It's been 17 years since we saw Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in a Star Trek adventure — and even longer since we saw him in a TV show. But fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation can rest easy, as our favorite Shakespeare-quoting captain will be back in full force early next year. Star Trek: Picard will follow the adventures of Capt. Picard as he gets (some of) the band back together as he (perhaps) saves the United Federation of Planets yet again.
Whether you've memorized every one of Picard's impassioned speeches, or simply enjoyed the occasional TNG rerun after dinner, Star Trek: Picard looks like it'll be a treat for both hardcore Trekkies and general prestige TV fans. Here's what you need to know before Star Trek: Picard debuts.
Star Trek: Picard release date
First things first: Set a reminder for stardate -303062.38 — that's January 23, 2020, for those of you who didn't attend Starfleet Academy. That's when the Picard series will debut on CBS All Access in the United States, the CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada and Amazon Prime Video elsewhere in the world. CBS has not yet announced an exact time of day for release, but 8 p.m. Eastern standard time sounds about right.
Star Trek: Picard trailer
There's a lot to unpack here, but basically: a woman named Dajh insists that only Picard can save her from a kind of unspecified threat. A somewhat reluctant Picard assembles a motley crew of experts and sets off on a new adventure, somewhat in opposition to official Federation protocols. Along the way, they'll team up with old friends, fight Romulan warbirds and perhaps even discover the fate of the villainous Borg race.
Oh, and Picard has an adorable pit bull whom he named Number One. (Of course.)
What do you need to know for Star Trek: Picard?
There are 176 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and four movies featuring the TNG cast. If you haven't already seen these, your odds of watching them all before January are pretty slim. However, it's (probably) not necessary to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek to get ready for the Picard series. Let's focus on the big picture. (And be aware that there will be MASSIVE SPOILERS for both the show and the movies past this point.)
Jean-Luc Picard is the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, a 24th-century starship that explores strange, new worlds, seeks out new life and new civilizations and — well, you know the drill. During his seven years in command of the Enterprise, Picard becomes one of Starfleet's most celebrated captains. This is due in part to his command staff, which includes talented officers like the charismatic Cmdr. William Riker, the empathic Counselor Deanna Troi and the curious android Lt. Cmdr. Data.
Arguably, the Enterprise's biggest contribution under Picard was discovering and fighting the Borg: a race of cyborgs who "assimilate" other species, and strip them of their identities. Although the Enterprise successfully repelled a Borg attack before it could destroy Earth, the Borg first managed to capture and assimilate Picard, remaking him into Locutus of Borg. Picard's temporary assimilation into the Borg collective remains one of his most traumatic experiences.
Picard's ongoing war with the Borg is one major plot point to keep in mind; the fate of Romulus is another. In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard helped Romulan loyalists defeat Shinzon, a rogue warlord who took control of Romulus after orchestrating a terrorist attack on its senate. (Shinzon was also a clone of Picard — it’s a long story.) Things only got worse in Star Trek (2009), when Romulus was destroyed in a daring experiment gone wrong. Picard's occasional alliances with the now-displaced Romulans will almost certainly play a big role in the upcoming series.
One other thing to know: To rescue Picard after Shinzon's defeat, Data sacrificed himself. Nemesis was the last TNG adventure onscreen, so we can't say for sure, but it's likely that the android's death weighs heavily on Picard.
Tom's Guide has put together a list of the 15 Best Capt. Picard Episodes of Star Trek, if you want a quick-and-dirty primer. We're not sure exactly which episodes will get callbacks, but these should at least give you a pretty solid feel for Picard and his crew.
Star Trek: Picard cast
Who's in the cast of Star Trek: Picard? Well, Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, obviously — although he almost turned the role down when CBS first offered it.
Thanks to the trailers, we also know to expect a few cameos from prominent Star Trek characters. Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner will reprise their roles as Riker, Troi and Data, respectively. We'll also see Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine: a reformed Borg drone who was one of the main characters on Star Trek: Voyager. Sharp-eyed fans have also spotted Jonathan Del Arco as Hugh: another reformed Borg who tried to spread individualism throughout the Collective.
However, these returning Trek characters aren't the main cast members in Picard. Instead, we have:
- Isa Briones as Dajh, a young woman who comes to Picard for help
- Alison Pill as Dr. Agnes Jurati, who accompanies Picard because they have a common goal
- Santiago Cabrera as Chris Rios, an ex-Starfleet officer who flies a transport ship
- Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker, Rios's partner in crime and intelligence expert
- Harry Treadaway as Narek, a Romulan agent
- Evan Evagora as Elnor, a Romulan refugee
The actors playing these characters have been pretty tight-lipped beyond that, but we should expect an ensemble cast and some friction between the various crew members.
That's about it for now. What's next for Picard, his crew and his wonderful dog, we'll find out together on January 23.