In the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard, a huge plot point about the future of artificial intelligence in the Star Trek universe got a little crazy. We still don't know what Dr. Jurati is up to, but we now have a much bigger clue thanks to a mind-meld that reminded us more than a little bit of Discovery Season 2.
Are these two series really that separate? Here's how Picard may have just laid the foundation to create a Star Trek version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spoilers and speculation ahead.
Back in the mid-'90s, the Star Trek was the closest thing we had to the modern MCU. No other geek franchise had a canon integrated across three TV series and feature films. By 2005, the feature films and TV rights to Star Trek were split up, and stayed that way until late 2019.
Just like the heyday of the '90s, Star Trek is now a fully unified franchise again. So those similarities between Picard and Discovery are likely intentional. Right at the beginning of Picard Episode 7, "Nepenthe," we returned to the moment earlier in the season, where Commodore Oh enlists Jurati to sabotage Jean-Luc's Synth search. Turns out, Oh has a vision of an A.I. apocalypse that feels awfully similar to the vision Spock saw in Discovery Season 2.
During that season of Discovery, Spock, the Red Angel, and eventually, everybody on the USS Discovery and the OG USS Enterprise (1701) realized a time-traveling A.I. known as Control would eventually wipe-out all sentient life in the far future. This doesn't feel that different than what Oh is "showing" Jurati in Picard.
Picard, set in the year 2399, 142 years after Discovery supposedly prevented that A.I. apocalypse by taking Discovery into the year 3187. So the events of Picard (2399) are sandwiched in between Discovery Season 2 (2257) and Season 3 (3187).
So here's the big theory. The Romulans, specifically the A.I.-hating Zhat Vash, are afraid of the exact same thing Discovery was dealing with back in 2257. But they have bad intel. Here's how it all could shake out.
The Romulans may have gotten their intel from time travel
What if the Romulans are right? They already are, in some respects. Back in 2257, a giant A.I. was coming to kill everyone. Laris tells Picard that the hatred of A.I. goes back thousands of years, which seems to contradict this, unless you consider the prospect of time travel. In Discovery, Control sent information back in time to establish itself.
What if what we saw in Discovery Season 2 wasn't the only attempt Control made to use time travel? Perhaps the Romulan Supernova disrupted spacetime and accidentally sent information back in time about the possible Control apocalypse, thus creating the Romulan fear of A.I. in the first place. After all, in Star Trek 2009, that same supernova (combined with Red Matter) sent Spock and Nero back in time and created the Kelvin Universe. Maybe false intel about an A.I. apocalypse got sent back too.
Discovery classified all information about Control
If Romulans in the distant past heard rumors (or had telepathic visions) about Control, it stands to reason they wouldn't have found out the A.I. was secretly defeated by Starfleet. "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2" made it 100 percent clear that everything about Control and the Discovery was top secret. (It was Spock's idea!) This means, that the very real fear of Control and an A.I. Apocalypse could be something the Romulans (and perhaps the Federation) are confused about.
What's the biggest danger in the 21st century? Misinformation. Maybe it's not that different in the 24th century either.
Picard knows the history of Spock and Discovery personally
Way back in 2017, before Discovery even hit the airwaves, yours truly pointed out that Jean-Luc Picard probably has some memory of Michael Burnham. Why? Well, in the TNG episodes "Sarek", and "Unification," Picard mind-melded with Sarek and Spock, respectively. This means Picard knows things only Sarek and Spock knew, including what Michael Burnham did way back in 2257.
So, on the off chance some Romulan (or Federation) zealots specifically say to Picard: "We're fighting this time-traveling A.I. called Control," Picard will be like, "Actually, I know what you're talking about, and, you know, that's all been fixed."
Control could be a time-traveling proto-Borg
If Control was defeated in 2257, but another version visited the distant Romulan past, then a lot of things start to make sense. In Discovery Season 2, Control behaved like a primitive version of the Borg, complete with nano-probes capable of taking over human bodies.
Perhaps Control went to the distant past of the Romulan people and assimilated them. This would explain the Romulan hatred of A.I. or even pseudo-A.I., and why the Borg Cube went offline when it assimilated the Shanor. Soji knows that Rhamda was the big Romulan expert on mythology, but if that mythology turned out to be the history of Control and the Borg time traveling?
If the Borg Collective encountered paradoxical information about its own creation — thanks to the memories of the Romulans — it might be enough to make it short-circuit. In essence, the Collective might have been frightened by too much past – and future — knowledge. After all, we know the Borg have messed around with time travel before, like in First Contact.
What about the Synth ban?
There are still several missing pieces here. It's very unclear how Data and his potential "offspring" — Soji and Dahj — fit into this. But, if the Romulans and the Federation did believe the A.I. apocalypse was coming, it's kind of a hop-skip-and-a-jump for them to actively sacrifice both the Romulan homeworld and people on Mars to make it look like all androids were bad. Basically, if the Zhat Vash hate A.I. more than they hate their homeworld, they were probably willing to let the supernova roll on through, if it meant getting androids banned throughout the Federation.
Again, how Bruce Maddox, Dahj, and Soji figure into all that hasn't been answered. Even so, Picard has more than enough pieces from the Discovery era and Jean-Luc's memories to make all of this match-up. If we did witness the origin of the Borg in Discovery Season 2, then it seems very possible we could see their future — or paradoxically, their past — in Season 3.
Picard airs Thursdays on CBS All Access.