The very first episode of Star Trek: Picard was released earlier this week on CBS All Access. Titled Remembrance, this episode serves as our first opportunity to catch up with the venerable Starfleet officer since the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. While the new series serves as a sequel of sorts to The Next Generation, you should not expect an optimistic trek among the stars. The years have not been kind to Picard.
Before we take a deep dive into Rembrance, I would like you to remember what Q said to Jean-Luc at the end of the TNG series finale, All Good Things:
For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence. – Q
As Remembrance opens, we see that Picard has not taken those words to heart. He is far from exploring the possibilities of existence. He leads a mundane existence wandering his family vineyard and sipping tea because he finds that to be easier than confronting his pain. Expect spoilers as we delve into why.
Plot Set more than two decades after the events of Nemesis, the episode Remembrance shows a Picard that is haunted by two tragic disasters. The first is the destruction of Romulus as seen in the 2009 reboot film from J.J. Abrams. Picard had resigned from his position on the Enterprise in order to lead relocation efforts for displaced Romulan people to Mars. Unfortunately, that planets as attacked by synthetic life forms (androids) which prompted the Federation to ban future development of synthetics and to pull out of aiding the Romulans. Picard felt he had to resign from Starfleet in protest.
Decades later, Picard is still bitter of this betrayal of Federation principles. As onen woman puts it, the Federation simply decided to stop helping their oldest enemy. “Romulan lives,” she says. Picard simply responds, “No, lives.” Maybe it was the Borg conflict or perhaps the Dominion war but something has changed Starfleet and the Federation. No longer are these organizations entirely about peaceful coexistence and optimistic exploration.
Meanwhile, a young woman named Dahj is attacked in her apartment which triggers extreme combat reflexes and she overpowers her attackers. Frightened at what she has done, Dahj seeks out Picard because her instincts tell her that she is safe with him. Picard realizes that she is somehow linked to Data, the android who served with Picard on the Enterprise many years ago.
Picard later learns that Dahj is a new type of android which mimic humans to an unprecedented degree – right down to having flesh and blood. And there is another android just like her out there somewhere.
Remembrance is very heavy on exposition and takes place almost entirely on Earth. Don’t expect a planet of the week or fancy new ships yet. This is very much a character driven episode to set up the rest of the season.
While longtime Star Trek fans are hyped for the return of Patrick Stewart, I find that Isa Briones steals the show in Remembrance with her portrayal of Dahj. She convincingly portrays her fear and vulnerability over her newly found abilities. Not only that, Briones also has to carry the episode’s two major action scenes but she pulls it off. She turns in an impressive performance for an actress new to the franchise.
I will say one thing for Remembrance. It finally shows future Earth in all of her glory. I will get hate for this but previous Star Trek series tended to skimp a bit when they had to show Earth. I mean, they used a freaking hummingbird feeder to represent a train system in the DS9 episode Homefront. The new show is much more stylish with the environments. Action scenes are much faster too and fight choreography is much more complex.
On its own, Remembrance is an unusually strong premiere episode when compared to the pilots of previous Star Trek shows. While it is mostly focused on Earth and there is no gallivanting in space (yet), this episode is a fine first step in what will be a much longer journey.
David will be back to review episode 2 of Star Trek: Picard so be sure to come back and check that out.