Later this month, Patrick Stewart will return to the role that made him a household name. Star Trek: Picard will launch on CBS All Access and see Jean-Luc Picard on a new adventure, but in a new interview with Variety, Stewart notes that the show will be far cry from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He tells Variety that one of the pleasures of doing Logan was returning to a character that was so different from where they started:
“Hugh and I were so thrilled when the last thing we did for ‘X-Men’ was ‘Logan,’” he says. “It was the best ‘X-Men’ experience we both had, because we were the same characters but their world had been blown apart.” He adds, “‘Next Generation’ didn’t end like that. In fact, our last movie, ‘Nemesis,’ was pretty weak.”
It’s a little rich for Stewart to knock Nemesis considering that one of the most widely mocked sequences, the dune buggy chase, was his idea.
But for the new direction of Picard, Stewart doesn’t see the optimism of The Next Generation or The Original Series for that matter:
“In a way, the world of ‘Next Generation’ had been too perfect and too protected,” he says. “It was the Enterprise. It was a safe world of respect and communication and care and, sometimes, fun.” In “Picard,” the Federation — a union of planets bonded by shared democratic values — has taken an isolationist turn. The new show, Stewart says, “was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, ‘Why hasn’t the Federation changed? Why hasn’t Starfleet changed?’ Maybe they’re not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought.”
I get where Stewart is coming from. The world is in a dark place, but it’s not like everything was sunshine and rainbows in the mid-60s when Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, nor was it all perfect in the 1980s-90s of The Next Generation.
I still want to give Picard a chance, but the “We can’t trust the Federation!” noise was already done in the atrocious Star Trek: Insurrection. I’m always wary of a cynical Star Trek. I think that cynicism in science fiction has its place, and Trek can go to some dark places (see Deep Space Nine), but the core of Trek is optimism and I’m curious if Picard can retain that hope.
Star Trek: Picard launches January 23rd.