After last week's SDCC Star Trek panel and subsequent interviews and posts, we've been left with a lot to speculate about in regards to the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard, which features the return of the entire Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. Here's what I've been able to cobble together...
Not Season Eight
Picard, Riker, Geordi, Worf, Troi, and Dr. Crusher are all back. Seven of Nine and Raffi are joining them. But I think this may be a little bit misleading. Based on interviews, Gates McFadden alluded to not working much with Michelle Hurd, for example, leading me to think the crew will return individually throughout the season with Picard likely being the only constant until the end. Patrick Stewart and others have emphasized this final season of Picard is not a TNG reunion per se and not an eighth season of TNG. Trek head Alex Kurtzman did say it was like another TNG movie, however.
Dressed for Success
The uniforms are unique. Riker, Crusher, Worf and Geordi all appear to have a new style uniform than we've seen previously. Seven of Nine's uniform is similar to what we saw the Stargazer crew wearing in season two. Could this be a clue? Perhaps some of Picard's old shipmates are not from the same timeline as Picard?
This is no time to be talking about time. We don't have the time!
Gates also said that Picard and Crusher hadn't seen each other in 20-25 years. Could this be Trek timeline shenanigans? Perhaps "our" Dr. Crusher died and this one is from a different timeline?
Speaking of my timeline conspiracy--how does Q and that strange anomaly from season two play into season three? Surely, that story thread won't be forgotten.
Commander Seven, I presume?
Seven of Nine is a first officer with the rank of commander. This has been confirmed. Which ship is she serving on? An Enterprise maybe? Raffi doesn't appear to be in uniform in her photo, so why keep her character around? Will we get a Janeway cameo? Seven will have some conflict with her role as a Starfleet XO. Who will be her captain? Could this be a precursor to a Seven-led new series?
Will all of the main TNG cast be featured players in the Picard opening credits? I'm guessing no. I think Stewart, Hurd, Frakes, McFadden (she said she was in eight of the ten episodes) and Ryan will be, but the others will be in fewer episodes and will get the "Guest Star" placement at the end of the credits like the previous two seasons. The opening credits and theme itself will be a callback to the TNG credits, but not an outright re-creation. It'll be the same Picard theme music, but with more Alexander Courage/Jerry Goldsmith notes. I'm hoping I'm right here, as I don't either season has nailed their opening credits. It's beautiful music, but this season needs a heavy dose of TNG to really sell it.
It is confirmed that there will be appearances by cast members not part of the main cast. Who might that be? Wil Wheaton or Whoopi Goldberg? Maybe, since they've already appeared. Denise Crosby? I wish, but social media posts from Denise would indicate not. Michelle Forbes as Ro? Again, I wish. Diana Muldaur cameoing as Dr. Pulaski? Now, that would be outstanding! Not at all likely, but I would love to see Diana back for one final appearance considering her original run in TNG's second season wasn't without turmoil.
A Tale of (at least) Two Enterprises
Patrick Stewart, perhaps errantly, said that there will be two Enterprise's, referencing the Enterprise-D's plush carpeting compared to more recent ship's shiny floors. Terry Matalas, Picard season three showrunner, took to Twitter to indicate this wasn't exactly how it sounded--and Stewart never reference exactly which Enterprise had the nice carpet. The Enterprise-E also had carpeted corridors. Alas, basing speculation on the Enterprise's carpet or lack thereof isn't a lot to go from. Perhaps the TNG crew meet up on the restored Enterprise-D's saucer (which we know was salvaged from Veridian III from set piece in Picard season two). Previously there was a question answered on Twitter about the Enterprise-E's appearance indicating that we would learn something about the fate of that starship, but not everything. And finally, Matalas included a not-so-subtle reference to the Enterprise-F in his response to Stewart's two Enterprises comment. Elsewhere, I've seen speculation that the Enterprise-G will appear with the Picard team basically skipping over Star Trek: Online's Odyssey-class Enterprise-F and making an Enterprise all their own. My personal hope would be to see the Enterprise-E back in action, but I think this is the least likely. I think we'll get a museum ship or flashback reference to the Enterprise-D and then a new Enterprise (F or G) that could be the potential torchbearer for further 25th century Trek adventures.
Whatever happened to...
Geordi's rank appears to be commodore. Worf appears to have the rank of captain. Beverly has no pips or they are just not visible in the photos. Picard showrunner Matalas has said that Worf is not a captain, which somewhat defies what we're seeing in the photos, but more likely means he is not commanding a starship. Perhaps he once did command a ship (the Picard novel or comic indicated he was given command of the Enterprise-E when Picard left to deal with the Romulan evacuation). It's also possible that Worf has left Starfleet, but has been drafted back into service for this particular adventure. I suspect Geordi, having become a family man, has risen in rank, but if Beverly is the same Beverly we last saw in Star Trek: Nemesis, I get the impression something has happened with her--or between her and Picard. They haven't seen each other in 25 years. Why? Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden both referenced conflict between their characters and amongst other TNG crewmen. McFadden also spoke of her strong story--perhaps the most Crusher has ever gotten. Something is up here.
Brent Spiner is playing a new old character. Could this be Lore? Could it be a different timeline version of Data? Could it be a rebooted (literally) B4 with a little retconning of Picard season one? Who knows? It's entirely plausible, Spiner will just return as Alton or another long lost Soong family member. My theory is that it will be a version of Data, but done in a Trek way as to not spoil the final goodbye between Picard and Data in the Picard first season finale. I keep getting "Yesterday's Enterprise" vibes from these rumors. Maybe Data is the captain of the Enterprise-G from my speculative other timeline.
No, not thee Khan. Just a villain like Khan. This was confirmed. I'm not sure what that means. Haven't most of the TNG movie villains been "like Khan"? The villain is also confirmed to be a woman. And no, it's not Sela, Tasha's alternate timeline half-Romulan daughter. Again, I wish it was this popular character, last seen nerve-pinched and knocked out cold in her office by Leonard Nimoy. I have no theory here, but I hope it's not a character we never saw on TNG, but somehow Picard and/or the Enterprise-D ruined their life and now they're out for revenge.
What if everything we've seen up to this point is an alternative timeline? Somehow Q has imparted this info on Picard from the Q afterlife and now in a Star Trek III-like fashion, the aging admiral must assemble his reluctant, but loyal crew to set things right. But who is out there to stop him? In a twist, it's Dr. Crusher (in a take from "All Good Things..." where she commanded her own ship), along with Data and others from the Enterprise days. Eventually, they work together to stop the villain(s) responsible for that anomaly in the second season finale and the timeline resets. Picard ends up the Starfleet hero, the Riker-Troi's kid is saved, etc. etc. This comes at the loss of Picard himself, who then joins Q in the Q afterlife. Or maybe not, as Stewart said he'd be up for another TNG movie.
Final speculation: Wesley, the traveler, swoops in and saves the day.