Star Trek: What Could Picard's Future Look Like?
Over the weekend, fans were shocked when Alex Kurtzman introduced a surprise appearance by Patrick [...]
Over the weekend, fans were shocked when Alex Kurtzman introduced a surprise appearance by Patrick Stewart at Star Trek Las Vegas. Stewart, in turn, surprised fans by confirming that "Jean-Luc Picard is back" for a new Star Trek series on CBS All Access.
Little is known about the new series beyond that it will take place about 20-25 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis — currently the Star Trek story that takes place furthest into the future. Picard may be a man changed from the experiences he's had since the last time Star Trek fans saw him.
"[Picard] may not be a Captain anymore," Stewart said on stage. "He may be someone who has been changed by his experiences. We have no scripts as yet. We're just talking talking talking storylines. It will be something very different but it will come to you with the same passion."
On social media, Stewart released a statement that read, "During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership. I feel I'm ready to return to him for the same reason — to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more."
With that in mind, now seems like a good time to take stock of where Captain Jean-Luc Picard was the last time Star Trek fans saw him and some of the versions of where he could end up that have already been told.
All Good Things ...
Stewart played Picard through seven seasons of Star Trek: The Generation. The beloved series ended with the two-part season finale episode "All Good Things …", which is widely regarded as one of the finest sendoffs in television history.
Conveniently enough, the plot of "All Good Things …" involved the all-powerful being known as Q causing Picard to jump backwards and forwards in time, inhabiting his own body just as he was taking command of the Enterprise as Star Trek: The Next Generation began and, on the other end of the spectrum, inhabiting himself 25 years into his possible future.
In that future, Picard had married and then become separated from Dr. Beverly Crusher, the Enterprise's chief medical officer. By that time both Picard and Crusher had left the Enterprise, with Crusher taking command of a medical starship and Picard retiring to his family's vineyard in France after being diagnosed with Irumodic Syndrome. The neurological disorder causes a breakdown of the brain's neural pathway, leading to delusions, confusion and eventually death.prevnext
... Must Come to an End?
We know this timeline is only one of the possible futures and that the actual prime timeline has not followed in its direction. The biggest example of this is that William Riker in this future was quite bitter about how his relationship with Deanna Troi ended, but we know that in the prime timeline Riker and Troi marry.
There's also the fact that the timeline was born from a kind of circular causality brought on by Q's meddling. Picard became aware of his Irumodic Syndrome by visiting the future, then in the present day had Crusher check for early signs of the condition. Finding those conditions is what made Crusher consider making her relationship with Picard romantic instead of platonic, which in turn led to them being married and separated in the future.
But while this timeline may no longer exist, one thing remains unclear. Does Picard still actually have Irumodic Syndrome? "All Good Things …" never makes clear if the condition was brought on as part of Q's meddling or if those early signs Crusher finds have been there all along and simply went unnoticed.
If the latter is the case, fans could find Picard struggling with this condition in the new series.prevnext
Picard's last fully canon appearance was in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis, the fourth film to feature the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew, the 10th Star Trek movie overall, and the final film to take place in the prime timeline. It is also the furthest into the future of the Star Trek universe that fans have seen, taking place in the year 2379, since all Star Trek content since then has either taken place in the alternate Kelvin Timeline (the current Star Trek movies) or in prequels to Star Trek: The Original Series (Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery).
Star Trek: Nemesis is not well-loved by some fans and it brings Picard's story to a pittering halt rather than a triumphant or tragic climax. The story revolves around Picard facing off with a clone of himself called Shinzon who was created by the Romulans and, at this point, is in the prime of his youth, but also dying.
Long story short, Picard and the Enterprise crew defeat Shinzon and it's time to move on. Data sacrificed himself to ensure the Enterprise's safety. Riker and Troi, now married, are leaving the Enterprise so that Riker can take command of the USS Titan. Dr. Crusher is headed back to Earth for a position with Starfleet Medical.
Picard is still in command of the Enterprise-E. Geordi LaForge is still aboard and Worf has rejoined Picard's crew after spending several years on Deep Space Nine. But the family is broken up and the film leaves Picard more alone and directionless than fans had ever seen him. A chance to rectify this inglorious end is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of Stewart's return.prevnext
While Nemesis currently remains Picard's final appearance in what is 100 percent official Star Trek canon, he does have another appearance in what is possibly also Star Trek canon.
That appearance comes from the 2009 IDW Publishing comic book limited series Star Trek: Countdown, which was released as a lead into the release of the first Star Trek reboot movie. The series reveals what happened in the year 2387 in the prime timeline that led to Spock and Nero traveling backward in time and creating the Kelvin timeline.
Usually, Star Trek comic books are not treated as canon or are given the "it can be treated like canon as long as actual canon doesn't contradict it" status. Star Trek: Countdown is different for two reasons. No one at IDW or involved with Star Trek has ever been willing to confirm that it is definitely canon, but the fact that it was marketed and treated as a prologue to the new movie series gives it a certain amount of weight.
There's also the fact that the plot of the series came from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the same writing duo behind the 2009 Star Trek film. Kurtzman is now also the man in charge of developing the Star Trek franchise for CBS All Access and was the one who introduced Stewart on stage at Star Trek Las Vegas.
So what does Countdown reveal about Picard's possible future? Picard eventually gives up command of the USS Enterprise and becomes the Federation's ambassador to Vulcan. This was only about 10 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, but Picard as an ambassador could serve as a solid foundation for the new series, or at least serve as part his history.prevnext
There are two other Star Trek timelines that chart a course into the future post-Star Trek: Nemesis. The Star Trek: The Next Generation "relaunch series" of novels covers the time between Nemesis and Countdown while the timeline of Star Trek Online gives an overview of events as they progressed into the mid-25th century. Neither is considered official canon but both may offer hints at things to come.
The "relaunch" novels are so named because they began as a relaunch for the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel line. Where past novels were forced to tell side stories to the main adventures of the TV series and movies, Nemesis being confirmed the final live-action installment of the Star Trek: The Next Generation saga meant that the books could then run with that baton into the future.
According to this timeline, Picard remains in command of the Enterprise and eventually reunites with Dr. Crusher. The two marry and have a child, Rene. Picard commands the Enterprise through a period of great turmoil involving a Borg invasion that nearly destroys the Federation and a public awakening to the existence of Section 31.
So far, the novels haven't reached the same point in continuity that Countdown takes place (reportedly this is due to issues with getting approval from Paramount Pictures), so it hasn't yet doubled down on the idea of Picard becoming the ambassador to Vulcan.prevnext
Into a New Era
Star Trek Online players begin their adventures in the mid-2400s, but a timeline of events that took place between Star Trek: Nemesis and the opening of Star Trek Online was released before the game launched. The timeline was inspired by the events taking place in the Star Trek relaunch timeline, fudging dates here and there but keeping things more or less consistent, at least at the time the game launched.
This timeline confirms that Picard does eventually resign his position as captain of the Enterprise, at first to work on new anti-Borg defenses with Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. He then becomes the ambassador to Vulcan and retires back to his family home in France at the age of 97 in 2402, 23 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.prevnext
What Might the Future Hold?
What all of this tells us, in the end, is that there are a lot of possible directions for this new series to take.
Alex Kurtzman, Patrick Stewart, and their team of writers could use any or all of these takes on Picard's future as inspiration for the new series, or acknowledge some, all, or none of it as having transpired between where Star Trek: Nemesis left off and when the new series picks up. For being essentially four separate timelines, what each has to say about Picard's future is surprisingly consistent.
Picard could be a captain, an ambassador, an admiral, or someone taking stock of the life he has lived and the family he never had or had and lost. He could be struggling with illness or with irrelevance. He could be just as we saw him in "All Good Things …"
Whatever direction the series takes Picard, it is almost certainly going to be unlike any of his previous adventures, or any Star Trek series before it.prev