Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard has introduced the concept of a “Watcher,” an unknown individual in 2024 Los Angeles who is integral to repairing the timeline and preventing the dystopian future we saw in the second episode. The search has already begun in the third and most recent episode, but so far The Watcher remains a mystery. So today, we decided to run down some of the suspects for this key mystery. The analysis contains potential spoilers, including looking at clues from trailers for the upcoming season.
Who is The Watcher?
There are a few clues we have for this mystery. Mentions of “The Watcher” have cropped up in teaser trailers since before the series premiere, including being associated with mysterious characters with white eyes. The Watcher was first mentioned by the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) in episode two (“Penance”), who said the changes in the timeline were due to:
“A temporal rescission. A single change…2024, that is the when. Where is the where?… Earth. A change in the timeline originates there, in Los Angeles…There is someone there to help. A Watcher. Seek the Watcher.”
And then, barely heard:
“There’s a splinter in her flesh. The beginning of it…”
Episode 3 (“Assimilation”) sees Picard and company reach 2024 Los Angeles, and Raffi and Seven begin their search while Picard and Jurati attempt to restore the Queen and extract further information from her. We’re given another clue here as Jurati connects herself to the Queen and at one point exclaims:
“I can see so much. The Watcher. Fifteen.”
What this last bit means we have no idea, but the Queen’s speech would certainly seem to suggest that The Watcher is female. However, it’s always possible that this part of the speech was misdirection and was actually referring to someone other than The Watcher, so we’ll stay open-minded regarding their gender. The very title “Watcher” implies they play a passive role in events, rather than being an Edith Keeler-style focal point.
How all of this plays out is anyone’s guess, but we have some theories. Here are some of our suggestions about The Watcher’s possible identity:
By far the most obvious candidate is Guinan. Besides the fact that you don’t bring Whoopi Goldberg back for one – very good – scene (this isn’t Nemesis after all), we know from as far back as “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (which Q handily name-dropped in “Penance”) that El-Aurians are able to perceive events outside linear time and can detect changes in the timeline, as well as the actions needed to correct them (sorry Tasha). El-Aurians are also known as a race of “listeners,” which is certainly in the zone as “watchers” as well.
Episode 1 (“The Star Gazer”) established that Picard’s caution around romantic relationships is also a theme to this season, and we’ve already seen Guinan counsel him on this matter in the same episode. If the change in the timeline ties into this, who better to identify the changes in the timeline and point Picard on the path to correcting them than his (literally) oldest friend?
We know Guinian lived on Earth for a while in our past (“Times Arrow”), so she may still be hanging out on Earth in 2024. Anther bit of evidence that she might be The Watcher: in trailers we’ve seen a glimpse of Picard visiting 10 Forward Avenue in 2024.
The downside? Guinan’s probably too obvious. The very fact that she’s the most likely candidate probably excludes her.
Laris (or a version of Laris)
“The Star Gazer” set up both Laris (Orla Brady) as a potential love interest for Jean-Luc Picard, and introduced the theme of his intimacy issues. Plus we know from the trailers that Laris (or at least a more human-looking version of her) shows up in 2024. This more human-looking Laris has also appeared with white eyes, which has been associated with The Watcher from season two trailers. Could throwing this Laris and Picard together in this manner both help repair the timeline and prove the key to a relationship between the two characters?
The downside: We don’t know how or why Laris is in the 21st Century (or even if it’s her, her appearance in the trailer looked quite different from the Romulan we know). Plus, would she have the ability to influence events in any way, beyond becoming another member of the team?
Soji (or sibling)
Isa Briones (Soji) has been conspicuous by her absence short of a brief appearance in “The Star Gazer,” apparently left behind in the original timeline in the Beta Quadrant working as an ambassador for Synths. However, we know she’s still a part of the show, and Soji (or possibly another Synth also played by Briones) appears briefly in a couple of the trailers. We have already seen two Soji sisters in the 24th century, one of which was unknown to her. Could another unknown Soji sister have traveled through time?
The downside: More time travel aside, there’s no way (that we’re aware of) for Soji or another Synth to be in 21st Century LA. Although Briones still has a part to play this season, we’re not sure the show’s going to take a diversion to show how another character separately traveled back to exactly the same time and place. Another possibility is this 21st-century character is related to our next suspect.
One character that we do know for sure is in 21st Century LA is Brent Spiner’s Adam Soong. As far as we’re aware, this ancestor of Data’s creator Noonian Soong originates from the present day. However, the title “Watcher” implies passivity in events, and it looks like Soong might be this season’s antagonist. We know he’s a revered figure in the totalitarian future Confederation due to the statue of him seen in “Penance” and the glimpses of him in the trailer shows he is working with Q, which would seem to go against the Queen’s line “there is someone there to help.”
The downside: It’s not him. He’s there in the 21st Century, but, whatever he’s there for, it’s not to help Picard out.
Okay, on the surface it’s unlikely that Picard’s mother Yvette is somehow in 21st Century LA. But we know from “The Star Gazer” Yvette Picard (Madeline Wise) ties into the season somehow. The flashback seemed to imply that Picard’s father was abusive, and that may well play into his intimacy issues (Patrick Stewart is a big advocate for women’s rights, as well as an executive producer on the show), so it may well be that, or could it be something more? There’s a shot of her being dragged down a hallway at speed, and, if accurate, that doesn’t look like something Picard’s father could do. Was she abducted by unknown powerful forces and sent back in time? Could this be the personal connection to Picard in the 21st century?
The downside: There is no evidence yet that Picard’s mother will be part of the show beyond flashbacks to his childhood.
We don’t know how, but Vulcans tie into this season somehow. There’s a brief scene in a trailer of a Vulcan in a dark forest encountering and mind-melding with an unidentified young boy (possibly the young Picard). In the tenth episode of the most recent season of Discovery, it was mentioned that Vulcans studied humans for “almost a century” before making First Contact in 2063. And the Enterprise episode “Carbon Creek” established a Vulcan named Mestral from a crashed ship secretly stayed behind on Earth in 1957 to study humanity, and he could easily still be alive in 2024.
The downside: The trailer scene appears to be a flashback to Picard’s childhood, with the boy looking a lot like Dylan Von Halle, who played the young Picard in “The Star Gazer.”
John De Lancie’s Q may be the most commonly-seen member of the Q Continuum, but he’s far from the only one who’s cropped up over the years. Could another Q be in LA to undo Q’s meddling? In “Penance” de Lancie’s Q was shown to be a bit unstable, with Picard noting there was something wrong with him. We have seen the character disciplined by the continuum before, so perhaps another Q is at least keeping an eye on his latest shenanigans with his pet human Jean-Luc Picard. And if they are looking for someone to play another Q, why not the bring back Corbin Bernsen, who handled Q’s discipline before and knows a bit about LA.
The downside: It would be far too easy having another being on hand who could undo all this with a click of their fingers. Plus Raffi and Seven seemed to pick up an alien signal on their tricorder in episode 3 and it’s unlikely a Q would allow themselves to be detected so easily.
The Guardian of Forever/Georgiou
Discovery’s third season brought back one of The Original Series’ most iconic, enigmatic entities The Guardian of Forever,” and gave it the ability to manifest itself in human form, along with the name Carl. Discovery also established that Carl/The Guardian can move around to different locations and of course different times and realities. We know the Guardian’s got form by observing (“watching” if you will) over alternate timelines and guiding characters to correct their path. Could Carl (or another of the Guardian’s manifestations) be the Watcher?
For that matter, could it be Georgiou? When we last saw her, she was being sent off by the Guardian to places unknown. We know that she’s still (despite repeated delays) due to show up in her own in-development show, but could 21st Century LA be a stop on the way? The Guardian certainly has the ability to send her there, and it might be a good way to both tie Discovery and Picard together. Plus since we’ve not seen Michelle Yeoh since Discovery’s third season, it could serve as a reminder that Georgiou is still out there somewhere.
The downside: The Guardian would seem unlikely since this season already has Q, and adding in the Guardian of Forever might be an omnipotent being too far. As for Georgiou, it’s possible, but Michelle Yeoh is a very busy woman.
We’re going out on a limb here, but if you’re interpreting “Watcher” to mean “passive observer” then there’s one alien race who springs to mind. In their two appearances to date (The Original Series’ “Errand Of Mercy” and Enterprise’s “Observer Effect”) Organians have shown themselves to be a highly-evolved race who observe events, only interfering when they have no other choice. These non-corporeal beings have been shown to have immense power and to be able to inhabit or appear as humanoids, not unlike members of the Q Continuum. Could there be an Organian on 21st Century Earth, observing humanity in the run-up to World War III (set to start in just a couple of years)?
The downside: This is a bit of a longshot, and certainly a deep cut, even though the team behind Picard has shown an increased interest in references to Trek canon in season two. And there certainly isn’t any personal connection to Jean-Luc Picard. The Organians never even appeared on The Next Generation.
Okay, sure, crazy right, but bear with us. We know the changes in the timeline are due to something personal for Jean-Luc Picard in the 21st Century and the change took place in LA. When has Picard traveled to the American past prior to this date? In TNG’s two-part “Time’s Arrow” the Enterprise crew visited 19th-century San Francisco where they encountered some troublesome time-traveling aliens, Mark Twain, a younger version of Guinan, and a mystery involving Data’s severed head. At the 2-parter’s end, Picard leaves the head in a cave under the Presidio, where it was/will be discovered in the 24th Century at the start of the first episode. Maybe Data’s head had some adventures in between, which were erased or suppressed. And while Brent Spiner may not want to put on the makeup again, this could be done with a prop and visual effects.
The downside: Yeah, this is a bit silly. After going to the trouble of saying goodbye to the character in the season one finale of Picard, and already having Spiner back to play another character, this could be one too many times for the return of Data.
Conclusion: probably one of the top 3
Out of all the candidates, there are a few that stand out, namely Guinan, Soji and Laris. These all fit with the Borg Queen’s suggestion that the Watcher is female, and we know from trailers that at some version of Laris is in 2024 Los Angeles. How Jurati’s “fifteen” plays into it though is something which we don’t know yet. Which of these will it be, or are we on the wrong track completely? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on Fridays where Paramount+ is available around the world. In Canada, it airs on CTV Sci-Fi Channel on streams on Crave on Thursdays. Picard is also available on Fridays on Amazon Prime Video around the world.
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