A major part of Star Trek: Picard’s second episode, “Maps and Legends,” is a meeting that takes place at his home in La Barre, France. An old friend from Jean-Luc Picard’s days on the Stargazer, the ship he served on before the Enterprise, comes to visit–and brings some bad news.
Picard’s friend Dr. Benayoun doesn’t say exactly what’s wrong with the captain, but we get a few key hints. It’s one of a number of related neurological syndromes but it’ll take more tests to find out for sure. And while some are treatable, no matter which disease Picard has, it’ll end in his death. It might also already be responsible for things Picard has been experiencing, like his strange dreams of Data and his anger during the interview about the Romulan supernova in Episode 1, “Remembrance.”
During the conversation, Benayoun tells Picard the issue is related to the parietal lobe of his brain, to which Picard responds that he’d been told years earlier that it could develop a problem. That’s actually a reference to the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things.” During the final episode of the series, Picard experienced time skips that placed him back at the beginning of his career on the Enterprise, in the present, and far into the future after he had retired from Starfleet. In that future, Picard suffered from a neurological disorder called Irumodic Syndrome, which will slowly rob him of his faculties and the ability to tell reality from fantasy, before finally killing him.
Though the time skips were the result of interference from the godlike alien entity known as Q, in the actual present, Picard had himself checked out by the Enterprise’s doctor, Beverly Crusher. She found a slight structural abnormality in Picard’s parietal lobe, which she said could lead to Irumodic Syndrome or some other neurological disease–or nothing at all. It seems that while Q’s vision of the future didn’t come to pass exactly as Picard saw it on TNG, some parts of it might have been true.
So what does that mean for Picard? In “All Good Things,” Picard’s former crewmates began to doubt his assertion that he was experiencing time skips and worried that he’d lost touch with reality. Having experienced that and knowing the importance of the mission he’s trying to undertake to find Soji, he’s probably going to hold back that information from any comrades that accompany him. Surely, that’ll create conflicts later on, especially if the disease progresses.
Of course, Picard’s vivid dreams of Data also seem like they’re more than just the random interactions of a neurological disorder. He dreamed of Data immediately before Dahj found him, and it was a dream that reminded Picard of the painting Data made for him, titled, “Daughter.” So while Picard’s developing disease could be a major problem, it also seems possible that there’s more going on with what he’s sensing than we yet know.
There’s another potential wrinkle involved, too: Picard’s assimilation by the Borg. Though he has fully recovered from his experiences as Locutus of Borg, his name as a Borg drone when he was captured by the Collective in Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s possible there are still lingering effects. Since the Borg Cube known as the Artifact is playing a major role in the show, and we know that former Borg drones Hugh (from TNG) and Seven of Nine (from Star Trek: Voyager) are set to show up later in the season, it stands to reason that there may yet be more effects from Picard’s time with the Borg than he has realized. At the very least, we know a lot of the psychological scars persist, as Picard struggled to deal with his assimilation in both TNG and in the sequel movie Star Trek: First Contact.
Regardless, the issue with Picard’s parietal lobe is surely going to have an impact on the mission going forward–even if it just serves to make Picard more cavalier with his life, since he knows he’s going to die soon anyway. But it seems very possible that the legendary captain may find himself struggling to lead before long, which would be a huge problem for anyone who decides to follow him.
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