Star Trek: Picard S01E01 Episode Review – Explained
At thI was never really a big fan of Star Trek the Next Generation but in this latest Picard episode review we find a continuation of the saga – and is terrific! If you are like me and you remember watching some of the shows (20+ years ago!!) but can’t remember all the references – boy there are a lot of them and some seem to be important – then this article is review specially for you.
I’ll explain as much as I can from the info that my wife told me (a bit of a Trekkie), gossip at work and research on the internet and some interesting bits I remember myself. Hopefully you will find it useful Feel free to leave comments in the Picard Thread in the Sci Fi Forum.
Just so we are clear, this article contains a shedload of spoilers! Don’t read on if you want to be surprised. Oh, and by the way, Discovery is set approximately 150 years before Picard. It’s important to note because of the nanotech and AI troubles in this series. It seems as though they are continuing the concerns about AI and supertech wreaking havoc when it goes wrong (references to the catastrophe that happened on Mars 14 years previous to the start of Picard).
A Bit of Background to the Series to Help Set the Scene
It’s a very long time since we have seen a Star Trek Next Generation TV episode (i.e. a new episode with Jean Luc in it). The series originally aired from September 28, 1987, to May 23, 1994. It spanned 178 episodes over seven seasons. It’s been 17 years since we have seen Jean Luc Picard which was in the film Star Trek Nemesis. The Nemesis film wasn’t very good but this series follows on from it and in many cases makes direct references.
It seems that the writers aren’t missing out anything nor are they fudging stuff to make their story fit – goodness sake! there would be riots in the streets! From what I’ve seen and heard, this is accurate to the timeline and saga as a whole. The anal retentives, the Trekkies and even the sceptics have all given good reviews of this. The negative reviews seem to have come from the usual suspects who wouldn’t know one end of a space time continuum from another.
So, briefly, the start of Picard had three story plots that are relevant to the series. They concerned Commander Data, another concerns The Borg and the other storyline references the demise of the Romulans.
In the 2009 movie, Star Trek, the Romulan homeworld exploded. Millions of Romulans died and apparently, so we hear in the first Picard show, Starfleet were not as willing as they should have been to help save survivors. This angered and disappointed Picard who left the service soon after. In the 2009 film Star Trek, Nero’s ship (Nero was the baddie Romulan) was very Borg like in its construction and technology – I think, frankly that’s probably a bit of a push but I guess we’ll see.
Picard behaved admirably regarding the Romulans. So much so that he actually has two that work at his vineyard. They are seemingly quite close. Many Romulans survived the catastrophic destruction of their homeworld and are scattered around the galaxy.
In the final Voyager Series, Janeway battled the Cyborg Queen and triumphed. This, in effect, ended the Borg and presumably, many of the Borg Cubes are now redundant or derelict. A Borg Cube is a monster of a spaceship that is virtually unstoppable. Very few battles have been won against the Borg by brute force and a Borg Cube has a huge defensive capability.
At the end of the first episode of Picard, we saw the Romulans re-building a derelict Borg Cube at a place called a Romulan Reclamation Site.
Commander Data Background
Data died in the Star Trek film, Nemesis. He sacrificed himself to help save Jean Luc Picard. There was a hope however, that Data had managed to save himself by downloading part of his system into a lesser copy called B4. B4 had given us a little hope that things would be ok by singing Blue Skies. This was a song that Data had sung at Commander Riker and Dianna Troy’s wedding.
It is also the song playing during the opening sequence in the first Picard episode. Nothing is stated but there are a number of references to possibilities that Data may, at some point, be revived.
Star Trek Picard – Episode Review
The opening few frames are quite significant and not particularly noted by viewers. We listen to an old song by Irving Berlin called “Blue Skies”. We zoom into the Enterprise and a room where Picard is playing poker with Data. “Blue Skies” is the song that Data sang at Deanna Troy and Commander Riker’s wedding in the film Nemesis (the film where Data sacrificed himself for his friends).
“Why are you stalling?” Data asks Picard as he waits for him to take his turn. The scene outside the spaceship changes dramatically as the nostalgia we feel going up in flames. The scene is of the flaming destruction of much of Mars by the synthetic humans that went rogue 14 years earlier.
The dream turns into a nightmare and Picard awakes on his vineyard in France, Chateaux Picard.
Picard Episode Review: Greater Boston Activation
The next scene is where we meet Dahj. There was a lot of speculation from fans of the saga on the internet after watching the trailers. We wondered how the Dahj role would pan out, how she would be played. Nobody could have guessed – the writers did a great job.
The young lady is curled up relaxing with her boyfriend. They are discussing how she has just been accepted to study Synthetics at at Daystrom (Institute in Okinawa). Suddenly a group of assassins break into her apartment and immediately kill her boyfriend. Dahj (played by Isa Briones) is very distressed and frankly so are we! The masked assassins talk about Dahj not being ‘activated’ yet.
They talk of forcibly activating her and when she is faced with certain injury she… activates. Suddenly she is easily able to beat and subdue her attackers and escape.
After the attack, Dahj sees a fleeting image of Picard. It seems to be part of her activation.
I honestly thought that this was the weakest part of the show. Some fancy graphics but didn’t seem very good and the theme music was a bit wishy washy.
Picard Episode Review: Picards Interview of Remembrance
Picard changes and goes downstairs to be greeted by two of his staff, both Romulans (called Laris and Zhaban). More like friends that staff, they impart advice which Picard acknowledges and considers. They discuss the preparations for an interview by the press and Picard is nervous. Laris tells Picard that the interviewer has promised not to talk about the Romulan supernova.
This particular reference ties the episode into the J.J. Abrahams film of 2009. This is a day of remembrance for the Romulan catastrophe but it is also one of conflicting emotions for many others. Sure enough, the interviewer pointedly discussed the Romulan supernova and challenges Picard about his objection to Starfleet’s handling of the disaster.
Picard believed that they behaved deplorably. 900 million Romulans were displaced and needed to be relocated. When the interviewer emphasised that they were Romulan lives, Picard replied that they were not saving Romulan lives, they were simply saving lives.
Much of the interview was fascinating as it quickly brought up up to speed with the Star Trek timeline and status of Picard, Starfleet and political sensitivities. We quickly learn that Picard is troubled, he is disenfranchised with Starfleet and no longer with them, troubled by the past and he misses his friend Data terribly.
Picard Episode Review: Why Picard is not in Starfleet Anymore
The reason that Picard is now living in France and not part of Starfleet anymore (and no longer an Admiral) was the synthetic lifeform incident that happened 14 years earlier. As the Starfleet armada was navigating past the Planitia Shipyard and the labs on Mars, the synthetic lifeforms rebelled (we didn’t learn why), they hacked the planets defences and destroyed the armada killing over 90,000 people. As a result, there was a ban imposed on synthetic life and this ultimately was the last straw for Picard. Soon after, he left Starfleet.
When discussing how Starfleet had changes he pointed out that although he believed in duty, the people he worked for no longer supported the direction he was going and “Starfleet slunk from it’s duties.” Picard was becoming increasingly angry by the questions from the interviewer and leaves the interview. Before going though, he launches a barrage of accusations at the interviewer indicating that she simply waves her hand at the camera and things fall into place – war isn’t like that she is a stranger to history and doesn’t understand.
This was a great scene for old man Picard. On the one hand we totally feel for him and on the other he shows how vulnerable he is by looking backwards and not focusing on the future….. And then it all changes…… Dahj saw Picard from the TV interview and heads off to see him.
Picard Episode Review: Dahj and Picard Meet at the Chateaux
At the chateaux, Picard is reminiscing in the sun as Dahj arrives. She tentatively approaches him and tells him her story. Picard is sympathetic and intrigued by her story and then she explains, “Something inside of me knew how to move and fight somehow. It was like lightning seeking the ground.” Picard sees her sincerity and agrees to help her.
We all relaxed, ah, a young and old generation Star Trek story. We all thought we had it figured out. Their relationship would blossom into a fun and interesting father daughter sci fi saga. She tells him, “Everything inside of me says I’m safe with you.”
But Picard needs to understand why her face is sort of familiar and why she trusts him. Most importantly, he is intrigued at the possible link to data. Then he remembers. He travels to a storage unit in the city and examines a painting he has that he acquired from Data. It was painted 30 years earlier and shows Dahj’s face. It is marked Item 227.67, and is entitled, ‘Daughter’.
Picard Episode Review: The Dahj Demise
Dahj later finds Picard in San Francisco and she is worried and concerned about how unreal her circumstances have become. Picard on the other hand is excited to see her. He tells her that she is most certainly real and, “If I am right, that means you are the daughter of a man who was all meaning, all courage. Be like him.”
It was a warm and moving conversation and again we mentally relaxed. Two minutes later is was completely different! Picard was attacked by Romulan assassins that materialised from nowhere and Dahj came to the rescue.
She competently fought them and just as she was beginning to get the better of them, a Romulan commits suicide by spitting a disintegrating substance at her and a Romulan weapon explodes near her as she begins to melt away.
We were all shocked and I remember being quite upset. I’d just got to like the character and was feeling very sympathetic. After all the hype of the Dahj character from the trailers, to see her leave the show after only 30 minutes of the first episode was disappointing.
Picard Episode Review: Back to the Lab
Picard renews his determination to find out what is going on and heads off to understand what happened to the synthetic development research work that was based at the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa.
There he meets the lovely Dr. Agnes Jurati (played by Alison Pill) and she explains that all research seems to be halted.
She shows Picard the pieces of B-4m, a robot that was made in Data’s image but doesn’t work quite as well.
She explains that Dr. Bruce Maddox’s work encouraged Dr. Jurati to willingly leave Starfleet, but when the lab was closed, he became dejected. When Data died because of a loss of neurons from his positronic brain, their work all but dried up. There was no stomach to create another Data in such a harsh climate towards synthetics and doing so would probably be illegal
However, Dahj had left a significant piece of jewelry behind with Picard. A necklace. When Dr. Agnes sees this, she tells Picard what the shape (a pair of interlocking circles) means. It apparently represents a fractal for neuronic cloning — meaning one single positronic neuron could multiply and the essence of Data would be become alive or be recovered. Yeah I know, that was a bit far fetched even for me! It’s like saying you can recover a beautiful work work of art with only one pixel.
And then another bombshell. Apparently, positronic robots were created in pairs!
We next see a scene with the lovely Dr. Soji Asha, working with Romulans. It’ Dahj but different – clearly her sister. The outpost is not identified as hostile or an enemy of the Federation or particularly defensive in nature, but it does look busy. Dr. Soji is joined by a pleasantly spoken individual who just looks like a baddie. He has a british accent and the obligatory crooked teeth. He is called Narek and people are giving only 2 to 1 against him being a bad guy.
That Final Scene
The final scene is when we zoom out of the Romulan Reclamation area…. it’s a Borg Cube! OMFG!
Wadda great ending! And by the way. CBS have already renewed it for a second season. I guess they like the show as much as we do!
Star Trek: Picard will release new episodes on CBS All Access in the US on Thursdays, on CTV Sci-Fi channel in Canada on Thursdays, and on Amazon Prime elsewhere on Fridays.
I’d rate this a huge 9.3 out of 10 for sheer shock value.
I never thought Star Trek would surprise me again. It’s really good!
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This Picard Episode Review is copyright Tony FAwl and not for reproduction without permission.
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