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I was doing some figuring about Shinzon's age in Star Trek: Nemesis. The more figuring I did the more confused I became.

Am I right in the understanding that Shinzon was designed to replace Picard in Star Fleet, in the sense that no-one would know what happened, but the person who people thought was Picard is actually Shinzon? Given the physical appearance of Picard and Shinzon in the film there is clearly an age difference. How would this work if Shinzon were to replace Picard? Obviously people would notice he looked 20 years younger.

I assumed the answer to this has to do with some accelerated aging serum, similar to the one used in Star Wars with the clone army. However, after reading this Memory Alpha article I couldn't find any mention of such.

Another thing I'm trying to figure out is when did the Romulan Empire come up with this idea? Picard must have already been high-ranking in Star Fleet. But does that make sense? For example, if Shinzon was 25 when he faced Picard then the Romulans must have planned to replace Picard 25 years ago. Was Picard that high priority a target 25 years ago?

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If the Romulans had been really clever they would have just made up some sort of transporter accident story. –  Xantec Aug 12 at 21:01
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Or they could have got a mining ship to go backwards in time through a black hole. Oh, wait... –  Darth Satan Aug 12 at 21:12

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Beverly states with confidence that Shinzon is 25 years old. Since the film takes place in 2379, this means that Picard's clone would have been created when he was still in command of the USS Stargazer in 2354, some ten years before he gained command of the Enterprise.

In-universe there are two possible explanations for this discrepancy;

  • Picard was already marked for greatness. His command of the Stargazer was exemplary and he was known as a military genius who'd invented his own unbeatable maneuver.

  • Tasha Yar, thrown back in time in TNG : Yesterday's Enterprise told the Romulans that Picard would one day be in command of the flagship of the Federation.

BEVERLY : There's no doubt, Captain. Right down to your regressive strain of Shalaft's Syndrome. He's a clone.

A beat as the confirmation sinks in.

PICARD : When was he... created?

BEVERLY : About twenty-five years ago. They probably used a hair follicle or skin cell.

As to how they planned to replace Picard despite the age difference, Beverly works it out:

BEVERLY : The more I studied his DNA the more confusing it got. Finally I could only come to one conclusion... Shinzon was created with temporal RNA sequencing. He was designed so that at a certain point his aging process could be accelerated to reach your age more quickly, so he could replace you.

PICARD : But the Romulans abandoned the plan...

BEVERLY : As a result the temporal sequencing was never activated. Remember, he was supposed to replace you at nearly your current age. He was engineered to skip thirty years of life. But since the RNA sequencing was never activated, his cellular structure has started to break down. He's dying.


Elsewhere in the Star Trek canon, according to "Death in Winter", the harvesting of Picard's DNA supposedly took place in 2348 at the wedding of Jack and Beverly Crusher. To add insult to injury, Picard wasn't the only Starfleet officer that was cloned :

But then, who would suspect him of being a surgically altered Romulan spy—an agent dispatched across the deceptively quiet Neutral Zone in support of a program only the praetor, in his brilliance, could have conceived?

A plan to grow clones from the genetic material of Starfleet’s most prominent captains and, at some opportune juncture years or even decades hence, replace them with their secret progeny. Brilliant was probably an under-statement.

It wasn’t difficult for the Romulan to make off with his prize. Picard’s gaze had already drifted in the bride’s direction again. And in the process, Manathas had been forgotten. Making certain no one was watching, he emptied what was left of Picard’s champagne into another glass—one that had earlier been the property of the bride—careful not to disturb the smudge where the captain’s mouth had come in contact with the transparent rim.

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Also there was a photo of a younger Picard that Senior Picard was looking at during the movie, which looks like Shinzon i.stack.imgur.com/dpjwg.jpg –  Jared Aug 12 at 23:04
    
@Jared - Well, you'd expect that, given that they're clones :-) –  Richard Aug 14 at 10:37

Question 1. Shinzon was cloned with temporal RNA that would allow him to be aged quickly to Picards current age once activated. Also, one of the first things memory-alpha says about Shinzon. The Romulans also dropped this project and sent Shinzon to remas as basically a slave.

Question 2. Picard gets the enterprise in 2364, and nemesis takes place in 2379 (also making Picard 65 in this movie) So we have a few options with this one,

  1. They hatched this plan right when Picard got the enterprise, or shortly thereafter, then grew and rapidly aged Shinzon partially to an age where they could teach him etc, before finishing the age change to Picards current age.

  2. This is a plot fail and they didn't work out the math before they made the movie. as Shinzon should only be about 15.

  3. Picard had been in Starfleet for years before his promotion to the enterprise, and so they could have picked him as a promising young member of Starfleet in about 2333-35 picard was promoted to captain of the U.S.S. StarGazer after the previous captain died in combat. so during his years as a captain above the stargazer it makes more sense for the romulans to decide to clone him.

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