Star Trek: Picard premieres very soon. To help you prep (or at this point, cram), TrekMovie presents a list of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes that showcase Jean-Luc Picard’s exploits with the Borg and Romulans, plus a few essential Captain Picard episodes that reveal his character. We also include a bonus list of a few Seven of Nine-centric episodes of Voyager.
The short version:
The short version should just work out in time for the premiere of Picard. There are 7 episodes and 2 movies in this list, which means if you can find ~ 9 hours to spare between now and January 23rd you’ll make it!
Next Generation episodes
“The Measure of a Man” – This episode seems like it will be especially applicable to the state of affairs in Picard, given what happened in the recent Short Treks episode “Children of Mars.” Starfleet engineer Commander Maddox has been studying Dr. Soong’s work on making an android like Data, and wants to disassemble Data to, in effect, reverse engineer him. Data quits Starfleet rather than be assigned to Maddox to be dissected. Data is deemed to be property, not a sentient life, and challenges the ruling in what becomes a classic courtroom drama. Patrick Stewart gets to really stretch his dramatic legs here as Picard comes to the important realization that duplicating Data would be effectively creating a slave race.
“Consider that in the history of many worlds there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that no one else wants to do, because it’s too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable? You don’t have to think about their welfare; you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.”
“Best of Both Worlds, Part I” – A year after an accelerated introduction to the Borg (see “Q Who” below for more), the day finally comes when the Borg march into Federation space. The Borg have concluded that the humans are so uniquely resistant that they need to absorb a human to be their emissary to assimilation; that person is, of course, Jean-Luc Picard. The episode ends on a cliffhanger that kept fans biting their nails all summer long in 1990.
“Best of Both Worlds, Part II” – While not as satisfying as Part I, it’s still a good time, and the inventive way a still half-cybernetic Picard collaborates with his crew to stop the Borg makes the second part work.
“Family” – This concludes the arc of Captain Picard’s abduction and his forced transformation into Locutus of Borg. A still healing Jean-Luc takes some time to go back to France and visit his brother Robert on their family vineyard. There, brotherly tensions rise, and eventually Jean-Luc finds catharsis from his Borg trauma in the muddy fields of the grapes.
“Data’s Day” – This is a fun episode, told from Data’s point of view. Data records a day in his life, diary-style, for Commander Bruce Maddox, which includes observations on Chief O’Brien’s wedding as well as the mystery of a Vulcan ambassador who apparently dies in a transporter accident. It involves both routine and not-so-routine events of the day, including a Romulan plot to steal information.
“I Borg” – This episode should not be skipped! This continues the Borg storyline and introduces us to a character that will be in Star Trek: Picard, “Hugh” the Borg. Hugh is the lone survivor of a Borg scout ship crash. The Enterprise rescues him, and hopes to use the opportunity to learn more about the Borg and hopefully find a way to defeat them. As he stays on the ship, Hugh’s personality and individuality emerges, reminding the crew of a scared teenager. Crew members like LaForge and Crusher come to like Hugh. Data and LaForge come up with a plan to send Hugh back to the collective with an unsolvable geometric shape that should slowly overwhelm their resources until all system resources are exhausted, basically crashing the Borg. Instead, Picard returns Hugh to where they found him, but leaves him with another potential weapon against the Borg: his individuality. (Hugh will return a season later in the two-parter “Descent”—see more about this one below.)
“Tapestry” – This is a lovely Jean-Luc Picard episode that looks at his youth and offers a “what might have been” story along the lines of It’s A Wonderful Life. Playing it safe for young Jean-Luc leaves him in a dead-end job as a junior grade lieutenant in the astrophysics department of the Enterprise. What he has to learn—with some help and taunting from Q—is that his mistakes have shaped the person he became, and without them, he wouldn’t be the same man.
Star Trek: First Contact – The Borg try once more to assimilate Earth, this time determining that they need go back in time to before Starfleet existed. The shiny new Enterprise-E (a capital ship that was developed in response to the first Borg invasion) gives chase through an anomaly and ends up in the mid-21st century right around the time of the eponymous first contact with the Vulcans. What ensues is an engaging film, with two storylines: one down on Earth as the crew tries to keep Zefram Cochrane’s first human warp speed flight on track, and the other a zombie survival-type story on the Enterprise with Borg.
Star Trek Nemesis – While this movie is quite flawed, there are two elements that stand out in relation to Jean-Luc Picard’s future. The first is that he loses Data, which we’ve been told still haunts him nearly 20 years later. The second is his handling of the rogue Reman Shinzon’s coup to take over Romulus, which gained Captain Picard new status with the Romulan fleet. Commander Donatra tells him: “You’ve earned a friend in the Romulan Empire today, Captain. I hope the first of many.”
Have more time to spare?
Add these to your binge playlist to give even more depth to the history of the 24th century. These also add more with the Romulans, who it seems will feature quite a bit in Picard.
Next Generation episodes
“Q Who” – The Borg are first introduced when Q flings the Enterprise-D into the far reaches of the galaxy as proof that humanity isn’t as ready as they think to go exploring the vast reaches of space. This incident alerts the Borg to the human threat much earlier than if they’d maintained their slow and steady expansion out from the Delta Quadrant.
“The Enemy” – La Forge and a Romulan are trapped on a planet ravaged by electromagnetic storms. This is a nice episode about Romulans and the challenges of survival. The two enemy officers must work together to get to safety.
“The Defector” – Another Romulan episode, in which a Romulan defector is given asylum on the Enterprise. The reality of his choices hit home in some really lovely moments, and the episode shows us more than we’ve seen before about what Romulans are like.
“The Drumhead” – Another “top Picard speech” episode. Here, Picard must stop an obsessed admiral who wants to find a Romulan conspiracy among the Enterprise crew where there is none, using the words of her own father.
“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored… the first thought forbidden… the first freedom denied – chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom… and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged. I fear that today–”
“Unification” I/II – Picard and Data go after Ambassador Spock, who has seemingly defected to the Romulan empire. Picard and Data become some of the first Federation members to set foot on the Romulan homeworld. This also starts the arc of a grassroots Romulan/Vulcan unification movement, which is carried over into the next season.
“Face of the Enemy” – A good look at what life on a Romulan vessel is like. Troi is kidnapped and altered to look like a Romulan so she can facilitate the transfer of high-ranking defectors (picking up the arc started in “Unification”).
“Descent” – This is a continuation of ongoing stories for both Lore (Data’s evil twin brother) and Hugh of Borg. When Hugh was picked up in the rescue ship at the end of “I Borg” and reconnected with the collective, the concept of individuality spread, and confused them. Their ship happened upon Lore, who saw this as an opportunity to cultivate his own coven of cybernetic minions.
“Descent, Part II” – The two-parter wraps up with Lore being disassembled so he can’t cause any more harm, and Hugh is left to lead his rogue contingent of Borg (Borgs?) into a new order.
Star Trek: Voyager bonus episodes
Fans were excited to see that Seven of Nine will be in Picard, so here are a few episodes from Voyager that focus on Seven (formerly Annika Hansen).
“Scorpion” – Upon entering Borg space, Voyager encounters Species 8472, an alien race even more powerful than the Borg and bent on destroying all life in the galaxy. Captain Janeway enters into an alliance with the Borg in order to defeat them.
“Scorpion, Part II” – In order to facilitate the changes each vessel needs to defeat Species 8472, a Borg drone, Seven of Nine, is sent to interface with the individuals of the Voyager crew. Unsurprisingly, the Borg go back on their word and Seven tries to assimilate Voyager. She’s defeated and disconnected from the Borg Collective, and must begin the long journey back to personhood.
“The Raven” – Some of Seven’s dormant Borg nanoprobes reactivate. She flees Voyager, then finds the ship (the USS Raven) where she and her parents were attacked and assimilated by the Borg, and her memories of that time come rushing back. Once she is rescued (and further Borg signals blocked), she wonders for the first time what her life would have been like without the Borg, and agrees to do some research about her parents, when she’s ready. (She also tries eating for the first time, which is fun.)
“Infinite Regress” – This episode showcases some excellent acting by Jeri Ryan as Seven begins exhibiting the personalities of different individuals (from a huge range of species) she and the Borg have assimilated. This is the beginning of her friendship with Naomi Wildman, but it also shows her deep regret for and guilt over the damage she has done, despite it being completely involuntary. Like Captain Picard, she has inner demons to wrestle with, courtesy of the Borg.
“Dark Frontier” – This exciting two-hour special sees Captain Janeway devising a plan to steal a transwarp coil from a damaged Borg sphere. The Borg Queen learns of the plan and uses it in an attempt to return Seven of Nine to the Borg by issuing her an ultimatum: Rejoin the Collective or watch as the USS Voyager is assimilated. Of particular importance for Seven’s character development are the flashbacks to young (and very human) Annika with her exobiologist parents Magnus and Erin Hansen as they track and study a Borg cube.
Star Trek: Picard will premiere on January 23, 2020. It will be available on CBS All Access in the USA and on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel and CraveTV in Canada. It will premiere on Amazon Prime Video for the rest of the world on January 24. Episodes will be released weekly.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news at TrekMovie.