At first glance, the third season of Star Trek: Picard focuses only on the past. Not only does it continue the adventures of the one-time Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but it will bring back his primary crew, including William Riker and Deanna Troi, as well as Worf, Geordi LaForge, and Beverly Crusher. Joining the crew will be some other familiar faces, including the holographic Professor Moriarty and Data’s evil brother Lore. But according to showrunner Terry Matalas, one of the season’s most important callbacks looks toward the future.
As reported by Comicbook.com, a fan at an NYCC panel asked Matalas about scenes in which a Captain passes the torch to a later generation. According to the site, Matalas confirmed that “such a scene is in store.”
Even without details, we know that Matalas and others have plenty of models to follow when it comes to one of the most important Star Trek traditions. In fact, Picard is no stranger to such moments, as evidenced by the many Original Series characters who visited Next Generation, starting with an aged Doctor McCoy touring the Enterprise-D in the premiere episode “Encounter at Farpoint,” and continuing all the way to the movie Generations, which saw Captain Kirk himself team up with Picard. Throughout the series, Scotty, Spock, and even Spock’s father Sarek visited the new crew, solidifying its place in Trek history.
Every series since has continued this tradition. Deep Space Nine began with a tense interaction between Picard and Commander Benjamin Sisko, the latter’s wife having died in the Battle of Wolf 359. Enterprise crew members also became parts of DS9‘s main cast, first Chief Miles O’Brien and later Worf himself. Other Klingons tied the original series to DS9 when Kor, Koloth, and Kang returned to call upon Jadzia Dax. Likewise, the DS9 crew was involved in a Klingon plot where they went back in time to the TOS era, interacting with Scotty, Kirk, and others.
Star Trek: Voyager begins with the new crew docked at Deep Space Nine, where ensign Harry Kim nearly gets swindled by Quark before the ship gets stranded in the Delta Quadrant. But despite that distance, writers still found ways to connect the series to other entries. Not only did a trip into Tuvox’s memory allow him and Janeway to interact with Captain Sulu on the USS Excelsior during the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but Next Generation‘s Reginald Barclay became a key part of Voyager’s return home.
Since then, intergenerational connections have been more tangential, but certainly present. Enterprise famously ends with Riker watching the NX-01’s adventures via holodeck, while the Spock from the Prime Universe serves as a catalyst to the Kelvin Universe films. The current shows have foregrounded their roots, first with Discovery‘s Michael Burnham being Spock’s adopted sister, and later serving under Christopher Pike. Lower Decks mines all of Trek history for laughs, while the Discovery spin-off Strange New Worlds brings in expected characters, including younger versions of Uhura and Kirk, as well as unexpected surprises like Sybock. Even Prodigy features appearances by Voyager‘s Janeway and Chakotay, albeit in holographic form.
As compelling as these connections may be, few have the strength of Picard and Kirk’s first meeting, which truly passed the torch from one generation to the next. Hopefully, Picard season 3 will give Jean-Luc the chance to do the same for someone else.
Star Trek: Picard season 3 premieres on February 16, 2023.