Picard: 3 Plots In Season 2 Can Explain TNG Cast's Return In S3

Can a trio of 2024-era plot lines explain how Star Trek: Picard season 3 brings back the entire main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation? When Patrick Stewart made his eagerly anticipated return with Star Trek: Picard, he brought a few friends. Across the past 2 seasons, Jean-Luc has been joined by Data (Brent Spiner), Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), Q (John de Lancie) and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) among others. Alas, the above roster only featured in a guest capacity - little more than cameos in some instances. Star Trek: Picard's main cast is instead populated by original creations - Rios, Jurati, Raffi, Elnor, etc. - alongside a returning Seven of Nine.

That status quo looks set to shift in Star Trek: Picard season 3. According to an official announcement from Paramount, the main crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation will return for Jean-Luc's final adventure. That means in addition to Spiner, Frakes and Sirtis, Star Trek: Picard season 3 will reintroduce Worf (Michael Dorn), Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) and Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). Furthermore, Michael Chabon (Star Trek: Picard showrunner) has confirmed these are not brief cameo gigs - they're substantial, meaningful comebacks. That leaves Star Trek: Picard something of a dilemma. How can these new (old) returnees be accommodated among the existing cast?

Related: Why Vulcans Are On Earth In Picard Season 2 (It's Explained By Enterprise)

Star Trek: Picard season 2's 2024 timeline may hold the solution thanks to three distinct plot lines - the first concerning Seven of Nine. Though she left the Borg life behind long ago, Seven's ocular implant proved impossible to remove, and since returning to Earth in Star Trek: Voyager's finale, that facial marker has prompted endless discrimination. In Star Trek: Picard's alternate timeline, Seven was never assimilated, and she has greatly enjoyed the freedom an implant-free face brings throughout season 2's adventures. Seven isn't alone in finding perks of the past either. Cristobal Rios has committed the cardinal sin of time travel by falling in love with someone from another century. James T. Kirk is no doubt looking on proudly as Rios grows closer to Teresa - a local doctor helping undocumented immigrants.

That's already two Star Trek: Picard characters with compelling reasons to stay in the past... but there's also a third. Dr. Agnes Jurati has, purely by circumstance, merged with the Borg Queen. Though Agnes herself would love nothing more than returning to her native timeline, her Borg passenger seems content in 2024. Seven could stay in the past to avoid the future's prejudice, Rios could remain behind for Teresa, and Agnes may not have a choice if the Borg Queen absconds into space. There are time travel wrinkles to iron out here, but no eventuality can be discounted with Q around. If Star Trek: Picard's Seven, Rios and Jurati storylines continue on their current courses, Jean-Luc and Raffi can expect a very quiet ride back to the 24th century. And if Star Trek: Picard leaves that trio in 2024, they likely won't return in season 3, freeing up a few cast spots for our returning heroes from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Dumping a few existing characters in 2024 is certainly one way to create space ahead of Star Trek: Picard season 3, but caution is vital. Exciting though the upcoming Enterprise-D reunion may be, Star Trek: Picard's current cast shouldn't be cast aside wholesale in favor of old favorites. Using time travel as a mechanic to write Seven, Rios and Jurati out of season 3 would risk jettisoning their recent character growth (which has been much improved in Star Trek: Picard's 2024 setting) and setting an unwanted franchise precedent. Humans are, after all, stuck in the past.

More: Q's Star Trek: Picard Death Can Explain A Discovery Mystery

Star Trek: Picard continues Thursday on Paramount+.

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