Jean-Luc Picard is back, and the premiere was outstanding.
Star Trek Picard 1.1: “Remembrance” Teleplay by Akiva Goldsman and James Duff, Directed by Hanelle Culpepper
It is 2399, 20 years since the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. In the intervening years, there was a supernova that destroyed the Romulan civilization (as seen in 2009’s Star Trek film). Picard was leading the rescue armada, but it all went to hell when a group of “Synths”, Androids, go rogue and devastate the planet Mars, killing tens of thousands. In the wake of this, Starfleet withdraws from helping the Romulans, leaving them to die. Picard refuses to be a part of this, a betrayal of Federation morality, and resigns in protest.
Years later, a young woman named Dahj is attacked in her Boston apartment. Mid-fight, something triggers and she can suddenly overpower and defeat her assailants with superhuman agility. She then has a vision of Jean-Luc Picard, realizing that he can help her. Picard has retired to his family vineyard in France where he is living with two Romulan refugees, Zhaban and Laris (whom we met in Picard: Countdown issue 2). Dahj shows up at the vineyard, seeking help. After being welcomed, she realizes that she is endangering Picard. She leaves the next morning.
Meeting Dahj triggers another dream for Jean-Luc, this time of Data painting a portrait of a woman. Upon awaking, he remembers that he has that painting hanging on his wall. It was painted by Data, over 30 years prior. He knows that there is another portrait in the series and it is located in his archive at Starfleet headquarters. He goes there and realizes that the woman in the painting is Dahj, in perfect detail. The name of the painting is “Daughter”. Picard realizes that, somehow, Dahj is a human-like android and possibly Data’s daughter. He reconnects with her, and tells her suspicions. Before they can act on this knowledge, the assassins show up. They are revealed to be Romulans. In the fight, Dahj is brutally killed.
Dahj’s death reignites Picard’s passion and he goes the the Daystrom Institute, home of Starfleet’s defunct android research. After the attack on Mars by the Synths, all artificial life forms, aside from Holograms, are banned from existing. He meets Dr. Jurati who is at first skeptical of Picard’s claims. Upon looking at a necklace, belonging to Dahj, Jurati realizes that Picard is telling the truth. She tells him that before androids were banned, she and Dr Maddox were working on human-like androids using some sort of positronic cloning. The had a theory that this cloning could lead to the ressurection of Data. All that would be needed was a single neuron from his positronic network. They reason that Dahj was created using this method, and actually WAS Data’s daughter. Only Dr Maddox , now missing, could have pulled it off. Jurati then reveals that Dahj would not be the only one. The android cloning process creates two androids: twins. Picard now has a mission: find out who killed Dahj and rescue her sister, who is no doubt in danger as well.
The episode ends on a Romulan reclamation project. Dahj’s sister is working there, disassembling a BORG CUBE. Romulans using Borg tech?! Awesome and very bad news for their enemies
Patrick Stewart returns as Picard, and the man hasn’t lost a step. This is a very different Picard from the man we knew 20 years ago. He has lost his way, is full of regrets. This episode is a call to action which allows Stewart to go through all manner of emotion. I was always a Kirk guy, but even I have to admit Picard was the best Captain. Seeing him again is a true joy. I also liked meeting the new “Number One”, his dog.
Isa Briones plays Dahj, as well as her sister Soji. Dahj, while we knew her, was an interesting character. Intelligent, but incredibly stressed. Before we can really soak in the character she is taken from us. It is quite a shocking moment, not realizing that there is a twin. I look forward to meeting Soji as we go forward.
The great Alison Pill plays Dr Agnes Jurati. Pill is a fantastic actress, loved her on the newsroom, who will no doubt bring a lot to the role.
Orla Brady and Jamie McShane are Laris and Zhaban, the Romulan vinters/Tal’Shiar agents who Picard rescued from the supernova. I am not sure how active they will be in the action of the story, but I appreciated meeting them in the comic before this episode.
Brent Spiner is back as Data, in dream form. The open of these two characters playing poker was wonderful. They did not miss a beat. As a plot point of this show was Dr Maddox attempting to ressurect Data using this new neuronic cloning technique, I can’t help but wonder if we are heading towards a situation where Data is brought back to life, but looking like Brent Spiner, a human android. If his end, sacrificing himself for his friends, can’t be the end of him, this would be the PERFECT completion to Data’s story. After decades of trying to be more human, he actually becomes one. Wow.
Dr Maddox is mentioned quite a bit, but never appears. He was played by Brian Bophy in “The Measure of a Man”, one of the best early season TNG episodes. While Data is the twins’ “father”, I imagine that Maddox was their “dad”. If the character is still alive, I’d love to see Bophy return.
On May 23rd, 1994, Star Trek: The Next Generation ended with Captain Picard sitting at the poker table with Data, and crew, as the camera pulls away from the Enterprise-D as it flies through space. On January 23rd, 2020, Star Trek: Picard opens with us panning towards the Enterprise-D, as it flies through space, eventually settling on Picard playing poker with Data, sans crew. Beautiful. I knew from this opening shot that they had made an excellent show.
I’m not sure what else there is to say. They nailed it. Literally from the first shot of the series, they nailed it. I literally cannot wait to see where this show takes us. Count me in for the long haul.