Star Trek: Picard's premiere episode dedicates quite a bit of time to filling in key story points of the 20-year span between Star Trek: Nemesis and this new series. Along the way, however, Picard also provides story beats that actually enrich the backstory of Nero, the ruthless Romulan miner who inadvertently created Star Trek's "Kelvin Timeline" in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (2009). In that film, Nero (Eric Bana) is left broken by the destruction of Romulus, and travels back to the past to strike out at Starfleet, who he blames for the calamity. Well, in Star Trek: Picard we learn that perhaps Nero's anger wasn't so misplaced after all...
SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Picard premiere follow!
In the first act of Star Trek: Picard, Jean-Luc Picard is interviewed at his vineyard in France by the Federation New Network, on the anniversary of the destruction of Romulus. It's during that interview that we learn about the additional tragedies of Romulus' fall, which led to Picard leaving Starfleet.
As it turns out, Admiral Picard had mounted a massive evacutation of the Romulan people, which looked to be going successfully, until a group of synthetic beings went rogue and attacked shipyard on Mars. The shipyard attack ignited the gaseous atmosphere of Mars, resulting in mass deaths. After the synthetics rebelled, Starfleet banned them and ultimately abandoned the Romulan evacuation plan, resulting in much greater tragedy for the Romulan people. As Jean-Luc Picard explained:
"We withdrew. The galaxy was mourning, burying its dead, and Starfleet slunk from its duties. The decision to call off the rescue and to abandon those people we had sworn to save was not just dishonorable - it was downright criminal! And I was not prepared to stand by and be a spectator!"
Starfleet's abandonment of the Romulan people was enough to make Jean-Luc Picard so angry he broke ties with his beloved organization; imagine what it felt like for Nero. It now makes much more sense why that guy was so angry he spit when he talked.
Of course, it just so happens Star Trek: Picard showrunner Alex Kurtzman was also the the writer/producer of Star Trek (2009). So if nothing else, Kurtzman is getting the opportunity to retroactively flesh-out a somewhat one-note villain he created for the franchise. Fine by us: any connections between Star Trek movie and TV continuity are fun threads to tie.
Star Trek: Picard is now streaming on CBS All Access. New episodes are released every Thursday.
NOTE: Comicbook.com is owned by ViacomCBS.