Star Trek: Picard takes place more than 20 years after fans last saw Captain Jean-Luc Picard in action in the film Star Trek: Nemesis. It also takes place 10 years after the Romulan sun went supernova, destroying Romulus, the seat of the Romulan Star Empire, as mentioned in 2009's Star Trek movie. That event had a profound impact on Picard. He was leading a rescue armada meant to transport Romulan refugees to safe planets outside of the supernova's blast zone. Starfleet abandoned the operation after a rogue synth attack on the Utopia Planitia shipyards left the fleet decimated and Mars' atmosphere burning.
Picard still carries a lot of righteous anger over Starfleet abandoning the mission. It's what led to him resigning from Starfleet and his bursts of anger in the first two episodes of Star Trek: Picard show that the wound is still fresh. But in the second episode of Picard, "Maps and Legends," Starfleet gets to tell its side of the story. SPOILERS for the episode follow.
In "Maps and Legends," Picard meets with the commander in chief of Starfleet, Admiral Kirsten Clancy. The meeting doesn't go well, as Picard's righteous indignation over the Romulan rescue efforts is still fresh in Clancy's mind as well.
At one point, Picard asserts that the United Federation of Planets doesn't get to decide what races live or die. Yancy counters, affirming that Federation absolutely does have the right to do that. She reminds Picard that the Federation is made up of many different planets, species, and societies. The Romulans were an enemy. Several member planets threatened to pull out of the Federation over the rescue efforts even before the attack on Mars. That attack made matters even worse as it left Starfleet with so few ships. The Federation, still nursing its own wounds from the attack, had to choose between helping an enemy and maintaining its own stability during a time of crisis. It chose the latter.
Picard remains unconvinced by this line of reasoning. He's an idealist and he believes that the right thing to do remains the right thing to do no matter how hard it may be to do it. Nonetheless, it's interesting to hear Clancy explain the other side of the matter, making it clear that the decision was more complicated than simply abandoning the Romulans to their fate on a whim.
Disclaimer: ComicBook.com is owned by ViacomCBS.