What the Original Series Vibes in the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Trailer Really Mean

The final season of Star Trek: Picard is (mostly) a Next Generation reunion. But the tone of the trailer is much closer to The Original Series feature films.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Trailer
Photo: Paramount+

May the wind be at our backs! Although that nautical seafaring line sounds like something Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) might have said to the crew of the USS Enterprise 1701-D, the truth is, that line comes from Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. And now, as Picard season 3 comes to us at warp speed, it seems that The Next Generation crew is getting their own version of the classic series movies. 

Here’s why the visual homages in the new “Star Trek Day” Picard season 3 trailer are as much about the Kirk, Spock, and Bones era, as it is about The Next Generation.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Trailer

Since the debut of Picard season 2, showrunner Terry Matalas has made it clear that his love for the classic The Original Series films informed the visual style of the series, noting that the uniform styles in season 2 were specifically an homage to Kirk and Spock’s costumes in The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. But the trailer for Picard season 3 takes those small nods in season 2 and basically makes it the entire visual style for season 3.

First of all, the trailer begins with Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), who is clearly rocking a huge Wrath of Khanstyle popped collar, first pioneered by Kirk. But, as fans recall, that kind of pseudo-Starfleet civilian garb extended into The Search for Spock, where Kirk rocked yet another popped collar. It’s this and similar beats from The Search for Spock that seem to dominate the entire Picard season 3 trailer.

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When Riker and Picard talk about “needing a ship,” they’re hanging out in a bar somewhere, which is probably on Freecloud. But this really seems to reference Bones trying to charter an off-the-books space flight in The Search for Spock. Then, when Riker decides to talk to Picard to actually pick up their ship, it suddenly feels like this whole season is a borderline remake of Search for Spock.

For one thing, the look of the new USS Titan bears a strong resemblance to the classic USS Excelsior from that film, while the space dock is a subtle redesign of the space dock we first saw in Star Trek III. This design, which came from ILM artists David Carson and Nilo Rodis-Jamero, has endured more than any space station in the entire canon. And when Seven, Riker, and Picard get onto the bridge of the Titan, the shots are almost identical to what we saw in Spacedock in Star Trek III.

But what does it all mean? Is it just cool fan service? Well, partially.

While some critics of the first two seasons have felt the series left behind TNG fans, Matalas has done several podcast interviews indicating that Picard season 3, will, in many ways, seem like a new series. By visually referencing The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock so heavily, it seems like Picard season 3 could be poised to give us an emotional and character-centric story in the vein of the TOS Trek films. In other words, if Picard seasons 1 and 2 were more like The Motion Picture – competent but not warm — then Picard season 3 could be the character-focused TNG adventures fans have always wanted.

Other than perhaps First Contact, you could argue that the TNG cast never quite got the same kind of room to do big cinematic stories about Starfleet characters who were approaching retirement age. While every TNG film could have been “the last ride” for the crew, there was never a clear plan to make one story that concluded the stories of those characters. The classic crew got that with The Undiscovered Country, but the TNG crew didn’t get it with Nemesis.

But now, as Matalas and Star Trek franchise creative head Alex Kurtzman have said, they will. The Easter eggs in the Picard season 3 trailer aren’t just nifty shout-outs to production design from 1984. Instead, it seems these cues are a promise, a signal to fans that this time, the Next Gen gang is going to get the kind of warm, big adventure we got with the TOS crew from 1982 to 1991. Picard season 3 has 10 episodes to essentially create the TNG movies we always wanted. And with this trailer, it looks like it may actually happen.

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Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Release Date

Star Trek: Picard season 3 hits Paramount+ on Feb. 16, 2023.