This article contains Star Trek: Picard spoilers.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 4
The topsy-turvy time travel antics of Star Trek: Picard season 2, episode 4, continue with “Watcher,” an episode in which we do, in fact, meet the mysterious Watcher, as well as someone else who we didn’t expect to see in this century at all. Along the way, Picard manages to dive deep for those Trekkie Easter eggs, some of which fix some very old mysterious, lurking in the strange Star Trek timeline for years and years.
Here are the five deepest cuts in the latest episode of Picard and what they mean for the larger Star Trek universe as a whole.
Picard’s accent finally explained
Why does a guy from France speak with an English accent, and essentially, act English? For decades, the Doylist (real world) reason has dominated the Trek discourse: Gene Roddenberry conceived of Picard as French, but when nobody could agree on a French actor to cast (Belgian actor Patrick Bauchau was briefly considered) Patrick Stewart won the role. Despite Picard dropping a “merde” in the Star Trek: The Next Generation classic “Elementary Dear Data,” and singing in French in “Disaster” there’s not a ton in TNG to indicate this very English-seeming guy is actually French.
And yet, with one very brief scene in “Watcher,” a brilliant Watsonian (in-universe) explanation has finally been offered for Jean-Luc’s very English Frenchness. After he and Jurati sneak into the 21st-century version of Chateau Picard, Jean Luc explains that the house was abandoned by his family during WWII, as they fled from the Nazis.
“My ancestors only survived by hiding in the tunnels,” Picard says. When Jurati asks him where they went, he replies simply, “England… though the chateau remained in the family, there were various caretakers…it will be generations before the Picards reside here again.”
So there you have it. It’s very possible that the Picard family (as we know it in Star Trek canon) resided in England until sometime in the late 23rd century. In fact, aspects of the flashbacks in this season’s premiere, “The Star Gazer,” certainly indicate that it was Picard’s mother and father who emigrated back to La Barre, France. In those flashbacks, it seems as though Chateau Picard is a new home for young Jean-Luc’s immediate family.
The Voyage Home Bus Punk Returns — Again!
As Seven and Raffi attempt to track down Rios, they hit up some Los Angeles public transportation and encounter a very familiar punk, blasting a new version of a familiar, old song. Yes, that is Kirk Thatcher (credited here as Kirk Randolph Thatcher), who played the punk on the bus in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and, in 1986, blasted the rage-rock-punk song “I Hate You,” on a boombox until Spock gave him the Vulcan nerve pinch.
This is the second time Kirk Thatcher has played the punk in Star Trek canon, but the third time he’s played this character overall. In 2017, he appeared as the punk in Spider-Man: Homecoming, mostly because Marvel boss Kevin Feige is a big Star Trek fan. Thatcher also narrated the 2019 animated Short Treks episode “Ephraim and DOT,” which was directed by Michael Giacchino.
In Picard’s “Watcher,” the punk seems to be blasting a new version of the song “I Hate You” called “I Still Hate You,” which is a joke that works on several levels. First, the original song “I Hate You” was not a “real” song, but instead, was invented by the quickly-formed band Edge of Etiquette, which consisted of Kirk Thatcher and Mark Mangini. In the ‘80s, Thatcher was a producer and prop-maker who worked on several Star Trek films while Mangini was a sound engineer on The Voyage Home. “I Hate You” was written on the fly for The Voyage Home to create some extra authentic grit to shock Kirk and Spock’s sensibilities.
Interestingly, the 2024 punk in Picard is considerably nicer than his 1986 counterpart and seems bewildered when Seven says “Would you mind stopping that noise?” echoing Admiral Kirk’s “would you mind stopping that damn noise?” in The Voyage Home. This is played as a joke, however, because the future timeline of Starfleet has been altered, it would seem that this version of the punk never met Kirk and Spock in 1986, but, perhaps, recognizes the statement from Seven because of a kind of “time sickness.”
Later, when Picard meets the younger Guinan (Ito Aghayere), he mentions this kind of time sickness while repeating a phrase Guinan said to him from the redacted future. Arguably, the punk’s sudden change of heart is connected to Seven accidentally paraphrasing Jim Kirk. The punk heard something from an alternate timeline, which kind of foreshadows the time sickness moment with Guinan.
This also makes you wonder if this punk is the key to a multiverse that can span entire franchises. If he can appear in the MCU and in Star Trek, and the multiverse was broken by Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home, does that mean the punk could cause Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) to meet Professor X (also Patrick Stewart)? Probably not, but let’s dream big, shall we?
Guinan knows about “Supervisors”
For most of the episode, Jean-Luc assumes that the coordinates from the Borg Queen were designed to lead him to the “Watcher” who can, in theory, help the crew with fixing the timeline. And, once he finds Guinan living on Earth, he insists that she must be the Watcher he’s been looking for. However, it turns out that the younger Guinan is not a “Watcher,” and tells Picard that “you’re looking for a supervisor otherwise known as a Watcher…They’re peppered through the galaxy assigned to protect the destiny of certain individuals.”
The word “Supervisor” is almost certainly a reference to Gary Seven (Robert Lansing), a “Class 1 Supervisor” from the classic Original Series episode, “Assignment: Earth.” In that episode, Gary was a human from 20th century Earth, assigned there by a greater alien intelligence to prevent meddling from time travelers. Gary’s transporter had an interesting fog effect, and when the human-looking Laris (Orla Brady) meets Jean-Luc at the end of the episode, they vanish in what seems like a similar fog transporter!
Is this new Supervisor version of Laris part of the same organization that Gary Seven was part of? If so, Picard is seriously expanding the canon of one small and tantalizing part of TOS that hasn’t been touched by the on-screen canon since 1968.
Interestingly, the writer of “Assignment: Earth,” Art Wallace, and Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, briefly pitched the basic premise of the Supervisors and Gary Seven as a futuristic agent on present-day Earth as a full spin-off series to Star Trek. Seemingly, one early version of the episode was a stand-alone pilot for a series without a Trek connection.
Had it been picked up, the “Assignment: Earth” show would have been the first spin-off of Trek, which, if you squint, is kind of what Picard Season 2 is doing now. Fingers crossed for a new Gary Seven and his cat Isis, at some later point in Picard.
Jackson Roykirk Plaza
At the very end of the episode, Q (John de Lancie) is sitting outside of something called “Jackson Roykirk Plaza,” which seems to be connected with the “Europa Mission,” which we’ve seen a few billboards for in and around 2024. As far as deep-cuts go, Jackson Roykirk is pretty deep. The name comes from the TOS episode “The Changeling,” in which we learn that Roykirk was responsible for the AI space probe called Nomad, which, in the Star Trek timeline, was launched from Earth in 2002. In “ “The Changeling,” the Enterprise encounters a highly modified version of Nomad, which at some point had merged with an alien intelligence called Tan Ru.
But, since that Starfleet-centric future is all hanging in the balance, what’s most interesting here is the way the existence of Jackson Roykirk Plaza seems to establish his importance to the Trek-version of the Early 21st-century space programs. In Star Trek “history” Jackson Roykirk would have been a big space probe guy in 2002, which means, 22 years later in 2024, it seems reasonable there would be a space-travel plaza named after him.
Jackson Roykirk only appeared in canon as an archival photograph in Spock’s library computer and was “played” by frequent TOS director, Marc Daniels. Presumably, Jackson Roykirk could still be alive in this version of 2024, but, if they named an entire plaza after him, probably not?
Dixon Hill and 12 Monkeys
In the same scene at the end of “Watcher,” Q is speaking and seemingly trying to implant a suggestive notion into a young woman’s mind. The woman (Penelope Mitchell), who appears to be wearing a shirt associated with the Europa Mission, is reading a book called The Pallid Son by Tracy Tormé.
This is not a “real” book, because when you look closer you’ll see that The Pallid Son is “Dixon Hill Mystery.” First introduced in the TNG episode, “The Big Goodbye,” Dixon Hill is a fictional detective who appeared in various hardboiled detective novels of the 1930s. In our universe, there are no actual Dixon Hill novels because he was invented by TNG writer, Tracy Tormé, who also penned “The Big Goodbye.” Although TNG’s first season is generally considered to be the rockiest of all of its episode runs, “The Big Goodbye” was notable because it was the episode from that inaugural season that received a Peabody Award for Excellence in Television. This episode also gave the Star Trek canon the concept that Picard was really into a Philip Marlowe-esque private detective. Earlier in this same episode, Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) says to Picard, “Look at you Dixon Hill,” as Picard starts to put pieces of a mystery together.
Who this woman is and what Q wants with her isn’t clear. But the fact that she likes this Dixon Hill novel could be suggestive of time travel shenanigans. The title of this book is The Pallid Son, which is not one of the previously mentioned Dixon Hill novels from TNG. Instead, the title probably mentions the 12 Monkeys character “The Pallid Man” (Tom Noonan) who, in that series, was born as the result of complex time travel. The SyFy 12 Monkeys series was produced by Terry Matalas, the co-showrunner for Picard Season 2 and Season 3.
And, in addition to the basic time travel plot of Picard Season 2, there have been several references to 12 Monkeys throughout this season so far. In the previous episode, Seven and Raffi went to “Markridge Tower,” a direct reference to a corrupt company from 12 Monkeys. Meanwhile, in the second episode of Picard Season 2, “Penance,” the Borg Queen can be heard muttering, “Trapped in the forest of red, the blood..”
This refers to the oft-repeated phrase in 12 Monkeys, “you’re walking through a red forest, most of the blood has washed away.” In that series, the concept of a red forest was an anti-time state in which linear time would not exist and the spacetime continuum simply would not work normally. The Pallid Man in 12 Monkeys was in favor of such a thing occurring. Who knows what “the Pallid Son” is doing in that Dixon Hill novel, but it would seem Q has similar goals about destroying the basic flow of time. Or does he?
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 airs new episodes on Paramount+ on Thursdays