This is what we’ve all been waiting for – for a year and a half. And it’s finally here: Star Trek: Picard…
As “Blue Skies” plays, we see the USS Enterprise-D flying through a nebula. Inside, Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart), in civilian clothing, and Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), in a Nemesis-era uniform, play a game of poker. The two chat, Picard trying to prolong the game, and Data eventually reveals his hand – 5 Queen of Hearts cards. Suddenly we see Mars out outside, and multiple explosions on the surface. As one of said explosions engulfs the Enterprise, Picard wakes up at his home in LaBarre, France – greeted by his pibble, Number One – and looks out over the vineyards.
On the other side of the planet, in Boston, Dahj (Isa Briones) and her Xahean boyfriend are celebrating her recent acceptance to the Daystrom Institute, where she’ll be a fellow in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Consciousness. As he looks through the replicator menu, three masked (hooded? helmeted?) assassins transport into the room, killing him, and attacking Dahj. After using some sort of new tech to confirm her identity, they begin asking “Where are you from? Where are the rest of you?” With Dahj unable to provide a better answer than “Seattle,” the assassins put a bag over her head, but that’s when things change. Dahj “activates” and fights off her attackers with skill and precision, all while still unable to see. She removes the hood – and the tech – to see four dead bodies in her apartment, including her boyfriend, and then has a vision of Jean-Luc Picard.
And now it’s time for our first look at the Picard main title sequence. Visually, I find them in the same style as the Disco titles, but musically, I get a very DS9/VOY feel. The music is more contemplative and soft than the adventurous, exciting TNG theme and, from what we know, I think that’s just the right tone for this show. But what really gets me is the nod to the TNG theme at the very end. I may have teared up the first time I heard it. And all of the times after that. But, back to the story…
JLP returns from his morning walk with Number One, greeted by Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane), two Romulans who now appear to be working at the vineyard, who tell him to get some breakfast before his big interview. It seems that our beloved captain has become a hermit, and has never before granted an interview. It’s the 10th anniversary of the Romulan Supernova, and Picard headed the resettlement and relief mission, commanding the rescue armanda to relocate over 900 million Romulan citizens. As the interview progress, Picard becomes more and more uncomfortable rehashing these events. Because the discussion inevitably turns of the attack on Mars by “rogue synthetics,” which destroyed the rescue fleet, and resulted in a ban on synthetic life – a decision that Picard clearly disagrees with. Our interviewer (Merrin Dungey), decides to make it personal, by bringing Data into the conversation. And of course, although the Federation News Network has agreed not to ask about Picard’s separation from Starfleet, that’s exactly what she does next. And Picard replies, “Because it was no longer Starfleet!”
With the floodgates open, Picard takes Starfleet to task – live on 24th Century television – for retreating, banning a form of life, abandoning those it had promised to help, and abandoning its own principles. He then takes his interviewer to task, accusing her simply being a spectator: “You’re a stranger to history, you’re a stranger to war; You just wave your hand and it all goes away. Well, it’s not so easy for those who died, and it’s not so easy for those who were left behind.” And he walks out. But not before Dahj, walking down a rainy street, sees the broadcast.
Some unknown amount of time later, Picard’s sitting in his vineyard enjoying some wine when Number One is startled by a stranger. It’s Dahj, asking “Do you know me?” And, oddly, Picard isn’t sure. She tells him her story, and explains that somehow, she knows she’ll be safe with him.
Back inside, Laris heals Dahj’s wounds and Picard makes note of her necklace – which looks like a Venn Diagram – so you know that’s going to be important. Dahj confesses to feeling like a stranger to herself, but Picard assures her that’s just part of the human condition. But no, this is something more. So is her recognition of him – it’s not because he’s famous, not because of his lectures – she knows him. And he thinks she might be right.
In the morning, Picard looks out over the vineyard and see’s Data working on a painting. It’s not the morning – it’s another dream. Data asks Picard (in late-TNG-era captain’s uniform) if he’d like to finish the painting, a painting of a faceless figure on a cliff, but Picard said he doesn’t know how. Data replies, “That is not true, sir” and Picard wakes, in his study, to look up the very same painting hanging behind his desk, and the figure is Dahj. Just then, Laris enters to tell him that Dahj is gone. They don’t know when she left or where she went. Picard tells her to let him know if Dahj turns up, but he has to go check on something.
Picard hops a shuttle to San Francisco, where he enters his vault at Starfleet Archives. Inside, we see several items from Picard’s past – a bat’leth, the Captain Picard Day banner, model ships – many of the items that were on display at SDCC and STLV this past summer. Picard accesses a painting, identical to the one in his study, and calls for the AI Index. The index explains that these paintings are a set – one is in the vault and one is in Picard’s home – and they both have Dahj’s face. Picard asks the AI to confirm that no one has been in the vault, even for servicing, and then asks for the painting’s title: “Daughter.”
Dahj is on the run again, and ducks into an alley to call her mom, because she doesn’t know where to go next and she doesn’t want to get anyone else hurt. Mom tells her that she has to “go back to Picard.” But Dahj didn’t mention him. The call glitches, and Mom says, “Of course you did!” Then continues to insist that she go back, and that Picard can help her.
Dahj is able to use the visual interface on her communicator/PADD/iPhone 5000 to track Picard to San Francisco, where she meets him on the plaza outside the Archives. As they talk, Dahj reveals that she did a WebMD search and thinks she has schizophrenia or suffered head trauma, but Picard waves that all way, and explains his theory – that she was created by Data. Dahj is distraught, even angry, at the thought that she might be an android – a “soulless murder machine.” Since the attack on Mars, the public opinion of synthetic life is… not great. But Picard believes that all the pieces fit together – her newfound abilities, the “lightning” in her brain – and that the attack on her in Boston was a “wake up call.” Picard convinces Dahj to go with him to the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa, just as more assassins appear in the plaza.
Picard and Dahj start running up stairs to a rooftop. Dahj pushes Picard behind a barrier, telling him to stay down, while she fights. She again displays incredible strength and agility, even leaping up several flights of stairs at once. One of the attackers has Romulan disruptor, and once Dahj has taken it, he lifts his visor to reveal Romulan traits before spitting acid on to her. Her skin starts to burn, she drops the disruptor, and is explodes, catching Picard in the blast.
Picard wakes at his home in France, being cared for by Laris and Zhaban. He tells them Dahj is dead, but they’re confused. The police didn’t mention her, and there was no one on the security cameras but Picard. Picard brings them up to speed, and decides that he owes it to Dahj to find out who killed her and what’s going on.
At the Daystrom Institute, Picard visits Dr. Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill) and cuts right to the chase: “You can tell me if it is possible to make a sentient android out of flesh and blood.” And she laughs in his face. Since the ban, not a chance. Before, it was the dream. But Picard insists that he recently had tea with one. Jurati takes him into their nearly-abandoned lab. No one wants to work in synthetic research anymore. Not a surprise, since the synths that attacked Mars were created in that lab, and now they’re only allowed to do theoretical work.
Before the ban on synthetic life, “no one was able to redevelop the science used to create Data;” even B-4 was just an inferior copy. Bruce Maddox was coming close “despite Data’s death,” but his disappeared after the ban. But Picard picked up on something Jurati said in passing – “despite Data’s death” – which implies that any new advanced synthetic life would have to be created from Data. Jurati confirms that if they had access to Data’s neural net, creating an organic host body would be the easy part.
Picard shows Dahj’s necklace to Dr. Jurati, and asks if it means anything to her. It’s not a Venn Diagram at all, but “a symbol for fractal neuronic cloning.” It’s a theory that all of Data’s programming – even his memories – could be recreated from just one positronic neuron. But they can’t be sure unless they examine Dahj. But Dahj is dead. Good thing that these clones are created in pairs…
Somewhere out in space, a ship arrives at a Romulan reclamation site and Narek (Harry Treadaway) introduces himself to Dr. Soji Asher, Dahj’s twin, wearing a twin fractal neuronic cloning necklace. The two seem to hit it off. Oh, and that reclamation site? Yeah, it’s a Borg cube.