Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard's Romulan Friends, Explained

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 2 of Star Trek: Picard, "Maps and Legends," now streaming on CBS All Access.

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Picard finds the elderly captain living on his family’s ancestral chateau. Although Picard has no living relatives, he isn’t alone. Keeping him company is his pet dog, Number One and a Romulan couple named Laris and Zhaban.

In “Remembrance,” the premiere episode, we meet Laris and Zhaban as grateful refugees. Since the supernova of their system’s sun and subsequent destruction of their homeworld, Picard has allowed the two to live on the chateau and work the vineyard as its sole caretakers. It is a job they dutifully perform while showing immense respect and devotion to Jean-Luc. Maybe more than Picard is willing to see or admit, the couple has also taken the responsibility of caring for him in his golden years. But Laris and Zhaban are much more than the humble vintners they present themselves to be.

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In “Maps and Legends,” it’s revealed that the two are former operatives for the Tal Shiar, an intelligence agency the Federation naively referred to as the “Romulan secret police”— a designation the couple finds humorously redundant. They got a chance in the second episode to show off some of their expertise by helping Picard in his investigation. Laris uses Tal Shiar criminology tech to help Picard piece together a holo recreation of the Zhat Vash’s attack on Dahj’s apartment. And the two are the ones who inform Jean-Luc of the Zhat Vash’s existence in the first place.

Though they have put Picard on the right track, it is not without reservations. They worry about his health, both looking after him in their own ways. Insisting he needs help, Zhaban offers to go back out into space with Picard without hesitation, but Jean-Luc asks that he remain with Laris and oversee the vineyard for him. Laris is more protective. She lashes out at both the captain and her partner for contemplating something as crazy as taking on the Zhat Vash.

It’s been made clear they admire him for his attempts to save the Romulan people, but the specifics of how they met have yet to be brought up. However, their first encounter can be found in the prequel comic, Star Trek: Picard - Countdown. In issue #3, Laris and Zhaban operate as the Tal Shiar agents, Avem and Noctis.

The Romulan government was resentful of Starfleet’s assistance, and the two were meant to act against Jean-Luc. However, the two were moved by Picard’s efforts and defected. They assisted Picard in his efforts, falling in love in the process. Following him back to Earth following his resignation, the two have been with the former captain ever since.

It’s clear that in the fourteen years since his retirement, they have become an integral part of Jean-Luc’s everyday life. While it may surprise some that he’s spending his golden years in the care of Romulans, once counted amongst his most heated adversaries, it is comforting to see that he’s being tended to by people who understand just how special Picard is. They’ve been useful allies so far, and while they may not be following him into space, Laris and Zhaban may still have an important role to play.

Star Trek: Picard stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, and Harry Treadaway. New episodes of the series premiere every Thursday on CBS All Access.


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