Star Trek Hall H Panel: Picard to Have Singular Female Villain, and More
The Star Trek Universe panel in Hall H, moderated by Lea Thompson, opened with an expertly edited montage covering all the shows, then brought in Alex Kurtzman, Rod Roddenberry, Sir Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden to talk all things Picard, and to much applause.
Kurtzman said the original idea for the show was to get the TNG cast back together, but Stewart said they needed to earn it first. Nobody wanted it to just be cameos, so they took two seasons to “earn” that reunion. “At the beginning of the season, the crew is in different places around the galaxy,” said Kurtzman. “And it’s been 20-25 years,” added McFadden. Kurtzman initially asked Stewart if anything had happened to him in the last 25 years, which made Stewart realize he was a different person, and Picard would be too.
A video showed the new looks of all the crew — including Raffi and Seven, in Starfleet uniform — except Data, including a white-haired Worf. Brent Spiner will play “an old new character.”
Kurtzman says there will be a singular, female villain this season, and the mind games between Kirk and Khan was their “North Star.” Stewart recalled that three seasons into TNG, he felt that he and Picard had merged, and he trusted himself to have Picard inside him, so he didn’t have to plot what Jean-Luc could do as it became instinctive. He initially turned down the new show, but Kurtzman made a speech that he said was so persuasive that he asked to have that speech in writing. Kurtzman sent him 30+ pages, with the key question being “Who is Picard?”
Seven will question her relationship with Starfleet and where she fits in, now that she’s a first officer on a starship.
Stewart said the stage has felt like the safest possible space for him ever since he was 12, and he loves his job. Kurtzman felt pressure not to let Stewart down since he managed to persuade him in the first place.
A fan question was asked about how an interaction Picard and Professor X would go. Stewart initially thought he meant Q, saying he left school at 15 and the alphabet confuses him. Professor X, he said, similarly blended with him as a character in the way Picard did.
Another fan asked if there could be a spinoff for Crusher or Seven as Captain. McFadden reminded everyone she does know how to drive a ship, and this season is the best stuff she’s ever done. She and Picard will definitely deal with unresolved issues. “We carve out new territory,” added Stewart. “we are breaking boundaries all the time, and reflecting life as it might possibly be. And I think that’s an admirable thing for any show to do.” Kurtzman confirmed there will be more shows with female leads.
Is there any chance of another Next Generation feature film? Stewart says yes, and thinks it would be worthwhile and exciting. Kurtzman says in some ways season 3 is that, “But if you guys love it…”
Stewart confirms they do return to the original Enterprise-D for a while.
Stewart and McFadden departed after that, to be replaced onstage by Mike McMahan, Dawnn Lewis, Noel Wells, Jack Quaid, and Tawny Newsome.
Newsome called Starfleet the only military she would ever join. She asked McMahan why the cast can’t record together, and after joking there was a good reason over the last two years, McMahan said it could happen in the future. Amid jokey banter about “beefs” with McMahan, he said the artists on the show really have to work extra-hard to live up to the performance Wells gives as Tendi.
The actors weren’t told they were auditioning for Star Trek. But Lewis did Kirk and Sisko impersonations in the room, and was only told what it was when she booked the job. She’s friends with Nichelle Nichols, so it was an honor to tell Nichols that she was cast as a Captain.
Quaid asked if McMahan would ever play a character. McMahan revealed that he did sneak himself into some backgrounds, and sometimes he reads temp lines. He said those will never get out into the world “ever, ever, ever.”
They showed a new trailer full of Deep Space Nine references. McMahan confirmed they will go aboard and see familiar faces. It feels like “one last walkaround” of the station.
Kurtzman gets together all the showrunners regularly to maintain continuity, because “everyone wants to play with the same damn toys.” Roddenberry says even he doesn’t get all the references. He was skeptical about a Trek comedy, but he thinks they nailed it.
The crew’s Earth outfits “are bangin’, y’all!” according to Newsome. Quaid loves how confident Boimler has gotten. Lewis would like her character to be able to relax sometimes.
A fan asked a question about the Gorn wedding, and if it’s the same Gorn as in Strange New Worlds. McMahan says not every planet is uniform, and not all Gorn are extremely scary things that burst out of you. This section concluded with the cast getting the entire hall together in a “Lower Decks” chant.
For the final section, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, Paul Wesley, and executive producer Henry Alonso Myers came out.
Mount announced there will be a crossover episode of Strange New Worlds with Lower Decks. Considering they exist in different timelines, that should be interesting. Expect Mariner and Boimler to show up.
The cast talked about how amazing it was to get to work on the (new) original Enterprise. Then they all sang Happy Birthday to Wesley. Then assistants presented Wesley with a Captain Kirk cake.
Chong didn’t know anything about Khan when she got the part, but she loved diving into the backstory and becoming a descendant of his. She suggested we may see a version of La’an Noonien-Singh that’s more like her forefather. Peck said Spock will continue exploring and struggling with his human and emotional side.
Why did Myers remake “Balance of Terror”? He wished he could say there was another reason besides just loving that episode. Myers felt like none of the other shows could pull it off. Mount praised the virtual AR wall, which shows the CG background all around them, that moves with the camera. Kurtzman notes it means they don’t have to cost out each CG shot, and have room to change the angles. On the other hand, environments must start rendering much earlier in the process.
Myers said season two will do some things Trek has never done before. He’s not trying to rewrite canon, but to deepen it. M’Benga will not be switched out as head Doctor any time soon. Mount joked that his hair is #1 on the call sheet, and he loves the hair memes.
Kurtzman revealed there are two more shows in development, and they will continue to express diversities and different types of characters. He admitted there had been Deep Space Nine conversations, but it would have to be able to tell a new story to make it worth doing.
The panel concluded with Thompson thanking all the fans.
Recommended Reading: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Through The Mirror
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