Podcast: All Access Talks To Showrunner Terry Matalas About ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3

All Access Star Trek podcast episode 103 - TrekMovie

Listen to part 2 here.

Anthony and Laurie cover the latest on The 56-Year Mission in Las Vegas, the success of Strange New Worlds on Paramount+, and new interviews from the Lower Decks crew. Tony discusses his recent interview with former Eaglemoss head of licensing Ben Robinson, and they round up the latest intel on Picard from LeVar Burton, Patrick Stewart, and Gates McFadden. Then it’s time for part 1 of their epic interview with Terry Matalas, EP and showrunner of Picard season 3. They wrap up with a look at the Prodigy pizza party and Sarah Cooke’s excellent opinion piece about the Gorn.

Links:

Tickets Almost Sold Out For 56-Year Mission; 130 Star Trek Celebrities Lined Up For Big Las Vegas Convention

The Shuttle Pod Crew Remembers Nichelle Nichols And Looks Forward To Vegas

‘Strange New Worlds’ Is Most-Watched Paramount+ Star Trek Original Debut; CEO Says Franchise “Just Getting Started”

‘Lower Decks’ Season 3 Features “Bold Boimler,” Emotional Mariner, And Another Star Trek Movie Parody

Confirmed: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 3 Debuts Internationally On Prime Video In August

Interview: Former Eaglemoss Licensing Head Ben Robinson Offers Hope After Company Ceases Operations

LeVar Burton Says ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3 Is About The Next ‘Next Generation’

Patrick Stewart And Gates McFadden Talk Love And Tension For TNG Crew In ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3

Erik Kripke implores fellow showrunners should stop saying “I’m really making is a ten-hour movie.”

Trekbits: 

Anthony: Prodigy Room Pizza Party happened, Aaron Waltke demanded coverage on TrekMovie site/podcast

Laurie: The Problem With Portraying the Gorn as “Evil” by Sarah Cooke at Women at Warp

Let us know what you think of the episode in the comments, and should you be so inclined, please review us on Apple.


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The whole point of the way the Gorn are being portrayed is that it’s a step toward “Arena.” We have to remember that La’an is an incredibly unreliable narrator, so she has a very specific perspective on them. Most Star Trek antagonists have the same trajectory, whether it’s the Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, who eventually become Earth’s strongest allies, or the Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, and even Borg who grow to have a more neutral status with the Federation. We always see them as an implacable foe first.

But the whole point of Star Trek is that it’s about seemingly implacable foes learning to communicate. That cannot happen if the Gorn are portrayed exactly as they were in “Arena” and we see them as simply misunderstood as early as La’an’s encounters with them.

It’s similar to the argument that shows like DS9, DSC, or PIC are not optimistic. Optimism is not when good things happen. It’s how we react when BAD things happen. Optimism is invisible in perfect world because there’s nothing with which to compare it. As Sisko said, “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise.” Well, a utopia must never ever become a destination upon which we rest our laurels. That’s how we regress and forget. We see that in the real world when long-established rights get taken away, as they did with the Voting Rights Act and Roe. It’s how we forget how effective vaccines are because the reality of the diseases they’ve virtually eliminated are no longer present in our lives.

Tony’s going to kill me for digging into the Gorn again, but… to me, there was no reason to use the Gorn, they could’ve just made it a different species. Sarah’s article said it all. (And I’ve never said those shows aren’t optimistic… they are also idealistic, which I think is even more important.)

Apart from the Gorn, which I agree they didn’t need to use, in the ‘Alien’ episode I had a problem with how La’an was depicted being dismissive of her therapy and then giving in to killing the Gorn in the end. What is the message they’re sending there? You can only work out your issues through violence and murder? Quite the opposite from “Arena,” wouldn’t you say?

If I’m ever in a fox hole on an alien planet with the Gorn attacking I sure hope you’re not in that foxhole with me. Lol

PS: Arena doesn’t show any contrition or learning from the Gorn. The Gorn is relentless.

What? My comment wasn’t about the Gorn, it was about La’an’s decision to bash in the head of a frozen enemy being the opposite of Kirk’s decision in “Arena” and what that says about us, not some reptile man.

But if you want my opinion on the Gorn, I’ll just say when Goldsman makes the assertion that “they’re evil” he sounds juvenile.

In La’an’s defense, I’m sure popsicle Gorn was quite dead.

Dead or not, it implies that act is some kind of catharsis for her. Going back to the therapy she dismissed at the top of the episode, that’s a terrible message to send.

But then that was a terrible episode for many reasons.

It was a great message. While 99% of the alien races can be reasoned with in Star Trek, there are a few that are not, and can be classified as evil. And if that evil has wrecked your family, then of course it’s going to be cathartic to prevail against that evil. If she went to far, well I think that would be more realistic of her character versus having her act all nice just because of the desire to send a convenient message of peace to use viewers. And I think it does show that she does need help/therapy, and she takes leave from the E afterwards — there’s your positive message!

Yes, Star Trek’s future is more positive and most of the encounters can be resolved with reason, but there are some cases when it cannot. You are confusing Star Trek’s future with some sort of utopia dream-world. That was never intended to be, and TOS, which started this all, highlights that across a number of episodes.

And that was one of the best episodes of the season in my opinion.

Based on UFP ethics, morals and behavior in the 23rd century, the Gorns are evil.

It is what it is.

Indeed, bad writing ‘is what it is.’

He was also unconscious.

A sad reflection of today’s real life.

They used the Gorn because a lot of people like the Gorn. You are a superb podcast host, Laurie, but you seem to be almost gatekeeping here on this Gorn issue.

Oh, I’m not a gatekeeper. To each their own. But when I found an article that said how I felt much more articulately than I have been able to, I had to share it. The debate here shows that it’s a discussion-worthy topic no matter what side you’re on (although Tony has had enough, lol), especially since I talked about it at the very end of the pod for about one minute and there are so many comment on the issue! I loved Sarah’s article and felt more people should see it, whether they agree or not. Hoped there would be more Terry/Picard talk in the comments today but everyone seems to be Gorning it up.

You are right that you stimulating discussion, and it shows how passionate we all are about this show when we invest time arguing about fictional space lizards.

Your interview with Terry Matalas is great. MORE NOW PLEASE! I don’t want to wait for part 2. But I guess I’ll be an adult and wait.

Exactly! I could also talk about the baby salamanders (offspring of Janeway and Paris) for quite some time, if requested. Glad you liked the interview. More to come!

If they used a new species, then your criticism might actually have weight, because we wouldn’t know where the Gorn eventually end up. Making it a new species would be the worst possible decision to make, if they kept them static like you seem to think the Gorn will be. Since we know about “Arena,” then we know UFP/Gorn relations wiall improve. If it were a new species, then there would be uncertainty about that trajectory and we’d have to hunt for clues about the path of UFP relations with them. Given arcs like Degra’s in ENT and Species 10-C in DSC, I’d be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I’d guess you would be even LESS likely to give them that benefit than you would if they were the Gorn.

No, I think Arena and SNW Both confirm that the Gorns are just downright evil – it’s not that complicated, and I think we understand them perfectly. La’an and Kirk both reached the correct conclusion regarding them. Not everyone can be reasoned with. Just like in the real world where we have Trump and Osama bin Laden, in Star Trek we have the Gorn and Armus.

One Lion is funny (in the head)!

Ah yes, Armus, the pinnacle of the stellar writing in TNG’s first season. Don’t forget the bug monsters, too.

Exactly!

I haven’t seen the SNW episode yet, but I thought the whole point of “Arena” is that “our side” views the Gorn hegemony one way at the beginning, but that during his battle with the Gorn captain, Captain Kirk comes to understand his point of view and that they may not have been just wantonly slaughtering but defending their territory. He ultimately specifically chooses not to kill the Gorn, even when he’s been put in the titular arena by the Metron specifically to fight to the death, and he’d have no reason to offer that kind of defiant mercy if the Gorn were simply irredeemably bad. I don’t think anything we’ve seen of Gorns in the entire franchise (at least prior to SNW) has established them as truly inherently evil across the board – scary, formidable, aggressive, standoffish, territorial, all that, yes, but not innately bad, and certainly not deserving of comparison to real-world evil beings like 45 and ObL. I mean, presumably there are individual Gorns who are awful, just as there are individual humans who are (and as individuals of other Trek peoples are typically not monolithically good or bad), but I don’t think the whole entire Gorn population is rotten to the core or anything like that.

I’m actually in the minority and liked that episode of SNW, but totally agree using the Gorn was not necessary. Misstep in the writer’s room, imo.

I liked the episode as well and I don’t think we’re in the minority.

Count me in! Obviously each franchise has its own Alien – inspired episode. I’m watching a rerun of Stargate Atlantis and reached to such an episode too (3×19). They even adress the movie and name it in that episode!

Hats off to Laurie and Anthony for the way they ran (the first part of) that interview. The big elephant in the room was that most fans really didn’t like Picard S2. They managed to politely ask Matalas about any possible differences/improvements with S3 without openly expressing their displeasure and disappointment (as in their review of the season finale). Very professional, but also didn’t avoid the fact that lots of fans are hoping for a major step up in the quality of the writing for this last season.

Thank you for that, Scott!

I can’t recall whether the Tholians were introduced to the Federation for the first time in TOS, but I can’t help but suspect the Tholians would have made a more interesting and less lore-burdened alien to recycle for Strange New Worlds. We know so little about them that the writers might have had more leeway to adapt them to address contemporary concerns. Given how alien the Tholians already are, the writers wouldn’t need to make them any more monstrous to accentuate their distance from human beings (as the writers have done with the Klingons and the Gorn).

All in all, I don’t mind seeing the Gorn in the show or the fact they’ve become Xenomorphs with warp drive. But I’m a little bored and surprised by the lessons the show seems to depict whenever the Federation encounters the Gorn: the Gorn are just evil, mindlessly violent, and deserve to be (literally) crushed. Having a (seemingly) unredeemable and violent foil to the UFP is fine–the Borg are probably the best example–but I’d still like to see the crew at least try to understand the Gorn or wrestle with the morality of killing them all. As others have said, the writer’s lesson so far seems to be that some species are just born bad, and you better kill them before they kill you. Still, I’m curious how they’ll continue to develop the story and hold out hope for a little more idealism.

They also need to do something about their generic concept of evil. In both the Gorn and Romulan episodes from this season, they are so over the top superevil that they “cull” their own people if they sense weakness. That has nothing to do with Goldsman & co.’s “take” on Star Trek and everything to do with their lazy view of what makes “villains” evil and formidable. Maybe in the haze of producing two shows simultaneously there was some confusion, and maybe that sort of monoview won’t happen again going forward.

Not outrightly stated one way or the other but Spock implies that Tholian punctuality is famed in Starfleet- which suggests some prior dealings.

The Tholians were first introduced in the 22nd century on Enterprise in the episode Future Tense. Unless you just mean when the Federation itself ran into them but yeah there was first contact with them basically a century before TOS so can definitely be used in SNW. And maybe they will be. ;)

Great interview! But my hopes for seeing the Enterprise-E were dashed!

Thank you, glad you enjoyed it! (Sorry about the E.)

Just want to agree this is an excellent subtle and sweet interview.

Thanks so much!

This was a great interview with Matalas! You can tell he is really excited about season 3 and seems to stress how different it was from 1 and 2. It does sound like a big departure. And it sounds like Beverly is a big catalyst that kicks off the beginning of the season in the first episode. Also cool that all the characters are very vital to the season (UNLIKE season 2). The fact he wanted to have the cast give input to where they think what their characters are doing is in this period is another plus.

They would know better than anyone.

It sounded like we were going to get Naomi Wildman all grown up as a big part of the season but didn’t happen. But it probably means we will get more Voyager characters (but still hoping a few from DS9 shows up). He seems very aware of how much people didn’t like season 2 but still seems positive about season 3. But yeah social media is definitely a harsh place. Since he confirmed the main ship won’t be the Enterprise (but confirmed it will be there) or the Stargazer, what ship will it be? Just throwing it out there, but could it be the…Titan? She wouldn’t be THAT old. Just sayin!

Oh and I’m happy he made it clear we’re not getting a KHHAAAAAN clone with the villain like every damn movie since Nemesis; so happy that was cleared up at least.

But some good stuff. I like it’s going to be heavy Starfleet focus again with a mix of TNG and the TOS films combined. That’s what fans really want so go all in with it being its final season. Give us a great TNG story that do the characters justice and I can overlook the first two seasons. ;)

The Naomi Wildman thing… I was very sad to hear they dropped the idea but I absolutely loved that they even considered it. She has long been a favorite of mine and just the fact that they talked about is very telling, in a good way.

Yeah I think that would’ve been great. I mean Naomi Wildman is not a fan favorite of mine or anything but it’s one of the best examples of why so many wanted a post-Nemesis show to see what happened to not just main characters but smaller characters that had an influence on the show. We don’t need an entire story line about her but I would love to see what happened to her and where she is now as an adult. And maybe we will get that in the future or even next season on this show, just on a smaller level than originally planned. But please, no Icheb-like endings. ;)

Oh, I’d come after anyone who harmed a hair on Naomi Wildman’s head.

I was one of those in the 90s on AOL that talked to creators. I frequented the “Ask Ron Moore” boards often. I also emailed and IMed Ron, Brannon, and others many times! ! It was a great time and I learned a lot about TV production from those guys.

That’s so cool. I didn’t even know that existed and I was on AOL in the early-ish days as well. (You know, the one where you’d try to sign off and it would insist on downloading useless graphics for 30 minutes.) I went to one talk by Ron Moore at NY Comic Con a few years back and learned so much!

It was a very cool era of the Internet. I would sign on to AOL, search for certain creators I know if they were online, IM them, and they’d almost always respond! It was much more personal than Twitter. I talked to Brannon the most, but Ron had his message boards and always responded to my questions. I heard about Ron and Brannon giving those writers panels. They are very giving.

Amazing.

Man I would’ve been geeking out to talk to Moore and Braga like that back in the day!

While TM is not quite the same, one of the reasons I started coming here more because Bob Orci was always here and it was nice he would at least talk to people here and I been happy to have had a few exchanges with him over the years. The closest I will probably ever get to talk to a Trek creator like you did. Unfortunately it looks like he finally moved on and I can’t really blame him lol.

Yeah, I chatted (and argued lol) with Bob on these boards as well. It’s fun!

Well VZX, they were probably very giving because you were asking smart, interesting questions… Not like “What’s your favorite episode” or “Why did the phase inducer depolarize since they were nowhere near a quantum singularity!?”

Well, TBH I never talked about Trek or TV with Brannon lol. But Ron did email me back once. It was a simpler time in the 90s. I also chatted with lots of comic book writers and editors back then.

Thank you Laurie and Anthony for yet another great podcast episode. Those Matalas interviews are great, the man just keeps going and going… Just need to start him off with a very well-thought question and there he goes! I’m just imagining Anthony and Laurie doing the Mr. Burns thing with his hands/fingers and thinking “Excellent!” whenever Mr. Matalas expands and elaborates…

He did keep going, and it was glorious. We kept talking for quite a while after we stopped recording! He’s a fascinating, thoughtful person.