Aptly titled “Remembrance,” Episode 1 of Star Trek: Picard was everything I hoped for and more. The new episode was a beautiful homage to Data (I found myself getting tear-eyed at some points) and marked a powerful return for my favorite character, Jean-Luc Picard. I couldn’t have asked for more, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. This is a review of Star Trek: Picard Episode 1, so it will have major spoilers.
The synopsis for this new episode reads: “At the end of the 24th century, and 14 years after his retirement from Starfleet, Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) is living a quiet life on his vineyard, Chateau Picard. When he is sought out by a mysterious young woman, Dahj (Isa Briones), in need of his help, he soon realizes she may have personal connections to his own past.”
The episode began with a beautiful look at the Enterprise-D. That in itself was enough to give me chills, knowing what was about to come. But Picard’s interactions with Data helped me know this was going to tug at my heart from minute one. Data sacrificed his life for so many people and he was Picard’s true friend. Being without him has obviously been haunting Picard for a long time.
Moving from that scene to the beautiful Chateau Picard in France was a great connection to Picard’s history. In All Good Things, Picard was back in a winery too. Sure, that was an alternative future that won’t be happening. But the choice of where Picard has retired to was absolute perfection and the cinematography is serene, peaceful, and beautiful. A perfect place for Picard to be.
The introduction of Dahj showed us that this Star Trek is going to be a lot grittier than The Next Generation was. Immediately, Dahj is thrust into a fight-for-her-life situation that she doesn’t understand. Who is she? Why can she be “activated”? And why do these strangers (whom we later learn are Romulans) care so much about her?
The storyline involving the Romulan supernova, the synths, and the refugees that the Federation rejected fit in perfectly with what’s going on in today’s society, but not in such an “in-your-face” way that people might feel the show had become too political. When Picard insists these aren’t just Romulan lives but lives and the Federation has forgotten that distinction, it really hit home. “I was not prepared to be a spectator,” Picard later says.
I also loved the callbacks to The Next Generation. When Picard visits the Starfleet Archives, there were so many great Easter eggs to TNG. I pointed some of them out in a trailer story back in July when that NYCC trailer was released. One of those was the Captain Picard Day Banner.
If you recall, Captain Picard Day happened every year on the USS Enterprise-D for the schoolchildren who were on the ship. The children made paintings and models that Picard judged himself. It’s the same banner.
It’s attention to detail like this that truly makes Picard stand out. This isn’t Game of Thrones, where we’re forgetting character arcs and motivations from just a season or two earlier. There’s a lot of loving care and detail in every scene in Picard.
On a side note, the actress in the Archives scene (pictured below) looked familiar to me, and then I remembered she’s Maya Eshet, who played Lommie on Nightflyers. According to the bio Syfy provided before the series started: “Eshet started working as an actor at the early age of nine, recording voiceovers for cartoons. Her recent feature films include: To The Bone, which premiered at Sundance, Flower, Keep Watching and Dead Women Walking, premiering at Tribeca. Recent TV credits include a recurring role on Teen Wolf, Love, Man Seeking Woman, Kroll Show and the webisodes Scandal: Gladiators Wanted.”
Her inclusion was a nice touch, reminding us that we are indeed in the future, beyond where The Next Generation left off.
Picard is immediately drawn to help Dahj because he feels some kind of a connection to her. When we later learn that it’s because she may have been created from Data’s positronic brain, everything fell into place for me. It’s a beautiful story. Data once tried to create his own daughter, but the experiment failed. Now Maddox’s work has birthed a new child for Data. Perhaps his work was based on the continuing dialogue that Data kept with Maddox despite in later TNG episodes. Data told Maddox to keep moving forward on his work, despite the fact that Maddox once wanted Data to be disassembled for parts.
We were told that “fractal neuronic cloning” was used to create Dahj from a neuron of Data’s positronic brain (perhaps one that Data gave to Maddox for the process before he died?) The process created two, so one of Data’s children is still out there.
Then at the very end, we were introduced to a Romulan Reclamation Site that just happens to be a captured Borg cube. The Romulans hate synths. When the synths attacked Mars, it caused the Federation to abandon its refugee program with the Romulans. I’m not sure what the connection is there, but I’m sure this will be revealed in time.
The episode left me with a lot of questions that I hope are explored. Aside from the obvious (like why the Romulans have a Borg cube), I’d love to know why no one is trying to use Lore’s positronic brain to create new androids. Wasn’t Lore dismantled? Sure, he’s corrupt, but wouldn’t his brain hold a lot of good information for creating new androids?
And are we going to see Dr. Crusher at some point?
As the episode concluded, I reflected back on Picard. I love his character already. In TNG, the show sometimes skipped over the emotional repercussions of all the trauma the crew dealt with. (I mean, if I thought an omnipotent being could screw up my life at any moment, I’d be freaking out and suspicious all the time!) But here, they’re digging deep into Picard’s emotional state and how he’s moving forward. He has to deal with a life of uncertainty that is now culminating into nightmares about the friend he lost. This is a touching, heartfelt look at how realistically his history is affecting him today, and how he’s pushing on regardless, still pursuing the desire to help others and defend the defenseless.
And let us not forget: Data died because of the Romulans (and Shinzon.) Despite this, Picard is now the Romulans’ fiercest defender.
This new series will be 10 episodes long and has been described as a 10-hour movie. I’m excited to see what’s next, because if this is just the first 1/10 of a movie, we’re in for a wonderful treat.