Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Theory: Romulan Powers Hint At Why They Hate Androids

Star Trek: Picard has revealed the Romulans hate synthetic life-forms and androids - could this be because they're touch telepaths? The first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard have essentially felt like "Chapter 1" of the story, acclimatizing viewers to the very different context in which Jean-Luc Picard now operates. They've also set up a significant retcon, revealing that the Romulans have a secret hatred of androids.

The main villains of Star Trek: Picard are a covert Romulan organization known as the Zhat Vash. The name apparently comes from an obscure Romulan term referring to the dead - "the only reliable keepers of secrets" - and even the Tal Shiar generally consider them to be a myth. But Picard has learned they're very real, and driven by a fanatical - almost religious - hatred of synthetic lifeforms and artificial intelligences. No explanation for this has yet been provided, but it presumably somehow fits in with the Romulans' possession of a Borg Cube.

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An important clue, however, may lie in the telepathic abilities that Romulans possess. The Romulans are direct descendants of the Vulcans, and they naturally inherited all the Vulcans' telepathic abilities. Curiously, however, the genes responsible for telepathy appear to have gone dormant in the Romulans over time, and they now manifest quite rarely. Occasionally a Romulan will demonstrate a sort of touch-telepathy - an ability to sense the feelings and thoughts of another when they make physical contact - but this is quite uncommon, and it's unclear whether the Romulans encourage the development of these powers.

Still, this may offer a subtle clue as to why the Romulans distrust androids. It's possible that, at some time, a group of Romulans encountered a synthetic race and were horrified at their inability to read them using telepathy. They would naturally consider synthetics to be "Other," not truly alive, and thus would be disturbed by their mimicry of life. It's worth remembering that Picard's housekeeper Laris suggested the Zhat Vash has existed for millennia, meaning they could well have been founded at a time before the genes associated with telepathy began to be rendered dormant.

This probably isn't the complete answer; after all, the Zhat Vash are said to guard some terrible secret, thus suggesting their hatred of synthetics is rooted in some sort of specific event. It may, however, be an important clue, helping to explain why a first contact between a group of Romulans and a synthetic race could go catastrophically wrong.


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