Star Trek at Comic-Con 2022 – thoughts and impressions

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-3, Star Trek: Lower Decks Seasons 1-3, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Seasons 1-2, and for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise – including upcoming and unreleased projects.

This year’s San Diego Comic-Con is winding down – and we got a lot of Star Trek news to process over the weekend! I didn’t attend Comic-Con myself, but I’ve been following the event online, and there were several big announcements, a big surprise, teasers and trailers, and comments from Star Trek stars past and present to dive into. I’ll do my best to take a look at all of the major points today!

I’m actually a little surprised that there was so much news coming out of Comic-Con; a Lower Decks trailer and something about Picard felt like certainties, but beyond that I was wondering if Paramount might hold things back and put together a repeat of last year’s “Star Trek Day” broadcast event where the franchise could be centre-stage.

A billboard promoting Star Trek at San Diego Comic-Con.

An event like Comic-Con is a double-edged sword in some ways for corporations like Paramount. On the one hand, there’s a lot of attention directed at Comic-Con even from mainstream news outlets, which can be good for promotional purposes. But on the other, Star Trek has to compete for that attention with the likes of Marvel, Star Wars, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series, and many others.

So I hope it was a success from Paramount’s point of view and managed to bring at least some new eyes to the Star Trek franchise. It feels as though Paramount put a significant amount of investment into this weekend’s events and promotional materials, so as someone who hopes to see Star Trek continuing to be a success, I’d like to think it paid off!

The Strange New Worlds panel at Comic-Con.

So let’s start with Star Trek: Picard. We didn’t get to see a proper trailer, instead getting another teaser that showed off the main cast of Season 3. I’m still quite disappointed with how the casting situation has been handled, and the fact that we aren’t going to get to spend more time with characters like Elnor and Soji feels like a backwards step – at least in some respects – for a franchise that should be moving forward. But that decision has long ago been taken, so let’s consider what we did see instead of what we didn’t!

First of all, Seven of Nine’s field commission seems to have been made permanent, and she’s seen in uniform for the first time. That was neat, and seems to further her wonderful arc from both seasons of the show so far. The design of Worf was perhaps the most interesting to me; after the Klingons had undergone a major redesign for both the Kelvin films and Discovery, the design of Worf shown off in the Picard Season 3 teaser is much closer to the post-Motion Picture Klingon look that Worf had during The Next Generation’s run.

Glimpses of the main characters.

Absent from the teaser was Brent Spiner – so we still don’t know who he may be portraying. It’s tempting to suggest that his absence may be hiding some major design secret (such as a reimagined Data, Lore, or B4) but I’m not convinced of that yet. Altan Inigo Soong (from Picard Season 1) feels like the most obvious choice for Spiner to portray, but we don’t know that for certain.

At the panel, Sir Patrick Stewart indicated that a visit to “more than one” USS Enterprise could be on the cards in Season 3, which could imply anything from travelling through time to a Search for Spock-inspired starship theft! Precisely which Enterprise(s) Picard and the crew may visit wasn’t stated – so could it be Pike’s Enterprise, perhaps?

Sir Patrick Stewart speaking during the Picard panel.

There’s actually not much else to say about Picard right now. The teaser didn’t give much away, and aside from design choices like several characters wearing leather jackets, we don’t actually know a whole lot more about the show’s final season than we did before Comic-Con. Some of what was discussed – like a potential female villain and revisiting the Enterprise – sounds interesting, and Picard Season 3 is definitely one of my most-anticipated right now. But after an underwhelming Season 2 and the disappointment of the rather callous cutting of under-used characters, there’s no doubt it has serious work to do. Nothing I saw at Comic-Con has me anxious or worried… but because what we saw was relatively barebones, nothing blew me away either.

The upcoming video game Star Trek: Resurgence made an appearance at Comic-Con. Still scheduled for release later this year, the panel didn’t go into a lot of story details for obvious reasons, but the game seems to be shaping up nicely. It looks to be very much in line with Telltale Games titles from the past few years – the likes of Batman, The Wolf Among Us, and The Walking Dead, to name but a few – and considering that developer Dramatic Labs is made up of a number of ex-Telltale creators, that makes sense! I’ll be sure to take a detailed look at Resurgence when it launches, so stay tuned for that!

Resurgence’s Captain Solano.

I wasn’t expecting to see any kind of teaser or trailer for Strange New Worlds Season 2; although filming recently wrapped up we’ve only just finished watching Season 1, so Season 2 is likely ten-plus months away! There was no news about a potential third season renewal either – although I suspect that’s just a matter of time!

The biggest news from the Strange New Worlds panel, though, was the surprise announcement of a crossover with Lower Decks. I’ve been longing for a proper crossover between the current crop of Star Trek shows – so this is great news! Strange New Worlds had moments of humour and comedy in its first season, so the pairing is not as unnatural as it might first appear. I’m not quite sure how the episode will blend live action and animation, though – will Boimler and Mariner appear as cartoons on a live-action set? That’s something to watch out for!

A truly unexpected crossover is on the cards!

The crossover episode will air as part of Strange New Worlds’ second season sometime next year, and will be directed by Jonathan Frakes. Frakes has directed some of Discovery and Picard’s best episodes and knows the Star Trek franchise inside and out, so I’m really hopeful that this crossover will end up being as much fun as it sounds! I might not have chosen to stick Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds together, but with both shows hitting their stride after successful debut seasons, the time is right for a crossover. Hopefully it will be the first of many as Star Trek’s renaissance continues!

There were some interesting pieces of merchandise shown off at Comic-Con, too. I didn’t see any Prodigy toys or figures, but there were some prototypes from Playmates and EXO-6 showing off their latest figures of the likes of Captain Kirk, Locutus of Borg, and other classic characters. Factory Entertainment also debuted their Motion Picture insignia and Type II “dustbuster” phaser – which I hope will come to the UK!

A new “dustbuster” phaser replica may be coming soon!

Alex Kurtzman teased us with news that there may be two unannounced Star Trek projects in early production. With Picard finishing its run after Season 3 next year, I feel like an announcement can’t be far away for at least one new project, but what that project may be is still unknown! One potential series is the untitled Section 31 spin-off that was announced back in 2019, but my gut says that project probably won’t see the light of day. There’s been talk of a Ceti Alpha V miniseries focusing on Khan, and there’s also a rumoured Starfleet Academy series. Any of those could be announced before the end of the year – so watch this space!

I wonder, though, if one of these unannounced projects could be a 25th Century post-Picard series, perhaps even a spin-off focusing on Seven of Nine and Raffi. There seemed to be a lot of investment in new sets built for Picard Season 2 that were only seen at the beginning and end of the season, so could those sets be repurposed for a new series set aboard the new USS Stargazer? It’s all speculation at this point, of course, but I can’t help wondering!

The USS Stargazer.

A trailer for Lower Decks Season 3 debuted at Comic-Con, and the series has recently been confirmed to be returning on the 25th of August – in just a month’s time! The trailer picked up from where the Season 2 finale left off, with Captain Freeman in custody and the crew having to figure out what to do next. It seems like we saw several clips from the first episode – at least, that’s the impression I got – so there may be surprises still to come later in the season!

One story will take the Lower Decks crew to Deep Space Nine, and we saw the station and nearby wormhole shown off in the trailer – along with the familiar Deep Space Nine theme. I absolutely adore Deep Space Nine, and after the station was briefly glimpsed in a Season 1 flashback, it will be amazing to head back there for what will be the first post-Dominion War episode in that setting. Series creator Mike McMahan has promised us a look inside the station as well as some familiar faces, too!

The USS Cerritos at Deep Space Nine.

One of those familiar faces seems to be the Klingon General Martok – an important recurring character in the latter part of Deep Space Nine’s run. It may be too much to hope for to get a real Deep Space Nine-inspired story that picks up some of the dangling threads that series left behind… but I can’t help it! I’d love to see the next chapter in the Deep Space Nine story unfold on screen, and even just getting a glimpse or a tease would be fantastic.

Other scenes in the trailer seemed to show a return to one of the first planets visited by Mariner and Boimler in Season 1, stealing the impounded USS Cerritos (presumably to rescue Captain Freeman), Boimler in Cetacean Ops, Rutherford and Tendi at Sisko’s restaurant in New Orleans, Boimler and Mariner acting as Starfleet recruiters, Dr T’Ana performing an amputation, and more! We saw Captain Freeman in uniform alongside Commander Ransom briefly, so I assume she will be able to escape the false charges laid against her!

Dr T’Ana prepares to perform surgery!

The trailer looked like the familiar blend of animated comedy hijinks and throwbacks to The Next Generation era that we’ve come to expect from Lower Decks across its first two seasons. We’ve had some genuinely outstanding episodes so far – and only a couple of duds, really – so more of the same is no bad thing! I’m curious to see how the Captain Freeman cliffhanger will be resolved – will it be a one-episode story or will it rumble on for much of the season?

There was a surprising absence at Comic-Con: Prodigy. There was no mention of Prodigy (aside from a poster as part of the broader “Star Trek Universe” marketing), and that strikes me as odd. We’re supposedly going to be seeing ten more episodes of Prodigy before the end of this year to round out the show’s first season, so it was surprising that nothing was mentioned. We don’t even have an official broadcast date for the next batch of episodes – and there’s currently no new Star Trek being shown for the next few weeks.

There was nothing Prodigy-related at Comic-Con this time.

It’s possible that we’ll come to learn more about Prodigy’s next steps and some of these in-production but unannounced projects in the near future. The 7th of September will be “Star Trek Day,” for example, and we could see another presentation of some kind to mark the occasion. Prodigy could also follow Lower Decks and kick off the second half of Season 1 in late October or early November – this would keep Star Trek on our screens through the holiday season and into 2023.

There was a comment from William Shatner about Star Trek that a lot of folks have picked up on on social media. At Comic-Con, Shater claimed that Gene Roddenberry would not approve of the direction of modern Star Trek, saying that the franchise’s creator would be “spinning in his grave” at the many of the creative and narrative decisions that have been taken. I think it’s worth pointing out that Shatner was similarly dismissive of The Next Generation, the Kelvin reboot films, and practically every Star Trek project that doesn’t feature his take on Captain Kirk. I don’t think we need to dedicate a lot of time to what Shatner has said; he’s entitled to his opinion, of course, and really the question of whether Gene Roddenberry would or wouldn’t approve of certain shows, episodes, or stories is rather a moot point. Modern Star Trek is doing some great things – and I for one hope it’s here to stay!

William Shatner spoke at Comic-Con.

So I think that about wraps things up.

For me, the biggest and most interesting piece of news is the Lower Decks-Strange New Worlds crossover. A story like that has massive entertainment potential as both shows have demonstrated respect and reverence for past iterations of Star Trek. It seems to me that the crossover could be a real “made for fans” moment – but perhaps also one that could bring in new viewers to both series. Blending animation and live-action can be a challenge, but Star Trek has always risen to meet technical and creative challenges as it strives to tell new, different, and exciting stories!

The tease of new projects on the horizon is fascinating – but until we start to get information about what those projects may be, it’s hard to get overly excited! I’ve got a few different articles and lists here on the website looking at pitches and concepts – as well as putting together a few ideas of my own – so check those out if you’re interested. As and when Alex Kurtzman and the creative teams see fit to tell us more, I’ll be sure to cover it in-depth and give my thoughts!

So that was Comic-Con. Star Trek put in a decent showing this year, and it seems like we have a lot to look forward to both later this year and in 2023.

The Star Trek franchise – including all shows, films, and properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. Some images used above courtesy of Star Trek/Paramount Global on social media. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 – thoughts on the casting situation

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and casting/character announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 and Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-2.

Star Trek: Picard’s second season wrapped up a couple of days ago, and even as the dust settles on the show’s latest outing we’re already beginning to see Season 3 take shape. Filming on Picard Season 3 has been underway for months; Seasons 2 and 3 entered production back-to-back, so we have a good chance of seeing it in the early part of 2023 as things currently stand.

Today I wanted to take a peek behind the curtain and talk about some production-side announcements that are related to Season 3 – in particular, which characters might not be included in the new season. This is serious spoiler territory for Season 3, so if you don’t want to know who may or may not be reprising their roles (and you ignored the giant warning at the top of the article), this is your last chance to avoid Season 3 spoilers!

The USS Stargazer in Farewell.

The only way I can describe what I’ve learned about Season 3 is that the Picard cast has been massacred. At time of writing, we have confirmations (or as-good-as confirmations) that Orla Brady, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, Evan Evagora, and Alison Pill won’t be returning for Season 3. That means Laris, Soji/Kore/Sutra, Rios, Elnor, and Dr Jurati/the Borg Queen won’t be included in any meaningful way in the new season.

These departures make way for the returning main cast members from The Next Generation (minus Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby), who will be reprising their roles as Riker, Troi, Worf, Dr Crusher, La Forge, and a currently-unknown character in the case of Data actor Brent Spiner. As nice as it will be to welcome them back to Star Trek, I can’t help but feel that this decision is the wrong one – or at the very least that the Picard cast departures have been handled particularly poorly.

The cast of The Next Generation in Season 2.

In Farewell, the Season 2 finale, Captain Rios and Dr Jurati got goodbyes… of a sort. Rios’ goodbye felt permanent as he chose to remain in the 21st Century after falling for Teresa; the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid had less of a “goodbye” and more of a “see you later,” but I guess in the context of her season-long arc we can at least call it an ending. But Elnor, Laris, and Soji didn’t even get the most basic of goodbyes.

Soji was Season 1’s second main character along with Picard himself. She was both the driving force behind the plot of the first six episodes and a major character in her own right, and her story of learning the truth of her synthetic origin and coming to terms with that was something that Star Trek had never really tackled before. More significantly, Soji led Picard to her people’s homeworld: Coppelius.

Soji in Season 1.

The discovery of the Coppelius synths led to the unravelling of the Zhat Vash plot, as well as uncovered the role of Commodore Oh as a spy within Starfleet. It provided Starfleet with an explanation for the attack on Mars a decade earlier and for the cover-up aboard the USS Ibn Majid. It transformed Starfleet from a semi-antagonist with an inward-looking, almost xenophobic edge back into a faction worthy of support. It’s a landmark moment in the history of this post-Nemesis era.

Soji was instrumental in all of that, as well as in contacting and then not contacting the unnamed faction of super-synths. We spent a lot of time with her across Season 1, and I’d point to some of her scenes with Kestra in Nepenthe and her role in The Impossible Box as being two of the big highlights. Unfortunately, Soji was completely sidelined in Season 2, not taking part in the mission back in time or the stand-off with the Borg in any way… but there was still scope to bring her back.

Soji was sidelined for all of Season 2.

Elnor’s absence – if indeed it is confirmed; at this point it’s only been mentioned by actor Evan Evagora on social media – feels utterly inexcusable to me. After Elnor had been killed in the Season 2 episode Assimilation, his death served as a major motivating factor for Raffi’s character arc, and coming to terms with her guilt and remorse were key components of her storyline. This culminated in a beautiful sequence in the episode Hide and Seek in which Raffi was able to speak to a holographic recreation of Elnor and come to terms with what had happened – accepting his death and letting go of at least some of the guilt that had been plaguing her.

This story was already muddled – and I would argue that its beautifully emotional conclusion was severely undermined – by the decision to resurrect Elnor in the Season 2 finale just one episode later. As much as I wanted to see Elnor’s story continue – as I feel he’s a character with huge potential – his death and Raffi’s acceptance of it seemed to be permanent, and undermining what had been one of Hide and Seek’s best moments wasn’t something that the season needed in its final minutes.

Holo-Elnor in Season 2.

But now to learn that Elnor isn’t coming back after all… I just don’t get it. For the sake of two minutes of screen time in the season finale and a look of relief on Raffi’s face, why not just leave Elnor dead if he has no role in Season 3? That would’ve at least given Raffi’s main narrative arc in Season 2 some significance. Most of the impact of what Raffi went through had been blunted by Elnor’s survival, and while we could certainly argue that she learned something from the experience, it smacks of the whole “it was all just a dream” story trope that resets everything back to the way it was.

Given that there seems to be no role for Elnor in Season 3, he may as well have stayed dead. At least his death would’ve mattered, spurring on Raffi to learn a lesson and grow as a person – growth that could stick around and continue to provide inspiration to her in whatever story comes next. Having him survive only to be shuffled off-screen anyway, presumably assigned to a different starship, just feels completely hollow and meaningless.

It seems as though there’s no place for Cadet Elnor in Season 3.

Although Laris hadn’t been a major character, her romantic interest in Picard was one of the main factors involved in kicking off the plot. As it turned out, Q wanted Picard to process grief and trauma that he’d carried since childhood – something that seems to have prevented him from forming longlasting relationships. In that sense, Laris was an incredibly important character for the series – and the closing moments of the Season 2 finale implied that she and Picard will indeed be striking up a new romantic relationship.

But if we aren’t going to see that relationship unfold on screen, if it’s just going to be relegated to that one scene at the end of Season 2, it again raises some pretty big questions. It’s beginning to feel that the decision to bring back The Next Generation characters in Season 3 has already undermined some significant story beats from Season 2, cutting them off at the knees and preventing the next – and final – chapter of the story from developing them further and taking them to their natural conclusions.

Picard with Laris at the beginning of Season 2.

When Star Trek: Picard was first announced, I didn’t want it to be The Next Generation Season 8. That’s a neat idea – but it wasn’t what this series was. I wanted to see some of these new characters grow on me and be given the opportunity to become fan-favourites for the next generation (pun intended) of Star Trek fans.

If the Star Trek franchise is to survive in the long-term, it can’t simply copy what Star Wars is doing and rely on cheap overloads of nostalgia. It has to continue to grow and develop, and new characters have to be given equal standing alongside legacy characters. In thirty-five years’ time, it’s my genuine hope that fans will be just as excited for Star Trek: Elnor as we have been for Star Trek: Picard… but in order for that to happen, we need to be spending more time with these characters. Having them cut entirely from the final season of the show – several of them without any kind of goodbye or send-off – doesn’t just sting because we won’t get to enjoy more adventures with them or see what comes next, but it could seriously damage Star Trek’s long-term prospects.

The Star Trek: Picard main cast. Only two are confirmed to be part of Season 3.

When The Next Generation characters have come back, what’s next? We’ve already had Voyager characters come back in Picard and in Prodigy, so that only leaves Deep Space Nine of the 24th Century shows. If future projects recycle characters from Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, there’ll be nobody left! Star Trek has to expand – to build on the legacy of the shows and characters that came before. What it mustn’t do is keep trying to bring back those characters and relive those past successes.

The Next Generation and the other shows of that era are in the past – and while there’s definitely potential to revisit characters like Jean-Luc Picard, it’s worth remembering that Star Trek is more than just a handful of familiar faces. Since at least 1987, when The Original Series passed the torch to The Next Generation in the first place, that’s a lesson that the Star Trek franchise has done well to take to heart. The Star Trek galaxy is vast, populated with billions or perhaps trillions of individuals across thousands of planets, and it’s ripe for exploration! Narrowing the franchise’s focus to a handful of characters from older shows is not what Star Trek is about – and it never has been.

Captain Rios at the beginning of Season 2.

Until now, I’ve felt that modern Star Trek has struck a pretty good balance between the old and the new. Discovery introduced us to brand-new characters, but tied its main protagonist to Spock and Sarek, before reintroducing Captain Pike. Picard focused on Picard himself, of course, but instead of sending him off on an adventure with his old crew, it brought some genuinely interesting new characters on board. Unfortunately, we’re now learning that several of them won’t stick around… and I find that to be quite disappointing.

I suppose the good news is that these characters still exist, and if Picard serves as a jumping-off point for potential new spin-off series, miniseries, or films set in the early 25th Century, it may be possible to revisit some of them. But I’m not going to hold my breath for that, at least not in the short-term. There are other Star Trek projects in the works, but with characters like Elnor having received precious little development across two seasons of Picard, it’s my suspicion that he’ll simply drop off the face of the galaxy never to be revisited.

Dr Jurati got a significant arc in Season 2… but won’t return for Season 3.

That’s all there is to say for now, I guess. Decisions have already been made and the new season – which will supposedly be Picard’s last – is already well underway in terms of production, so it’s clearly far too late to change any of that now. Star Trek’s past is, of course, filled with one-off characters; guest stars who appeared in an episode or two before disappearing forever. And there have been main cast members who were shuffled off their respective shows in unceremonious ways. None of it is new – but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.

I was genuinely looking forward to spending more time with the likes of Elnor, Soji, Laris, and potentially the Borg Queen-Dr Jurati hybrid. Had you asked me shortly after the Season 2 premiere I’d have said that a Captain Rios spin-off has real potential, too. The return of The Next Generation crew isn’t bad… but I wish that their returns didn’t have to come at the expense of some wonderful characters that we’ve only just begun to get to know.

I remain hopeful for a fun season and an exciting adventure with these returning characters… but I confess that I’m quite disappointed to learn that so many Picard cast members had to be culled to make it happen.

Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and around the world. Season 3 is currently in production and may be targeting a 2023 broadcast. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard, The Next Generation, and all other properties mentioned 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.