Season one of Star Trek: Picard had high and low points and left some people wondering Jean-Luc Picard is truly Jean-Luc Picard anymore. It’s a case metaphysics and questions best left to saints and philosophers. Or maybe, best left to Q, who will return in season two in 2022.
Spoiler alert: if you haven’t watched all of Star Trek: Picard, you may want to leave at this point knowing that John de Lancie will reprise his role of Q in the next season of Picard when it premieres sometime in 2022. But if you’ve already watched, or you don’t mind spoilers, here’s what you need to know.
In the season finale of the show, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) died. And not in the “he died off the screen and maybe he actually survived” sense. Picard suffered from Irumodic Syndrome, a fatal neurological disease in the Star Trek universe. At the age of 94, he had no hope for a future, no possibility of a cure. In the last episode, he sacrificed himself to save the day, and the disease killed him.
Shortly after his death, Altan Inigo Soong (son of Data’s creator, Noonian Soong, all three played by Brent Spiner) transferred Picard’s consciousness and memories into a golem—an android that looked exactly like the original Picard. The body works like Picard’s organic body and will eventually age and die.
And that bodes the question, is this golem Picard truly Picard at all? It’s question derived from the Ship of Theseus. At its simplest, you can think of a broom. You replace the brush when it wears out. Later you replace the handle. Then you replace the brush again, followed by the handle. Do you still have the same broom? You’ve replaced every part, but functionally it’s the same.
You can ask similar questions with Star Trek‘s transporters, which disassemble a person at the molecular level and reassemble them elsewhere. But Picard is a more extreme case because his thoughts and memories are essentially a copy and his body is another entity entirely.
But if your thoughts, experiences, and memory make you who you are, then Picard lives on in a new body. And if that’s enough, then this golem Picard is at best a pseudo clone. The show doesn’t fully arrive at an answer, beyond Picard feeling like he is still the original person.
And that’s where Q comes into play. During First Contact day (a pseudo-holiday wherein Vulcans first make contact with humans on April 5th, 2063), Paramount announced some Star Trek news, including a quick tease for season 2 (seen above). It’s clear that Q is returning, and the teaser ends with the famous words “The Trial never ends,” a distinct callback to the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In an all-day Twitch stream (also seen above), Patrick Stewart confirmed Q’s return would delve into the season one Picard finale’s consequences. Production is already underway, but it’s still too far out to promise a start date. But we now know that season two of Star Trek: Picard will debut on Paramount+, the replacement for CBS All Access. Considering season one debuted on CBS All Access, that’s no surprise, but good to know nonetheless.