Engage!

Star Trek Picard Season 2 could recast Jean-Luc — yes, really

Will Star Trek boldly give us a young Jean-Luc Picard in 2022?

When Star Trek: Picard Season 2 returns in 2022, the series won’t just look forward to the world beyond 2399; it might take a look into Jean-Luc’s backstory, too.

Sherlock Holmes and his number one android fan, Mr. Data, might not approve of theorizing without sufficient facts, but when you combine the new Picard teaser-trailer with the return of “Q” and certain things Patrick Stewart said on the recent virtual panel, we could be looking at a super deep-divey flashback in Season 2.

And if this wild theory is correct, we’ll get not one Picard actor in Star Trek: Picard Season 2, but two. That’s right: the return of Q in Picard Season 2 means a younger Picard could be in the mix.

Star Trek Picard Season 2 trailer sets up a new Jean-Luc

In the teaser trailer, the first line narrated by Jean-Luc is, “The true final frontier is time.” This is a borderline mic drop, and could have been the last thing Picard said in this teaser, but, tellingly, he continues to talk about time, and specifically mentions the idea that time gives “no second chances.”

If Jean-Luc Picard is thinking about “second chances,” then he’s thinking about the past. The trailer opens with an ominous ticking clock, which gives off some serious Back to the Future vibes.

During the “First Contact Day” panel with Wil Wheaton in which it was revealed that John de Lancie was returning to the Trek franchise as Q, Patrick Stewart said this:

“I wish I could sit here and blurt out to you all the new storylines, and situations and times you’re going to be seeing in this second season.”

The “times,” for what it’s worth, is my emphasis. My take: it means time travel. Come on. What else could he mean? He didn’t say “places” you’re going to see. He said times.

The most important time travel clue in the Star Trek Picard Season 2 teaser

Picard’s model of the USS Stargazer, the starship he commanded before the USS Enterprise.Paramount+

In the trailer, Picard says, “What we do in a crisis often weighs upon us less heavily than what we wish he had done.” As he says this, the camera lingers on a model of the USS Stargazer; next, Picard says, “What could have been...”

On the panel, Stewart also teased the notion of the new season exploring a part of the Trek canon we’ve never seen before:

“Despite 178 episodes of The Next Generation... and four feature films, there are events coming up in Season 2 that have never been seen before.”

Because Star Trek: Picard takes place in 2399 (and now likely 2400), obviously there will be contemporary events that have never been seen before. Clearly, that’s not what Stewart is hinting at. “Events that have never been seen before” clearly means events in the past.

When you put that comment together with the very prominent Stargazer Easter egg, it almost feels like Picard Season 2 has been spoiled! Clearly, one huge event in Picard’s life that has never been seen before is literally any of his time in command of the USS Stargazer. Yes, in the TNG episode “The Battle,” we saw ghostly faux-crew members in a flashback that was orchestrated by mind-control. But, other than a separate flashback in the episode “Violations,” — in which Picard shows Beverly Crusher the body of her dead husband, Jack — there are no other TNG episodes that give us full scenes during Picard’s time on the USS Stargazer.

Picard’s time on the Stargazer was hugely important in his life. In the TNG episode “Tapestry,” Q says that Picard’s past was partially defined by a moment where he had to “take charge of the Stargazer's Bridge when its Captain was killed.” Picard was in command of the Stargazer from 2333 to 2355, a total of 22 years, and was on the mission where Beverly’s husband and Wesley’s father Jack Crusher was killed. This single detail defined Picard’s entire relationship with both Beverly and Wesley for the first two seasons of The Next Generation. Wesley even said he never really forgave Picard for his dad’s death, until the Season 3 episode, “The Bonding.”

On the panel, Stewart says that Q returns at a “shattering moment” in Picard’s life. Stewart seems to indicate this happens in a specific episode, which could mean the entire season isn’t about all this stuff. But, what if that “shattering moment” involves some bad news about the Crusher family? Is Beverly married? Is she alive? If she is alive, are she and Jean-Luc on speaking terms?

Notably, in Picard Season 1, when Jean-Luc needs a doctor to give him a clean bill of health, he doesn’t call up Beverly. Instead, a doctor named Dr. Benayoun visits Picard and tries to talk him out of going back into space. And, interestingly, we learn this guy was the doctor on the Stargazer, not the Enterprise. Why didn’t Picard call Dr. Crusher? What’s going on there? Picard’s guilt about the past and the Stargazer in specific is linked to Beverly and her family.

New Jean-Luc Picard: Engage!

Tom Hardy as Picard clone “Shinzon” in Star Trek Nemesis.Paramount Pictures

If Star Trek: Picard Season 2 does take us back to the Stargazer, then Picard will be revisiting his younger days.

Famously, there’s a precedent for this kind of thing, and it involves Q! In “Tapestry,” Q takes Picard back to his days right after graduation from Starfleet Academy. Other than one flashback in which young Picard (played by Marcus Nash) is stabbed, Patrick Stewart just “plays” older Picard in his younger body. Q told Picard, “you’re twenty years old again!” But, when Picard looks in the mirror and sees Patrick Stewart circa 1993, he says, “I certainly don’t look it.” Q replies, “Well, to everyone else you do.”

If Q takes Picard back in time to the Stargazer years, they’re not going to use the same trick. Having Patrick Stewart now pretend to play himself in a younger body like four decades in his past just won’t fly for anyone. Which means Picard Season 2 will have to cast a younger Picard.

James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart Getty

When Picard was in command of the Stargazer, he was anywhere between 28 and 48. In casting a younger Captain Picard of the USS Stargazer, there are a lot of options.

The in-canon choice should be Tom Hardy. In Star Trek: Nemesis, Hardy plays a younger clone of Picard. And in that film, Jean-Luc shows Beverly a photograph of himself as a young man, and we’re supposed to believe that Jean-Luc looked like Tom Hardy back then. So, if Picard Season 2 wants to get super hardcore as far as canon, it’s time to bring back Tom Hardy.

If Tom Hardy isn’t your cup of Earl Grey, there’s another obvious option. Back in 2020, James McAvoy —who famously played a younger version of Professor X in the X-Men films — said that playing a younger version of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek was his “territory.”

There are two obvious candidates on the board, but are Hardy and McAvoy a little too famous to take on the role? Perhaps. In any event, a “Young Picard” is almost certainly coming to Star Trek: Picard Season 2. And if the show decides to stay in the past beyond this coming season? Who knows ... maybe the “Young Picard” will become your favorite Picard.

Star Trek: Picard Season 2 will hit Paramount+ in 2022.