Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 0

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

By the time you read this, the first episode of Star Trek: Picard Season 3 may already be available in the United States. But lest you think I’m trying to cheat and make up theories after having already seen the first episode, it won’t be available to stream until tomorrow here in the UK! And for some reason, Paramount didn’t send me the first batch of episodes to review ahead of time. I wonder why?

Although Season 2 had some pretty serious faults, I still found plenty to speculate about as it rolled along! So I hope that this will be the first part of a weekly series in which we can dig a little deeper into some of Picard’s storylines. In both Season 1 and Season 2 I actually netted a few goals; successfully predicting where characters and stories ended up going.

Dr Crusher in Picard Season 3.

But I had many, many misses to go along with those few hits! In Season 1 I theorised that Soji and Dahj might not actually be synthetic, in Season 2 I speculated that the Borg Queen might be an assimilated Captain Janeway, and those are just two of the times that I was completely and utterly wrong. So I guess what I’m saying is that you need to take everything on this list with a very healthy pinch of salt!

Based on pre-season marketing material, trailers, and announcements, I’ve already concocted a handful of theories about Picard Season 3 – several of which I’ve written up in detail in other posts here on the website. It’s these theories that we’ll look at today!

This is your last chance to nope out if you want to avoid any chance of spoilers.

Theory #1:
Captain Liam Shaw is going to die.

Promo photo of Captain Shaw.

The last time we talked about the captain of the USS Titan, the character didn’t have a name. But his name has since been disclosed: he’s Captain Liam Shaw. As I said when I took a look at the final pre-season trailer, though… Captain Shaw is giving me major redshirt vibes!

As a purely practical point, it’s hard to see how the USS Titan could operate with an admiral, a commodore, and at least two other captains on board… so something tells me Captain Shaw isn’t long for this world. Will he survive the season premiere? Will he make it a couple of episodes into the season? I’m not sure!

I would say that I like Todd Stashwick as an actor; he’s someone I remember from a series called 12 Monkeys a few years ago. He seems to have the right temperament to take on the role of a Starfleet captain, and in a way it’d be a shame to lose someone like that. But my gut tells me that Captain Shaw won’t be sticking around for very long!

Theory #2:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

The crew of The Next Generation in Season 2.

In a minute we’ll take a look at a couple of different ideas for how an imposter might infiltrate Starfleet, but for now suffice to say that I can’t help but wonder if one of Picard’s old crewmates might not be who they appear to be!

Two lines from the trailers leapt out at me: Dr Crusher warning Picard to “trust no one,” and her assistant asking Picard whether anyone he knew “is still the person [he] knew.” These lines could hint at someone having infiltrated the crew, potentially replacing or brainwashing them.

Additionally, it’s possible that someone on the crew is who they appear to be – but is secretly working for Captain Vadic and/or some other villain. We saw this with Dr Jurati in Season 1, so it wouldn’t be a wholly original story beat. But it would fit in with the idea of Picard not knowing who to trust.

Theory #3:
Captain Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains.

Captain Vadic with a couple of her allies.

When we first met Captain Vadic and learned that both Lore and Professor Moriarty would be returning, I speculated that the villain of Season 3 might have put together a crew comprised of past Star Trek villains and adversaries. There’s no shortage of baddies who might want to seek revenge on Picard, the crew of the Enterprise-D, and the Federation as a whole.

In both of the trailers that featured Captain Vadic, the crew of her ship – the Shrike – were concealed. In the most recent trailer, the Shrike’s crew were seen wearing bird-like masks… and I can’t help but wonder if there’s a reason why these characters had their faces covered. It seems at least possible that some of Vadic’s crewmates and allies could be characters that we’ve met in past iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

I suggested the likes of DaiMon Bok, Sela, and even Nicholas Locarno as possible candidates – and you can find a longer list by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #4:
Picard and his crew will reactivate Lore and Professor Moriarty.

What’s going on with Lore?

Although it seemed at first as though Lore and Professor Moriarty might be on Captain Vadic’s team, the most recent trailer for Season 3 was cut together in such a way as to suggest that it might be Picard and his crew that are responsible for re-awakening them. I have an idea as to why that might be the case (and we’ll take a look at that in a moment), but for now let’s just say that it seems possible that the story will go down this road.

Last time we saw both Lore and Professor Moriarty, they were no longer a threat. Lore had been fully shut down, and Moriarty had been trapped in a holographic storage module, believing himself to be free to explore the galaxy. How either of them could come back is an open question – but they are coming back in some form!

Theory #5:
Picard and his crew need to find synthetic allies/crewmates.

Professor Moriarty.

Connected to the theory above is the idea that, for some reason, Picard and the crew will not be able to trust or rely on almost any organic. Not knowing who to trust – perhaps because something is going on that only affects organic minds – could explain why they chose to reactivate both Lore and Professor Moriarty: they might be immune to whatever’s happening.

I don’t think it can be a coincidence that Lore and Professor Moriarty are involved. Both are sentient artificial life-forms, so surely that connection has to be relevant!

If this theory is even close to being true, though, it would raise an interesting question: why didn’t Picard also turn to Soji for help?

Theory #6:
Captain Vadic and her crew are hosts for the parasite-aliens first encountered in the episode Conspiracy.

One of the parasite-aliens.

This one is quite “out there,” and I freely admit that! It would be a very bold (i.e. odd) decision for Star Trek to return to the plot of Conspiracy, as it’s hardly one of the best-remembered episodes of The Next Generation. But something about the idea of being unsure of who to trust within Starfleet, having to turn to old friends for help, and the possibility of a conspiracy that could be targeting the Federation all flagged up the plot of Conspiracy for me… so it would be unwise to entirely rule it out!

The end of the episode seemed to suggest that the parasite-aliens had been able to send a message into deep space, hinting at a possible return one day. Could that day finally have arrived?

Theory #7:
Captain Vadic is a Founder.

One of the Founders of the Dominion.

We’ve been promised some kind of connection to Deep Space Nine this season, so I can’t help but wonder if the villain of the piece could be a changeling. If the Dominion and their shape-shifting Founders are on the march once more, that could explain why Picard wouldn’t know who to trust – as we saw in Deep Space Nine, changelings were able to infiltrate Starfleet, the Klingon Empire, and the Tal Shiar, replacing a handful of well-placed leaders as part of a plan to destabilise the major factions of the Alpha Quadrant.

Perhaps Vadic’s drive for revenge stems from the Dominion’s defeat, and while Picard wasn’t heavily involved in that, she might be targeting Starfleet and the Federation more broadly.

Theory #8:
Dr Crusher’s “assistant” is actually her son.

Who’s this?

This character, played by actor Ed Speleers, is shrouded in mystery at the moment! We don’t even know his name, yet we’ve been told he works closely with Dr Crusher. Could there be a reason for keeping this character’s name hidden? Perhaps his last name is “Crusher”… or even “Picard!”

It might seem like a bit of a trope to go down this route, but it could work if handled well. It would give the character a solid connection to the rest of the crew, and that could be a point in its favour.

Theory #9:
At least one main character will be killed.

But who will it be?

I don’t necessarily expect this to happen right at the start of the first episode, but I feel it’s a solid possibility that at least one main character won’t make it to the end of the season. Television storytelling has changed a lot since The Next Generation premiered, and even main characters can no longer consider themselves to be safe if they wind up in dangerous situations!

It would be a challenge to kill off a legacy character in a way that would be satisfying and would feel right – but it would be incredibly bold, and if such a story beat stuck the landing, it could succeed at either setting up the story or paying off a season-long character arc.

I have a list of who I consider to be in danger, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #10:
Captain Vadic once served on Picard’s crew.

Vadic on the viewscreen.

Captain Vadic’s desire for vengeance seems very personal, and I wonder if that’s because she once served under Picard’s command. In short, Picard has no shortage of “victims” from his tenures in command of the Stargazer, the Enterprise-D, Enterprise-E, and the Romulan rescue fleet. While we know he always did everything he could to help his crew and see them make it safely home, a lot of people died, were injured, or went missing while serving.

Perhaps Captain Vadic was one such officer. She may blame Picard for being assimilated by the Borg, imprisoned by the Romulans, or being maimed by the Breen – and that’s why she wants to get revenge on him and his crew. This would explain why she appeared to be familiar with Picard, knowing not only his name but seemingly his personality, too.

For a few other ideas about who Captain Vadic might be, click or tap here.

Theory #11:
The super-synths are involved.

A portal above the planet of Coppelius.

This theory would tie together the events of Seasons 1 and 2 with Season 3. In short, I’ve suggested that Captain Vadic may be a devotee of the super-synths – the “alliance of synthetic life” outside of the Milky Way galaxy who left the beacon on Aia and kicked off the plot of Season 1. To add to this theory, I posited that the mysterious anomaly in Season 2 was also a super-synth creation, perhaps one designed to attack the Federation or to open up a gateway.

If Captain Vadic had encountered the beacon on Aia (or another similar beacon elsewhere), it could have driven her mad, as we saw it do to Zhat Vash initiates in Season 1. If Vadic became obsessed with the super-synths, instead of becoming obsessed with stopping them, she might blame Picard for preventing their arrival. Furthermore, she might be trying to open a new portal for them, and that could be what Picard and the crew need to stop.

I have two articles that go into a lot more detail on this theory. You can find part 1 by clicking or tapping here, and part 2 by clicking or tapping here.

Theory #12:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

The crew of La Sirena at the end of Season 1.

Although we’ve had it confirmed that most of the actors from Seasons 1 and 2 won’t be reprising their roles this time around, when I saw the masked crew of the Shrike I couldn’t help but wonder… could some of these people be Picard’s friends? Could that explain why Dr Crusher warned Picard to “trust no one” and simultaneously explain their absences?

It would be a stunning revelation indeed if, when the masks are inevitably removed, Picard and the crew find themselves confronting the likes of Soji and Elnor. Maybe this one is a no-hoper because of what we’ve been told by the actors involved… but you never know!

Theory #13:
The absences of main characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

The main cast of Picard Season 1 c. 2019.

If the likes of Soji and Elnor aren’t involved in any way – which seems all but certain to be the case – then it’s my firm hope that, somehow, their absences will be acknowledged. This one is perhaps more of a hope than a full-on theory… but I really don’t want Season 3 to just pretend that these characters don’t exist.

We’ve spent twenty episodes with these characters, or versions of them at least, and several of them played massive roles in the main storylines of Seasons 1 and 2. For Season 3 to just drop Laris, for instance, after she was absolutely central to kicking off the story last time, would be an unforgivable mistake – especially when we consider that Seasons 2 and 3 entered production back-to-back, with the same team working on both.

This doesn’t have to mean that Season 3 will be a direct continuation of Season 2, nor even that these characters will be discussed for very long or in a big way. But somehow, key absences need to be addressed for the sake of continuity – and I hope that will happen. The best time to do this would be in the premiere, but even if it comes later in the story I think it must be at least mentioned.

Theory #14:
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!

Denise Crosby as Sela in The Next Generation.

There have been theories and guesses from Trekkies for basically a whole year about which other characters from The Next Generation era could appear in Season 3. I don’t claim to know who might be included – but it feels like a pretty solid guess to say that someone from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and/or Voyager will put in an appearance.

This could be a simple cameo, or an appearance similar to those seen in episodes like Encounter at Farpoint and Caretaker. Or there could be a real hidden surprise, with a character basically joining Picard’s mission. We didn’t really know the extent of Seven of Nine’s involvement in Season 1 until it happened, nor the extent of Brent Spiner’s roles in Seasons 1 and 2… so there’s at least the possibility of some kind of big surprise!

Theory #15:
A spin-off will be announced.

Will Alex Kurtzman announce a new Star Trek project sometime soon?

This one is also much more of a hope than a theory, but it would be fantastic if a spin-off from Picard were to be announced before the season ends. At present, no new Star Trek projects are in production, and with Season 3 being Picard’s last, it seems like there could be an opening!

A Star Trek show set in this early 25th Century time period could pick up story threads from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or even Lower Decks and Prodigy, so there’s a lot of potential. A direct spin-off could follow Captain Shaw on the Titan, or Seven of Nine and Raffi, or could even bring back Elnor at Starfleet Academy. With the introduction of new characters in the La Forge family, one or both of them could also take a leading role in a new Star Trek production.

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, this era is where I’d love Star Trek to stay. It feels like there’s so much untapped potential in this time period, with many Trekkies wanting to return to characters, settings, and storylines from Star Trek’s “golden age.” I put together ten of my own 25th Century series concepts, and you can find that list by clicking or tapping here.

So that’s it!

The crew of the Enterprise-D are about to return!

Those are the main theories that I currently have in play as we get ready for Season 3. I fully expect the season premiere to shake up the theory list, so check back in the days ahead to see which theories get struck off and whether any new ones will join the party!

After I’ve watched The Next Generation on Friday, I’ll get to work on my episode review, so be sure to tune in for that in the next few days as well. I wish I wasn’t feeling quite so jaded and burned out… but after two mismanaged and disappointing seasons, Picard has a lot of work to do to impress me. Even if the premiere is fantastic, I think I’m still going to have those concerns and worries about mistakes being repeated. I want to have a good time with this show – and to craft a few theories as the season rolls along. I’ll try my best to judge Season 3 on its own merits and not get bogged down worrying and wondering!

As a final note: I always like to end these theory lists by saying that I do this just for fun. I enjoy writing, I enjoy Star Trek, and spending more time in this world is an escape and an enjoyable distraction for me. But for some folks, fan theories can become frustrating or unenjoyable, especially if they get very attached to a plausible-sounding theory that ultimately doesn’t pan out. I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything suggested above can, will, or must be part of Picard Season 3. I fully expect many of these theories to be debunked and for the season to go in wildly unpredictable directions!

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will premiere on Paramount+ in the United States on the 16th of February 2023, and on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom and around the world on the 17th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are already available to stream or buy on DVD/Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.