Make it… come on, you know the rest.
It was 25 years ago today that the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things…,” aired. So it’s only appropriate that CBS All Access would use this anniversary to debut its first look at Star Trek: Picard, the upcoming series which sees Patrick Stewart returning to the iconic role of Jean-Luc Picard.
You can watch the Star Trek: Picard teaser trailer here and also check out the first poster for the show below.
Obviously the main visual elements of the poster and the teaser trailer are the Picard vineyard (forming the shape of the Starfleet logo in the poster!), with only a brief look at Patrick Stewart as Picard at the end of the video. But what exactly does it all mean? Let’s delve into this a bit!
The Picard Vineyard
The Picard family vineyards, the home of Chateau Picard and located in La Barre, France, first showed up in the fourth season Next Generation episode “Family,” an all-time great that saw Jean-Luc returning home to heal after the traumatic experience of being transformed into Locutus of Borg in “The Best of Both Worlds” two-parter. There he was reunited with his estranged brother Robert and Robert’s wife and son. While Jean-Luc and his brother couldn’t see eye to eye on pretty much anything — Robert felt Jean-Luc had left for glory in space while he had to stay behind and deal with the family business — it was ultimately Robert who helped Jean-Luc get on the road to psychological recovery.
Jean-Luc was considering resigning from Starfleet altogether and staying on Earth (to work on an undersea exploration project), but Robert explained to him that he was going to have deal with his trauma either way. “This is going to be with you a long time, Jean-Luc, a long time,” he says. “You have to learn to live with it. You have a simple choice now: Live with it below the sea with Louis — or above the clouds with the Enterprise.”
It’s clear that the vineyard was a place that Picard felt safe, his home that he always knew he could return to in his time of need. We visited the place again in “All Good Things…” when we saw an alternate future where Jean-Luc was stricken with a debilitating neurological disease known as irumodic syndrome. Retired from his Starfleet life and facing an uncertain future, the former captain had once again retreated to his vineyard.
So it seems that now, in Star Trek: Picard, Jean-Luc has again returned home after some kind of traumatic experience. What that is we can at least partially guess at based on the teaser’s voiceover…
The Destruction of Romulus
In the teaser, while we see shots of the vineyard, a woman says in voiceover, “15 years ago today, you led us out of the darkness. You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history. Then, the unimaginable. What did that cost you?”
Presumably this is a reference to the destruction of Romulus, the homeworld of the Romulan Empire, those baddies who were often a thorn in Picard’s side on Next Generation. Star Trek: Picard executive producer Alex Kurtzman has said that in the new show, “Picard’s life was radically altered by the dissolution of the Romulan Empire.” He’s referring to something that happened in the first J.J. Abrams reboot movie, 2009’s Star Trek, which he co-wrote actually. In that film, a supernova in the year 2387 threatened to destroy the galaxy (never mind that a supernova is just an exploding star and shouldn’t be able to do this). That’s how Leonard Nimoy’s old Spock, or Spock Prime, inadvertently wound up traveling into the past in an attempt to stop the catastrophe; he created a black hole to absorb the supernova and got sucked into it himself, thereby creating the alternate timeline that is the Abrams movies with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.
But Spock was not successful in saving Romulus, which was completely destroyed. It seems likely that the armada Picard was commanding was a rescue mission to save as many Romulans as he could, but the “unimaginable” struck during that mission — the destruction of the entire Romulan homeworld, and probably of the Empire as well.
From there, one can only imagine the shift in galactic power that occurred as the major power that was the Romulan Empire fell into disarray. What consequences did it have for the United Federation of Planets? And for Picard personally? Just as when he couldn’t save the many lives that were lost during the Borg attack in “The Best of Both Worlds,” did he once again fail to prevent a greater catastrophe? “What did that cost you?” the voiceover in the teaser says. “Your faith? Your faith in us? Your faith in yourself?”
The teaser ends with the voiceover asking, “Why did you leave Starfleet, Admiral?” And then we see the aged Jean-Luc, decidedly not in a Starfleet uniform! But also not looking nearly as old as he did in that “All Good Things…” future timeline, so that’s good…
(Also, that’s totally got to be his Ressikan flute we hear at the very end of the teaser, right? Long story, but basically he got that in “The Inner Light,” another great Next Generation episode where he lived an entire lifetime in a matter of hours.)
So the idea of Picard being an admiral isn’t new. We’ve seen him take that rank in a fake holographic future in “Future Imperfect” (another long story!). In the “All Good Things…” future we know he became an ambassador, meanwhile. But either way, Jean-Luc advancing beyond being eternally the captain of the Enterprise always seemed to be in the cards for him. He wasn’t going to just stay on that ship forever, and as he once told Will Riker, “Enterprise will go along just fine without you.” The same was surely true of Picard as well.
But speaking of Riker, there’s no sign of him or any of the other Enterprise officers here. Indeed, Stewart’s co-stars on the new show will be Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera and Harry Treadaway — all Trek newcomers. But Jonathan Frakes, who played Riker, will direct two episodes of Star Trek: Picard, and you have to figure Riker or Data or Troi or someone else from Next Generation will show up at some point…
Time will tell. Star Trek: Picard doesn’t have an official release date yet, but we can probably expect it in early 2020. Until then… make it so!