Preferring Star Trek over Star Wars isn't too hard. There are so many more live-action hours of Star Trek, it has a higher batting average simply by virtue of its abundance. Having said that, the peaks of Star Wars – like A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back — are tough for Trek to touch. While I'd rather watch a random episode of DS9 over Attack of the Clones most days of the week, it's tough to argue First Contact is a more classic piece of sci-fi art than the original 1977 Star Wars.
Which brings us to Picard. The third episode's first act bears more than a passing resemblance to A New Hope, albeit with one huge twist. What if Obi-Wan was forced out of Jedi-retirement, without Luke Skywalker in tow? This is the story the first three episodes of Picard aim to tell: Jean-Luc is Obi-Wan and he's headed out on one last desperate mission. Here's seven ways this latest Star Trek actually looks like bizzaro Star Wars. Spoilers ahead.
1. Space badass in retirement gets a secret message from a robot
In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi was pulled back into the heroism game by a robot with a secret message. Ditto for Picard. Jean-Luc is a retired Starfleet Admiral who meets Dahj, a secret robot, and something in her programming told her that Jean-Luc is her only hope.
Granted, she never says "Help me, Jean-Luc Picard, you're my only hope," but Dahj does say she feels safe with him. [Arrested Development voice: She's not.] Still, a secret robot needs help, and finds it in an old man sitting around planetside. So far, Jean-Luc and Obi-Wan are pretty much one for one.
2. No, my father wasn't an android, he was a xenobotanist...
In A New Hope, Obi-Wan tells Luke the backstory he heard about his father was false. "No, my father didn't fight in the [Clone] wars," young Skywalker protests, "he was a navigator on a spice freighter."
In Picard, Dahj tells Jean-Luc she has memories of her father as a xenobotanist, but Jean-Luc insists that she's really the daughter of Data and that her "beautiful memories," are also not real.
3. This is how space democracy dies
In all versions of Star Wars, the status quo of the government is usually corrupt and terrible. In A New Hope, Luke says, "It's not like I like the Empire, I hate it, there's just nothing I can do about it right now."
For Star Trek, a corrupt government is actually kind of new, which is why when Jean-Luc says he retired because "it was no longer Starfleet," it changes the status quo to be more like Star Wars. Just as Obi-Wan was once a guardian of peace in the Old Republic, Picard was once a champion of truth and compassion across the galaxy. But that was before the dark times, before the Snyth Revolt and the supernova.
4. Don't call it a Borg Death Star
In A New Hope, Princess Leia is being held captive on the Death Star, a giant evil round ball in space. In Star Picard, Jean-Luc is looking for Soji — Dahj's twin sister, who is living on a giant evil cube in space. Soji is not a captive, but she is being manipulated. The Borg Cube is not an active superweapon, but it used to be even more powerful than the dreaded Death Star. You get it.
5. "So there's another one."
Soji and Dahj are twins, which is arguably another Skywalker family reference right there. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda ominously tells Obi-Wan, "there is another," presumably in reference to Leia. Picard echoes this sentiment at the end of episode 1, when he tells Dr. Jurati, "so there's another one."
6. "I'm getting too old for this sort of thing."
Obi-Wan asks Luke for help on the mission to Alderaan because he's "getting too old for this sort of thing." This is probably the key difference between the set-up for Picard and that of A New Hope. Jean-Luc knows he's getting too old for this sort of thing, but he kind of blusters through anyway. The only person he really reaches out to help him out is Raffi, who kind of hates his guts now.
7. Time to hire a tough, sarcastic star pilot
This is the moment where Picard's first arc truly solidified itself as a wacky A New Hope homage. When he hires Chris Rios, an ex-Starfleet officer who now flies for himself and for money, it's impossible not to think of Han Solo.In Solo we learned Han was once a member of the Imperial Navy but became disenchanted. Rios is the same, but with Starfleet. You could easily picture the smuggler pulling a hunk of space metal out of his shoulder, and both sets of clients and pilots share a grudging trust and respect for one another.
That's not to say the rest of Picard will play out anything like A New Hope. Even if it did, the fact that it's an older person journeying back "into the cold" without a fresh-faced apprentice already makes the tone totally different. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan wasn't the main character, even if he was the catalyst for the events to be set in motion. In Picard, the main character is right there in the title.
Though several galaxies divide Star Trek from Star Wars, some archetypal myths bind them together more closely than we might have previously thought. In episode 3 of Picard, Soji says that there's a "therapeutic utility" to having a "shared mythological framework." This doesn't mean that Picard is ripping-off Star Wars any more than Star Wars is ripping off Joseph Campbell, it's just how culture tends to work.
As Picard boldly goes where Trek has never gone before, it's interesting how some of this new story seems to come straight from the Force. Actually, it's not just interesting, it's fascinating.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard debut Thursday mornings on CBS All Access.