Star Trek Picard Showrunner Terry Matalas Says Working on the Last Two Episodes Nearly Killed Him

Apr 20, 2023

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains major spoilers for Star Trek: Picard.The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard comes to an explosive conclusion in a wonderful finale. Be forewarned — beam yourself away if you don’t want to read any spoilers.

The Borg Queen and Borg cube are annihilated by the crew of Enterprise-D. The Borg/Jack as Borg’s mind-control of Starfleet, designed to destroy Earth’s major cities, is broken. Picard, Jack, Riker, and Worf escape the cube explosion within seconds of losing their own lives. And Seven of Nine and Raffi regain control of the Titan with its younger staff returning to their true selves after being controlled by the Borg.
There’s more. A one-year time jump during the show’s final moments reveal that Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) has been promoted to captain of — wait for it — the newly minted Enterprise-G. Raffi (Michelle Heard) is her No. 1 and Jack Crusher (Ed Speelers), having gone through an accelerated path through Starfleet, comes aboard as ensign. Then there’s that wild card showrunner Terry Matalas pulls out during an end-credits scene with the return of a major The Next Generation character. More on that later.

Overall, fans have loved the return of TNG crew here (Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, LaVar Burton, Michael Dorn, and Brent Spiner). It’s one of the best endings to a series we’ve seen in some time.

In a panel discussion with journalists via Zoom, showrunner Terry Matalas unpacked the action-packed finale, his biggest hope for what lies ahead — he’s ready for that Star Trek: Legacy series — and much more. Dive in.

The Biggest Hope for Picard & Beyond


When MovieWeb asked Matalas what his biggest hope was moving forward, particularly with his proposed Star Trek: Legacy series and how the Picard finale finds Seven of Nine becoming captain of the Enterprise-G, with Raffi and Jack Crusher in tow, he mused: “My current biggest hope is that everybody really just enjoys this and that we sent The Next Generation characters off in a really good way, and that everybody likes this next generation of characters.

“These last two hours were really, really hard to make. You know, it’s a giant movie, and it almost killed me,” he added, with a hint of smile. “So, I just want everybody to really like this. Having said that, I would love to see Seven, Raffi, Jack, and Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), and the crew continue on. And I’d love to see more of Riker, Geordi, Worf, Beverly, and the rest of the TNG gang continue on.

Related: Star Trek: Picard Season Finale Review: The Action-Packed Series Goes Out on Full Thrusters

“So, we’ll see. I think it’ll be up to the fans to be loud if that’s a thing that they want. But there’s a lot of Star Trek out there right now. We’ve got Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Starfleet Academy coming and Section 31.”

That never really stopped Paramount+ before from creating content. The Michelle Yeoh-led Section 31 was intended to be a series then the streamer pivoted, opting to make it into a movie. Matalas reiterated that Legacy “would have to be something fans really wanted to happen.”

We’re imagining all the fan Tweets now.

Plotting Picard’s Final Episodes


From the get-go, Matalas and his posse diligently planned each character’s fate for Picard’s final season. “The story always comes first,” he told the panel. “But we wanted to make sure every character had their due. You didn’t want to come away from the finale thinking that one character didn’t have a great singular moment or contributed to saving the day. That would feel terrible. That was one of the North Stars — how do we make sure each one of these characters has a goosebumps moment.”

Of the importance of names throughout the final season — Picard, Crusher, the Enterprise, and other Starfleet members, for instance—Matalas told journalists: “Names mean almost everything. The importance of the name ‘Enterprise’ and what that particular legacy was for, not only the Federation and Starfleet, but for the fans. And in a lot of ways, that was the last character missing from the season. [The Enterprise-D] was the final character added to the ensemble and the final character given to the Seven of Nine. Truly, it was super important for us that Seven and Raffi to be at the forefront of that Enterprise legacy. Names meant quite a few things as far as the season goes on.

“I’m glad that Jack never took the name Picard at the end,” he added. “He keeps his mother’s name, and you know, I think that’s super important.”

Working with The Next Generation Cast


In the final moments of Picard, there is, fittingly, a poker scene, where our favorite characters toss and some chips and cards. The primary TNG cast sure seemed to be relaxed and having a ball. Was that scene improvised or scripted?

Matalas told the panel that the core TNG actors are, “Maniacs! Anytime you called cut, they’re singing, they’re dancing, they’re laughing. And this isn’t a movie set where you have the time built in to let them do that. It’s television. You’re like, ‘We’ve got to go.’ Except for this [poker] scene. I let them improvise for 45 minutes. I just rolled the cameras and let them play poker because I wanted the audience to really feel what it’s like to hang out with these actors, and to really feel like the jokes and the smiles were genuine […] I wanted the audience to feel that for a few minutes before we said goodbye.”

Related: Every Star Trek TV Series, Ranked

Matalas also noted that on Blu-ray, there may be an extended version of that scene. As for what he wished he could have done this season, but didn’t get to execute, Matalas was candid. He told journalists: “Looking at some of the criticisms across the board, I realized that season three was a decisively unromantic season. There really wasn’t room for romance. Whether that was with Picard and Crusher or Seven and Raffi. Jack and Sidney had a moment of flirtation. But even Riker and Troi mostly deal with the tragedy of a couple of losing a child. I wish I had fought for more time, for a few extra scenes with those characters. I think fans would have wanted more romance throughout.

“We stuck with the high stakes [throughout] it all,” he went on. “It felt like that was where we needed to stay. There wasn’t really a lot of time to talk about feelings and for people to kiss. In retrospect, that would have been satisfying the fans, but that’s why we asked for more Star Trek. You know that those characters aren’t going away, and we certainly leave all those characters in a place where we can do that.”

What Was Originally in the Season 3 Script?


There were other characters Matalas originally included in the first script fo Picard’s third season. “The fact that you saw what we saw was miraculous, and we pulled it off, but it nearly killed us all,” he said. “But there was a scene with Soji and Data that we couldn’t afford to do. Ro Laren [Michelle Forbes] — there was a scene in which they found Ro in the dungeons of the Intrepid with Tuvok [Tim Russ] and that she had survived. We couldn’t pull it off. There was Harry Kim [from Voyager, played by Garrett Wang] — we really wanted to bring him back [as a captain]. We wanted Kate Mulgrew [Janeway] to be part of Seven of Nine’s promotion [to captain].

“They’re all in the first script and then your line producer says, ‘Are you out of your f*****g mind with these things? You’re not Avengers: End game.’ So, they had to go,” said Matalas.

As for returning to the bridge of the famous Enterprise-D bridge, Matalas told the panel that shooting that was “terrifying.”

“We only had two days, and we were still gluing pieces of the carpet back on onto the ship. And we had a lot to do on that ship. And it was early on in the schedule. So I, as a director, had to really make sure I knew what I was doing. [Those scenes] were the most emotional pivotal in the piece. And in some cases, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to pull certain moments off, but they worked.”

Q and Saving the Best for Last


Perhaps the biggest surprise of Star Trek: Picard will be the end-credits scene. We see Jack Crusher unpacking some of his belongings in his quarters aboard Enterprise-G. Suddenly TNG’s arch nemesis Q (John de Lancie) appears. And you thought the entity died in season two. Not a chance. Jack tells Q: “My father told me all about you; that you died.” Q jokes that humans think so linearly and informs Jack that the “trial of humanity” may be over for Picard but that it’s just beginning for Jack. That’s a mega Trek mic drop, folks.

“Bringing Q back was a real treat because obviously the audience assumes he’s gone after season two,” Matalas told journalists. “The idea to do that and make it an end-credits scene was something I had… back when we were shooting John’s last scene in season two. I knew we were going to tell the story, and I went up to John, and I was like, ‘I’ve got this idea for a post-credit scene where he’s back.’ And he was like, ‘yes.’

“John and I are dear friends,” he went on. “So, we continued to talk about it whenever we hung out. And he was like, ‘I’ll be back.’ We only had 20 minutes to shoot the scene, so we literally got the man in that amazing outfit. I mean, [John] is phenomenal on his worst day. And we just banged it out. I still get chills about it. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the finale.”

The series finale of Star Trek: Picard streams on Paramount+ beginning April 20.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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