Observations in PIC: "The End is the Beginning"

by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

Here are some observations about sets, props, make-ups and visual effects in PIC: "The End is the Beginning", with special attention to continuity with previous Star Trek series and movies.


Chronological List

Observation 01

This opening montage (which comes after the "Previously on Star Trek Picard" section) serves as a brief summary of the events on Mars before we switch to Starfleet Headquarters and see Picard and Raffi in a flashback. The footage used in this montage has appeared before in earlier episodes: "Children of Mars", "Remembrance" (in the news-holo) and "Maps and Legends". But in several cases, the footage was modified or a different take was used for this episode.

Observation 02

A futuristic building at Starfleet Headquarters. Unlike the scenes set at Starfleet Headquarters in the previous two episodes, this was not filmed at the Anaheim Convention Center but in front of the Dr. Dianne D. van Hook University Center of the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita. Aircars of this type were also seen in Greater Boston in the previous two episodes. We also get our first good look at the new Starfleet Command logo here. See also The Emblem of Starfleet Command.

Observation 03

We get a first good look (after a short glimpse at the beginning of "Maps and Legends") at the Starfleet uniforms in use in the 2380s here. Both Raffi and Picard are seen holding PADDs that were also used by the miners on Mars in "Maps and Legends". These PADDs show similarities to the PADDs used in all seven seasons of Star Trek Voyager but are larger in size than those PADDs. PADDs this size were in regular use aboard the USS Enterprise-D in the first few seasons of TNG.

Observation 04

The rectangular piece of metal that Raffi's rank pips are attached to can be seen inside her collar in this shot.

Observation 05

In order to let him look more like he did 14 years ago, Patrick Stewart was de-aged digitally for the scenes at Starfleet Headquarters in the year 2385. A comparison shot from later in the episode, set in the year 2399, shows the difference.

Observation 06

After having appeared on Star Trek for over five decades, always representing different alien locations, Vasquez Rocks appears for the first time just as that in the episode: the Earth location Vasquez Rocks.

The first shot that introduces us to the location here does not show the real Vasquez Rocks, however. Only the famous rock formations appear as they do in real life, the area around the rocks was altered extensively and the snow-covered mountains in the background are also not there in real life. The footage was most likely modified to hide man-made structures in the vicinity of the filming location. We can see what the area around Vasquez Rocks really looks like in a video and another one filmed with a drone.

Observation 07

Raffi's house and its location in relation to the famous Vasquez Rocks can be seen in this photo collage. As can be seen, the house has changed position relative to the rocks and the surrounding area also looks different in comparison to the establishing shot. Comparison screenshots from TOS: "Arena", "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and ENT: "Unexpected" show the iconic location in previous episodes and films.

Observation 08

In an Instagram post, Michael Chabon clarifies what Raffi Musiker is smoking in this scene. Raffi is using a traditional Orion "flashpipe" known as a hargl, employed for centuries on that world to sublimate the fleshy tendrils of an intoxicant plant known as the horx, or "snakeleaf."

Observation 08a

A sign on the door reveals that Raffi's house is a "Vulture Home Trailer".

Raffi's red wine glass is actually a Royal Ruby vase by the glassmaker Anchor Hocking apparently made in the 1950s.

Observation 09

The label on Raffi's hat features five letters. It is hard to make out, but it looks like UFHGH.

Observation 10

Another look at the derelict Borg cube, protected by forcefields and what looks like mines or beacons.

Observation 11

This shot showing numerous Borg alcoves evokes scenes from earlier episodes like "Q Who" and the film "Star Trek: First Contact" also showing the interiors of Borg cubes.

Observation 12

The shot of the outside of the Borg operating room is similar to an establishing shot of the location seen in "Maps and Legends". It seems even the same Borg is lying on the operating table and the same Romulan doctor is on duty.

Observation 13

A Romulan interface featuring the updated version of the written Romulan language is seen up close in this screenshot. The comparison shot shows a Romulan interface and the written language as in the TNG episode "Face of the Enemy".

Observation 14

The comparison shot from "I, Borg" shows what Hugh looked like before he was de-Borgified. As can be seen, areas that were previously covered by Borg implants still show scars and had to be artificially recreated, like Hugh's left eye.

Observation 15

The label of the Château Picard bottle is seen up close for the first time here. Bottles of Château Picard previously appeared in the film "Star Trek: Nemesis" and in Captain Georgiou's ready room aboard the USS Shenzhou in "The Vulcan Hello". The wine Picard is seen drinking with his family in "Family" and with the Malcorian chancellor Durken in "First Contact" was actually Château La Barre and not Château Picard.

Observation 16

This shot shows Vasquez Rocks from the other side. The famous rock under which Raffi's house was seen earlier in the episode is on the right in this screenshot. The collage from "Who Watches the Watchers" shows what the rock formation looked like in that episode when it appeared on the surface of Mintaka III.

Observation 17

The rock formation behind Raffi was also prominently seen in "Who Watches the Watchers" when Picard was gifted the Mintakan tapestry, in "Shore Leave" when Finnegan was mocking Kirk on the eponymous planet and in "Star Trek (2009)" when Amanda watches Nero's drilling.

Observation 18

The atmospheric station located close to the Daystrom Institute can be seen up close in this episode. It last appeared in "Remembrance" when the weather conditions were a little better.

Observation 19

Commodore Oh's rank insignia seems to be misaligned, at least when compared to how it looked in "Maps and Legends", when she is seeking out Dr. Jurati.

She is also wearing sunglasses. Characters have previously been seen wearing sunglasses in the 22nd and 24th centuries. Tucker and Archer wore sunglasses on the Torothan homeworld in "Desert Crossing". Archer additionally wore sunglasses in "The Forge". In the 24th century, Barclay wore sunglasses in the Voyager episode "Inside Man". Geordi LaForge used sunglasses to hide his ocular implants in "Star Trek: First Contact".

In "Operation: Annihilate" it was established that Vulcans possess an inner eyelid to protect them from the sun in this statement by Spock: "The brightness of the Vulcan sun has caused the development of an inner eyelid, which acts as a shield against high-intensity light." This was confirmed by T'Pol in "The Forge": "My inner eyelids will protect my vision. My species evolved on this planet."

It is thus unclear why the Vulcan Oh is wearing sunglasses in this scene. According to actress Tamlyn Tomita, who played the alleged Vulcan: "It was an homage to her. To Anna Karina!" she says with delight. "I'm not sure whose decision was it, Akiva [Goldsman], Michael Chabon? I don't know. I believe it said in the script that she wore sunglasses in Anna Karina-style. She was one of my favorite actresses, and it was extremely prescient because she passed away a short time later. I was so honored to embody a small part of her style."

When asked about this discrepancy, showrunner Michael Chabon commented: "Hmm. What, therefore, might we logically infer?" So Oh might not actually be a Vulcan after all...

Observation 20

The trapezoid shape of this Romulan interface is very reminiscent (and probably intentionally so) of previous Romulan interfaces, seen in such episodes as "The Die Is Cast" and "United".

Observation 21

Romulans with a dark skin tone have previously been seen in the TNG episode "The Pegasus" and the DS9 episode "Improbable Cause".

Observation 22

The room where the Romulan disordered are kept is a redress of the set that previously appeared in "Maps and Legends" as a changing room and the operating room. In this re-use, padded wall panels were added to make it look like an asylum.

Observation 22a

Hugh says that the disordered Romulans on the Borg cube are "the only Romulans ever assimilated" (as far as he knows). Assimilated Romulans have however been seen on three previous occasions:

Observation 23

The scenes at the area housing the disordered is reminiscent of scenes set at the Tilonus Institute for Mental Disorders in "Frame of Mind". No one is talking into a spoon, though. ;-)

Observation 24

The pixmit card depicts what looks like a personified moon crescent. Romulus was seen having at least one moon in "The Defector" and "The Aenar". This could also be an image representing Remus as in "Star Trek: Nemesis", of course.

Observation 25

When increasing the gamma value of this night shot of Raffi's house at Vasquez Rocks, it can be seen that the house seems to have changed its location again. In the establishing shot from earlier in the episode, there was a lot of free space in front of her house. Now it looks like there is a row of plants and rocks right in her frontyard. This dark shot also does not match what the location looked like earlier in the episode when the Vasquez Rocks and her house were shown from a much closer position.

Observation 26

Raffi is using an interesting hand-held holographic PADD.

Observation 27

A dream catcher and what looks like a mandala are visible behind Raffi in this shot. This latter is the Hindu Shri Yantra. It consists of nine interlocking triangles, which represent the cosmos and the human body. A dream catcher was previously seen on Dahj's desk in her Boston apartment in "Maps and Legends". A bottle of Saurian brandy is located on the table in the background but the prop will be seen a lot better a little later in the episode.

Observation 28

We get our first look at Rios's ship, the "La Sirena". Earth and many orbiting structures can be seen in the background.

Observation 29

A linear (in contrast to circular) transporter platform like this was also seen on the Regula station in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and on the Klingon battlecruiser Kronos in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country". Also in both cases, the transporter platform was slightly curved.

Observation 30

22nd and 24th century lighters in use by Starfleet or in the Federation were also seen in episodes such as "Shuttlepod One" and "Chrysalis". Cigars have previously appeared in the 24th century in "The Outrageous Okona" and famously in "Déjà Q".

Observation 31

The tattoo on Rios's left arm depicts a siren, the name of his ship in Spanish. The most famous tattooed Starfleet officer was Commander Chakotay, of course. An illusionary human woman with a tattoo on her upper arm also appeared in the DS9 episode "If Wishes Were Horses".

Observation 32

The medkit features the traditional Starfleet Medical emblem seen on Star Trek since "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". A label on the medkit also reads "Emergency Medical Hologram".

Observation 33

A good look at the late 24th non-Starfleet consoles on the La Sirena.

Observation 34

When Rios orders aguardiente from the replicator, he gets a bottle of pisco, a brandy from South America.

Observation 35

The medical device used by the La Sirena's EMH here shows similarities to other medical devices used by Dr. Bashir in "Life Support" and USS Voyager's EMH in "Lifesigns".

Observation 36

When offered a seat by Rios, Picard briefly ponders whether to sit down in the Captain's chair or not. Picard was last seen in the Captain's chair in "Star Trek: Nemesis". This shot (and another one from a little later in the episode) also offers a nice look at the cockpit of the La Sirena and affords a nice view at the Milky Way through the large cockpit window. The front bridge console evokes similar consoles from previous starships, like on the bridge of Kirk's Enterprise.

Observation 37

The Tragic Sense of Life, a philosophical essay written by Miguel de Unamuno, is a real book first published in 1912. At the bottom of the cover "Abyssus" can briefly be read. The essay discusses the differences between faith and reason, a common theme in many Star Trek episodes. It can be read online.

Observation 38

The navigation console seems to feature an astrogator like the bridge console on Kirk's Enterprise in The Original Series and the Star Trek feature films.

Observation 39

Another medical device reminiscent of those seen before, like in the Voyager episode "The Fight".

Observation 40

The two bottles on Raffi's table seem oddly familiar. The bottle on the left is Saurian brandy, often seen in the original Star Trek in episodes such as "The Conscience of a King" and "By Any Other Name". Saurian brandy also appeared in several DS9 episodes, like "Facets". The so-called "powder horn" bottles used in TOS and DS9 were originally commemorative whisky bottles from the George Dickel Distillery in Tennessee, produced in 1964.

Observation 41

The green bottle on the right is a Kluk Kluk decanter by Jacob D. Bang. The bottle exists in several different colors and shapes. A colorless version of the bottle with a bent neck was seen in Scotty's quarters in "By Any Other Name". He and Tomar emptied that bottle right after they had finished the Saurian brandy earlier in the episode.

Observation 42

A literal Gorn (Easter) egg is hidden in this display graphic: In "Arena", Kirk fought the Gorn on an alien planet. The footage for those fight scenes was also filmed at Vasquez Rocks. The second cap also shows a famous recurring in-joke: GNDN, "goes nowhere, does nothing" often found on bulkheads and energy conduits, going all the way back to The Original Series.

Observation 43

Raffi's hand-held holographic PADD seen earlier episode is docked to a docking station here. The ad for "Freecloud" seems to depict a croupier (with a head shaped like an Easter Island Moai and a baseball hat) and several dice, implying that the planet is known for gambling.

Observation 44

Rios's pisco bottle and a page from the book The Tragic Sense of Life can be seen a little better in these two caps.

Observation 45

Seen in the shelves in Rios's quarters are a small replicator and several sculptures of mermaids.

Observation 46

Some more Romulan pixmit cards, including the one called "shaipouin" (false door).

Observation 47

Several paintings can be identified in the study of Château Picard.

Observation 48

Both Picard and Laris are seen using hidden weapons. They can be distinguished from the Romulan disruptor by their blue energy beams (instead of red disruptor beams).

Observation 49

Both (possible) Romulan disruptor pistols and rifles are seen in these screen caps. Images from previous episodes show what the disruptor pistol ("The Next Phase") and rifle ("Unification I") looked like on TNG. A cap from "The Die Is Cast" shows the redesigned Romulan disruptor rifles from DS9.

Observation 50

Laris refers to the captive Romulan as a "stubborn northener", comparing him to Zhaban while she points at his forehead ridges. This seems to imply that Romulans from the northern hemisphere of Romulus have forehead ridges (like the Romulans seen in the 24th century), while other Romulans have smooth foreheads (like the ones in TOS and the first six Star Trek films).

The particular Romulan in "The End is the Beginning" also has a very wide nose bridge, making him look similar to the Romulans from the first Kelvin film.

Observation 51

A Romulan disordered is seen playing with what looks like a Rubik's cube with Romulan letters. An interesting toy above a Borg cube. Earlier in the episode, the same Romulan was sitting at a table with several large playing dice. See #23.

Observation 52

Soji's gradient badge briefly lights up green when she touches Ramdha's hand and asks her what caused the submatrix collapse. This signifies danger as in "Maps and Legends", the Romulan instructor aboard the Borg cube said: "...if your gradient badge begins to blink green - run!"

Observation 53

The captive Romulan commits suicide by biting on a capsule containing dangerous green acid that he also spits at Zhaban. The acid is so strong that the Romulan completely dissolves. The same already happened on the stairs when the dying Romulan killed Dahj in PIC: "Remembrance". But on that occasion it was hardly recognizable as a suicide, and was commonly misinterpreted as Romulans having acidic blood now. (The acid should have been given a different color for that matter, to avoid the confusion.) On TNG, the captive Romulan Alidar Jarok committed suicide by biting on a felodesine chip in "The Defector".

Observation 54

Some more pixmit cards are seen on these caps, including the "Seb-Cheneb" card.

Observation 55

This Romulan pistol is different from the ones seen earlier in this episode and in previous episodes.

Observation 56

The communication device Soji uses to call her mother is different from the one her sister Dahj used in "Remembrance". While the holographic projection of her mother (called Marisol Asha in the German dubbing end credits) in "Remembrance" was three-dimensional, the projection here is two-dimensional.

Observation 57

For some reason, small parts of the corridor wall inside the Borg cube fly from one side to another in the background. This was also seen earlier in the episode.

Observation 58

It seems as if Picard's old communicator is glowing when he receives a message from Rios, something it has never done before in any previous Star Trek episode or film.

Observation 59

The La Sirena in Earth orbit. Italy can clearly be made out in this shot, as Picard is about to go out on a new adventure in space. The last time (before this episode) he was seen in space was at the end of "Star Trek: Nemesis" where he was aboard the USS Enterprise-E in spacedock in Earth orbit. Like in this shot, Italy was visible in the last scene from "Nemesis". Picard has thus come full circle.

Observation 60

A string bag with baguette, Roquefort cheese and Madame Arnaud's terrine d'oie in one hand, Picard gives the immortal command to "engage", like he did in so many previous episodes.

Observation 61

In the alternate future of DS9: "The Visitor", old Bashir and Dax said:

BASHIR: I haven't worked a two-dimensional control panel in a long time. How did we manage?
DAX: We always seemed to muddle through somehow.

In "The End is the Beginning", we can see three-dimensional control panels in action.

Observation 62

A new journey begins aboard the La Sirena. "Remembrance" began with a zoom towards the Enterprise-D until Picard was visible from the outside through a window on deck 10. Here, the episode ends with a zoom moving from Picard (as seen through the cockpit window) to an external shot of the La Sirena going to warp. A fitting end to the first chapter of Picard's new adventure.



Most screen caps from TrekCore and Trek Caps.


Back to Observations index

View as gallery