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Star Trek: Picard’s Season 2 casting leak could confirm a time travel saga

A very familiar face is returning. Will Q take Jean-Luc into the past?

He’s (probably) back! After saying goodbye to Star Trek, seemingly forever, one beloved Next Generation cast member may be returning for Star Trek: Picard Season 2.

During a Cameo video message to a fan, actor John de Lancie gave an update on filming Picard Season 2. While discussing his co-stars, de Lancie let slip the name of an actor whose character we’d assumed was gone for good. But could there be another explanation for his admission?

Here’s what de Lancie possibly revealed and why it might support a theory that Q is taking Jean-Luc on a wild time-travel romp. Possible spoilers (and wild speculation) ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 2.

Recently speaking to a fan via celebrity video-message app Cameo, de Lancie said:

“I am back into the Star Trek Universe. I am doing Picard right now with – of all people – Mr. Picard. So, that’s been great fun. It’s been great fun to see Patrick [Stewart], to see Brent [Spiner], and to see Jonathan [Frakes]. I am going to be working with Jonathan coming up here in a couple of weeks. So, it’s great fun.”

Did you catch it? As TrekMovie and other fan sites have noted, it makes sense that Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes are on set for Picard – but what’s Brent Spiner still doing there? Making matters more complicated, de Lancie mentioned in another Cameo video that:

“I am on the next season of Picard. And Sir Patrick and I have had a whole bunch of scenes, which we thoroughly enjoyed working with each other. I have got one coming up with Data on this coming Tuesday. So yeah, we are moving along.”
Data (Brent Spiner) takes a sip of wine before dying in Picard Season 1.CBS/Paramount+

Is Commander Data back for Star Trek: Picard Season 2?

Spiner’s Commander Data, of course, died in the Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Picard, paving the way for the actor playing him to exit the series as well. It’s not yet clear if Data is back in Season 2, but it does appear Spiner is confirmed to return in some capacity.

Buried in a Paramount+ press release for First Contact Day back in April, Spiner was listed in the cast for Picard Season 2. Conventional wisdom has it that the actor won’t be playing Data, instead reprising his other role as Altan Soong, Data’s previously unknown human brother (first introduced in Picard’s two-part Season 1 finale). Alternately, could Spiner be playing Lore, Data’s evil twin brother? Or is he really back as Data?

When Inverse spoke to Spiner earlier this month, he said he was “open” to returning for Picard. That’s certainly not a confirmation he’s in Season 2, but it does appear that de Lancie has confirmed he filmed scenes with Spiner recently, suggesting he’s still a part of Picard’s second season.

Q (John de Lancie) takes Picard (Patrick Stewart) back to the beginning of time in “All Good Things...”CBS/Paramount

Picard’s time-travel plot thickens

Now, de Lancie’s comments about reuniting with Spiner and sharing a scene with Data would seem to unambiguously confirm that the character is returning to Star Trek: Picard. (That said, the actor could have simply meant that he had a scene with Spiner, referring to the actor by his previous character’s name.)

But if Q is meeting Data – or some version of Data – that kind of interaction would seem to double down on the idea Picard Season 2 will involve time travel. In the teaser trailer for Season 2, Jean-Luc mentions that “the true final frontier is time.” Elsewhere, the trailer contains all kinds of hints that Season 2 will deal with Picard reliving events from his past.

If Q is wrapped up in a time-travel story, it wouldn't be the character’s first, ahem, time. In the TNG episodes “Tapestry” and “All Good Things...” Q showed Picard alternate ways history could have progressed, bringing Picard back to pivotal points in his own life. Were similar events to unfold in Picard Season 2, Q might certainly meet Data.

Data dreaming of his dad. (Both played by Brent Spiner.)CBS/Paramount

The Spiner cameo nobody has considered

There’s another way Spiner could appear in a flashback involving Q, one that wouldn’t require him to play Data. What if Spiner is playing a middle-aged version of Dr. Noonian Soong, Data’s actual creator?

In TNG, we saw a “young” version of Soong via holograms and dream sequences, in the episodes “Birthright Part 1” and “Inheritance.” In both cases, he was played by Spiner. On top of that, in the TNG episode “Brothers,” Spiner played Soong as a dying old man.

But what about all the time in between? Sometime after Data’s activation in 2338, but before his 2367 meeting with his father, Noonian Soong was presmably still running around the galaxy. We don’t know much about this period in his life, but a much younger Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer in the 2340s and 2350s. The Picard teaser trailer makes a big deal out of Jean-Luc’s model of the USS Stargazer, implying some aspect of that backstory could be explored further in Season 2.

Did the Stargazer cross paths with Noonian Soong? We know so little about those years, and it’s possible some aspect of Soong’s exile has been kept secret. Additionally, unanswered questions abound about where Altan Soong came from.

If Q visits Data’s creator at some point during the 2340s, it’s possible that Altan’s almost totally blank backstory could be explained, too. And when de Lancie said he had a scene coming up with Data, he could have meant Data’s dad.

Star Trek: Picard hits Paramount+ in early 2022.

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