This is it, Trekkers. This is the Big One. Twenty years since we last saw the Next Generation cast together in Star Trek: Nemesis, the original crew are back for one final hurrah in the upcoming Picard season 3. But is it final and will you be saying hurrah? The answers, in turn, are 'hopefully not' and 'most definitely yes.'
The Next Generation was born in 1987 of a specific cultural moment, just as The Original Series reflected the '60s. But fans shouldn't worry that Picard season 3 doesn't keep the original spirit of the previous 178 episodes intact. Nor should new viewers think that these 10 new instalments don't reimagine the format.
"It's both," showrunner and writer Terry Matalas tells SFX Magazine in the latest issue, which features Picard on the cover. "It honours what came before, it honours the spirit of the characters, but also takes into account that it's been over 20 years since we’d last seen many of them.
"Storytelling and serialised television has changed since then, so we do both," he continues. "If you're looking to feel like these are the Next Gen characters that you grew up with, you will see them everywhere. If you're looking for something a little new, well, you get to catch up with them in unexpected ways as well. But you will get those Next Gen feels back for sure. But it's the next step in their journey. It feels like a feature film, a final feature film."
Describing these 10 hours as being like a film is something else fans can expect to hear a lot – and no, it's not hyperbole. In fact, it felt so much like a feature film that the cast practically threw down the gauntlet to Paramount at last year's New York Comic Con to make another movie featuring them. Matalas laughs hard. "Yeah, they did, didn't they? They certainly did have a great time and they certainly all would love to do this again. I think there are ways of seeing these characters again, in a kind of Next, Next Generation story. Not all these characters – I'm not gonna say they all necessarily make it out safely of season three. But I will say that in science fiction, there are always ways of seeing people again. So of course, who wouldn't want to do this forever?"
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So much, then, for 'The Final Voyage' touted in the epic trailer, also revealed at NYCC. And that, off the back of this third season, is a bloody good thing indeed. "One wonders why there haven’t been six Next Generation movies or specials in the time that has passed since Nemesis ," Matalas continues. "But that's the way of the world, whether that be Indiana Jones or Ghostbusters or anything else, you don't always get to see more of those kinds of stories. It's hard to get everyone back together, to convince the studio and network that they should spend money and invest in it.
"You get everybody in a room, of course you're gonna say, 'Let's do another movie.' I'm the first person to say these stories, in this time period, particularly this Picard timeline, in a post-Berman [producer Rick] universe, could continue. That's certainly where I'm the most passionate at the moment.
"This season is very much a passing of the torch to the next generation," Matalas adds. "So it will really be up to the fans to decide if they want to see more. Star Trek has always been up to the fans. The fans brought back the original series characters into feature films and conventions and kept it alive, it will have to be the same here. So we'll see." You heard the man. If anyone messes this up, words will be had.
That's just a snippet from our interview with Matalas: you can read the full conversation in the latest issue of SFX Magazine with Picard on the cover, available on newsstands on January 25! For even more from SFX, sign up for the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.
Star Trek: Picard season three is on Prime Video in the UK and Paramount Plus in the US from 16 February.