Now that Picard‘s first episode has aired, we have a better idea of what we’re in for. If you never watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s probably going to be pretty confusing. Even if you did watch it, that might have been mumbledy-something we’re old now years ago and the details are fuzzy. But you’re also a busy person, and you probably don’t have a spare 5.5 days, which is roughly how long it would take you to rewatch that entire series, assuming you don’t need to do things like sleep or go to the bathroom. So here’s a list of important re-watches you could accomplish in a very dedicated weekend, along with my completely speculative guesses at importance just in case you’re not quite that dedicated.
And it should go without saying, but continuing to read this article may spoil you for events in the first episode of Picard as well as some 30-year-old TV show episodes.
I’m going to assume that you’re familiar with Jean-Luc Picard, the man himself, and do not need to be introduced to the character. If that is the case, you have a lot more episodes to watch, but you might get a good hint of it by watching TNG S1E9, “The Battle,” and continuing this list from there.
The Next Generation
Lore, data’s evil twin (so to speak), is technically dead-ish. Some folks think we’ll see him in Picard; I don’t expect him to play a huge role. I could also be very wrong. At any rate, this is an early episode that gives you the details of emotions in androids and some Data backstory.
S2E9: “The Measure of a Man”
This was one of my favorite episodes, as it was for many fans. And Picard seems set up to be a series-long (or at least season-long) analysis of the same themes. “The Measure of a Man” covers pretty important basic knowledge about Data and the Federation’s understanding of and relationship with androids (now known as synths). It’s also the episode where we met Bruce Maddox, who is referred to in the first Picard episode. There’s been no confirmation that he’ll be a character on the show, but when a TV show tells you somebody has disappeared and hasn’t been seen in years, that’s usually a good hint he’s about to appear.
S3E16: “The Offspring”
In the first episode of Picard, he says that Data always wanted a daughter. But he had one. She didn’t last long, but she existed! And this is the episode where Lal, said daughter, comes and goes. This episode has a lot that seems relevant to the new series—Picard and Data relationship, techspeak about androids, issues for androids.
S3E26/S4E1: “The Best of Both Worlds”
Welp, if you didn’t suspect it from the title sequence, the ending of the first episode confirms that we’ve got some Borg stuff to deal with. (Also we know Seven of Nine and Hugh are showing up, but more on that in a minute.) And where do we find Picard + Borg? When he becomes Locutus in these two episodes.
During the first episode of Picard, he’s asked if he ever lost faith in Data, and he says, “Never.” But if he did, for perhaps a moment, this would be when Data seemed to go a bit rogue, randomly wandering away from a child, redirecting the ship, and imitating Picard’s voice to issue commands. As it turned out, he was being controlled by Noonian Soong.
S5E7-8: “Unification” parts 1 and 2
Obviously Romulans are a big part of the Picard story. Exactly how much of the history is really important to understand isn’t entirely clear yet. But these two episodes will give some of that background.
S5E23: “I Borg”
This is where we meet Hugh, a former Borg drone, who we’ve seen in Picard photos. We don’t know a lot yet about his part in this story, but this is how to see where he came from.
S6E26/S7E1: “Descent” parts 1 and 2
TNG really liked these end of season/beginning of season two-parters, didn’t they? “Descent” is Lore, and Hugh, and thus Borg.
This episode features Juliana Tainer, who claims to be the former wife of Noonien Soong, who created Data. She and Data talk about Lal. She was the one who wanted Data to be able to be a painter. She turns out to be an android based on Soong’s real wife who died and doesn’t really know she’s not human. Soong made her even more human-like in physical terms than his previous builds. Sounds familiar! She also tells Data that there were three Soong androids before him, including B-4, who we meet in Nemesis and hear about in Picard.
S7E12: “The Pegasus”
Direct connection? Probably not in any super critical way. There are Romulans involved. But if you want to be really, really speculative, this is the episode that features the much-loved “Captain Picard Day” and its banner, which we see prominently hanging in Picard’s archives in the first episode. Show co-creator Alex Kurtzman has said that while there are a lot of Easter eggs for fans, if you see something, there’s a good chance it means something. Maybe we can have Captain Picard Day in the future? Maybe those kids are adults now and will play important roles?
S7E25/26: “All Good Things” parts 1 and 2
It’s about Picard’s future, around the same time as the new series, but we know it’s not a 100% accurate future. How much of it will be true? But it’s always worth watching a Q episode, so why not?
S3E26/S4E1: “Scorpion” parts 1 and 2
Obviously it’s not just TNG with the addiction to these two-parters. Remember Species 8472? This is when Janeway and crew team up with the Borg, and Seven of Nine joins Voyager. We know she’ll be on Picard, so it’s handy to remind yourself where she came from. Also, it was one of Tom Hardy’s first roles, so you can rewatch while imagining that Picard’s clone someday becomes Bane.
S7E25/26: “Endgame” parts 1 and 2
If you weren’t a big Voyager fan, this is the one you should watch before Picard. Based on in-canon information (there’s a lot beyond that), the Borg are now somewhere between rather crippled and destroyed (I’m guessing somewhere closer to the former), and you can find a fan to convince you of any option on that spectrum. It looks like Picard is going to give us some actual answers.
S2E6, “Children of Mars”
If you’re a casual fan who hadn’t yet subscribed to CBS All Access and missed these altogether, Short Treks is a two-season series of 10-20 minute-long episodes, the last of which sets up Picard. The final episode, “Children of Mars,” is where you get to see the synths attack Mars.
First Contact (1996)
It’s a great movie, so always worth it. In it, Picard spends some time thinking about his time as Locutus. And it’s Borg-ful. Quite likely relevant.
This was not a favorite movie for a lot of fans, but it is the last time we saw all the TNG folks, and it seems to be pretty relevant to the Picard story, with the introduction of B-4, Data’s death, and some quality time on Romulus.
Star Trek (2009)
If you have a vague memory of the movie, it’s probably enough to refresh yourself on why it’s relevant even though it happens in an entirely different timeline. Part of the reason for that is the destruction of Romulus because of the supernova. Spock tried to save Romulus and failed, but ended up getting himself and Nero tossed into the past (causing the new timeline). Picard apparently came along to try to rescue Romulans. But it’s worth noting that Picard co-creator Alex Kurtzman is a writer and executive producer of both Picard and the 2009 Star Trek movie.