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SYFY WIRE Star Trek: Picard

Star Trek: Picard trailer breakdown: Trek goes full Blade Runner at NYCC

By Ryan Britt
Riker and Picard trailer

Do retired starship captains dream of androids with paintbrushes? In the new trailer for Star Trek: Picard,  the titular Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is reunited with old crewmembers, assembles a ragtag group of new buddies, fights with a sword, and interrupts Will Riker in the middle of cooking dinner. In other words, the newest New York Comic Con trailer for Star Trek: Picard boldly went where Star Trek has never gone before and also felt like a big group hug from a bunch of old outer-space friends.

But if you take a look at a few specific elements from the trailer, the overall story seems to suggest that Star Trek is taking a page from Blade Runner. Is a robot/android/Borg revolution on the horizon in this version of Trek? When you look at the evidence, the story of Picard seems like it's about fighting for the rights of people who aren't exactly human.

Data appears in Picard's dreams

Data painting

Like the previous trailer from San Diego Comic-Con, this new trailer also opens with Picard thinking about his android bestie, Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner). Whereas the previous trailer left several questions open about how Data might appear in the new series, this trailer seemed to suggest Picard is dreaming about Data for some unknown reason.

In the dream, Data asks Picard if he wants to finish painting the picture. Picard says he "doesn't know how," and Data says that's not true. So what picture is Picard painting? It seems like this whole thing is about the future of A.I. in Star Trek, and Picard is at the center of it. And, if that's the case, Picard dreaming about Data means that the rights of various kinds of A.I. are weighing heavily on Picard's mind.

New androids?

new androids

Very briefly, the trailer gives us a glimpse of what appears to be androids, in the same style as Data from The Next Generation. (These are called Soong-type androids, named after Data's creator.) Now, for hardcore fans, this might mean that something Picard tried to prevent in The Next Generation has come true: Someone has decided to create a bunch of androids modeled on Data, which effectively might mean the Federation has robot slave labor. In "The Measure of a Man" Picard made sure Data wasn't dismantled and made the property of Starfleet. But now, because Data died in Star Trek: Nemesis, it seems like Starfleet perhaps made their Data army after all.

Seven of Nine seems to be fighting for Borg rights

Seven of nine has two phaser rifles

Another piece to the robot-revolution puzzle is the fact that in this trailer Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is far less interested in joking around with Picard, and instead insists that "I help people who have no one left to help them." This means that just like Jean-Luc, Seven has gone totally rogue and is no longer with Starfleet.

But why? Both Picard and Seven were previously assimilated by the Borg — a race of cybernetic beings with a collective mind — but it seems like in both trailers the Borg are possibly being persecuted. 

Romulan seduction

The Romulans are trying to get information from Dahj — was she a Borg?

In both the SDCC trailer and the new NYCC trailer, Picard is intent on helping a woman named Dahj (Isa Briones) who is being pursued by sinister forces. But in this new trailer we learn that the Romulans are trying to seduce her into helping them, quite literally. In a few scenes, we see Narek (Harry Treadaway) trying to take Dahj into his confidence.

The best guess here is that Romulans want Dahj because she might represent some kind of evolutionary connection between artificial life and organic life. Clearly, Narek doesn't actually have feelings for Dahj, and he's using her, but why? More importantly, if Narek is one of the bad Romulans, does Picard also have good Romulans?

Picards new ship versus a very old romulan ship

Unexpected Retro-Romulan Trek canon seems to be part of the backstory of Picard

Much has been written about how the rebooted 2009 Star Trek will inform the events of Star Trek: Picard. In brief, in that film the planet Romulus was destroyed at some point in the future, which now will have happened in the past of Star Trek: Picard. In other words, this series is happening in a galaxy where one of Starfleet's biggest enemies, the Romulans, are now pretty much homeless. We know Narek seems to be a bad guy, but there's another Romulan, Elnor (Evan Evagora), who has a sword and seems totally on Picard's side.

All of this suggests that the Romulans aren't an Empire anymore, and some of them are cool with working with humans, and some of them are scheming to screw everyone over. And the weirdest thing about all of this is the existence of a very old Romulan ship in the trailer. In more than one scene, a Romulan ship, straight out of the original Star Trek, is doing battle with what is probably Picard's new ship. Why are the Romulans using this ancient ship? This suggests either different factions of Romulans or ... time travel.

Riker in the kitchen

Picard visits Riker and Troi, but they're not going on the mission

It wouldn't be a new Star Trek trailer if there weren't a dose of nostalgia, and at the very end of this one we see Jean-Luc visit his former officers, Will Riker and Deanna Troi. We also hear someone who has to be Will and Deanna's son announce Picard's arrival. If you're a longtime fan, all of this is touching and might make you want to cry, but what does it mean for the larger story?

Back in The Next Generation episode "The Measure of a Man," Riker was briefly forced to testify against Data in a trial that determined whether androids had civil rights. Obviously, Data's rights were saved at that time, largely by Picard, but the point is, Riker is very familiar with why Picard might want to go on a quest to save cyborgs, androids, or maybe both. In the final moments of the trailer, Riker admits he "knows better" than to try and talk his former captain out of whatever he's got planned. Clearly, Troi and Riker are retired, and they're probably not going on the big adventure, but that doesn't mean they're not supporting their former Captain with hugs.

Star Trek: Picard — in which Jean-Luc (maybe) fights for robot rights — will hit CBS All Access on January 23, 2020.