This Is What Happened In The Star Trek Universe Before Picard

Photo: Courtesy of CBS.
When you open up CBS All Access to watch Star Trek: Picard, the series description tells you right off the bat that Picard is set 14 years after Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) retired from Starfleet at the end of the 24th century. But just knowing that the show is set in the '90s (the 2390s, that is) isn't enough to completely clarify the Picard timeline in Star Trek history. Now that the first episode of the new series is streaming, let's piece together what we can about what happened between the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 2370 and this new series.

What Happened To Data?

Three major events are referenced in the first episode, "Remembrance," that help fill out the timeline. First is the "death" of Commander Data (Brett Spiner), who sacrificed himself in Star Trek: Nemesis. The events of that film occurred twenty years before the start of Picard, in 2379. (Fun fact: the song "Blue Skies," which opens the Picard pilot, is sung by Data and an android made in an attempt to rebuild Data called "B-4" in Nemesis. So that's either an Easter Egg or a major clue.)

Picard Is Set In The Prime Star Trek Universe

The second major event referenced in Picard is the Romulus supernova, which was actually a major plot point in J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek reboot. In that film, a rogue group of Romulans led by Captain Nero chase the old Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) through a black hole when their planet is destroyed in the year 2387 — taking them way back in time and creating a parallel universe. But Picard is set in the prime Star Trek universe that Spock and Nero left behind, not the one with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, so all you need to take away from this information is that the planet Romulus is kaput thanks to a supernova that Spock failed to eliminate. Also, if Picard ever mentions that Ambassador Spock has been missing for the past decade, you know why and you know where he went: the parallel universe in which Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Star Trek: Beyond take place.

What Happened To Picard Before The New Show?

In Picard, we learn that Jean-Luc was instrumental in aiding and relocating Romulan refugees after this disaster — and that his initial plan to help evacuate Romulus before the supernova exploded was scrapped by the Federation.
The reason for that coincides with third event referenced in Picard: a mysterious attack on Mars carried out by "synthetics," or androids in 2385. Not only did it lead to the Federation's decision to abandon the Romulans, it resulted in a ban on artificial intelligence and Picard's decision to retire in protest of Starfleet's xenophobic values.
If you're following along with the math, that specifically sets Picard in 2399 — let's hope they won't have to deal with any future Y2K-like catastrophes. Picard this connects Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Trek (2009) together in a way that fills in some plot holes and allows the new series to tell stories about refugees and the role of international/intergalactic government in time of crisis.
As for lighter matters, like what your favorite characters from TNG and Voyager like Riker, Troi, and Seven of Nine have been up to, we'll have to wait until they show up on Picard to learn more. It's been a busy couple of intervening decades in the Star Trek universe, and Picard is not holding back with the history. At all.
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