Star Trek: Picard is one of the most anticipated additions to the Star Trek universe. It brings the much loved Jean-Luc Picard back, two decades after the events that concluded when The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager concluded. In those ensuing years, a number of major events have shaken the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet. Picard finds himself thrust into them despite being long since retired. If you’re new to the world of Picard or are dipping back in, there are a few things you can do to reacquaint yourself.
Star Trek: Picard introduces a number of new characters to the Star Trek universe. We get introduced to them from the beginning of the series and each has their own backstory filled in as we move through each episode.
One character, Dr. Agnes Jurati, has a relationship with Dr Bruce Maddox, someone who we’ll touch on shortly. But otherwise, none of the new characters have a backstory connected to the series that were released in the 1980s and 1990s.
A number of old characters from The Next Generation (TNG) era make an appearance. Knowing a little bit about them will help understand what’s going on.
The former Admiral Jean-Luc Picard has left Starfleet and has retired to his family vineyard in France when the series begins. His long list of accolades are recounted but when we reacquaint ourselves with him, it’s been many years since he donned his uniform.
The concluding episode of TNG series 3 sees Picard captured by the Federation’s big enemy, the Borg. He is assimilated into their collective, given a new name, Locutus, and put to work as a Borg. He is eventually saved and has many, but not all, the cybernetic implants they put into his body removed. The remaining implants means he will always have a connection to the Borg and he can sense them when they are close.
The android Lt Commander Data sacrificed his life to save Picard at the end of the movie Star Trek: Insurrection. But he kind of lived on when he downloaded his consciousness into another android, the prototypical B4.
During season three of TNG, Data constructs an android daughter, called Lal, basing her construction on his own design. His long-held desire to have offspring is an important theme that’s carried through to Star Trek: Picard.
Seven of Nine
We first met Seven when she was saved by the crew of Voyager. Seven was human who was assimilated by the Borg – an alien race that travelled the galaxy and assimilated other beings into their collective, replacing body parts with cybernetic implants and connecting them to a massive hive consciousness.
Seven was saved and eventually regains her humanity. Although she never met Picard during the TV series produced in to 80s and 90s, when she arrives on Picard’s ship, we learn that they do know each other and have crossed paths before.
Dr Bruce Maddox
Maddox is cyberneticist – basically the equivalent of an android geneticist.
During series 2 of TNG, he tries to acquire Data, saying that as an android he was not a sentient being and therefore the property of Starfleet. He fights a legal case but is defeated and Data is, from that point, conspired to be an autonomous being, just like any human, Vulcan, Romulan or any other living creature we meet in the various Star Trek Series
Like Seven, Hugh is another former Borg who has left the collective and become an independent person, separated from the collective. We meet him on a former Borg cube (Borg space vessels were massive fortified and armed cubes) which has been reclaimed by the Romulans who are reclaiming former Borg and trying to restore them to their former identities.
Hugh is the leader of that project.
The Federation has had a long-running enmity with the Romulans which became significantly worse as a result of event that are explained during the fist couple of episodes of Picard.
Through all the previous Star Trek series, Romulan and Federation territory were separated by a demiliratised region of space called The Neutral Zone. That no longer exists in the Picard era.
Episodes worth rewatching before Picard
Before Picard aired I took a stroll through some TNG episodes. There’s one I suggest everyone who watches Picard catches up with.
Series 2, Episode 9 is titled “The Measure of a Man“. It’s this episode that informs much of what we see in Picard. Maddox wants to acquire and dismantle Data in order to learn how he works and construct more androids like Data – who is strong, resilient, smart and can learn.
The episode explores issue such as what is life and looks at other matters such as slavery. These themes are revisited early in Picard as we see what happens when the Federation is able to produce androids, who are dubbed “synths’.
Less critically, you could revisit season 3, episode 16, “The Offspring” is about Data’s desire to have a child and his construction of a daughter.
Critics are somewhat divided about Picard. I’m enjoying it as it feels a lot like a TNG episode but with a lot more exposition and detail. If this was part of a longer series, and not simply an eight episode run, it would probably be condensed into a two-parter.
If you’re new to the world of Star Trek, watching a couple of old episodes and doing a quick catch up on who a few characters are will get you up to speed and enjoying the series in no time.