One of San Diego Comic-Con‘s biggest panels is dedicated to Star Trek: Picard, an upcoming CBS All Access series that focuses on the beloved Starfleet officer decades after the events of The Next Generation. And, as announced during the panel, familiar faces from his past will return and they were shown briefly in the first Star Trek: Picard trailer, which premiered at SDCC.
Alongside Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, a number of other Star Trek alum will be making appearances in the series. This includes Brent Spiner, who played Data; Jonathan Frakes, who is known for playing Captain Riker; Jeri Ryan, who portrayed the Borg Seven of Nine; and Marina Sirtis, who was Counselor Deanna Troi.
During the panel, Stewart explained why he decided to reprise his role once again: “I decided over a year ago [to do it]. For a long time I had been saying, ‘Thank you but no.’ But as the subject matter of this series became clearer and clearer to me, and I met this writing team, I knew that something unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it. So here I am. And very, very happy to be here.”
Alex Kurtzman, one of the creators of Star Trek: Discovery and producer of many of the new Star Trek projects said Picard is entirely different [than Discovery]. It all started with Patrick. He didn’t want to repeat what he had already done. He really challenged us. It forced us to think outside the box. What is it about this great captain that everybody loves so much? All of us sat down and we asked lots of questions about what Star Trek meant to each of us and to Patrick. Then these storylines began to emerge about Picard.
“Picard is not just a philosopher but a human being. The choices he makes are not made in a vacuum. He’s the leader we all want. Picard and Patrick are one in many ways. TNG reflected a more innocent time, it was always telling great stories, complicated stories, but we live in a much more complicated time now. Picard, in the best way, is still standing up for what matters. He’s still standing up for the ideals we believe in. Age has not changed his resolve.
“We’re not seeking to reinvent TNG. But Picard has to soul search. You need a darkness to make the world lighter and brighter. He doesn’t have the same resources. He needs to dig deeper into himself. In the darkest of times, the best part of ourselves will emerge.”
Producer Kirsten Byer also added that “the great thing about taking this part of Picard’s story forward [is] it’s an extraordinary opportunity to see the most unknown, inexperienced part of his journey.” Another producer, Heather Kadin, said, “Patrick has lived it from the inside out. Not only did he not want to do what he had done on TNG, we didn’t want to do what we did on Discovery. This is its whole own lyrical, dramatic, and grounded piece.”
Showrunner Michael Chabon discussed the process of writing Picard, which involved “having to write so much so frequently in a way that is so collaborative, [with] not just our writers but with our cast [and Patrick too].
“Patrick came and helped us critique and review and share the story,” Chabon continued. “It’s an ongoing collaboration. I’ve learned to trust Patrick’s judgment of the character on a daily basis. We knew we had to have a cast that was worthy of and could stand next to an actor as incredible as Patrick.”
Other cast members also provided insight into their characters. Allison Phil plays a researcher but didn’t get into details much beyond that. “I get to play somebody who is deeply confused of her place in the world, treading water for a long time waiting for it. Everybody here is pretty broken in different ways. There’s a lot of lonely sad sacks.” Michelle Hurd takes on the character of Rafi, a “delicious character to bring to life,” thanks to a struggle with demons.
Isa Briones plays Dodge, a young woman looking for Picard for answers and help, while Santiago Cabrera is Chris Rios, an ex-Starfleet member that is helping Picard, albeit reluctantly.
Executive producer Akiva Goldsman also offered his take on the show. “We pointedly did not want to make a sequel to Next Generation. Tonally, it’s a little bit of a hybrid. It takes on hope for a future that is, in many ways, better than the world we live in today. Star Trek is aspirational. In serialized storytelling, the characters can evolve. It’s a different kind of Star Trek show made up of lot of the old Star Trek shows.”
Returning The Next Generation Characters
As the panel went on, Jonathan Del Arco, Brent Spiner, and Jeri Ryan appeared to talk about their characters. Jeri Ryan began by saying one of the creators of Picard, after four glasses of champagne, pitched the idea to her. She kept hearing about it but never thought it was going to happen. “But here we are,” she said, “It’s pretty surreal.”
Joking, Spiner said he heard about the Picard series and called the producers to ask if they had anyone in mind for the role of Picard and they hung up on him. “But then I spoke to Patrick, and he said, ‘There’s a possibility, would you think about coming on the show in some way?’ and then joined up. He said being on the set again was something he couldn’t turn down.
“To think that this was going to happen and there was a possibility that I might be there, there was no way I was going to miss,” he explained.
“We have more fun than should be allowed in a very expensive series,” Stewart chimed in. “What’s extraordinary about this experience … I am astonished and grateful for the speed at which this has become a team. We still have about three episodes to go and we are already cemented as a team.”
While details on the story of Star Trek: Picard remain thin, it has been revealed that, after his time aboard Enterprise, Picard was promoted to Admiral rank and went on to lead a rescue armada on a mission shrouded in mystery. Following the mission, Picard left Starfleet and retired to a run a vineyard. Star Trek: Picard is set roughly 20 years after the events of The Next Generation and it is believed that the mysterious rescue mission contributed to his departure. This will no doubt be explored in the series.
On July 12, a Star Trek: Picard poster was released on Twitter by Patrick Stewart. It reveals that Picard’s new No.1 is an adorable dog, who is called Deniro. Picard is expected to air on CBS All Access at the end of this year under the direction of showrunner and acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon.
There was plenty of other Star Trek news during SDCC 2019. Along with the Star Trek: Picard panel, there was time dedicated to Star Trek: Discovery, where new cast members that will appear in Season 3 were revealed. An update on Short Treks–a series of short films coming ahead of Season 3– was also provided, along with details on Lower Decks, a new animated Star Trek show from a Rick & Morty writer.
Disclosure: CBS is GameSpot’s parent company.