Star Trek: Jonathan Frakes Reveals His Reaction to Learning Riker's Fate in Picard

Star Trek: Picard saw Jonathan Frakes reprise his role as William Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The CBS All Access series finds Riker in a surprising spot. Having left the Enterprise behind to take command of the USS Titan, Riker retired from active Starfleet duty years later in order to see to the health of his sick son, Thad. He and his family — Deanna Troi, played again by Marina Sirtis, and daughter Kestra, played by Lulu Wilson — moved to the planet Nepenthe, known for its healing properties. It wasn't enough to save Thad, and the Riker-Troi family has remained there ever since.

The episode in which this is all revealed, "Nepenthe," is an emotional one for viewers. spoke to Jonathan Frakes and asked how the revelation of Riker's family and future hit the actor when he first read the script. "I think the first thing to mention is what an addition to the family Michael Chabon has been as a writer," Frakes says. "The thoughtfulness and the depth of character and the sense of irony, just everything that he's brought. I mean, he's a fanboy to start, but he's a genius in the mix. So, his hand on the tiller, if you will, has really been exciting.

"Given that, I was really glad that Troi and Riker were living in the mountains in a big house. It felt wonderful and different and somehow logical that they would have done what they could. I love that they had kids, and one has died and that they had gone somewhere to try to save his life. All that I thought was spectacular. And frankly, watching Marina's work with Lulu, who played our daughter, who was also spectacular, which didn't hurt. The whole experience was great, and as you saw in the social, I'm sure, Dorn came to visit, and LeVar came to visit. It has been, without getting too corny or Pollyanna, it's really been great to be back in the Star Trek fold. It was great to be back on Star Trek: Discovery. I feel very privileged to have been part of that family, but this is really our family, the Picard show."


It was a different experience from when Frakes returned as Riker again in the show's season finale, this time returned to duty and at the head of a Starfleet armada. "That was a really different experience because I was alone," Frakes says. "I was 'self-directing.' I was in a captain's chair. I had a spacesuit on. I had my beard trimmed, my Riker hair put back on, my bald spots covered up. It felt very familiar, and it was like a flashback. Because of how well 'Nepenthe' went, I was less nervous and, I got to say, thrilled to have been asked back, to be perfectly frank."

Star Trek: Picard Season One is now streaming on CBS All Access. The show's second season is now in pre-production.