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In Star Trek: Nemesis, after

Shinzon died in Captain Picard's arms,

with only one minute left until full Thalaron weapon activation, why did he just stand there frozen instead of trying to deactivate the weapon? This is around 1:40:26, when he heard the computer say "One minute to firing sequence."

This lasted even after

Data came unexpectedly. Even when we heard "30 seconds to firing sequence", he still didn't move nor say anything, just letting Data to put the emergency transport unit on him while Data remained to destroy the weapon which caused the explosion that killed him.

The movie and the (movie transcript) show clearly how

Picard entered the Scimitar bridge with full alacrity, successfully killed several combatants in the process (leaving only him and Shinzon), and then intended to fire his hand phaser at the Thalaron generator (which we see later would have blown up the ship), but realized he had dropped his phaser (1:38:22). For the next minute or two he was then distracted by having to fight Shinzon. Once Shinzon died however, he was free and still had more than 60 seconds to look for his phaser (or any dead enemy's weapon) to complete what he originally intended, but instead he stood frozen. Even allowing for the gravity of seeing one's clone died, the computer warnings should have been sufficient to bring him back to the precarious situation and focus him to take action. But he just stood there while Data had to be the one who saved Picard with his emergency transport and at the last second fired his own hand phaser at the generator which exploded to blow up the ship and killed himself.

This is so unlike him, especially knowing that his ship and crew is about to be annihilated by the weapon.

Why did Captain Picard stand passively frozen instead of quickly moving to deactivate the Thalaron weapon?

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  • Would he have know the computer command sequence and any required access codes to shut it down? Also we don't know if there was a point in the sequence when it'd be physically impossible to shutdown and abort the firing of the weapon Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 6:25
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    I’ve not seen this but what you’re describing sounds like he was in a state of shock and mourning and so not thinking clearly or at all.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 6:38
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    @TheLethalCarrot That's the most likely explanation, but then it's so out of character knowing how hundreds of his beloved crew members lives were at stake, including the 2 bridge officers Deanna and Riker he just officiated marriage for in the beginning of the movie ! Having watched all Picard's movies and episodes, I really wonder why. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 15:00
  • @SpacePhoenix Please see my edit to show that I don't think he needed to know that. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 15:02
  • Dramatic license? Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 15:35

2 Answers 2

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In short, in the original script the action was a lot tighter. Picard had only seconds to spare and was trapped between Shinzon, the spear and the wall. Data saved him just in the nick of time and fired almost simultaneously into the beam, destroying himself and the ship.

The film's director/editor seems to have extended that scene considerably, presumably to allow a longer scene between Shinzon and Picard, and Picard and Data, but at the cost of losing some of the dramatic tension and pace.

COMPUTER (V.O.): Twenty nine... Twenty eight...

[Shinzon pulls himself up and races to snatch up a disruptor from a fallen comrade --]

[As Picard leaps up, grabbing a piece of wreckage, a long metal rod -- Picard thrusts it forward like a spear --]

[Impaling Shinzon.]

[A stunned moment of silence as Shinzon gazes at Picard, almost with a look of disbelief. Blood spews from his mouth as he lets out a tormented cry.]

[And then, amazingly, Shinzon forces himself forward -- pushing Picard back against a wall -- Shinzon slowly walks toward Picard, forcing himself down the length of the spear -- the spear point explodes through Shinzon's back -- the weight of Shinzon's body is pinning Picard against the wall -- time is running out --]

COMPUTER (V.O.): Eighteen... Seventeen...

[Shinzon forces himself down the spear:]

SHINZON: I'm glad we're together now -- our destiny is complete.

[He finally thrusts himself down the whole spear and clasps his dying hands firmly around Picard's throat --]

COMPUTER (V.O.): Ten...Nine...

Data sprints to the bridge --

The official novelisation has a similarly tight scene.

".Ten.Nine."

Picard heard the seconds tick away with a sense of furious frustration. Shinzon held him pinned in such a manner that, if the captain pushed back against the railing, he would himself be impaled against it. But there had to be a way.He could not stand helplessly by, bathed in the brilliant green glow of the thalaron activation matrix, and permit his crew, his ship, to be destroyed.

But Shinzon's grip on Picard's neck was alarmingly strong. The captain gagged, but dared not let go of the railing; if it slipped from his grasp, it would pierce through his own chest, just as it had the younger man's. He fought to steer the railing to one side-and succeeded only slightly.

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    +1 Great answer. Shows us the importance of paying importance to multiple aspects of conversion from script/novel. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 16:05
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    @GratefulDisciple - Precisely so. That sort of plotting looks great on paper, but you can't kill a main cast character in less than ten seconds and then snap away to another scene.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 16:14
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As Valorum pointed out, in the shooting script, Picard only had ten seconds left on the clock after Shinzon's death, rather than a minute, and the weight of Shinzon's body was supposed to be pinning him to the wall to some degree.

The novelisation goes even further, stating that Shinzon's hands remained clasped firmly around Picard's throat, and that Picard had to be very careful in his attempts to free himself, for fear of being impaled on the same metal rod he'd used to impale Shinzon.

For whatever reason though, the scene ended up being shot and acted a little differently than it was scripted, and especially than it was described in the novelisation. I stress "acted" differently, because I think Patrick Stewart's performance adds something important to the scene which isn't evident within the script or novelisation.

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

When Shinzon dies, his body goes limp and his hands slip from Picard's throat. His body is still leaning against Picard's, but Picard now has a full minute to at least try to free himself, yet makes no apparent attempt to do so.

What we're shown on-screen is not a man who appears to be struggling and failing to force Shinzon's body away from him, or to slip out to the side. What we're shown is a man who appears to be just standing there, completely passive, his eyes glazed over, staring off into space.

Even when Data shows up and pushes Shinzon's body aside, Picard still just stands there, doing and saying nothing. It takes several seconds for him even to even look at Data, as if he hadn't registered his presence before that.

Based on Patrick Stewart's performance, I would submit that Picard's failure to act was not primarily a result of any physical impediment, or due to insufficient time. Rather, something about the final moments of his fight-to-the-death with Shinzon -- perhaps the odd way Shinzon behaved just before he died -- appeared to have impacted him psychologically, to the point where he was mentally out of it for a good thirty seconds or more.

Even after he returns to the Enterprise, it still doesn't seem like he's altogether with it, and seemingly aware of this, he quickly opts take a break and leave the bridge in Riker's hands (although Data's death was obviously a factor weighing on him by that point).

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  • I completely agree with how you describe that scene and also the mental state of Captain Picard as acted by Patrick Stewart. And it makes a lot of sense, especially how it possibly could have continued post-transport at the Enterprise. It's just on balance I expected Captain Picard would have exerted himself more in a battle situation. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 20:54

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