Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Why Jean-Luc Kept His Picard Day Banner

Here's why Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) kept his Captain Picard Day banner, which is seen in his personal vault in Star Trek: Picard. The first episode of the new CBS All-Access series about the retired Starfleet hero featured a scene where Jean-Luc visits the Starfleet Archives in San Francisco. The scene was filled with callbacks and Easter eggs to Star Trek: The Next Generation and the TNG movies, but none was more heartwarming than seeing his Captain Picard Day banner proudly displayed. Yet some Trekkers naturally wonder why Jean-Luc kept it at all since it commemorates a 'holiday' he hated.

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Captain Picard Day was introduced in the TNG season 7 episode, "The Pegasus", and it remains a comedic highlight of the classic series. While "The Pegasus" was primarily an episode about Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Captain Picard Day was an amusing B-story where the children of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D celebrated their starship's commander, who they considered a hero. Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) oversaw the festivities while Riker gently mocked his captain. Picard also had to explain Picard Day to Admiral Blackwell, who was less than impressed with the Captain of the Enterprise declaring, "I'm a role model!" The joke of Captain Picard Day lay in Trekkers being all-too-aware that the stern and scholarly Picard disliked children and was extremely uncomfortable around them. So why would Admiral Picard hold onto his Captain Picard Day for decades and even display it among his prized mementos?

The simple truth of the matter is, by Star Trek: Picard's era, which is set in 2399 - about 25 years since Captain Picard Day was introduced - Jean-Luc is not the same man he once was. Picard has changed and he looks back differently on his time commanding the Enterprise-D, including how he felt about Captain Picard Day. Now in his 90s, Picard is in the twilight of his years and he's dealing with loss and regret: he mourns Commander Data (Brent Spiner), who died to save Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis, and he's nursing his bitter disappointment after he quit Starfleet in protest of the Federation abandoning the mission to save the Romulan people from their sun going supernova, which was a mission Picard led. Sadly, Jean-Luc has no family, his friends from the Enterprise are scattered across the galaxy, and he no longer has his ship and his Starfleet career. Simply put, the old man has grown nostalgic for the good old days, and that includes a reevaluation about how he felt about Captain Picard Day, which is a literal symbol of happier days gone by.

In The Ready Room on CBS All-Access, hosts Wil Wheaton, director Hanelle Culpepper, and Star Trek: Picard's showrunner Michael Chabon explained that Jean-Luc keeping the Picard Day banner showed his growth as a character. To Chabon, the banner expressly symbolized "missed opportunity" where Picard looks back on the years aboard the Enterprise-D and wishes he had done some things differently. As Chabon explained, Jean-Luc now regards that banner, with the names of children now grown up, and thinks that maybe he should have appreciated it more at the time.

Adding extra poignancy to the Captain Picard Day banner hanging in his vault is that the Enterprise-D was destroyed in Star Trek Generations so Jean-Luc understands he can truly never go back again. The banner wasn't one of the keepsakes Picard salvaged at the end of that film, but it says a lot that he went to the effort of acquiring it because he decided the banner was worth keeping. It's not clear whether Captain Picard Day continued to be celebrated aboard the Enterprise-E, but at this late stage of his life, Jean-Luc holding onto the Captain Picard Day banner speaks volumes about the older man he evolved into in Star Trek: Picard.

Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on CBS All-Access and Fridays internationally on Amazon Prime Video.


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