When news broke last year that Patrick Stewart was coming back to play Jean-Luc Picard in an upcoming television series on CBS All Access, I was thrilled. Captain Picard is the best character in the Star Trek universe (sorry Kirk and Spock fans) and has left without a real conclusion following Star Trek: Nemesis 17 years ago.
There’s more to Picard’s story, and why not take advantage of the seemingly ageless Stewart?
Then, I started reading more about it. That’s when I started getting worried. While there’s nothing wrong with this being a step in a different direction than the starship captain we’ve grown to love, there seems to be such an emphasis on the new direction for the character that it makes me wonder just how far off the reservation they’re going.
For one thing, they aren’t saying anything about the Star Trek universe itself. They aren’t talking about him as a captain, which makes sense since this takes place 20 years after the events of Nemesis, but one might expect him to be an admiral or possibly commandant of Starfleet Academy. That still may be the case, but I doubt it considering how much attention they’re giving to the character rather than the universe in which he resides.
It’s very possible I could be totally wrong. But when I read comments like the following from executive producer Alex Kurtzman, I start to wonder if the new Picard is less of a space trekker and more of a great character doing different things later in life that have nothing to do with saving the alpha quadrant.
“And so, the question becomes, ‘What has happened to him in that period of time? Have there been occurrences that forced him to reckon with choices that he’s made in his life? How do you hold on to being the person everybody loved when the circumstances around you may have changed so radically?’ And those are the big questions that we’re asking.”
While nobody would expect the circumstances to pick up anywhere near where they left off, I’m very hopeful that he’s not a grape farmer (as he was projected to be at the end of the televisions series), a boring ambassador, or a poet of some sort. The thing that made Picard such an interesting character was his ability to lead in the strangest situations, to come up with solutions to problems like nobody else in the galaxy, and his commitment to doing the right thing no matter what the consequences would have been.
But the biggest reason I am concerned is that modern interpretations of older concepts tend to lean towards a very leftist perspective on society. The Star Trek universe has always had a left-leaning ideology, but it was acceptable because the future as described in the series is one that is conducive to leftist principles. Capitalism, for example, seems to be only available in remnants because technology has allowed a more socialistic ideal to happen. Nobody starves. Everybody has what they need to survive and thrive. In this fictional world, socialism is possible because it’s fictional. We may be very well aware of the untenable doctrines of socialism in our society, but fiction opens the door to sensibilities that are impossible in the modern world.
If the show wants to demonstrate these leftist concepts by bringing Picard to planets that are similar to our modern Earth, it’s possible they could turn the show into a calling for social justice warriors with Picard trying to demonstrate what’s possibly while evil industrialists battle him for the sake of greed. There’s nothing to indicate this is the case, but a scenario similar to this as the backdrop for the new series seems very much in line with the direction Hollywood has been heading since the last ST:TNG movie was made.
They may deliver an intriguing character study that deviates slightly from the series but maintains the core of Jean-Luc Picard. I hope so. As long as they don’t have him milking strange alien creatures, I guess something is better than nothing.