‘Star Trek’ Mystery: Why Guinan Not Knowing Picard Makes No Sense

Picard and Guinan

Paramount Picard and Guinan

The relationship between Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) has been going strong for seemingly hundreds of years. That is if you believe the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episodes, “Time’s Arrow.” That was when Picard and Guinan first met, and it was in the 19th Century.

It is a classic time-traveling episode of Trek, in which Mr. Data (Brent Spiner) learns that his head was somehow disconnected and buried in the past. Fans also got to see author Mark Twain interact with people from the future and realize that all is not as it seemed.


However, when Guinan (now played by actress Ito Aghayere) met Picard in 2024 (as seen in the episode “Watcher”), she did not seem to remember him at all. Episode 3, “Assimilation,” Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), figures out where Picard needs to go to meet the Watcher. Jurati got that information when she ‘merged minds’ with the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching).

That location ended up being a bar called 10 Forward. Fans will remember that 10 Forward is also the name of the bar located on the Starship Enterprise, where Guinan worked. When Guinan met Picard in this new, earthly 10 Forward, Picard immediately recognized Guinan, but she did not do the same.

‘I’ll See You in 500 Years, Picard’

"I'll see you in five hundred years, Picard." GuinanStar Trek The Next Generation Season 6 Time's Arrow: Part 22018-03-10T02:43:20Z

“I don’t know you, old man,” she said. He pleaded with her and said that they had a connection. She told him that she was leaving and gave her dog to a character named Dale (played by Brian Quinn of “Impractical Jokers” fame). Guinan told Picard that he should go as well. She suddenly fell ill, which Picard explained was due to someone tampering with the timeline. That someone is Q (John de Lancie). 

Guinan sensed changes in the timeline before. Most notably, in the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” 

Trek fans everywhere cried foul at this scene, wondering why Guinan did not recognize Picard. Thanks to reporting by Inverse’s Ryan Britt, fans can read precisely why Guinan did not know who the admiral was. 

Ito Aghayere as Guinan

Picard meets The Young Guinan – Star Trek Picard S02E042022-03-24T14:09:37Z

“This Guinan wouldn’t remember Picard because in this alternate timeline, the TNG episode “Time’s Arrow’ never happened,” said “Picard” co-showrunner Terry Matalas. 

“Because there was no Federation, those events did not play out the same,” Matalas told Britt in the interview. “No previous relationship exists. However, she still was likely traveling to Earth, and, as we know, she hung around a bit.” 

“So this Guinan is different,” Matalas said. “But she, of course, can sense something is off. She’s going through a kind of time-sickness thanks to Q’s meddling with the timeline.”

Engadget’s Kris Naudus disagreed. In her article, she writes that Matalas and the others who wrote the episode suffer from “operator error.” 

“Some writers argue that continuity can be stifling, and the jury’s still out on how much it matters, but in the case of Guinan and Picard, the appeal is the characters’ shared history,” Nadus wrote. “A shared history that isn’t hard to look up on today’s internet.”

Naudus argued that Matalas and the others dropped the continuity ball and flat out forgot about “Time’s Arrow.” She states that this sort of thing could be forgiven in the past, but with the advent of Memory Alpha and other Trek sites, they should have known better. 

‘You Mind Stopping That Noise?’

Bus ride from Star Trek IV The Voyage HomeDescription2014-04-04T02:59:01Z

Naudus’s argument makes a lot of sense, especially when the appearance of Kirk Thatcher as a punk rock fan — the same guy who was a punk rock fan in “Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home.” When Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Seven (Jeri Ryan) asked Thatcher to turn down the music, he obeyed, likely remembering how Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) used the neck pitch to render him unconscious back in 1986. 

That means Picard, Raffi, Seven, and the rest of the team went back in time; they arrived on the “Prime Timeline,” which is the same place where Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock found the whales and got them to the 23rd Century. 

Much like in “Back to the Future: Part II,” when Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) went back in time to give himself the Sports Almanac, he did so to change the future. That future was the corrupt future where Biff was rich, and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) was dead. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) went back to the point when Old Biff gave Young Biff the Almanac and stopped the dark future from coming to pass.

Doc Brown & Time Travel

Time Travel explained! (Clip from the movie "Back to the Future Part II")"Doc" draws a great illustration to explain time travel to "Marty".2017-08-12T06:30:45Z

That is exactly what Picard and his team did. Q transported them to a dark future, an alternate timeline, where the Earth and Milky Way Galaxy were dominated by Human Fascists. In order to change the future, Picard used the sling-shot effect to travel back in time to prevent that bad event (which rippled through history) from ever happening. 

Naudus might be wrong by saying that Matalas and company had never seen “Time’s Arrow” Parts I and II — he probably has. But Matalas’s explanation does not make sense. Perhaps, instead, Q altering the timeline could have also changed Guinan’s memories. 

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Colin Whitby
Colin Whitby
4 months ago

He is wrong totally. They arrived at a time before the two timelines separated so in effect, until the event happens, they are in the prime line, which means that Guinan should have remembered him.

Colin Whitby
Colin Whitby
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin Whitby

Funny you would think that they would have gotten that from B2TF 2. Doc explains it simply on the whiteboard to Marty.

Eric Shock
Eric Shock
4 months ago

It has to be the “prime” timeline, as the divergence that sets off the alternate timeline hasn’t happened yet (and preventing it is the main plot of the season). Naudus is right.

Really, the only hope at this point is that this season eventually explains how Q and Guinan know each other & the basis of their conflict.

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