The following is pure speculation fuelled by unsubstantiated rumour and is intended to be a bit of fun. Don’t expect my musings to be true, but then again, stranger things have happened…
Jean-Luc Picard’s return to Star Trek is fast approaching, with the still untitled ten-episode series starting production very soon. No doubt we can expect concrete details over the coming days, weeks and months but before we are hit by that bevy of information, let’s speculate on what the series could be about using what little knowledge we currently have about the project. Personally, I’d be up for 10 hours of Picard working his vineyard – All Good Things-style – and having candlelit philosophical discussions with a fellow farmer, preferably played by Ian McKellen, about life, the universe and everything. But there’s no way in hell that’s happening. So, what will Picard be up to in his old age? Let’s get into it…
Alex Kurtzman, who for all intents and purposes is the new Rick Berman (*collective groan*), has stated that the destruction of Romulus – as seen in the 2009 reboot – will factor into the Picard series massively. I think that this will be the catalyst of the show’s serialised storyline, and combined with Star Trek’s – and Patrick Stewart’s – interest with commenting on modern political issues, I believe Picard will find himself involved in a Romulan refugee crisis. Their planet is destroyed and the surviving numbers of the former antagonistic species are in deep trouble, strewn across the nearby star system with little resources. I believe the Federation will have callous disregard for the survivors and deny the species access to its border, violently enforcing the Neutral Zone. That’s where Picard comes in. Jonathan Frakes has let slip that Jean-Luc is no longer with Starfleet in the series and I speculate that he has taken command of a civilian vessel, crewed by an unsavoury bunch, and is on a mission that breaks Federation laws: ferrying Romulan refugees into the Federation.
This would fit Picard’s character well, especially given his efforts in securing a peaceful dialogue with the Romulans when their planet was still intact in the TNG two-parter Unification and Star Trek: Nemesis, which was the last time we saw the character. And, of course, it would imitate certain political issues in the world today with the journey of refugees through the Neutral Zone mirroring that of the Mediterranean routes refugees from North Africa and the Middle East take to reach Europe. The Federation will be sympathetic publicly and yet deny entry or significant aid when it is asked of them, just like most European countries. Who knows, maybe there will be a Brexit allegory and a planet will try and leave the Federation because of the influx of migrants. It would be fascinating if that planet was Vulcan. We’ve seen our fair share of xenophobic Vulcans in Enterprise and now Discovery, and it makes sense that Romulans will want to return to their original home planet of Vulcan, which they left during Surak’s ‘Time of Awakening’.
Rumour is that there’s going to be a positronic brain expert stationed on Picard’s new ship which surely can only mean one thing: Data. Well, kind of. I’m not a big fan of Star Trek: Nemesis (for multiple reasons) and I’ve never really cared for how Data is implied to be resurrected through his previous model B-4. B-4 – as the name not-so-cleverly suggests – is an older and far simpler machine so I doubt that Data, considering how much he learned and developed throughout The Next Generation, can simply be implanted into such an outdated device. I would love if Picard has been trying to fix is old friend for 20 years and still hasn’t quite managed it, employing this new positronic brain expert to help him out. Data could be activated for short amounts of time for Picard to have a conversation with – the android being the only former crew member he can now that Picard is no longer in Starfleet – before shutting down. Maybe Data has been placed in the ship’s computer, or acts as the ship’s computer, allowing Brent Spiner to return to the role vocally instead of physically so we don’t have to pretend that B-4 hasn’t aged drastically over the last two decades.
Another rumour is that the series will feature a teenage Romulan who is fiercely loyal to Picard. I think this slots into my theory that Picard is ferrying Romulan refugees rather nicely. Maybe this new character owes Picard a great debt, either from giving passage to him and his family in a time of need, or his family died in transit and Picard has helped raise him. Having a son could be a nice arc for Picard given his growth in TNG where he started out hating children, specifically Wesley, before coming to, well, tolerate them. If I place a tin foil hat upon my head, I think this new Romulan character could be the son of Sela, the half-human half-Romulan character seen in a handful of Next Gen episodes. This could explain his loyalty to Picard: he’s trying to do right by his alternate timeline grandmother Tasha Yar. This could bring him into conflict with his mother who may be with an opposing Romulan force who don’t want the help of the Federation or humans, openly attacking any non-Romulan ship they see. This would make the new character one quarter human, giving him a unique perspective of both sides of the conflict.
If Picard is breaking Federation laws on his quest to help Romulans, then Starfleet will have to send someone to stop him and who better than his former Number One: Will Riker. This is 2 decades on from Nemesis so I find it unlikely that he’s still the captain of the Titan or even an admiral at this point. I think he and Deanna have retired somewhere nice, likely the sex-obsessed planet of Risa knowing Riker, and is brought back into active service because Starfleet believes he’s the person best suited to reach Picard. Maybe he’s even given command of the new Enterprise (the Enterprise G or H?) in order to do so. He could be torn between his loyalty to Starfleet and that of his former captain, mentor and friend. He could bring along some other Next Gen co-stars in an effort to get through to Picard but the show has to be careful; I don’t want it turning into a reunion series. Beverly and Guinan make logical sense and if Riker’s involved then Troi can’t be far behind. Basically, let’s just have everyone but Geordi. And Worf is the character to appear in the most amount of Star Trek episodes so he doesn’t need to show up.
Well, there you have it. Some speculative predictions for Picard’s return to Star Trek. I admit, it may have devolved into fan fiction at times but is it good fan fiction or bad? What are your predictions for the upcoming Picard series? Let me know in the comments, speculate responsibly and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.