Last Summer, Sir Patrick Stewart gave Trekkies worldwide a gift when he announced the return of Captain Picard. And yesterday, CBS dropped the first trailer for Star Trek: Picard.
Fanboys have been speculating as to what the show might be about ever since. Stewart confirmed that the series would take 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, the last film to feature the cast of The Next Generation. Beyond that, we know almost nothing.
But Star Trek was kept alive in the 10 years between the original series’s cancellation and the first feature film. Speculating about Star Trek is in the blood of every Trekkie.
And I’m certainly no exception. Here are five things I want to see from Star Trek: Picard.
5. Strange New Worlds
Perhaps more than any other Star Trek captain, Picard is an explorer at heart.
The mission statement, “to seek out new life and new civilizations” applies to pretty much every Trek series and to each of its leads. But Picard was a trained archaeologist, and his desire to see what’s out there was muddled by the TNG movies.
Starting with Star Trek: First Contact in 1996, Picard was transformed from an enlightened renaissance man into a bloodthirsty action hero.
Although the first trailer for Star Trek: Picard hints at the show delving into some horrible trauma that Picard suffered in the intervening years between Nemesis and the new series, that doesn’t mean there can’t be some planet-hopping thrown in.
The second season of Star Trek: Discovery proved that the franchise is capable of embracing the episodic “planet of the week” formula of the older shows and weaving in the season-long story arcs that are the norm in television today.
Whatever the nature of Picard’s new adventures, let’s see things and aliens and places that we’ve never seen before.
4. No. TNG. Cameos.
Believe me, I understand the temptation. It would be great to see Picard team up with members of his old crew. But the central focus of Star Trek: Picard is right there in its title.
This is a show about the good captain, not about the old crew of the Enterprise. Honestly, the thought of jamming in a bunch of unnecessary cameos is the one thing that gives me pause about the new show.
Fan service has long been a trap for the Star Trek universe, and executive producer Alex Kurtzman is one of the guiltiest of falling into it. He and Robert Orci wrote the first two JJ Abrams films, and they are packed to the rafters with unnecessary and often ill-placed references to past iterations of the franchise.
Kurtzman is exactly the kind of hack I can see writing a scene in which someone needs to repair Picard’s shuttle. I can see in my mind some young engineer saying, “I’m sorry, sir. I can’t fix this shuttle. Even a blind man would have better luck!”
And then Picard looks directly into the camera and says, “I might know just the blind man.”
That’s a Geordi LaForge reference, by the way. I watch a lot of Star Trek.
But even though I watch a lot of it and love it, I don’t want a series constantly trying to tell me how much Trek street cred it has.
3. As Little Starfleet As Possible
It seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? How can you have a Star Trek series without heavy amounts of Starfleet?
One of my gripes with Star Trek over the years has been this notion that everyone in the known galaxy’s only goal is to be a Starfleet officer. What, nobody wants to be carpenter or a plumber?
Whatever the mission is in Star Trek: Picard, let’s have it be one where there doesn’t need to be a large Starfleet presence. Maybe Picard is helping a group of archaeologists uncover mysterious ruins. Or maybe it’s a diplomatic mission. Hell, make it a little bit of both.
How about an archaeological team discovered something incredible, but it’s on a planet in Romulan space? They’d need an archaeology expert and a skilled diplomat.
Obviously there have to be little touches of the previously-established Starfleet universe. Maybe the admiralty insists that some young, ambitious tactical officer go with them in case they run into a skirmish.
In the same way that the Star Wars universe doesn’t always have to be about the Jedi or the Rebels or the Empire (even though Disney hasn’t figured that out yet either), Star Trek doesn’t always have to involve red, yellow, and blue-shirted officers.
2. Boldly Go Forward
It’s not an accident that CBS has chosen Jean-Luc Picard to be the lead character of its next Star Trek spin-off.
Picard is and has always been a comforting figure. He is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect TV dad. In seven years of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard always had the wisdom that his crew was looking for. He was every bit as much a mentor and counselor (another reason Troi was useless) as he was a commander.
And that’s something we’re looking for — something stable in unstable times. But Star Trek: Picard is also an opportunity for the franchise to branch off into its next series.
The good captain has a history of getting a new series onto its first voyage. Picard was a guest star on the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
This series would be a great opportunity for Patrick Stewart to properly pass the baton to a new generation. Something he was robbed of when he and the legendary Captain Kirk (William Shatner) shared a brief adventure in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations.
But to truly pass the baton properly, I feel like I need to see something pretty painful from this new series.
1. The Death Of Captain Picard
I didn’t say I wanted it. But I think Star Trek: Picard needs it. Otherwise, it becomes little more than a nostalgia trip, and Picard is a character that deserves better than that.
The crew of the Enterprise got a proper send-off in the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things …”
But they were served very poorly by the TNG movies. Star Trek: Nemesis saw the death of the beloved Data (Brent Spiner) and the dissolving of the Enterprise family as much of the crew went their own separate ways.
And in a practical sense, it’s probably time. Patrick Stewart is 78-years-old. This is almost certainly the last time he will play the part of Jean-Luc Picard. Why not give a wonderful character and a truly great actor something to really sink his teeth into?
It’s been proven time and time again that one of the best things a writer can give a great character is a meaningful death.
A premiere date has not yet been set for Star Trek: Picard, but new episodes will stream on CBS All Access in the United States and be available via Amazon Prime Video (as reported by CNET) the following day elsewhere in the world.
All images courtesy of CBS.