The following article contains major Star Trek: Picard spoilers.
After the timeline changing events of last week, Star Trek: Picard kicks off this episode with the team desperately trying to escape the altered future. After they time travel to 2024, Elnor dies and the crew sets out to try and find the “Watcher” Q informed Picard about.
We spoke with several members of the cast and the executive producer to get all kinds of insights into the making of this episode.
Los Angeles: 2024
While Picard himself doesn’t take to the streets of Los Angeles, where the team ends up, this week, star Patrick Stewart found the whole experience fantastic, in part, he jokes, “because I don’t live too far from downtown. It’s very easy to get there.”
More seriously he sees the choice of going to 2024 and not the current year of 2022 as a significant point of interest.
“It’s not absolute present day,” Stewart says. “It was an extremely bold idea that’s paid off.”
But why 2024 specifically? Executive producer Akiva Goldsman says it was for two reasons. The first is that the team behind the show thought shooting on practical locations would be “really cool.” However COVID restrictions put a damper on that excitement. “Now we can only have three extras and a dog,” Goldsman jokes.
In terms of story however Goldsman wanted to use time travel as a way to do one of the things Star Trek does best, “which is it puts a lens on us. Our society could use a little lensing right now.”
The end of last week’s episode left Elnor’s fate unclear and we weren’t sure if he’d live or die. This week Raffi tries her hardest to keep him alive but after the team travels into the past the power on the ship is drained. The medical systems can’t keep Elnor alive and he dies with Raffi watching, heartbroken.
Last week Evan Evagora spoke to us about the trepidation he had when reading the script for episode 2 but even though episode 3 had him dying it had one major upside.
“Being able to shoot that opposite of Michelle Hurd and with the amazing crew that we have, it felt nothing but safe and secure,” enthuses Evagora, “That’s all you can really feel in intimate situations like that.”
Evagora was thankful that his first death scene as an actor was on Star Trek but this might not be the last time we see him. Raffi is convinced that if she can change the timeline, Elnor will come back to life. We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.
Chris Stepping into the Spotlight
Santiago Cabrera, who adds a roguish charm to Star Trek: Picard as Chris, finally got a chance to take center stage when he heads out into Los Angeles. A transporter glitch leaves him injured and was taken to a clinic that helps undocumented citizens. At first this is a good thing, with Chris needing to avoid official hospitals in order to prevent contaminations to the timeline, but by episode’s end he and his doctor are taken in by immigration.
Cabrera enjoyed this plot because, compared to the rest of the sci-fi storylines around it, this story is grounded in reality.
“I felt like I was in a different show suddenly,” Cabrera says. “I was still doing Star Trek but it was very much in the present.”
Cabrera most enjoyed the moments where Chris had to pretend he was from 2024, which was shown off this week when Chris attempted to fool immigration into thinking he was a doctor.
Having Chris be faced with such a current issue also accomplished the writer’s goal of keeping things difficult for the characters.
“We didn’t want to have them land here and have it be great for them,” explains Goldsman. “That didn’t seem truthful to the level of storytelling we do now. We have (characters) with no money and no ID moving through Los Angeles. We can’t just be like, ‘and then they had jewels!’”
The Bell Riots
As much intrigue as the time travel aspect of this episode creates it also will leave some hardcore fans a little confused. This isn’t the first time Star Trek has visited 2024. In the Deep Space Nine two-part episode, “Past Tense,” the crew was transported to San Francisco in September 2024. There, Sisko and Bashir were forced into a “Sanctuary District,” an enclosed slum where the American government placed poor people. Sisko specifically states that, “there was a place like this in every major city in the United States.”
Los Angeles is certainly a major city but in this episode we still see homeless camps around the city. Why didn’t we see a Sanctuary District?
Goldsman makes it clear they weren’t trying to evoke the “Bell Riots” (an uprising in the Sanctuary Districts depicted in the Deep Space Nine episode) because the world the crew is facing is “not all horror.”
He goes on to say that focusing on issues like immigration was done to appeal more to casual watchers. It makes sense, since the Bell Riots and Sanctuary Districts would take time to explain on screen.
It should also be noted that we didn’t see many homeless extras around, just their tents. Perhaps the COVID restricted shooting gave the team behind Star Trek: Picard a possible out when it comes to this continuity issue. Maybe a team from the Sanctuary Districts had just come through and cleared out a large majority of the people in the camp Raffi walks though.
CORRECTION: Thanks to Nicki Perry in the comments for alerting us to the fact that in the background of the homeless camp you can spot a Sanctuary District Regulations sign. It still doesn’t clear up all the continuity questions but it is a great detail!
Stay tuned for more coverage of Star Trek: Picard as the season continues!