Interview: Akiva Goldsman On Q, The Borg Queen, And What Season 2 Of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Is All About

Because Sir Patrick Stewart was busy filming, there was no real Star Trek: Picard panel at Star Trek Day last week, but TrekMovie had a chance to get an exclusive chat with co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman about what they are up to in season two, and a bit about season three as well.

Akiva Goldsman on stage for the Strange New Worlds panel at Star Trek Day 2021 (Photo: Paramount+)

Can you give an update on the Picard production? You’re done with season two and then moving on to season three?

Season three starts the day after season two wraps.

So did you have all of season two written by late in 2020?

No.

You were still writing season two this year?

Yes

You did once say your biggest lesson learned from season one was crafting the season as a whole to make sure stuff pays off.

Yes. I can’t answer whether or not we learned it because I haven’t seen the rough cuts yet of the last two episodes [of season two].

But there were efforts made.

Oh, yes, for sure.

Sir Patrick Stewart as Picard in the Star Trek Day trailer

A big change for season two was bringing in Terry Matalas from 12 Monkeys as co-showrunner. How did you decide to bring Terry on board? Was it time travel first or Terry first?

It was Terry first. And Terry brought time travel with him. Terry sort of said, “Hey, let’s do [Star Trek IV:] The Voyage Home.” And we kind of dug it.

Another big thing is bringing back John de Lancie as Q. He keeps talking about how his Q is very different. Do you see Q as different on Picard?

I do see Q as different. What we wanted to expose Q to—which by the way, was a little more complex than it was for the other characters—is time passed. We wanted to allow for the time between Next Gen and Picard season one. That was really important to us. We wanted those interstitial years to matter. Now Q doesn’t operate by the same rules when it comes to time and space, so we had to find a way of creating a unique piece of movement within Q in order to give him a reason to be in a show that is about destiny, capability at the end of life, opportunities to learn things we haven’t yet.

Would you describe him as an adversary or a companion to Picard in season two?

I think I would really want the audience to decide what they think of Q’s role. I will say that as significant relationships in Picard’s life goes, it would be hard to imagine many, if any, that are more significant than Q.

Season one was a lot about creating closure for Picard, like with Data. Is the introduction to the Borg Queen part of creating closure for the trauma he still carries from being Locutus?

I think that the Borg Queen’s utility here is probably not what you expect it to be. And I think that what Picard is wrestling with in this season—and this should come as no surprise in a season about time travel—is his own history.

Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen in the Star Trek Day trailer

Last year you guys were talking about writing for Whoopi Goldberg and they made a big deal out of Patrick inviting her on The View, but this year we haven’t really seen or heard anything about Guinan in season two. So is she still part of it?

[Goldsman just grins with no comment]

Plan A for Picard was to do one season, and then you transitioned to do three. So is the plan still to bring it to a close after three?

Well, the hope was to do three, but nobody greenlights three seasons of television, it turns out. So the plan was always three. The hope was always three. The trigger was for one, and then the plan remains three.

But do you see seasons two and three as completely separate stories?

I do see two and three as separate stories. But I see one, two, and three, as all separate stories of a piece.

What if they ask for more than three seasons? Isn’t there something to be said for having a planned arc and finality to something and be able to write to that?

Yeah, I think that think three [seasons] is the story as imagined. For me, as many seasons as Patrick Stewart wants to do, that’s as many seasons of Picard there should be.

But for example, the de Lancie Q story is a season two story?

Yes, Q is a season two story.

John de Lancie as Q and Sir Patrick Stewart as Picard in the Star Trek Day trailer

ICYMI – Star Trek Day trailer

More to come

There is still more to come from Star Trek Day, including red carpet interviews and more trailer analysis. So keep reading TrekMovie for our full Star Trek Day coverage.

Season two of Star Trek: Picard arrives on Paramount+ February 2022.


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TNG was the only Trek Series from 1966-2005 that didn’t do a contemporary time travel story. TOS did “City on the Edge of Forever,” DS9 did “Past Tense” (whuile it took place nearly 30 tears after its air date, it was essentially a contemporary setting), Voyager had “Future’s End” and ENT had “Carpenter Street.

TNG is also the only series not to do an evil version of its crew: TOS, DS9, ENT, and DSC had mirror universe episodes, Voyager had “Living Witness.”

Some may view the over-reliance on these stories as tiresome tropes and criticize PIC for doing them yet again, I tend to view them more as ‘Trek staples’ that get me excited when I see them explored on the new shows.

If done well, if a good story, no reason for it to be tiresome.

“Time’s Arrow” was a TNG time-travel story back to the 19th century.

Not sure I’ve met a person for whom that would be “contemporary.”

True, but it wasn’t contemporary… unless you’re from the late 1900s, in which case you look damn good for your age.

Contemporary means at the same time the show was being filmed.

TOS S1 – “City on the Edge of Forever” wasn’t a ‘contemporary’ time travel story for TOS (Kirk and Spock went back to 1930) – BUT – TOS S1 – “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” and TOS S2 – “Assignment: Earth” sent them back to 1967 and 1968 respectively <– So yes, TOS did do ‘contemporary’ time travel stories but your example was poor.
^^^
I say that because if you use CotEoF as ‘contemporary’ – one could claim TNG did a like time travel story with “Time’s Arrow”. ;)

Probably because I have never seen either episode, because I hate TOS. An absolutely awful show that I have only ever been able to force myself to sit through an episode once because a friend made me.

The same reason I never forced a friend to sit through a TNG episode in the past 15 years, because I totally get that it can feel dated today, with cheesy acting, bad effects, and awkward stories, writing, and dialog.

I feel the same way about TOS in terms of it feeling too dated to really enjoy.
I think because I never grew up with TOS there is no nostalgia or imprint cast upon me.
VOY in fact was my entrance to Star Trek and I could never hate that show because I grew up with it. Isn’t it peculiar how powerful nostalgia can be?

Well I grew up with TOS and it actually still feels pretty dated to me now for some reason. Out of all the classic shows (not counting the new stuff) I probably watch that one the least. But I still love it, I just can’t watch it like I use to.

That said I did a complete rewatch of it this year and I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. Once I just got back into watching the stories themselves it was fine because the nostalgia came back. But I certainly understand why people have trouble with it today. Especially if you’re younger and didn’t grow up with it.

Just as long as you’re watching Star Trek, ANY Star Trek, that’s all that matters IMO.

Its funny, I am not that old but I seem to really enjoy the stories of TOS more than the others. But maybe this is just me because I really enjoy cheesy movies and cheesy stuff. So its not really an age issue here as well, some people just enjoy the stories others can’t get around to them because of the “dated” effects or other “dated” elements.

Of course, it’s different for everyone. In fact I got my best friend from high school at the time into Star Trek. First TNG, which we watched all the time together and then TOS. He was still just 16 at the time and loved the show as well, even if he was a bigger TNG fan. So I know from personal experience, it’s not always an age issue.

But let’s not kid ourselves either. Very few teenagers are watching shows from the 80s or 90s today, much less the 60s or 70s. It’s literally the reason Abrams turned his Enterprise into an Apple Store because they were afraid if it looked too much like TOS, even if updated, it may scare away young people who they were trying to attract and that was still a modern $150 million movie.

As said I grew up watching TOS religiously through most of my life. But the last ten years or so, it’s just been harder to watch as before for some reason. Maybe I can blame it on the Kelvin movies lol. No, it’s not that. I still love the show, but it just feels harder to watch these days although I can certainly still watch it which I did all of it this year.

TNG felt that way on its first run.

What an utterly philistine and solipsistic point of view- disregard all culture made before one’s childhood. Oh, a common enough perspective; but one recalls a time when Trek watchers were a tad more thoughtful than the average consumer.

That’s not what they’re doing lmao.

The Original series is the jewel in the crown of Star Trek to which everything that followed is based, I can understand if its not to your particularly taste as an older show but calling it an awful show is quite frankly absurd.

Classic Trek has some of the best episodes of tv ever filmed City on the Edge of Forever, the Doomsday Machine, Amok Time to name but a few written by some of the greatest sci-fi writers ever, Shatner, Nimoy and the rest of the cast created some of the greatest fictional characters ever (some of which are still being recast with new actors even today).

The original series is the reason we are here discussing Star Trek 55 years after it first aired, and the reason we have multiple series and movies to enjoy, its literally responsible for everything.

Not bad for an awful show!

Awful is an opinion though. You likes those things, they don’t.

Exactly!

We’re all Star Trek fans, but everyone is entitled to feel about whatever they want. And we are some of the most vocal fans around. No one has any issue saying what shows or movies they hate or simply never grew to like. It’s all up for debate and all fair game.

As long as they are not telling YOU how to feel about it, then you just have to respect their views, simply agree to disagree and move on. Entertainment is subjective for a reason. Just be happy that they like Star Trek at all even if they don’t like some of it that you do.

But at the time it was done, there was only a 30 year difference. So it would be contemporary for the time.

Voyage Home/City on the Edge/Futures End meets All Good Things/Yesterdays Enterprise/Mirror Mirror??

I’m expecting City on the Edge of Forever + Tapestry.

According to some nitpicky fans, City on the Edge of Forever is a BAD EXAMPLE! Tsk tsk!

So the Borg Queen seems to be just a tool and Easteregg for the time travel?

That’s my guess. Seven’s look of revulsion is like “What have you allowed yourself to become? A relic in this dictator’s museum?”

That’s what I assumed from the trailer. Notice her movements. They’re not fluid or natural like in other episodes/First Contact. I think she’s basically a shell at this point.

I’m concerned they’ll hype her up like the borg in the fist season and then it’ll just be a big let down, again. I’m hoping not though because the queen is a truly interesting character.

I don’t think she’s even a character, much less an interesting one. More of a cheap plot device.

I think the only reason the Queen exists is that they needed to give First Contact a voice for the big bad.

One thing I was hoping from Picard Season 1 was to get a state of the Borg after VOY wrapped up. We obv never got that save for one cube. I am hoping the state of the queen here will give us that

My hunch is the Borg Queen has been captured in this timeline, & Picard (& Seven) (& audience) examine her from a different perspective & develop a sympathy for her.

I was going to say the same thing. It’s probably this timeline she’s like that because whoever or whatever is now running things just went out and destroyed the Borg and probably now have and torture her or something. So she probably wants the timeline changed too for her and the Borg to be back in their original state and why she’s willing to help Picard.

They could have used ANY Trek time travel method for the story– slingshot, Nexus, Q, a wormhole; the Bajoran Orb, the Guardian, a Timeship– but the writers are choosing the Queen for dramatic character reasons.

The Borg Queen is a major component of Picard’s life, & in a show about Picard called Picard, I can see the relevance.

It’s really only relevant if they play up that aspect. They touched on it in season 1 but it didn’t really go anywhere. I feel like that is all it will be here.

Please lord no, not the Nexus.

Nexus wouldn’t really fit though. It passes through our part of space every 39 years, and last appeared in 2370. Making the next appearance ca 2409. Picard takes place in 2399, 10 years prior.

Seems that way to me, too. Of course, they could have just used the Guardian of Forever. That would have probably been a ton easier for them.

Not if they don’t know where it is or have the Access to get there.

The planet wasn’t named but pretty sure Kirk reported where it was. Everyone should know about it. They even sent historians to it for Yesteryear. So yeah. It ought to be right there at the same spot waiting for Picard & Co. to show up in what’s his name’s ship, ask the guardian to show them the past, and jump through. Just like Kirk did. Honestly, that would have been a FAR greater use of the Guardian than that silly way it showed up on Star Trek Discovery.

No I mean it could have jumped to a different planet by now. It’s literally a century later. When we saw it in the 32nd century, it wasn’t exactly on the same planet as before when Burnham and Georgiou found it.

(But who knows, maybe it will at least be suggested on the show ;))

Oh yeah… Sorry. The specifics of the use of the Guardian in Star Trek Discovery escape me because I just don’t want to remember more than it’s appearance being amazingly stupid. Had they not used it on that other show would have opened the door for a pretty good use for in in Picard. Oh well… Secret Hideout keeps coming up with new and previously unthought about ways to screw with Trek.

No worries!

So did you have all of season two written by late in 2020?
No.
You were still writing season two this year?
Yes

That’s a shame. Although I like current Trek, I do think it suffers from not feeling as cohesive as it could be for a story that lasts a full season.
Season 1 of Picard started off fairly well, but as we got closer to the last 2 episodes it seemed to lose focus. The last 2 episodes just didn’t come off the way I think they hoped. Having the whole story mapped out before cameras roll would have helped a lot.

I see what you’re saying, but just because they weren’t written yet doesn’t mean they weren’t mapped out. Writing can take time, especially, as I imagine, the finale would

A season will be mapped out and treatments drafted for the season but based on interviews with Jonathan Frakes and John Eaves, Riker was never intended to save the day and a new class of Federation ship was never intended to appear.

I suspect that Michael Chabon’s focus was on Data’s death and that someone decided they wanted a punchier, less subtle ending, tossing in Riker, Romulans and the Zheng He very late in the game.

Yes, but bear in mind that even later seasons of DS9 weren’t completely planned out by the time production started. Having a set plan could also pose its own problems if it’s too rigid and problems present themselves along the way requiring flexibility. B5 famously floundered a bit in its last year when JMS’s 5 year plan ran into real world complications.

Most of the time it worked out for DS9 keeping it looser in how they did story arcs, but of course I’m a bigger fan of the writer’s room Behr had versus Kurtzman and Goldsman. Matalas is a great talent, but so is Chabon and Picard was messy even giving it the benefit of the doubt for its production issues. You never know what you’ll get and the best laid plans…

Season one was a lot about creating closure for Picard, like with Data. Is the introduction to the Borg Queen part of creating closure for the trauma he still carries from being Locutus?
I think that the Borg Queen’s utility here is probably not what you expect it to be. And I think that what Picard is wrestling with in this season—and this should come as no surprise in a season about time travel—is his own history.

Hence *certain ships* on the clapperboards?

Ha! Now I’m wondering which one you’re talking about. There was another *certain ship* that appeared on the internet the other day. I don’t think it means anything, necessarily. But there are two ships out there now

If the E-D shows up I want it to be completely different and new. Like the original E was in Star Trek Discovery. They shouldn’t get an “out” from an update.

I dunno, the D hasn’t really begun to age to my eyes yet the same way the original Connie did, but then again I’m in my mid-30s so my radar for that kind of thing is beginning to become off-kilter.

It hasn’t aged, it was a quality set, the original TOS Connie was plywood and cheap materials.

Actually, that ship looked bad back when it originally aired. It always had a hotel feel to it. Which is why a friend often referred to it as the USS Hilton. So if it shows up, there is no reason it shouldn’t get a “visual reboot” as well.

But the E-D has shown up TWICE in the first episode of Picard, first time literally the opening shot of the show and the second in holographic form in Starfleet headquarters; looked exactly the same. In fact they showed the ‘original’ Enterprise also in holographic form next to it and it was the updated Discovery version of it. So yeah, these seem to be the official versions of the ships now.

And in the last Lower Decks episode, we saw Boimler imagining himself on the Enterprise D bridge and it too was the same as before.

If they wanted to visually reboot it, they would’ve done with it any of those scenes like they did the original Enterprise. They obviously just didn’t see a need to do it. That said if they did do it, it would’ve been fine as long as it looks good.

I am aware but if you recall the opening scene in Picard was a dream. So there is a lot of wiggle room. I don’t recall the 2nd time. But none of that precludes the possibility of doing another “visual reboot” to update the ship to make it look better for modern audiences. It would be better if they stay consistent but we all know they don’t. Consistent in that if they want to redo the look and feel of one old established era then they ought to change the look and feel of another old established era.

Also. I haven’t seen any of LDX S2 yet. Was going to start subscribing this week but with news that the next show is starting in late October I’m thinking of delaying starting my subscription later. Based on LDX season one I very much doubt I am missing anything fun. But will check it out when I re-up.

Yeah but either way if they wanted to visually update the ship, they would’ve done it then. And this is what I’m talking about with the second example with the holograms. It’s the first minute of the clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKBEehPfsCI

They clearly show the Discovery version of the original Enterprise but then show the D as it always was. No dream there. So yeah the exterior look will just stay the same. There is no reason to change it or they would have in the show. But yes I agree if we ever go back to the D they will probably update some of the interiors. They actually already updated some of the interiors from the show for the movie Generations, especially the bridge and that was already 25 years ago. It just probably won’t be at a level they did with the original Enterprise; which I had no issues with and really loved the look of the new bridge. It literally looked the way I imagined it would.

If they did something similar for the D interiors that would be fine IMO. But I don’t see any changes to the basic look of the ship itself. The original Enterprise just looked TOO outdated. It just screamed the 60s. That’s literally why they updated it for the movies. But the refit today still looks very good and contemporary.

I think LDS is better this season than last so far, but I have a feeling it may be the opposite for you lol. So yeah, probably a good idea to wait.

Also agree, I don’t feel the D has really aged either. It looks fine to me today.

I’m only aware of the shot of an actors chair showing a 4 Nacelled ship. What other ships are you talking about?

I do think season 3, if it is the final season, will include a TNG “reunion” of some sort. It doesn’t need to take away focus from the main story (think what Curb Your Enthusiasm” did with Seinfeld), but I can’t imagine this wraps without some sort of TNG sendoff.

I would vote for Jean-Luc Picard’s funeral, but it will be tough to do it and not be too close to that of of Spock in “Wrath of Khan” or Tony Stark’s in “Avengers: Endgame”.

Guys it’s amazing you get an opportunity to ask these people questions. May I humbly suggest we offer fans here the opportunity to suggest some questions for a future interview?

What a great idea!

So are we now in 2400? Aka 25th century?

OT: Norm Macdonald (Yaphit on “The Orville”) has died.

Just read that….such a shame. Really liked MacDonald.

That is a real shame. He was the best Weekend Update anchor ever. I saw him live and he was funny as hell.

I read he had cancer for the last 9 years and told no one.

RIP Norm.

So…. Is Q dying?

I’ve thought a lot about that. I know Q is supposed to be immortal, but the concept of an immortal being facing an existential threat is captivating.

He could be killed by other Q. They threatened to kill Amanda in “True Q“, Q2 committed suicide, and there was apparently Q-bloodshed in “The Q and the Grey“, so Q can be killed. He could be terminally ill, the work of the Continuum in Picard Season 2.

I was thinking that or the continuum has collapsed. It was under threat of annihilation during voyager when they were at war. No reason why that peace could have been fleeting. And with the collapse of the continuum, the Q have lost their immortality.

Interesting. What gives you that impression?

I do see Q as different. What we wanted to expose Q to—which by the way, was a little more complex than it was for the other characters—is time passed. We wanted to allow for the time between Next Gen and Picard season one. That was really important to us. We wanted those interstitial years to matter. Now Q doesn’t operate by the same rules when it comes to time and space, so we had to find a way of creating a unique piece of movement within Q in order to give him a reason to be in a show that is about destiny, capability at the end of life, opportunities to learn things we haven’t yet.

This Quote from AG:
They wanted a way to make the passed time matter to Q in a way that matters. So Maybe something happend. Maybe this is Q that havent seen Picard in thousands of years and to his own suprise he is dying.Or even THE Q are dying… maybe this is a process that takes another thousand years but gives a change of heart. This might be why he is so different…

It’s certainly an interesting premise. The idea that WAY more time has passed for Q than has for Picard. And he is tying up loose ends so to speak? Or making sure humanity is safe before the Q pass into oblivion? I hope you’re right! Although I would be sad to see Q go for good.

Great. They wanted to bring a guy who said “Let’s do The Voyage Home”.

Well, I’ve always said if you do a remake then it’s better to remake garbage than to remake something good. (Example: BSG. Original: Crap. Remake: Good.). Maybe they will do it better this time? Q has always worked best as a clown. Maybe that is where the humor will come from.

Well, I really liked 12 Monkeys, so I won’t write him off yet.

I’ve never seen the movie or the show. So I got nothing regarding the 12 Monkeys.

imagine if hed said ‘lets do the wrath of khan’

Well that’s been done a few times now. The results have been mixed at best.

a few times? you mean literally every movie except TMP and TVH lol

I’m sick to death of time travel stories. It’s been done to death. Does no one have the capability to write original plots or storytelling? It’s lazy, and it’s simply a way to retcon ideas and use cheap gimmicks for ‘fan’ servicing. It’s the same with the mirror universe. Move on already. Tell genuinely new, crafted stories and not what sounds like a ‘cool idea’.

I’m guessing Strange New Worlds will be time travel free.

It’s about execution. And until seen I’d reserve judgement.
It’s why I now try very hard to stay away from trailers.
Watch first episode, see how I feel, begin to collect my feeling on it, that’s it.
Time travel is a Star Trek staple, its been part of the franchise on every series, and will continue to do so, and its always produced some of the best trek’ stories, so why wouldn’t they do it on the Picard series?

What would be awesome is if Picard encounters Guinan in 2021 as her 2021 self. I would love to see her in the modern setting.

Has it been confirmed this will be 2021/2? I was thinking this was set in our near future, somewhere say, in the 2030’s or 2040’s?

Live long and prosper.

Well, the hope was to do three, but nobody greenlights three seasons of television, it turns out. So the plan was always three. The hope was always three. The trigger was for one, and then the plan remains three.”

Hmmm maybe the idea behind filming 2&3 together was to end with 3, get it done and dusted then move on?