Have you begun watching “Star Trek: Picard?”
Well, if you haven’t read the comics that inform this show, you don’t know — with apologies to Paul Harvey — The Rest of the Story.
“Star Trek: Picard” launched Jan. 23 on CBS All Access, and so far it’s pretty, ahem, engaging. Each episode is like a chapter in a book, slowly advancing the plot with a steady drumbeat of reveals as to what happened in the 18 years between “Picard” and the last “Next Generation” movie, “Star Trek: Nemesis” (released in 2002).
Some people don’t like to wait. If you’re one of them, you can find a few answers already in print — in the three-issue “Star Trek: Picard — Countdown” miniseries from IDW. For example, have you wondered how and when Picard met Laris and Zhaban, his Romulan aides? “Countdown” tells us they were originally from the Romulan colony Yuyat Beta, where they were vintners. (Makes them naturals to help out at Chateau Picard.) Events there make it obvious why they feel a debt to Picard — and why the Tal Shiar (the Romulan secret police) would very much like to see him dead.
Those events take place while Picard was captain of the U.S.S. Verity. His first officer on that ship is a familiar name: Lt. Commander Raffi Musiker. There’s no indication of how Raffi and Picard fell out — as implied on TV — but you get to know her a bit.
“Countdown” doesn’t give up all of Picard’s secrets. Jean-Luc says that he “takes comfort that the Enterprise is in good hands,” but doesn’t say whose hands those are. It’s not Geordi LaForge, who’s depicted at the Utopia Planitia shipyards overseeing construction of the Romulan evacuation fleet. It’s not Riker or Troi, who are said to be on the U.S.S. Titan. Data died in “Nemesis” (and is still dead), Wesley Crusher resigned his commission in the original series and Michael Dorn, who played Worf, son of Mogh, says he isn’t coming back anytime soon. We’re rapidly running out of palatable options.
Another mystery is what happens to LaForge. As noted, he’s in Martian orbit above Utopia Planitia in “Countdown.” Those shipyards — and most of the orbiting fleet — are destroyed by the artificial life form numbered F-8 (“fate”) in the second episode of “Picard.” All of “Countdown” takes place before those events, so LaForge’s F-8 is unknown.
Now, you might be saying “It’s just a comic book. Things that happen in the comics never affect the TV shows/movies.” And often that is true. But “Countdown” is co-written by “Picard’s” supervising producer Kirsten Beyer, who is also involved in all of IDW’s “Star Trek: Discovery” comics. And “Countdown,” like the “Discovery” books, are very much canon. So there.