Jonathan Frakes Talks Paying Homage to Jaws on The Latest Episode of Star Trek Picard

Mar 20, 2023

Jonathan Frakes, who perfectly portrays Commander William Riker, has also dipped into the world of directing for Star Trek. The actor directed two episodes for both seasons one and two. He was also given the chance to direct two episodes this season, the third and fourth episode. Frakes shares some details on the latest episode of Star Trek Picard.

One of the highlights of the episode was Captain Shaw paying Sir Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard a very tense visit. During his visit, Shaw had a lengthy speech on his contempt for the former Enterprise captain. As Shaw slowly unpacks his emotions with his first encounter with Picard, the scene was very similar to one of the scenes on Steven Spielberg classic’s Jaws.
Frakes shares that Jaws somewhat inspired the fourth episode and it was very intentional. He tells The Hollywood Reporter, “You steal from the greats and we definitely referenced and talked about that scene early on. I try to watch Jaws every year, and that [scene] was referenced by a lot of us [on set]. I believe Terry wanted that to be, tonally, what we were aiming for from the very beginning.”

Since Shaw had a lengthy speech, Frakes was initially anxious about getting it cut. Shaw’s speech emphasizes on the traumatizing selection process that put him on an escape pod and Frakes believes that every part of it is important. It seems like everyone thought the same. He says, “But every bit of it stayed in.”

Frakes continues, “I kept thinking, as we were shooting: ‘This is too good. They’re [probably] gonna cut some of it. But that whole speech stayed in the cut when Terry got it. And when the other producers beyond him saw it? They also got it and thought the whole scene should stay uncut. And Patrick’s reaction to Todd, the one that we used, was devastating.”

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Showrunner Terry Matalas Has Prepared Jonathan Frakes on The Future of His Character

Paramount Domestic Television

Aside from Shaw’s speech, Riker also had his moments on the episode and not just one but two. Riker finally confronted his issues with mortality after he lost his son. During the wake of his son, Riker tells Picard the emotional toll of burying his son. Another emotionally exhausting scene for Riker was when he chatted with his estranged wife, Deanna Troi.

Frakes admitted that Riker’s moments were probably the most dramatic scenes he’s ever done after doing seven seasons of Next Gen and two Star Trek: The Next Generation feature films. He admits, “It’s been a very emotional season. I’ve been emotional a few times filming it, and, to be fair, Terry prepared me that it would be.”

Showrunner Terry Matalas apparently hinted on what’s in store for Frakes’ character. While Frakes was directing an episode for season two, Matalas had already approached Frakes about Riker’s emotional scenes. Frakes shares, “[Terry] said: ‘Are you ready for Riker?’ I said, ‘Sure’. He said, ‘No. I mean, a lot of Riker. I didn’t know at the time that it was going to be this wonderful, frankly.”

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