Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: The Truth Behind Picard's Starfleet Resignation

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 3 of Star Trek: Picard, “The End is the Beginning,” now streaming on CBS All Access.

Jean-Luc Picard’s acrimonious departure from Starfleet and the ensuing fallout has been one of the central storylines of Star Trek: Picard. Until this point, all we knew was that Picard resigned in response to Starfleet’s handling of the Mars attack and Romulan evacuation efforts. But in the third episode, “The End is the Beginning,” we learned the specifics of how events actually played out. While it’s true he did quit, things did not go down quite the way viewers were led to believe.

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In a flashback scene, Picard emerges from his fateful meeting with Starfleet in a state of shock. He proceeds to explain exactly what happened to his outraged second-in-command, Raffi Musiker. In the wake of the Mars attack, the two had not given up on the Romulan relief efforts. Raffi and Jean-Luc had come up with a slew of contingency plans to present to the heads of Starfleet. It becomes clear that Jean-Luc entered Starfleet Headquarters that day with no intention of resigning. Even after the tragedy at Mars, he still held out hope that the Federation would do the right thing.

Jean-Luc soon found that hope to be woefully misplaced. Starfleet shot down every single one of his suggestions, refusing to extend any more aid a race that was considered their enemy. When he suggested the use of more synthetics instead of actual officers, Jean-Luc was informed of the Federation’s decision to ban artificial life. It was at that moment he had noticed how frightened Starfleet had become.

In a desperate gambit, Jean-Luc threatened to resign if Starfleet did nothing, hoping this sort of rebuke would appeal to their consciences. To his shock, they immediately accepted. Picard was completely blindsided by their response, as he had never considered for a moment that Starfleet would call his bluff. In his mind, that’s all his threat to resign was, a bluff.

He might have been able to talk himself out of resignation, but even if Starfleet would have listened, Jean-Luc was too shocked to defend himself. At that moment, seeing that the institution he had devoted his life to had failed himself and countless others, Picard faltered and gave up. He let them accept his resignation and left, seeing that his skills as a diplomat and negotiator were of no use. His words had fallen on deaf ears.

Raffi listened in disbelief, begging Picard to come up with one of his trademark brilliant rescues. But Jean-Luc explains that his bluff to resign was the last trick he had. There was nothing left up his sleeve. To make matters worse, by quitting, Raffi was forced to serve as Starfleet’s scapegoat.

Without meaning to, Jean-Luc had thrown her under the bus and ruined the life of a promising officer. Compounding the guilt he felt and adding to the sense of betrayal, it’s revealed that, before this moment, Raffi had admired Picard, looking up to him as a hero. This certainly justifies the mixture of hatred and begrudging affection that Raffi displays to Picard during his attempts to recruit her on his new mission.

The more that is revealed about the circumstances of his departure, the more apparent it is that the Federation has become a shadow of its former self. Whether or not Picard’s personal mission of mercy will have an effect on the tarnished Federation is unclear. If anyone can get the world of Star Trek back on the right path, it’s Jean-Luc Picard.

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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