It wasn't until the end of Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 3 that Jean-Luc had assembled something that resembled a starship crew. In fact, arguably, his motley crew aboard the La Sirena didn't really come together until the very last episode of the season. The entire 10-episode arc of Picard Season 1 was basically an extended pilot episode establishing a new ensemble who will be much closer and more cooperative in Picard Season 2.
In a new interview, Picard Season 1 showrunner Michael Chabon and star Patrick Stewart both hint that Season 2 of Picard might be a little more like The Next Generation for one big reason: All the characters (and actors) know each other now.
If you've downloaded the Jeff Russo score for Picard Season 1, then you know one of the final tracks, taken from Episode 10, is titled "The Crew Leaves As One." In the final scene of "Et in Arcadia Ego Part 2," we very clearly see al the characters — Captain Rios, Dr. Jurati, Seven of Nine, Raffi, Soji, Elnor and of course, Picard himself — totally unified in some kind of common goal. Right now, it's unclear exactly what the mission of the La Sirena will be (Picard just says "it's time") but one thing is totally clear: This will be a new crew, a new family.
"The first season of Picard, especially the first half, was about learning how to make Picard," Michael Chabon told the LA Times in a new joint interview with Patrick Stewart.
"There was no socializing [between the actors] for the first five months," Patrick Stewart said. "We were shooting. When we came to the end of the series, we had promotional activities to engage with and we were traveling together on airplanes and got to know one another so much better."
Stewart points out that this sense of camaraderie between the cast only really emerged after the series was completed. This makes a certain amount of sense. For several episodes, the various stories about the different characters took place in insolation from each other. Rios doesn't appear until Episode 3, and Soji — arguably the most pivotal character in the show — doesn't even meet Picard until Episode 6.
Unlike literally all Trek series that came before it, Picard didn't launch with an episode that set-up all the main characters and how they knew each other. Yes, arguably, Discovery took a similar circuitous approach in its first three episodes, but, by Episode 4 or so, it had established most of the series regulars and their various roles as part of the ensemble.
None of this is bad, by the way, but it does make Picard very different from other Trek shows and is probably why some fans complained during the initial run of the episodes coming out. If you watch all ten episodes back-to-back, you see a complete story, kind of like a self-contained miniseries or visual novella. This approach — even in the highly serialized Discovery — had never really been tried before.
The Inverse Analysis — There's no reason to believe that Picard will become less serialized in Season 2, but according to Stewart, it seems like the idea of crew unity will be a major defining feature of the new set of episodes.
"This is going to be a new element in Season 2, that there is a lot of mutual respect everywhere," he said "If you know you can take risks, and there is a network around you that if you crash land, they will catch you, it’s a wonderful feeling. That’s how I feel now. I feel safe."
On one level, Stewart could be talking about himself, but it seems more likely that he's talking about his character. Jean-Luc Picard didn't feel safe at the start of Picard Season 1. And now, his journey has led him to a new crew, and a new family.
Will the crew of the La Sirena be even more close-knit than the old TNG crew of the USS Enterprise-D? Well, that seems impossible, particularly when certain members of that crew might drop-in and have something to say about it.
Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is streaming on CBS All Access. Season 2 will debut sometime in 2021.