One of the most important people in the life of Jean-Luc Picard was absent from Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard. Yes, Data was Picard's android bestie, but Dr. Beverly Crusher was on the shortlist of characters fans had expected to see by the end of Picard Season 1. She never appeared. But now that Season 2 is in pre-production, several TNG cast members have hinted at how their characters might return. Gates McFadden, Dr. Crusher herself, recently talked about her possible appearance in Season 2, and that Crusher comeback could finally resolve one of the biggest mistakes of Jean-Luc's life.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several Star Trek conventions have gone online. Following a panel at GalaxyCon discussion, McFadden gave a two-part exclusive interview to TrekMovie. In the interview, she was asked if her character would return for Picard. As reported in part 1 of the TrekMovie, interview here's what she said:
"Well, I don’t know. There’s a good chance, let’s put it that way. But I have no contract signed."
McFadden also shared her personal insights as to how Crusher might have changed in the time after Nemesis (2379) and the start of Picard (2399):
"She definitely would be somebody who was very engaged in the world and trying to make it a better place. I would not see her as somebody retiring. She obviously raised a kid while she was a full-on command officer, so I think the sky’s the limit in terms of what her life could be."
Fans also asked McFadden to weigh in on the relationship between Picard and Crusher, and what that might look like in a 2399 context. Here's her thoughts on the matter:
"Patrick made a decision at some point that he was opening it up to other relationships in our show, and in the movies, certainly. So I can’t imagine that it’s suddenly going to be different, but it doesn’t mean that there’s not a relationship there. Obviously, from our all of our scenes, there is a relationship and that’s great. So who knows? I have no clue, but it would it would be lovely."
This last point is the most important, since Picard's relationship with Crusher represents his greatest personal failure, ever.
Picard and Crusher's relationship confused us all
At the panel, McFadden noted her character was initially designed to be "the love interest of Picard." Back in the first TNG episode ever, "Encounter at Farpoint," that concept has a pretty weird layer: Picard was responsible for the death of Beverly's husband, Jack Crusher. Throughout all seven seasons of TNG, we saw Beverly and Jean-Luc get close, but a permanent relationship never quite materialized. They had a lot of breakfasts together ("Lessons" et al.), and once, an alien duplicate of Picard ("Allegiance)" really came on to Crusher. But other than getting space-drunk together in "The Naked Now," Picard and Crusher didn't get real about their feelings until the TNG Season 7 episode, "Attached."
In that one, Picard and Crusher were forcibly given a telepathic link. As a result, they learned a thing or two about each other. The biggest bombshell was that Jean-Luc had always been in love with Crusher, even before her husband died under his command. That means his inability to make up his mind about their relationship was connected to some pretty screwed-up guilt. Again, this is guilt Picard was carrying well before TNG got going. In "Attached" you really got the sense that Jean-Luc and Beverly might get over all the space skeletons in their closet and just move forward with a real relationship. In the series finale, "All Good Things..." you really got that impression. Picard and Crusher kissed in his ready room, and, we also visited one version of the future in which they were married. Until they got divorced.
Were Picard and Crusher married (and divorced) in the prime timeline, too?
In "All Good Things..." Picard visited a version of 2395 which never actually came to pass. But, in the real 2399, a few things were similar. Picard retired to his family's vineyard, and was struggling with a debilitating illness. At some point he accepted a promotion to Admiral, and then left Starfleet. The details of Jean-Luc's future life turned out to be very different, but minus that big bushy beard, the broad strokes were startlingly similar. This leads to the big question: In "All Good Things..." Jean-Luc and Beverly marry and she keeps his last name, becoming the new "Captain Picard." So, did this happen in "our" timeline, or what?
The kneejerk answer is no, and that's because little else about the "All Good Things..." future matches up with Picard. Yet the second episode of Star Trek: Picard Season 1 contains a strange clue that could indicate that Beverly and Jean-Luc are not on great terms in this timeline either.
The Stargazer clue
In "Maps and Legends," Jean-Luc calls up a doctor named Benayoun, and he mentions they served on the USS Stargazer together. Why would Picard call-up his old doctor friend from the Stargazer when he could have just called up Dr. Beverly Crusher? Some fans used this evidence that Beverly had died off-screen, but that seems too cruel and random. Picard makes a big deal about how Jean-Luc has walked away from uncomfortable aspects of his life. Sure, he's friendly with some of his old bridge crew (like Troi and Riker) Crusher isn't mentioned at all. Even when Zhaban suggests Picard call-up the old Enterprise crew, Crusher's name isn't specifically mentioned. Why?
The answer to this could simply be that just like in "All Good Things..." Picard and Crusher got married, and it didn't go well. That's why he's calling up the old Stargazer doctor to certify him "fit for space travel." Maybe he can't face Beverly because they're not a not on speaking terms. That makes her possible appearance in Picard Season 2 all the more intriguing. At the very least, perhaps these two could have some closure.
Another Captain Picard?
The name of the show is Star Trek: Picard, and if the creators and writers wanted to get clever, they could keep the "All Good Things..." future plotline, and bring back McFadden as Captain Beverly Picard, just like in TNG. If Jean-Luc and Beverly are divorced but forced to work together for some crazy, over-the-top Star Trek-y reasons, the tension of Season 2 could go through the roof. Plus, if Beverly does come back — and maybe joins the central cast — it could create an interesting way for the series to continue if Stewart decided he didn't want to do a Season 3. If Beverly returns, we could be looking at a long future of Star Trek: Picard that wouldn't even need Jean-Luc, because it still has Captain Picard.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 does not yet have a release date.