On Tuesday, news broke that current Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman will develop several new Star Trek series. In The Hollywood Reporter's write-up of the news, it included suggestions that one of the shows would see Patrick Stewart return to the role that made him famous, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the starship USS Enterprise.
From 1987-2002, Steward played Picard in all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, plus the four feature films released after the show ended its run. Other than Spock, Picard is probably the most beloved contemporary Star Trek character, meaning his return to the Trek universe would be a huge moment for the fandom. If Patrick Stewart does indeed return Star Trek franchise, Trekkies everywhere will all yell out a "Make it so!" in unison. But how would the complicated Trek universe bring back Picard without the rest of The Next Generation crew? Here are five ways Picard could beam back into the contemporary Star Trek galaxy with ease.
Picard as the Narrator of a New Anthology Animated Series
One of the proposed new Trek series will supposedly be an animated show. But what if this animated project was an anthology series? Bryan Fuller's original concept for rebooting Trek would have had several different seasons of a new show set in different time periods across the Trek canon, and an animated series seems like the most cost-effective way to realize that vision. Having Picard narrate this series would be a cool way to frame the entire thing, too. Each episode could open with an animated Jean-Luc Picard going to the Holodeck to relive one moment from Trek history, kind of like what Riker did in the final episode of Enterprise, only not annoying.
Picard as a Teacher in the Starfleet Academy Series
Basically, this would fuse Jean-Luc Picard with Professor X. If the Starfleet Academy show happens, it would be infinitely awesome for Captain Picard to become Professor Picard. The show could be set like twenty years after Star Trek: Nemesis, which, in all honesty, isn't that unrealistic, since it's been 16 years IRL. Having Picard as a teacher to a group of young Starfleet wannabes would be the easiest way to anchor the show, too. Plus, it would set-up a revolving door of possible guest stars, too. And, it would be the first new Star Trek thing since 2002, actually set in the future of Star Trek's future.
Picard in a Complicated Mind-Meld Discovery Crossover Storyline
Any hardcore Trekkie will tell you that Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel to the original series, which means it's totally a prequel to The Next Generation, too. So far, not counting flashbacks, Discovery has mostly taken place between 2256 and 2257. The original series is set in the 2260s, while The Next Generation is set a hundred years later, in the 2360s. Jean-Luc Picard will be born in 2305, which means he's totally not alive during the era of Discovery. So, how the hell would he show up on Star Trek: Discovery?
The key is Sarek's Vulcan mind meld with Michael Burnham. In the second Discovery episode, "Battle at the Binary Stars," we learn that Sarek's mind meld with Burnham allowed him to project a piece of his katra (the Vulcan soul) across space to speak with her. Over a century later, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Sarek," Captain Picard has a mind meld with Sarek because Vulcans live way longer than humans. The point is, Picard probably has some of Burnham's memories thanks to his mind meld with Sarek. And, if Sarek's katra can cross space, it's not crazy that it could cross time, too.
So, could Captain Picard pop-up in Burnham's mind thanks to some kind of time/space displacement? Could Burnham see that far into the future? Considering that Discovery did a giant alternate universe storyline in its very first season, it's not crazy to think they'd loop in Captain Picard via a time-travel mind meld either.
Patrick Stewart Plays His Own Ancestor in a Discovery Episode
We know that Picard's family is making wine in the 23rd century of Star Trek: Discovery, and that's because a bottle of Chateau Picard is in Captain Georgiou's ready room in the very first episode of Discovery. Could Patrick Stewart return to play a guy who owns a future winery? Maybe, but if Patrick Stewart did play a Picard ancestor, that character would need to encounter Discovery somewhere inside of Earth's Solar System.
In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard says he was the first member of his family to leave the Sol system. So, if there is a Picard ancestor in Discovery, he could be living on Pluto and it would be fine! There's also a precedent for Next Generation actors playing their ancestors. Brent Spiner, famous for playing Data in The Next Generation, played Arik Soong on Enterprise, obviously the human ancestor of Noonien Soong, the guy who created the androids Data and Lore, two hundred years later.
Picard Gets His Own New Miniseries About His Retirement
Though this seems to the least likely option, a limited series just about Picard could be awesome. And the best part is, the stakes wouldn't even need to the that high. In The Next Generation era, Star Trek fans often loved the quieter smaller episodes about Picard anyway. Who can forget "Family" when Picard rolls around in the mud with his brother? What about "Lessons" where Picard romances a brilliant pianist who also happens to be under his command?
From "The Inner Light" to "Captain's Holiday" to "Tapestry" sometimes the best Next Generation episodes were about Picard going solo. If a miniseries was just a drama about his life after he retired, it could break new ground for a Star Trek series. What happens to those who boldly go, after they stop boldly going?
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