Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 1 Recap and Review: Remembrance
A spoiler-filled recap and review of Remembrance, Star Trek: Picard S1E1, starring Patrick Stewart
(Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard S1E1 and some previous films and episodes of the franchise)
Patrick Stewart is back as Jean-Luc Picard in the new web series, Star Trek: Picard. After famously saying he will not return to the franchise, it's a joy to see the veteran has changed his mind. Captain Picard is, for my money, easily the best captain in the Trek universe. Even when I sometimes go back and forth between whether I prefer Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) or Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), there's no doubt in my mind on this one count. And seeing him now in Star Trek: Picard, it's like Stewart never left. Picard is the same kind, sensible, strong, and humane leader he always was. A retired admiral now, Picard has moved to his family estate in France, where he lives with his two Romulan housekeepers — Laris and Zabhan — and his dog...Number One!
The name of the dog is one of many fan nods in the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, Remembrance. The legendary Earl Grey makes an appearance too (though Picard, sadly, drinks decaf now). And there's even a scene where Picard wears a red sweater that bears a striking resemblance to his Starfleet uniform. The episode, in fact, begins with a throwback to Star Trek: Nemesis — the last film featuring the TNG crew. Star Trek: Picard S1E1 opens with Bing Crosby singing Blue Skies, the song Data sang at Riker and Troi's wedding in the aforementioned film. The camera pans into the Enterprise to where Data and Picard are playing poker. Data forces the Captain to go all in, and the latter stalls (with tea, presumably Earl Grey, though he doesn't specify). When questioned why, he very sombrely says, "I don't want the game to end." Data died in Star Trek: Nemesis (saving Picard), and the answer is a touching reference to that. However, the game, or rather Picard's dream, ends abruptly when the Captain notices they are orbiting Mars and there's an explosion that hits the Enterprise. The meaning of this becomes clearer a little later in the episode when we find out that a group of rogue synthetics (that's what androids are being called now) attacked a Starfleet armada and destroyed Mars.
This happened as Picard was commanding the armada, one meant to rescue and relocate Romulans who would otherwise lose their lives in the Romulan supernova (the one from the 2009 reboot Star Trek). Synthetics have been banned ever since — a decision Picard disagrees with. Shortly after that, Picard left Starfleet and has been on earth since. He resigned in protest when Starfleet backed out of the rescue operation. We learn all this through an interview he gives on the anniversary of the supernova. A nice way to get us up to speed on the necessary backstory and delineate Picard's character.
A little before this interview, we meet Dahj who is celebrating getting into the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa with her boyfriend. Masked intruders beam into her apartment, kill her boyfriend and begin questioning her about how many of them are there and where she came from. Dahj is confused and they put a sack over her head to abduct her, when suddenly her latent programming is activated and she disarms and kills all three of her assailants, whilst the sack is still over her head. Dahj is a synthetic. She experiences a vision of Picard, and when on the run, she sees his interview and seeks him out.
Picard does not recognise her, but she feels they have a connection that runs deep. He listens to her kindly and offers her shelter. That night, Picard dreams of Data again and this time, Data asks him to complete a painting. When Picard wakes up he finds out that Dahj has run away. He goes to the Starfleet Archives where his private collection is stored and looks at the painting he dreamt of — one of a set of two that Data gifted him 30 years ago. The other painting, hanging in his study, has a hooded woman looking out at the sea. The one in the archive has the same woman turning away from the sea towards the viewer — and it's Dahj. The name of the painting, Picard finds, is Daughter.
Dahj, meanwhile, calls her mother, who mysteriously tells her to go to Picard, even though Dahj never mentioned him to her. She finds him at the Archives, where Picard explains that she might be Data's daughter. But as they are talking, the unknown assailants attack them again, and Dahj dies. Not, however, before Picard gets a look at one of the attackers without his mask on and finds out that they are Romulan.
Picard heads to Okinawa to talk to an expert on synthetics research, Dr Jurati, who tells him they are now only allowed to work theoretically since the rogue synthetics in Mars came from the lab at Daystrom. She assures him they are thousands of years away from creating a synthetic that can pass for human. However, when Picard shows her the necklace he got from Dahj, she recognises the twin circle symbol on it as one that Dr Bruce Maddox used to represent his fractal neuronic cloning, an experimental technique to develop synthetics. Dr Maddox, by the way, seems to be the same scientist who made an appearance in The Measure of a Man, S2E9 of TNG, asking that he be allowed to dismantle Data in order to study him and create more androids like him. Dr Jurati also reveals that these synthetics could be created by using just a single positronic neuron from Data, whose essence would be retained in them. She further says they would be created in pairs, meaning a twin of Dahj could be out there.
And in true filmy style, we cut to this twin — or at least a lookalike — on a Romulan reclamation site. Dr Soji Asher is this twin and she appears to be a psychiatrist of some kind since the Romulan who meets her, Narek, says the last thing she probably wants is to listen to another sad story after spending her time at work "fixing broken people." Soji is wearing the same kind of necklace and tells Narek that her father gave it to her and her twin. She knows that she has a twin, which Dahj did not seem to. So it is unclear if there's yet another synthetic like them, perhaps more. You'll recall the Romulans who tried to kidnap Dahj first asked her how many of them there were. Also, in the beginning dream sequence, Data lays down his poker hand, which has five identical queens of hearts.
Oh, and as Star Trek: Picard S1E1 ends, the camera pulls back from the inside of the Romulan reclamation site to show us that it's actually a Borg cube. What that's all about, as well as who created the synthetics and why, should become clearer as the series progresses.
For now, this a good start for Star Trek: Picard. My favourite bit of this episode is Picard's exchange with the abrasive interviewer. He mentions that he proposed the Romulan rescue mission because millions of lives were at stake. She hits back with, "Romulan lives," to which Picards simply says, "No, lives." The way Stewart delivers that line is stellar. And the sentiment Picard expresses is so relevant to us in the here and now. With that one exchange, this series has already won me over. Star Trek has always stood for progressive ideals and it's heartening to see that Star Trek: Picard will carry forward that legacy.
(Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is currently streaming in India on Amazon Prime Video on a weekly episodic basis)