androids in pairs.
“So there’s another one,” said Picard.
The audience is then treated to a ship in space, passing through a gateway on some space station, which captions tell us is the “Romulan Reclamation Site.” It is here that we see, for the first time (and with ominous music to accompany), the Romulan Narek (Harry Treadway). He greeted someone named “Dr. Soji Asha,” who is the twin sister of Dahj.
Narek flatters Asha by saying he’s read so much about her research and has a ton of questions. He then asks about her necklace, which is the same one as the one Dahj wore. Asha told Narek that her father made it for her, and a copy for her “twin.”
“So there’s another one,” said Picard.
He said that he had a brother who died last year. Narek then apologized for going on about his brother, saying that she fixed people all day, and the last thing she needed was to hear another sob story. She disagreed.
The camera pulled back to reveal that the Romulan Reclamation Site was a BORG CUBE! WOW!
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
What a great start to this new series, and a fresh look at the Star Trek Universe! It feels like a film that was chopped up into 45-minute bits. It’s brilliant and impressive. I hope that non-Trek people will give it a shot.
That being said, the episode brought up some crucial questions:
- Where is Bruce Maddox? Is he still a part of Starfleet? Is he even still alive?
- Who are those Romulan assassins? Who are they working for?
- How come the police didn’t see anything from Picard’s chase with the Romulans?
- Why did the synths attack Mars?
- How did the Romulans get a Borg cube?
- Why did Dahj see Picard’s face after killing the Romulans in Boston?
- Who is the person claiming to be Dahj’s mother? Is she a real person or a computer-generated image?
- Is an “android” created from flesh and blood still an android? How could Dahj have the powers and abilities she has and be made of the same stuff as you and I? Is something embedded in her cells that went unnoticed by medical exams?
Though the show brings back the second most-beloved captain in Trek history, I wonder how it can last. Picard – Season 2 has been announced already, but I wonder if this show will have a definite ending spot, like many other shows created since 2010. Rather than let ratings fade and quality die over six or seven seasons, they’ll have a series finale after two or three. We’ll see.
I could not have been any happier, though, with this first installment. Actually, one gripe — I wished that CBS All Access would have posted all ten episodes to binge at once. The questions above need answering!
RATING: 4 out of 5