Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard Gives Raffi A Tragic Backstory

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 5

Star Trek: Picard revealed Raffi Musiker's (Michelle Hurd) backstory and the ex-Starfleet Officer is one of Star Trek's most tragic lead characters. Introduced in Star Trek: Picard's second episode, Raffi was the first person Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) called upon for help when he decided to set out on a mission to save Soji Asha (Isa Briones), the synthetic daughter of the late Commander Data (Brent Spiner). However, the former Admiral found his ex-First Officer living in squalor in the California desert and she was resentful and angry at Picard. Now, Trekkers learned there are even sadder incidents in Raffi's past that made her the way she is.

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14 years before the events of Star Trek: Picard, which is set in 2399, Raffi Musiker was a Lt. Commander and the First Officer of the U.S.S. Verity, the command ship of Admiral Picard's fleet that was intended to save the Romulan people from their sun going supernova. Musiker was Starfleet's foremost expert on the Romulans, and Picard not only relied upon her expertise, but he also developed a close relationship with Musiker, who calls him by the nickname "J.L.". Raffi and Picard were also embroiled in a dispute with the Romulans that was detailed in the canonical comic book miniseries Star Trek: Picard Countdown. However, after rogue androids attacked Mars and destroyed the rescue fleet, which resulted in the United Federation of Planets abandoning the Romulan rescue mission, Picard's actions fractured his relationship with Musiker. When Picard quit Starfleet in protest, Raffi also lost her career because of her close relationship with him. Neither spoke to each other for the next 14 years and the grieving Raffi developed a drug addition to snakeleaf. All throughout, Musiker harbored her rage that Picard was able to retire to his "very fine chateau" in France and he never tried to contact her — until he needed her help for his new mission.

Raffi secured the help of her friend Cristobal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) and his starship before joining Picard's mission. In Star Trek: Picard episode 5, "Stardust City Rag," fans learned exactly why Raffi was "anxious" to get to Freecloud: she wanted to see her grown son, Gabriel Hwang. Sadly, their reunion was tense and unpleasant because Gabriel resented his mother for what happened after she lost her Starfleet career. Raffi became obsessed with proving her theory that a conspiracy between Starfleet and the Romulans led to the attack on Mars and the subsequent ban on synthetic lifeforms in the Federation. (Raffi doesn't yet know her theory is correct.) In addition, Muskier's drug habit drove her husband and son away, and Gabriel still doesn't want his mother in his life in spite of her professing that she's clean. Even sadder, Gabriel has a pregnant Romulan wife that Raffi doesn't know. In spite of her hopes for reconciliation, Raffi was spurned by her son and returned to Picard with nothing left for her but to help him on his mission.

Other Star Trek lead characters carried the baggage of past tragedy. For instance, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) was mourning the death of his wife Jennifer when he took command of Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Discovery's Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) was sentenced to life in prison when she instigated the Klingon War and caused the death of Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) in the 23rd-century. However, Raffi's situation feels even more desperate since she has no immediate outlet for redemption or to be welcomed back into her family. Even if Musiker manages to prove that Starfleet and the Romulans are complicit in the Mars attack, it doesn't necessarily lead to a happy ending for her or to a reunion with her estranged loved ones.

Sadly, Raffi's sole consolation is being part of the found family Picard assembled for his mission, and even that is tainted by the reality that Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), whom Musiker met with suspicion, is a traitor serving the Romulans. While it may be a small amount of solace, but at least Raffi Musiker is arguably Star Trek: Picard's most fascinating new character thanks to her tragic backstory.

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


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