Star Trek: Picard Episode Review – Season 3, Episode 7: Dominion

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

Dominion was undeniably a fun, fast-paced, exciting episode; a thrill ride that kicked Picard’s third season into a higher gear as the plot builds to its climax. It was also an episode that shone a light in some very dark places, and did what Star Trek has always done so well: used its science-fiction setting to think about some of the issues facing us out here in the real world.

Having sat with Dominion for a couple of days, though… it isn’t actually an episode that I particularly enjoyed. It had some explosive moments of action, some engrossing moral quandaries, a sequence between two of my favourite characters from The Next Generation that was tense and emotional, and was backed up all the way by some great writing and some truly outstanding acting performances. But I didn’t actually like much of what the episode brought to the table from a narrative standpoint.

The USS Titan in a scrapyard.

As we discussed last week, the decision to resurrect Data is not one that I would have made. There are some deceased Star Trek characters who, for one reason or another, didn’t get a proper send-off – and I argued just last year that the main characters from Seasons 1 and 2 of Picard are themselves in that category. But Data, more so than practically any other Star Trek character, had been laid to rest. His resurrection not only undid all of that, but it takes away one of the few successful moments from the finale of Season 1 – one of the very few threads keeping the ending of that season together.

And this week, I’m sorry to say that despite incredible performances from both Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton as they wrangled with Data’s apparent return… this storyline hasn’t yet justified itself. I can buy technobabble explanations in Star Trek for all manner of things – that comes with the territory in sci-fi. But you have to admit that few characters in the franchise had been killed as definitively – and as often, in different ways – as Data, so any rebirth or resurrection has a significant obstacle to overcome. I wouldn’t have even attempted it – the technobabble excuse feels like something straight out of fan-fiction – but now that it’s happened, there has to be some kind of narrative or storytelling justification for it. And there isn’t.

The resurrection of Data (and Lore) continues to be a drag on the story.

The resurrection of Data has also brought back Lore – and Lore’s intervention this week led to a storytelling trope that I’ve never enjoyed: the “heroes’ base is captured and they’re all taken prisoner” cliché. Discovery did this a couple of seasons ago, we’ve seen it in Deep Space Nine, too, and on countless other occasions in sci-fi and beyond. To me, these storylines always feel so incredibly forced, as if a particularly uncreative writer couldn’t find a better way of adding tension to a story. And that’s how Vadic’s capture of the Titan feels to me.

If the premise underlying this takeover was stronger, perhaps some of that frustration would’ve melted away. But it came about as a combination of a poorly-defined plan from Picard and Dr Crusher – a plan that was executed terribly, too – and Lore’s shenanigans. What was already a disappointingly overused trope ended up feeling even less appealing as a result.

Vadic in the captain’s chair of the USS Titan.

I’ve never been much of a Lore fan. The “evil twin” angle was an interesting one in some ways… but even after a mere four appearances in The Next Generation, spread out over several years… Lore had already worn out his welcome, at least for me. He’s as one-dimensional as they come, feeling akin to a Mirror Universe character in some respects, and I’ve just never found him to be of much interest. Stories in which he would attempt to take Data’s place or convince his brother to betray his friends just never stood out to me as being among The Next Generation’s best.

And I think I should be up-front about that – I have a bias against this character that’s been running for some thirty years or more! When it was teased that Lore would play a role this season, this feeling being dragged back up is precisely what I feared would happen – and so it proved in Dominion. As we’ve said in earlier episodes about Vadic: a villain needs some kind of motivation. Lore is “evil for the sake of it,” and I find that deeply unsatisfying. It was unsatisfying in The Next Generation and it was unsatisfying in Dominion, too.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of stories that included Lore.

The saving grace on this side of the story should’ve been Geordi – and the wonderfully emotional performance that LeVar Burton put in as Geordi tried to reach out to his long-dead friend. Burton deserves an award for his scenes this week, as they were absolutely riveting to watch. In fact, in just two episodes, Geordi has quickly become one of the best characters in Picard, and LeVar Burton has been hitting all of the right notes consistently. But it’s a scene that just… didn’t need to happen, at least not this way.

We’ve basically had this conversation and this scene before: it came between Data and Picard at the end of Season 1. Geordi’s reunion with Data, and his attempt to reach out to him and break through Lore’s control, feels like a rehashing of those conversations between Picard and Data. In spite of what has to be one of the single best acting performances in all of modern Star Trek, these scenes just don’t add much to the story. Geordi could have expressed his sorrow at Data’s death to Picard, or to Altan Soong if the character hadn’t been unceremoniously killed off. Bringing back Data still isn’t sitting right with me.

This was a masterful performance from LeVar Burton.

I’ve talked before about the “snowball” in media criticism: a few big or fundamental criticisms of a story get things rolling, and before you know it, the “snowball” is picking up speed, finding more and more elements of a narrative to pick on and single out for criticism. And because of how the Data-Lore resurrection has landed for me, I find myself pulling at threads on this side of the story that would have probably passed unnoticed otherwise.

For example: how was Lore able to break out and effectively seize control of the ship? The answer seems to be “because plot,” and that’s just never a very satisfying explanation – especially given the high stakes. It’s hard to see how Vadic would have been able to take control of the ship had Lore not intervened, so the main thrust of Dominion’s narrative now appears to unfold thanks to a succession of unlikely, unpredictable coincidences one after another.

Lore’s escape wasn’t well-explained.

Alright, enough about my gripes about Data’s resurrection and my dislike of Lore! There’s no denying that LeVar Burton’s performance this week was outstanding, and when watching his big emotional scene with Data in particular, it was easy to put all of those concerns and criticisms out of my mind. Burton has made this older, more mature version of Geordi a real tour de force, and he’s brought far more to the table than I could have expected. If there are to be any future Star Trek projects set in this time period, they’d damn well better find a way to include Geordi – because I’m not ready to say goodbye!

It made sense for Geordi to be the one working with the Data-Lore golem, given his experiences with Data in The Next Generation, and I felt the setup for this story was handled about as well as it could’ve been. Geordi’s line that this golem is significantly more complicated than Data was also a helpful bit of exposition! Given that we’ve heard these new generation synths referred to as “flesh-and-blood” creations, maybe Dr Crusher, not Geordi, should have been examining the golem? Food for thought, at least!

Geordi was working on the Data-Lore golem.

I have to admit that I was sceptical about Mica Burton – LeVar Burton’s real-life daughter – playing Geordi’s on-screen daughter Alandra. I’d been vaguely familiar with Mica Burton’s work as a presenter from Star Trek Day a couple of years ago, and her stint on a YouTube gaming channel a couple of years before that. But I felt that she was untested as an actor, having only had a couple of bit-parts before now. This felt to me like “stunt casting;” bringing an actor into the series not on merit, but due to a combination of her parentage and a desire to make headlines. A “nepo baby,” to use some contemporary slang.

And… well, I’m not wrong about that. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that Mica Burton has put in two solid, perfectly creditable performances in the episodes in which she’s appeared so far. The character of Alandra La Forge, while not exactly front-and-centre, adds something to this story, and has given Geordi both an assistant and a dependent, all while managing to feel like a rounded character in her own right. We’ve started to see some great things from Sidney La Forge over the last couple of episodes – and I hope that there will be time before the season ends to give Alandra a moment in the spotlight, too.

Geordi and Alandra La Forge.

Before we get into other big stories, let’s talk briefly about another surprising character: Tuvok! Or should that be “the changeling formerly known as Tuvok,” because after what had been a great sequence between Tuvok and Seven of Nine, this character reunion was ripped apart. It was dramatic and exciting – but perhaps not how I’d have chosen to bring back an actor for what may turn out to be their final Star Trek appearance.

As a moment of pure shock value, I think the revelation that Tuvok was a changeling worked incredibly well. And I’m holding out hope that the real Tuvok might make an appearance before the end of the season – I mean, the changelings have to be keeping all of these prisoners alive somewhere, right? Maybe we should save the speculation on that for my next theory update!

The changeling formerly known as Tuvok.

It was a bold move to bring back a character in this way, perhaps even more so than killing off the likes of Hugh and Icheb in Season 1. Tuvok was a main character for all seven seasons of Voyager, and aside from a tiny voiceless cameo in Lower Decks last year, this is the first time we’ve seen him since. Bringing back Tim Russ to play a changeling imposter feels like a very brave call – one that could’ve backfired. I think Dominion managed to make it work, though – and it was a real twist to bring back Tuvok and seem to set him up as an ally, only to rip it away mere moments later in the same sequence.

I’d love to see more from Tuvok, though – and get a genuine reunion with Seven of Nine. In a story with Worf, there’s also scope to put these two characters together. Worf and Tuvok were both security chiefs and tactical officers – but they were very different characters who had conflicting approaches to the role! Even now that Worf has entered his transcendental meditation phase, it could still be a lot of fun to put him together with Tuvok for a scene or two. A Trekkie can dream, eh?

The scene between Seven and Tuvok was bold… and a lot of fun.

Speaking of Worf, he was absent this week – along with Raffi, Riker, and Troi. There are now only three episodes left for Deanna Troi to make any kind of impact on the story, having had only a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos so far, so I really hope that she’ll have something major to say and do soon.

Despite being billed as a reunion for the characters, there hasn’t yet been a single scene or sequence in which Picard and his old crew are back together – with different characters or pairs of characters largely in their own narrative boxes, not really interacting with one another. Before the season is over, I hope that there will be something for everyone to do – but perhaps more importantly, their effort to stop Vadic and the rogue changelings should feel like a collaborative effort. In Season 2, splitting up the main characters for much of the story led to a number of issues – and I sincerely hope that won’t be the case this time around. But it’s noteworthy, at this stage, that the promised reunion still hasn’t materialised, and that several main characters haven’t gotten as much to do as I’d hoped.

Is Riker, as the changeling claimed, already dead?

As Jack’s superpowers continue to manifest, it’s now more than obvious that there’s more going on with him than we’ve learned so far. This week, we saw him “take over” Sidney La Forge, using his newfound combat skills to defeat a nameless goon who appears to serve as Vadic’s second-in-command.

This sequence, by the way, was exceptionally well choreographed. It must have been one heck of a challenge for actors Ed Speleers and Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut (or their stunt doubles) to perform these difficult acrobatic moves in total synchronisation, but the way it came across on screen was just fantastic. Few sequences in modern Star Trek have managed to feel truly new – but this was something that the franchise hasn’t ever done before, at least not as far as I can remember! It was fantastic to watch, and while it may not have been the most intense action sequence ever brought to screen, it was incredibly clever – and it marks the beginning of a new phase in the stories of both of these characters.

This sequence was exceptional.

The exciting and beautifully choreographed fight was almost enough to make me forget the horrible contrivances that led to it. Almost! I stand by what I said before: Lore’s involvement in this story, messing with forcefields and transporters at precisely the right moment, was one heck of a contrivance. While we got an exciting sequence with Jack and Sidney as a result, that alone isn’t enough to justify it – and too many forced coincidences like this make for a particularly weak narrative foundation.

As the fight simmered down, one moment really stuck with me. As Sidney looked at Jack, she had a mixture of fear and shock in her eyes; that moment, as Sidney realised that she’d just been – for want of a better term – “possessed” by Jack, was exceptionally well done. Once again, Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut excelled.

Dominion was a great episode for Sidney La Forge’s characterisation.

There was potential in the “let’s lure the baddie into a trap” idea that was posited by Dominion, but it quickly fell apart. The writing on this side of the story failed to set up a narratively coherent plan, and when we’re dealing with experienced officers like Picard, Seven, Dr Crusher, and even Captain Shaw, the fact that their plan was so flimsy, and fell apart so easily, doesn’t make for a satisfying presentation. There were other ways to have Vadic commandeer the Titan – if that was the episode’s required outcome – without going through this long and convoluted rigamarole.

Splitting up their forces, having poorly-armed ensigns with little combat experience literally running around the deserted hallways of the ship, and allowing the much more powerful Shrike to transport a group of changelings aboard the Titan are all indicators of a poorly-formulated – and poorly-written – plan, one that was clearly written in order to arrive at a particular outcome. Some of the specifics of this plan feel incredibly flimsy, too: where did the Titan’s crew acquire the wreck of a Vulcan ship, and how were they able to convince Vadic of its authenticity?

This plan was neither well-conceived nor well-executed.

All of this, however, led to two interesting revelations about Vadic. The smaller revelation concerns the character I’ve dubbed Floaty McFloatface (Star Trek: if you don’t want fans to give silly names to your characters and factions, name them yourself). It now seems as if Floaty McFloatface may not be a changeling – or at least, not the same kind of changeling as Vadic herself. We won’t get too deep into speculation here – and I’ve been wrong about Vadic and Floaty McFloatface before – but suffice to say that there’s a complexity to their relationship that was spoken to, albeit rather briefly, this week.

I’ve been saying for weeks that we need to spend more time with Vadic, and to come to understand what’s been driving her all this time. It still seems as if Vadic’s desire to capture Jack Crusher stems from orders from Floaty McFloatface – and not, as Picard and Dr Crusher repeatedly assumed, in order to steal his DNA to make a copy of Picard. But we found out a lot more in Dominion about where Vadic came from – and it was in equal parts incredibly dark and absolutely riveting.

Vadic and Floaty McFloatface have a difficult relationship.

By coincidence, I’ve recently been re-watching Ken Burns’ documentary The Vietnam War, and with all the talk this week of torture and rogue military operations, I felt echoes of that conflict – as well as more recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think we can absolutely see Vadic’s story in Dominion as a cinematic response to American foreign policy over the past few decades, and a reflection of how the country is coming to terms – or failing to come to terms, in some cases – with its own recent history.

One of the lessons of Vietnam that was sadly not learned by the time of Afghanistan was an oft-repeated line that America was “creating its own enemies.” Every house burned down, every village raided, every bomb dropped… all of these things created more Viet Cong or Taliban fighters, and this is the lens through which I see Vadic’s story. By torturing and experimenting upon Vadic and the other changelings – implied to be the crew of the Shrike – Starfleet has inadvertently created another enemy for itself.

Starfleet (or Section 31, at least) is responsible for making Vadic into the villain she became.

However, there are a couple of queries I have about this revelation. They aren’t yet “problems,” let alone “plot holes,” but parts of this backstory for Vadic seem to come dangerously close to contradicting what we know of the rogue changelings and their scheme from earlier episodes. Worf, for example, specifically told us that this group of changelings had departed the Great Link following a schism, implying that these rogue changelings may be those who rejected Odo’s path of peace.

Secondly, the number of changelings involved in this conspiracy feels massively inflated based on what Vadic told us. She said that she was one of ten changelings being experimented upon, yet there are clearly far more than that. We’ve already seen at least seven killed – and that doesn’t account for Vadic and her crew. While she did say that she could pass along the abilities that she had developed to other changelings, it still doesn’t seem to add up. Ro seemed to think that all of Starfleet was compromised, and that there could be changeling infiltrators aboard multiple ships. If the original group consisted of just ten members, where have all the others come from?

Vadic and her crew.

I’ve always felt that there was a conscious effort on the part of the writers and producers of Deep Space Nine to present the Dominion War as a conflict akin to the Second World War – something we see quite prominently in the show’s finale at the signing of the Treaty of Bajor. But there were definitely Vietnam War influences during Deep Space Nine’s run, too. Episodes like Change of Heart, which prominently featured a “jungle” setting, spring to mind – as does The Siege of AR-558, which was directed by Vietnam veteran Winrich Kolbe.

But there was an even darker tone to the story Vadic told us this week, something that echoed less the Afghanistan War and more the human experiments performed in concentration camps. We’ve always known that Section 31 was willing to go to extreme lengths on behalf of the Federation – even violating Federation law. But when we saw the virus they created in Deep Space Nine, we only saw its effects. This time, we saw the process – the torture that Vadic and her fellow changelings endured.

Vadic’s torturer.

Since its emergence in Deep Space Nine more than twenty years ago, Section 31 hasn’t sat right with a lot of Trekkies – and I get that. This organisation is about as far from Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a more idealistic and enlightened humanity as it’s possible to get. But the idea that Section 31 represented has always been a fascinating one for me: that there’s someone in the background, working behind the scenes, to preserve the enlightened future that humanity has struggled to build. Section 31 sees itself as defending the Federation – even if it has to violate every single Federation principle and law in the process.

In this case, the question is perhaps a bit less interesting. It feels a lot easier to say that Vadic’s torture was wrong – because it was ultimately unnecessary. It was designed, at least according to Vadic, to allow the creation of a weapon – changelings who could bypass all the typical tests and who would report to Section 31 and Starfleet. The virus, in contrast, has always posed much more of an interesting moral question: when faced with conquest and possible extinction, should that kind of biological weapon be off the table?

The experiments that Section 31 performed were intended to create a weaponised changeling.

It’s easy to condemn Vadic’s torturer – and by extension, to feel a pang of sympathy for what Vadic herself has been through. There’s no denying that Vadic is a far more complex and interesting character coming out of Dominion than she was before the episode began – and that’s a good thing. We don’t need to agree with a villain or sympathise with them to understand them – but in order to really get invested in their story, we need something to give them motivation and to explain who they are. Vadic had been lacking this all season long – but we finally got the details this week, and it puts her characterisation into context.

The one disappointing thing, though, is that Vadic lacks any meaningful connection to Picard – and to anyone else on the crew, for that matter. Her torturer was a nameless Section 31 operative, she wasn’t even involved in the Dominion War as far as we can tell, and she certainly didn’t know Picard or any of the others prior to this conspiracy getting underway. They’ve definitely formed an adversarial relationship – but it comes quite late in the story. Contrast this with the likes of Khan or Gul Dukat: characters who had burning, passionate hatred for their Starfleet adversaries.

We know a lot more about Vadic now.

In a series called Star Trek: Picard, that could be the missing piece. In both Seasons 1 and 2, for better or worse, Picard was at the centre of the story. The Zhat Vash conspiracy disrupted Picard’s armada, and he was the one to unravel it years later. Picard’s relationship with Q led to the whole Confederation/time travel plot. And while Vadic’s determination to kidnap/capture Picard’s son gives her some kind of connection to him… I’m still not feeling the personal side of it.

I will say, though, that we’ve seen moves in that direction not just this week, but over the past several episodes. As Picard has gotten deeper into the conspiracy, his determination to do anything to stop it has grown. And there are personal stakes for him: the death of Ro, the capture of Riker, and the threat to the son he didn’t know that he had. All of those things are positive, and while we still don’t have all of the details, we have more than enough to understand Picard’s decision-making process – and his ability to cross a line that we might never have expected him to cross.

Dominion presented Picard with a moral dilemma.

Star Trek has a fantastic collection of morality tales going all the way back to The Original Series. But for me – and I daresay for many fans of my generation, too – fewer hit harder than Deep Space Nine’s Season 6 classic In The Pale Moonlight. That episode, told through flashbacks and a frame narrative, sees Captain Sisko wrangling with breaking all of the rules in order to manipulate an outcome that he and the Federation needed. It was life-or-death, and Sisko took it upon himself to place the Federation’s survival ahead of his conscience – and ahead of following the law.

Dominion sees Picard and Dr Crusher confront the same basic moral quandary. There are laws against the killing of prisoners – yet killing Vadic (and unbeknownst to them, Floaty McFloatface too) would have thrown a spanner in the works of the conspiracy ahead of its targetted date of Frontier Day. We see them agonise over the decision, especially in light of Vadic’s backstory… but they ultimately decide to go for it.

Picard and Dr Crusher ultimately decide to break the law – and their own moral code.

Dominion tries to present this as a choice with a time-limit – it will only be a matter of time before Vadic escapes or before someone breaks her out, so they have to decide relatively quickly. The episode also worked hard to show how conflicted Picard in particular felt about violating one of the foundational laws of war. And in the moments we got with Picard and Dr Crusher, this question of morality versus practicality worked well, and I could feel through the screen how painful it was for Picard to even have to consider a course of action like this.

However, this side of the story was split up at points by Jack and Sidney running around the hallways of the Titan, and by Geordi and Alandra working on Lore and the ship’s systems. I’m not sure that Dominion dedicated enough time to what was meant to be the key dilemma for the show’s title character – because after Vadic had explained where she came from and we’d gotten all of the other scenes and sequences with other characters… the ultimate decision seemed to be reached by Picard and Dr Crusher pretty quickly. It felt, in that moment, as if they’d already decided what they were going to do before we saw them confirm it.

This moment was arrived at rather quickly.

And I’d also like to point out another unenjoyable trope that came out of this side of the story. We saw in Seventeen Seconds a few weeks ago how easily Worf was able to kill a changeling in their liquid state. Seven and Jack were also able to relatively easily kill changelings in their humanoid states, too. But this week – as soon as it became convenient for the story – both Vadic and her second-in-command were able to survive multiple phaser blasts under what appeared to be similar circumstances.

There was a pathway to allow both characters to survive without doing this, and it’s really just a worn-out cliché at this point. There was some fantastic acting and choreography on both sides of the story here – but it all led to such a bland and oft-repeated outcome.

The old “you thought he was dead” cliché…

And I guess that last line kind of encapsulates my thoughts on Dominion as a whole, really. Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, and LeVar Burton all absolutely excelled… with the material that they had in the confines of a fairly uninspired story. This was a tense, exciting episode that moved along the plot on the Titan – while ignoring the stories of Worf, Raffi, Riker, and Troi – but that just didn’t take the season’s main narrative to a particularly exciting or original place.

There was scope to make more of Dominion, and there’s a risk, I fear, that its “captured starship” outcome will be easily undone next week, rendering much of the episode a bit… well, pointless. I’m glad we got to learn more about Vadic, and to put her conspiracy and quest into some kind of personal context for her. That was desperately needed as the season passes its three-quarter point. And there were some wonderful performances along the way, both in terms of acting and in terms of a well-choreographed sequence that felt like something new to Star Trek. But overall, I’m not thrilled with where the story went this week.

The Shrike and the Titan.

With three episodes left, there’s still plenty of time for Season 3 to recover, to deepen its mysteries, and to throw in some more twists and turns. And despite my criticisms, I don’t hate Dominion. It told the story it wanted to tell about as well as it possibly could. It can be hard to judge mid-season episodes fairly when the final destination is still unclear – and it’s to Dominion’s credit, in some respects, that the story’s endgame is still obscured through a thick narrative fog.

So I’m trying to stay positive! I’m loving the fact that we’re getting a look at some familiar faces from Star Trek’s past, that Section 31 is in play, and that it feels like Picard is finally taking a look at the broader state of the galaxy in this 25th Century time period. Dominion also put a morality question at its heart, harkening back to some of my favourite complex episodes from Star Trek’s past. There’s potential to build on what was delivered here – and maybe to take the story to a more enjoyable place next time!

A few scattered final thoughts:

  • Repeated mentions of Admiral Janeway – could she appear in the season finale?
  • Vadic didn’t confirm what she wanted with Picard’s corpse… but a look in her eye seemed to suggest he was wrong in his assumption.
  • I’m sure that Geordi’s partner won’t appear now… but I hope it isn’t supposed to be Leah Brahms!
  • Jack is wielding a 23rd Century phaser pistol – which is pretty cool!
  • Tuvok has been promoted – good for him!
  • Captain Shaw is, to my immense surprise, still alive.
  • A reference to the Chin’Toka system – the site of two major battles in Deep Space Nine – did not pass unnoticed!

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.

Star Trek Day roundup!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including the following upcoming series: Strange New Worlds Season 1, Picard Season 2, Lower Decks Season 2, Discovery Season 4, and Prodigy Season 1.

Yesterday was Star Trek Day! And in case you missed it, ViacomCBS held a live event that was streamed online and via Paramount+ showcasing and celebrating all things Star Trek! We’ll break down the big news in a moment, but first I wanted to give you my thoughts on the event as a whole.

This was the first big in-person event that many of the folks involved had been able to attend since 2019, and there was talk of the pandemic and its enforced disruption on the various shows that have been in production over the last couple of years. There was also a lot of positivity from presenters and interviewees not only about Star Trek – which was to be expected, naturally – but also about being back together and simply being able to hold a major event of this nature. The positivity of hosts Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton was infectious, and the event was much better for the role the duo played in hosting the panels and introducing guests.

Mica Burton and Wil Wheaton were great hosts.

That isn’t to say that Star Trek Day was entirely without problems, though. To be blunt, the event dragged on a bit too long (it ran to over three hours) and several of the panels and interviews were the worse for being conducted live instead of the pre-recorded, edited, and curated segments and panels we’ve had to get used to in the coronavirus era. Several of the guests seemed unprepared for what should’ve been obvious questions, and there were too many awkward silences and pauses while people gathered their thoughts and responded to the hosts. Such is the nature of live broadcasting – and it sounds rather misanthropic to criticise it!

During what I assume was an intermission on the main stage we were treated(!) to a separate pair of presenters on the red carpet reading out twitter messages and posts from the audience. This was perhaps the segment that dragged the most; one of the presenters even admitted to not being a regular Star Trek viewer (she hadn’t seen Discovery at all) so unfortunately this part of the show was less interesting as the pair were a little less knowledgeable about the franchise. If it had been made clear that this section of the broadcast was going to last as long as it did I might’ve taken a break as well!

This segment in the middle of the broadcast dragged on a bit.

Overall, though, despite running a bit too long and the ending feeling a little rushed (something we’ll talk about later), Star Trek Day was a success. It didn’t only look forward to upcoming projects like Strange New Worlds and Picard Season 2, but it looked back at every past Star Trek series, inviting members of the casts of those shows to talk about what made them – and the franchise – so great.

As a true celebration of all things Star Trek, the broadcast has to be considered a success. And although a pre-recorded event could’ve been edited and streamlined to cut to the more interesting parts and to give interviewees a chance to gather their thoughts, it was nice to see many of the folks we know and love from Star Trek back together and able to spend time in person with one another. Hosts Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton did a great job at making us as the audience feel included, as if we were there at Star Trek Day right along with them. For those few hours – even through awkward moments and segments that seemed to run a little too long – it felt like being a member of the Star Trek family. As someone with few friends, I appreciated that immensely. For those few hours last night – and yes, even though Star Trek Day didn’t start until 1:30am UK time I did stay up to watch it – I felt like I, too, was an honorary member of the Star Trek family, and that’s a feeling I would never have been able to get anywhere else.

Star Trek Day was a successful celebration of all things Trek!

Now then! Let’s talk about the various panels, trailers, and interviews. Over the coming days I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the announcements and trailers in more detail (as well as perhaps crafting a few of my patented and often-wrong theories), but for now I want to try to include an overview of everything that was included in Star Trek Day.

We’ll come to the biggest announcements and trailers at the end, but first I wanted to talk for a moment about the music. Star Trek Day had a live orchestra on its main stage, and we were treated to live renditions of Star Trek theme music past and present – as well as a medley that kicked off the event. I was listening to Star Trek Day on my headphones, and the music sounded beautiful. Composer Jeff Ruso (who composed the theme music to Discovery and Picard) picked up the conductor’s baton, and the medley he arranged was really an outstanding celebration of all things Star Trek.

Star Trek Day both began and ended with music, as Isa Briones (Star Trek: Picard’s Soji) sang her rendition of Irving Berlin’s 1926 song Blue Skies to close out the broadcast.

Isa Briones’ rendition of Blue Skies brought proceedings to a fitting end.

There were five “legacy moments” spread throughout Star Trek Day, and these celebrations of past Star Trek series were genuinely moving. Actors George Takei, LeVar Burton, Cirroc Lofton, Garrett Wang, and Anthony Montgomery spoke about their respective series with enthusiasm and emotion. Cirroc Lofton paid tribute to his on-screen dad Avery Brooks, talking about how Deep Space Nine showed a single dad balancing his work and family commitments. He also spoke about Deep Space Nine’s legacy as the first Star Trek show to step away from a starship and take a different look at the Star Trek galaxy.

The themes of diversity and inclusion were omnipresent in these legacy moments, and all five actors spoke about how Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry have promoted diversity since the very beginning. George Takei spoke about Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek, how sci-fi had previously been something often seen as just for kids, and how putting a very diverse cast of characters together was groundbreaking in the 1960s. It’s always amazing to hear George Takei speak, and even fifty-five years later he still has a grace and eloquence when speaking on these topics. As someone who has himself been at the forefront of campaigning for diversity and equality, he does so with a gravitas that few can match.

George Takei’s speech was outstanding.

Garrett Wang spoke about how Voyager could be a “refuge” for fans; a place to go where everyone could feel included and like they were part of the family. The way the show combined two crews was, I would argue, one of its weaker elements, but Wang looked at it through a different lens, and I can see the point about how Voyager put those folks in a difficult situation and brought them together to work in common cause. He also spoke in very flattering terms about Captain Janeway and Kate Mulgrew – who is returning to Star Trek very soon.

Anthony Montgomery was incredibly positive about Enterprise, and how the series embodied the pioneering spirit of exploration. I loved his line about how Enterprise, although it was a prequel recorded later than many other shows, laid the groundwork and filled in much of Star Trek’s previously unvisited stories and unexplained lore. Above all, he said, Enterprise was a “fun” show – and it’s hard to disagree! The orchestra concluded this speech with Archer’s Theme – the music heard over the end credits for Enterprise – which is a beautiful piece of music. If I were to remaster Enterprise I’d drop Faith of the Heart (which is a nice enough song, don’t get me wrong) and replace it on the opening titles with Archer’s Theme. The orchestra played it perfectly.

Anthony Montgomery spoke with passion and good humour about Enterprise.

LeVar Burton talked about The Next Generation, and how Star Trek was reinvigorated for a new era. The Next Generation was the first spin-off, and it came at a time when spin-offs didn’t really exist in the sci-fi or drama spaces, so it was an unknown and a risk. Burton also spoke about The Next Generation’s sense of family, and how Star Trek can be a unifying force in the world.

Far from being mere padding, the five legacy moments saw stars of Star Trek’s past pay tribute to the franchise and the shows they were part of. There were consistent themes running through all five speeches, particularly the theme of inclusion. Star Trek has always been a franchise that strives to include people who are “different” – people like myself. For many fans, that’s one of the things that makes Star Trek so great. To see some of the biggest stars acknowledge and celebrate that aspect of Star Trek was wonderful, emotional, and rather cathartic.

Cirroc Lofton paid tribute to Deep Space Nine and his on-screen dad Avery Brooks.

Each of the five actors spoke with love, positivity, and enthusiasm for the franchise that made them household names. Anthony Montgomery’s incredibly positive attitude in particular shone through – he was beaming the whole time and seemed genuinely thrilled to have been invited to speak and to celebrate Enterprise.

If Star Trek Day aimed to celebrate all things Star Trek, then the legacy moments went a long way to making that ambition a reality on the night. The speeches were pitch-perfect, as were the orchestral renditions of all five Star Trek themes, and I had an unexpectedly good time with these moments. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the programme listed on the website; I didn’t really have any expectations of what the legacy moments would include. They surprised me by being one of the most enjoyable, down-to-earth parts of a hugely entertaining evening.

Garrett Wang represented Voyager in the show’s legacy moment segment.

Let’s talk about news and announcements. That’s what you’re here for, right?! That was certainly what I was most interested in and excited for when I sat down to watch the Star Trek Day broadcast – though, as mentioned, I was taken aback by some of the other elements present that I wouldn’t have expected!

First, a non-announcement! Wil Wheaton interviewed the head of production on Star Trek, Alex Kurtzman, early on in the evening. Kurtzman didn’t have anything to say about the Section 31 series, nor about the upcoming Star Trek film due for release in 2023. However, he mentioned something that I found really interesting: a Starfleet Academy series or project. This isn’t anything close to an official announcement, of course, and he and Wil Wheaton talked about it in abstract terms. But a Starfleet Academy series has been something Star Trek has considered in the past; Gene Roddenberry was quite keen on a Starfleet Academy spin-off prior to developing The Next Generation. Watch this space, because it’s at least possible that a project centred around Starfleet Academy will get off the ground under Kurtzman’s leadership.

Alex Kurtzman seemed to tease that a Starfleet Academy project may be coming sometime soon!

There were no brand-new shows or films formally announced at Star Trek Day. While I wasn’t necessarily expecting such an announcement, and Kurtzman’s earlier statement that no new show will be worked on until the current crop have run their course would seem to exclude it, there are multiple pitches and projects that have been rumoured or talked about over the last few years. The Section 31 series was absent again, as mentioned, and that’s more bad news for a series that feels like it isn’t going to happen. There were also no mentions of the likes of Ceti Alpha V, Captain Proton, or Captain Worf – just some of the heavily-speculated or rumoured pitches believed to be floating around over at ViacomCBS.

We did get release dates or release windows for several upcoming seasons, though! After Lower Decks Season 2 draws to a close in mid-October there’ll be a couple of weeks with no Star Trek, but then Prodigy will be available (in the United States at least) from the 28th of October. Shortly thereafter, Discovery Season 4 will kick off – it will premiere on the 18th of November in the United States and on the 19th internationally. Finally, Picard Season 2 is scheduled to arrive on our screens in February next year – presumably shortly after the season finale of Discovery.

Prodigy is coming soon… if you live in the USA, anyway.

All of this is great news! There was no release date for Strange New Worlds, but I think we can assume it will follow within a few weeks at most of Picard Season 2, which would put it perhaps in May or June 2022 at the very latest. But there will be a whole lot of Star Trek on our screens this autumn and winter, well into the first half of next year. Wil Wheaton said it best: with so many new Star Trek projects in production, we’re living through a new golden age of Star Trek right now!

I was a little surprised when the Discovery panel ended without revealing a new trailer or teaser for Season 4. Michelle Paradise, Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio, and Ian Alexander talked about how the show is fostering a sense of family in the 32nd Century – and that we will see Gray get a “corporeal” body in Season 4 somehow, which is great! But I have to say I’d been expecting a new trailer; the show is only a couple of months away after all. Perhaps we’ll get that nearer to the time. There wasn’t any mention of Season 5 either, but it’s possible that announcement will come as the marketing campaign for Season 4 ramps up.

Wilson Cruz speaking during the Discovery panel.

Wilson Cruz seems like such a positive person in every interview I’ve ever seen him participate in, and he brought a lot of positive energy to the stage in Star Trek Day as well. There was talk of the Stamets-Culber relationship being revisited in Season 4, which is great – Stamets and Culber really form the emotional core of the show. He also spoke about how Dr Culber is embracing new roles in Season 4 – the role of counsellor to others aboard the ship as well as a parental role for Adira and Gray.

Gray’s storyline has the potential to be one of the most powerful in Discovery as the show moves into its fourth season. Being trans or gender-nonconforming can make one feel invisible – something I can speak to myself – and this is literally shown on screen by Gray’s invisibility. The powerful story of discovering how to be seen, and to do so with the help, encouragement, and support of one’s closest friends and family has the potential to be an exceptionally powerful story, one which I can already feel resonating with me. Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander spoke very positively about their on- and off-screen relationships, and they seem like they work exceptionally well together as a duo. I can’t wait to see what Season 4 will bring for them both.

Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander play Adira and Gray respectively. I’m greatly looking forward to their stories in Season 4.

I’ve already got a Prodigy theory! The show’s co-creators talked about how Prodigy Season 1 begins with the kids on a never-before-seen planet described as being “far removed and mysterious.” It sounds like we aren’t seeing a planet that the USS Voyager visited in the Delta Quadrant – something backed up by scenes seemingly set on that world in the trailer – and the USS Protostar appears to have crashed “inside” the planet. Did it crash during the final leg of Voyager’s journey home through the Borg transwarp network? Or perhaps during one of Voyager’s other flights – the space catapult from The Voyager Conspiracy or Kes’ telepathic launch in The Gift, for example. More to come on this, so stay tuned!

So we got a release date for Prodigy in the United States, but as I’ve said on a couple of occasions now it seems as though Prodigy isn’t going to be broadcast anywhere that doesn’t already have Paramount+. Considering that the series is a collaborative project between Star Trek and Nickelodeon (itself a ViacomCBS subsidiary), it should surely have been possible to secure an international broadcast on the Nickelodeon channel – a satellite/cable channel here in the UK and in many other countries. It’s a disappointment that, once again, ViacomCBS does not care about its international fans. It’s not as egregious a failing as it was with Lower Decks, because as a kids’ show Prodigy’s primary audience won’t really notice the delay. But for Trekkies around the world, to see Prodigy teased then find out we have no way to watch it is disappointing, and there’s no way around that.

The USS Protostar in flight.

Despite that, the Prodigy panel was interesting. Dee Bradley Baker, who voices Murf – the cute blob-alien – seems like he’s a real Trekkie and spoke about the franchise with passion. It was so much fun to see him perform Murf’s voice live, as well! Brett Gray, who will take on the role of young leader Dal, seemed overjoyed to have joined a franchise – and a family – with such a legacy, and I liked the way he spoke about how the young crew of the USS Protostar will grow as the season progresses.

The show’s co-creators – brothers Dan and Kevin Hageman – spoke about how Prodigy won’t be a series that talks down to children, but rather aims to be a series with plenty to offer for adults as well. The best kids’ shows manage this – and the Hagemans have received critical acclaim and awards for their work on Trollhunters and Ninjago, so there’s a lot of room for optimism. They both seemed to have a good grasp of the legacy and role Star Trek plays and has played for young people, and I think the show is in safe hands.

Dee Bradley Baker gave us a tease of Murf’s voice!

The Prodigy trailer was action-packed and exciting! We got a glimpse of the villainous character played by John Noble – and heard his distinctive voice – as well as got a much closer look at the USS Protostar than we had before. Perhaps the most exciting moment, though, was seeing the Janeway hologram for the first time! Janeway’s role in the show seems like it will be that of a mentor; the kids will make their own calls and decisions, but Janeway will be on hand to offer advice – at least that’s my take at this stage.

There were some funny moments in the trailer, too, which will surely produce a lot of giggles from Prodigy’s young audience. “Just hit all the buttons” until the phasers fire was a great laugh line, and the ship losing artificial gravity was likewise hilarious. There was also a crash-landing that reminded me very much of a scene in the Voyager episode Timeless. I’m really looking forward to Prodigy and to spending time with the young crew of the USS Protostar.

The crew of Prodigy on the bridge of the USS Protostar.

The Lower Decks panel was perhaps the funniest of the night. It was also the one where the interviewees felt the most comfortable and did their best at participating and answering questions; there were none of the awkward silences or long pauses that made me cringe during other panels. Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, and creator Mike McMahan initially took to the stage before being joined in truly spectacular fashion by Ransom voice actor Jerry O’Connell. The cast members clearly get on very well together, and this came across as the four talked with host Mica Burton about the first four episodes of the season as well as what’s to come in the remaining six episodes.

Wells and Cordero talked about how they see their characters of Tendi and Rutherford becoming friends and bonding over “nerd” things – geeking out together over things like new tricorders, engineering, or how best to do their work was a hallmark for both in Season 1. I’m not so sure how I feel about Mike McMahan saying that the rest of the season plans to go “even bigger” with some of its stories. Lower Decks can be overly ambitious, at times, with the number of characters and story threads it tries to cram into a twenty- or twenty-five-minute episode, and this can be to the detriment of some or all of the stories it wants to tell.

Mike McMahan, Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, and Jerry O’Connell participated in the Lower Decks panel.

However, McMahan spoke about the episode Crisis Point from Season 1 as a kind of baseline for how big and bold the show wants to go in the second half of Season 2. That episode was one of the best, not just for its wacky over-the-top action, but for its quieter character moments. If the rest of Season 2 keeps in mind the successful elements from episodes like Crisis Point, then I think we’re in for a good time!

The mid-season trailer was interesting! Here are just some of the things I spotted: the Pakleds are returning, Rutherford seems to get a “Wrath of Khan-inspired” moment in a radiation chamber, Tendi was transformed into a monster that seemed reminiscent of those in Genesis from Season 7 of The Next Generation, Boimler and Mariner are involved in a shuttle crash, Mariner rejoins Captain Freeman on the bridge, there was a scene in which Boimler easily defeated some Borg that I assume must be a dream or holodeck programme, a Crystalline Entity was seen, the creepy bartender with the New England accent was back, and Boimler and Mariner shared a joke about the utility of phaser rifles. I’m sure there was more – but those were the key things I spotted! The rest of Season 2 will hopefully continue to hit the highs of the past few weeks – and there’s another episode coming out very soon here in the UK that I can’t wait to watch!

Rutherford’s “Wrath of Khan moment” from the mid-season trailer.

It was very sweet for Star Trek Day to take time to discuss Gene Roddenberry’s legacy, coming in the centenary year of his birth. His son Rod, and former Star Trek stars LeVar Burton, George Takei, and Gates McFadden joined Wil Wheaton to talk about Gene Roddenberry, and this was one of the most touching moments in the entire event. There were some laughs as George Takei told us about his first meeting with Gene Roddenberry and how he came to land the role of Sulu – including how both he and Gene mispronounced each others’ names! Gates McFadden seemed to have been talked into joining the cast of The Next Generation by Roddenberry, having initially wanted to return to the stage and join a play. Rod Roddenberry’s reminiscence of the design process for the Enterprise-D was hilarious – apparently his mother thought the ship looked like “a pregnant duck!”

LeVar Burton, who had been a Star Trek fan prior to joining The Next Generation, spoke about how he was overwhelmed at first when meeting “the Great Bird of the Galaxy,” and how a small role on a made-for-television film introduced him to producer Bob Justman, who later arranged for him to meet with Gene Roddenberry during pre-production on The Next Generation. All of these anecdotes went a long way to humanising Gene Roddenberry the man – we can often get lost in the legacy and philosophy he left behind, and how Star Trek and the world he created has influenced and impacted us, but this was a rare opportunity to hear small, personal stories about the man himself. I greatly appreciated that.

LeVar Burton spoke about working with Gene Roddenberry before giving a speech about The Next Generation.

George Takei got one of the biggest applause lines of the evening when he spoke about the importance of Star Trek’s fans, in particular Bjo Trimble, on popularising The Original Series and getting a nationwide fan community started. Decades before the internet came along to make fandoms and fan communities a part of many peoples’ lives, Star Trek was already developing its very own devoted fan community thanks to people like Bjo Trimble, and for George Takei to take time to acknowledge the role fans have played in Star Trek’s ongoing success was wonderful to hear.

As I’ve said before, The Motion Picture was the culmination of this fan-led journey for Star Trek, but the film also laid the groundwork for much of what we’d come to know as Star Trek in the eighties and nineties. Many sets and design elements were in continuous use in some form from The Motion Picture’s premiere in 1979 right the way through to the cancellation of Enterprise in 2005, and much of the aesthetic and feel of Star Trek is owed to what The Motion Picture pioneered. George Takei acknowledged that, and that was a pretty cool moment. The Motion Picture is one of my favourite Star Trek films, and a 4K remaster was briefly shown off as well – the 4K blu-ray set of the first four Star Trek films is out now, so Star Trek Day took a moment to plug it!

There was a brief glimpse of the remastered version of The Motion Picture from this new box set.

The panel that seemed to get the most online attention was, I felt, one of the worst and most cringeworthy to watch! The Strange New Worlds panel was followed up by a pre-recorded video that introduced new members of its main cast, who joined Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn. Among the newly-revealed characters were an Aenar (an Andorian race introduced in Enterprise) a possible descendant or relation of iconic villain Khan, and three characters from The Original Series who are returning to Star Trek: Dr M’Benga, who appeared in a couple of episodes, Nurse Chapel, and the one who got the most attention: Cadet Nyota Uhura!

Uhura blew up online after the announcement, and it’s fair to say that I was not expecting this! There was scope, I felt, for Strange New Worlds to bring back classic characters, but the choices they made seem to be pitch-perfect. I’m especially excited to see more from Dr M’Benga – he was a minor character who feels ripe for a deeper look. The same could also be said of Captain Pike and Number One!

Uhura’s return pretty much broke the internet!

As I predicted a few months ago, the uniforms for Strange New Worlds have been slightly redesigned from their Discovery style. I was never wild about the asymmetrical collars; they worked okay on Discovery’s all-blue uniforms but looked perhaps a little clumsy on the recoloured uniforms worn by Pike and the Enterprise crew. So to see the teaser show off a redesigned style that keeps the bold primary colours but ditches the Discovery style was pretty great! As with any new uniform I think we need time to see them in action and get used to them, but there’s already a lot to like. In addition to the V-neck style worn by Pike and Spock, we saw a white medical variant worn by Nurse Chapel, another medical variant with a broad crew collar worn by Dr M’Benga, and a zipper style worn by Number One. Starfleet uniforms – like any aesthetic or design element – are of course subject to personal taste, but from what we’ve seen so far I like the Strange New Worlds uniforms.

The Strange New Worlds live panel was not the best, though. Anson Mount, who is usually so full of life and happy to talk about all things Trek, sat in silence for large parts of it, deferring to the rest of the panel to answer questions. He may have been trying to avoid jumping in too fast or dominating proceedings, but it led to several very awkward silences that weren’t fun to watch. I got the sense that perhaps he wasn’t feeling well.

Anson Mount was not on his best form for the Strange New Worlds panel, unfortunately.

The producers – Akiva Goldsman, who has previously worked on Picard, and Henry Alonso Myers – gave us a few tidbits of information about the series. I was very pleased to hear so much positive talk about returning Star Trek to a more episodic format. Goldsman, who had been instrumental in crafting Picard’s serialised story during Season 1, seems quite happy to return to episodic television. There are a lot of advantages in a show like Strange New Worlds – i.e. one about exploration – to using a more episodic format. Episodic television can still see wonderful character growth – I’d point to Ensign Mariner in Lower Decks as a recent Star Trek example – so it was great to see how positively the cast and crew talked about that aspect of Strange New Worlds.

The producers and cast seemed very keen to embrace the legacy of The Original Series in more ways than one. Without looking to overwrite anything, they want to bring their own take on classic characters, and I think that’s great. Spock benefitted greatly from the expanded look we got at him in Discovery’s second season, and there’s no reason to think characters like Nurse Chapel or Cadet Uhura won’t likewise get significant character development that plays into the characters we know and love from their roles in The Original Series.

Jess Bush will be taking on the role of Nurse Christine Chapel in Strange New Worlds.

In terms of aesthetic, Strange New Worlds is trying to walk a line between embracing the 1960s style of The Original Series and also updating the show to a more modern look. There was talk about the design of sets, in particular Captain Pike’s quarters, and how the designers had been keen to return to the 1960s for inspiration. Likewise hair and nail styles were mentioned by Rebecca Romijn for Number One – a ’60s-inspired, “retro” look seems to be on the cards for the character, but not to such an extent that it becomes distracting. Walking that line is a challenge – but one I’m glad to see the show tackling!

We didn’t get a full trailer for Strange New Worlds, and the character introductions were cut in such a way as to minimise what we could see of the USS Enterprise. However, we did get a decent look at the transporter room set, which looks really cool, and when we met Dr M’Benga we got a glimpse of what I assume to be sickbay – and it looks like the colour scheme from The Original Series is still present in some form. We also got to see the logo and typeface for Strange New Worlds.

The Strange New Worlds logo.

So an underwhelming panel in some respects led to one of the biggest reveals of the night! Uhura, Chapel, and Dr M’Benga make welcome returns to Star Trek, that’s for sure. And there’s a particular genius to choosing these three characters in particular: they’re all ripe for more development and exploration. Uhura was a mainstay on The Original Series, but compared with the likes of Kirk and Spock there’s still plenty of room to explore her characterisation, background, and learn more about who she is in a way that will inform the original character and portrayal. Likewise for Nurse Chapel and Dr M’Benga – in many ways these two characters are near-blank slates for the new writers and producers to mould into their own creations.

I’m more excited today for Strange New Worlds than I was 24 hours ago, and that’s really saying something! I loved how Mount and the producers spoke about how his portrayal of Pike and Pike’s leadership style led them to redesign parts of his quarters so he could accommodate more of his crew around the table. Cooking was a big part of Captain Sisko’s character in Deep Space Nine, and I picked up at least a hint of that in some of the things said about Pike.

Dr M’Benga, despite being a returning character, offers a lot of scope for further development by a new team of writers.

The panel also discussed how the USS Enterprise is a “star of the show” in many respects, and how episodic storytelling will allow the series to return to Star Trek’s roots in terms of producing entertaining stories with morals. As I’ve said before, Star Trek has always used its sci-fi lens to shine a light on real-world issues, and to learn that Strange New Worlds is embracing that is fantastic news.

Spock’s characterisation was mentioned by Ethan Peck and the producers, and there was talk of how we’d see different facets of his personality. The Cage was mentioned as showing us “smiley Spock,” and I liked how the producers have a keen knowledge of how Spock and other Vulcans perceive and experience emotions – Spock is an emotional person, even if he suppresses those emotions much of the time. An exploration of that aspect of his character – informed by his experiences in Discovery Season 2, perhaps – will be truly interesting to see play out.

Captain Pike and the crew of Strange New Worlds will be on our screens in 2022.

Finally we come to Star Trek: Picard. This was the final event of the evening, and unfortunately the way it was teed up felt incredibly rushed. Jeri Ryan – who will reprise her role as Seven of Nine in Season 2 – raced onto the stage to introduce the new trailer, and it just seemed very obvious that the people running the event were acutely aware of time constraints and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. There was no Picard panel, no appearance from Sir Patrick Stewart (even by video-link or in a pre-recorded message), and though the trailer was very interesting the way Picard Season 2 was handled felt rushed right at the end of Star Trek Day – ironic, perhaps, considering the rushed way Season 1 also ended!

We’ll get to the trailer in a moment, but it was great to see that Picard Season 3 has been officially confirmed. We knew this was coming – Season 3 is already in production, and filming has already begun. But to get an official confirmation was good, and it drew a huge cheer from the audience. There’s clearly a big appetite for more Picard!

Picard is coming back for a third season!

Onward, then, to the trailer. This is one that I’ll have to return to for a more detailed breakdown in the days ahead, but for now here are my summarised thoughts.

A return to the 21st Century is not what I would have chosen. Time travel isn’t my favourite Star Trek storyline, and in particular time travel stories which return to the modern day can feel awfully dated very quickly. Look, for example, at Voyager’s two-parter Future’s End, or Star Trek IV as examples of that. Star Trek feels like the future – one of the reasons I love it so much – and when it comes back to the modern day I think it risks losing something significant. It’s possible that only a small part of the story will be set in the modern day, but even so I wasn’t exactly wild about this story element, unfortunately.

We knew from the earlier trailer that there has been some kind of change or damage to the timeline. It now seems as though Q may be more directly involved, as Picard blamed him for breaking the timeline. Whatever the change was, it seems to be centred in our own 21st Century (though it could be anywhere from 2020-2040, I guess) and resulted not in the creation of the Federation but a “totalitarian state” by the 24th Century. I don’t believe that this is the Mirror Universe that we’re familiar with, but rather a change to the Prime Timeline itself – perhaps caused by Q, but earlier comments seemed to suggest that Q wasn’t to blame, so watch this space.

A visit to the 21st Century would not have been my choice… but I will give it a chance!

In voiceover we heard Laris questioning Picard’s motivation for wanting to join Starfleet or leave Earth, something we’d seen him talk about in episodes like Family and again in Generations. She seemed to question whether he’s “running” from something in his past – could it be some darker impulse or perhaps a family secret that’s connected in some way to the creation of the totalitarian state? Could it be, as I suggested recenly, tied into World War III?

One of the things I was most curious about was the role of the Borg Queen, whose return had been signalled a few days ago via a casting announcement. It seems as though Picard has access to the incarcerated remains of a Borg Queen – somehow – and that she may be vital to allowing the crew of La Sirena to travel through time. Rather than the Borg themselves playing a role in the story, then, this may be a battle involving Picard and Seven – victims of assimilation – and a captured, damaged Borg Queen.

What role will the Borg Queen play? She appears to be a captive of some kind.

There’s a lot more to break down from the Picard trailer, and in the days ahead I’ll put together my thoughts in more detail – as well as perhaps fleshing out a theory or two. For now, I think what I want to say is that I have mixed feelings. The big drawback I can see is the modern-day setting for part of the show. I hope I’m proven wrong, but to me Star Trek has never been at its best with these kinds of stories, and I’m concerned that it’ll stray from being a Star Trek show into something… else.

On the other hand, there are many positives. The return of Laris, who seems to have an expanded role compared to where she was in Season 1. Q’s mysterious time-bending role, too. Is he the villain of the piece, or is his latest “trial” something that he believes will help Picard and humanity? What role will he play – ally, adversary, or something in between? The “totalitarian state” definitely channelled some elements of the Mirror Universe, but also seems to have put its own spin on this concept, taking it to different thematic places. I’d be curious to see what role the Picard of this timeline has in the government of the totalitarian state.

Something has broken the timeline – leaving Picard and his crew trapped in a “totalitarian” nightmare.

So that’s all I have to say for now. In the days ahead I’ll take a closer look at the Picard trailer, as well as talk about other things we learned at Star Trek Day.

Although it was a late night and a long broadcast, I had a good time with Star Trek Day overall. There were some moments that didn’t work well, some unprepared interviewees and some segments that dragged on too long, but on the whole it was a fun and incredibly positive celebration of Star Trek. I came to the broadcast hoping to see more from upcoming shows, but I was blown away just as much by the celebration of Star Trek’s past as I was by the look ahead.

The hosts, presenters, and most of the speakers and guests showed off their passion and love for Star Trek in a very positive way. There was a lot of talk about returning the franchise to its roots, celebrating the legacy of Gene Roddenberry and his original vision for Star Trek and what made it so appealing to people of all ages across multiple generations. As we look ahead to Star Trek’s future in 2021, 2022, and beyond, taking these moments to look back at what got Star Trek to where it is today was fantastic, and well worth taking the time to see. Above all, Star Trek Day shone with passion and positivity, and that’s just what the franchise needed as it marked its fifty-fifth birthday. Here’s to the next fifty-five years of Star Trek!

Star Trek Day was broadcast online and on Paramount+ on the 8th of September 2021 (9th of September 2021 in the UK). At time of writing the event can be re-watched on the official Star Trek website; panels and trailers are supposed to be available via Star Trek and Paramount+ official YouTube channels. Clips may also be available via official social media pages and channels. The Star Trek franchise – including all properties and series mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.