Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theories – week 1

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 GenerationDeep Space Nine, and Voyager.

With the first episode of Picard Season 3 under our belts, it’s time to update my theory list! If you read my review of The Next Generation (the episode, not the series!) then you’ll know I thought that the season got off to a solid start. Perhaps The Next Generation didn’t quite reach the same level as Season 1’s Remembrance or Season 2’s The Star Gazer, but it was enjoyable.

To my surprise, I must admit, none of the theories that were in place going into the season were outright destroyed by The Next Generation, meaning everything technically remains in play – though some theories are, as I said last time, pretty unlikely to pan out! There were a couple of new theories that I’ve concocted that will be added to the list – and one theory got confirmed right out of the gate. So that’s at least one check mark in the “win” column this season! Will it be the only one, though?

Dr Crusher firing her phaser rifle.

Although I generally enjoyed what The Next Generation brought to the table as the starting point for this new story, I do have a few concerns – especially having gone back to watch it a couple of times. First is the pacing. A couple of big story beats seemed to race past awfully quickly: Raffi’s Federation base being destroyed and Picard and Riker learning the identity of Dr Crusher’s shipmate. But at the same time, the episode didn’t feel like it made a ton of progress in terms of the main narrative arc of the season – I called it a contradiction in my review. Whether these points will be important or not as the season wears on… who can say? But after two seasons where pacing issues contributed to some major disappointments, I’m more keenly aware of this particular issue this time around!

But you can check out my review if you want more details on what I thought of the episode itself. You can find it by clicking or tapping here.

As always, we begin the theory list with confirmations and debunkings. No theories were debunked this week, and we have one confirmation, so before we get into the main list let’s take a look at that!

Confirmed theory:
Dr Crusher’s shipmate is her son.

Crusher Jr.

This character piqued my interest in pre-season trailers, and I wasn’t alone in speculating that he might be Dr Crusher’s son. Although she was unconscious in a medical pod and unable to completely confirm the connection, I think it’s safe to take him at his word. Crusher Jr. wasn’t named in the episode itself, but Paramount has since announced that his name is Jack – a reference to Beverly’s husband Jack Crusher, a friend of Picard who was killed while Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer.

This revelation has raised just as many questions as it answered, and with Crusher Jr. being on screen for only a couple of minutes right at the end of the episode, we didn’t get many answers. I have a theory about who his father may be – and we’ll look at that in a moment. For now, I’m claiming my first successful theory prediction of Season 3!

So that theory was confirmed.

Up next we’ll take a look at the main theory list, beginning with brand-new theories as well as any existing theories that saw significant movement this week. Finally we’ll wrap up by going over the theories that remain unchanged.

Theory #1:
Picard is the father of Crusher Jr.

Picard with another “son” in the episode Bloodlines.

In a series called “Star Trek: Picard,” a connection like this seems like it would be blindingly obvious! Not only that, but Picard’s past romantic relationship with Dr Crusher was referenced in this very episode, with Laris – Picard’s new partner – commenting on it. In addition, Crusher Jr. sports a similar accent to Picard, something that can be used in works of fiction to imply a familial tie between characters.

There also aren’t any other obvious candidates – at least, not among the main cast that we know of at this stage. Crusher Jr’s father clearly isn’t Worf or Geordi, nor could it be Data. That only leaves Riker – and as far as we know, he and Dr Crusher never bumped uglies. Although… Riker did indicate that his marriage has hit a rough spot. Could that be because Deanna figured out he and Crusher once had an affair? I think that’d be pretty silly!

Picard remains the obvious candidate for now, although there is another possibility.

Theory #2:
Crusher Jr. is related or otherwise connected to Vadic.

Captain Vadic and several of her crew.

We have no idea at this stage why the Shrike – which we assume is commanded by Captain Vadic at this point in the story, though that isn’t confirmed – is so intent on chasing Dr Crusher and Crusher Jr. specifically. If they wanted Picard, his retirement on Earth didn’t exactly appear to be something top-secret, so why go for Dr Crusher unless she is the subject of Vadic’s ire?

If so, perhaps the reason for Vadic being so obsessed with catching Dr Crusher is that she’s related to Crusher Jr. He could be a nephew or other close relative, or he could be the son of one of her crewmates. He could even be her child – though that seems like an outside possibility at best. In short, if Crusher Jr’s father is someone on Vadic’s crew, that could explain why she’s chasing them: she wants to reclaim her family member.

Obviously this theory and the one above can’t both be true. If you asked me to place a bet, I’d definitely say that Picard being the father is the most likely outcome based on what we know so far – but this possibility exists right now, and I wanted to acknowledge it.

Theory #3:
Worf is Raffi’s “handler.”

Promo photo of Worf.

Raffi’s storyline didn’t get quite enough time centre-stage for my liking, but what we saw was intriguing. Raffi is working undercover, trying to track a stolen weapon in the seedy underworld of the Star Trek galaxy that we see so rarely. As part of her assignment, she has a handler – a higher-ranking intelligence officer with whom we saw her communicate.

There are several reasons to think that this character may be Worf. Firstly, we saw a couple of clips of the two of them on what seemed to be the underworld planet in pre-season trailers. Secondly, pre-season character bios released by Paramount stated that Raffi’s location was “unknown” and that Worf’s was “classified.” Finally, the handler Raffi spoke with used the word “warrior” to describe her – a term we’ve often associated with Worf and heard him use.

If Worf is Raffi’s handler, all I can say is that I hope there’s a reason for keeping his role a secret!

Theory #4:
The Borg are involved.

The Borg have already been seen in Star Trek: Picard

Several moments in this week’s episode referenced or called back to the Borg – and while we know that Captain Vadic is set to star as the season’s primary antagonist, there’s still the possibility of Borg involvement in some shape or form. First of all, Dr Crusher was reviewing one of Picard’s logs from his first engagement with the Borg in The Best of Both Worlds. Secondly, Riker referenced Picard’s assimilation experience, and used what he remembered from rescuing him from the Borg in that same episode to decode part of Dr Crusher’s message – something Picard wouldn’t have been able to do on his own as he wasn’t privy to that information at the time. Finally, Captain Shaw seems to have a major chip on his shoulder about the Borg, talking down to both Seven and Picard about their status as ex-Borg.

These could be nothing more than references – little callbacks to Star Trek’s past that are there to tie the events of this story into the franchise’s past. And that’s totally okay if that turns out to be the case! But it’s at least possible, in my view, that some greater Borg connection is going to be revealed. Remember, Season 2 introduced us to a new Borg faction… and the mysterious anomaly that they were intent on stopping is still unexplained.

Theory #5:
Captain Shaw lost someone to the Borg.

The Battle of Sector 001.

Why is Captain Shaw so anti-Borg? Sure, we know that the Borg are a threat to Starfleet and the Federation… but it feels like there’s more to it than that. His treatment of Seven and the way he aggressively challenged her and Picard about being former Borg made it seem personal to him, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s come up against the Borg in the past.

Captain Shaw seems old enough to have been in Starfleet certainly by the time of First Contact, and the Battle of Sector 001 took a toll on Starfleet. Did Captain Shaw lose a friend, a shipmate, a relative, or even an entire crew that day? Or did he find himself facing off against the Collective on some other occasion? Perhaps he was responsible for relocating the survivors of the Artifact after the events of Picard Season 1.

Theory #6:
The absences of characters from Seasons 1 and 2 will be explained.

Cadet Elnor at the end of Season 2.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Laris was included in The Next Generation, and while she won’t have a big role in the story of the season, it was great that the story didn’t just dump her as it raced ahead. Due to her importance to the story of Season 2, Laris was perhaps the character who I felt it was most important to include in some way, and I’m glad we got to see her.

But there are still several characters from Seasons 1 and 2 who haven’t been mentioned. Elnor and Soji could easily be name-dropped; a line or two of dialogue could clear up where they are, what they’re doing, and why they can’t join Picard on his current mission. The Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid is a bit more complicated; her self-appointed role as “guardian” of the mysterious anomaly makes it a bit harder to just wave away her disappearance.

I hope we’ll get something that will acknowledge these characters’ absences. All were important in the first two seasons of the show, and simply abandoning them without any kind of goodbye was disappointing at the end of Season 2. If Season 3 could do something to rectify that, I’d appreciate it!

Theory #7:
Captain Shaw will be killed.

Captain Liam Shaw.

I half-expected Captain Shaw to meet his demise in the season premiere – but it didn’t happen! With Seven of Nine having disobeyed orders, and the Titan now outside of Federation space with an imposing enemy vessel close by, that could still happen – and soon! But it’s also worth noting that Captain Shaw appears to be a more nuanced and potentially complex character than I’d initially expected. His anti-Borg prejudice is just one aspect of his characterisation, and this by-the-book, rather acerbic captain may have a bigger role to play than I thought at first.

Regardless, if for no other reason than pure practicality, I think he has to be gotten rid of… right? How can the Titan operate with a disloyal first officer, an ex-Admiral, and at least one other captain on board? From a story perspective it just seems cluttered, and while I hope we learn more about Captain Shaw and his past, I still don’t see him making it all the way to the end of the season.

Theory #8:
The Titan’s crew will mutiny.

The USS Titan in Spacedock.

An unpleasant man like Captain Shaw can’t be nice to serve under, and with another captain and an admiral on board who have already butted heads in a big way, perhaps the crew of the Titan will mutiny against Shaw. Shaw could be locked in the brig with Picard, Riker, and Seven taking over on the bridge. This would leave open the possibility of Shaw continuing to play a role and interact with the rest of the characters… but without getting in the way.

We didn’t spend much time with the Titan’s crew, but Seven and Ensign La Forge would surely side with Picard and Riker if it came to that. Perhaps the other bridge officers might feel the same way, especially if Captain Shaw treats the rest of them as badly as he treats Seven of Nine!

So those theories are new or saw movement this week.

Finally, so as to keep everything in one place, we’ll recap all of the other theories that are currently in play. This week’s outing didn’t move the needle on any of these theories in a significant way – though we could argue that the total absence of any mention of certain characters, factions, etc. is indicative of the fact that they won’t appear this season. But I’m content to keep them all in play for now!

Theory #9:
A spin-off will be announced.

Alex Kurtzman is in charge of the Star Trek franchise for Paramount.

This one is just as much a hope as it is 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 GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, 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.

Theory #10:
There will be at least one unannounced character returning!

Could it be DaiMon Bok?!

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 GenerationDeep 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 #11:
Several members of La Sirena’s crew have joined Captain Vadic.

La Sirena in this week’s episode.

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 #12:
The super-synths are involved.

The super-synths’ mechanical noodles.

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 #13:
Captain Vadic once served on Picard’s crew.

Could Vadic have served under Picard’s command?

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 #14:
At least one main character will be killed.

A Starfleet coffin, adorned with the flag of the Federation.

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 #15:
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 #16:
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 #17:
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 #18:
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 #19:
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 #20:
Someone on Picard’s crew will turn out to be an imposter.

The crew of The Next Generation in Season 5.

Two lines from the trailers leapt out at me: Dr Crusher warning Picard to “trust no one,” and her son 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.

So that’s it!

Admiral Picard “inspecting” the crew of the Titan…

Those are all of the theories currently in play as we await the second episode of the season. So far, I’ve found quite a few things in Season 3 to speculate about – but as the story progresses, I expect we’ll begin to strike some of them off the list! Even when Picard hasn’t been at its best it’s still been a series that lends itself to this kind of theory-crafting and speculation, so hopefully there will be new theories to come in the weeks ahead.

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 Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the service is available, and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. 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.