The season three premiere of Star Trek: Picard has fans buzzing and asking questions. TrekMovie got a chance to ask some of those questions with showrunner and episode writer Terry Matalas. Although it was titled “The Next Generation” and featured the return of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters, Terry revealed that some key story elements actually have their roots in Star Trek: Enterprise, a show he worked on. We also cover more Trek connections, new cannon bits, and what’s the matter with Captain Shaw.
M’Talas Prime – a terrible place named after Terry 20 years ago
Raffi’s story is set on the planet M’Talas Prime which fans may think she was created for picard to honor the showrunner, but actually the roots go back to Terry’s early days with the franchise when he worked on Star Trek: Enterprise. Matalas explains the history of his namesake planet:
I think it was Chris Black who invented it Business. The idea was to give my name to the most horrible place in the galaxy. And when I was a young wizard on Star Trek: Enterprise. The vilest place in the galaxy was of course called “Matalas”. Soon picard when we were trying to name a place for some sort of epicenter of organized crime in the galaxy, someone said, “Shouldn’t it be named after this dastardly place named for you?” And so the idea was that it was supposed to be self-deprecating, hoping fans would run to Google to find it.
Matalas also confirmed that in picardthe planet M’Talas is “well outside the jurisdiction of the Federation”, and this location will return during the season, saying:
There’s a specific underworld story that we’re going to tell a bit about.
Frontier Day is also linked to Star Trek: Enterprise
“The Next Generation” had several mentions of the upcoming “Frontier Day”. Matalas explained this new Star Trek vacation:
It’s the 250th anniversary of the NX-01’s spacewalk and the de facto birth of modern Starfleet, and you’ll hear more about it. Starfleet didn’t really solidify until the release of NX-01 – it was the first ship with a multi-species crew and its voyage was crucial to the founding of the Federation. It was basically the birth of Starfleet as we know it.
Captain Jonathan Archer’s mission on the NX-01 Enterprise left Earth in 2151 and Matalas has confirmed that Season 3 of picard is set in 2401 “at NX-01 launch time”. As a clarification, Matalas said the Star Trek Log posted last week on Instagram incorrectly listed the launch date of the USS Titan as 2402, it should be 2401. And Captain Shaw’s mention of being captain during five years also covered the period he oversaw the ship’s refit.
The little things in the service of history… or just to be “cool”
The third-season premiere contained a fair number of little franchise-related hookups, nods, props, and music tracks. Matalas explained how it’s by design, and it starts with the story they tell in this new season:
There are 57 years of stories, characters, music, world building, spaceships. I don’t know how you don’t encounter these things often in this universe. There is absolutely more than one Andor take a show, which is absolutely interesting, and I would love to see that and be a part of it. But I don’t know if this approach suits this particular story of the The next generation crew. I’d say the only thing that’s fair for nostalgia is the title card “In the 25e Century,” but what it was really meant to do was signal that it’s going to feel a bit different than what came before in seasons one and two. This had to be done.
He rejects notions of “fan service”, pointing to a particular favorite moment:
I just enjoyed a proper spaceship departure sequence. Is it fan service or is it just something that should be part of mainstream Star Trek?
Of course, the new season brings changes, even with some small details. The showrunner gave some insight into how some of these decisions can be made, using the example of Dr. Crusher’s weapon and revealing how there’s a nod to a classic Trek game:
In science fiction, there are two answers to every question, and if you do it right, both answers are correct. First answer: it makes sense and it makes sense in the rules of the world. Answer 2: It’s just awesome. The cool factor. And with this opening scene, we wanted to show Beverly active, commanding the moment. It was supposed to be surprising, you don’t find her in the infirmary on a starship as you might expect. So there’s just something inherently cool about the protective heroine signaling her change here. And in discussions with Gates and Doug, we decided that just point and shoot didn’t seem like enough. The physical act of carrying a load in the bedroom, Linda Hamilton through Annie Oakley in the Wild West of space.
That’s what we wanted to talk about. And because she’s not on an official Starfleet ship, because the Eleos is a boarderless Medic ship that travels through the less traveled sectors, because they would equip themselves as they go. with everything available wherever they are, it seemed logical that the weapons on board might be slightly unknown or obsolete. It’s also a fun nod to the weaponry of some of the older games like Voyager: Elite Force which was supposed to feel more tactile for gamers. So it was, at least for us, both cool and understandable given their situation.
Another interesting choice was to have Jean-Luc Picard wear reading glasses, which Matalas says was another example of a spontaneous decision:
That’s because Patrick Stewart looks great in reading glasses. Patrick at this time of day felt like maybe he wanted reading glasses and then we all rationalized it and it looks really cool. And so we literally turned to each other on set and said he had a Retinax allergy.
Shaw is his own man… and he chose Seven for a reason
One of the most talked about introductions to picard the third season is Captain Shaw, the commanding officer of the USS Titan played by Todd Stashwick. While some may draw comparisons between how this character clashes with the show’s heroes, Matalas insists the character was actually influenced by his last show, 12 monkeys:
With 57 years of history, it is impossible that a character is not compared to another character. But the truth is, Shaw is all his. When we sat down, all we envisioned was a character who wouldn’t be seduced by these two legends on board, for deeply traumatic reasons from his past. And as a kind of new version, we started using the phrase “Captain Stashwick”, based on our colleague Todd Stashwick from 12 monkeys. Never was the name of Jellico, Styles, or anyone from previous iterations mentioned in any of these threads.
Shaw was also shown to have issues with Seven, now the Titan’s commander and first officer. But Matalas said there is more to this story:
It is up to the captain to choose his first officer. So clearly, he saw something in her. I think he believes in her on many levels, but I think he definitely has some unspoken resentment about her past.
picard airing exclusively on Paramount+ in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and South Korea. It also streams internationally on Amazon Prime Video in over 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi channel and airs on Crave.
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