This year there will be three Star Trek shows on CBS All Access. Among them is Star Trek: Picard, which debuts on Thursday, and the third season of Star Trek: Discovery. While those shows' stories are set hundreds of years apart, they do share something in common in that they alter the United Federation of Planets' traditional role in Star Trek. Could the shift in the Federation shown in Picard ultimately lead to the changes in the Federation hinted at in Discovery, where the Federation seems to be almost extinct? Are these two points on the same narrative timeline, or are they two different, separate stories?
ComicBook.com put that question to Alex Kurtzman, executive producer and co-creator of Picard and Discovery. "Both I guess is the answer, right?" Kurtzman says. "They are on the same timeline, but the Federation has changed much more radically in Discovery than it has on Picard, and you'll see that. I'm trying not to spoil anything for you."
As for how the Federation has changed in Picard, Kurtzman assures us that, despite Jena-Luc Picard's separation from Starfleet, they're not casting the Federation as an evil organization. "There's obviously going to be a lot of debate about how we've portrayed the Federation," he says. "What we'll tell you is that the Federation is still the Federation. We're not trying to cast aspersions on them. I think it's very difficult when you are the leader of a series of member planets when you're in the middle of something like the Romulan supernova. And then what happens on Mars, as you'll come to see, that is their 9/11 in a lot of ways. That is an incredibly divisive moment where it's difficult to unify everybody and keep them together and keep Starfleet together in those horrible, horrible moments of decision. And in that way, we were looking to examine the world but also we were looking to look at the event through the eyes of Jean-Luc Picard because he ended up having his falling out with Starfleet over that.
"It does not mean Starfleet is dark now. We're not telling that story. I think that would be a violation of what is essential to Star Trek. The Federation does its best. It doesn't always make the right choice, but it always does its best and it's trying its best to protect everybody and sometimes it's impossible to protect everybody. Jean-Luc in many ways is, as he would tell you, kind of just as responsible for – he uses the words later in the season, 'I made the perfect the enemy of the good.' And in some ways, you hold onto an ideal and if it's not perfect then I'm going to walk away from it, but actually when you walk away from it then no good gets done. And so what are the compromises you're willing to live with in order to serve a greater good? You may not always get everything, but what do we need to do as people to make those choices? And in that sense, I think it's a real exploration of the complicated world that we live in now."
Star Trek: Picard premieres January 23rd on CBS All Access.