Interview: Akiva Goldsman Talks, Q, Guinan, Borg Queen And More For ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 2

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.

Q and Picard in season two

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.

Seven (Jeri Ryan) wakes up in an alternate reality

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.

Rios fights Homeland Security officer

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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If I’m interpreting Akiva’s response to former cast showing up in season 2, my long-term suspicion is likely correct: Not a lot of familiar faces in season 2. But I’m betting house money on a lot showing up in season 3

That actually makes more sense to me as well. Good deduction!

FYI — there is no such organization as the “Department of Homeland Security Police.” It should be “Federal Protective Service.” Perhaps they want to make it a bit fictional, which is fine by me.

Maybe there will be in 2024…

Most people do not know what “Federal Protective Service” means, but they do know “Department of Homeland Security.” It’s just a bit of creative license to get the message across I’m sure (and take a dig at the Gustapo-like dangers of a “Dept. of Homeland Security”).

[[the Gestapo-like dangers of a “Dept. of Homeland Security”)]]

the Gazpacho-like dangers of a “Dept. of Fatherland Security”

LOL — well played topical humor

Of perhaps compare them to the OCP, OPP and RCMP of today.

There seem to be both positive and negative comments in this interview.

The thing that caught my attention first was he said season to was about “redemption.” I trust that is not about redemption for Picard as he has nothing to come back from. There are other characters in the show that do, however. So I’m hoping it’s referring to someone else.

Maybe the redemption is for the writers room who bungled that god awful finale?

That’s not the only part of S1 the writers messed up with.

He resigned from Starfleet and hid in his vineyard for fifteen years while the Romulans were suffering.

because starfleet rejected his plan to save the romulans leading to his resignation in disgust.
but being an admiral was always a mistake for a captain of the enterprise.

Even with Picard being disgusted with Starfleet, it didn’t make much sense to me for him to retire to the vineyard for that reason, “All Good Things” notwithstanding. He had always been something of a teacher or mentor to people like Wesley and Data, so teaching at Starfleet Academy seemed like a more logical path for him to take, in my opinion. (He had been offered to head the Academy before).

I mean, what better way to fix the foundation of Starfleet, albeit slowly, than teaching the, er, next generation to be better than the current crop of pathetic eff-bomb admirals?

Anyway, I just don’t think Picard would’ve given up like that.

There is almost certainly politics involved in Picard’s forced retirement. He campaigned to help save the Romulans which all by itself was probably not very popular among the masses. But then his plan indirectly resulted in massive destruction on Mars. Yep, Picard was definitely not wanted anywhere where public opinion counts and thus retired from public service. That explains the ridiculously over-the-top “F-U Picard” by the latest Badmiral when he wanted to come back.

Yeah, that’s certainly the case. But I didn’t find any of that very interesting. That’s the world against Picard and him sulking about it, making it all overly simplistic and reductive, when I wanted to see Picard still trying to make a difference in even small ways. Like Picard would.

But if not the Academy, then some other university. The point is this man doesn’t give up. Ever. “I’m, uh… I’m a role model.”

its a trend, bond retired from mi6 despite SPECTRE still on the loose, stark stopped being iron man for 5 years after ‘the snap’.

Well… His family was also somewhat important to him. With the death of his brother’s family perhaps he felt he needed to keep the family business going?

then he became an admiral and it all went wrong as it has done for many great captains.

It does seem a bit out of character for him to give up. But I just don’t see him getting much fulfillment from teaching. Even though he wasn’t quite as “hands on” as Kirk I still think he’d rather be out there “making a difference.”

Considering that two of the most important people in his early life, Boothby and Professor Galen, were more or less educators/mentors to one degree or another, I can easily see him taking a similar path guiding young people. I mean, how many episodes did we see him taking a mentor role in Data or Wesley’s lives? He seemed like a natural.

Yes. I was about to say that he had a reason for that.

Why did they give this man the keys to the kingdom? He doesn’t know what he’s doing. This interview just reinforces it. Uhhhh yeah, we’re going to ignore that we turned Picard into a robot.

They explicitly said he would basically be able to lead a pretty normal life in the finale, though. I imagine it might come up as a possible problem, like it did in the TNG episode “Inheritance,” but he won’t be using consoles super fast or doing impressions of Brent Spiner.

I hear you, but who is HE? Picard is dead. The new show should be called synthetic Picard. I just think these writers do things on a whim without thinking things through.

Watch it again, no he’s not dead as his quantum essence (i.e. his soul) got transferred to the AI body. This is just a more extreme transfer of what happened in Trek III.

But perhaps some think Spock died at the end of Trek II, and the new Spock was an imposter? Extending this further, perhaps some think using the transporter always kills the original (i.e. reference the Blish novel, Spock Must Die)?

Well, I found the Spock resurrection a bit absurd but technically Spock’s body was the same one his “katra” died in. And it was now alive. So his resurrection was easier to take than any of the other ones Trek did.

By that logic Picard died every time he went through the transporter. You have to accept a conceit the same way with this being the same Picard. If you can accept the scifi nonsense of the transporter, this pill shouldnt be too hard to swallow

If that’s your position, then the Picard we knew died in season 1’s “Lonely Among Us” and we were on Picard 2.0 for 25 years and now are on Picard 3.0.

But then what is really the point of it? To squeeze a few more years of life? This means he will be impervious to disease. And if he has a bad accident all they have to do is rebuild him. It just doesn’t make sense in any way.

No offense, but that sounds as ignorant as the Federation conservatives that banned AI’s after the Mars incident. I think you missed the entire point of season 1. Life is life, be it human or AI.

I liked that aspect of making Picard a synth. It challenges the audience’s own prejudices.

I think you make it too easy here. In fact, the question of identity is indeed a hard one and a valid one. While “robot” might sound a bit too derogative, the underlying philosophical problem (of whether synth-Picard is in proper continuity with original, biological Picard, and thus inherits his properties and ascriptions) is still debated. Although, the shows seems to answer it clearly, as all of the characters seems to handle synth Picard as the same person as before, with personhood being attached to some kind of essence in the Trek-Universe.

That doesn’t mean that this holds up for us viewers as well, since in real life things are not as easy as for those characters.

Also, I’m not sure that the original poster would deny that “robot-Picard” is alive.

I think the show is basically taking the easy way out. I mean there could have been excellent philosophical debates about this issue and they could have probably made a whole series or season out of that philosophical debate, but unfortunately in entertainment you gotta blow things up so people can keep their attention.

They could have gone into this but I don’t see the writers doing it in any kind of fair way. The best way out was just to cure the disease he had.

there are many, such as the last sir stephen hawkings, who see, saw AI as a real threat to humanity.
and ‘trek’ has done many stories about that threat going back to the 60s

after M5, nomad and ‘control’, you would think the Fed would have banned them just like genetic manipulation

I tend to go this route, as well. There have been way too many bad instances with AI’s in Trek. Far too many to allow this sort of thing to continue. The danger is just way too great. For every Data there were perhaps 5 Lore’s. And no one was able to figure out why Data was the only AI that didn’t try and kill everyone.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if Q has zapped the crew into the bodies of their alternate reality selves then won’t Picard spend most of the series being human again?

They really ought to have Q just zap Picard into an organic body again. That seems to me to be the only real use he could be in this upcoming season.

My point is that Q seems to do exactly that. Since presumably, in the alternate reality Picard never became a synth. But yeah, Q should definitely make it permanent at series end, after the course of history has been set right. That whole golem business was a major facepalm and it needs to be retconned, stat.

Yeah… It truly was a tremendous mistake to turn Picard into a robot. It feels completely out of character for him to accept that. But then, it’s not the first time Trek has undercut a theme it had previously set up.

I think my english knowledge does not holding up to get the answer of if there will be cameos of tng members or not.. Could someone give me a more straight answer on that please?

Ja ;) vielleicht… Mal sehen


I imagine Q will make a ton of Pinocchio jokes about Picard and offer to turn him into a real boy.

Michael, that is one of the best lines I’ve read here in a LONG time. Kudos!

heh :)

That sounds like a Beavis&Butthead chuckle…no?

It certainly could, lol.

“Oh, perfect. Just what we need. Two more dims.”

“I wish I had an answer for you, Doctor.”