Star Trek Theory: The Romulan Supernova Was Created By Picard's Real Villains
Was the Romulan supernova really an accident - or was it actually engineered by Star Trek: Picard's real villains? The first season of Star Trek: Picard is set in the shadow of two tragedies. The first was the Romulan supernova, which - according to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie - destroyed the planet Romulus and threatened to wreak havoc on a galactic scale. The second was a horrific terrorist attack by synthetics, which caused the Federation to ban synthetic life and retreat from helping the Romulans.
Picard has gradually learned the truth of the Mars attack. He now knows the synthetic uprising was caused by a group of Romulans known as the Zhat Vash, who for millennia have been working to ensure synthetic life was prevented from developing. They had successfully infiltrated Starfleet, and they used the tragedy to incite the ban - even though it ended the Starfleet refugee effort, and thus led to untold billions of Romulan deaths.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
The latest episode of Star Trek: Picard, "Broken Pieces," finally revealed the truth behind the Zhat Vash's obsessive quest. Furthermore, it raised a disturbing possibility; the Romulans and an unknown force have been fighting a sort of "shadow war" all these years, and the destruction of Romulus itself was part of the mysterious enemy's endgame.
Star Trek: Picard's Admonition Explained
According to the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard, the story begins hundreds of thousands of years ago, on an unknown world. One ancient, long-forgotten race developed synthetic life, but learned that in doing so it had drawn the attention of a cosmic power. "Apparently, these people believed there was a threshold of synthetic evolution," Picard explained to his crew. "A dividing line." The crossing of this line was compared to the discovery of warp drive on Earth, which told the Vulcans humanity was sufficiently advanced for first contact. In this case, however, this powerful cosmic force simply wiped the organics out.
The victims of this aggression used their technology to move eight suns into a stable orbit around one another, and at the center of the cluster they placed a single world. Millennia later, Romulan explorers discovered this phenomenon, and were understandably fascinated by it. On the world, they discovered what they call the "Admonition" - a psychic warning speaking of the havoc that will come if synthetic life is allowed to develop. Essentially, this told the Romulans: don't do what we did. Thus the Romulan explorers formed the Zhat Vash, swearing to do everything within their power to keep the unknown aggressors at bay.
The Zhat Vash have clearly been successful in their mission; they even managed to manipulate the Federation into abandoning synthetic research. What they didn't realize, though, was that scientist Bruce Maddox had hidden himself away on a distant world, where he continued his research into synthetic life. The Zhat Vash have good reason to believe he has built an entire society of synthetics - and, should this be discovered by the unknown aggressors, they will emerge from the shadows once again.
What Do Star Trek: Picard's Aggressors Want?
At this stage, the aggressors' motives are unknown. It is possible they seek the same thing as the Zhat Vash; they are an organic force who aim to curtail the development of synthetic life. The Zhat Vash ravaged Mars in order to achieve their objective, but these aggressors act on a far greater scale, erasing any civilization that passes the synthetic threshold. While this is feasible, in narrative terms it's unlikely; it would mean there were too many thematic similarities between the Zhat Vash and the aggressors, with the main difference simply being one of scale. It would be repetitive, and thus unsatisfying.
There is, however, an alternative possibility. It could be these aggressors are actually synthetic beings themselves, and that they believe organic life only has value as a sort of incubator for more synthetics. Perhaps they are like the Borg; when they discover a new form of synthetic life, they assimilate its positronic network into their own, and then destroy the organics because they are now deemed superfluous. That would neatly explain why the Romulans believe the synthetics themselves are the destroyers; because, corrupted by the aggressors, that is what they will become. This theory appears far more likely, because it's thematically and narratively distinct from the Zhat Vash, and thus more compelling.
Did The Aggressors Destroy Romulus?
If the second theory is correct, it raises another question: was the destruction of Romulus really an accident? There's always been something rather strange about the Romulan supernova, that appears to have been unusually destructive. Una McCormack's novel Last, Best Hope - an official prequel to Star Trek: Picard - features several scenes in which both Starfleet and Romulans astrophysicists speculated that was the case. "What's happening in the Romulan star," a prominent scientist named Safadi noted openly, "I have no explanation for it. Correction: I don't have a natural explanation for it." She speculated that the supernova was, in her words, "not naturally occurring."
The Zhat Vash clearly weren't responsible for the destruction of Romulus; but were the aggressors? They could have learned of the Zhat Vash's existence, and from their viewpoint this secretive Romulan cabal was a problem; after all, they were preventing the creation of more synthetic life. If the aggressors do indeed view organics as nothing more than an incubator, they would believe the Zhat Vash had rendered Romulus superfluous and fit only for destruction. What's more, the supernova could have been engineered to happen at such a scale that it destroyed the Admonition as well. Notice the only flashbacks showing the Admonition have been set fourteen years ago, before the supernova, perhaps hinting the eight-sun star system has been destroyed.
This transforms the destruction of Romulus into the boldest move in a sort of shadow war between the Zhat Vash and the aggressors. Perhaps realizing the truth behind the supernova, the Zhat Vash stepped up their attempt to prevent the Federation creating synthetics. They would have realized they were in the endgame now - especially with synthetic labor being developed at the Martian shipyards. Thus they chose to destroy Mars, and doom countless billions, believing that was better than the alternative; the coming of the aggressors, which they no doubt believed would render their race completely extinct. But they failed to factor in Bruce Maddox - and he may have crossed the synthetic threshold over the years since, without their awareness.
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