Ever since Star Trek: Picard’s first trailer was released, fans have been excited to see the return of various characters from beloved TV series The Next Generation including Jonathan Frakes’ Will Riker, Marina Sirtis’ Deanna Troi and (of course) Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard himself.
But it’s the return of Brent Spiner’s fan-favourite android Commander Data that has really whipped up excitement, partially just because of how popular the character is with fans but also because the last time we saw him was… well, he was dead.
Yes, back in 2002 movie Star Trek: Nemesis, Data ended up sacrificing himself to save Picard and the Enterprise, beaming onboard the Romulan ship Scimitar (under the command of Picard’s clone Shinzon, of course) to prevent it from turning its thalaron radiation weapon on both his fellow crew and (subsequently) the Earth.
Jumping through the vacuum of space and forcing himself onboard the Scimitar, Data managed to transport the trapped Picard back to the Enterprise, before destroying the Thalaron weapon himself with his phaser. Unfortunately, the resultant explosion caused the complete destruction of the ship, as well as Data himself. For a longer recap of this movie's events, you can check out our longer piece here.
Without giving anything away, it’s clear that this loss still weighs heavily on Jean-Luc years later during the events of the new Picard series, and Data’s death directly influences the actions he takes in investigating a new conspiracy which links to his old synthetic friend, who Spiner plays in dream sequences.
And interestingly, Data isn’t the only Star Trek: Nemesis android to play a role in Picard. In episode one, we’re also treated to a brief look at B-4, another android created by Data’s maker Dr Noonien Song who was discovered during the events of Nemesis and brought onboard the Enterprise.
In the film, B-4 is revealed to have a far less advanced positronic brain than Data and is subsequently less capable than his “brother”. Despite this, Data still copies his memories over to B-4 in an attempt to try and make him become more human, and following Data’s death Picard emotionally attempts to explain his second officer’s uniqueness to the uncomprehending second android.
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At the end of Nemesis, it’s hinted that some of Data’s memories may have stuck when B-4 quietly sings a song to himself that Data delivered previously in the movie, leaving the film on an ambiguous note as to whether some part of Data could have survived after all. But by the time of Picard, B-4 has been dismantled entirely and put into storage (as seen in one of the trailers), suggesting that this wasn’t a real solution for Data’s resurrection after all.
But will this truly be the end of Data? Or can Picard find some way to bring him back to the light? Looks like we’ll just have to watch the rest of the new series to find out...
Star Trek: Picard streams new episodes weekly on Amazon Prime on Fridays