This article appears in the latest issue of DEN OF GEEK magazine. SUBSCRIBE HERE!
Captain Picard is back. Although Star Trek: Picard has been focused on the further adventures of Jean-Luc Picard since 2020, with the upcoming third and final season of the show coming on Feb. 16, the titular character feels a bit less like the retired Admiral, and more like the starship Captain again. There are even a few moments in the first few episodes where characters call him “Captain” instead of of “Admiral.” These facts might make you think the entire season is a huge Next Generation nostalgia trip, which is true, but only to a certain point. Even with the return of all of his TNG co-stars, Sir Patrick Stewart insists that Picard season 3 isn’t just a vehicle for warm and fuzzy ‘90s memories.
Ahead of the premiere of his next adventure, Den of Geek magazine sat down with the man himself to get his thoughts and feelings about the legacy of Jean-Luc, his TNG colleagues, and what’s radically different about Picard season 3.
Den of Geek: As season three begins, Jean-Luc Picard feels more confident and less broken than in seasons one and two. He feels new again.
Patrick Stewart: I think the primary reason for that is that his relationships—important relationships—have been transformed. I’ve always felt that one of the things that Picard most appreciated about the job he had [on the Enterprise] was the number of times that the unexpected occurred. And I think that excited him very, very much. In Picard season one, he realized quite early that he was still accessible to those who needed help or some kind of protection, which is what he was principally motivated by through the seven years of Next Generation.
There’s a lot of tension between Jean-Luc and Beverly Crusher this season. Would you say this season redefines that relationship?
Well, there was a lot of personal tension that was always there. Jean-Luc always admired her, and she, him, in equal measure. But there have always been issues in the past where Picard thought maybe she wasn’t behaving appropriately. And, of course, there had been the makings of a romance, which didn’t seem that it was going to work out. But [this season], we learn that life-changing things have actually happened for Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard. His fury about the way in which Beverly has lived with this unexpected event led to some of the most interesting scenes that I played. The scenes I have with Gates in season three are among my favorites because they were emotionally naked, both of them…and vulnerable. I don’t think we’d ever seen both of them at the same time at that stage.
You have some very intense scenes with Jonathan Frakes, too.
It’s an illustration of how strongly both of them feel and the intensity of how that relationship developed. There were some very warm and lovely scenes between the two of them because they love one another and adore each other. But you see, when we learn that Picard was perhaps not right in the choices he was making, that was important to me. That made Picard more human. It made him somebody who, to our surprise, could allow his feelings at times to overwhelm him in a dangerous and negative way.
The Next Generation crew is a family to so many people. But this isn’t really a family reunion, is it?
You’ve got that absolutely right! [Laughs]. It is not. It is not a reunion sequel, and this is one thing that I wanted to make clear. I didn’t want the show to be just sentimental: “Oh, we all love one another, and here we are again, playing poker and raising our glasses and so forth.” I mean, I love every single one of my comrades from that show. I can’t get enough of them or see enough of them. But what the writers and producers have done with Picard is to create this different individual living in a different world than the one that we had been so familiar with in The Next Generation.
What are your personal hopes for the reception of the new season?
I just hope that when the third season is aired, it will have some impact on the political world around us. I’m speaking of the United Kingdom and the USA, particularly. I think the political world is badly in need of Jean-Luc Picard right now.
Star Trek: Picard airs on Paramount+ in the US and Amazon Prime Video in the UK, starting on Feb. 16, 2023.