Star Trek: Picard’s Romulan Warrior Nuns Explained | Screen Rant
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard season 1, episode 4.
Star Trek: Picard raised Trekkers' eyebrows by introducing the Qowat Milat, an order of Romulan warrior nuns who defy everything fans thought they knew about Starfleet's alien enemies. The Romulans are more prominent than ever in the CBS All-Access series charting the twilight years of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The series' villains are a heretofore unknown cabal of the Romulan Tal Shiar called the Zhat Vash, which is out to eradicate all artificial lifeforms in the galaxy. Like the Zhat Vash, the Qowat Milat are also a brand new addition to the Romulan mythos.
The Romulans play a pivotal role in Star Trek: Picard's backstory. Following the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, in which Picard's clone Shinzon (Tom Hardy) destabilized the Romulan government, the sun that the planet Romulus orbits went supernova. Admiral Picard led the Federation's rescue mission to save the Romulan people until rogue androids attacked Mars and destroyed the rescue fleet in 2385. The result was the Federation, which was already hesitant to save their oldest enemies, abandoning the rescue mission and the Romulans. Although the Romulans and Starfleet also have a history of working together for their mutual benefit, the default between the two galactic powers is hostility and mistrust. Most of the Romulans introduced in Star Trek have proven to be villains, although there have been occasional members of the pointy-eared race who have been heroic allies to Picard, like his vineyard's caretakers Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane).
However, the Qowat Milat are unlike any Romulans seen in Star Trek before. Introduced in Star Trek: Picard episode 4, "Absolute Candor," the all-female sect helped Picard relocate hundreds of thousands of Romulans on the colony planet Vashti. In fact, the Qowat Milat welcomed Jean-Luc as a trusted friend and warmly afforded him visitation rights; Picard grew especially close to their leader Zani (Amirah Vann) and Elnor, a young orphan boy the Qowat Milat adopted and raised (breaking their own rules about being strictly female). Though they are a compassionate religious order, the Qowat Milat are nonetheless rigorously disciplined fighters who are as proficient with swords as they are with disruptors. And, proving they are a true offshoot of Romulan society, the Qowat Milat are ancient enemies of the Tal Shiar, which used to be the power behind the Romulan government.
The Romulans are infamously xenophobic, secretive, and duplicitous but the Qowat Milat fly in the face of all of those societal traditions. Instead, the Qowat Milat openly work with non-Romulans such as Picard, though they are strict about their rules and teachings. In contrast to the Romulans' usual paranoid reticence, the Qowat Milat practice what they call "the way of absolute candor", which is a total communication of emotion without any filter between thought and word. In short, the Qowat Milat always say exactly what's on their minds and they are brutally honest. The Qowat Milat also have an inviolate rule about who they "bind their swords" to: the warrior nuns (and Elnor, the only male Qowat Milat) will only fight for someone if it's a lost cause.
The Qowat Milat don't just reject known Romulan values, their openness is also the polar opposite of the emotionless logic practiced by their cousin race, the Vulcans. And, with their elaborate robes and swords, the Qowat Milat resemble the Septas (nuns) in Game of Thrones but mixed with Japanese samurais. The Qowat Milat is a curious hodgepodge which is nonetheless a memorable new addition to Star Trek lore. Star Trek: Picard has already updated the Romulans without raising the ire of Trekkers the way Star Trek: Discovery revamp of Klingons did and now, along with the insidious aliens controlling their own Borg Cube, Star Trek: Picard's Romulan warrior nuns are arguably the most intriguing break yet from the franchise's established portrayal of the Romulans.
Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on CBS All-Access and Fridays internationally on Amazon Prime Video.