Boldly Going

Happy Star Trek: Picard Day!

Marie Brownhill
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Marie's blog, Fan Collective Unimatrix 47.

If you’re new here, then be warned. I’m about to spoil the heck out of the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, so I highly recommend you watch that before you read the following. You proceed at your own risk.

Yes, I realize that this week’s post is going live a little bit later than usual, but by way of apology, I’m bringing you Picard shaped gifts because I had to find a few minutes to watch the first episode. Notably, the release of “Remembrance” does not follow the Star Trek: Discovery pattern of releasing in the evening, which is going to make Thursdays an exercise in personal restraint for some of us. Let’s get to it.

Remembrance” occurs some time after the attack on the Utopia Planitia shipyards that we saw in “Children of Mars” and on the anniversary of the supernova explosion that destroyed Romulus. An older, sadder Jean-Luc Picard, who has retired to his family estate in France, dreams of playing poker with Data. When he awakens, he goes about his day, accompanied by his pit bull dog named, appropriately enough, “Number One.” We also meet his Romulan housekeepers, Laris and Zhaban who prepare Picard to give the first interview after his separation from Starfleet, which goes predictably badly. Despite agreeing to Picard’s terms—that he will not discuss his separation from Starfleet—the interviewer presses him to discuss that very issue while also providing an update as to what happened on Romulus. Picard left the Enterprise to oversee rescue efforts, including the construction of a massive fleet to help the Romulan survivors when the devastating attack on the shipyards destroyed what would have that armada. In the wake of the terrorist attack by the “synthetics,” the Federation and Starfleet ceased rescue operations and turned their focus inward, prompting Picard’s enraged retirement.

Meanwhile, we flash to an apartment in which a young woman is celebrating her acceptance to the Daystrom Institute with her boyfriend when commandos suddenly appear, kill the boyfriend, and attempt to abduct her. However, out of nowhere, she discovers a strange ability to defend herself, killing her attackers, and prompting her to flee. Following a deep impulse to find Picard, she appears at his estate, and of course, Picard offers her his help and a room. The next morning, the woman, Dahj, disappears, but having dreamt that Data asked him to complete the painting Picard has on his wall, Picard heads to Starfleet Archives, where he discovers the other version of the painting which features Dahj quite prominently. The title of that painting is “Daughter.” Dahj meets up with him after talking to her mother, and more Romulan commandoes attack the pair, killing Dahj and injuring Picard. Picard’s next trip is to the Daystrom Institute where he meets Agnes Jurati to discuss whether a synthetic made from human tissue could be produced. The answer is complicated but ultimately yes with the addition of some of Data’s positronic nerve tissue, which would mean that Data is still alive on some quantum level. Jurati also informs him that these synthetics would be produced in pairs, as twins. We flash to another location in which we meet Soji, Dahj’s twin. Soji appears to know that she has a sister, and we meet Narek, another Romulan who lost his brother, likely in some way related to the events in “Children of Mars.” The camera pans out, and we discover that the location is a Borg Cube that has been repurposed by Romulans before the credits roll.

“Remembrance” is very much an intense episode, and it is very Picard-focused. As promised by the showrunners, Picard’s journey will be the driving force of the show, and the Picard we see here, as I mention above, is an older, sadder version of the captain we knew. There are glimpses of him—before becoming completely frustrated with his interviewer, we see the “Drumhead” Picard. He dodges the insinuations she tries to make until he becomes too angry to continue the interview. He does give us the reasons he left Starfleet, which is that he feels that Starfleet’s refusal to re-commit to the rescue operations constitutes a breach of its ethics and honor. Picard, being Picard, could not remain a part of an organization that so breached his principles. We also get a look into the very real grief he feels after Data’s sacrifice in Nemesis. No matter that Data’s death occurred two decades prior, Picard still cannot let go of his grief and perhaps a touch of survivor’s guilt. Thus, he seizes the prospect that Dahj is Data’s daughter as if it’s a lifeline or a way in which he can expiate some of that guilt. Her death triggers more of that guilt, but unlike the Picard we see in the episode’s opening, Picard now has a mission and a goal. He’s going to find Dahj’s twin sister and protect her where he failed with Dahj. Coming fresh off reviewing “Relics,” I can’t help but see similarities here between the two episodes.

That strikes me as a very Picard kind of moment, but overall, I’m very interested to see where they take this show because right now, Star Trek: Picard feels very much like it could have been named Star Trek: Bladerunner. I didn’t see any ziggurats necessarily, but the treatment of “synths” and the idea that a new type of synth could be living among us feels very, very familiar. I do not entirely understand why Dahj-type synths must be produced in pairs, and I hope the show explains it. Granted, that’s a nice nod to how many roles Spiner played in TNG: Data, Lore, B4, and Dr. Noonian Soong in addition to guaranteeing that Isa Briones will remain in the cast. I do feel that using Data as story-hook could be a bit like Discovery’s use of Spock, an attempt to encourage further involvement by the viewers. That said, over the course of Discovery’s season two (and once they finally get to stop searching for him), Spock’s inclusion becomes less a cynical grab and more a story driver. I feel fairly certain that will be the case here as well.

We also see the hints that the Federation has become less the utopia we believed it to be, which I believe will constitute a major theme of the season. The seeds for this were planed in “Children of Mars” in which there are hints of a potential breakdown of the cultural adherence to IDIC. The FNN journalist’s unsubtle implication that Federation resources should be better spent on Federation citizens reinforces this idea because it flies directly in the face of everything we know about the Federation to say nothing of the anti-intellectual spirit in which the Galactic Synth Non-Proliferation Treaty seems to be meant. I really look forward to seeing how that plays out because I happen to think we’re overdue to explore those concepts that we last saw in Deep Space Nine. (No, I am not counting the Section 31 Enterprise episodes.)

Visually, Picard looks fantastic. The integration of technology into his every day life builds off more modern design principles and even feels a bit like it could have been developed by MCU Tony Stark. I like the redesign of the Warbirds, but that said, the show is careful to pay homage its roots. When Picard goes into the archives, we get a chance to see everything from Worf’s Bat’leth to the Captain Picard Day banner from “The Pegasus.” All in all, I’m looking forward to seeing where the show takes us, and I can’t wait for next week’s installment.

Stray Thoughts from the Couch:

  1. I really enjoyed Granpa Picard, and I really hope to see realistic ideas of what Picard can do. Dahj being able to outrun him was a nice touch, and I can only imagine that will affect how the action sequences unfold.
  2. We also finally get a location for the Daystrom Institute; it’s in Okinawa, Japan. Invoking the name is a nice nod to TNG lore.
  3. Speaking of TNG lore, we hear about Bruce Maddox, whom you may remember from “Measure of a Man” and by reference in “Data’s Day.” His theories serve as the basis for the alleged construction of Dahj and Soji. I’ll be interested to see if they actually bring him back for the show. Apparently, Maddox did eventually achieve a level of knowledge that would enable him to build a version of Data’s brain.
  4. We also find out that Data’s attempt to transfer his essence into B-4 failed and that at some point someone disassembles B-4. I found that sequence vaguely discomforting. You might not.
  5. Lastly, the opening lines refer back to TNG’s final episode “All Good Things…,” and “Blue Skies,” the song from the opening credits is the same song that played at the close of Nemesis, which are also nice callbacks.

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