Star Trek: Jonathan Frakes Says Picard Scene Would Never Have Happened Under Gene Roddenberry

Last week’s episode of Star Trek: Picard, “Stardust City Rag,” brought Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation face-to-face with Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager for the first time. The meeting was an emotional one. Seven of Nine is now a Fenris Ranger, which Picard views as a vigilante group. Seven views Picard as someone who gave up on a mission. Despite that, they share a bond as both were once assimilated into the Borg collective and have since tried to move on. As they say before parting ways, that moving on part is a work in progress.

The episode was directed by another Star Trek veteran both in front of and behind the camera, Jonathan Frakes. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Frakes says that the emotionally tense meeting between Picard and Seven of Nine in “Stardust City Rag” would never have happened under the eye of Star Trek’s original creator, Gene Roddenberry, who also created Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“We never could have done [a scene like] this on our show,” Frakes says. Roddenberry believed that humanity would shed interpersonal conflict by the 24th century, when Next Generation was set, and so no conflict could exist between "the family, the crew of the Enterprise.” Frakes says that being able to play out this kind of character drama was a refreshing experience for someone who has been steeped in the Star Trek universe for over 30 years.

"As we know, conflict is what creates drama," Frakes says. “So, on Next Gen, it was a very challenging set of rules — primarily for the writers — to find ways to create drama. In this new version of Star Trek, which honors what Roddenberry laid out — in terms of the optimism and respect toward themes like racism — all of those elements are sort of strongly rooted in this show. But the notion of self-doubt, the vulnerability — especially for a [character] like Picard — the damage of past experiences, are so much more compelling to watch … It's a denser show than Next Gen, I think that's fair to say. Pushing Picard to these places, watching Patrick act that out -- and he was in the writer's room as they developed this story — it's all so rewarding to see."

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New episodes of Star Trek: Picard become available to stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.

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