The new Star Trek: Picard trailer is perfectly suited for any viewer new to Trek, but it also contains a lot of layered mythology and timeline questions for decades-long fans of the various shows.
If it’s been a while since you engaged with The Next Generation, Voyager, or the Star Trek movies released nearly 20 years ago, some of the references in the trailer might seem a little confusing, or at the very least, very quickly glossed-over. Where was Data the last time we saw him? What is the history of the Borg up to this point? What’s the deal with Seven of Nine again? Is Picard living on a farm? (No, it’s a wine vineyard.) Okay, but why?
So that it’s all in one place: here’s a selected chronological timeline of important stuff featured in the show: from Hugh, to Data, and Seven of Nine; to Picard’s family, to Troi, and a certain supernova.
Captain Picard is captured and assimilated into the Borg collective (TNG, “The Best of Both Worlds Parts 1 and 2″)
At the start of the Picard trailer, a voice asks Jean-Luc if he has “ever felt like a stranger” to himself. Which he replies, “Many, many times.” The most prominent time that happened in TNG was when the Borg assimilated Picard and turned him into Locutus, a kind of mouthpiece for the Collective. In some ways, Picard never really recovered from the psychological scars of this experience, which gives us an idea of what he might be thinking about in the new show.
Captain Picard visits his family and rolls around in the mud with his brother Robert at Château Picard (TNG, “Family”)
Arguably one of the weirdest–and greatest–episodes of TNG, this episode introduces Picard’s family and specifically introduces the setting of the French winery, Château Picard. Because several scenes in both trailers for the new series take place at Château Picard, it’s worth looking at the winery’s first–and until recently–only, appearance in Trek canon. In this episode, Picard clashes with his brother Robert over classic family problems; Robert perceives Picard as a snob for leaving home and going into space. (Keep in mind that Star Trek: Nemesis revealed Jean-Luc as the only Picard to ever go into space.) Meanwhile, Picard just thinks his brother is a bully (because honestly, he is). Both men are right and both men are wrong. But they end up drinking some wine in the end, despite being covered in mud after a huge brawl.
The Enterprise-D rescues a wounded Borg drone, Third of Five, who later takes the name “Hugh” (TNG, “I, Borg”)
Because Jonathan Del Arco is returning to play Hugh in Picard, his origin story is super important. In 2368, the Enterprise-D finds a crashed Borg scout ship and beam its only surviving drone, named Third of Five, on board for medical care. The episode confronts the crew’s prejudice against the Borg and, for the first time on Star Trek, actively explores whether a Borg drone could, in fact, leave the collective and regain their individuality. In one pivotal moment, Picard pretends to be Locutus again in a ferocious and tense scene to test Hugh’s newfound individuality–a notion that Picard clearly does not believe–and finds himself shaken when Hugh demands that Picard treat him as a person.
Hugh only returned to Trek canon one more time after that, which continued to complicate the idea of what it meant for a Borg drone to gain its individuality.
(Note: Hugh the Borg has no connection to Hugh Culber, you know, the heroic doctor from Star Trek: Discovery.)
Hugh becomes the leader of the rogue Borg who split from the Collective (TNG, “Descent Part II”)
After Hugh was sent back to the Borg Collective, his newfound individual selfhood essentially became “infectious,” creating an offshoot of rogue Borg drones who were full-fledged individuals. Unsure of how to create a community or set a direction for themselves, they came under the sway of Data’s evil brother, Lore. After Lore was defeated, the only person left in charge of the rogue Borg was Hugh. In an interview with TV Line published during San Diego Comic-Con, Del Arco said that Hugh has “grown” in his leadership role over the years by the time we get to the events of Picard.
Robert, Marie, and René Picard — Jean Luc’s brother, sister-and-law and nephew — are all killed in a fire (Star Trek Generations)
In some way, this tragedy begins to define the post-Next Generation Jean-Luc. In the first big TNG movie, Picard questions his own mortality after his only living relatives literally die in a fire. (You gotta hand it to Generations: First TNG movie ever, and the captain breaks down crying in like the first 30 minutes. Rad.) Presumably, Picard inherits Château Picard as a result of this. The blow of losing his only living family is a big deal for Picard throughout the rest of the TNG-era movies. He feels keenly his status as The Last Picard, and tends to make foolish choices when offered the opportunity to correct that.
Grapes for a future vintage of Picard wine are possibly planted (Star Trek: Picard, teaser trailer)
Because burgundy grape vines can take about 1-2 years to grow and produce grapes before they’re ready to be harvested, then can be aged in barrels for 2-15 years, it’s possible that the 2386 wine Jean-Luc has in the teaser trailer is from the very last new grapevines planted by his brother Robert.
Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E prevent the Borg from changing Earth’s past (Star Trek: First Contact)
Though “The Best of Both Worlds” is Jean-Luc’s most famous Borg story, his biggest tango with the hive-minded cyborg zombies is Star Trek: First Contact. Here, the Borg try to change Earth’s history by traveling back in time and prevent Earth’s very first contact with an alien species. This film establishes the Borg Queen as the head of the Collective and the guiding mind behind the decision to assimilate Picard and turn him into Locutus. It also demonstrates that the Borg can quickly assimilate people into the hive using nanoprobes. (Which really looked a lot like what happened to Leland in Star Trek: Discovery last season. Though, officially, Control is NOT the Borg, at least for now.)
First Contact also demonstrated that though Picard was capable of seeing that certain Borg had the potential for rehabilitation, he was still filled with rage over his assimilation. (The fact that the Borg nearly assimilate all of Earth in this movie might have something to do with Picard not being super open-minded about them.) And yet, by the end of the movie, Picard learns his need for revenge isn’t going to do anybody any favors. In almost every way, this is the Picard we know the best right now; a guy who got close to losing his soul—twice—and came back better than before. After First Contact, Picard is a little more lightened up in the next two movies, even though bad stuff happens.
Seven of Nine is liberated from the Borg Collective by Captain Janeway and the USS Voyager (Star Trek: Voyager, “Scorpion Part 2.”)
Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is obviously a big deal in the new Picard show and, importantly, she was part of the Borg Collective for 13 years (plus 5 years in a “maturation chamber” that restructured her young mind), far longer than any other assimilated character we’ve seen thus far (and by the time of Star Trek: Picard, she’s only been fully human for 25 years). Separated from the Collective by Captain Janeway while Voyager was trapped in the Delta Quadrant, Seven of Nine became a break-out character on the show, and her ongoing character struggle was learning how to adapt to life as a human when, in most instances, she didn’t actually care to be an individual. (It was boring, and inefficient, and strange, at first.) Where Hugh provided a limited look at Borg drones regaining their individuality, Seven of Nine provided a lengthy character study.
By the time of Star Trek: Picard, it’s not totally clear if Seven is going by “Seven,” “Seven of Nine,” or her birthname “Annika.” Regardless, she seems to have a pre-existing relationship with Picard (he certainly seems comfortable enough to drink her whiskey!) and we’re excited to see how his experiences with individuality, the Collective, and machine intelligences vs human intelligences, align.
Seven of Nine discovers Borg drones who have created a virtual safe haven called “Unimatrix Zero” (Star Trek: Voyager, “Unimatrix Zero parts 1 and 2”)
One of the most important episodes dealing with Borg rebellion is the two-part Voyager episode “Unimatrix Zero.” In this one, Seven discovers a kind of telepathic/holographic virtual world where Borg drones could hide their real personalities. It’s totally conceivable that if Seven will make at least a passing reference to Unimatrix Zero, mostly because it demonstrated that even the most brainwashed drones had private interior lives that the Collective could not repress or eliminate.
The Borg Collective is dealt a massive blow and possibly extinguished as a Collective by Captain Janeway and Admiral Janeway (Star Trek: Voyager, “Endgame”)
Alright, saddle up.
It is the year 2404 and a very sad Admiral Janeway doesn’t want to accept the losses she had to endure to get Voyager home after 23 years. So she makes and steals a bunch of weapons and travels back in time to the year 2378 and basically manipulates then-Captain Janeway and the Voyager crew into attacking the Borg Unicomplex, basically the Borg’s home base and the originating source of the Borg Queen. It’s unclear how much of the Borg survive this attack but there are a LOT of explosions and Admiral Janeway makes it her priority to bring down the Borg Queen and die trying so at the very least the Borg are fragmented across the galaxy. It’s very possible that the Collective ceases to exist AS a Collective, leaving billions and billions of Borg as individuals.
Captain Janeway sneaks a ride home through one of the Borg wormholes and pops out at Earth. We see Janeway made into an Admiral in the following year.
We have no word on whether Kate Mulgrew will appear in Star Trek: Picard, but it seems likely that Picard will be dealing heavily with the consequences of Janeway’s actions.
Data is destroyed and his memories are transferred to B-4’s less developed neural net/positronic matrix (Star Trek Nemesis)
Data sacrifices himself to save Picard in the film Star Trek: Nemesis, but by the end of the movie it is made clear that that he managed to transfer at least some of his memories to his prototype duplicate B-4. An earlier mention of B-4 as an early prototype of the more advanced Soong androids Data (and Lore) stresses that B-4’s hardware may not be capable of supporting the wealth of experience and development that Data has undergone. But clearly something gets through, as we hear B-4 idly humming a song that Data sang before his death.
We see what appears to be a fully functioning Data in the trailer to Star Trek: Picard. But we also see what appears to be a completely dissassembled and inert Data/B-4/Soong android in that same trailer. So who is Picard talking to? A hologram? Or Data fully reactivated within the body of B-4? Or Data in a completely new Soong android body?
Riker and Troi leave the USS Enterprise to join the USS Titan (Star Trek Nemesis)
Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes are returning as Troi and Riker respectively in the new series, but it’s unclear what they’re doing with their lives in 2399. At the end of Nemesis, it was established both of them were leaving for the USS Titan, which was—finally—going to be Riker’s first command. Is he still doing that 20 years later? Or is he a grizzled old Admiral who begrudgingly helps Picard, like in the possible future depicted in the TNG finale “All Good Things”? Is Troi still urging Picard to deal with his baggage? Did she finally kill Barclay? Did Troi and Riker have a kid? Did they name them Dizzy Troi like Chris wanted? We’ll see!
Picard leaves the USS Enterprise-E for a special assignment from Starfleet (Starfleet Museum exhibit at San Diego Comic-Con, 2019)
According to a placard at the First Duty exhibit at San Diego Comic-Con, 2381 is the year Picard stops being the Captain of the Enterprise-E. This means Picard was captain of the Enterprise-E for 9 years total. (This assumes he took command of the Enterprise-E in 2372, which would match-up with Geordi saying “we’ve been in space for a year now” in First Contact.)
It’s also notable that he left the Enterprise-E so shortly after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. The film separates most of the main cast: Data gets killed, Troi and Riker leave for the Titan, and although it’s only in a deleted scene, Dr. Crusher is also said to leave for Starfleet Medical. So it’s really just Geordi, Worf, and a new crew on the Enterprise-E in those last two years. We imagine it must have felt pretty lonely.
Time to move on, perhaps?
The last time somebody got assimilated in that weird “facility”
In the Comic-Con trailer for Star Trek: Picard, we briefly see what looks like a prison that (maybe) contains former Borg Drones. The big clue is a sign that reads: “This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation.” Assuming these are Earth years (which is a big assumption) quick math means 5,843 days is a little over 16 years, and 16 years backward from 2399 (the start of the new show) would be 2383. What is going on in this maybe Borg-prison isn’t clear at all. But, if that sign is meant to be taken literally, this place existed during this year, possibly in secret.
Picard leads hypothetical “Rescue Armada” (Star Trek: Picard teaser trailer)
This date is a little bit of conjecture and could easily be earlier, but if we assume the teaser trailer dialogue happens in 2399, then “15 years ago” would be 2384. Then again, it’s totally possible that the scene in the teaser trailer happens earlier, maybe in a flashback, which could move this date back a few years. Maybe.
Either way, the voice questioning Picard in the first trailer says Jean-Luc led the “the greatest rescue armada in history.” Presumably, this is the special assignment Picard took-on after leaving the Enterprise. And, since we know that a supernova destroys Romulus a few years from this point, the “rescue armada” could be a massive fleet of ships that combine to evacuate the Romulus system. Still, because this is a few years before Romulus gets hit by a supernova, it stands to reason that the rescue armada could be for something else, possibly Borg-related.
Jean-Luc leaves Starfleet (Starfleet Museum exhibit at San Diego Comic-Con, 2019)
According to the First Duty pop-up exhibit at Comic-Con, this is the year when Picard leaves Starfleet. We don’t know why, yet.
Château Picard wine is harvested (Star Trek: Picard teaser trailer)
The bottles that Picard is carrying in the first teaser trailer have a vintage of 2386, which means that’s the year that somebody took them out of the barrels and started bottling the wine. Since the teaser trailer also implies that Picard experienced a terrible failure in his life either during or after the events of the Rescue Armada, it’s probable that 2386 is also the first year that he personally bottles his vineyard’s wine.
Destruction of the planet Romulus (Star Trek – 2009 film)
Are we seeing too many characters from the various Star Trek shows? How about we add in Spock, too!
In the 2009 Star Trek “reboot” film, Prime Spock describes attempting to thwart a supernova from annihilating the home planet system of the Romulan Empire. His description to Young Kirk places this event in the year 2387. (2387 is consistent with Spock saying “129 years from now” when he mind-melds with Kirk in this movie since the first reboot movie takes place in 2258.)
Picard and Discovery producer Alex Kurtzman has said that the destruction of Romulus weighs heavily on Picard in the new series. Three things of note here. First, the first reboot Trek film was co-written by Alex Kurtzman, so he’s pretty familiar with the different timelines. Second, in the big Comic-Con trailer for Picard, we see several Romulans rocking the same shaved-head look that they did in the 2009 movie, so an effort is being made to be visually consistent with the 2009 Star Trek film. Finally, in a TVLine interview, Patrick Stewarts mentions that some Romulans actually work with Picard in the wine vineyard in France, and in the trailer, we see several Romulans giving Picard pep talks, which further supports the idea that the “rescue armada” was for Romulus, that the Romulan Empire is scattered across the quadrant, and a lot of Romulans love Picard now.
Chakotay dies in an alternate future (Voyager finale, “Endgame”)
Okay, sorry, serious question though: since Admiral Janeway erased this future is Chakotay still alive in the year 2399 AND if he is then are he and Seven of Nine still in the relationship they started in the final season of Star Trek: Voyager AND if they are then will we see Chakotay briefly in Star Trek: Picard AND if they’re not in a relationship then did Chakotay die in 2394 in this main timeline, too, MEANING that it doesn’t matter what you do to the timeline, Chakotay still dies?
This is possibly the most important question about Star Trek: Picard and how dare you suggest otherwise.
“All Good Things” alternate future scenes (TNG finale, “All Good Things”)
In the TNG series finale, Picard got to play around in an alternate version of the future in which he also was tending to the vines of his family’s vineyard. Almost nothing about this future has actually happened in the real timeline we’ve seen unfold since then (the Enterprise-D was destroyed, Data died, Troi is apparently alive, etc.) but, a few details seem to remain. For example, the Starfleet combadges worn by the Starfleet officers we see briefly in the Picard trailer are the same future design from “All Good Things,” and, for that matter, Voyager’s finale, “Endgame.” (Also, my vintage grade-school review of “All Good Things” totally holds up. Just sayin’.)
Star Trek: Picard
Whatever ends up happening after the mysterious Dahj (Isa Briones) seeks out Jean-Luc in the new series happens in 2399, right before the end of the 24th century. Whether or not we’ll see this show pass into the 25th century isn’t clear yet, but if so, it will be the first time a Trek show has spent any time in a century previously dominated by Buck Rogers!
In any case, anything that happens to Picard and any of the other returning characters begins in this year, and from this point, it seems like Picard—and Star Trek in general—is going forward into the future, not backward.
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com. His other science fiction essays and journalism have been published by SyFy Wire, Den of Geek!, Inverse, Vulture, and StarTrek.com He is the author of the essay collection Luke Skywalker Can’t Read (Penguin Random House) and an editor at Fatherly.