10 Questions About Jean-Luc Picard, Answered
One of the most highly respected and venerated captains in Starfleet history, Jean-Luc Picard has managed to distinguish himself as a man of great personal fortitude, diplomatic conviction, and stalwart defender of the principles behind which the Federation and Starfleet were founded. He appeared for the first time in 1987 when Star Trek: The Next Generation began, as the first captain to command the Enterprise since Captain Kirk. While he may not possess Kirk's charm and personality, he is upheld by some Star Trek fans as the greatest captain the Enterprise has ever had.
An intensely private man, Picard is a man of compassion and deeply held beliefs. Though he isn't one for making friends, those he chooses to be close to can expect a bond of great mutual trust and respect. While Star Trek fans anxiously await Patrick Stewart's return as Picard in CBS's Star Trek: Picard, here's 10 questions about Jean-Luc Picard, answered.
10 WHAT WAS HIS CHILDHOOD LIKE?
Jean-Luc Picard was born in La Barre, France, to a family of winegrowers in 2305. Together with his mother Yvette, his father Maurice, and his older brother, Robert, he helped produce Picard wine. We learn in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Family" that his brother Robert (who, he never was particularly close to) took over the family winery.
By all accounts, Picard's early years were spent interacting greatly with the natural world around him, but the draw to Starfleet became an obsession he acquired as a young boy. Everything he did was in pursuit of joining, causing a rift between him and his family. There are several times in which a bottle of the Chateau Picard red wine is shown on screen.
9 WHAT IS HIS RELATIONSHIP TO HIS BROTHER?
Picard and his older brother Robert have never been close. Beginning in childhood, Robert resented the praise Picard received for his high marks in school as well as his aptitude for problem-solving. Robert was expected to inherit the family estate and the winery, whereas Picard could follow his dreams of joining Starfleet.
Robert bullied Picard when they were children, something that didn't diminish with time. When Picard returned to his home village after 20 years away, desperately trying to come to terms with what had been done to him by the Borg, it took a long time for Robert to strike a truce with him. Sadly in Star Trek Generations, Picard learns his brother and nephew perished in a fire.
8 WHAT WAS HE LIKE AS A STARFLEET CADET?
Unlike the dignified persona he presents as captain of the Enterprise, as a cadet Picard anything but. As we learn in the episode "Tapestry" of TNG, shortly after graduating Starfleet Picard got into a fight with Nausicaan and got stabbed through the heart, resulting in an artificial one needing to be implanted.
The omnipotent being Q gives him the chance to change that part of his past he regrets, but by doing so, he witnesses a future where he becomes an assistant in astrophysics, and not the captain of the Federation flagship. He may have been reckless in his youth, but it made him the bold leader he is today.
7 WHAT ARE HIS HOBBIES?
As a boy growing up in France, Picard learned to play the piano, despite hating having to perform in front of others. He did so mostly to please his mother, who enjoyed his playing. He is an avid attendee of recitals hosted aboard the Enterprise, especially those involving classical music. After the events of "The Inner Light", he learned how to play the Ressikan flute.
Picard has always loved the works of Shakespeare, preferring to read The Bard's works in their non-digital formats. He is also a known equestrian, who keeps his own saddle aboard the Enterprise. When using the holodeck, he prefers a program called "Dixon Hill", based off of the hard-boiled detective novels by Raymond Chandler.
6 HAS HE EVER FALLEN IN LOVE?
Picard would be the first to say that falling in love and having a family aren't compatible with being a captain in Starfleet. This hasn't stopped him from having feelings for several women over the course of Next Generation, but none of them have been able to shake up his sense of duty.
Notable women in Picard's life include Kamala, an empathic metamorph who imprinted on him but was promised to an ambassador. Lieutenant Daren, the head of stellar science aboard the Enterprise. Vash, a beguiling tomb raider who sparked his sense of adventure on Risa, and Dr. Beverly Crusher, with whom he's always shared a close relationship but perhaps never pursued given the circumstances surrounding her husband's death.
5 WHAT WAS HIS MOST DANGEROUS MISSION?
As a Starfleet captain, Picard has to not only be capable of boldly going where no one has gone before, but making sure he isn't reckless with the lives of his crew in the process. Though Captain Kirk might prove otherwise, Starfleet captains aren't meant to lead away teams. That distinction usually falls to their second in command.
In "Chain of Command", however, Picard led a secret mission deep into Cardassian space accompanied by Dr. Crusher and Worf. Cardassian operatives captured him, imprisoned him, and put him through psychological and physical torture to such an extent they almost broke him. He was prepared to give up any chance of seeing the Enterprise again to keep his crew safe.
4 WHY IS PICARD RESPECTED SO MUCH BY THE KLINGONS?
Not only does Picard have Worf's vote of confidence for showing courage in the face of adversity aboard the Enterprise, he is also well respected by high ranking members of the Klingon Empire. In TNG's "Reunion", Picard is selected by a recently poisoned K'mpec to not only discern his assassin, but also oversee the Klingon Right of Succession after he passes.
The two contenders to rule the Klingon Empire are Gowron and Duras. Worf claims the right to vengeance and engages Duras in a fight to the death for the murder of his mate, K'Ehleyr. Duras loses, and eventually Gowron is appointed High Chancellor.
3 WHAT'S HIS RELATIONSHIP TO GUINAN?
In the episode "The Best of Both Worlds", it's implied that Captain Picard and the ship's hospitality host, Guinan, are beyond friends, and beyond family. What could create such a close bond between the two, other than romantic? One possible explanation occurs in the TNG episode "Time's Arrow".
Picard saves Guinan in 1893 when they follow shapeshifting aliens to the late 19th century in San Francisco, California and she's badly injured. This could possibly explain why they're close in the future, though the temporal anomalies don't quite match. In the recently published "The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard" by David Goodman, it's stated Picard saved Guinan from bounty hunters (though this isn't official canon).
2 WHAT WOULD PICARD'S LIFE BE LIKE IF HE NEVER ATTENDED STARFLEET?
While it's difficult to imagine so disciplined and principled a man as Picard having anything other than a career in Starfleet, fans got a glimpse of what his life might have been like in "The Inner Light", when a mysterious probe allowed him to live out the lifetime of a member of a distant and dying race in the span of mere moments aboard the Enterprise.
As Kamin on the planet Kaatan, Picard has a wife, children, and even grandchildren, and seems sublimely happy leading the laconic life of a farmer. He also had a great love of archaeology at Starfleet Academy, and has said if he didn't pursue a career in Starfleet he would have been an archaeologist.
1 IS HE CONSIDERED THE BEST ENTERPRISE CAPTAIN?
While his diplomatic manner and style of captaincy is certainly revered, whether or not he's the best captain of the Enterprise is a matter of opinion. Like Captain Janeway of Voyager, he's broken the Prime Directive. Like Captain Kirk, he's defied orders from Starfleet brass. Like Commander Sisko, he's blurred the lines in the sand by making the ends justify the means. And like Captain Archer, he's dared to dream bigger than himself.
What is most noted about Captain Picard is his sense of compassion, and his belief in the integrity of others just as much as himself. His compulsion to help people of all walks of life see the best in themselves and believe in their own agency makes him certainly a beloved leader, if not the best captain.