Star Trek: Picard is providing viewers with numerous references and Easter eggs to each of the previous classic series, but a throwaway line might also provide another allusion to Star Trek: Discovery.
In the third episode, “The End Is the Beginning,” Picard attempts to convince his former first officer Raffi Musiker to join him in his search for Soji, as she’s still resentful of his resignation from Starfleet inadvertently putting an end to her own career. She mentions that her suspicion of Starfleet having been infiltrated by Romulan agents was due to tangible facts rather than seeing phantom connections between information “like people see angels or ghosts.” Although unelaborated upon, it’s possible this could be a tacit reference to the Red Angel that drove the events of Discovery’s second season.
Raffi’s words were an unusual turn of phrase, especially since in the world of Star Trek, there’s generally no kind of monotheistic or Abrahamic religion that would invoke such iconography, due to Gene Roddenberry being a secular humanist of the opinion that any kind of superstition – faith-based or otherwise – had no place in his utopian future.
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Despite this, the Red Angel could have become part of Starfleet legend, along with its role in the ferrying off of an entire starship to realms unknown. Even though all mention of the Discovery’s existence has been scrubbed from official records and the Enterprise crew ordered to never speak of it, the ship is home to hundreds of people, and it’s unreasonable to assume that no details would ever leak out of what some anonymous engineer or helmsman might have witnessed. Thus, the use of angels as nebulous portents of the inexplicable could have become Starfleet lore, over time entering the general lexicon without specifically referencing what was originally referred to.
Of course, all this is pure speculation and it may very well just be an atypical choice of words by one of the show’s writers, but it’s interesting to consider that even in the rigidly explainable world of Star Trek and Picard, some sense of wonder might still exist.