I’m Finally Ready to Talk About That Q-Centric Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Trailer
While I love Star Trek and John de Lancie’s omniscient troublemaker Q, it’s hard not to have a sense of fatigue when viewing the season 2 trailer for Picard. Seeing de Lancie return as Q with Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard as a foil sends a frisson of pure joy through my brain. The problem is that Picard didn’t seem to get my memo about hoping the show would reduce its stakes so as not to encompass the fate of the entire universe. Now it’s not just the universe in peril, but time itself. OK!
Exhaustion was the feeling I arrived at with the season finale of Picard‘s first season, when I wrote that the series needed to take a step back in its overblown scope. As we watch the trailer for Picard season 2, however, the bombastic plotting appears to have remained in place. “Time has been broken,” we hear. I hate when that happens without a warranty. It seems to be happening a lot lately in popular media. It’s difficult to imagine this take on timey-wimey shenanigans and alternate timelines is going to break new ground in the era of Loki.
“We can save the future,” Picard’s voiceover then announces, “and I will get us home, together.” So within 42 seconds we know that time itself is messed up (probably by Q), that Picard and his team will likely be time-traveling or timeline-hopping, and that they need to do no less than save the entire future. All in what will likely amount to about a day’s work.
As I wrote last year:
The trend for the new CBS Star Treks seems to hinge on huge conflicts or catastrophes that threaten the nature of everything—yet rather than a slow-boil Dominion War, say, those problems can be reversed or eliminated in five minutes based on a single decision by a protagonist. It feels unearned and unexciting.
Not much in the season 2 trailer seems to suggest the series has calmed down to allow for a real focus on more personal narratives. There is, however, some hope. De Lancie looks incredible and is dressed to the nines, and that impish smile on his face augurs well for whenever Q is onscreen. I will pay just to receive a supercut of his scenes with Stewart. I’ve been banging pots and pans to see Q on Picard since the series was first announced, and he’s back in top form. We’d expect no less from de Lancie. Both the actor and his character and have long been fan favorites for good reason.
Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine, newly shown to be queer, is one of the more interesting characters on the show, and it appears she awakens in some timeline where she was never assimilated by the Borg. Any signs of Seven’s Borg implants are gone. In her quarters we also see a flash of a new kind of combadge that seems to be a sort of Starfleet mashup with the Federation flag insignia. This could suggest a kind of Federation empire like the Terran mirrorverse empire we saw on Discovery. Similar reality-bending fates may be in store for the rest of the cast, including the other interesting character, Rios (Santiago Cabrera), who appears to find himself back in Starfleet (with another alterna-combadge that could indicate the rank of lieutenant).
Now, I shaded the show for “breaking time,” but it’s true this is not new ground for Picard, Q, or their brand of Star Trek. The 1994 two-part series finale of The Next Generation, “All Good Things…” sees Picard jumping through past, present, and future to prevent catastrophe. Q ends up being the cause of Picard’s time-jumping, and the Captain is also on trial in the Q Continuum to prove humanity’s worth. So it could just be that Q is up to his old tricks again; as he says in the trailer, “the trial never ends.” As we know, however, the alien trickster has a soft spot for Picard as much as he’s a thorn in his side, so even if he’s tormenting Jean-Luc, he’s probably going to help or provide a solution in some way.
The other positive here is that jumping around in time and alternative outcomes could give us the chance to encounter more Star Trek special guest stars from Picard or the franchise’s past. In the TNG era, we’re still missing appearances by LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge), Michael Dorn (Worf), Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar/Sela), Wesley Crusher (Will Wheaton), and Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher).
Considering Dr. Crusher and Picard had some romantic subplots (including being divorced in the future Q sent Picard to), McFadden’s absence was surprising, though she says she’s open to returning. There have been rumors that Goldberg will reprise her role as Guinan “for a little while,” as she put it. We don’t have updates on Crosby, but she could conceivably return as Yar’s half-Romulan daughter, Sela, which would fit in with Picard’s Romulan focus, and Crosby herself tweeted the idea. Burton has said he will “maybe” guest-star, while Dorn said the production has “not contacted me at all.” (There doesn’t appear to be any bad blood there; Burton and Dorn were on set to visit when Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Troi) returned for the Picard season 1 episode “Nepenthe.”)
This is all to say, there’s potential to do some interesting things with Picard season 2, and the series is most fun when Stewart is playing off his old castmates. De Lancie is no exception, and that cheeky “Mon capitaine! How I’ve missed you,” goes a long way. But as commenter Gualberto Chavez observes on the trailer’s YouTube page, “I want to believe beyond belief, but with [Alex] Kurtzman still in the helm, I wouldn’t put money on it.”
Kurtzman, who currently oversees the CBS Star Trek efforts as executive producer, is not exactly beloved by many longtime fans. Kurtzman co-wrote scripts to 2009’s Star Trek reboot and Star Trek: Into Darkness, as well as gifting the world with the writing and direction of 2017’s The Mummy (Rotten Tomatoes score: 17%) and co-writing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%). It’s hard not to think the most over-the-top, everything-must-explode action-movie ethos that marks much of the new Trek is coming from him.
Anyway, I’d love to stay positive. Mon Q! How I’ve missed you.
What do you think of the trailer and the aims of Picard season 2?
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