Star Trek: Picard Reveals The Real Reason Jean-Luc Left Starfleet

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Going into Star Trek: Picardwe knew to expect something different from The Next Generation, with the marketing making it clear that Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc would be a changed man from when we last saw him. He had left Starfleet, for one, retiring to his French vineyard with his dog, Number One. And the reason why seemed to be to do with the destruction of Romulus. With the premiere episode finally arriving today, we now understand the full story.

The pilot, titled “Remembrance,” is set on the anniversary of the supernova that wiped out Romulus. Picard has agreed to a rare interview with the Federation News Network, as he hopes to raise awareness of the continued suffering of the surviving Romulans. But obviously, questions about his personal history come up and through this we learn the knotty truth of the former Admiral’s split from Starfleet.

As teased in the trailers, Picard led a mass evacuation of 900 million Romulan lives from the endangered planet in 10,000 warp-capable ferries. However, tragedy struck when some synthetic beings went rogue and launched a terrorist attack on a Martian shipyard, resulting in the deaths of 93,000 people. Following this, Starfleet banned synthetics, something Picard could not condone. As the character explains:

“We don’t know why the synthetics went rogue and did what they did that day. But I believe the subsequent decision to ban synthetic lifeforms was a mistake.”

As a result of their new isolationist attitude, Starfleet withdrew from aiding the Romulan refugees any further. This was the final straw for Picard, who elected to resign from his post in despair over what the institution had become. He continues:

“…it was no longer Starfleet! We withdrew. The galaxy was mourning, burying its dead, and Starfleet slunk from its duties. The decision to call off the rescue and to abandon those people we had sworn to save was not just dishonorable – it was downright criminal! And I was not prepared to stand by and be a spectator!”

Over the course of the episode, though, Picard is pulled out of his self-imposed retirement and called back into duty, his determination to strive for a better galaxy and optimism that he can achieve it returning to him. Star Trek: Picard might seem like a grim reboot of the franchise, then, but it’s really marrying that old-fashioned Gene Roddenberry hopefulness with our complicated, contemporary times.

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