It was an already incredible day for Star Trek in Hall H, with Discovery season three hype, a new Short Treks trailer, surprise panel stars, the unveiling of a new animated show, as well as an official Star Trek podcast, but nothing topped the last portion of the panel with Captain Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart. The hall erupted upon his appearance, and the panel only got better from there.
He was joined onstage by Isa Briones (Dahj), Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal “Chris” Rios), Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker), Alison Pill (Dr. Agnes Jurati), Harry Treadaway (Narek) and Evan Evagora (Elnor), alongside executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman and Heather Kadin as well as supervising producer Kirsten Beyer.
The first thing Stewart did was say how much his dog in the series wanted to be there for the panel. CBS All Access has now confirmed that his name will be Number One, and isn’t it just perfect?
He went onto say, “I read a line in a scene [that is coming up] where I say, ‘We never know, do we, when our last moment will be.’ For me, I can twist that a little and say, ‘We never know, do we, when our best moment will be. And that is now.’”
Stewart had been asked to reprise his role of Picard many times, and always turned them down. When asked why he decided to take on the mantle of Jean-Luc again he said, “As the subject matter of this new proposed series became clearer to me, and when I began to meet our incredibly distinguished writing team and to attend the sessions with them, I knew that something very unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it. So, here I am, and [I’m] very very happy to be here.”
After the trailer dropped the fans were so uproarious Stewart asked for it to be played again, and for the hall to hold in its enthusiasm until the end of the trailer in order to pick up things they might have missed the first time and said, “then when it’s over you can riot!” A pin drop could have been heard during the second play-through, such is the quiet, commanding power of the one and only Sir Patrick Stewart.
Surprise stars from the trailer, Brent Spiner (Data), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) and Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh) then joined the panel, and Stewart slipped in that Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) will also be in the series.
The cast had to be pretty tight lipped about their roles in Picard, but executive producer Akiva Goldsman said of the show as a whole that it’s “slower, more gentle, more lyrical. It is certainly more character based. It also takes on the same thing that the [other series took on], which is hope for a future that is in many ways better than the world we live in today. We think it’s a new kind of Star Trek show, made by a lot of people who love all the old kinds of Star Trek shows.”
Of Picard’s character in this new series, executive producer Alex Kurtzman said, “Picard represents the ideal captain. He is the leader we all want, and boy do we need that, now more than ever. It’s impossible to distinguish the character of Picard from Patrick himself because they really are in many ways, one, in a beautiful way.”
Kurtzman continued saying, “TNG (The Next Generation) reflected a more innocent time…but we live in a much more complicated and darker time now. And Trek at its best has always been a mirror that’s reflected the world that we live in. So Picard, in the best way, is the one who is still standing up for what matters. He’s the one who’s still standing up for the ideals that we believe in.”
He clarified that “we’re not seeking to reinvent it. We’re [not] doing the dark version of TNG. But Picard has to soul search and in order to make the world brighter he has to face that [dark] part of himself. And he’s still fighting for all the things he would have fought for in TNG. He has to dig even deeper into himself in order to get there, and I think that’s why he remains such an aspirational and amazing captain, because we all want to believe that in the darkest of times the best part of ourselves would emerge and that is Jean-Luc Picard and Patrick.”
Stewart got teary-eyed at the end of the panel, while speaking of filming the last episode of The Next Generation. He said, “Jonathan Frakes and I had a scene in the captain’s ready room, and he said, ‘It’s been an honor, Captain.’ And I was supposed to say, ‘No, the honor has all been mine.’ And I couldn’t say it. The emotion of saying goodbye to those seven years was so intense. We tried again and again to get it on camera, and it was almost impossible. I found as soon as we began talking in the writer’s room, that powerful emotion came surging back, and it’s still right here on this platform, and it’s not going to go away.”