Star Trek: Picard is one of the most highly anticipated projects in the science fiction institution's storied history. To the shock of virtually everyone, Patrick Stewart announced his return to the franchise that made him an international star in the '80s and '90s at a Star Trek convention in 2018. Stewart last played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis, the final film to feature the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and had reiterated for years that he'd left the character behind him.
But now Picard is back, and along with Star Trek: Discovery, figures to be a cornerstone of CBS All Access's ongoing efforts to revitalize the franchise. Details have been kept under heavy guard, with information leaking out very gradually over the last few months. Only recently was the series given an official title, the appropriately to-the-point Star Trek: Picard; we also got a brief glimpse of Picard himself, looking a bit older and seemingly not wearing a Starfleet uniform.
So what will those show be about? Other than the presence of one of Star Trek's most towering figures, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, but we do know enough to start connecting the dots to surmise what's become of the captain of the USS Enterprise-D. Here's everything we know about Star Trek: Picard so far.
Patrick Stewart Is Back As Picard
After 17 years away from the character, virtually everyone assumed Patrick Stewart had moved on from Star Trek and Jean-Luc Picard. Stewart had another wildly successful genre franchise in the X-Men movies, where he played powerful mutant telepath Charles Xavier off and on for over two decades. He's also still one of the most highly regarded stage actors in the world, and somehow still finds time to voice CIA director Avery Bullock on American Dad.
Stewart has said he took the meeting with Star Trek: Discovery producer Alex Kurtzman as a courtesy and fully intended to decline a Star Trek return. However, Stewart found the story pitch - reportedly the brainchild of longtime Star Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer - so intriguing that he reversed course and signed up for another trip to the 24th century.
Star Trek: Picard Release Date Info
CBS All Access hasn't announced an official release date for Star Trek: Picard just yet. Production began in April 2019, and every indication has been that the Star Trek: Picard season 1 will release in late 2019. CBS All Access brass have stated that one of their longterm goals is to always have new Star Trek content in production, and as Star Trek: Discovery season 3 isn't likely to debut until well into 2020, Star Trek: Picard figures to be Star Trek's flagship series for awhile. The first season will consist of 10 episodes, and Stewart has said he's committed to multiple seasons. Star Trek: Picard will air on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Amazon Prime in most other territories.
The Story Of Picard
So what is the story pitch that managed to convince Stewart to return to Star Trek? We don't actually know yet. There's been no official plot synopsis for the series; all we know for sure is what we've heard from Stewart and Kurtzman. We know Star Trek: Picard takes place roughly 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, and that Picard is no longer a Starfleet captain. He is apparently a deeply changed man, owing at least in part to the destruction of Romulus by a massive supernova, as seen in the first Abrams Star Trek film. We don't know how or why Picard would be so fundamentally affected by the plight of one of his greatest enemies, but there may be clues in the classic TNG episode "Unification". In that two-parter, Picard encountered Spock, who had begun an underground movement on Romulus attempting to reunite the cousin races of Vulcans and Romulans.
Kurtzman has described Picard as a more cerebral, meditative show than Discovery, and has noted it's a rarity for a TV show to star someone as advanced in age as Picard will be here (Stewart himself is 78 but does not appear to have aged a day in the last twenty years). Kurtzman also suggested this is the first step in diversifying the sort of stories Star Trek can tell for CBS All Access; the animated comedy Lower Decks figures to be as radically different from Picard as that series will be to Discovery, and there's no telling what will come of the proposed Section 31 spinoff starring Michelle Yeoh's Mirror Universe Philippa Georgiou.
The Star Trek: Picard Cast
Stewart will have a brand new supporting cast for his return to the future in Star Trek: Picard. Heroes and Merlin star Santiago Cabrera will play the pilot of Picard's ship, and Law & Order: SVU veteran Michelle Hurd will play an intelligence officer with substance abuse issues. Evan Evagora, Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway, and Isa Briones have joined the Star Trek: Picard cast in undisclosed roles.
At this point there's been no mention of the role Stewart's The Next Generation cast mates will play in Star Trek: Picard; indeed, there's no guarantee the likes of Worf or Data will even show up in the series. Stewart will have an old friend, though - Jonathan Frakes will direct at least two episodes of Star Trek: Picard. Frakes played Commander William Riker on all seven seasons of TNG, Picard's reliable second-in-command. There's been no mention of Frakes reprising the role of Riker, but at the very least it'll be nice to know Picard's Number One is still on hand behind the camera for some episodes of Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: Picard Moves The Timeline Forward
Beyond the thrill of checking back in with one of the most beloved figures in all of science fiction, one of the chief allures of Star Trek: Picard is that it will be the first Star Trek project to take place after Star Trek: Nemesis, chronologically. When Nemesis hit theaters in 2002, the only Star Trek series on TV was Enterprise, a show that takes place roughly a century before the adventures of Kirk and Spock. After Enterprise's abrupt cancellation in 2005, Star Trek hibernated until it was revived by J.J. Abrams' films, which took place in an alternate past, featuring younger, slightly different version of Kirk and Spock. Star Trek: Discovery is yet another prequel, taking place about a decade before TOS, even incorporating many of its iconic characters.
For a franchise ostensibly about the future, Star Trek has been obsessing over its own past for far too long. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager all chronicled roughly the same time period of the mid-to-late 24th century. Each of those shows ran for over 170 episodes, making that the most richly realized era of Star Trek by a fair margin. Fans have been understandably eager to find out what happened to that era of Starfleet and the Federation, if the Dominion was ever resurgent, if Benjamin Sisko ever returned, if Data's resurrection through B9 was successful, and on and on. Star Trek: Picard likely won't answer all of those questions, but it's the first entry in the franchise in almost two decades that will be a fresh new chapter instead of a backward-looking nostalgia piece. And there's no better man to take fans into the great unknown of Star Trek's future than Jean-Luc Picard.