Star Trek: Picard is now available on CBS All Access, and the premiere episode of the highly-anticipated new series wastes no time taking on some of the biggest questions fans have had. One of the biggest questions hanging over Picard is no doubt the depiction of its titular character. The Jean-Luc Picard we meet when the show begins is one who has resigned himself from being an active explorer and adventurer of the cosmos, following a deeply-painful falling out with Starfleet. Now, with premiere of Star Trek: Picard we finally have the answer as to why Jean-Luc Picard left Starfleet - and that answer only makes Picard that much more complicated in its thematic arc.
Warning: Star Trek: Picard Season 1 premiere SPOILERS Follow!
The Star Trek: Picard premiere is set on the anniversary of the 2387 supernova that wiped out Romulus. The Federation News Network snags a rare interview with former Admiral Picard, who agrees to the appearance as means of drumming up awareness about the continued suffering of the Romulan people. During that interview segment we get an all-important information dump that fills in the gaps between the end of Star Trek: Nemesis and the start of Picard.
As we learn during the interview, Picard's falling out with Starfleet came after a dark turn in the organization's past. Apparently when Romulus was under threat of destruction, Picard was a lead figure in the mass evacuation of 900 million Romulan people on 10,000 warp-capable ferries. However, a group of synthetic beings went rogue during the evacuation and launched a terrorist attack on a shipyard housed on mars - and attack which ignited the planet's atmosphere and killed 93,000 people.
The result of the synthetics' defection and terrorist act led to Starfleet banning the artificial beings - and that decision pushed Jean-Luc Picard to the brink, before a second incident pushed him over, altogether. As Picard himself describes:
"We don't know why the synthetics went rogue and did what they did that day. But I believe the subsequent decision to ban synthetic lifeforms was a mistake."
When pressed by the interviewer to concretely explain why he left Starfleet, Picard reveals that after the synthetic attack, Starfleet turned its back on saving the Romulan people:
"...it was no longer Starfleet! 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!"
What this scene reveals is that Jean-Luc Picard is now a crushed idealist, who believed so deeply in the institution he served -right up until it disappointed him. But unlike, say, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the first episode of Picard shows how Jean-Luc rekindles his limitless light of optimism and hope, after realizing that turning away from what Starfleet was becoming was not a solution, so much as enabling the wrong kind of future to flourish.
Star Trek: Picard is now streaming on CBS All Access. New episodes are released every Thursday.
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