After a ton of speculation, the first teaser trailer for Star Trek: Picard has finally revealed what Jean-Luc Picard has been up to since the end of both The Next Generation and the film Star Trek: Nemesis.
Released on the 25th anniversary of the final episode of The Next Generation — "All Good Things" — the trailer simply depicts the former heroic Starfleet captain tending his families historic wine vineyards, while a voiceover eventually reveals he's being questioned for his reasons for retiring from Starfleet.
First, let's take a look:
Here's a breakdown of the five biggest references and questions the trailer raises.
The trailer's setting references two famous TNG episodes
The vast majority of the new trailer shows Picard walking through his family wine vineyards in La Barre, France. In The Next Generation, it was established from the beginning of the show that Picard was French, despite Patrick Stewart having an English accent.
Famously, in Season 4 of TNG, Picard visited his brother at the wine vineyards in an episode called "Family." The next time we saw Picard in the vineyards was in the series finale, the Season 7 episode "All Good Things..." in which a future version of Picard was worried he would be the cause of humanity's destruction.
In "All Good Things..." it was established that the future Picard saw was just one possible future. But, here we are, in actual future Star Trek canon, and it looks like future Picard has indeed retired and is working his family's wine vineyard. Notably: Picard's brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all died in a horrible fire offscreen in the film Star Trek: Generations, which raises the question as to who has been tending the vineyard since then.
The "Rescue Armada" isn't something we've seen in Trek canon. Yet.
The voiceover in the trailer (Picard's integrator?) says Picard led a "rescue armada," but it's unclear if this event is something we're already supposed to know about. It's possible this references the film Star Trek: First Contact when Picard briefly took command of a large fleet to defeat the Borg. But, considering the weight of the comment, it feels like this "rescue armada" event is totally connected to whatever reason why Picard left Starfleet.
The easy answer is that the "rescue armada" was part of Spock's efforts to save the Romulan people from the destruction of their home planet, Romulus, sometime in the mid-2380s and that Picard was in on that. If you're confused, Spock's entire time traveling backstory in the 2009 Trek reboot is connected to the destruction of Romulus in the Prime Universe. AND, in multiple interviews, Alex Kurtzman has said that these events weigh heavy on Picard in the new series.
That said, the "rescue armada," could be something else entirely.
Picard became an Admiral, which might be the problem
The voiceover of the person questioning Picard in the trailer doesn't address him as "Captain," but instead calls him "Admiral." This means that at some point after the end of Star Trek: Nemesis Picard got promoted.
Weirdly, this is something a time-displaced Captain Kirk told him not to do in the movie Star Trek: Generations. Here was what Kirk said to Jean-Luc: "Don't let the transfer you, don't let them promote you. Don't let them do anything that gets you off the bridge of that ship!"
Clearly though, at some point, Picard did get promoted, which could be why his life got screwed up. The entire plot of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan largely revolves around the idea that Admiral Kirk isn't a Captain anymore, and is having a crisis because of it. It doesn't seem like Star Trek: Picard will crib from that storyline exactly, but it is possible that Picard could feel guilty about something that only a starship Captain could have prevented.
Also, for what it's worth, Picard was also an Admiral in a fake future that Riker experienced in a TNG episode called "Future Imperfect."
The person asking Picard questions might be a Romulan
This is purely a theory, but because the destruction of Romulus could play a huge part in Picard's thought process in the new series, it stands to reason that person asking him these questions in the voiceover isn't human, or, more relevantly, might be a Romulan. It's metafictional to say Picard "led us out of the darkness." But, in the literal Trek canon, who is "us" in this context? Starfleet? Humanity?
Maybe not. If Picard led a "rescue armada" to the Romulan homeworld, the "us" could be the Romulans. After all, in TNG, Picard was in cahoots with Spock to try and reunify the Romulans and the Vulcans. In the episodes "Unification Part 1 and 2," Picard even went undercover as a Romulan to help make this secret mission happen!
Star Trek: Picard is clearly a show for old fans... but easy for new viewers, too
Because the first shot of the new trailer opens with the Picard wine vineyard, a clear message seems obvious to longtime Next Generation-era Trekkies: This show is for you! Everyone who loved and obsessed over TNG would have probably recognized the callbacks to "All Good Things..." but then again, more casual fans might not have understood that Picard holding wine bottles is a deep cut.
The point is, the teaser trailer splits the difference between Next Generation nostalgia and hardcore fandom canon nit-picking. If a fan of TNG vaguely remembers a few things about Picard's backstory but doesn't remember the significance of the wine vineyard, it hardly matters. The new trailer sets-up all-new problems for Jean-Luc, and creates a great central mystery: "Why did you leave Starfleet?" Even if you've only seen a few episodes of The Next Generation, this central question is enough to get you onboard.
Finding out what one of the greatest Star Trek heroes did after their heyday seems to be why Star Trek: Picard wants us to tune in. Meaning, as much as it's about nostalgia for the past, this series is clearly all about what is happening to Picard now. His past is why we care but his future is what we can't wait to see next.