Tomorrow we finally get to stream Star Trek: Picard. It’s been a long time since Sir Patrick Stewart has graced our screens as Jean-Luc Picard, and while we know you’re just as excited as we are for the new series, we also understand if some of the details of Picard’s past and relevant adventures are fuzzy … or if, like us, you’ve spent several years pretending the movie Star Trek: Nemesis never happened.
Well, we’re here to help with a primer directive of everything you need to know going into Picard.
Picard and the Borg
Now, I have tragically not seen any episodes of Picard yet, but I’ve watched the trailers carefully, as well as the casting announcements, so I know that the series will involve, in some way, Picard’s greatest and most complicated enemy: The Borg.
The Borg are a collective that assimilates any lifeform the come in contact with. They’re relentless and emotionless and nearly impossible to defeat and Captain Picard and the Enterprise D faced them multiple times throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation. In their first encounter, Picard was actually taken by the Borg and assimilated to become a mouthpiece for the collective, Locutus of Borg. It was not a good experience for him.
Picard was saved, of course, but he remained traumatized by the event for the rest of the series and it always colored his interactions with the Borg, good and bad. (Most of them were bad). One of the Borg he met during that time was a drone that had been separated from the collective: Hugh
We need to talk about Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco) because we know he’ll show up in Picard. He was saved from the Borg by the efforts of the Enterprise crew in the stellar episode “I, Borg,” where he found his individuality again. Picard at first wanted to use him as a weapon to destroy the Borg but came around to seeing him as a person. Hugh set a template that would later be followed on another Star Trek series, Voyager, when it came to the Borg. The former Borg of which we speak is Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), who will also feature in Picard.
The idea that the Borg and the fight against them represent are powerful: fighting for individuality, hope, and resistance. The spark of humanity, the idea that humans can be better as we are and learn and grow without sacrificing what makes us human—that’s Star Trek at its core and it’s what Jean Luc Picard represented throughout all of The Next Generation until its end.
Where the series ended
Star Trek: The Next Generation ended its seven-season, 178-episode run with the episode “All Good Things…” in May of 1994. The episode saw Picard, courtesy of Q (John DeLancie) skipping through time to visit his past and future to stop a wave of “anti-time” that almost took out the entire universe. Or did it? It was all part of a test from the god-like Q to see if humanity could be better and Picard passed. It was a beautiful episode about endings and beginnings and a fitting cap to an amazing series.
The episode provided a glimpse at a possible future set at the same time as we now find Picard, which is why it’s worth revisiting.
In the future of “All Good Things…” we see that Captain Picard has married and divorced Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) at some point, lives on his family vineyard in France (as he does in Picard) but also developed “Irumodic syndrome” which caused dementia—but that was a future that never happened. We know that for sure because it included Data (Brent Spiner). And Data died in the last TNG movie.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation Films
There were four TNG films after the series wrapped: Generations (1994), First Contact (1996), Insurection (1998) Nemesis (2002). Two of these movies, Generations and First Contact, are really excellent and dig deep into what drives Picard as a character and a captain. In Generations, he loses his brother and nephew – the former owners of the Picard family vineyard in Le Barre, France, and we see how much he longed for a family he never really got to have. this could definitely be an element in Picard.
In First Contact, we saw how the Borg were Moby Dick to Picard’s Ahab—and how he had to let go of that anger and vengeance. Insurrection was…a movie that happened. Let’s move on. But Nemesis, though also a very bad movie, was huge for Picard the person, and possibly for Picard the series because he confronted a clone of himself —played by a very young Tom Hardy—who he had to eventually kill. It was silly but maybe the clone thing will figure into Picard. The end of Nemesis certainly will.
But aside from Picard, the other emotional center of these films was Data, the android who slowly over the course of the series and films, became more and more human, learned how to feel and love. Data was a huge part of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in Nemesis, he sacrificed his life to save Picard and others and died. Yes, there was a sort of convenient back-up Data by the name of B-4 (an early prototype) that they found … but that wasn’t our Data.
We know in Picard, that Jean-Luc is dreaming of the original Data, and it’s worth asking if his death still haunts the former Captain almost two decades later. Data, of course, won’t be the only Next Generation player we’ll see. Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes are on hand as a married Troi and Riker, with Frakes also doing some directing, but because of Nemesis, it’s seeing Data that will have the real emotional punch.
Also, Picard has a dog. Have we mentioned that?
How will all of Picard’s past figure in with this new story and crew in Picard? Is the cloning or the Borg or Data or Picard’s lack of a family related to this girl that’s seeking him out in the trailer? We’ll start to know tomorrow!
Star Trek: Picard premieres January 23 on CBS: All Access.
(featured image: Trae Patton/CBS )
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