On Saturday, Sir Patrick Stewart brought down the house at San Diego Comic-Con by revealing our first full look at his return to the iconic role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The trailer was laden with intriguing insight not just about the man of the hour, but the future of the Star Trek universe as we know itpost-Nemesis. Here’s what we spotted.
The trailer opens with, well, basically the one big thing we’ve known about Picard going in: the vineyards of Chateau Picard in La Barre, the ancestral home of the Picard family. It is where we saw the elderly Picard retire to in the future timeline of The Next Generation’s finale, “All Good Things,” but while that was an alternate reality, here, it’s quite real for Jean-Luc.
“Have you ever been a stranger to yourself?” an unknown woman—who we’ll actually meet a little later on in this trailer—asks, only for Picard to reply “Many, many times.”
In our first look at the venerated Enterprise captain in the trailer, we see him get up and open the doors to a balcony in Chateau Picard, revealing his bedroom: Note that, to the sadness of Beverly Crusher fans across the world, Picard’s bed is only utilised on one side.
In our first little hit of Trek nostalgia—for both fans and seemingly Picard himself—the former captain takes out a small box holding his old combadge. It’s the design last seen on screen in the TNG movies, Voyager, and the later seasons of Deep Space Nine.
We’ve known since the first teaser that Picard had been retired from Starfleet for several years by the time of the show, haunted by the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (as we all were, frankly) and eventually the destruction of Romulus, the Romulan homeworld, as seen in the first Star Trek reboot movie in 2009. It’s a whole timeline thing, but that event, which took place in 2387 in Trek’s prime timeline, will have a profound impact on the state of the Alpha Quadrant as we know it, and Picard himself.
It’s the events of Nemesis that perhaps have the most explicit impact on Picard in this trailer, though, as he goes on to explain: “Nearly two decades ago, Commander Data sacrificed his life for me,” Jean-Luc opines, as we see him examine the component parts of a Noonien Soong android with a female scientist we’ll later identify as Dr. Agnes Jurati, played by Alison Pill, described mysteriously in press material as a woman “confused with her place in the world.”
The body can’t be Data himself as we know him—Data’s body was destroyed when he sacrificed himself to destroy Shinzon’s warship, the Scimitar, in Nemesis’ climax. It could be B-4, the Soong android foe-turned-friend that Data uploaded his old memories into during the events of Nemesis, and a character that is heavily hinted at as having inherited some of those memories when Picard briefly re-activates and then de-activates B-4 at the end of the movie to tell him Data has died. Or, it could be an entirely different Soong android—we know they’re out there, just like Lore was back in The Next Generation.
Back in La Barre, automated vehicles tend to the vineyard crop while Picard’s narration continues. “These past few years I really tried to belong here,” he says, with a voice as weary as you’d expect from a man with some very particular emotional hangups about the Picard family home, “But it never truly felt like home.” In Star Trek Generations, Picard learned that both his brother Robert, then the head vintner at the vineyard, and his nephew Rene perished in a house fire there in 2371.
In lighter news, this moment does re-introduce us one of the most eagerly-anticipated new characters of Picard: Jean-Luc’s dog. And yes, it was officially confirmed that, as fans had spotted in the poster featuring Picard and his pupper, that the dog’s name really is Number One. D’aaaw.
As Picard looks into the night sky above the Vineyard—now wearing his combadge from earlier—we cut to another interesting new character: not named in this trailer, but confirmed as Dahj, played by Isa Briones. Covered up to protect herself from the storm, here we see her walking past a display of viewscreens showing what appears to be some kind of interview with Picard, setting Dahj up on a path to meet the legendary captain...
Almost immediately, we cut to her showing up at Picard’s estate, demanding to know whether he knows who she is. That might seem very weird at first glance, as is Dahj’s statement that “everything inside of [her]” is telling her that Picard will keep her safe. But considering what we see of the character later on this trailer, she actually has very good reason to believe why Picard may somehow recognize a woman he’s never met before. Hint for now? It has something to do with the Borg.
Meanwhile, Picard heads to
the Anaheim Convention Center Starfleet Headquarters. Note that, as it is wont to do every couple of years, Starfleet has updated its dress code to a new uniform design! Gone are the grey-shouldered jackets (similar to the one Picard has donned in this shot) and colored undershirts Starfleet had adopted in the 2370s—the time of Deep Space Nineand the TNG movies—but something more back in line with the uniforms seen in the late 2360s, worn by the Voyager crew.
It’s got a new higher collar to go with the division-colored shoulderpads and chest (which sports a more angular design compared to the Voyager style uniforms), and there’s also a new style of combadge, depicting just the Starfleet Delta and looking a little more like the original Trek and Discoverystyle uniform crests.
Jean-Luc has set up a meeting with Starfleet Command about Dahj, telling an unnamed admiral how Dahj met him. Note the admiral uniform has also received an update, one that actually retains more of those DS9 style uniform design notes like the division undershirts.
“If she is who I think she is,” Jean-Luc continues to the admiral, “she is in serious danger,” as we cut to what appears to be Picard watching Dahj face off with two masked, unknown assailants with unfolding weapons and some pretty handy transporter technology.
This appears to be in a different location, given Dahj and Picard’s costume changes (it presumably takes place before he goes to Starfleet HQ), even if the scenery itself looks very similar. The transporter shimmer is vague enough that it could be anyone’s design, so it’s hard to identify who these assailants are. We know from later on in the trailer that Dahj has a connection to the Romulans, so these could be Tal Shiar—Romulan secret police, basically—agents. But given the penchant for all-black militarized looks, fancy tech, and general shady intrigue, could these be Section 31 operatives?
Speaking of Romulans though, we get a very interesting shot of some ships flying toward a red planet. At first you might think they have more in line with the classic Klingon Bird-of-Prey, but these appear to be an updated design for the Valdore-type Romulan Warbird, a svelter Romulan design compared to the chunky D’Deridex most TNG fans would associate with the species. The Valdore made its debut in Nemesis, so it makes sense to see similar ships for the Romulans here.
Just as interesting is what planet the Romulan vessels are heading to. It does not match up to prior representations of Romulus—and by the time of Picard, the planet has already been destroyed. However, it does match up with the red hues we associate with the home planet of the Romulan’s ancestral kin, the Vulcans. Is this a flashback to survivors of Romulus’ destruction fleeing to their distant siblings for aid?
You can tell we’re dealing with Romulans at this point, because it’s just intrigue after intrigue. We cut to inside one of those warbirds, to see Romulan scientists experimenting on what looks a lot like a deactivated Borg drone...
And then we cut to Picard, in the same casual outfit we saw him watching Dahj fight those soldiers earlier in, aboard another vessel (is it a Starfleet one, or the same one we see him aboard later) that is actually decked out with mementos of his career. Most obviously here is the Picard Day banner from the TNG episode “The Pegasus,” but we also see brief glimpses of awards that were actually on display for San Diego Comic-Con at a Jean-Luc Picard Museum popup. Check out footage and pictures here!
“Sometimes I worry that you have forgotten who you are...” an unknown woman tells Picard, as we cut to another very interesting shot of a prison facility.
The guards, unmasked here, are using the same weaponry as the assailants who went after Dahj, so now we know for sure they’re Romulans and not Section 31. But this whole facility is fascinating; there are alcoves that look an awful lot like Borg regeneration units everywhere, and a sign signifying how many days the facility has gone “without an assimilation” (5,843, so...a little over 16 years?). Why would the Romulans have those, and be anticipating a Borg assimiliation outbreak, if they weren’t dealing with prisoners who were former members of the collective?
On top of that, Dahj is among the prisoners, seemingly confirming that—like many Star Trek characters we’ve seen over the years, including Picard himself—that she is a former Borg. That would be why she thought Picard would recognize her earlier, from his time as Locutus: a Borg, freed from the collective or otherwise, would have a sort of “Borg-sense” that makes them aware of someone who has also been part of the collective before. So Dahj escaped this Romulan prision, fled to Earth, and now needs Jean-Luc’s help.
...“We do not,” the unknown woman, played by Orla Brady (Into the Badlands), ends her narration as we cut to a new shot, revealing herself to be a Romulan. Fun fact that makes this trailer very confusing to break down, but there seems to have been some design changes to the Romulans since we last saw them. Female Romulans in Picard seemingly no longer have the prominent brow ridges that male Romulans continue to do. That brow ridge was basically the one defining trait in differentiating a Romulan from a Vulcan, so...that’s fun? That’s fun.
But we’re pretty sure Brady’s character here is a Romulan—which makes her probing Picard about remembering who he really is, in the context of all the former-Borg stuff going on in this trailer, much more sinister. Note though, that this conversation appears to be taking place either at Chateau Picard or at another Earthly location we’ll soon see in the trailer, judging by the brick wall in the background.
Look, you can’t have Star Trek without a visit to Vasquez Rocks! This shot of Picard trudging through what looks an awful lot like the Agua Dulce, California park, an area which has played host to everything from the original Trek’s “Arena,” Voyager’s “Gravity,” even Enterprise’s “Unexpected,” and parts of Vulcan in the 2009 Star Trek movie. Given what appeared to be that shot of Vulcan earlier, there could be a chance Picard pays a visit to the iconic world too.
“You can’t do it alone,” a man tells Picard. “You need help...” We see some of that help in the form of a montage of new characters flying by—first up is Santiago Cabrera as Chris Rio, described in press material as a former Starfleet Officer. He appears to now captain the vessel Picard and his new friends find themselves on, as we cut to our first proper glimpse of Pill’s character from earlier, Dr. Jurati, also aboard the same ship.
“You need protection...” the voice continues, as we cut to Picard holding his hands up in a sign of peace as he meets Michelle Hurd’s Raffi Musiker. Once again, press material on Musiker is vague, but notes she has a connection to Picard’s past: an uneasy one, if she’s seemingly pointing a phaser rifle at him.
“You need a crew!” the narration adds, this time as we cut back to Picard making a peaceful gesture copying the latest addition to the cast, Evan Evagora as Elnor. Once again, given makeup changes, it’s hard to tell if he’s Vulcan or Romulan: he lacks the ridges that male Romulans in this trailer have, so presumably he’s Vulcan. And also...some kind of Vulcan samurai, judging by the sword sheathed on his back?
“Be the captain they remember,” the narrator concludes, revealing themselves to be a male Romulan—they’re subtle, but you can see the ridges on his brow here—speaking to Picard in the same location as Brady’s character was. So who are these Romulans seemingly tasking Picard with the mission to protect Dahj, build a new team, and do all that heroic business he’s known for? Do they have connections to the same Romulans seemingly rounding up former Borg? Are they perhaps a rogue faction who are against the Romulans mucking about with the Borg?
Fascinatingly, there’s actually precedent for that in prior Star Trek work—specifically Star Trek Online, a non-canonical MMORPG set in the early 2400s. In STO’s version of Star Trek’s future, the destruction of Romulus saw the Star Empire shatter into two factions, with Empress Sela (the half-Romulan daughter of an alternate-reality version of TNG’s Tasha Yar) and the Tal Shiar on one side looking to restore the Romulans to their former glory, and on the other, a more peaceful faction that establishes itself as the Romulan Republic, seeking to build diplomatic ties with the Federation, Klingons, and other galactic powers.
Once again, none of that is canonical to Star Trek: Picard. But could we be seeing a similar idea unfold here?
After we see Rio, Picard, and the rest of the crew prepare to jet off in Rio’s ship, we cut to an interesting shot of Picard traipsing through a small town. It’s hard to say just where it is; he’s wearing the same jacket he was wearing aboard Rio’s ship, but the architecture looks less alien and more...old-timey Earth restaurant? It matches where those two Romulans were talking to him just before, at least. Cool note, though: look at the weather vane on that awning—it kinda looks like Deep Space Nine, or rather more generally, the Cardassian-designed deep space stations like DS9 was co-habited as, like Terok Nor. Cool throwback, or a hint?
We don’t have time to ponder, as we get this very quick, very out-of-place shot of Picard walking through a dark building, accompanied by a white-robed person that almost looks like a medical officer of some kind, if not explicitly a Starfleet doctor. They’re flanked in the background by a trio of drones, and Picard is once again in the same outfit we saw him watching Dahj fight the Romulans in earlier. Is this that same location, just inside the building?
Next, we cut to a Romulan ship and meet Harry Treadaway as Narek, who appears to be a scientist. Before checking in on Dahj—captive once again, so this is perhaps a flashback, or, is Dahj kidnapped again and that’s why Picard goes on his mission?—before going to another Romulan, a currently unnamed character played by Peyton List. “She has no idea what she truly is,” Narek warns. So does Dahj not know she’s a former Borg, or is there a secret even beyond that?
There has to be, given we get this sinister shot of one of those Romulan guards lying prone (is that Jean-Luc over him?) screaming that “she,” presumably Dahj in this context as we cut back to her briefly, is the “end of all."
“She’s the destroyer,” the guard continues, as we get another ominous reveal: a partially destroyed Borg Cube.
They’re hard to glimpse, but you can see more Romulan Warbirds floating around it—so the Romulans are seemingly going around picking up Borg, removing their implants and their connection to the collective, and then...detaining them? Experimenting on them? Taking the technology for their own? Why?
We don’t have time to ponder, as we cut back to Picard at La Barre, grabbing himself a stiff drink as someone who might have some answers about all this Borg stuff interrupts him: Jeri Ryan as Annika Hansen.
Or, as you better know her, Star Trek: Voyager’s Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01, former Borg, turned liberated Starfleet officer. “What the hell are you doing out here, Picard?” Seven asks. “Saving the galaxy?”
Time has changed Seven a bit since we last saw her returned home in Voyager’s finale—she seems a lot less terse, a bit more casual. She has, at long last, slipped out of her Doctor’s-orders sparkly catsuit into something that almost looks militaristic, and very un-Starfleet. Has she left the organisation, just as Picard has?
Before we are given anything beyond the glimpse however, the trailer gives us a montage of shots that show Picard doing, well, exactly what Seven questioned of him. We see it in flashes—Warbirds inside the Borg Cube, Rios’ ship, his capture by Romulan guards in that same restaurant we saw him wandering by earlier, a Romulan scientist removing a Borg drone’s implants, Seven aboard Rio’s ship, Dahj seemingly making her escape from Romulan captivity with the help of Narek, and Picard blasting a phaser.
That Borg, in particular, could be very interesting, considering one of the other reveals the show brought to Comic-Con was that Jonathan Del Arco would have a role in Picard. Del Arco previously played the Borg Drone Third of Five, renamed as Hugh after being given some of his individuality back by the Enterprise crew, across several TNG episodes, most notably “I, Borg” in season five. Hugh remained part of the collective even with some semblance of his humanity back, so this could ostensibly be him being recovered from the cube by the Romulans. The body appears to be human at the very least, even with all the scarring from where the Romulans have been removing its Borg implants.
Once again though, the trailer doesn’t give us time to think on the ramifications as we cut back to Rio’s ship, and...well, do you need me to explain why this is great? IT’S JEAN-LUC BLOODY PICARD TELLING SOMEONE TO ENGAGE.
The trailer ends with another hit of nostalgia beyond that, though—we cut to Picard, in a white-lit, spartan room, playing cards over a cup of tea (presumably, of course, Earl Grey, hot). “I don’t want the game to end,” he opines to his playmate...
Revealed as none other than Brent Spiner as Data. “I can see that, Captain,” he says as the trailer closes.
But...is it actually Data? You can just about make out the grey collar of Data’s uniform from Nemesis, so it’s not necessarily B-4, who was wearing an all-yellow jumpsuit in that movie. It could be B-4, now with Data’s memories fully integrated, but that wouldn’t really explain why he’s walking around in Data’s now no-longer-Starfleet-code uniform.
Is it the android that we saw early on in the trailer? Picard’s outfit matches up. If so, why re-activate the android now? Does Picard just every once in a while meet up with this android while it’s on ice, put him together, and play cards like he was still playing with Data? We have so many questions. But it appears, in some form at least, that Data has indeed cheated death. Picard’s gonna need all the friends he can get on this new mission, either way.
Picard’s first trailer isn’t just a powerful look at an older, haunted Jean-Luc, contemplating the push and pull between the desire to do good that made him endure as one of Star Trek’s most beloved heroes and the rigors of a changed world around him, it gives us some major hints into the state of the Alpha Quadrant. And potentially beyond that, as Jean-Luc will have to navigate on his new quest—and that the lingering specter of his most personal enemy might be doing more than just lingering. And just what do the Romulans want with the Borg?
We still have so much more to learn, but for now, we know one thing for sure: Jean-Luc Picard stands ready to engage one again and we are incredibly excited for it. Star Trek: Picard releases in early 2020.