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Brake alert: This story discusses major plot developments in “The Last Generation,” the series finale of “Star Trek: Picard,” currently streaming on Paramount+.
The last time the cast of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was brought together on screen — in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis — ended with a bad punch: the sudden death of Data (Brent Spiner) and the money-making flop, causing Paramount to stop making the films. with the actors. Effectively, after a resoundingly successful seven seasons on television, “The Next Generation” has been canceled from movie theatres.
Two decades later, when Terry Matalas was tapped to executive produce the final season of “Star Trek: Picard,” the lifelong “Trek” fan knew he wanted to not only bring back the entire “TNG” cast, but also provide them with a swan song they’d never received before. .
“I wanted it to feel like a proper send-off to the way I felt watching Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” Matalas says of the latest movie to feature the full original Star Trek cast. “In this case, we had 10 hours, so we can do better. We can give each of these characters more, and end up feeling family in ways they wouldn’t have time in a two-hour movie.”
In doing so, Matalas sought to right some of the perceived sins of the “TNG” films: he revived Data and gave him a consciousness that allowed him to fulfill his life’s dream of becoming fully human. And he brought back the Enterprise-D, the starship destroyed at the climax of the first “TNG” movie, 1994’s “Star Trek: Generations.”
“In most sense, I wanted to put the action figure neatly and securely on the shelf,” says Matalas. “If it’s the last time we see of them, we see them in a wonderfully wonderful moment together around the poker table. No mourning the loss of data. The Enterprise-D is not crashed, but in a museum. Knowing there is a bright future for ‘Star Trek’ and for their family. For For me, I felt the importance of that as a fan, because I feel like that’s where Next Generation left us.
That’s exactly what Matalas did with “The Last Generation,” the thrilling “Star Trek: Picard” series finale: Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Beverly Crusher (Gets Macfadyen) rescue their son Jack (Ed Spellers) – and the entirety of Starfleet – from Assimilation by the Borg, with Data, Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Troi (Marina Sirtis), Geordi (LeVar Burton), and Worf (Michael Dorn) all helping to save the day. In the final scene, they are all excited about their success and happiness and playing a game of poker, a callback to the final scene of the Next Generation series finale “All Good Things”.
If that wasn’t enough, in the aftermath of the battle with the Borg, the USS Titan was renamed the USS Enterprise-G, and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) – the “Star Trek: Voyager” character who was working in “Picard” from season 1 – was renamed Promote him to be its leader. Jack, a new member of Starfleet, is stationed aboard the ship, along with Geordie’s daughter Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut). Even Q (John de Lancie) – the omnipotent being who’s been a mainstay since the “Next Generation” series premiere “Encounter at Farpoint” – appears in the post-credits sequence where he tells Jack that his trials are “just beginning.”
Sure, this sounds like it was made for a spin-off of “Picard,” but in his interview diverseMatalas says that wasn’t entirely his intention. He also shares scenes he ultimately wanted to shoot but couldn’t, and his unorthodox approach to filming this poker scene.
How much of the ending did you have in your head when you were building the season?
A pretty surprising amount, actually. I knew it was Patrick’s first step, that he would have to pick himself up again, to face the great trauma of his life, to save his son. Learning that they will be staying on the Enterprise-D for the past two hours, they are reunited. I knew that Seven of Nine would become the captain of the Enterprise. That was a fun thing to say to Jerry, who’s been my old friend since way back. I was like, “By the end of the season, you’ll be captain of the Enterprise.” She was like, “Excuse me, What?!So there was quite a bit. Some of the whys and hows and whys of why you need the brilliance of a talented writing room team to help you get in there and figure it all out.
There was a moment at the end where it seemed as though Riker, Worf, and Picard or some group might actually die. Was that really on the table?
No, but I really wanted you to think it might be for the drama. I don’t have it in me to kill my childhood heroes like that. I think maybe some creative people would. I felt like these characters would definitely feel like this might be our last outing. So I really wanted the sudden ending to be a happy ending.
Were there any other alternate endings you thought of?
There were things we didn’t have the time and money to photograph. In the first iterations of the script, we find out that Ro Laren has actually survived, been banished from his shuttle and is still being used by the Changelings for information. It was already a very ambitious schedule, so we just couldn’t make it happen. We had a scene with [the Data-based android from Season 1] Soji and Data which we also didn’t get to shoot. We wanted more Voyagers to come and be a part of Seven of Nine’s promotion to Captain. It’s about how many pennies you have left in the piggy bank after building your Borg and Enterprise cube.
Will Titan always be renamed Enterprise?
We’ve discussed that. We played with a different name, perhaps Picard’s. But in the end, it just didn’t feel as real and true to the legacy of “Star Trek” and Seven of Nine as the Enterprise. And definitely when you see a Titan with that name on its hull, you’re like, yeah, it deserves that name. It looks very correct
Did you always know that you were bringing Q back after he died in Season 2 of “Picard”?
Yes. All the way from Season 2. John is a good friend of mine. on his last day [on Season 2]I said, “Look, I want to literally bring you back in a post-credit sequence for this final season. I’m not going to have the time and I’m not going to have the money, but I guarantee it’s going to be one of Q’s coolest scenes and it’s going back to ‘Encounter at Farpoint. ‘” And he was like, “I’m in.” “.
We only had 20 minutes to shoot this scene. Right after we shot the scene where Picard tells Jack he’s a Borg, we got Jon into this cool new outfit and we just made out real quick.
Alex and I talk all the time. If something is going to be done, we want to make sure we don’t rush it. We want to make sure we’re doing it right. This is where we come in, I say coyly. At the moment, nothing has been developed on it. But we talk all the time.
Part of the reason I’m asking is because I’ve rarely seen a finale that sets up a subseries more fully than it does this one, with scenes on Enterprise-G. Am I right in thinking you wanted them to be the seeds of a future show?
Well, not sowing specifically for opportunities, as beautiful as the thought of it. I definitely wanted the feeling that it could last, that it passed the torch of the last generation on to the next. This is what I really wanted. I think that’s the spirit of Star Trek, that they’ll continue to explore new, strange worlds. It’s a feeling of hope. So you want to get a taste of what it could be — for it to be a satisfying ending, it has to be a satisfying beginning. That said, of course, I want to see Jack, Seven, Sydney, Rafe, and everyone else move on forever. But yeah, that was the creative impetus behind it.
Do you know what’s next for you?
I’m not. Are you?
I saw your tweet that you love to work on “Galaxy Quest” spin-off TV show.
Oh my goodness, “Galaxy Quest” is my absolute favorite. I was literally showing it to my kid the other day. It’s still one of the best movies ever made. And I just experienced it! In fact I lived it every way. So yeah, I said put me on the coach. I know what it is.
The final shot of the cast playing poker was a nice call back to the final shot of “All Good Things.” Were the actors really playing a full game of poker while the camera panned over the table?
Yes. To make this a little different from “All Good Things”, I wanted the audience to feel like they really are with this cast, and have a little bit of a wish come true. So I actually turned on the camera for 45 minutes and let them play. Let them be themselves. I really wanted the audience to immerse themselves in the experience of hanging out with Patrick, Jonathan, Marina, Gates, Levar, Michael, and Brent. So all those smiles and all those jokes are real. And so we hang on to it for a lot longer than you normally would, so that the smiles and jokes are real. They were all playing some form of poker as best they could, you know, because they love monkeys. Maybe when the Blu-ray comes out we’ll have a longer part of it so you can see more.
Do you remember who won the game?
They have played many tours. But I think they always made sure that Patrick won.
I laugh because I asked Patrick this questionand he said, “I think I won.”
Yeah, I think they rigged it up a bit so he could win.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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