It’s been eighteen long years since we last saw Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and if Picard S1E1 – “Remembrance” is any indication, he’s lost no luster in that extended break. In the premiere episode directed by Hanelle Culpepper the audience is given a look into what the future of the future holds, and it is not as bright as it once was.
This is a full recap of Picard: Remembrance, so resisting spoilers is futile.
The episode opens with two old friends playing a game of poker. Jean-Luc Picard, and the best android Starfleet has ever known, Data (Brent Spiner). Jean-Luc informs his old friend what his tell is, but still decides to call. As Data lays down an impossible winning hand, events unfold outside the viewport as explosions rock the surface of the planet Mars. With that, Picard startles awake, to find himself back on Earth at his family’s legendary chateau.
The scene shifts from France to Boston, as we meet Dahj (Isa Briones), who has just been granted a fellowship at the prestigious Daystrom Institute for her work in artificial intelligence. Her romantic evening with her boyfriend is cut short when they are attacked by assassins. Just as she’s about to be kidnapped, an assassin makes a statement about how she hadn’t “been activated yet”, which was probably just asking for trouble. And trouble they received as Dahj becomes an unstoppable killing machine, and lays waste to her would be abductors.
We transition back to France, as Picard readies himself for a rare interview, in remembrance of the anniversary of the Romulan supernova. The journalist isn’t really here for what Picard is expecting however, and she engages in a bit of “gotcha journalism”, trying to set the retired admiral up with leading questions. She’s very much antagonistic, and stoking prejudices of entire peoples based upon the actions of their governments and terrorists. This is an all too common tactic in both our present and Picard’s future. Prejudice and fear get ratings, and if some journalists are all too eager to tap into those feelings to advance their careers. The interviewer moves from the topic of Romulan refugees, to the that of the Synthetic terrorist attack on the Mars Shipyards, an event we saw alluded to in Picard’s dream. Picard, tired of these baiting questions, storms out of the interview, but not before telling the journalist just how ignorant of the past she is. It’s clear from this scene that Picard’s compassion, even for those who had been his enemies, was what eventually drove him from Starfleet. As the Federation abandoned the people of Romulus, so to did it abandon its mission of peace and exploration, and it was clear there was no longer a place for Picard among its ranks.
Dahj saw Picard’s interview, and remembered him from her vision. Seeking him out for help, she finds him at Chateau Picard. Over tea (Earl Grey of course, but decaf now), she explains to him what happened with her, and shows him a necklace of intertwined circles that she received from her father. That night, Picard dreams of Data again, this time younger and painting. The painting is a woman with no face, garbed in white, overlooking the sea. Picard awakes to realize this is the painting above his mantle, and to find Dahj gone. Wasting no time, he rushes to Starfleet Archives, to retrieve the paintings sister piece. Titled “Daughter” this piece is clearly of Dahj, and things start to come together.
After a tense phone call with her mother, who seemed to know too much about what was going on, Dahj hacks Starfleet computers to find Picard. Meeting him in San Francisco, she learns the truth of her parentage, and how important this makes her to Picard. Unfortunately, this joyous revelation is interrupted more assassins. Though Dahj is able to handle them, one of them spits acid on her with his dying breath, and pieces of her melt away before she explodes, knocking Picard unconscious.
He again awakens at his home, galvanized with a new mission. Grieving for a friend’s daughter, he makes his way to Daystrom to see how this could be possible, since Synthetics were banned after the Mars attack. There, Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) confirms that what he was asking about should be impossible, since the Institute’s efforts had been curtailed following the destruction at Mars. Furthermore, she explained that according to her mentor Dr. Maddox, any Synthetic life would have to come from Data’s neural network. They had recovered pieces of that from B-4 after Data had tried to transfer his own neural net when he sacrificed himself, but when their research was shut down, Maddox disappeared.
With his hopes all but squashed, Picard shows Dr. Jurati Dahj’s necklace, which elicits an unexpected response. The necklace is a symbol for fractural neuronic cloning, a theory posited by Maddox. Maddox theorized that Data’s whole network could be reconstructed from just a single positronic neuron. This means that any new Synthetic would in part have some of Data’s core essence. As Picard reasons that this must be how Dahj had been created, and that she had to have been modeled after the “Daughter” painting, Dr. Jurati explains that fractal neuronic clones are always made in pairs, hence the intertwined circles.
With this revelation we switch scenes to space, among a Romulan reclamation site. Here we see Dahj’s twin, a woman named Dr. Soji Asher. She’s greeted by a Romulan named Narek (Harry Treadaway), who compliments her necklace. Upon learning she has a twin sister (or had as the case may be), he tells her that he recently lost his own brother. The episode ends as we scale back away from the site to see that it is an abandoned Borg Cube.
While the future shown in Picard S1E1 – “Remembrance” isn’t the bright and hopeful future we’re accustomed to seeing in Star Trek, it’s one that resonates with things that are going on in our world today. Star Trek is at it’s strongest when it is politically relevant, and if this pilot episode is any indication, Picard is going to be a powerful and emotional ride.
Picard can be seen on Thursdays on CBS All Access.