Star Trek: Picard's Most Popular New Character Isn't So Sure He's Dead
Todd Stashwick suggests "The Search For Shaw" and chats his dream of doing ... Doctor Who!
Captain Liam Shaw of the USS Titan didn’t start off as anyone’s favorite new Star Trek character. But, by the end of Picard Season 3, the cranky, realistic Starfleet hero — brought to life by Todd Stashwick — rapidly became a fan favorite. Now that Season 3 has wrapped up both the Picard series, and capped the ‘90s era of The Next Generation, hypothetical future voyages of Shaw’s old ship will happen under a new Captain, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), and, by the end of the series, the ship itself also has a totally new name.
So, considering what happens to Shaw this season, will we ever see him again? Inverse caught up with Todd Stashwick to get his thoughts on his Trek so far, and what the future might hold for him out there in the geek multiverse.
Spoilers for Picard Season 3 ahead.
For those who have been following Picard Season 3 closely (which is apparently more viewers than any post-2017 Trek show ever) the fact that Captain Shaw dies in Episode 9, “Vox,” is a spoiler that is now common knowledge. Yes, although Stashwick appears as Shaw in all 10 episodes of the season, his final appearance in “The Last Generation,” is as a prerecorded hologram of himself, recommending that Seven of Nine be promoted to Captain. But, was Shaw always slated to die?
“I don’t want to do too much talking out of school,” Stashwick says. “But I’m not sure, that they were sure which way it was going to go.” Stashwick is referencing Shaw’s death scene in Episode 9, in which he takes a phaser blast to save the crew of the Enterprise, and of course, Seven of Nine and Raffi. As the series began, Shaw was a counterpoint to most Starfleet officers we’ve met in the Trek canon — clearly good at his job, but not in awe of what he called Riker and Picard’s “wildly exciting and equally irresponsible adventures.” But Stashwick notes that Shaw’s heroism, visible later in the season was there, all along, even if he didn’t worship the TNG gang.
“If you look at my [Shaw’s] ready room, there is an award for bravery during battle. This is not Captain Shaw’s first rodeo,” Stashwick points out. “He’s just a bit more contemplative with his actions, and when he sees the need to act, he acts. From Episode 1 forward, you see, he's not a coward. He will take the necessary risks when he feels they're necessary. When Shaw finds out that Jack is the son of a Starfleet admiral and a member of the Federation, he charges into battle. I think there’s a belief that he’s this stodgy, by-the-book guy. But if you get a bird’s eye of his actions, he’s certainly not afraid to throw himself in the middle of things.”
Because we learned in Episode 4 that a much younger Shaw was on the USS Constance when Picard was assimilated by the Borg, his initial dislike of Jean-Luc and his mistrust of another former Borg, Seven of Nine, make a certain amount of sense. Meaning, the journey of Shaw isn’t a story about him becoming braver, but instead, making peace with his own demons.
“His death is all about what serves the story. When you look at Shaw’s arc, there is a story of reconciliation with his own loss and his own pain,” Stashwick says.
A veteran of several genre series, with credits that include Supernatural, Gotham, and, most prominently for many sci-fi fans, Deacon in 12 Monkeys, Stashwick knows a thing or two about what it’s like to be part of a big franchise with a huge fandom. In fact, Shaw is not his first Star Trek role. Back in 2004, he played the Vulcan Talok, in the Enterprise episode “Kir'Shara.” But, the role of Shaw has certainly taken his Trekkie street cred to the next level. And he admits that the fact that so many fans quickly became attached to Shaw took him by surprise
“I certainly don't think we assumed that the character was going to resonate as largely as he has with the viewers,” Stashwick says. “But, if fans are upset by his death, what can I say? This isn’t Law and Order. It’s not like when you die on Star Trek you die forever. I was joking with Terry [Matalas] that if you list off the most famous Star Trek deaths — Spock, Picard, Data — it’s like, wait a second, all those characters came back!”
So, if there is a spinoff to Picard Season 3 — which Terry Matalas and fans have dubbed “Star Trek: Legacy,” would it become The Search For Shaw? In several post-finale interviews, Matalas has teased that there is a very specific way for Shaw to return, saying: “I’ve known exactly how Todd [Stashwick] is involved or would be involved if we should ever be so lucky to come back.”
For Stashwick, even if that doesn’t happen, he’s thrilled to have been part of the journey thus far.
“If there’s a story need down the road, they will find a way to fulfill that need,” he says. “But for now, for the purposes of Picard; it’s a very interesting and deeply satisfying arc for this man. He’s carried a lot in his heart for a very long time, and I think he found a way, to cosmically and karmically pay back the gift that was given to him so long ago.”
Outside of Picard, Stashwick has several other geek interests, one of which includes Doctor Who. Recently, Who showrunner Russell T. Davies praised the final season of Picard, calling it “perfect.” As a massive Who fan, Stashwick says it would be his “dream” to get a chance to travel in the TARDIS. Though, he’s unsure as an American if he could ever play the Doctor. But what about the Master?
“Well an American played the Master before,” Stashwick says with a grin. “If Eric Roberts can do it, maybe I could, too.”