Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Where The Cardassians Are In Picard

Jean-Luc Picard and the Cardassian Union had some run-ins over the years, but where are these alien villains in the era of Star Trek: Picard? Set towards the end of the 24th century, Star Trek: Picard catches up with Patrick Stewart's famous character in retirement but, predictably, it's not long before he's back out in the thick of adventure. Picard's upcoming solo series promises to revisit some familiar faces, friendly and otherwise, including the Borg, the Romulans, Data, Riker and potentially even the Traveler. One notorious enemy that haven't yet been confirmed or glimpsed in the trailer footage are the Cardassians.

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The Cardassians are a particularly brutal alien race that view other species as inferior, boasting a violent history of military dictatorship rule and aggressive interplanetary expansion. The threat of their considerable empire provides a common enemy to the Federation and the Klingons, and the Cardassians possess several unique, useful skills such as photographic memories and resistance to the Vulcan mind meld. The Cardassians were ruthless in war, highly intelligent and created numerous problems for Starfleet throughout the 24th century.

Picard's History With The Cardassians

First introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the tension between Picard and the Cardassian Empire goes back to the captain's pre-Enterprise days on the Stargazer, where he showed a Cardassian vessel goodwill by lowering shields and was promptly attacked in return. When the concept of the Cardassians was integrated into Star Trek lore in The Next Generation season 4, however,  it was revealed that a tenuous peace treaty had been put in place between Cardassia and the Federation after a period of war. The Cardassians and Picard started as they meant to go on, and when the two met once again in "Chain of Command," Jean-Luc was subjected to immensely painful torture at Cardassian hands for a period of days, but was eventually returned after resisting all interrogations.

During this period, the Cardassians proved themselves to be tactically astute, masters of laying traps that took advantage of their enemies' weaknesses. Because of this, the Federation deemed the Cardassians a threat and were reluctant to provoke them too heavily, even when that resulted in further issues such as the rise of the Maquis. Understandably, Picard's unpleasant run-ins with the Cardassians had a profound impact upon him, and it'll be fascinating to see how much of that tells in Star Trek: Picard.

The Cardassians' Role In Deep Space Nine

Despite enjoying several notable stories in The Next Generation, it was Deep Space Nine that explored the Cardassian race in more detail, presenting a more layered, multi-faceted view of the species. Elim Garak became one of Deep Space Nine's most popular characters and was the first true Cardassian to be considered a protagonist. Another prominent figure was recurring baddie Dukat; more complicated than a regular villain but still one of Benjamin Sisko's most frequent enemies, Dukat negotiated and led an alliance between the Cardassians and the Dominion, thus creating a power that threatened Federation and Klingon alike.

Despite their ruthless behavior elsewhere in the Star Trek franchise, several rebel factions are shown to exist within the Cardassion union, both against their militaristic Central Command and later against the Dominion, thus proving that the race were as susceptible to good and evil as any other. Ultimately, breaking off the Dominion partnership would spell disaster for Cardassia, as their former allies retaliated in spectacular fashion, attacking with planetary-wide bombardments and ground assaults that slaughtered hundreds of millions, thus rendering the Cardassian Empire to a shadow of its former self by the conclusion of Deep Space Nine.

Little in canon terms has been heard from the Cardassians since. By the time of Star Trek: Picard, there's no chance that the Union could've been rebuilt after being decimated in Deep Space Nine, but it's also unlikely that the remaining Cardassians will simply hide away and accept their current position in the galactic hierarchy. There's certainly a strong chance that the Cardassians will still be seeking revenge or justice in Star Trek: Picard, and who better to help achieve that than an aging, bald former foe with a point to prove.

Star Trek: Picard premieres January 23rd on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime internationally.