The much-awaited Star Trek: Picard series arrived Thursday, 23 January 2020 with the premiere episode Remembrance. The opening sequence, with Irving Berlin’s classic song Blue Skies playing, to the episode sees is a montage of space scenes. The relevance of the song, given that it is the one that Data (Brent Spiner) sang as his wedding gift to William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), soon becomes apparent. Riker and Troi were married in the final instalment of the Star Trek: The Next Generation film series. One of the few things I liked about the film, not that it wasn’t completely horrid, is Tom Hardy’s performance as Shinzon. I digress…
When the USS Enterprise-D comes into view, we soon find ourselves in Ten Forward and Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is seated at a table with Data playing their usual Tuesday night game of poker. I am assuming it was Tuesday night because that was the night Riker would host his poker games for the Enterprise senior staff. The final moments of Star Trek: The Next Generation, during the episode All Good Things, saw the senior staff enjoying a game of poker in Riker’s quarters. It is therefore fitting that Star Trek: Picard would see the title character playing poker with Data.
Even though a trailer for Star Trek Picard showed parts of the poker game, the film editor responsible for creating the trailer masterfully edited to lead us up the proverbial garden path. When Data plays his hand, with him having played five queens, we realise there is something significantly off about the scene. Picard notices Mars and is wondering how the Enterprise-D could be in orbit of the red planet. Disaster soon strikes and there are explosions seen on the planet’s surface. The Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, the place where the Enterprise-D was constructed, is destroyed. Noting it isn’t right, as Picard looks at Data, the scene transitions to his home in France. Picard awakens from a dream.
Within only three minutes of the first episode, there is much to unpack. There are obvious nods to both Star Trek: The Next Generation and to the film Star Trek: Nemesis. As we already know, Picard named his dog Number One. Picard was frequently heard calling and refereeing to Riker as Number One during Star Trek: The Next Generation’s seven-season run.
When the episode introduces Dahj (Isa Briones), she is with her boyfriend (David Carzell) in Greater Boston. Enjoying a glass of wine, they are heard discussing Dahj’s new position as a Fellow at the Daystrom Institute. The Daystrom Institute has been part of Star Trek lore since Star Trek: The Original Series. She will be a Fellow in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Consciousness. Based on his comment about being able to sit with her in the cafeteria, it is intimated that he either attends or is a Fellow at the same academic institution.
The tone of the scene quickly changes when assailants beam into the apartment, kill Dahj’s boyfriend and try to capture her. The voice pattern is indicative of Romulan, but that supposition is entirely based on what we know of the language from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dahj doesn’t understand what it is they want from her. With some serious combat skills, Dahj takes down her attackers. Impressive is possibly an understatement. After the attack, Dahj sees an image of Picard in her mind. What could this mean?
The Picard Vineyard looks the same as it did back when we saw it in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Family. This is the episode where we see Picard return home to France after his horrific experience with the Borg in the episodes The Best of Both Worlds and The Best of Both Worlds: Part II.
Assisting Picard on his vineyard are Romulans he rescued from Romulus before its destruction. Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane) understands how much Picard risked to save them and they are eternally grateful. When asked if he had been experiencing bad dreams, Picard notes that the dreams are lovely. It’s the waking up he is beginning to resent. With myself having lovely dreams, I understand where Picard is coming from with how he expressed himself.
In an obvious departure from the tea he used to drink when he was the captain of both the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E, for some reason possibly only known to himself, Picard has started drinking decaffeinated Earl Grey. I guess getting old has its disadvantages.
With Picard not having given interviews, it’s surprising that he has granted a news crew access to his home. The way Picard is dressed for the interview makes me think of Patrick Stewart’s characterisation of Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1999 television film A Christmas Carol. The attire the actor wore for both characters is very dignified.
The interview begins with a montage of images taken from various Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Picard has apparently never agreed to an interview before. Picard led the largest armada in Star Fleet history to Romulus to save millions of lives. Whilst Star Fleet didn’t intend to get involved with, Picard talked them into it. As we saw numerous times throughout his captaincy of the Enterprise-D, Picard can be very persuasive.
Even though Zhaban got the interviewer (Merrin Dungey) to agree to not ask about why it was Picard left Star Fleet, she went there with her questions. With interviewers such as the one Picard dealt with, one should think twice about asking them to not address the one question on their minds.
When the Romulans asked for assistance, Picard believed that Star Fleet had a profound duty to assist as many individuals as possible relocate to another home outside the blast radius. Their sun was going to go supernova and there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it.
Spock (Leonard Nimoy) tried to prevent the supernova from occurring. In his failed attempt, Spock created an alternate timeline which saw the destruction of Vulcan. If you are wondering what I’m referencing, take a look at the events depicted in the 2009 film Star Trek.
The interviewer compares Picard’s armada to the pyramids. Picard accurately states that Dunkirk is a more appropriate analogy. Interestingly, as Picard observes toward the end of the interview, the person he’s speaking with has no idea what he was talking about when he said Dunkirk.
Whilst Picard was trying to save lives, a group of rogue synthetics killed millions of people on Mars and destroyed the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. Since the destruction of the fleet yards, there has been a ban on synthetic lifeforms.
The interviewer takes a moment to ask about Data. Picard never lost faith in him. It was because of Data that Picard is alive. He sacrificed himself to save the then captain of the Enterprise-E. The smugness in the interviewer’s facial expression suggests a complete disinterest in anything Picard is telling her. Some of the broadcast interview, as viewed by Dahj, is seen on a screen in an undisclosed place. It could be Greater Boston. There is nothing to suggest that she had left the city prior to her showing up at Picard’s vineyard.
“There is no legacy so rich as honesty,” Picard quotes Shakespeare to Number One. The quote is taken from Act III, Scene iii of William Shakespeare’s play All’s Well That Ends Well. It is here that we see Dahj arrive at the vineyard. Dahj tells Picard about what happened at her boyfriend’s apartment. She states that she kept seeing Picard in her mind. Everything inside of her told her that she is safe with Picard.
Picard notes the unusual necklace Dahj is wearing and asks to see it. Dahj believes she knows Picard. There is a dream sequence of Data painting a portrait of a woman standing close to the ocean. This is a painting that Data painted when he served aboard the Enterprise-D. It is one of two paintings Data created. He gifted one to Picard. The other one can be found in a Star Fleet Archive. When Picard awakens, he finds the painting hanging above his mantlepiece in his study.
Not wanting to bring trouble to Picard’s doorstep, during the early hours of the morning, Dahj leaves the vineyard. Number One is asleep on her bed when Laris entered the room (off-camera). Laris reports what she discovered to Picard.
Picard goes to a Star Fleet Archive. When he enters his private archival room, we find many things from his days aboard the Enterprise-D. Do you recall the banner from Captain Picard Day? That is there in the room. There is also a model of the USS Stargazer. The Stargazer is the first starship that Picard ever commanded. There is also a model of the captain’s yacht. The captain’s yacht is a vessel that was seen in the 1998 film Star Trek: Insurrection.
When Picard sees the painting in the archive, he sees where he first saw Dahj’s face. It was in one of Data’s paintings. How is this possible? Data painted this portrait three decades earlier. The painting is titled “Daughter.” Is it possible for Dahj to be Data’s daughter?
Dahj calls her mother (Sumalee Montano) for assistance. During their brief conversation, without Dahj mentioning the name Picard, her mother knows where she had been and tells her to return to his vineyard. Dahj wants to know how it is that she knows she was with Picard. She lies. Dahj picks up on the lie but does push the issue any further. The mother tells her daughter to close her eyes and focus on Picard. Dahj manages to find him.
Picard is surprised that Dahj managed to find him. He tells Dahj about Data and how he sacrificed his life to save him. The former Enterprise captain tells Dahj about the paintings he did of her three decades earlier. She doesn’t initially get the significance of what it is Picard is telling her. He is trying to convey to her that she’s an android.
Dahj maintains that she was born in Seattle and that she’s not an android. If Dahj is who he thinks she is, she’s Data’s daughter. Before they can further their conversation, Dahj senses danger approaching. With phaser fire around them, Dahj takes down several attackers before being killed.
Back at the vineyard, Picard awakens to find Laris and Zhaban tending to his needs. Based on what Picard’s friend tells him, it seems Star Fleet is trying to cover up what it is that happened to him. When Laris references the security feed, there is only Picard in it. There is no sign of Dahj. Laris believes Picard asks too much of himself.
Picard travels to the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa, Japan. He speaks with Dr Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) about whether it’s possible to make an android out of flesh and blood. Agnes initially laughs because she thinks Picard is joking with her. He really isn’t joking. He’s deadly serious. Picard tells her that he had tea with a synthetic that appeared human inside and out. The androids that destroyed Mars came from the lab at the Daystrom Institute. Agnes tells Picard they are now only allowed to operate theoretically.
The android the Enterprise-E crew found in the film Star Trek: Nemesis, B-4, is stored in a drawer at the Daystrom Institute. B-4 is an inferior copy of Data. Data tried to download the content of his neural net into B-4 before his destruction. It didn’t work. Ultimately, much of what Data was is lost. No one has ever been able to recreate the science that was used to create Data.
Agnes references Bruce Maddox (Brian Brophy). In the Star Trek: The Next Generation second season episode The Measure of a Man, Maddox was the commander that wanted to transfer Data to his command so that he could disassemble the android and recreate Dr Noonien Soong’s (Brent Spiner) groundbreaking positronic work. Maddox came very close to winning his court case against Data’s right to choose. When Star Fleet banned synthetics, Maddox disappeared. It crushed his research. He had such high hopes of recreating Data.
When Picard shows Agnes the necklace from his tea-drinking companion, she momentarily struggles for words. She tells him that she wished he had visited the institute on her day off because she wouldn’t have had to have this conversation with him. Agnes tells Picard that it’s a symbol for fractal neuronic cloning. It’s a radical idea Maddox tried to forward in his work. Maddox believed that Data’s entire positronic code could be reconstituted from a single neuron. It is here that Picard discovers that the synthetics Agnes is talking about are created in pairs. Somewhere out there in the universe is a twin of Dahj.
The scene transitions to a Romulan Reclamation Site. A Romulan bird of prey is seen entering the hanger bay. Narek (Harry Treadaway) approaches Dr Soji Asher (Isa Briones) and speaks to her about the work she has been doing onboard the vessel. Soji is the twin Picard is looking for. Narek notes the necklace she is wearing. It is the same as the one her father made for her sister.
As the camera zooms backwards away from Narek and Soji, more and more of the sip is revealed. It’s a Borg cube and no, they’re not Swedish!