Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for the following Star Trek productions: The Wrath of Khan, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Nemesis, and Lower Decks.
Last year, shortly before Picard’s second season premiered, I put together a list of twelve Star Trek stories that I felt would make for good background viewing – and I was pleasantly surprised that most of the episodes and films that I selected actually did have some bearing on the story of the season, or at least would’ve given viewers some additional information as the story unfolded. Given my usual track record with theories and predictions, that was a bit of a surprise! But you know what they say: “even a broken clock is right twice a day!”
With Season 3 now less than three weeks away, I wanted to once again compile a few stories from Star Trek’s extensive back catalogue that I think could make for useful background viewing ahead of its premiere. At this stage last time around I felt we had a pretty good idea of the main narrative elements that would be present in Season 2: Q, the Borg Queen, and time travel had all been teased ahead of time, and comprised a big portion of the season’s story. This time, though, it feels like we don’t have as much information to go on!
As always, a couple of important caveats before we get started. First of all, I have no “insider information.” I’m not trying to claim that I know or have somehow clairvoyantly predicted the plot of Star Trek: Picard Season 3, and it’s quite possible that none of the stories we’re going to talk about will have any bearing whatsoever on the new season. Paramount is keeping a relatively tight lid on things this time around, and while we know which characters will be included, there’s still plenty that we don’t know! I’ve made a few guesses and assumptions – but I could be completely wide of the mark.
I’m calling the entries on this list “stories,” as several of these arcs play out across more than one episode. And I’ll be listing the stories in broadcast order – not in order of importance! It also goes without saying that Picard Seasons 1 and 2 are necessary viewing – so I’m not going to put them on this list.
Finally, all of this is the subjective opinion of one person. If I include episodes and films that you hate or think will be irrelevant, or I exclude something that seems blindingly obvious, please just keep in mind that this is only the opinion of one Trekkie – and that it’s meant to be a bit of fun!
With all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at a few Star Trek stories!
The Wrath of Khan
Although we’re unlikely to see any characters cross over from The Wrath of Khan – which is set more than a century before the events of Picard – ever since we got our first glimpse of the new season’s villain a few months ago, I’ve been wondering if we might see some of the same themes crop up. Captain Vadic is still shrouded in mystery right now, but she gives me a very strong Khan vibe, and her potential obsession with Picard and desire to seek revenge against him could take the story down a somewhat familiar path.
Ricardo Montalbán’s take on Khan is one of the most iconic villain performances not only in the Star Trek franchise, but in all of cinema. So if Season 3 is going to try to emulate that in some way, there are some very big shoes to fill! If Star Trek is going to return to this idea of a powerful villain on a quest for vengeance, it will definitely be worth stepping back to see the franchise’s first take on that concept. And maybe, just maybe, there could be something in the story about genetic engineering and augmentation, too!
The Next Generation Season 1
This one is a bit of a stab in the dark and it could go absolutely nowhere! But The Battle introduces us to DaiMon Bok, a Ferengi captain who holds a grudge against Picard. Years earlier, the USS Stargazer had come under attack by an unknown vessel, and Picard was able to defeat it before the ship was lost. Aboard that ship was Bok’s son, and the Ferengi has never forgiven Picard for causing his death.
Aside from the fact that this is another story that deals with the theme of revenge (and specifically, revenge against Picard), I can’t help but wonder whether Bok might make a surprise appearance in Picard Season 3. We’ve already seen that Captain Vadic has brought two of Picard’s old adversaries – Lore and Moriarty – onto her team, and I have no doubt that Bok would jump at the chance to join another mission against his old foe. If Captain Vadic has put together a “rogues’ gallery” of Star Trek villains, perhaps we’ll see Bok among them.
Datalore, Brothers, and Descent Parts I-II
The Next Generation
Lore only appeared in four episodes of The Next Generation, and I’m grouping them all together for this entry! Given that Brent Spiner is listed as a main character, I think it’s a safe assumption that Lore will play a significant role in the story of Season 3, so I think it will be absolutely worthwhile to see where he came from and what he went through prior to being shut down by Data.
Lore is Data’s “evil twin,” a malicious android who betrayed his creator and has caused a lot of harm. But especially by the time we got to the two-part episode Descent, I felt there was much more to the character than just a one-dimensional anti-Data or a foil for the crew of the Enterprise-D. Lore has a degree of complexity, and I’ll be curious to see what’s become of him when the new story gets underway.
I also have a theory about how Lore’s backstory could be connected to the events of Season 1, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.
Elementary, Dear Data and Ship in a Bottle
The Next Generation
Sticking with villainous characters, a huge surprise last year was that Daniel Davis will be reprising his role as the malevolent hologram Professor Moriarty. Moriarty was created by a computer error in Elementary, Dear Data and went on to kidnap Dr Pulaski. In Ship in a Bottle, Moriarty returned and tried to escape the confines of the holodeck. Both episodes are fascinating, and Davis’ portrayal of the iconic Sherlock Holmes character has a menacing calmness that’s absolutely riveting to watch!
Given what we know of holographic technology, and advances like the Doctor’s mobile emitter that was seen in Voyager, I wonder what kind of role Moriarty might play? He’s a genius, that much is certain, and he could cause Picard all kinds of trouble – as indeed he did in his earlier appearances!
Considering that both Professor Moriarty and Lore are both artificial life-forms, I have a theory that could connect the story of Season 3 with that of Seasons 1 and 2. Check it out by clicking or tapping here.
Redemption Parts I-II and Unification Parts I-II
The Next Generation
There have been rumours flitting about for months that Denise Crosby will appear in Picard Season 3, and while we have yet to get any official confirmation of this, if it’s true and she will return, it seems logical to assume that it will be in the role of Sela. Sela was the daughter of an alternate timeline’s version of Tasha Yar, and tangled with Picard on two occasions – trying to interfere in the Klingon Empire’s civil war and later attempting to conquer Vulcan.
As discussed above, if Captain Vadic is looking for allies in her campaign against Picard and/or the Federation, Sela would surely jump at the chance to be involved. Her failures were almost certainly very costly for her politically, and I can absolutely see her wanting to get her own revenge on Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. There’s also the possibility that Sela’s involvement in the story could connect with the Zhat Vash plot and other Romulan storylines from Season 1.
The Next Generation Season 5
Disaster is a fantastic episode that throws the whole crew of the Enterprise-D into a chaotic situation. When the ship strikes a quantum filament in space and is left damaged and without power, everyone has to step out of their familiar roles in order to save the day. Disaster is an ensemble piece that gives practically everyone something to do.
Disaster is one of the strongest episodes from Season 5 – which is perhaps my personal favourite season of The Next Generation, so that’s saying a lot! For our purposes today, I like that it’s an episode that throws everyone far out of their comfort zones, that it groups together characters who didn’t often interact with one another, and that it gives all of the main characters something to do to contribute to the story.
The Next Generation Season 7
There are several episodes that look at Picard and Dr Crusher’s relationship, but few are as detailed or emotional as Attached. What sounds like a silly sci-fi premise of being connected to one another by telepathic implants actually leads to a great story about the two characters and their emotional bond – a bond that has skirted friendship and something romantic.
One open question that fans have had really since Picard premiered three years ago is what may have happened between Picard and Dr Crusher over the past twenty years or more. It certainly seems as if they’re still friends based on what we’ve seen… but did they ever “cross that line” and become something more? Picard’s arc just last season ultimately turned out to be about his lack of romantic attachments, but you never know!
All Good Things…
The Next Generation Season 7
In some ways, All Good Things doesn’t really feel like a finale – and that makes sense given that Generations would release in cinemas only a few months after it was broadcast! But The Next Generation’s final episode is an interesting one, and when looking ahead to Picard Season 3, what’s perhaps its biggest draw is that parts of the episode are set in the same time period.
Q sets Picard the challenge of solving an “anti-time” mystery, and to facilitate that, Picard moves through three different time periods – including an alternate future in which we get a look at the show’s main characters. Events in Picard and other Star Trek projects have already undone much of the anti-time timeline, but some elements may make their way into this new story.
The Way of the Warrior
Deep Space Nine Season 4
Worf is about to make a big return to Star Trek – but unlike his crewmates, we’ve already seen the chapter of his life after he left the Enterprise! In Deep Space Nine’s fourth season, Worf transferred to the station, and the two-part episode The Way of the Warrior not only brought him on board, but did so in spectacular fashion.
The episode focuses on Worf’s inner conflict between his Klingon heritage and duties to Starfleet, as the Klingons plan a mission into the Gamma Quadrant. With Worf set to return, and promises of some kind of connection or tie-in with Deep Space Nine on the cards, I think seeing how he came to join the crew could be worthwhile.
In Purgatory’s Shadow and By Inferno’s Light
Deep Space Nine Season 5
This pair of episodes wrapped up the Klingon-Federation war that started in The Way of the Warrior, and set the stage for the Dominion War that would break out at the end of the season. It was also a strong Worf story that saw him held prisoner at a Dominion internment camp along with Martok, Garak, and Dr Bashir.
Since Star Trek returned to the small screen in 2017, we’ve only gotten the barest of mentions of the Dominion War – but there’s so much potential in a return to Cardassia, the Dominion, and to look at the aftermath of the conflict. As someone who was heavily involved in the war and who did so much to keep the Federation and Klingon Empire united, Worf is the perfect character to use to explore some of these points. We may learn nothing new about the aftermath of the Dominion War in Season 3… but I kind of hope that we will.
I know that Insurrection isn’t everyone’s favourite film, but I actually see several parallels with its story based on what we know of Season 3. Picard and his crew undertaking a “Starfleet-adjacent” mission, which may or may not have official approval, sounds an awful lot like what the crew got up to in Insurrection!
Furthermore, I noted in the Season 3 trailer a little while ago that one of the nebulae that Picard and the crew will seemingly visit looks an awful lot like Insurrection’s “Briar Patch” – the region of space in which the Ba’ku homeworld was located. Could there be a deeper connection there? Maybe Captain Vadic is a Son’a, one of the defeated adversaries from Insurrection. That would be a bold move in more ways than one!
Voyager Season 7
With the return of Professor Moriarty, a sentient hologram, I think it could be worth taking a look at Voyager’s seventh season episode Author, Author. The story focuses on the Doctor, who has written a holo-novel based very loosely on his experiences aboard Voyager – but when he wants to make changes to it, his publisher tries to deny him that right, claiming that a hologram cannot “own” the copyright to his work.
Author, Author may turn out to be ahead of its time given that right now, here in the real world, the question of AI authorship is being discussed! In light of AI art, AI essays, and the like, we’re going to have to take a serious look at this issue in the years ahead! But for our purposes, Author, Author could be an interesting starting point to consider the state of holographic rights and synthetic rights in a general sense in the late 24th and early 25th Centuries. Maybe none of it will matter for Professor Moriarty’s story, but given that Season 1 looked at a ban on synthetic life, there’s a chance some of the themes in the episode will turn out to be relevant.
Nemesis was the last time that Picard and his old crew were all together – at least as far as we know! It was certainly the last time that we as the audience got to see them working together, even if they may have reunited off-screen in the years before Season 1. So Nemesis, while arguably not the best Star Trek film, is going to be an important one to watch.
This is also Data’s final mission, as he was killed while stopping the Reman plot. A big part of Season 1 involved giving Data the send-off that he didn’t get in Nemesis, and his influence loomed large over the story in more ways than one. There are also mentions of Lore in the story, though nothing significant I suspect, and we’re introduced to B-4, an early precursor to Data. For all of those reasons and more, Nemesis is a story worth checking out.
Kayshon, His Eyes Open
Lower Decks Season 2
This might seem a bit of an odd choice, but Lower Decks actually showed us a bit of a look at Captain Riker’s tenure aboard the USS Titan – and the Titan, or at least a ship bearing the same name, is going to be seen in Season 3. In this episode, Lower Decks main character Boimler is serving aboard the Titan under Riker’s command, and takes part in an away mission to a dangerous planet.
When Kayshon, His Eyes Open premiered, I was thrilled to get a look at Riker, the Titan, and the crew he served with. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Season 3 make some kind of reference to Riker’s time in command, and there could even be name-drops of one or more of the characters in this episode. Season 1 already made reference to Star Trek’s animated adventures, and with this episode including Riker in such a large role, it would be a shame in a way if Season 3 just ignored it completely.
I have a full episode review of Kayshon, His Eyes Open – click or tap here to check it out!
So that’s it!
Those are fourteen Star Trek stories that I feel could make for interesting or useful viewing before Picard Season 3 kicks off.
If nothing else, all of the stories above are good fun, and worth re-watching for any Trekkie who may not have seen them in a while! With the story of Season 3 being kept under wraps, some of these picks are admittedly guesses – but I think that all of them have the possibility, at least, to connect with the story that lies ahead.
I’m cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season, despite Picard as a whole not having been as enjoyable as I’d hoped nor having accomplished what I’d wanted it to. There are reasons to be concerned – such as the disappointing decision to jettison all but one of the new characters that the series had introduced – but I’d be lying if I said that one more adventure with the crew of the Enterprise-D wasn’t a tantalising, enticing prospect.
When Picard Season 3 arrives next month, I’ll do my best to keep up with weekly episode reviews, and if the series lends itself to theory-crafting, I daresay I’ll put together some of my patented (and usually wrong) theories as well! So I hope you’ll stay tuned for that!
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will premiere on Paramount+ in the United States on the 16th of February 2023, and 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.