Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s epic adventure across the galaxy came to an end 16 years ago with the release of Star Trek: Nemesis, one of my least favourite Star Trek films. Based on its own merits the film’s not actually all that bad (okay, it is pretty rubbish) but it’s regarded as such because it was supposed to be the final chapter of The Next Generation. In that regard it fails miserably. Goodbyes are rushed, if included at all, and characters are left in uncertain and uninteresting places. Until now. Upon Discovery’s release it seemed like creatives would no longer tackle the future of the Star Trek universe but rather return to the nostalgia-driven past; but this past weekend at Star Trek’s Las Vegas convention, prayers were answered. Patrick Stewart is returning as Jean-Luc Picard in a series set 20 years after Nemesis and hopefully we’ll get that one last story and closure we were hoping for all those years ago. Hope is all we have at the moment because information is scarce and there’s a big chance it could all go wrong but I’m staying positive and, because I’m a fatuous nerd who has his own quiet corner of the Internet to shout into, it’s time for some speculation.
When I immediately heard the news that Picard was returning 20 years later and that Patrick Stewart had said “He may not be a captain. He may not be the Jean-Luc you remember. 20 years has passed”, my mind immediately went to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. That’s not a particularly bad direction to take in my mind because I really enjoy The Last Jedi, but I’m almost certain that there will be some controversy concerning Picard’s characterisation in the upcoming series. I see Picard no longer being a part of Starfleet, having retired years beforehand. Maybe he was an Admiral for a time but no longer: Stewart, and therefore Picard, is going to be 79 or even 80 years old at the time of filming. What’s more is that not only could he be retired from the Federation but I could see him now being uninvested in the organisation and unwilling to be a part of it, either because of some event that’s occurred in the interim years or even after reflecting on some events that occurred during TNG. He could be a recluse living on a French vineyard, the flashforwards in the series finale All Good Things having come true, before the ‘next… next generation’ arrive saying they need his help on a mission. It’s never going to happen but I’d love the series to take place entirely on Earth. There was a great Sherlock Holmes film called Mr Holmes from a few years back which featured the detective as a retiree living on a bee farm in the English countryside and befriending a young boy. It was a great character study and I’d love to see the Picard show in a similar style. He could be retired on a vineyard before meeting a love interest or young child (the child he never had) whom he could share his past with.
Now behind the camera we do have a little information. The writers’ room will be made up of some writers from Discovery and some fresh faces to the franchise, including Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, but I’m disappointed that Alex Kurtzman is the lead creative on the project. Kurtzman has already been majorly involved in the Kelvin Universe (which I’m a fan of) and Discovery (he’s the second season’s showrunner after the last one was fired because he swore in the writer’s room. Shock Horror!) and I feel like they should just bring in some new blood. There has to be loads of writers out there that grew up on TNG and would love the chance to write for Picard and foray into the future of the franchise.
Speaking of the Kelvin Timeline, I would be very interested if the events from the first rebooted film tie into the upcoming Picard show. Using nerd maths, we can estimate that the new series will take place in 2399, 20 years after the events of Nemesis. From the imaginatively-titled 2009 film “Star Trek” we know that, in the Prime Universe, Romulus was destroyed in 2387 and I would love the Picard series to deal with the fallout of such a massive event. The remaining Romulans could be on the edge of extinction, paralleling the Vulcans in the Kelvin Universe, and in the midst of unprecedented civil unrest with some of the species wanting to defect to the Federation. Kind of similar to Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country (the best Star Trek film). Picard, as someone who has had experience dealing with Romulans, particularly in Nemesis, could be begrudgingly brought back into the fold to help with the negotiations. Also, Spock’s disappearance and presumed death could be brought up, further uniting the two universes.
The four TNG movies did their best to turn Picard into an action hero and I very much hope they don’t continue that trend in the upcoming series. I fact I don’t want many action scenes at all with any of the characters. Instead just give me slow 10-minute ASMR-style scenes of Picard picking grapes and whatever else he’s up to now. I really don’t want Picard to die either. I know it’s a little early to bring up his death but it’s something I feel strongly about. It makes sense for the adventurous Kirk to go down fighting and saving lives (or by being crushed by bridge. It’s not captain on the bridge, it’s bridge on the captain!) but that sort of end doesn’t suit my interpretation of Picard. I always just imagined Picard dying of old age (not very cinematic, I know) after a long life of bureaucracy.
This new renaissance in Star trek, with Discovery, Short Treks, the Picard series and more shows rumoured to be on the way (Please not that Khan miniseries. Please!) poses many interesting questions. We’ve had two Star Trek shows running at the same time before in the 90’s but never two shows set at different points in the timeline. Discovery will be taking place roughly 140 years before Picard’s new show so it will be interesting to see how the two points in the timeline are treated differently. What will the technology be like in the Picard series when Discovery already looks so futuristic and ahead of its supposed point in the timeline? What if Klingons show up in the Picard series? Will they look like the Discovery Klingons or like slightly updated versions of the TNG Klingons? I’m just glad I’m not the one who has to answer these questions.
So, I’ve been referring to the show as “the Picard series” this whole time, and who knows maybe it will be titled after the character, but I really do want a focus on new characters too. Star Trek is always an ensemble and so while Picard should be the focus of a substantial character study, there needs to be a whole range of interesting characters that can continue on into the future. Unless the show is a short miniseries, I can see Picard retiring for good or (heaven forbid) dying a couple of seasons in and the series continuing into the early 25th century without him. In fact, I think that’s what I’m hoping for from the show. I like the idea of venturing into the great unknown of the future and I hope the ties to the past don’t hold the show back from its full potential. It’s a delicate balance, particularly when it comes to nostalgia. Should Riker and Troi and Beverly have cameos? I do lean towards yes but only brief scenes, I don’t want it to turn into a Next Gen reunion. Although it’d be interesting to see Voyager and Deep Space Nine characters cross over. Picard meeting Captain Nog would be pretty awesome. Thinking about it, my biggest hope would be having one last battle of wits between Picard and Q; one final interaction bookending Picard’s adventures.
There you have it. I’ve wasted enough of your time with my inane speculative ramblings. But before you go, tell me: are you excited for Picard’s return? What are your hopes, predictions and questions for the upcoming show? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.