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The second episode of Star Trek: Picard’s third and final season dropped quite the bombshell for longtime fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation and its lead character, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). It at once honors something that could have occurred in the last 25 years since the TNG cast went their separate ways following the feature film Star Trek: Nemesis, but also is something fans may regard with disbelief; in fact, it’s enough of a surprising turn that we had to wait until episode 2 streamed to publish our chat with series newcomer Ed Speleers.
Spoiler alert: The following reveals details from Star Trek: Picard season 3, episode 2, “Disengage.” Stop reading here if you haven’t watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
The reveal that Picard has a child may be familiar to TNG fans from an episode of that series called “Bloodlines.” In that very late episode of Next Gen’s final season, Picard learns from an old Ferengi adversary that he has a son, a petty criminal now marked for a final attempt at revenge. The whole thing turns out to be a ruse and the young man is not Jean-Luc’s child. In light of this not particularly well-regarded episode of TNG, it might be tempting to believe Speeler’s Jack Crusher is another ploy on the part of the still-mysterious enemy. But Dr. Beverly Crusher’s (Gates McFadden) look at Picard when she walks onto the Titan’s bridge and Picard’s immediate and unequivocal declaration “He’s my son” should put all doubt aside.
In fact, when Rotten Tomatoes caught up with Speleers shortly before the season debuted, we took Picard’s paternity at face value while asking the actor about the Next Gen cast’s famous team spirit and what it means to join Star Trek.
(Photo by Trae Patton/Paramount+)
Erik Amaya for Rotten Tomatoes: Is the Picard accent somehow hereditary?
Ed Speleers: It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because he’s French, but he’s got a very strong British accent, which I’ve always found quite curious, and considering he’s played by a Yorkshireman, that baffles me even more because the accent’s very distinctly from the South. I don’t know. I mean, I think maybe there is a similar timbre in mine and Patrick’s voice potentially, but I don’t know if it’s completely hereditary, because he didn’t grow up with him. I feel that Jack heard many different sounds and was influenced by many different elements. And, also, something I think about accents is they change. They change with time, they change with circumstance. I feel, for me anyway, that depending on where you are, you adapt. I don’t think it’s necessarily any different here.
How do you think fans are going to react to Jack?
Speleers: I hope that there’s enough intrigue. I hope that people want to uncover what he’s all about and what is making him tick and why he’s even here, why he’s been presented to us. Whether they like him or not is a different thing, but I hope that they go on his journey and want to see it through.
Despite the roguishness and seeming self-centeredness, there are the shades of altruism with him that are interesting because of the contrast.
Speleers: Yeah, and that’s one of the great challenges and one of the great draw cards as well, I think: is to play someone who might be ruffling feathers and he might be a criminal. He’s naughty. He’s not above the line. But some of his criminality and some of his roguishness is grounded in something that is for the greater good and is actually fundamentally trying to make the galaxy a better place. He is driven by that notion of making the world a better place, the universe a better place. And if it means getting into trouble, he’ll take it.
(Photo by Trae Patton/Paramount+)
What was it like observing the Next Gen cast? Is that sense of comradery as strong as it seems on the DVD special features and convention appearances?
Speleers: Yeah, it really is. It’s quite amazing to think that these people have known each other for 30-plus years, and the love that pulls out amongst them is quite a sight to behold. And that then completely trickles down into, dare I say, the younger generation, and I feel that we got on board with that. But they’re so effusive with one another and in turn for us that they made us scallywags very much part of the picture.
(Photo by Trae Patton/Paramount+)
And as one of those scallywags, what does it feel like to become part of the Star Trek legacy? Conventions are open to you and there’s the possibility no matter what happens to Jack, that you’ll get a call and they’ll say, “Oh, hey, we’re doing this thing.” Is that daunting or exciting?
Speleers: Exciting. I mean, certainly the latter part of your question. I feel that conventions, of course, can be fantastic, but I feel from a creative standpoint, what really drives me is this idea that I could play this part again. That this is a role that I hold very close to myself, and that I loved stepping into his shoes every day. I was excited to commute out to Santa Clarita Studios. I loved every minute of it. So, if there’s more to come for him in some guise or fashion, I’m there.
And that fan interaction?
Speleers: I look forward to it because I love meeting people, but I feel that there is pressure there because the fans, they’re so passionate about this and they’ve been living with it for so long — much longer than I have — that the daunting thing is I don’t want to let them down. I want them to come on that journey with Jack, and I want to be able to [really enjoy it]. They are so full of zest and love for so many of these characters, and I’d love to be a part of that with them.
Related: Star Trek: Picard: 7 Things To Know About the Final Season From the Cast and Showrunner
(Photo by Joe Pugliese/Paramount+)
Episode 2 also revealed the identity of Raffi’s (Michelle Hurd) Section 31 handler: Worf (Michael Dorn). Although it is still unclear what brought Worf back to Starfleet after becoming a Klingon ambassador at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the pairing of the two characters is one of those great Trek convergences — so much so, we’re wondering if they might have something to do with the Section 31 series, starring Michelle Yeoh, that’s been in development. The timelines don’t align, but both Star Trek: Discovery and Picard re-established that hopping universes and time travel are a thing in this franchise, so we’ll see.
When we spoke to the actors, they offered a few thoughts on the unlikely, but now essential partnership.
When are we going to get a Star Trek: Major Case Squad with Raffi and Worf? Pairing the two of these characters is the show I didn’t know I needed, but now I desperately want.
Hurd: First of all, you just speaking it into existence, manifesting it, I love it. Put it out there as many times as you want … Oh, my goodness. All the stories we could do! Oh, gosh!
Dorn: Well, the thing of it is that you’re in space … so you can do anything you want to do. I hope that they see that. Maybe they do. You never know what’s in studios’ minds. It seems like it’s the right thing, [because Worf and Raffi] are the muscle on the show. They can run and jump and slice people up and their relationship is a real, “You didn’t do that.” “Yes, I did.” “Well, why don’t you —?” thing. We’re really at each other, but it’s almost like an older brother [dynamic].
Hurd: Right. It’s a real relationship. It’s not unicorns and white picket fences — stones are being thrown. I think that these two characters, these two people, really can have so much more to say and more to do and represent so much of our community and of the world.
Dorn: But they’re different than what we see with the Star Trek shows … These guys are down and dirty.
Hurd: We’re down and dirty, yeah. I like it.
98% Star Trek: Picard: Season 3 (2023) new episodes debut on Thursdays on Paramount+.