“To absent friends. To family”
Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s toast for his deceased friend Data
There is a superstition among Star Trek fans and others that the odd-numbered Star Trek films are bad and do poorly at the box office, while the opposite applies to the even-numbered films. Star Trek: Nemesis disproved that belief, at least when it came to box office returns. As for its quality, well it’s not a bad film at all. It has its flaws but as the last film to feature the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) it’s actually underrated.
The beginning takes place on the planet Romulus, the heart of the Romulan Empire. The Romulans are an evil offshoot of the peaceful, pointy-eared Vulcans and are bitter enemies with the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. In the Romulan Senate, a coup d’état occurs where the praetor and the Romulan government are killed by a device that emits an energy field that turns everyone in the Senate into ashes.
Next, the film jumps to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), who is on Earth giving a best man toast. He and his fellow Enterprise-E crewmembers are at the wedding reception of the Enterprise-E’s first officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the ship’s counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). We learn that Riker has been promoted to captain and is about to take command of his own ship. Deanna will be joining him there while the android officer Data (Brent Spiner) will become the new first officer of the Enterprise-E.
The ship departs for Betazed, Troi’s home planet, so the newlyweds can have a traditional Betazoid wedding. As the senior bridge crew joke about the prospect of appearing naked in the Betazoid wedding as per custom, the Klingon tactical officer Worf (Michael Dorn) gets an alert that the ship picked up a positronic signature from a nearby system. That is the same kind transmitted by androids like Data, which is a rarity. With his and Data’s interest aroused, Picard orders the Enterprise-E to divert to the planet of the signature’s origin.
Picard, Data and Worf arrive on the desert planet. These scenes on the world looked otherworldly thanks to the harsh, washed out lighting from the planet’s sun. They find scattered pieces of an android who is a replica of Data and take him back to the ship.
He is assembled and activated. This android is B-4 and is a prototype android created by Data’s “father”. B-4 has no memory of how he wound up on the planet and in fact seems a bit slow. Data decides to download his own memory into B-4 in the hope that his added memories and information will help B-4 grow and become more productive.
As this is going on Picard receives a message from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew reprising her role from Star Trek: Voyager) and is ordered to go to Romulus because the new praetor has requested a Federation envoy. Both are surprised that the praetor is a Reman.
The Remans are slave caste members of the Romulan Empire. It’s never explained if they are in fact of the same race as Romulans because they look so drastically different. They seem more like the vampiric Nosferatu with their bat-like ears, fangs and pale skin. The coup d’état at the beginning of Star Trek: Nemesis was orchestrated by Shinzon (Tom Hardy) in order to liberate the Remans and seize control of the empire.
The Enterprise-E arrives on Romulus and after a long wait, this huge, hideously designed war craft de-cloaks in front of them. It’s the Scimitar, a ship secretly built by the Remans but looking more like a demented Lego toy. Picard and his senior staff are invited to beam aboard to meet Shinzon.
Once on the Scimitar, Picard and his Away Team are shocked when they discover that the new praetor is actually a young, bald human with a striking resemblance to Picard. Shinzon is gracious if a bit off–he is obsessed with Deanna, having never seen a human before, even though she is half Betazoid. He tells Picard that he wants to open peace negotiations with the Federation and offers a sample of his blood to Picard and the others.
Back on the Enterprise-E, the ship’s doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) examines the blood sample and confirms Picard’s suspicions: Shinzon is Picard’s clone.
The next day over dinner, Praetor Shinzon explains to Picard what happened. Years ago, the Romulans took a sample of the captain’s DNA and cloned him in order to have the clone replace Picard and infiltrate Starfleet. This plan was eventually abandoned, as was Shinzon who was exiled to the Remans’ homeworld to work in the dilithium mines. A Reman (Ron Perlman), who is now Shinzon’s viceroy, took pity on young Shinzon and took him under his care.
Shinzon again proposes peace with Picard. The captain politely turns him down saying that trust must be earned but leaves the door open for more dialogue.
At the same time, B-4 receives a mysterious signal and begins working on a nearby computer to access information. The crew learn of this subterfuge and takes action.
Meanwhile, Shinzon, with the viceroy’s help, forms a telepathic bond with Deanna and tries to mentally rape her through her husband when they’re in bed. Shinzon is interrupted when he gets word that B-4 is ready. The android is beamed aboard the Scimitar and downloads confidential Starfleet information. After this is done, Shinzon forcibly beams over Picard in order to have a medical procedure done.
Before this can happen, B-4 turns out to be Data, who gave Shinzon the wrong information, and frees Picard. Then the two escape from the Scimitar.