‘Picard’ Season 1 Recap: The Refresher You Need Before Season 2

The Patrick Stewart-led “Star Trek” series returns this week

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“Star Trek: Picard” Season 2 finally premiered on Paramount+ on Thursday, nearly two years — and a whole pandemic — since we last saw Patrick Stewart as intrepid explorer and uncompromising idealist Jean-Luc Picard.

The first season of the “Star Trek” series caught up with the retired Starfleet Admiral living peacefully at his château in France, but even a casual viewer of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” could’ve known that Picard wouldn’t be the type to fade into quiet obscurity during his golden years. Sure enough, “Picard” Season 1 saw the Admiral take to the stars again for one last adventure, this time to save a young woman with a mysterious past, and uncover the long-buried secrets of an old friend. 

With such a long gap between seasons, it’s only natural to need a refresher before plunging into Season 2 (the first episode of which is now streaming on Paramount+). So we’ve put together a “Star Trek: Picard” Season 1 recap to help you recall all the surprising twists and turns of the sci-fi series. 

Retired with Romulans

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“Picard” Season 1 opens on a retired — and terminally ill, although he refuses to admit it — Picard living comfortably on his beautiful French estate in the year 2399, kept company by a pitbull named “Number One” and a small staff of loyal Romulans. It turns out that Romulus was destroyed by a supernova around 2385, and while Jean-Luc had petitioned to lead an evacuation effort to save the people of Romulus, the initiative was abandoned by Starfleet after Mars was attacked by a group of synthetic lifeforms known as “Synths.” 

The attack on Mars also prompted the Federation to place a ban on all synthetic lifeforms, over the ardent protests of Picard. In a last-ditch effort to convince Starfleet to rethink its course, Picard threatened his resignation — only to have his bluff called, and his commission taken away.

While Picard’s principled stance didn’t convince the Federation to reinstate the rescue mission to Romulus or reconsider the synthetic ban, it did endear Picard to many of the Romulan refugees, explaining the presence of his Romulan associates in France.

But Picard’s reluctant retirement is upended when a young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones) arrives on his doorstep, seeking his help after an attempt was made on her life. Although the two have never previously met, Dahj explains that she was experiencing visions of Picard, while Picard recognizes her from a painting, titled “Daughter,” created long ago by his android friend, Data (Brent Spiner). Intrigued, Picard attempts to protect Dahj, but is ultimately unsuccessful; assassins eventually find and kill her. Picard’s assistant theorizes that they may be members of the Zhat Vash, a secret Romunlan organization with the mission of ridding the world of all synthetics. 

Still, Picard can’t let go of the idea that Data may have created a daughter, especially one with an organic body who didn’t realize her synthetic origins. Upon confirming with Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) that a procedure does exist that could have allowed a synthetic being to reproduce — and that the procedure always results in twins — Picard sets out to find Dahj’s twin sister, fearing that her life may be in danger too. 

Picard Assembles a Crew

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In order to get to her, Picard assembles a ragtag new crew, recruiting his former first officer Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd), who then puts him in touch with a pilot named Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera), who allows Picard to commission him along with his ship, La Sirena. Dr. Jurati also convinces Picard to let her join the expedition, and the group picks up a young Romulan refugee named Elnor (Evan Evagora) while en route to Freecloud, the home of Dahj’s creator, Bruce Maddox (John Ales). Elnor was raised by a group of warrior nuns called the Qowat Milat, after being put into their care by Picard as a child, who taught him formidable fighting skills. 

Immediately after Elnor joins the crew, La Sirena is attacked by local ruffians, but are saved by a mysterious ship that turns out to be captained by Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), former Borg drone and main cast member on “Star Trek: Voyager.” Seven now works with the vigilante group the Fenris Rangers, but joins Picard’s crew after her ship is destroyed. 

On Freecloud, Picard’s crew rescues Maddox from the black market dealer who has taken him captive, while Raffi makes a private side trip to visit her estranged son Gabriel, who cut ties with her years earlier due to her beliefs that Synths were not the true instigators of the attack on Mars. When Raffi still insists that her theory is correct, Gabriel refuses to allow her back into his life. 

After bringing Maddox back to La Sirena, the scientist reveals to Picard that Dahj does indeed have a twin sister, Soji, who is working aboard an abandoned Borg Cube, now known as the “Artifact.” He explains that he split Soji and Dahj up as part of a plan to uncover the truth behind the Starfleet ban on synthetics. Like Raffi, Maddox believes that there is more to the attack on Mars than meets the eye, and he suspects some sort of large-scale conspiracy and cover-up. However, soon after Picard leaves the sickbay, Maddox is murdered by his former lover Jurati, having received a vision before departing on La Sirena from Federation Commodore Oh (Tamlyn Tomita) — a Zhat Vash spy — warning of dire consequences if synthetic life is allowed to exist. 

A Familiar Enterprise

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Meanwhile, on the Artifact, Soji is a scientist working on a project to help rehabilitate former Borg drones, removing as much of their Borg implants as possible and helping them reintegrate into society. Not realizing that she is synthetic herself, Soji forms a romantic relationship with a Romulan agent named Narek (Harry Treadaway), who is secretly a member of the Zhat Vash and is attempting to gain Soji’s trust in order to learn if there are more synthetics out there, and where they might be. With Narek’s guidance, Soji gradually realizes that her memories of her own history are false, and begins working to uncover her true origins. Once Narek believes he has enough clues to track down Soji’s birthplace, he attempts to kill her, but Soji’s latent synthetic programming kicks in, enabling her to survive. As she flees from Narek, she runs into the recently-arrived Picard.

Picard takes Soji to the planet Nepenthe, where his former Enterprise colleagues and friends Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) have settled. The couple, along with their daughter Kestra (Lulu Wilson), help Picard earn the traumatized Soji’s trust, and use the clues from her memories to identify the location of her creation. Meanwhile, a guilt-ridden Jurati decides to neutralize the Zhat Vash tracking device she agreed to ingest, allowing Picard and Soji to safely return to La Sirena. 

Upon meeting Soji, Rios is shocked to realize he’s met someone who looked just like her before, as visitors that came aboard his former Starfleet ship shortly before his captain murdered them on orders from Commodore Oh, then killed himself. Rios’ story helps Soji access her own memories of her homeworld, to which she plots a course, not realizing the ship is being followed by Narek. 

While La Sirena heads for Soji’s homeworld, Elnor and Seven of Nine remain behind on the Artifact to fight Narek’s Romulan allies, led by his sister, Narissa (Peyton List). Seven decides to establish a connection with the Borg cube to ask the remaining drones for their assistance, only to be shocked by Narissa’s callousness when she opens the Artifact’s airlocks, venting the drones into space. Still, after killing the drones, Narissa and the Romulans depart, and Seven is able to pilot the Artifact to follow La Sirena. 

Secrets Revealed

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At the same time, Raffi gradually pieces together the motivation behind the Zhat Vash’s determination to exterminate all synthetic life: she learns that hundreds of millennia ago, eight sons were brought together around a central planet, and gave the ancient people of that world a vision of a horrific catastrophe that Romulans later called the “Admonition,” serving as a warning against ever allowing synthetic life to evolve. Since then, the Zhat Vash has done everything in its power to prevent this scenario from occurring by attempting to stop the development of synthetic life at every turn — including engineering the attack on Mars, so that the Federation would have to implement the synthetic ban. 

Upon reaching the synthetic homeworld, called Coppelius, Picard and his crew meet Maddox’s partner, Altan Inigo Soong, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Data’s creator, Noonian Soong, who turns out to be his father (all three characters are played by Brent Spiner). Soong gives Picard and his colleagues a tour of his colony of synths, inhabited by many sets of twins, several of whom are identical to Soji and Dahj. One of those twins, named Sutra, uses a mind meld to witness the vision of the Admonition that Oh showed Jurati, and interprets it as a message not about synthetic life, but to synthetic life. She believes that higher synthetic beings created the Admonition to communicate their intent to destroy all organic life, and that by creating a beacon to summon those beings, the inhabitants of Coppelius can thwart the incoming Romulan fleet. 

Picard obviously opposes Sutra’s plan, and is taken prisoner, but is rescued by Jurati, who returns with him to La Sirena while Raffi, Rios, and Elnor — joining forces with Narek — set out to destroy the beacon. But Soji, swayed by the other synthetics, decides to side against her friends and activate the beacon. Meanwhile, Narissa attempts to destroy La Sirena, but is killed by Seven of Nine. 

A New Beginning

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Onboard La Sirena, Picard begins to succumb to the illness that has been plaguing him throughout the series, but Jurati buys him enough time to distract the Romulan fleet long enough for a Starfleet armada to arrive, led by none other than Will Riker. Picard’s delay grants Soji enough time to reconsider her choice, and she turns off the beacon, stopping a gigantic, tentacled synthetic lifeform from coming through the portal that had been opened by the beacon. Soji’s actions convince the Romulans that it is unnecessary to destroy all life on Coppelius as they’d intended, and they retreat. 

Unfortunately, while most of the organic life in the universe receives a reprieve, the same cannot be said of Picard himself, who finally dies of his illness. However, Jurati and Soong are able to transfer his consciousness to a new synthetic body, allowing him to “live” on. Following the events on Coppelius, the Federation lifts the ban on synthetics, and Picard is able to reunite with his crew — which now includes Soji — on La Sirena.  

“Star Trek: Picard” Season 2 is rolling out new episodes weekly on Paramount+, and has already been renewed for a third season.