Patrick Stewart is going where no Starfleet captain has gone before: into his very own series, decades after wrapping up his original
run. He'll have a furry companion, old crew mates along for the ride and plenty of new characters to contend with.
Caution: There may be minor spoilers below.
Star Trek: Picard, a
All Access streaming show, will debut on Jan. 23, 2020. The show follows on the heels of Star Trek: Discovery, but the two series take place at very different points in the Trek universe.
A trailer for Picard came out of San Diego Comic-Con in July, and it was a surprise-packed doozy. The trailer revealed that Star Trek icons Brent Spiner (Data) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) will appear in the new series.
Picard will hook up with a new non-Starfleet crew in a quest to protect a mysterious woman named Dahj (Isa Briones) who comes to him for help. The Borg, one of the most imposing Star Trek villains ever created, will play a role in the plot.
Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) will appear in Picard as their Next Generation characters. We also know Jonathan Del Arco will reprise his role as Hugh the Borg.
Star Trek had a booth on the convention floor stocked with costumes and a few character details related to the new show.
A set of descriptions explaining the costuming didn't give us much news about our admiral, but one of them clued us in to what former Borg member Seven of Nine has been up to since the events of Star Trek: Voyager.
"Seven of Nine has become more comfortable with her humanity in the intervening years," the description read, saying this is represented in her "more casual, stylish and decidedly human clothing."
We also learned the mysterious Dahj arrives at Picard's vineyard in France "with a cut on her head and a strong feeling she can trust Picard implicitly."
A pup for Picard
Stewart and CBS revealed the key art for the show on July 10, just ahead of the star's appearance at San Diego Comic-Con.
The dog, a pit bull, is particularly notable. Zoom in on its ears. They may have been cropped, but they also look a lot like pointy Vulcan ears. Stewart is known for his work fostering rescue dogs. His most recent foster, Emma, is a pit mix with cropped ears.
Stewart shared a photo of Emma along with his hidden Picard rehearsal script in April. The dog in the poster sports a Starfleet emblem tag on its collar and his name is now confirmed as "Number One."
Stewart announced the new Picard series in August 2018 at the Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. He called his return "an unexpected but delightful surprise" and said he hopes "to research and experience what comforting and reforming light [Picard] might shine on these often very dark times."
Who's making Picard?
Stewart is doubling as an executive producer along with Alex Kurtzman, the creator of Star Trek: Discovery. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon is on board as an executive producer and writer. Chabon described Picard as "the hero we need right now."
Stewart shared a behind-the-scenes photo in September 2018 from a Picard meeting where he's sitting with Chabon and other members of the show's production staff. Stewart has been involved with the writing for the show from early on.
Hanelle Culpepper will make history as the first woman to launch a new Star Trek television show. Culpepper directed the first two episodes. She has an extensive TV resume, which includes Star Trek: Discovery, The Flash and Gotham.
Frakes, who will appear as Riker in the show, has a long career as a director that includes multiple Star Trek franchise entries on both the big and small screens. He directed some episodes of the new series. Frakes posted a photo of himself with Stewart to Twitter on May 21, 2019, and tagged Star Trek on CBS.
The Picard plot
CBS and Stewart had kept pretty quiet on the details of the show's plot until the teaser and full trailer arrived. We already knew it takes place around two decades after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.
The teaser lays out a big plot point when a voiceover says Admiral Picard commanded a rescue armada that "led us out of the darkness" 15 years before the series picks up. It asks the questions: What did it cost him and why did he leave Starfleet? That's a huge cliffhanger to contemplate ahead of the show's debut.
Both the teaser and trailer start in a vineyard, which is a callback to the final TNG television episode in 1994, All Good Things that showed one possible future Picard working in a vineyard in France. That Picard had become an ambassador. We know the Picard in the new show was promoted to admiral at some point.
A poster for the series shows a vineyard with the Starfleet logo formed out of grapevines along with the catchphrase "The end is only the beginning."
Picard has a complicated history with the Romulans. In Nemesis, he tangled with a Romulan clone of himself.
The trailer features a Borg ship that may be acting as a prison vessel staffed by Romulans. A sign says it has gone 5,843 days without an assimilation.
Don't expect a mere reboot of The Next Generation. "Patrick was very clear to us in the beginning. He didn't want to repeat what he had already done. And by the way, it's been 20-plus years, so he couldn't possibly be that same person anymore," Kurtzman told reporters in January 2019.
We have a lot of questions about what Picard has been up to all those years, and some of them were answered in a series of prequel books. CBS, Simon & Schuster and comics publisher IDW released Star Trek: Picard -- Countdown, a three-issue comic book miniseries in November. This focused on a life-changing mission for Picard.
A full Picard tie-in novel called The Last Best Hope is due in February 2020. Una McCormack, author of several Star Trek novels, is the author of the book.
Picard's place in Trek
Stewart's Picard took on the weight of Star Trek's future when he stepped up to captain the Enterprise-D. Until then, the Trek universe had revolved around the original crew led by Capt. James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner. Kirk and the gang had re-emerged from the shadow of the original series' cancellation in the '60s and were born again through a string of successful movies starting in 1979.
Stewart's character couldn't have been more different from the leap-into-action, kiss-the-aliens Kirk. Picard created a new mold for Starfleet captains. His Picard was cerebral, wise and measured, but also passionate. If you need a reminder, watch his defense of android crew member Data as a sentient being in the season 2 episode Measure of a Man.
How to watch
Star Trek: Picard will debut on Jan. 23, 2020. It'll stream in the US on CBS All Access and on the Space Channel in Canada. Internationally,
Video will host each episode within 24 hours of the US premiere in over 200 countries and territories. That's a change from how Discovery is distributed internationally through Netflix.
Star Trek: Picard unveils first look at costumes, props at San Diego Comic-Con