Star Trek: Picard Breaks Its Own Borg Cube Timeline
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard season 1, episode 8.
A pivotal flashback in Star Trek: Picard episode 8 breaks the timeline of when the Romulans captured the Borg Cube known as the Artifact. The villainous Romulans play an integral role in the backstory of the Star Trek: The Next Generation sequel series about the twilight years of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Similarly, the derelict Borg starship is crucially connected to the fate of Soji (Isa Briones), the synthetic daughter of the late Commander Data (Brent Spiner). However, Star Trek: Picard episode 8, "Broken Pieces," calls into question when exactly the Romulans took possession of the Borg Cube.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
The mystery of how the Romulans gained control of the Cube and turned it into the Artifact was gradually solved throughout Star Trek: Picard season 1: At some point in the 2380s, around the time the Romulan sun went supernova, the Borg Cube assimilated the Shaenor, a scout ship belonging to the Zhat Vash, the secret faction of the Tal Shiar that bears an unassuageable hatred of artificial life. Soon after the 26 Romulans aboard the Shaenor were assimilated, the Borg Cube suffered a submatrix collapse. The Cube was immediately severed from the Borg Collective, leaving thousands of Borg Drones aboard in stasis. The Romulans took possession of the dormant Cube and turned it into a Reclamation site housing the Borg Reclamation Project. Controlled by the Romulan Free State and overseen by its executive director (and former Borg) Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco), the Project reclaimed the Drones and restored their original sentience while the Romulans harvested their technology for profit.
However, the flashback that opens "Broken Pieces" contradicts the Artifact's timetable established in Star Trek: Picard episode 2, "Maps and Legends". "Broken Pieces" begins by showing the Zhat Vash gathered on Aia, the Grief World, 14 years ago for a ritual known as the Admonition. Under the guidance of Commodore Oh (Tamlyn Tomita), who is a Romulan mole in Starfleet, the female Zhat Vash members learned the ancient truth of the Armageddon that occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago when synthetics evolved and attacked the galaxy. Among the Zhat Vash at the Admonition were Narissa (Peyton List) and her aunt, Ramdha (Rebecca Wisocky). Although Narissa maintained her sanity, the Admonition broke the minds of the other Zhat Vash, including Ramdha. "Broken Pieces" then cuts to Picard's present of 2399 where Narissa speaks to her mentally damaged aunt (who was "never entirely sane to begin with") and reveals that it was Ramdha who broke the Borg Cube"by the sheer force of [her] despair". So, it was Ramdha's insanity that somehow caused the submatrix collapse when she was assimilated.
"Broken Pieces'" flashback establishes that the Admonition occurred in 2385, the same year as the attack on Mars by rogue androids that led to the United Federation of Planets banning synthetic lifeforms, which was a plot Oh devised after Narissa survived the ritual. Since Ramdha was at the Admonition, this means that her assimilation and the subsequent capture of the Borg Cube also happened afterward. The problem with this is it contradicts a sign that's clearly visible aboard the Artifact in "Maps and Legends" that says "This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation". 5843 days equals 16.1 years before 2399, which means that according to that sign, the Borg Cube was captured in 2383: two years before the Admonition.
This seems like a huge error but, besides the possibility that this is merely a production oversight, the easiest in-canon explanation is either the sign is simply in error or there's a disparity between the Romulan and Federation's calendars. But otherwise, the contradictory dates is a glaring flaw in Star Trek: Picard's intriguingly complex story, which seems inexplicably obsessed with the year 2385. After all, Star Trek: Picard now says that the Admonition, the Borg Cube's capture, the Mars attack, the synthetics ban, the end of the Federation's Romulan rescue mission, and Jean-Luc Picard quitting Starfleet all happened in 2385 — a very eventful year — when the series could have simply set the Admonition in 2383 to line up with the sign in the Artifact.
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