Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Reveals Why Picard Lost Faith In The Federation

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Countdown #1.

An official tie-in prequel comic for Star Trek: Picard has finally revealed why its hero lost faith in the Federation. Adding a new layer to the seemingly bright future for the Star Trek franchise, with the return of Patrick Stewart to the popular role of Jean-Luc Picard.

The Star Trek: Picard TV series is set towards the end of the 24th century, and the trailers have already made it clear that Jean-Luc has fallen from grace. Something has shaken his faith in the Federation, and he's retired to live at his the Picard family vineyard in La Barre, France. It's no doubt a lonely and isolated life, given his older brother Robert and his nephew Rene -- who previously lived there -- tragically died in a fire long ago. What could bring a man like Jean-Luc Picard to this grim ending? The answer will come as a surprise to fans.

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IDW has just published an official tie-in comic for Star Trek: Picard, which subtly links in to other comics published in 2009 to coincide with JJ Abrams' big-screen relaunch of Star Trek. And all these tie-ins finally provide an answer. The Star Trek: Picard prequel comic, Countdown, is set in the year 2385, two years before the destruction of Romulus in a devastating supernova. Although the Romulan Empire had attempted to keep the impending disaster a secret, the Federation's own scientists had discovered it, and Admiral Picard takes point on persuading Romulans to accept help.

He was personally coordinating evacuation efforts across the entire Romulan Empire, battling against the Romulans' natural secrecy and distrust of outsiders in order to help everybody he possibly could. This is Picard as he's never been seen before, at the very height of his career, facing one of the greatest challenges Starfleet has ever had to deal with. Starfleet is demonstrating its altruism on a cosmic scale, investing a phenomenal amount of time and resources in a desperate attempt to evacuate the bulk of the Romulan Empire before it is destroyed. They're working to a ticking clock, but it's impossible to accurately predict the supernova, meaning they have no idea when the clock is going to chime midnight. Now Admiral Jean-Luc Picard is confident in the righteousness of his cause, and he believes that Starfleet has begun to win over their old enemies, proving that they care for all life.

And then Picard's faith is shattered when he's confronted with the reality of the Romulan Empire. He's invited to the hidden colony world of Yuyat Beta, and there learns that the Romulans keep the native population as slaves. It's a horrific revelation, because it means that Yuyat Beta is inhabited by four or five million rather than ten thousand. Worse still, conversation with the Romulan authorities leads to Picard realizing that this slavery is not unusual; which means that, while Starfleet is rescuing the Romulans, then are condemning any number of races to extinction because they are being left behind.

"I am a fool," Picard reflects as the issue comes to a close. "So trusting. In the redemption of an old enemy. In my own abilities. In the righteousness of my cause. And now years of hard work, years of struggle against such odds... all for naught." The story is far from over; the issue ends on a cliffhanger. But it's clear that this is a defining moment in Picard's life, and that his faith in the Federation and its ideals has been shattered once and for all.

This might also hint why Jean-Luc Picard ultimately returns to the fray decades later. Star Trek: Picard trailers have confirmed that the Romulan survivors keep Borg prisoners, and it's possible these could be slaves. If so, Picard would object to beings who had been freed from the Collective being taken as slaves, and would no doubt step forward to champion the cause of these ex-Borg. The Romulans' slavery broke him, and their slavery could well be what forces him back into action as well.

Star Trek: Picard premieres January 23, 2020 on CBS All-Access and internationally on Amazon Prime Video.