15

There are instances throughout the TV series of The Next Generation of Jean Luc Picard having influence amongst the upper echelons of the Federation command structure, able to get classified reports, or sway opinion on important decisions.

Is this influence typical of all starship captains in the Federation, do they all have sponsors, contacts and people they can use to help bypass the usual chains of command or does Picard wield a particular high level of influence?

5
  • 20
    He's the captain of the flagship
    – OrangeDog
    Jul 2 at 17:59
  • 2
    he was also asked to be the commandant of Starfleet Academy in Season 1, so one can at least consider that he is fairly well regarded
    – NKCampbell
    Jul 2 at 18:11
  • 2
    He has a whole manoeuvre named after him! Jul 3 at 11:51
  • 1
    @PaulD.Waite Just one?? :-)
    – gidds
    Jul 3 at 15:48
  • 1
    The notion that Enterprise is the flagship is a bit strange. The flagship is normally the ship that serves the fleet's admiral and staff as a mobile base. Who is the admiral aboard Enterprise?
    – John Doty
    Jul 4 at 15:24
32

Consider:

  • Under Picard's command, the Enterprise-D served as the ‘flagship of the Federation’ and of Starfleet.

  • In that role, he made first contact with 27 alien species, including the Ferengi and the Borg.

  • He served as Arbiter Of Succession of the Klingon Empire.

  • He served as chief contact point with the Q Continuum.

  • In S1E19 Coming Of Age, Picard was offered promotion to admiral, and the post of Commandant of Starfleet Academy.

  • In S1E25 Conspiracy, Picard referred to himself and three other captains as “Starfleet’s finest”.  (He may have used an ironic tone under the circumstances, but he clearly believed that, knowing one as an old friend, and the other two by reputation.)

Many of those make him rare or unique among Starfleet captains.  So while he many not have held an official title to that effect, I think he was clearly higher-placed and more influential than many, perhaps all, other captains.

6
  • 24
    I'm not sure that he "served" as contact with the Q, so much as "had them drop in periodically to mess with him"
    – Valorum
    Jul 2 at 18:13
  • 17
    Well, he (and his team) were put on trial, representing all humanity.  That seems a fairly responsible position :-)
    – gidds
    Jul 2 at 18:16
  • 3
    I've pointed out previously that humanity was already under the microscope, from before Picard was even born. When Q turned up, it was Picard who suggested a trial and Q just went along with it
    – Valorum
    Jul 2 at 18:17
  • 4
    AIUI, the subtext there is that Admiral Quinn is worried about the conspiracy he suspects is replacing key Starfleet officers (as revealed later on in S1E25 Conspiracy — though by then Quinn himself has been replaced), and wants Picard close by for support.  So more about increasing his availability and visibility, than reducing his standing.
    – gidds
    Jul 2 at 19:08
  • 1
    As something of an aside, it's worth noting that Kirk (TOS) had a very similar standing, being regarded as one of the finest captains in Starfleet.
    – Matthew
    Jul 3 at 13:24
8

It's not uncommon for someone to do something famous militarily and and get recognition politically. A recent real-life example would John McCain, a navy airman who was shot down over Vietnam and spent years in deplorable conditions as a prisoner of war. He would serve in Congress from 1982 until his death in 2018. He even ran for US President.

Picard was nearly killed by a Nausicaan, which made him a bit more willing to take some calcuated risks that paid off well. Q himself detailed the ramifications of that in the TNG episode Tapestry

The Jean-Luc Picard you wanted to be, the one who did not fight the Nausicaan, had quite a different career from the one you remember. That Picard never had a brush with death... never came face to face with his own mortality... never realized how fragile life is... how important each moment can be... so his life never came into focus. He drifted through much of his career, with no plan or agenda... going from one assignment to the next, never seizing the opportunities that presented themselves...

He didn't lead the Away Team on Milika Three to save that ambassador... he didn't take charge of the Stargazer's Bridge when its Captain was killed... and no one ever offered him a command.

He learned to play it safe. And he never, ever got noticed by anyone.

Picard was promoted (ostensibly two ranks or more) to Captain of the Stargazer after assuming command when the captain (and possibly the first officer) were killed (the event has never been detailed, but was mentioned more than once in TNG). Picard would command the Stargazer for 22 years.

Picard being offered the Enterprise-D (a brand new ship that was also a new model) was Starfleet honoring a man whose career reflected well on Starfleet. This was alluded to in The Drumhead, when Admiral Satie (who has been increasingly conspiratorial in her investigations) decides to question Picard in front of an Admiral and says

I've brought down bigger men than you, Picard!

You wouldn't say that to a nobody. The Cardassians went to great lengths to capture Picard in Chain of Command, going so far as to design a ruse that would require Starfleet to send Picard personally, as he had expertise in the area they built the ruse around.

In the Picard series, we see that Picard himself (now an admiral) tried to get an ambitious rescue armada for the imperiled Romulan Empire. That plan only failed because

synths attacked the Mars Colony and destroyed the fleet.

As we see later, that would be the end of Picard's ability to ride on his fame alone.

1

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.