‘Picard’ Isn’t Just a ‘TNG’ Reunion. It’s a Farewell to All Pre-Streaming ‘Trek’
"The more things change, the more they stay the same." -Quark
Most Star Trek fans watching Picard have focused on the fact that the show is a “Star Trek: The Next Generation Reunion,” bringing back all our favorite TNG characters for one last space adventure.
But as this final season progresses, and I think about Picard overall, the show doesn’t seem like a mere sendoff of the TNG cast. It has felt like a sendoff for all pre-streaming Trek.
Saying goodbye to Voyager—or, as Ensign Boimler calls it, VOY
From the start of Picard, Voyager has been a presence by incorporating one of its most important characters into Picard’s story.
Borg characters on a Picard show are a good fit, considering Picard’s history of assimilation by the Borg. Enter the former Borg drone, Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco), into Picard‘s first season.
After a poignant first interaction in the TNG episode, “I, Borg,” where Picard gets to know Hugh as a Borg drone who’d begun to think like an individual, and appearances in “Descent,” and “Descent, Part II,” where we learn that Hugh’s interaction with the Enterprise crew harmed the Borg, Hugh returned in Episode Three of Picard’s first season. We meet him as the head of the “Borg Reclamation Project” (which removes Borg technology from former Borg drones, or “xBs”) on The Artifact, a deactivated Borg cube abandoned in Romulan space.
Seeing that Hugh had become someone who’s spent his life helping other xBs was a huge treat. The return of this TNG Borg character would’ve been enough.
However, the following episode of Picard, “Absolute Candor,” brought with it another prominent Borg character not associated with TNG at all.
Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) made her first appearance as a former Starfleet officer turned Fenris Ranger who helps Picard and the crew of his ship. She ends up becoming a series regular, a significant love interest for Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd), and after several adventures has worked her way back to Starfleet.
The first two seasons of Picard were Borg-heavy: the first dealing with the fate of former Borg drones, and the second dealing with the reemergence of a Borg Queen through Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill). Having Picard work alongside another human with Borg-related trauma beyond a one-episode guest spot was a smart choice from a character perspective.
While they never really talk about it, their trauma bond allowed me to believe that they could trust each other so quickly, despite having never met before. It goes beyond each having heard about the other’s reputation. They each have an idea of how the other thinks based on what they’ve been through.
Yet Seven doesn’t exist simply to further Picard’s story. We also watch her deal with her own Borg-related trauma. What Star Trek: First Contact allowed for Picard, this show is allowing for Seven—a woman who despite her trauma, or as a way to reclaim it, insists on being called Seven.
In fact, this season when we first encounter Seven on the Titan, and Captain Shaw (Todd Stashwick) insists that she go by her human name, Annika Hansen, it feels like a slap in the face. Then again, Shaw has Borg-related trauma of his own.
We also get to see the return of another Voyager character in live-action (he’s appeared in animated form on Lower Decks). Tim Russ guest-starred on last week’s episode of Picard as Tuvok, Voyager’s security officer, and one of the people with whom Seven was particularly close.
Of course, it wasn’t actually Tuvok, as Seven quickly figured out. It was a Changeling, who said that they’d captured Tuvok and that Tuvok would soon be dead. Here’s hoping that’s not how this Voyager character goes out!
The point is, Seven—a character from a Borg-heavy show of her own—has in Picard a platform on which she can evolve beyond what Voyager allowed. Who is she beyond the Borg drone the Voyager crew severed from the Collective and kept? Who is she beyond the token crew member with Borg experience who’s good in a crisis? Picard has shown us a lot of that.
The Voyager crew might never get a film series of their own, but at least we get to see how one of them turned out. On her own terms.
Saying goodbye to Deep Space Nine
For the other Star Trek series broadcast after TNG, it seemed as though there wouldn’t be any live-action closure. Certainly not for Enterprise, which we’ve only heard teensy references to in passing on the newer shows. It seemed as though Deep Space Nine—my favorite Trek series—wouldn’t be shown any love either.
But after having several DS9 characters return hilariously via animation on Lower Decks, we are finally at least seeing the effects of that show on Picard.
A rogue faction of Changelings being the Big Bad for Season Three was an inspired choice, and while not every plot decision has been a great one this season, it’s nice to feel the presence of DS9. And since Odo (Rene Auberjonois) returned to the Great Link at the end of the series, and since Changelings are effectively immortal in that they don’t die of old age, Odo is likely still kicking around the Great Link.
Sadly, Auberjonois passed away in 2019, so there’s no chance of him reprising his role for a Changeling storyline. However, Changeling physiology has evolved, and they can look like anyone. With only two episodes left in this final season of Picard, is it too much to hope that part of the resolution of this story will involve Odo returning in a different form?
Worf started as a TNG character, but ended as a DS9 character
Over at Screen Rant, John Orquiola hypothesizes that Odo has already returned on Picard, albeit not physically.
He mentions a scene from this season’s third episode, “Seventeen Seconds.” In it, Worf explains to Raffi why he’s now working for Starfleet intelligence. Orquiola writes:
“Worf was contacted by “a man of great honor” who informed him a rogue faction of Changelings refused to accept the Dominion’s defeat and broke away to exact revenge on the Federation. The “man of great honor” Worf refers to can only be Odo, his friend from Deep Space Nine. It also makes sense Odo would connect with Worf, who rose to the rank of Starfleet Captain after DS9 ended.”(Screen Rant)
I love this take, that Odo remains honorable and continues to pursue justice, even if it means thwarting members of his own people. Seriously, can we catch a glimpse of Odo before this season ends? It can be done!
But the bigger thing this highlights is the fact that, for all that Worf originated on TNG, he was also integral to DS9. Worf being on this season of Picard also contributes to providing closure for DS9. Having an evolved, more peaceful Worf helping to take on evolved Changelings to protect the Federation feels right.
More live-action opportunities for the VOY and DS9 crews?
If it were up to Picard showrunner, Terry Matalas, there would absolutely be more from the characters and the worlds of the final broadcast-era Star Trek series.
As reported by Den of Geek, Matalas has shared his thoughts about wanting to do a spin-off series called Star Trek: Legacy that would focus on Captain Shaw, but involve characters from the 90s Trek we love.
The piece goes on to clarify:
Of course, it’s important to note that all of this is just Matalas thinking out loud. Paramount has renewed Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks, and announced that Discovery‘s fifth season will be its last, but it has said nothing about continuing the story of ’90s characters beyond Picard. “I don’t work for Star Trek right now,” Matalas admitted. “We are not developing anything.” But he did urge fans to “be loud” if they wanted more.”(Den of Geek)
Voyager and Deep Space Nine‘s characters will always be part of the Star Trek universe. But while Kathryn Janeway is a holographic character on Prodigy, and Lower Decks constantly references both, we’ll likely never get a live-action DS9, or Voyager (or even an Enterprise) reunion send-off in TV or film the way Picard has been able to provide for the characters from TNG.
So, Picard is sort of pulling double-duty, incorporating bits of those other series into their TNG-heavy narrative.
While I’ve loved to see it, I do wish that the crews of the first Enterprise, Voyager, and/or Deep Space Nine could have one more spin around the rink in live-action before the focus shifts entirely to the Trek that’s only known life via streaming.
(featured image: Paramount+)
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