TrekMovie joined a group press interview with Star Trek: Picard executive producer and co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman and on Saturday we reported what he told us about what could come after season three. But of course, most of the discussion between Goldsman and the assembled members of the media focused on the upcoming second season of the show, including how Q, Guinan, and the Borg Queen all fit into it, what time travel brings to the season, and an indication on if there will be more TNG cameos like season one.
Note: The interview contains some minor spoilers and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q and the Borg are both such seminal parts of Picard’s storyline throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation. What was the process like of taking those two elements and reintroducing them, and going somewhere different with them?
I think that if season one is resurrection, then season two is redemption. And so we wanted to look backward and talk about connection, or lack of connection. Which is really about relationship. As you’ll see this season when you get up to episode three–episodes one, two, and three are almost episodic. And then by the time you hit episode three, now that’s where the show lands, and it lives there for the rest of the season. And what we’re exploring are the relationships that people have with intimacy and connection. And that’s useful for us for storytelling. It’s a place where we haven’t really delved into Picard’s mind and heart as deeply as one might. It then hollers out for some other hosts to the story–Guinan and Q being the most notable because those would be his most intimate. And they would also be characters who in the Star Trek universe could help us render visually a world that represented some of the themes we’re talking about. Because one is almost magical, and one has tremendous wisdom and cross-temporal awareness.
The Borg Queen serves a different function here… It’s a reductive way of saying it, but her relationship to connectivity is binary. She’s either connected to all things or totally disconnected. And so when you’re talking about intimacy and relationship, she’s unique in that way. And the closest partner she has is Dr. Jurati because she is isolated in her world too. And what you’ll see as the season emerges, is it’s a lot about pairs of people, and how we formed those kinds of pairs.
Given the story involves Q, did you go back to look at “Encounter at Farpoint?” And given how dramatically different television syntaxes and production are compared to now, what value did you find when you glance back to the genesis of both of your key characters in the season?
I think it’s this funny thing about every bit of entertainment grammar in the decades that have ensued. We tell stories differently. We have a capacity for complexity and story that’s different. The nature of serialized television suggests that we can do things that in Star Trek nobody ever really tried until late seasons of Deep Space Nine They were prototypes, in a funny way. And Q is a complicated character because he has that thing that breaks story, which is he can do anything. The genie with all the wishes in the world. The trick is often that you have to create guardrails. Otherwise, there’s no story. I mean, you can kind of get away with it in an hour, but don’t try it for 10.
Season one managed to marry nostalgia with these new characters and new storylines, but it also had poignant moments with characters like Data and Riker. Will we see that marriage throughout season two? Is there more of that?
I think you’re going to find in large part that we set the action in motion, and then it’s mostly it’s the characters you met in season one.
Did you always have in the back of your mind when you were mapping out this second season that Picard is an android?
It’s interesting, even in the sort of the turning of him to synthetic at the end of season one, we were pretty clear about saying there’s nothing enhanced here. That fundamentally you are who you were; it’s just that you won’t die of this particular genetic misfortune that you carry with you. And we really do play it that way. There are no super-secret neato-cool things that happen to Picard, or that Picard is capable of doing, that are in any way really tied to his new body. We did it to sort of make a resurrection arc, but… we’re not pressing forward with the idea of the hybridization of Picard and synthetic.
Looking back at the hoops you have your cast jump through when writing for them on season one, like the various Rios holograms, is there anything–like the alternate Seven–that really tickled your creative fancy for season two?
I maintain we will never top all the Rioses sitting in a room. By the way, we will never try to shoot that again. It was so much fun, but it’s a pain in the ass. When we are doing what we call “the wakeup world” as we’re calling episode two, I think what we did try to do is sort of doing that thing where you shift a little bit. So you have Seven, but never having been Seven. At least that’s who she was to the outside world because that is the version that existed until she inhabited that body. It’s sort of fun. They’re like little tweaks in the volume, not wholly different characters, for the most part. As the season evolves, you will see that’s not entirely true. There are some people who are wholly different characters.
Is going back to the year 2024 a way to kind of have your cake and eat it too? It’s always fun to see these characters in something close to our time and yet you’ve also put it a couple of years into the future so that you can play with what happens between now and 2024.
I think what we were doing in this particular case… 2024 looks a lot like 2023 or 2022. One thing that we don’t have in our continuity is the pandemic. We don’t NOT have it either… But [traveling back in time] is always a way of talking about both the imaginary culture of the future–the aspirational view of the galaxy that is Starfleet and the Federation–this world and where we came from. And whenever you can put those two things in relief of each other, there’s some fun to be had.
Star Trek has always been so good at addressing issues of race through its sci-fi stories, and I’m wondering if that’s something that we will get to see in season two of Picard?
100% I think one of the things Star Trek does as well as any show that has a lot of white people in it, is really speak to inclusion and diversity. We are not value-neutral about that. Star Trek has never been value-neutral about the future. Star Trek states loudly, that those of us who make it are proponents of a wildly diverse, wildly inclusive galaxy. Which is really a way of saying a wildly inclusive, wildly diverse present. And you can be sure that we would not bring our folks back here today without acknowledging what’s going on here today.
More to come
The second season of Star Trek: Picard will arrive on March 3. TrekMovie will have more interviews with Patrick Stewart and members of the cast in the coming days, so stay tuned.
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