Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1-2 and the trailers, teasers, and announcements for Season 3. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.
At New York Comic-Con back in September, Paramount showed off a new trailer for the upcoming third season of Star Trek: Picard, and I’m finally getting around to taking a look at it! This time, I’m going to give my thoughts and analysis of what was shown off in the trailer, as well as speculate a little about what the plot of Picard’s final season might end up looking like.
The first thing to say is that Season 3 appears to be another standalone story, one that doesn’t follow on directly from the events of Season 2. Does that mean that we’ll never know who or what caused the anomaly that was so central to kicking off (and resolving) last season’s main story? And does it mean that the dangling story threads from Season 1 will also be left unresolved when Picard comes to an end? I hope not – but I have to say that, based on what we know of Season 3 at this stage, my hopes of the unresolved storylines from Seasons 1 and 2 being addressed are fading fast.
And before we go any further, I want to address that. Picard, despite having a lot of promise when it was announced and when it premiered, has been hit-and-miss so far; a rather disconnected series that has boldly tried some new and potentially-interesting ideas, but that hasn’t always managed to pull them off successfully. I still haven’t written up my full thoughts on Season 2 as a whole, but suffice to say that there were some pretty significant problems that seriously hampered my enjoyment. If Season 3 is, as I suspect, leaving all of that behind to rush off into another new story, for me that’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, spending too much time looking back at the underwhelming elements of Season 2 isn’t what I’d want to see… but on the other, Season 3 represents Star Trek’s last chance – at least in this iteration – to make more of some of those unresolved storylines. Season 2 could end up looking better in retrospect if it turns out to be one piece of a greater whole… but if Season 3 drops those stories to do its own thing, it will remain a disappointment.
I’ve already shared my thoughts on the way the casting situation has been handled, but as we’re diving back into Picard Season 3, I think it’s worth pointing out again that the return of The Next Generation’s main characters – all of whom got some screen time in the new trailer – has come at the expense of several genuinely interesting characters from Seasons 1 and 2 of Picard that we were only just beginning to get to know. As it seems unlikely that most of them will be seen in the franchise again – at least, not for a long time – I think it’s worth reiterating just how much potential has been squandered.
If the Star Trek franchise is to survive long-term, it can’t simply coast on nostalgia. Trying new things, innovating, and introducing new characters has been what the franchise has done since the 1980s, but the current crop of Star Trek shows all seem to be falling back on nostalgic crutches in a way that they really shouldn’t. Picard Season 3 may be the epitome of this backwards-looking take on the franchise, but it’s certainly not the only example.
But that’s enough about that for now! We’re here to look at the trailer rather than talk about Picard or the franchise in a general sense, and the New York Comic-Con trailer definitely raised a lot of interesting (or potentially-interesting) points!
First of all, the season’s main villain, played by veteran actress Amanda Plummer, will be called Captain Vadic. Vadic was seen briefly in the trailer, and seems to have an almost Khan-like obsession with getting revenge on Picard and his former Enterprise-D crewmates. Exactly what her beef is with the retired admiral is unclear… but given who else is involved, surely there has to be a connection to The Next Generation, right?
Well, not so fast! In both Seasons 1 and 2, key storylines were ultimately not connected in a major way to Picard’s past… or at least, not to elements of his past that we were already familiar with. Speculation abounded regarding the Coppelius synths, the mysterious super-synths, the Borg Queen, the anomaly, and Q, but ultimately in both seasons the writers chose to go in a different and new direction. Captain Vadic could be connected to Picard either because she’s a returning character utilising a nom de guerre or because she’s related to or otherwise connected to a classic character. And don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas in that vein that we’ll talk about on another occasion! But I think we have to consider the very real possibility that this character, as well as whatever may have caused her to hate Picard and his crew, will be something entirely new to us as the audience.
I liked what I saw of Amanda Plummer’s performance in the trailer. She brought a ferocity to Captain Vadic that straddled the line between dedication and obsession, and had an almost animalistic or beastly quality that echoed not only Khan, but other great Star Trek villains too. Vadic has been described as an “alien,” though what species she could be if not human wasn’t clear. Could her scars suggest some kind of ex-Borg origin, perhaps?
Vadic’s ship, the Shrike, seemed to draw inspiration from Nemo’s Narada that we saw in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film, as well as perhaps from the Romulan vessels seen in Nemesis, which could all hint at a Romulan (or Reman) origin or connection. The sweeping, blade-like lines of the Shrike give the vessel a genuinely threatening appearance, and if what we saw from Picard and Riker in the trailer depicts them and their vessel in combat against the Shrike, Vadic’s ship seems to have the weapons to back up its intimidating look!
Speaking of starships, we got a closer look at the USS Titan in the new trailer – and it looks absolutely fantastic! One of the criticisms some fans have had of Picard – especially with last season’s 21st Century story – has been the lack of starships, and in addition to the Titan we also caught a glimpse of Star Trek Online’s Enterprise-F. Though I dabbled briefly in Star Trek Online, MMO games aren’t really “my thing,” but I’m nevertheless happy to see the creative team take inspiration from the game on this occasion. Fans of Star Trek Online will be thrilled, undoubtedly!
La Sirena was also present, and may be being used by Raffi and/or Seven of Nine. I like the design of La Sirena and I hope the story will find a way to include the smaller vessel alongside bigger ships like the Titan and Enterprise-F. Rounding out the “starship porn” in the trailer was a beautiful shot of Earth Spacedock – bringing back memories of both The Next Generation and some of the Star Trek films in which the massive station was featured. Could a Search for Spock-inspired starship heist be on the cards? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Although the producers are keeping a pretty tight lid on the season’s story, the trailer did actually give us quite a lot to go on. Captain Vadic seems to be chasing Dr Crusher – perhaps to get to Picard or get his attention – and her reason for doing so seems to be connected to her hatred of Picard and his Enterprise-D crewmates. As I said, we’ll speculate more about her possible reasons in the days ahead.
As part of her anti-Picard vendetta, Captain Vadic appears to have put together what I’d describe as something of a “rogues’ gallery” of The Next Generation’s villains. We saw Professor Moriarty – the sentient hologram created in the Season 2 episode Elementary, Dear Data – as well as Lore, Data’s “evil twin.” Could there be more villains from The Next Generation era who’ll be brought on board? I think that’s a distinct possibility!
Captain Vadic was seen speaking to a group of characters – most of whom had their faces covered or obscured – promising “vengeance,” so I think it’s at least possible that we haven’t seen the last big or surprising announcement of a returning villain! Several of the characters with Vadic seemed to be aliens, and I can think of no shortage of alien adversaries that Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D tackled during their adventures. Could the promise of revenge combined with Captain Vadic’s powerful personality have convinced them all to work together?
Any time a television show brings back a number of past characters all at once, there’s a risk of some of them being overshadowed. If, as I suspect, Captain Vadic is someone wholly new connected to a hitherto-unseen event in Picard’s past, her dominant role as the leader of the rogues’ gallery could end up relegating the likes of Lore and Professor Moriarty to smaller cameos. Depending on how it’s handled that could be fine – or it could be a little underwhelming. Paramount is promising big things from this “explosive” final season of Picard… so I hope the series can deliver!
We saw quite a lot of Riker in the new trailer, more than almost anyone else aside from Picard himself. The relationship between Riker and Picard was, in my view anyway, beautifully restored in the Season 1 episode Nepenthe, which saw the two men reuniting for the first time in almost twenty years (at least on screen). After seeing Riker out of uniform enjoying his family life and retirement, it’ll be great to see him back in action once more.
I feel that Worf’s appearance has the most potential to cause controversy out of all of the returning cast members. His statement in the trailer that he “prefers pacifism” and has abandoned the way of violence was played for laughs at first, but it represents a major departure from the character we knew through seven seasons of The Next Generation and four of Deep Space Nine. It’s definitely something that could feel like a natural progression if it’s suitably well-explained – some older Klingon characters, like Kor, for instance, seemed to mellow with age and become less quick to anger – but it’s definitely a move that could be controversial in some quarters. Could this be the producers and creators potentially setting up a calmer, more level-headed Worf for a leading role in his own series or film?
We didn’t see too much of either Dr Crusher or Deanna Troi, though the former seems to be a major driving force in kicking off the storyline. I expect we’ll hear of her distress signal in the season premiere, and that could be the moment where an off-duty Picard was approached by two Starfleet officers (was that scene in Guinan’s bar? I couldn’t tell!) As for Troi, she seems to be along for the ride with Riker, and her Betazoid senses were put to use describing the mood on what could be the Shrike as an “all-consuming darkness.” This ties into the themes of obsession and revenge that I touched on earlier.
Seeing Dr Crusher in some form of stasis pod was interesting; could her distress signal have been the lure to get Picard (and the others) back out into space? If Dr Crusher was the only one of the Enterprise-D crew who was on a deep space assignment, she would seem to be the logical target – as bait in a trap!
Raffi also seems to be being hunted – can we assume it’s by the same adversary? If so, Captain Vadic may be doing more than simply targeting the crew of the Enterprise-D – she may be trying to get to Picard by attacking anyone he’s worked closely with in the past. As his former aide-de-camp from his time as an Admiral, Raffi certainly fits the profile!
But there could be more to it than that. We’re getting into some seriously speculative territory, but if the story of the new season involves a villain (and/or a rogues’ gallery of villains) trying to hurt Picard by targeting those close to him, we could potentially learn of the deaths of some friendly faces. Elnor and Soji spring to mind as possible victims – both worked closely with Picard and neither are scheduled to make a major appearance this time around. Could one or both of their deaths have sent Raffi into hiding? Or put her on the revenge trail?
Finally we have Geordi La Forge. In the trailer his main moment came when he seemed to criticise Picard for dragging Worf and Riker into whatever crisis is going on… but it doesn’t end there. We know from casting – and briefly from an appearance at the Titan’s helm in the trailer – that Geordi will be joined by two of his children. One of his daughters will be played by LeVar Burton’s real-life daughter Mica, which is neat. Mica Burton hosted Star Trek Day 2021 alongside Wil Wheaton, and has been a fixture in the expanded Star Trek community ever since the franchise returned to the small screen.
Having covered the main characters – and speculated a little about some of them – we still have a few disjointed clips and images to assess from the trailer before we wrap things up! Starfleet Academy or Starfleet HQ appears to be attacked and destroyed at one point, but for some reason my gut instinct is to say that that may not happen in the real world. We could be looking at a simulation, dream, or plan rather than an actual attack. I don’t know exactly why I feel that way… but I do!
Amongst some wreckage in space we caught a glimpse of a derelict or abandoned starship. Could this be Dr Crusher’s ship – the one from which she sent the distress signal to Admiral Picard? The name and registry number was hard to make out from the trailer, and the design seemed similar to the USS Titan. The field of debris in which the ship was drifting seems too large to all have come from one (largely intact) vessel, so could this be the aftermath of a larger battle in which other ships were destroyed?
As mentioned, I can’t quite tell if the trailer’s opening shot sees Picard at Guinan’s bar on Earth (“Ten” on Forward Avenue in Los Angeles’ historic district that was featured in Season 2), but it certainly could be. Starting Season 3 in a location that was central to the story of Season 2 would go some way to tying the stories together if there isn’t a bigger connection between what seems to be two separate stories.
Some of the shots of the Shrike and Titan chasing one another and battling seem to be reminiscent of the Briar Patch from the film Insurrection, so could that be a clue? Starship battles that take place in nebulae have been a part of the franchise from The Wrath of Khan all the way through to Discovery’s most recent outing, so it’s by no means a cast-iron statement. But the colour and appearance of the clouds in the nebula certainly brought back memories of Insurrection for me.
The Shrike having the power to outgun the Titan could mean that the ship is incredibly powerful – like Nero’s Narada or Shinzon’s Scimitar, for example – but it could also speak to the Titan potentially being an older vessel, perhaps one that has been recently taken out of mothballs and potentially with only a skeleton crew aboard. While the Shrike definitely has the appearance of a warship or a hunter, it could be worth keeping in mind the Titan’s potential condition!
After being given a field commission last season and assuming command of the USS Stargazer, Seven of Nine appears to wear the rank pips of a commander rather than a captain, though she does still seem to be on the command track. It wouldn’t be the first time that an officer below the rank of captain has been given a command, though, so Seven may yet prove to be in command of a vessel. Geordi, meanwhile, appears to hold the rank of either a commodore or perhaps a one-star admiral based on the single pip seen on his uniform collar.
I find it interesting, too, that Seven has chosen to remain in Starfleet while Raffi appears to have taken La Sirena on a mission of her own. Is this something that we’ll see her do during the season, or is this where her story will begin? If so, what could have caused her to abandon Seven, Elnor, and her role in Starfleet? And could this connect with my theory above about Captain Vadic potentially having attacked, kidnapped, or killed the likes of Elnor and Soji?
By far my biggest question at this stage is this: who else, besides Moriarty and Lore, might be joining Captain Vadic’s rogues’ gallery? I feel all but certain that we’re going to see other villains of The Next Generation era coming on board if this is a quest for vengeance against Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. From the Duras family and Sela to DaiMon Bok and even the Maquis, Picard and his crew thwarted the nefarious schemes of many villains during their adventures – and if Captain Vadic is indeed putting together a crew of her own to seek revenge, there must be no shortage of applicants!
If Picard and the crew are going to go out with a bang, as we’ve been promised, facing off against a team of their most powerful and feared adversaries could absolutely make for an exciting, tense, and explosive season of Star Trek. After the slower pace of Season 2 and its focus on Picard’s innermost thoughts and his personal family history, something a bit more action-oriented this time around could be just what the doctor ordered. Although I’m still upset about the decision to ditch most of the main cast members from Seasons 1 and 2 in favour of this return to The Next Generation’s characters, I’m hopeful that what we’ll get will be a fun ride and a great way to say goodbye.
The trailer shown off at New York Comic-Con looked action-packed and exciting, so hopefully that’s representative of the new season. Although Picard has its problems and I have some gripes, the trailer itself has raised my hopes, and I’m now definitely looking forward to the new season.
So that’s it for now! Although this summer and autumn has seen me writing less and making fewer posts here on the website, when Picard Season 3 kicks off in February I still plan to review each episode in turn, as well as crafting a few theories and giving my thoughts on how the season as a whole shapes up. So I hope you’ll stay tuned and join me for that in the new year!
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 will stream on Paramount+ in the United States and on Amazon Prime Video around the world beginning on the 16th of February 2023. Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream now and are also available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Picard 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.