One of the keystones of Star Trek’s presence at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is Picard: The First Duty, an off-site gallery installation cataloguing Jean-Luc Picard’s life before and after the events of the Star Trek: The Next Generation-era series and films. The exhibition includes some props and costume pieces that have yet to be seen on screen.
The details on Star Trek: Picard, which is expected to premiere on CBS All Access later this year, are scarce.The series is set more than fifteen years after Star Trek: Nemesis and features a retired Admiral Picard, who is now living on the family vineyard in France. Picard left Starfleet after a great tragedy that many suspect is connected to the destruction of Romulus. Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman has said that while Picard will be returning to space, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll rejoin Starfleet. It’s likely more details will be made public at Saturday’s Star Trek panel in Hall H.
Picard: The First Duty, which is set up as an in-universe Starfleet Museum exhibit about the admiral's life, features an intriguing collection of as-yet unseen props from the new series. Chief among them are a set of plaques and awards bestowed upon Picard over his long career. These include multiple pieces given to the Admiral to recognize his diplomatic accomplishments, including trophy-like pieces from the Vulcans, the Bajorans, the Klingons, the Andorians, and others. Also included is the civilian costume Picard is wearing in the show’s poster, alongside a case of Chateau Picard wine. The pieces included from Star Trek: The Next Generation and its films have a similar connection to Picard’s diplomatic side, including the original Ressikan flute from “The Inner Light,” the Mintakan tapestry from “Who Watches the Watchers,” and a bat’leth and d’k tahg, the weapons of a Klingon warrior. Other pieces, like a picture of Picard with Jack Crusher and a painting of Picard as a cadet, highlight the period before the series. The exhibition even showcases Picard’s personal side, including a family history and an “original” painting by Data.
Picard has almost always been portrayed as a man who prefers diplomacy to battle, although he can certainly hold his own tactically. In the potential future portrayed in Star Trek: The Next Generation's finale, "All Good Things," he leaves Starfleet as an ambassador rather than an admiral. This possible future, of course, may not have included some of the pivotal moments that Starfleet faced in the next decade, including the Dominion War, the battle with the Borg in Star Trek: First Contact, and the destruction of Romulus in 2009's film rebooting the original series.
One interesting aspect of Picard’s career not included in the installation are awards or mementos from his efforts after the destruction of Romulus. This lends credence to the theory that something went wrong during the relief efforts; something jarring enough to cause the admiral to leave Stafleet altogether. If the evacuation of Romulus did end in tragedy, it’s unlikely that Starfleet would choose to draw attention to this disaster in an exhibit meant to highlight one of its heroes. Perhaps, when the admiral is seen again in Star Trek: Picard, he’ll be attempting to finally atone for what he views as one of his few great failures.
Picard: The First Duty is open Thursday, July 18 through Sunday, July 21 at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery in downtown San Diego. A Comic Con badge is not required for entry.