Thursday, 28 June 2018

Picard Deserves a Return

The initial news that Alex Kurtzman had secured a deal to oversee Star Trek for the next five years - and the potential introduction of four new elements to the franchise - was met with a great deal of positivity.

But the news shortly after that was, apparently, that Patrick Stewart was close to a deal which would see him return as Jean-Luc Picard very nearly broke the internet.

I may have slightly exaggerated there but that's what it felt like. Could Picard return after 16 years? Had Patrick Stewart verbally agreed that it was going to happen?

Part of me was dead excited at the prospect while a tiny little bit wondered if it was worth retreading the boards after such a long absence from the screen. How would Picard fair after such a long gap between appearances - four years more than the gap between Turnabout Intruder and The Motion Picture if you were wondering versus Kirk's tenure in command.

Yet of all the captains of the five "older" series, Picard is the one who deserves one final last hurrah more than any other. In 1994 William Shatner bowed out as Kirk taking on Malcolm McDowell's Soran in Star Trek Generations. In 1999 Avery Brooks ascended to become one with the Prophets/Wormhole Aliens in What You Leave Behind and closed the seven year story of Deep Space Nine. Janeway not only brought the crew home in Endgame but to rub salt into the Picard-sized injury she turned up promoted to dish out Jean-Luc's orders in Nemesis. Even Archer had some sort of finality to proceedings with his background being revealed onscreen in In a Mirror, Darkly (future Federation president) and overseeing the formation of the Federation in Enterprise's substandard series finale.

But Picard never got that shot. All Good Things... had a great ending in the form of the poker game yet there was nothing conclusive because The Next Generation's cast were going from TV straight into movies with Generations which was a mere continuation to their adventures in a bigger format. 

Both in the case of Janeway and Sisko there was a finality to their respective series and their purpose was done; circle was complete etc etc... but there was never a Big Plan for Picard mainly because of the era in which The Next Generation was conceived.  Think about this as well - The Next Generation was massively popular, moreso than the three shows that followed it so why wouldn't you want to draw from that televisual well of success and see if you can reel in those fans who have not warmed to Discovery and are hankering for the olden days. Surely they will flock in their droves to the screen whatever the size to see Picard back in action once again. Not only is it great for news coverage but it won't hurt the profit margin either I would expect.

The concept of the story arc, the expansive universe building and all those other pieces which helped shape Deep Space Nine and most certainly Discovery were still some years away. The Next Generation was episodic and to give Picard some form of arc and ultimate purpose now could be an amazing thing to do. On the flip side it does kind of go against the set up of the role in its very episodic nature!

The ending for Nemesis might have see Riker moving to the Titan and the death of Data but for Picard the world spun onwards and there was no concrete conclusion to his story.

So off he wanders down one of the Enterprise-E's many curved corridors with the knowledge that Data may not be dead since B4 can sing Irving Berlin. But there's no finality, no closure to the journey for Picard even at that point in what was billed as A Generation's Final Journey Has Begun. Not only can Kurtzman provide this but he can do something that many fans have been begging for since the announcement of a new Star Trek series over two years ago - something set post-Nemesis, a show set in the far, far future.

Perhaps we are thinking on too grand a scale. Might this be a TV movie for CBS or its All Access platform? Perhaps a six part series to round off the voyages of The Next Generation and thereby destroy nearly two decades of the literary universe?! Very credible option but what if Picard is going to turn up as a cameo just to send a new crew off on their voyages or act as a mentor across several episodes, turning up sporadically or even just the once as he did for Emissary

There really is no way to be concrete certain what the plan apart from Stewart to return to the role somehow in the very near future. Then there could be that Logan style sendoff which Stewart oddly enough also appeared in as Professor X - there's lots of possibilities and I'm sure you already have your own dream of how he should come back.

Stweart's Picard is also a good choice to bring back because he represents everything that the Federation stands for; he's an old school believer in the Prime Directive who will stand for what is right and is the model diplomat. He is the statesman of the Star Trek universe and would give a stable balance between the action of Discovery and the more thoughtful overview presented in those 1980's and '90's iterations of the Roddenberry vision.

Picard is one of the most iconic Star Trek characters of all time and to bring him back into a universe that has only just discovered Discovery and that Spock had an adopted sister is a bold move indeed. You have to ask how the vision of Picard's 24th Century will be remastered just as the 23rd has been and whether or not he'll even be in the 24th Century. Might Kurtzman actually be about to whisk him back in time just because...? How much influence on the character direction (conclusion?) will Patrick Stewart - now 77 - be allowed?

The mind truly boggles but Picard - if not the Enterprise-D/E crew - deserve a stronger finale and way to round off the narrative of that generation cleanly. Is it Star Trek's biggest open dangled thread that had no way to be paid off at the time? I'd say so and I trust that the Kurtzman era will respect the character and not ruin one of the franchise's great icons. Who would have thought that when he stepped out of the shadows of the observation lounge in 1987 that we would be contemplating his continuing adventures 31 years later? Who'd have thought indeed...

What's your theory on how Picard will return to Star Trek? How would you like to see him bow out? Drop your thoughts below!!!

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