Patrick Stewart won't be the Captain of his starship in 'Picard' (exclusive)

Tom Butler
Senior Editor

Jean-Luc Picard will not be at the helm of a Starship in Star Trek: Picard as the new series finds the legendary explorer to be a shadow of his former self. At least, initially that is.

Launching on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, 24 January, Picard picks up the story of Sir Patrick Stewart’s The Next Generation character 18 years later, and he’s not the swashbuckling, interplanetary adventurer you remember: Retired and earthbound, Picard is living out his twilight years tending to his French vineyard estate. He’s battling his own demons.

“[Picard] is in some mental distress,” Stewart tells Yahoo in our interview above. “He’s confused, he’s at a loss to know what to do with his life. In fact, just to quote a line about his life on the vineyard ‘I’ve not been living while I’ve been here, I’ve been waiting to die.’ Which is a pretty bleak picture, isn’t it?”

“But, I’ve got a suspicion that he is going to put that attitude behind him quite quickly.”

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The arrival of Dahj, a mysterious stranger played by Isa Briones, jolts Picard from his funk but with no ship to captain, no warp drives to engage, and no adventure-of-the-week structure to speak of Picard initially appears to be lacking in any actual Star Trekkin’. Stewart promises the show will get there, even if Picard may not be the one calling the shots.

“There will be a ship,” Stewart explains to Yahoo in our exclusive video above, despite there being no hint of one in the debut episode.

“But I will not be sitting in the captain’s chair,” he cryptically adds .

Pictured: Patrick Stewart as Picard of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS (©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Picard’s anguish is rooted in the mysterious destruction of Romulus (an event witnessed in JJ Abrams’ 2008 Star Trek) and the displacement of its people. He’s also deeply affected by the death of Data (Brent Spiner) who sacrificed himself in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, which was also the last time Stewart himself donned a Starfleet uniform.

Spiner appears in Picard, along with other TNG alums including Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh). Star Trek: Voyager star Jeri Ryan also returns in a recurring role as Seven of Nine.

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Picard is a very different show to The Next Generation, which ran for seven seasons from 1987–1994, and made Stewart a household name. Like its Netflix (and CBS All Access) stablemate Star Trek: Discovery, Picard has a narrative arc, with each of its ten episodes forming a smaller part of a much larger story.

Pictured (l-r): Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard; Evan Evagora as Elnor; Santiago Cabrera as Rios; Michelle Hurd as Raffi of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“The opportunity that this show afforded us was not to rush,” explains executive producer Alex Kurtzman.

“It would have been really easy to get [Picard] back off to the stars in the first episode, but the truth is: to tell his story correctly, you needed to take time to get to know him, to understand the condition of his life now.”

Episode one ends with a cliffhanger, and we only have official stills and trailers for the show to get a hint of where it might head next. As you can see from the pictures above and below, it looks like Santiago Cabrera’s Cristobal "Chris" Rio, will be at the helm of the ship that eventually takes Picard to boldly go where he’s been before: ie space.

Pictured: Santiago Cabrera as Rios of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“He will make it back to the stars, but not in a way people will expect,” adds Kurtzman.

“And I think that is the thing that is exciting. It’s just a brand new opportunity.”

Evan Evagora’s Romulan Elnor is also aboard Picard’s new bridge, alongside Michelle Hurd’s Raffi Musiker who shares a history with Stewart’s character.

Elnor (Evan Evagora), Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), and Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Picard. (Amazon Prime Video)

“We explore a lot of different places,” explains Evagora, “I don’t want to be specific, and give any spoilers away. There’s a lot of variety.”

“More so, in this, than any other Star Trek,” adds Hurd.

“If you’re looking for Star Trekkin’,” expands Harry Treadaway, another Romulan named Narek, “you’re gonna get some serious Star Trekkin’ for sure.”

Star Trek: Picard launches on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, 24 January.