There hasn’t been a better time to be a Star Trek fan since the 20th century, those glory days when The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager showed us a weekly future of warp drives, transporters, Changelings and Borg. Two decades on, we're finally living through equally exciting times. Not only is the brilliant Star Trek: Discovery preparing to take us to exciting new frontiers in its third season, and the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks gets set to reveal another side of Federation life, but a true Starfleet icon is about to return to action in Star Trek: Picard.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, is arguably the definitive commanding officer in Star Trek history, a man who’s quiet authority and calmness under pressure saved the galaxy on numerous occasions. Star Trek: Picard picks up with Jean-Luc some two decades after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), making sure that one of the worst movies in the Trek canon will no longer mark an iconic character’s swansong.
Instead, the show will feature a retired Picard stepping up to help a mysterious young woman in danger, hooking up with an all-new crew, and having close encounters with Romulans and the Borg. He’ll also be meeting some familiar faces from his Next Generation past…
Aside from the events of time-hopping Next Generation finale “All Good Things”, Star Trek: Picard will mark the first time we’ve seen the post-Nemesis future of the Star Trek universe. It also unifies the storylines of J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek and the expansive TNG era – but rather more importantly, it brings the ever-brilliant Sir Patrick Stewart back into the fold to make it so once again.
We’ve scoured Federation databanks to find everything you need to know about the Star Trek: Picard plot, cast, trailer, release date and much more – it’s all part of GamesRadar+’s ongoing mission to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilisations…
- Star Trek: Picard release date: Early 2020 (CBS All Access in the US, Amazon Prime in the UK)
- Star Trek: Picard directors: Hanelle M. Culpepper, Jonathan Frakes, Maja Vrvilo (more TBC)
- Star Trek: Picard writers: Michael Chabon, Alex Kurtzman (more TBC)
- Star Trek: Picard cast: Patrick Stewart, Santiago Cabrera, Isa Briones, Michelle Hurd, Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway, Evan Evagora, Rebecca Wisocky, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco
Star Trek: Picard release date
Jean-Luc will be boldly going once again at the start of next next year, as US broadcaster CBS All Access has confirmed the Star Trek: Picard release date as “early 2020”. As with Star Trek: Discovery, UK viewers should expect the episodes of season one to appear weekly, within 24 hours of their US debuts. This time, however, they’ll find them in a different place – while Discovery is hosted by Netflix, Star Trek: Picard will beam down via Amazon Prime Video.
Showrunner (and top author) Michael Chabon confirmed in an Instagram post (above) on August 31, 2019 that shooting on Star Trek: Picard has now wrapped, so it’s now embarking on a long journey through post-production…
Star Trek: Picard trailer
There have been two Star Trek: Picard trailers so far. The first (above), launched in May 2019 and is a brief affair – the very definition of a teaser, it doesn’t even feature any scenes in space. It does, however, show plenty of the family vineyard Jean-Luc calls home after retiring from Starfleet – we even get to see a crate of Chateau Picard red – and a view of the great man two decades after we last saw him.
The voiceover is rather more revealing than the visuals, as an unfamiliar female voice (we’ll speculate about its owner’s identity later) says the following words: “Fifteen years ago today, you led us out of the darkness. You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history. Then, the unimaginable. What did that cost you? Your faith? Your faith in us? Your faith in yourself? Tell us… Why did you leave Starfleet, Admiral?”
She speaks less than 50 words, but they’re incredibly revealing: we’re almost certain that the “rescue armada” is the 2387 mission to save the Romulan people from a supernova threatening to engulf their homeworld, Romulus; “the unimaginable” is the fact the planet was destroyed, despite Spock’s efforts to save it (as seen in J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie). Based on the Star Trek timeline, “fifteen years ago” allows us to place the stardate of the series at 2402 (meaning this is our first in-canon glimpse of the 25th century), while the reference to “Admiral” confirms Picard was promoted some time after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.
The second Star Trek: Picard trailer debuted at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 and, not only does it deliver loads more clues about the hotly anticipated series, it’s one of the most fan-friendly teases we’ve ever seen – it’s packed with treats for Trekkies.
Yes, there are more vineyards, but also plenty of scenes in outer space, and hints at the themes that’ll dominate the series. The plight of Romulus and the Romulan people clearly continues to play a part, but we also see that Lt Commander Data’s death – an act of sacrifice to save Picard’s life in Star Trek: Nemesis – is still weighing heavy on the admiral’s mind. We also get sightings of the Borg, the most defining adversary of Picard’s Starfleet career – the Collective briefly assimilated him to act as their “voice” in “The Best of Both Worlds”, arguably the greatest story The Next Generation ever told, so it feels appropriate they’re back now. Resistance is futile, and all that.
We’re also given a first look at numerous new characters and starships, and reintroduced to a couple of familiar faces: a Data-type android (we’ll speculate on its identity below) and former Borg Seven-of-Nine, a veteran of Star Trek: Voyager.
In terms of the Star Trek: Picard plot, the most important clue appears to be the existence of a young woman (played by newcomer Isa Briones) who comes to Jean-Luc for help. Described as “the destroyer, the end of all” by one character – another says “she has no idea what she truly is” – it looks like her fate will be entwined with Picard’s. “She came to me for help,” he says. “If she is who I think she is, she’s in serious danger.”
And as a lovely piece of fan-service, this Star Trek: Picard trailer reveals that Starfleet uniforms and insignia in the 25th century have apparently taken their design cues from what we saw in the flashforwards in Star Trek: The Next Generation finale “All Good Things”. Seeing as the events of that episode were the results of time-hopping shenanigans instigated by omnipotent troublemaker Q, it’s a moot point whether they’re still canon, but it’s a nice touch.
There’s also a shot of Picard walking past the famous Vasquez Rocks in California, a regular Trek location since the original series.
Finally, how much did the hairs on the back of your neck stand up hearing Jean-Luc Picard say “Engage!” for the first time in nearly two decades?
Star Trek: Picard plot and theories
Thanks to the trailer we now know that the Star Trek: Picard plot kicks off some 15 years after the destruction of Romulus in Star Trek (2009). By that reckoning it’s 22 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, which doesn’t quite tally with Picard saying Data died “nearly two decades ago” – we’re sure the discrepancy will be explained later...
Although the show picks up the story of Jean-Luc Picard, however, it’s definitely not a straight sequel to the previous TV show – not least because, where most episodes of the classic TNG were effectively standalone stories, Star Trek: Picard will have a serialised arc across its ten episodes.
“We pointedly wanted to not make a sequel to Next Gen,” executive producer Akiva Goldsman said at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. “Tonally, it’s a little bit of a hybrid – it’s slower, more gentle, more lyrical, it is certainly more character-based.”
“Not only did [Patrick] not want to do what he had done on TNG, we and he did not want to do what we've done on Discovery,” added fellow EP Heather Kadin. “We feel like the world we’ve painted there is very specific and unique to that. This is its whole own thing – more lyrical, more grounded.”
Since we last saw Jean-Luc at the end of Nemesis, he’s been promoted to the rank of admiral, led a (failed) mission to save Romulus, and is clearly highly revered throughout the galaxy: the trailer shows a banner for a “Captain Picard Day”, while an unidentified Vulcan or Romulan woman tells him: “Sometimes I worry that you have forgotten who you are. We do not.”
He’s subsequently retired to the family vineyard. From what we know about the man, however, it’s safe to assume he’s not particularly happy there. Even as a child he’d aspired to get away from Earth, and was always most comfortable flying around the cosmos in a starship. And despite the family connection, the vineyard is not necessarily a place filled with fond memories. For many years it was run by his late brother, Robert, a man with whom he never got on. Robert’s death in a farming accident (along with his son/Jean-Luc’s beloved nephew René) is a key plot point in Star Trek: Generations, as Jean-Luc questions his decision to put his career ahead of family. “These past few years I really tried to belong here,” he says in the Star Trek: Picard trailer, “but it never truly felt like home.”
It’s also clear that the destruction of Romulus is important. “Picard's life was radically altered by the dissolution of the Romulan Empire," Kurtzman told the Hollywood Reporter back in January. Unsurprising, perhaps, seeing as he had many important run-ins with them during his time on the USS Enterprise – he assisted Spock in his efforts to bring the estranged Vulcan and Romulan peoples back together in The Next Generation two-parter “Unification”, and effectively saved the Empire when a Picard clone named Shinzon (played by a young Tom Hardy) tried to start a war with the Federation in Star Trek: Nemesis in the name of Romulus’s twin planet, Remus. Needless to say, Picard’s a changed man after the failure of his mission 15 years earlier.
“There are many things that haunt Picard,” Trek’s current overseer, Alex Kurtzman, told Entertainment Weekly in July. “[But] it was terribly important to us that he remains fundamentally Picard. You will not see a version that betrays the man we loved from Next Generation. We’re not doing that. But we wanted to put a character with that level of morality and leadership and who always does the right thing no matter how hard the circumstances… we wanted to put that to the test.”
“He’s a lot older and we’re not shying away from that at all,” added Michael Chabon. “We’re dealing with a man who’s in a very different place in his life.”
It looks like the arrival of Dahj, the mysterious young woman introduced in the Star Trek: Picard trailer, is going to drag Jean-Luc back into the space-faring fray. It’s clear that he’s instinctively drawn to helping her, and we see him speaking to a Starfleet admiral, presumably asking for her assistance. But the fact that we see Picard venturing into space with a crew who aren’t wearing recognisable uniforms, on a ship that has a very un-Federation feel, makes us think Starfleet assistance isn’t going to be forthcoming – and Jean-Luc will have to take matters into his own hands.
“Because he’s no longer in Starfleet, he no longer carries the weight of that behind him,” Kurtzman explained to Entertainment Weekly. “In some ways, it’s easier to be [a great man] when you’re a captain. But it’s an entirely different thing when you don’t have an army behind you. When you want to get something done and fight an injustice, how do you do that when you’re really only one man?”
The question is, why is Dahj so important? Brief glimpses of her fighting in the Star Trek: Picard trailer suggest she has superhuman strength/speed, but why does a (probably) Romulan man describe her as “the destroyer”?
There may be clues in the Borg’s presence in the Star Trek: Picard trailer. It looks like Romulans are experimenting on former Borg, whose cybernetic implants have been removed. The interior of the Romulans’ vessel also looks rather Borg-like, and features armed Romulan guards, and a factory-like sign boasting that, “This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation”.
It’s a common theory on the internet that the survivors of the Romulan Star Empire captured a Borg vessel – the one seen in the trailer – and are attempting to make use of the assimilation-happy cyborgs’ technology. Their experiments may have led to the creation of Dahj – and explain why they’re so worried about her being on the loose.
It may also explain why we see Picard speaking with former Star Trek: Voyager crew member Seven of Nine. The former Borg – who’s never previously met Picard on screen – would clearly be a useful source of information about their technology and abilities. It’s interesting to note that Jeri Ryan’s performance is much looser and casual here than it was on Voyager – presumably 20 years on Earth have allowed Seven’s human side to come more to the fore.
But perhaps the most intriguing introduction for fans is the return of Brent Spiner as fan-fave android Data. If it is actually Data, that is – and we don’t think it really is…
Why? Lt Commander Data was surely vaporised when he sacrificed himself to save Picard at the end of Nemesis, when Shinzon’s vessel the Scimitar exploded. Yes, the disassembled android we see in the trailer does look like Data and features a bit of cosmetic damage on his back– but he’s surely not as battered as he would be if he’d been caught up in a massive starship explosion?
Much more likely is that it’s actually B-4, an earlier, less sophisticated prototype of Data built by his creator, Dr Noonian Soong. After the Enterprise discovered him on Kolarus III in Star Trek: Nemesis, Data uploaded the contents of his own positronic brain into his older “brother” in an effort to make him function better. So it’s conceivable that Data lives on inside his older brother – and this is who we see Jean-Luc speaking to in the Star Trek: Picard trailer. Think of him like a back-up hard drive for your computer.
It’s clear that Data’s death is still weighing heavily on Picard, and speaking with B-4 may help him through his grief. (They’re playing poker in the trailer, in a nod to the games the senior Enterprise crew used to play in Star Trek: The Next Generation – though the real Picard never actually joined in until series finale “All Good Things”.) So it’s likely that the android we see is B-4, but that enough of Data survives for the character to live on. This may have been confirmed by Brent Spiner at the Star Trek Las Vegas Con in August, in comments that also suggest he’s a supporting player rather than a star:
“I am delighted to be part of the show and all I am, is a part of the show,” he said (reported by Trek Movie). “I want to make it semi-clear, because I don’t want to make it too clear, that I am not a regular on the show. Data did die at the end of Nemesis. But I am on the show. I do make appearances. Data’s story is a part of the thread of the show.”
There’s also a potential connection between Data/B-4 and the Borg. Jonathan Del Arco is back as Hugh, a Borg who brought the concept of individuality to the Collective after spending time with the Enterprise crew – and whose rogue crew of Borg individuals subsequently fell under the control of Data’s other brother, the evil Lore.
“I can confirm I am still part Borg and that I am a developed human version from the last time I saw [Picard], in which we were stranded on a planet and Lore was killed,” del Arco told TVLine (via TrekMovie). “As they are leaving the planet and I say, ‘What are we going to do now, we have no leader’, Picard says, ‘I don’t think that’s true.’ The implication being that in TNG I end up with this colony of Borg and all I can say is he has developed further in his leadership capacities.”
The Borg Queen was also obsessed with Data – the machine who wants to be human – in Star Trek: First Contact, so don’t be surprised if the Borg/Data connection continues into Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: Picard cast
It’s the first Star Trek TV show to take the name of a person rather than a ship, so you wouldn’t have a Star Trek: Picard cast without Sir Patrick Stewart. Having initially been reluctant to return to the role that turned him into a star, Stewart was won over by the producers’ pitch. “I agreed to a meeting with the people who were going to produce this new version of Star Trek only because I wanted to seriously and respectfully explain to them why I was turning the project down,” he told Yahoo!. “I heard just enough to realise this was something very unusual, and I was intrigued. What I was afraid of was… this was going to be jokey, and I didn’t want to do that. I asked a lot of questions and the answers were all very satisfying.”
Joining Stewart in the Star Trek: Picard cast are:
Lost and The Musketeers star Santiago Cabrera as ex-Starfleet pilot Christobal “Chris” Rios – he’s reportedly sceptical about working with Picard.
Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker, a character who reportedly has a past association with Picard and has a few demons of her own – a report in Deadline back in March suggested those demons might involve drugs and alcohol. We think her voice might be the one in the first teaser trailer, talking about Picard “Leading us out of the darkness”.
Newcomer Isa Briones as Dahj, effectively the show’s McGuffin, who brings Picard back into the fray.
Devs and Scott Pilgrim vs The World’s Alison Pill as researcher Dr Agnes Jurati.
Another newcomer, Evan Evagora, as Elnor, a young Romulan warrior loyal to Picard.
Penny Dreadful’s Harry Treadaway as a mysterious Romulan called Narek.
But – aside from the presence of Jean-Luc himself – fans will be most excited by the return of several of the Next Generation cast. Brent Spiner is back as Data (or should that be B-4?), and said at Comic-Con that there was “no way” he could turn down the chance to work with Stewart again. And there are also returns for Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as Captain Will Riker and Counsellor Deanna Troi, who – after years of denying their mutual affection on the show – were belatedly married in Star Trek: Nemesis. Hilariously, Frakes has been so busy directing in the interim – he’s behind the camera for a pair of Star Trek: Picard episodes – that he told Fan Expo Canada that he’d forgotten how to act.
“I hadn’t acted in a long, long, long time,” he said (via Comicbook.com). “I hadn’t played Riker in 18 years, and I’ve been very fortunate to be busy directing. I had a major anxiety attack because, for whatever reason, I’d forgotten to act. I was not a pretty picture for a few hours. I got my shit together and ended up doing fine.”
The Star Trek: Picard cast also brings back a pair of Borg: Jonathan Del Arco, who played Hugh in three episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation, and Jeri Ryan, who was a regular on seasons 4-7 of Star Trek: Voyager as Seven of Nine.
No news yet on whether LeVar Burton, Wil Wheaton and Gates McFadden will be reprising their roles as Geordi LaForge, Wesley Crusher, and Dr Beverly Crusher (Picard’s long-term unrequited love interest), though Newsweek has reported that CBS All Access has confirmed Klingon Starfleet officer Worf will not be back.
We may see Star Trek: Voyager’s Emergency Command Hologram (aka the Doctor) in Star Trek: Picard’s second season, however, as he told Trekkie Girls that CBS have “reached out” to his agent about an appearance.
But perhaps the most important thing you need to know about Star Trek: Picard is that Jean-Luc’s doc – as seen in the trailers and on the poster – is called Number One. We can’t think of anything more perfect…
Looking for more on Star Trek? Check out our on everything we learnt about Star Trek: Discovery season 3 at San Diego Comic-Con.