'Star Trek: Picard' brings back Data, Riker and Troi for January 23 premiere

""I am standing up for the Federation, for what it should still represent."

Patrick Stewart took the stage at Madison Square Garden on Saturday as part of New York Comic Con, accompanied by the producers and cast of [Star Trek: Picard, including Hanelle Culpepper, Heather Caden, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Alex Kurtzman, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera, Harry Treadaway, and Evan Evagora. But the biggest news came right at the beginning: Picard will debut January 23, and feature the return of Next Generation castmembers Data, Riker and Troi.

Picard takes place at the end of the 24th century, twenty years after the events of 2002’s Nemesis, the last feature film to include the Next Generation cast. This Star Trek story is part of the rebooted Kelvin timeline, in which the Romulan homeworld has been destroyed, drastically altering galactic politics and allegiances from earlier Trek series.

The new trailer sees Picard waking from a dream of Data painting in his vineyard, only to realize he’s facing a mysterious new adversary and sees himself as the only person able to help a young girl in peril. He goes to the Federation for assistance, but he’s treated like a doddering coot and told to go home. “I am standing up for the Federation, for what it should still represent,” he insists, to no avail. Cue the return of a grey-bearded Will Riker and a beaming Deanna Troi. (And a whole lot of shrieks of delight from the audience.)

patrick stewart picard image
Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in a still from Picard.

“Patrick did not want it to be a TNG reunion show. We only wanted to bring people back if it really mattered to the story. We needed to give them something significant to do, and I think you’ll see each of them has a pivotal role in all 10 episodes,” Caden explained.

As for the Chateau Picard setting, Goldsman explained they wanted the series to be a real-time follow-up to Nemesis. “We all spent a lot of time, collaboratively, filling in the last 20 years. We know pretty much everything that happened in those 20 years.”

Chabon, a longtime Trek fan, shared a contagious enthusiasm about working on the project. “I’ve lived in these imaginative worlds since I was ten years old, I think it was 1973. Almost every one of my novels has at least one hidden Star Trek reference or another. It comes very naturally to me to think in terms of Star Trek,” he explained.

Briones says her character has a “complicated” relationship with Picard that she can’t say much about, but that her instincts tell her to seek him out after she goes through a horrible trauma. (Could the Borg have something to do with it? Did she get the Locutus treatment too?)

Hurd says her character, Rafi, isn’t super happy to see Picard, and they have a thorny past that we’ll learn more about. She did hint that her skills as a “genius hacker and systems analyst” will play a major role in the story.

Intriguingly, both Treadaway and Evagora will play Romulans, hinting that the story of Picard will explore both the destruction of Romulus and the nefarious aims of the Borg collective.

Despite the show’s clear ambition to tell a new story with Picard, Stewart joked about returning to the well. “As you will shortly discover, there’s nothing worse than revisiting ancient territory,” he quipped.

Star Trek: Picard comes to the CBS All Access streaming platform on January 23.