In addition to unveiling the character reveal teaser, the SDCC Trek Universe panel revealed much about what is coming for the third season of Star Trek: Picard, which has already been filmed and is expected to arrive in early 2023. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman was joined by star Sir Patrick Stewart and returning Next Generation star Gates McFadden, and all of them were dropping season 3 clues.
Significant roles for TNG crew in season three
The big news for season 3 of Picard is the return of the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Kurtzman said that it didn’t make sense to do this at the start, but after two seasons of Picard, the show had “earned the return of the crew,” and said the team’s goal was to “honor the legacy of these extraordinary characters.” He also explained how they would be brought into the show:
Kurtzman: And the key thing for us was that we did not want to have the crew sort of come and have cameos. we actually wanted everybody to have really significant roles. And we wanted to whet appetites a little bit to see them come back together. So at the beginning of the season, the crew is in different places around the galaxy… and slowly we see them come together, but we wanted to take the time, because these are obviously beloved characters, to get to see where they are now.
Later Gates McFadden offered some more insight into where we find the TNG characters in season 3:
McFadden: And you’ll see with the ensemble, there’s some of us, our characters haven’t seen each other for years. And other ones, they have been in contact all the time. So you really do feel that life has moved forward. And that we’re engaged in trying to imagine a future that we all will have courage enough to live and go forward to right now.
Patrick Stewart talked about how the show is taking risks, and so is he:
Stewart: We carve out new territory in Picard… that is the most essential thing to remember. We are breaking boundaries all the time and reflecting life as it might possibly be.
As time has gone by, I have found that I have been able to take more risks [as an actor]. And this was a risk for all of us. But we embraced it boldly and passionately and with belief.
A new villain
Without giving out any details on the plot, Kurtzman offered some details on a new character who will act as the main antagonist for the season:
Kurtzman: Terry [Matalas] very taken with the idea of kind of doing the final Next Gen movie. And it was really exciting to approach this from a place of ‘Who would these characters be now, so many years later?’ The kinds of movies that we—obviously Wrath of Khan is a massive touchstone for anybody who loves Star Trek. But I think one of the things that we love most about Wrath of Khan is the mind games between Kirk and Khan and the one-upsmanship. That has been a real North Star for us this season. The villain that we created—we do have a singular villain this season. I won’t say too much other than that she is amazing.
One of the biggest reveals from the panel came from a simple question from moderator (and Picard director) Lea Thompson asking Patrick Stewart if he ever gets to sit in the captain’s chair in season 3. Stewart revealed this is a complicated question because there appears to be multiple ships (with multiple chairs) to choose from:
Stewart: The captain’s chair? The identical chair on the identical ship, I don’t think I do… I mean, there’s more than one Enterprise and that makes it a little complicated. But we do return to the original Enterprise for a while and I had completely forgotten that in those days we hard carpets on the floor, so that’s the kind of advancement that has been made.
Unpacking what Stewart said, it appears that the USS Enterprise-D will play some role in season three. The ship was last seen in the 1994 film Star Trek: Generations when the saucer crash landed on Veridian III after separating from the drive section, which exploded. However, details from the first episode of Picard season 2 revealed the saucer was salvaged and put on display at the Starfleet Museum. It sounds like season 3 may include another Enterprise, possibly the Enterprise-E last seen in Star Trek: Nemesis, or (more likely) a new version, as the series is set over 20 years later.
Picard and Crusher have issues
Picking up on Kurtzman’s comment about how the season finds the various TNG characters in different locations in season three, Gates McFadden talked a bit about Dr. Beverly Crusher’s journey:
McFadden: Crusher’s been all around the universe. You saw the universe from the Webb Telescope, I’ve been all over that place. It’s been really amazing to have a chance to return to a character, and this incredible man next to me [Patrick], and plunge in again. Because we’re different. We’ve evolved as characters. And it was really a gift. And I wanted to also thank Terry Matalas, for the great story. He was our producer, and he did a fantastic job.
She also talked about some of the character dynamics, including between Crusher and Picard:
McFadden: I will say that this script for season 3 Picard, I think it’s the best stuff my characters ever had on a Star Trek season. So I was thrilled about it and I hope that the fans will be thrilled too. There’s s a lot of unexpected things that happen. There’s a lot of unresolved issues between Picard and Crusher.
She returned to the Picard/Crusher issue again in response to a question about strong female characters on the new Trek series:
McFadden: It is great to have other strong females. It was great to have Jeri [Ryan] and Raffi [Michelle Hurd] and have the chance to work with them. I didn’t have that much but when it when it happened it was really great. I had I had a lot of difficulties with this man [hugs Patrick Stewart].
Spiner’s role and Seven in Starfleet
Brent Spiner is returning for the third season but didn’t appear in the teaser released over the weekend. This is clearly because they are holding back on what character he is playing in season 3, as he has previously played three different characters over two seasons of Picard (Data and Altan Inigo Soong in season one, and Adam Soong in season two). After the trailer played, Kurtzman added this comment:
Kurtzman: I should also add that Brent Spiner is also going to be there and he’s going to be an old new character, that’s what I’ll say.
Later Kurtzman also offered a bit more insight into Jeri Ryan’s Seven in season 3:
Kurtzman: Seven has found herself a first officer on her ship, but as we know, Seven is a Fenris Ranger and has a very particular view on how things should go in the universe. And so a lot of Seven’s exploration is about her identity versus the identity of Starfleet and where she fits in.
Seven was last seen being given temporary command of the USS Stargazer in the season 2 finale, but from the teaser and character poster, it’s clear she has officially joined Starfleet. Terry Matalas has also confirmed she holds the rank of commander and as Kurtzman noted she is a first officer. It’s likely Seven serves on the main ship for the season, which has already been confirmed to not be the Stargazer.
Stewart ready for another TNG movie… considers who could play young Picard
Season 3 of Picard is being promoted as the final season, but during the audience Q&A, Patrick Stewart was asked if he would return to the role for another feature film. Apparently, he would:
Stewart: Yes is the answer to that, bluntly. I think that would be a very interesting and exciting and worthwhile thing to achieve.
Kurtzman seemed open to the idea as well:
Kurtzman: I think that in some ways, season three is that, but of course… look, if you guys love it, let’s see what happens.
Another fan question brought up the idea of someone playing a young Jean-Luc Picard like James McAvoy has done for his X-Men role of Professor X, but Stewart didn’t seem ready to answer this one:
Stewart: I find it very difficult to answer that question because it would mean stepping outside who I am, and as I’ve been trying to explain, he [Picard] is in here inside me. So I don’t think it has to be necessarily somebody who lost their hair at 19, but someone with the feelings and the spirit, particularly when he watches Picard and especially season three, because that’s where some of the surprises and shocks occur. They really are shocks. So, wherever he is, I wish him well.
Sir Pat says goodbye to SDCC
As things were wrapping up, Stewart took a moment to reflect on his long history with San Diego Comic-Con, offering his thanks:
Stewart: Can I just say because this may be my last opportunity: Thank you to Comic-Con! Because over the years, they have supported so many things that I’ve been involved with. It is a wonderful experience to be here and I’m very proud that I’ve been able to come back. Thank you.
More to come from SDCC 2022
There is still more to come with our Comic-Con coverage, including more details from Saturday’s Star Trek Universe panel. So stay tuned to TrekMovie.com for more news from San Diego, and check out the rest of our San Diego Comic-Con 2022 coverage.
You should also keep track of @TrekMovie on Twitter for ongoing updates, panel highlights, and more from San Diego Comic-Con.
Keep up with all the Star Trek news out of San Diego Comic-Con here at TrekMovie.