This Star Trek: Picard contains spoilers.
By the time the credits rolled on the Star Trek: Picard series finale, the crew of The Next Generation were given a fitting send-off, complete with winks to the first and last episodes of the preceding series. Not only did we end once again with Picard playing cards with his old friends, something he did a long time ago, but a still-living Q appears to Jack Crusher, announcing a new trial for humanity.
But as satisfying as the finale certainly was, showrunner Terry Matalas originally had in mind something even vaster, bringing together the old and the new in an unexpected way. In his original script, Matalas had written in an appearance for Soji, the positronic android played by Isa Briones, who was at the center of Picard‘s first season. He wanted to give Data a scene with Soji, not just to replicate the relationships of Picard season two, in which Brent Spiner and Briones played father and daughter duo Adam and Kore Soong, but to also acknowledge the advancements in Soong’s legacy.
Even greater were his plans for stronger Voyager connections. While we do get to check in on the real Tuvok in the finale and see Seven of Nine get promoted to Captain of the Enterprise, Matalas considered a more ambitious nod to these characters’ legacies.
“We wanted Kate Mulgrew to be part of Seven of Nine’s promotion,” Matalas told MovieWeb, referring to Admiral Kathryn Janeway. Although he doesn’t get more specific, Matalas hinted at even more when talking to Variety, “We have wanted some more Voyager folks to come be part of Seven of Nine’s promotion to captain.” He definitely means Neelix, right?
Speaking of Tuvok, Matalas had written a scene of Starfleet rescuing the Vulcan from the Changelings, which included a compelling plot hook: “There was a scene in which they found Ro [Laren] in the dungeons of the Intrepid with Tuvok and that she had survived,” Matalas told MovieWeb.
Yes, you read that correctly: the sequence would have revealed that Michelle Forbes’ Ro Laren had in fact survived her apparent death in a shuttle explosion earlier in the season. Matalas even had a plan for how her return would have been explained in the finale, “[She] had been beamed off of her shuttle and was still being used by the Changelings for information.”
So why didn’t any of this happen, you ask? Matalas has a simple answer: money.
“It comes down to how many pennies you have left in the piggy bank after building a Borg cube and an Enterprise,” he told Variety. MovieWeb relates a much more forceful response from producers who read Matalas’s first script: “Are you out of your f*****g mind with these things?” Matalas claims a line producer told him. “You’re not Avengers: Endgame.”
Despite these restrictions, Matalas did pull off one unlikely cameo, the aforementioned return of Q. On the day that Q actor John De Lancie finished shooting Picard season two, Matalas came to him with a wild pitch: “Look, I want to bring you back literally in the post-credit sequence for this final season,” he told Variety. “I will have no time and I will have no money, but I guarantee it will be one of the coolest Q scenes and it will be touching back to [TNG Premiere] ‘Encounter at Farpoint.’”
In other words, it’s a very welcome miracle that Matalas and crew pulled off what they did. Still, one cannot help but imagine how much BIGGER the original version would have been. Maybe if Star Trek: Legacy gets a chance to start its ongoing mission, we’ll get to see some of these ideas in new ways?
Star Trek: Picard season 3 is streaming now on Paramount+.