What Patrick Stewart’s new Star Trek series should (or could) be about

Captain Picard is back – and this could be the chance for Star Trek to return to its roots, while still innovating

Star Trek: The Next Generation

It’s time to chug a cup of hot Earl Grey, tug down your uniform and start practising the flute, because legendary Star Trek: The Next Generation captain Jean-Luc Picard, aka actor Sir Patrick Stewart, is returning to the sci-fi franchise that made him a household name.

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We don’t know much about the new series, other than that Stewart is involved, it’s written/masterminded by longtime Star Trek screenwriter, author and expert Kirsten Beyer and Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman is executive producing – but we’ve given it some thought, and here are just a few ideas about what the further adventures of Picard should (or could) be like.


A return to the past….

Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis (Sky, HF)
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis (Sky)

A lot has changed since Stewart last played Picard in 2002. In particular, the sci-fi genre has shifted away from lighter, episodic storylines into darker and more serialised stories.

This change isn’t necessarily a bad thing – most pertinently, Star Trek: Discovery has made it work well – but if Picard’s returning for a new series, it’d be great to see the more upbeat, traditional episodic storytelling that we were used to in The Next Generation.

Sure, this might be a bit of an adjustment in the current climate, but if series like Doctor Who (and The Orville, though that’s a parody of Star Trek so it doesn’t quite count) can manage to maintain that style and lighter tone, why shouldn’t the Picard series?


…or something completely different

Patrick Stewart

Then again, we obviously can’t expect the new series to exactly follow the traditional Star Trek formula either. Patrick Stewart is now 78, so we imagine the series will see Picard in his twilight years, which offers all sorts of opportunities for interesting new storytelling.

Will Picard have stayed on as a captain (as he was advised to by William Shatner’s Kirk in Star Trek: Generations) rather than being promoted upwards? Will he be on the cusp of retirement? Or will he have left Starfleet behind entirely, finding new challenges on a more local or introspective level?

The new series has the chance to explore how the external changes in Picard’s circumstances interact with the unchanging tone and optimism of traditional Star Trek. We’re used to bold explorers being nice to aliens in space – but what other stories could the Star Trek ethos be used to tell?


A new setting

Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sky, HF)
(Sky)

Branching out from that idea, a few fans have begun to wonder whether the Picard series will stick to the usual Star Trek format – a captain and a crew explore space in a particular spaceship, encountering different ethical dilemmas and general dangers along their way – or move in a new direction, perhaps keeping Picard in a more static location.

This wouldn’t be the first time Star Trek has done this – fan-favourite series Deep Space Nine was set entirely on a space station (though a spaceship element was added in later seasons) – and it would definitely be a good way to set the series apart from Discovery, which takes place on a travelling spaceship.

Could the older Picard be Earthbound, reflecting on his golden years and dealing with sci-fi dilemmas at a local level? Could he be moulding the next generation (cough) of minds at the Starfleet Academy? Or walking the corridors of power, House of Cards style, at Starfleet Command?

Or maybe it could be less of a departure. Even if the new series does still involve space exploration it could be on a more intimate scale, featuring Picard without a big crew or a state-of-the-art ship but still travelling the universe and righting wrongs. Perhaps he could even be operating as a private citizen, trying to uphold Starfleet’s codes long after he left its ranks and working with a smaller and more ragtag crew.

Really, anything would work – provided the creators follow one rule.


Don’t make it dark

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 3: Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Picard holding his face in his hand in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Deja Q (Season 3 Episode 13). In the episode, Picard places his face in his hand after Q requests to board the Enterprise. Original broadcast February 3, 1990. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Frankly, we have enough grim and dark sci-fi these days, and in a statement Stewart hinted that the new drama might have a more hopeful ethos.

“I feel I’m ready to return to [Picard] for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times,” he said.

“I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more.”

Star Trek: Discovery has done a great job creating a darker-shaded version of the Star Trek universe, but that’s not who Picard is – and hopefully a desire to differentiate the new series from Discovery will help keep Jean-Luc as we knew him.

In short: please don’t make Captain Picard swear, guys.


Or just let the fans write the whole thing

The reactions from fans to the news of Picard’s return has been almost universally positive, and has definitely revealed one thing – we’d watch the character do just about anything at this point, meaning that there are already some brilliantly weird story pitches out there.

Personally, we’re hoping for a completely in-holodeck series where Picard solves crimes as a private detective (Dixon Hill returns!), or the one where he finally gets the family winery back off the ground. Basically, if Stewart’s in, we’re in.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation is on Netflix now