It would be a big mistake if Star Trek: Picard ignored the events of Star Trek: Nemesis - and here's why. In late 2019, Patrick Stewart will return as Jean-Luc Picard in his own CBS All-Access spinoff. Star Trek: Picard will be set roughly 15-20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, the final movie starring the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and will be about the retired Admiral Picard returning for a new mission. While plot details about Star Trek: Picard are scarce, we know the new series deals with the aftermath of the destruction of Romulus (seen in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek 2009) and Picard's role in trying to save the Romulan people.
Star Trek: Picard's connection to the Romulans naturally brings up the matter of Star Trek: Nemesis, even though it ranks as the lowest-grossing Star Trek movie and one of the least popular among fans. However, it was also the very last time fans saw Picard and the Next Generation crew and, after Star Trek: Nemesis, the franchise's forward movement in the 24th-century era stopped; it has taken Star Trek: Picard seventeen years to pick up the story. Seeing as Nemesis was a financial failure and an embarrassment, the temptation for Star Trek: Picard to ignore the last movie would be understandable. And yet, Star Trek: Nemesis and what it meant for Jean-Luc Picard can't simply be waved away - and it shouldn't be because, like it or not, Star Trek: Nemesis was a pivotal turning point for Picard and had far-reaching ramifications that need to be addressed.
Star Trek: Nemesis introduced Shinzon (Tom Hardy), the clone of Jean-Luc Picard, and few Star Trek villains have matched him in terms of menace or impact. Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E ultimately stopped and killed Shinzon, but the damage the evil clone caused irrevocably altered the balance of power in the Alpha Quadrant while also railroading Picard's life. Just as Jean-Luc Picard needed time to recover after the Borg turned him into Locutus - and "The Best of Both Worlds" still factored into Star Trek: First Contact years later - the lasting scars of Shinzon would logically also remain in Jean-Luc's post-Starfleet life in Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: Nemesis Was A Devastating Event For Picard
If there had been a fifth Next Generation movie, Star Trek: Nemesis' aftermath would need to be reckoned with. Simply put, Star Trek: Nemesis was one of the most destructive missions of Captain Picard's career. His battle with Shinzon wreaked havoc on Picard's starship, his crew, and the man himself, not to mention the irrevocable damage Shinzon caused to the doomed Romulan Empire.
Tragically, by the conclusion of Star Trek: Nemesis, Commander Data (Brent Spiner) was dead; the android beamed over to Shinzon's ship, the Scimitar, to save Picard and he detonated the Remans' thalaron weapon. Data perished in the explosion that also destroyed the Scimitar and everyone aboard, including Shinzon himself. Whether or not his downloaded memories and consciousness resurrected Data in the identical android body of B-4 hasn't been made canon in a Star Trek movie or TV series (although it did happen in the comic book spinoff Star Trek: Countdown). Nevertheless, when Star Trek: Nemesis was over, Picard and the crew were left to mourn Data aboard the heavily-damaged Enterprise-E.
Indeed, even before Picard ever met Shinzon, Star Trek: Nemesis was poised to break apart the classic Next Generation crew: William Riker married Deanna Troi, was finally promoted to Captain, and took command of the U.S.S. Titan. All told, Star Trek: Nemesis was no happy ending for Picard (or for the Star Trek franchise) and the voyages of Star Trek: The Next Generation ended in sorrow. Even though about two decades will have passed when Star Trek: Picard premieres, the tragic events Shinzon perpetuated shouldn't just be swept under the rug.
Shinzon Ties Into Star Trek: Picard's Romulus Backstory
Shinzon upended the Romulan Empire and set them on the course toward their inevitable doom. Prior to Star Trek: Nemesis, the Romulans were allies of the Federation and helped win the Dominion War, but at the beginning of Star Trek: Nemesis, the clone assassinated the Romulan Senate and installed himself as Praetor. As the new leader of the Romulans and Remans, Shinzon then planned to use his thalaron weapon to wipe out Earth and go to war with the Federation.
The clone of Jean-Luc Picard was originally created to replace the captain and work as a Romulan agent within Starfleet. Instead, the Romulans suddenly abandoned that plan and the young Shinzon was banished to the mines of Remus. There, Shinzon grew up as a tortured and abused slave before he was drafted to fight in the Dominion War. After the war ended, Shinzon decided to fulfill his destiny in a different way: first by assassinating the hated Romulan Senate, becoming their new leader, and then destroying Picard and the Federation - although he also desperately required a blood transfusion from Picard to save himself from lethal Shalaft's Syndrome.
Thanks to Shinzon, the Romulan Empire lost their leadership and was significantly weakened, which left the planet Romulus and its people especially vulnerable when a nearby star went supernova in 2387. According to Star Trek: Picard's teaser trailer, the captain led "the greatest rescue armada" in history to save the Romulan people but at a great cost that fans have yet to discover - and all of that tragedy began with Shinzon.
Why Star Trek: Picard Ignoring Shinzon Would Be A Mistake
Given Star Trek: Nemesis' bad reputation and ignoble distinction as one of the worst Star Trek movies, it would be tempting to just ignore the film, but that would be a huge mistake given the events Star Trek: Picard is built upon. The destruction of Romulus is now the pivotal moment that led to the end of Admiral Picard's Starfleet's career and some fans speculate it may have even resulted in the deaths of his other TNG crewmates after Data - but all of that began with Picard's fateful encounter with Shinzon.
This isn't to say that Shinzon should be a prominent presence in Star Trek: Picard or that Tom Hardy should reprise his role in a flashback or dream sequence (although that would be quite a coup), but Shinzon should remain a specter in Picard's life just like the Borg were. In "Family", Picard needed time (and a visit with his brother Robert at the Picard vineyard in La Barre, France) to get over how the Borg violated his body and mind. Recovering from his fight against Shinzon should have the same lingering after-effects, especially considering Shinzon's actions were arguably even worse: the clone forced Data to sacrifice his life in place of Picard and in the greater scheme of things, Shinzon helped cause the ruin of the Romulan civilization.
Star Trek: Picard has to include the legendary Starfleet hero confronting and coming to terms with all of the damage Shinzon wrought or else Picard's story will feel incomplete.
Star Trek: Picard premieres late 2019 on CBS All-Access and internationally on Amazon Prime Video.