The Star Trek: Picard panel at the 56-Year Mission convention in Las Vegas in late August included Jonathan Frakes who kept mum about season three, however, he did talk a bit about directing a particularly controversial episode in season one. Frakes’ co-stars Gates McFadden and Michelle Hurd talked a bit about season three, and Isa Briones and Evan Evagora talked about their season two exits. Jeri Ryan also revealed why Seven sounds so different on Picard.
Frakes defends controversial season one episode
Before his first appearance in the seventh episode of Star Trek: Picard, Jonathan Frakes directed two episodes, including “Stardust City Rag,” which began with a teaser featuring a gruesome scene of former Borg drone (and Star Trek: Voyager character) Icheb having his implants forcibly removed before Seven of Nine could save him. A fan asked Frakes about the graphic nature of this controversial scene and the director explained the shock of it was the point:
I think the objective was to disturb and to make it as painful and graphic and emotional as possible. It was challenging and yet exciting to do something that far out of our usual comfort zone. We tried to scare the shit out of you and I hope we did.
When it came to talking about the upcoming third season, Frakes remained mum citing an email he received from the powers that be. He demonstrated this by taking off his button-down shirt to reveal his “Don’t ask me, I signed an NDA!” tee shirt underneath (his t-shirt first appeared in Las Vegas back in 2019).
Hurd celebrates “amazing journey” with Frakes and TNG cast
Picard cast member Michelle Hurd had no problems talking about her admiration for Frakes who she worked with as a director and co-star on Picard, as well as being directed by him in the past. The actress said of Frakes:
I adore this man. I can’t even tell you how much life and love he brings to the set… It’s not a Star Trek-only thing. He walks onto any soundstage – I had the privilege to have him direct me in another series that I did, a procedural cop show, and he literally walks on that set and every single department comes to life and is so happy he is going to share his time with us.
As for Picard season three, Hurd did say a bit about what it was like to work with the Next Generation cast.
In the first season, the first person I had a scene with was Patrick Stewart and that was an unbelievable experience and has changed my life, seriously. And then to have the opportunity to have people like Jonathan, Gates [McFadden], Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton, Marina [Sirtis]. It just goes on and on. I can’t wait. I literally would just be pinching myself. it’s an amazing experience. This has been a phenomenal journey. And I have to say, my experience on set has been so profound, but my experience with you guys [points to the audience] has touched my core. I am so grateful. The love and generosity and kindness that you guys give us, it impacts me and changes the way I enter rooms. And I want to thank you all for that. It’s been an amazing journey.
Gates loves Crusher’s season three story
Speaking of Gates McFadden, the actress returned the compliment and talked about how Michelle Hurd’s Raffi is going to see some action in season three:
I just have to brag about you [looks to Michelle Hurd]. Ms. Hurd, oh my god, I have to say – I’m a choreographer and have done stunt choreography – and she does something so rad and so brilliant. Just to watch her rehearse. She’s so great. She’s the real deal.
As for her experience in season three, McFadden was more open than Mr. Frakes, talking a bit about Dr. Crusher’s story:
Well, it was fabulous. At first, I would like to say one thing and this is an amazing cast of people. I am a huge fan of their work and think they are awesome. So, it was so great to come back. And I love the Crusher story. I think it’s the best writing for me and best story for me of all the Star Trek stuff I’ve ever done. And Jonathan directed two of the episodes… I had a blast. I love all my Next Gen people. I love all the permutations of Star Trek. I’m just very, very pleased to be a small part of it.
Evagora’s WTF moment over being killed off
Evan Evagora isn’t back for season three of Picard, even though his character was resurrected at the end of season two. On the panel the actor talked about how he learned about Elnor being killed off early in season two:
I got the script and I read that I got shot and I thought, “No. This can’t be!” I read a few pages and was like, “What the fuck, I’m dead?” No one told me. No phone call. And then Akiva [Goldsman] ended up ringing me and was like, “Don’t panic, everything is okay, you come back in the end.” And I was like, “How? I’m dead?” But it all worked out. But every week was me flipping through it to see if I was alive yet.
Briones ready for Traveler spin-off with Wil Wheaton
Another actor not coming back is Isa Briones who played Soji in the first season and Kore Soong in season two. She also talked about how she had some questions for the showrunner during the second season before finding out it would end with the return of Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher:
I remember when we were filming season two with Akiva Goldsman, and I was asking, because they’re so secretive, I was like, “What is happening? Who is Kore? What is happening to her?” And they were like, “We can’t tell you because we haven’t confirmed it yet, but wink wink, you’re going to be very excited about your scene partner.” I was like, “Cool.”… But then they’re like “It’s a TNG cast member,” and I was like, “I just know it’s Wil, give me Wil!” We got one day to work together. It was actually my last day of filming and it was one of the most emotional days on set, because Wil and I have created a friendship through doing Ready Room and conventions, but we had never worked together on a scene. We had always been like ships passing in the night, but still felt a really great connection for each other. He’s one of those guys that is instantly your friend. He is such genuine, good person. So that was really emotional to be with him and one of the first things he said to me was, “I have been waiting so many years to come back here and I am so happy to do it with you.”
Briones also added that she wants to return to Trek with Wheaton at any time:
And hey, I’m ready to do a Traveler spin-off. I want to do buddy-cop, Wesley Crusher and Kore take on the universe. I am down.
Jeri Ryan explains why Seven sounds different on Picard
Jeri Ryan (who is also coming back in season three) wasn’t on the main Picard panel but during a separate Voyager-focused panel the actress talked about what it was like to bring Seven of Nine back, and discussed how she approached the character differently for Picard:
It was incredibly challenging because when I first got the scripts, I couldn’t hear her voice. She was so different. And Seven, her voice was so specific for so long on Voyager primarily because she was written by basically the same people and Brannon Braga if not wrote, rewrote almost every line I ever uttered. So it was a very specific voice. And so much time had the past. It was 20 years later. So she’s been very different person by that point. And Jonathan del Arco – who plays Hugh and is a wonderful actor and also a fantastic director and a dear friend who had just had just had his first scene on Picard – right before I started shooting he came over read through my scenes with me and helped me work on it because he had just gone through the same thing with his character. And he actually gave me just one simple little clue which was the absolute key to finding and making it make sense for me. And he said, “Maybe she just had to make a conscious choice to act and sound as human as possible just to survive.” And that was all I needed. I just needed that simple little thing to make it make sense for me and then tie the whole story together.
More from the 56-Year Mission
We are still going through the rest of our material from Vegas and have more to share from some of the other panels at the 56-Year Mission in Las Vegas. Check out the rest of our STLV coverage here.
Find more news about the Star Trek TV Universe here at TrekMovie.com