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For sci-fi fans, the news that Patrick Stewart would reprise his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a new Star Trek show was welcome. After all, it’s the perfect time for a show featuring this character, who was a beacon of light in the darkness and taught an entire generation about values and morality.
Over the past few weeks, thanks to SDCC and Star Trek: Las Vegas (the largest annual Star Trek convention), we’ve learned more about what this show will look like and who Jean-Luc Picard has become in the years since the last Star Trek movie, Nemesis. Here’s a rundown of everything we know (and a few things we think we know) about the series Star Trek: Picard, which is set to premiere on CBS All Access in the US sometime in 2020.
We know a little bit about the general makeup of the show. Patrick Stewart will star (obviously) and it will be set 20 years after we last saw him in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. If you didn’t watch it (which, uh, don’t go running to rent it if you haven’t seen it), the movie is set mostly in and around Romulus and involves Picard's young clone, played by Tom Hardy, who has overthrown the Romulan government. What you need to know for the purposes of this series is that at the end of the movie, Data sacrifices himself to save Captain Picard. (Also, the movie opens with the wedding of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, which will also play a role in the show.)
The other tidbit is that Alex Kurtzman, the producer overseeing the entire Star Trek franchise, confirmed that the event that set off what’s now called the Kelvin timeline (the rebooted movie trilogy) will play a major role in Star Trek: Picard: The destruction of Romulus. Presumably, that’s the event the faceless voice is referring to in the teaser trailer when she says, “Fifteen years ago, today, you led us out of the darkness. You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history. Then, the unimaginable.”
Now, it appears that Jean-Luc Picard is no longer in Starfleet and instead spends his days tending his family’s vineyards in La Barre, France.
Star Trek: Picard isn’t designed to be a The Next Generation sequel, and it looks as though it will have a darker tone. It’s also not going to be a traditional “Starfleet” show — while Kurtzman did confirm that Jean-Luc would return to space, he was more cagey about whether that would be with Starfleet.
And because the good captain (OK, admiral... OK, retired admiral) isn’t with Starfleet anymore, he’s not going to have the resources to draw on that he once would have. The full trailer, embedded below, make it clear that Jean-Luc is going on a new mission, and he’s going to have to be a little more scrappy than usual to get the job done.
One of the best resources that Picard has — and has always had — is the people who believe in him and are inspired by him. And that’s going to continue to be the case in this new show.
The supporting cast
The regular cast of Star Trek: Picard is going to be a little more rough-and-tumble than we’re used to. Stewart himself described them as “motley” at SDCC; it includes Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, Michelle Hurd, Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway, and Evan Evagora. The main character (apart from Stewart) appears to be Isa Briones, who plays Dahj, a young woman who turns to Picard for protection and some answers. It’s unclear who Dahj might be, but theories have centered on Jean-Luc’s daughter, some sort of daughter created by the Borg using Picard’s DNA (after all, we know from the movie First Contact just how obsessed the Borg Queen was with Jean-Luc), or an upgraded version of Data’s daughter, Lal (from The Next Generation episode "The Offspring").
Evan Evagora plays a young Romulan loyal to Picard, while Alison Pill plays a scientist named Dr. Agnes Jurati. Santiago Cabrera is, presumably, the leader of this crew, a former Starfleet officer named Chris Rios who reluctantly agrees to help the former admiral, and Michelle Hurd is Raffi Musiker, a character from Picard’s past.
But just as interesting (if not more interesting?) is the list of returning Star Trek cast members. It’s no surprise that Jonathan Frakes will return as Will Riker and Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi. We don’t know what their roles are, or what they are up to these days in the Star Trek universe, but Frakes has confirmed that the couple is still together.
Brent Spiner made a shocking appearance as Data in the trailer, which is surprising because Data is... well, dead. There are ways he could have been resurrected — the B4 robot, which was an early prototype android they discovered at the beginning of Nemesis, is just one. Many have speculated that because of the uniform Spiner appears to be wearing in the clip, Data may be a flashback or hologram.
The last two confirmed cast members are the biggest surprise and hold the most intrigue for the direction of the show: Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine and Jonathan Del Arco as Hugh. Ryan played Seven on Star Trek: Voyager, so to bring her back in this show pretty much confirms that the storyline will involve the Borg. Hugh (a character I personally wish had been followed up much more over the franchise, so I was delighted to hear of Del Arco’s return) made his first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “I, Borg” and reprises his role in the “Descent” two-parter. At that time, he was a teenage Borg who learned of his individuality thanks to his friendship with Geordi LaForge, and took that mentality back to the collective (with somewhat disastrous results).
CBS has been pretty tight-lipped about the details surrounding Star Trek: Picard, and there’s a good reason for that: The expectations for this series are higher than ever. But given the fan reaction to the explosive SDCC panel, it’s clear that people are incredibly excited about Stewart’s return and the direction this serialized show will take.
For this die-hard Star Trek fan, 2020 can’t come soon enough.