This past weekend was San Diego Comic-Con and that means trailers, trailers and more trailers. So many trailers in fact that the one you’d usually be incredibly excited about, like the WestWorld trailer for me, gets lost in the barrage and you forget it exists. But one trailer that separated itself from the pack and is my clear highlight of this year’s annual nerd-fest is that of Star Trek: Picard. Patrick Stewart returns as the title role in a series that acts as a character-focused sequel to TNG and the following movies, but now also seems to be a sequel to other elements of 90’s Star Trek, with the shock appearance of Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. Fan reaction to the trailer has been positive and it’s hard not to let out a huge sigh of relief now that we know it actually looks pretty good. But let’s get into the specifics and break down the trailer.
The first thing that struck me was that Picard’s mindset is in a different place than I expected. From the second the series was announced I had thought it would go the ‘Last Jedi route’ and have Picard not just out of Starfleet but totally disenfranchised with galactic politics and exploration. That still may be somewhat true – the parallels with that divisive movie are there, particularly with a young woman forcing Picard out of his exile – but from the trailer it seems like Picard actively wants to return to space rather than distance himself from it. It also seems like Starfleet may not want to help Picard on his mission and he has to use alternative methods. Having Picard quickly want to return to his old ways certainly seems like the more fan-friendly road to take and I wouldn’t be surprised if reaction to The Last Jedi has shaped what this story is and, maybe more importantly, what this story isn’t.
So, just who is this young woman who seeks out Picard’s help? I’m not sure and to be honest this is the big part of the trailer that I may take issue with. It all depends on just what the mystery is I suppose, but at the moment it feels a little generic. An aged hero living on a vineyard only to be brought back into the action by the appearance of a young woman who is being hunted reminds me a lot of several stories, including Assassin’s Creed: Embers. The mysterious girl with exceptional talents being hunted across the galaxy also reminds me of River from Firefly, which is a fairly unkind comparison in my eyes because I never cared for that series. Another thing that has me worried is that she’s described by a Romulan as, “The end of all! She’s the destroyer!”. After two seasons of galactic, universal and at times multiversal threat in Star Trek: Discovery, I had hoped for some lower stakes in Picard but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
My biggest thought after watching the trailer for the first time was, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to find the time to watch Star Trek: Voyager in the next few months”, because Seven of Nine makes a surprising return in Star Trek: Picard. Out of all the characters in the Star Trek universe, I hadn’t expected her to be the one to appear first. Now, I have seen a fair amount of Voyager. I watched it like it aired: concurrently with Deep Space Nine. But when DS9 started getting really good and Voyager, well, didn’t, I stopped watching Voyager and continued on purely with DS9. I did go back to watch the episodes that were deemed important from the latter seasons of Voyager but there’s still a hefty chuck of that show I’ve never seen. Time for a rewatch I suppose. I do like Seven of Nine though, even more so now that she’s out of that ridiculous costume, and I hope she’s involved because it makes sense for the story and not just to bring in Voyager fans. From the trailer it seems like it makes sense because the Borg are back.
Immediately after my first viewing of the trailer I felt very conflicted about the return of the Borg. Hadn’t we seen enough of them in TNG, First Contact and Voyager? They even managed to squirm their way into an episode of Enterprise. Sure, I guess it makes sense considering this is a personal story for Picard and nothing gets more personal than his history with The Borg. And it will certainly be cool to see what Borg drones look like with modern effects. But then watching the trailer a second time I was much happier about the prospect because, in fact, it looks like the Borg themselves are not returning. It would seem like the Romulans, who are struggling to survive after the destruction of their planet some 15 years earlier, are carrying out experiments using Borg tech. We briefly even see a sign in what looks to be a Romulan prison that says, “This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation”.
I like this idea a lot and I’m glad the Romulans – at least initially – will be the antagonists of the series. The destruction of Romulus, and Remus too, would have huge affects on not just the species but on the entire quadrant too. It’ll be fascinating to witness the fallout of the event after it was ever so briefly seen in the 2009 Star Trek film. Picard seems to be linked to Romulans in this stage of his life, having led the rescue armada to Romulan space after Spock failed to save the planet from destruction. He also seems to have a young Romulan along for the journey who could be indebted to Picard after he saved his life in that rescue effort. The same rescue effort that seemingly led to Picard leaving Starfleet.
Picard may be the show’s primary focus, but he’s not the only TNG cast member to be confirmed to return in the series. Data, now with a de-aged but still slightly chubbier face, is returning. Or is he? Data died in Nemesis, but not before transferring his memories into B-4, a visually identical but much simpler android. Can Data/B-4 only be active for short periods of time? Are there other issues surrounding Data’s resurrection? Or could Picard simply be playing with a recreation of Data on the holodeck? Hugh, the converted Borg seen in a couple of episodes of TNG is also returning in a move I find equally bizarre and fascinating. And, while they didn’t appear in the trailer, it was also confirmed on Twitter that Riker and Troi will be making an appearance. It would probably be strange if they didn’t appear but I hope they’re not in the show too much. I think this should remain a Picard show and not a TNG reunion series.
To cap off this article let’s do some wild speculating. We briefly see Picard at Vasquez Rock, an iconic and frequently used filming location for Star Trek productions. It’ll likely just a new planet but it would be cool if Picard is visiting the grave of James T Kirk, who he buried at such a location at the end of Star Trek: Generations. Now that Voyager is crossing over with the show with the appearance of Seven of Nine, what about us Deep Space Nine fans? At this point I wouldn’t be surprised that if at some point during Picard’s proposed three-season run, Jean-Luc makes a stop at the beloved space station. And finally, my theory on who the mysterious young woman who seeks out Picard could be: the new Borg Queen. If the Romulans are experimenting with Borg tech then they may try and clone the Queen under the idea that if you control the Queen then you control all the drones. They’d have their own army of Borg. The ultimate weapon in the galaxy. She might have been raised without knowledge of her fate but escapes her captors who want her back at any cost. She could be drawn to Picard because of how he’s seen as a hero by some Romulans after leading the rescue armada, but also because of the telepathic link he had with the Borg after becoming assimilated. For the whole season he could be helping her, only for her to become his ultimate enemy. Pretty cool, huh?
That’s all I have to discuss on the Picard trailer today but I very much doubt that these will be my last words on the subject. What did you make of the trailer and how do you feel about my theories? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.