Ten things we learned from Remembrance

Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 1: Remembrance. There may also be spoilers for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise, including Short Treks and Discovery.

I know that for the last couple of weeks the blog has been dedicated almost entirely to Star Trek: Picard, but to be fair it’s been my most highly-anticipated series of the last few years! I do have a few non-Picard articles in the pipeline, but before my memories of the episode fade too much, I wanted to go over a few things we learned in Remembrance.

Considering that the episode was our first real look at the 24th Century since 2002 – I’m not counting Children of Mars or the brief scenes in 2009’s Star Trek – there was a lot that longstanding Star Trek fans wanted to know. Remembrance was peppered with enough little hints and pieces of background information to tide us over till next week – but without drowning out the plot in fan-service and nostalgia. Take note, Star Wars!

I have a full review of the episode already published – you can find it by clicking or tapping here. In that article I cover the plot in more detail, as well as giving my thoughts on various elements of the episode. Spoiler alert: I loved it.

Number 1: The “Prime Universe” or “Prime Reality” still exists!

You may recognise this graphic from the official website; it shows the various Star Trek series and their place in the overall timeline of the franchise.
Credit: Star Trek.com

This one should’ve been a given, considering everything we’d been told beforehand. But some “fans” – and I use the term very loosely – have been obsessed in recent years with convoluted “theories” that the Star Trek timeline ended or diverged after Enterprise went off the air.

The basic argument went something like this – the Kelvin-timeline films had a contractual obligation to make everything look 25% different from what had come before, and this carried over into Discovery, meaning the new shows are set in an alternate reality and not the original Star Trek timeline. Obviously that’s completely untrue, and Remembrance confirmed it. This is the original timeline, the one Spock left behind when he travelled to the alternate reality.

Picard has many artifacts in his personal archive from The Next Generation and the TNG-era films, so this is definitely, 100%, the same reality. Picard is the same Picard from TNG – just older. Enterprise, Discovery, The Original Series, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager all took place in this timeline as well, before the events of this episode. Case closed, “theory” debunked. And as we saw dozens of TNG-era objects in Picard’s archive, the “25% different” nonsense is debunked too.

Number 2: The Ready Room – Star Trek’s aftershow – is actually worth watching.

Wil Wheaton now hosts The Ready Room – discussing each episode of Star Trek: Picard after it’s released.
Credit: Star Trek on Facebook

During Discovery’s second season, I only tuned in to The Ready Room a couple of times, and I wasn’t particularly impressed. Airing on Facebook Live after each episode, the show would feature someone involved in the episode’s production and they’d discuss some of the behind-the-scenes goings-on with the host. This time around, the host of The Ready Room is Wil Wheaton – yes, Wesley Crusher himself!

And it’s clear that he’s a fan of Star Trek – a passionate one, too. He talked about Remembrance with such enthusiasm that he was a joy to watch, and the interviews with Hanelle M. Culpepper and Michael Chabon – the director of the episode and the showrunner respectively – were respectful and genuinely interesting.

Personally, I like to keep my in-universe and real-world experiences separate, so watching The Ready Room immediately after the episode isn’t something I want to do… I need to give myself a few hours at least to come back down to Earth! But when I was ready, I gave The Ready Room a chance and I’m glad I did. I look forward to tuning in again next week for another look behind the curtain.

Number 3: The Ferengi Alliance is still around – at least in some form.

The emblem of the Ferengi Alliance seen in Boston.

This one was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “easter egg”, but toward the beginning of the episode during an establishing shot of Boston, the emblem of the Ferengi Alliance can be seen. It’s projected on the side of a Bostonian building right before the scene with Dahj and her boyfriend, but I noticed it immediately.

Towards the end of Deep Space Nine, Grand Nagus Zek had begun implementing reforms to Ferengi society. Women were allowed to fully participate for the first time, and basic state assistance was put in place for financially unsuccessful Ferengi. Rom was chosen to be the next Grand Nagus when Zek stepped down. That’s twenty-five years before Star Trek: Picard’s setting, but it’s interesting to see that the Ferengi Alliance still exists, and is presumably still an independent faction.

Number 4: The attack on Mars was far worse than we realised.

Ships commandeered by rogue synthetics attacked Mars.

In Children of Mars, the attack by the rogue synths looked serious, but its ultimate outcome was unclear as the episode ended when news of the attack was only just breaking. Remembrance takes place over a decade later, and the extent of the damage is now known. Picard lost the entire rescue armada, and over 90,000 people died.

Worse is that Mars, which had been home to Utopia Planitia, is “on fire to this day” – strongly implying that the shipyards couldn’t be rebuilt and that the planet, which we know to have been inhabited, now might be wholly uninhabitable. The loss of the Federation’s most significant shipyard will have had repercussions, and the loss of Mars, Earth’s closest neighbour and one of humanity’s earliest colonisation targets, will have been a psychological blow.

Number 5: The Rogue Synths are no longer active.

I’m fairly sure that these are either the rogue synths or other androids shut down around the same time.

We speculated a little about who the rogue synths might be in my final article about the factions of Star Trek: Picard. The question of whether they remained an active faction after the attack wasn’t clear then, but the galaxy-wide ban on synthetics makes it clear that the rogue synths are no more.

What became of the individuals who attacked Mars isn’t clear, though. It’s possible that they and their ships were destroyed by Starfleet, but it’s equally possible that they were able to be peacefully shut down and are currently in storage, like the Data-esque characters we saw in the trailer.

However, with the plot of Picard currently fixated on synthetic life, I think that the rogue synths will come back into play somehow. And even if they were all destroyed – or rather, killed – in the aftermath of the Mars attack, I’m confident that by the end of the season we’ll understand what led them to rebel and attack the shipyard.

Number 6: The Romulan situation is bad – but they aren’t completely out of the game.

These Romulans were able to launch an undetected attack very close to the heart of Starfleet.

With Picard’s armada having been destroyed, it’s unclear how many Romulans were saved before the supernova. However, it seems unlikely that the planned 10,000 ships were able to be built elsewhere, and that whatever evacuation could be ultimately cobbled together saved far fewer than the intended 900 million lives.

However, the Romulans remain a force to be reckoned with. Armed Romulan operatives were able to transport to two locations on Earth and attack Federation citizens – all without raising any alarm. One of the attacks took place spitting distance from a Starfleet archive which required Picard’s Admiral-level clearance – and in addition, the Romulans were able to conceal themselves and the target of their attack in such a way that they didn’t even appear on any Starfleet security feeds.

So while it’s clear that the Romulan Star Empire has suffered, their intelligence and military technology is keeping pace with, and arguably outmanoeuvring, that of the Federation. Whether these operatives are the Tal Shiar (the Romulan secret police/intelligence agency) or whether they’re even formally affiliated with the Romulan government is still unknown.

Number 7: Androids are banned.

Picard and Dr Jurati examine the disassembled body of B4.

After the attack on Mars, a “galactic treaty” went into effect, prohibiting synthetic life forms such as androids. Picard considers this to be a mistake, even morally wrong, but nevertheless the ban exists, and it appears to be something that all of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants’ major factions have subscribed to.

Describing the ban as “galactic” may suggest that it even extends to factions like the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant and possibly even Delta Quadrant factions from Voyager, but I think that may be taking the word slightly too literally. For all intents and purposes, though, androids and other synthetic life forms are banned, and presumably any synths that were active at the time of the attack have been rounded up and forcibly shut down – raising some alarming questions about how this was done and whether synthetic life forms had any rights.

What does this mean for self-aware holograms, like The Doctor or Vic Fontaine? It’s unclear whether they were affected by the ban too, as the only hologram we’ve seen thus far was Index – who did not appear to be fully sentient. Index may have given a couple of very subtle hints at sentience, though, or maybe that’s just my interpretation of her movements and expressions.

Number 8: Some people flout the android ban and continue to work.

Dahj’s necklace was a symbol representing a particular method of creating androids.

Bruce Maddox, last seen in The Measure Of A Man from the second season of The Next Generation, disappeared in the aftermath of the attack on Mars and the ban on synthetics. A symbol he used to illustrate one of his theories about creating androids was seen on Dahj and Soji’s necklaces – implying that he created them, if indeed they are synthetics.

As with many points above, this raises as many questions as it answers. Was Dr Maddox involved, even inadvertently, in the attack on Mars? What purpose does creating Dahj and Soji serve? Who is supporting his research, and where is it being conducted?

Most significantly, if Dahj appeared to be fully human, how did Maddox manage to pull that off? If synthetic life is banned, and the Federation has sensors capable of detecting synthetics, then Dahj must have either been fully anatomically human, or must have employed some kind of system designed to fake that on all scans. We know Federation sensors in the 24th Century could differentiate Data from a human, so how Dahj and Soji haven’t been detected remains a mystery.

Number 9: There has been Borg activity in the Alpha and/or Beta Quadrants.

The Romulans have a base aboard a Borg cube.

There had been two Borg incursions into the Alpha and Beta Quadrants that we knew about before Remembrance. The first was in The Best Of Both Worlds from The Next Generation’s third season, where a single Borg cube attacked Earth and destroyed a huge Federation fleet at the Battle of Wolf 359. The second came a few years later when the Borg again sent a single cube to Earth during the events of First Contact. Both cubes were completely destroyed, such that they couldn’t have been reassembled.

The existence of another Borg cube in Romulan-controlled territory strongly suggests another Borg incursion on this side of the galaxy. When this took place and what its objective was isn’t known, but the fact that the Romulans were able to defeat it and still keep the vessel intact must have been a huge coup. The knowledge they could gain about the Borg may have unlocked whole new technologies for them – perhaps even explaining how Romulan operatives were able to conduct covert operations in San Francisco.

Number 10: The Federation pulled the plug on the mission to aid the Romulans.

“We withdrew.” – Picard became very upset when pushed on why he resigned.

Picard as an individual has the loyalty of at least two Romulans – but relations between the Federation as a whole and the remnants of the Romulan Star Empire may be much more frosty. In the aftermath of the attack on Mars, the Federation abandoned the rescue mission and didn’t rebuild the destroyed fleet – presumably forcing Picard to use other means to aid Romulus.

He was clearly successful to an extent – the presence of such loyal Romulan aides confirms this – but he resigned from Starfleet in protest at the decision, perhaps calling their bluff in a last-ditch effort to force his superiors to reconsider.

Picard states that Starfleet “withdrew”, shirking its duties in the aftermath of the supernova – and possibly other significant events. Whether this represents a change in Federation policy to become more insular and/or isolationist isn’t clear, but from Picard’s perspective at the time that was certainly the case.

There are surely going to be consequences as a result of the decision to effectively betray the Romulans after they had been assured of help. The fact that we see Romulan operatives on Earth at least hints at this, but the extent of the relationship will be seen later as the story unfolds.

So that’s it. A few bits and pieces that we learned from Remembrance, the first episode of Star Trek: Picard. Many of these points lead to more as yet unanswered questions, but a series as carefully constructed as Picard would seem to be would surely not be setting up mysteries it doesn’t intend to resolve. After all, this isn’t a JJ Abrams film!

As I said last time, I felt that Remembrance absolutely knocked it out of the park, and as far as Star Trek premieres go, it’s at least on a par with Emissary, the opening episode of Deep Space Nine.

While it can be nice to binge-watch a whole series at once, I think that weekly instalments like this give us time to digest each episode fully before moving on to the next. And I’m glad that Star Trek hasn’t gone down the route of doing full-season dumps like Netflix does for some of its original programming. Breathing room, especially after an episode as entertaining, exciting, and interesting as Remembrance can be important to us as viewers, and I’m glad that it’s being released this way. It gives me time to ponder some of those questions and speculate wildly about potential plot points!

If the rest of the episodes this season are even close to being as good as Remembrance, we’re in for an amazing couple of months. And I’m even more glad that a second season of Star Trek: Picard has been confirmed – hopefully production will begin shortly so the season can be released in about a year’s time.

Live Long and Prosper!

Remembrance, the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, is available to watch now on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and other countries and territories. Star Trek: Picard, and the entire Star Trek franchise, is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.