One of the biggest shocks of Star Trek: Picard is that the Romulans are keeping former Borg prisoners. Patrick Stewart returns to the iconic role of Jean-Luc Picard in the upcoming CBS All-Access series, which is set about 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis. At San Diego Comic-Con, the Star Trek: Picard trailer was unveiled, giving fans their first real glimpse at Picard's next adventure. One of the surprises is that the Romulans and the Borg are in the series but it's the pointy-eared aliens who are the villains.
The Romulans are one of Star Trek's oldest alien antagonists; the militaristic and xenophobic race of Vulcan offshoots debuted in The Original Series' season 1 episode "Balance of Terror" in 1966 and have been the enemies (and occasional allies) of the United Federation of Planets for centuries. Known for their catchphrase, "Resistance is futile", the Borg debuted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q, Who?" in 1989. But it was when the cybernetic race attacked the Federation and assimilated Captain Picard in the classic two-parter "The Best of Both Worlds" a year later that the Borg cemented their place as one of Star Trek's most popular villains. However, the Romulans and the Borg haven't truly crossed paths in Star Trek TV series or films before, which is part of what makes Star Trek: Picard's story intriguing.
Star Trek: Picard not only tells the next chapter of Jean-Luc's life but it also advances the story of the 24th-century era of Star Trek. By this point in the timeline, Romulus has been destroyed by a supernova in 2387 (as seen in J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek movie) and Admiral Picard led the greatest rescue effort in history to save the Romulan people. However, an unknown tragedy occurred that caused Picard to become disillusioned and leave Starfleet. Picard's encounters with the Romulans aren't as storied as his wars with the Borg but in Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard's battle with Shinzon (Tom Hardy), who was the Romulan Praetor and Picard's clone, led to the death of Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Now, the Romulans continue to be a thorn in Jean-Luc's side in Star Trek: Picard.
Thanks to the Star Trek: Picard trailer, fans can make some deductions on what has transpired in the years since Romulus' destruction: the Romulans have somehow conquered a segment of the Borg Collective and even captured a Borg Cube. The Romulans are also experimenting on de-Borgified people for unknown reasons. One of their victims is Dahj (Isa Briones), who escapes and asks Picard for help. But Dahj may be more dangerous than she realizes, perhaps because the Romulans' experiments on her have turned her into some sort of "destroyer". Indeed, despite strip-mining Borg technology and keeping de-Borgified prisoners for 5,843 days (over 16 years), the Romulans naturally still fear assimilation.
The only time prior the Romulans are known to have encountered the Borg was in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1 episode "The Neutral Zone". A Romulan outpost near the Neutral Zone was attacked, which caused the Romulans to blame the Federation and ended 53 years of Romulan isolationism. However, it was later learned that the outpost was destroyed by the Borg during one of their incursions into the Alpha Quadrant. Since then, the Borg have been explored in TNG and in Star Trek: Voyager; Picard himself was returned to humanity after he was assimilated and designated "Locutus of Borg", an experience that haunted him for years. Others have also been successfully saved, such has Hugh (Jonathan Del Alco) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), both of whom will appear in Star Trek: Picard.
It's fascinating that the Romulans remain villains considering the tragedy that befell their race. However, it's likely because they lost their homeworld that the surviving Romulans have turned even more ruthless and somehow defeated a portion of the Borg, the Federation's deadliest enemies. Meanwhile, the truth about the Borg is that the vast majority of the Collective are victims of involuntary assimilation - and it's very much like the Romulans to take Borg technology with a total disregard for the 'inferior' species it was grafted to. Meanwhile, fans will have to wait and see how the story plays out and what Jean-Luc Picard does next in Star Trek: Picard.