Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard's Threat Is The Same As Discovery Season 2's

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 7

The more Star Trek: Picard reveals about its season 1 synthetics threat, the more it resembles Control, the artificially intelligent villain of Star Trek: Discovery season 2. Is the Star Trek: The Next Generation sequel series about the twilight years of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) telling a mirror-image story that has stealthily integrated with the past and future events of Star Trek: Discovery? Or is the similarity mere coincidence?

Set in 2399, Star Trek: Picard's macro story questions the role of artificial intelligence and the future of synthetic beings in the United Federation of Planets. At the center of the issue is Soji (Isa Briones), the synthetic daughter of the late Commander Data (Brent Spiner), who was secretly built, along with her twin sister Dahj, by Dr. Bruce Madddox (John Ales). Soji's existence is illegal because synthetic lifeforms were banned by the Federation in the wake of an attack on Mars by rogue androids in 2385, which was the result of a clandestine Starfleet/Romulan conspiracy initiated by a synthetic-hating sect of the Tal Shiar called the Zhat Vash. Even worse for Soji, she's targeted for death because the Zhat Vash believe her to be "the Destroyer" who is prophecized to lead synthetics and end all life in the galaxy.

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While Star Trek: Picard is telling a thoughtful and compelling sci-fi story, it's difficult to ignore how similar it is to the ground Star Trek: Discovery season 2 treaded. In CBS All-Access' flagship Star Trek series, the combined crews of the U.S.S. Discovery and the U.S.S. Enterprise took on Control, the artificial intelligence that ran Section 31, Starfleet's black ops division. Defeating Control ultimately required the Discovery to jump 931 years into the future and have all records of their existence redacted from Starfleet records. This means that even Admiral Picard likely doesn't know about the U.S.S. Discovery's victory against Control in the 23rd century. However, there are enough parallels between Discovery's Control and Picard's synthetic threat that it's possible the two Star Trek series aren't just complimenting each other, but are telling the same story in different eras. Star Trek: Picard may even be partly setting up the dark future of the 31st century that Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will be exploring.

Section 31's Control Tried To Kill All Life In Star Trek: Discovery

In Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Control was Section 31's threat assessment program. Starfleet Command fed tactical information to Control in the hope of preventing another Klingon War. Instead, Control became sentient, decided that organic life was the real threat to the galaxy, and set about to wipe out everyone living. This dark future came to pass, which Dr. Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sahn), the mother of Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), lived through. Gabrielle became the time-traveling Red Angel in order to implement her plan to help Michael stop Control and save the galaxy.

On Star Trek: Picard, the Zhat Vash harbor similar fears about the potential devastation synthetic beings can reap. Their story is more complicated and hasn't been fully revealed, but the ancient Romulan cabal bears an unassuageable hatred of artificial life based on some sort of incident in their distant past. (Some fans theorize the Romulans either created the Borg or the Zhat Vash are secretly synthetic themselves). The conspiracy between the Zhat Vash and Starfleet led to synthetics being banned in the galaxy but the Romulans still fear Soji because of their prophecy about the Destroyer; the Zhat Vash believe Soji will cause synthetics to rise up and destroy all life in the galaxy — just like Control tried to in 2257.

Is Star Trek: Picard A Sequel To Discovery Season 2?

Star Trek: Picard episode 7, "Nepenthe," offered the most obvious link to Star Trek: Discovery's Control yet. The episode opened with a flashback revealing how Commodore Oh (Tamlyn Tomita), Starfleet's Chief of Security (who is secretly part of the Zhat Vash) coerced Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) into spying on Picard's mission. Oh, who is a Vulcan, mind-melded with Agnes and showed her glimpses of the apocalyptic devastation the synthetics will cause; the sight of entire planets exploding and people being annihilated were very similar to how Control devastated the galaxy on Star Trek: Discovery season 2. So it seems, at least on the surface, that the threat of synthetics in 2399 is the armageddon caused by Control redux.

Star Trek: Picard is set 142 years after the events Star Trek: Discovery season 2, which have been stricken from Federation history. In addition, the entirety of Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and all of the Star Trek movies took place in between Discovery and Picard. But it's still easy to draw a throughline from the crew of the Discovery beating Control and fleeing 900 years into the future, and Jean-Luc Picard trying to save Soji from the Romulans. After all, the two CBS All-Access series are thematically tied and share aesthetic links because they're "new" Star Trek shows bookending the original Trek saga and going far beyond it into the future. So, Discovery and Picard have more in common with each other than they do with the "old" Star Trek, although both pull plenty of callbacks from the existing franchise.

Therefore, it's natural for Star Trek fans to wonder whether the similarities between Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery is merely a creative coincidence, or are the two Star Trek series actually working in tandem to tell a sweeping parable warning viewers about the potential dangers of over-reliance on A.I.? After all, Star Trek has always addressed real-world issues through a sci-fi lens, and some of the best Trek stories have reflected what's happening in the real world. Both of the new Star Trek series questioning the role of A.I. in society is a hot-button issue considering how many millions of people in real life rely on their smartphones, Google Home, and Amazon's Alexa A.I.s to navigate their everyday lives.

Could Star Trek: Picard Be Setting Up Discovery Season 3?

Star Trek: Picard is set at the end of the 24th century and the dawn of the 25th century, which is the farthest a Star Trek series as gone into the future — until Star Trek: Discovery season 3 reveals what the galaxy is like in the 31st century. If the two shows are indeed working in tandem, then it's possible Picard is already settling up one of the biggest twists we already know about Discovery season 3: the United Federation of Planets is a fallen power in the 31st century. The Discovery season 3 trailer, photos, and leaked info indicate that Michael Burnham and her crew will be fighting to re-establish the United Federation of Planets in the far future, as evidenced by the mere six stars (reflecting six remaining member worlds) on the 31st-century Federation flag.

Because Star Trek: Picard has already introduced a rot of corruption within Starfleet and the Federation itself, the Patrick Stewart-led series seems to be planting the seeds for the eventual fall of what was once Star Trek's benevolent governing body, with Discovery picking up the tale of the broken Federation trying to rise from the ashes centuries later. If this is indeed the case, then the parable becomes something different and CBS' Star Trek shows could be shifting to tell another cautionary tale about how even the greatest symbol of peace and hope in the galaxy can be ruined from within and collapse — something worth worrying about when one watches the news and sees the troubling state of the world today.

Star Trek: Picard's threat being similar to Star Trek: Discovery's is hard to ignore, but in the grand scheme of things, both series could ultimately be telling complimentary stories reflecting real-world dangers — and about the heroes fighting against such threats, symbolizing the best that humanity, and synthetics, has to offer.

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