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If you read my review of Star Trek: Picard, then you know that I was thoroughly disappoint and borderline offended by it. I had so much to complain about in that review, that I didn't have much time or energy left to write about the few merits that were present in the season. Yes, there are some decent ideas in this 10 hours of otherwise-garbage TV. If you were to ask me "Well Mr. smarty-pants self-described-'Trekkie', what would you have done?", then I would say that I would take those few good ideas, and turned them into episodes of Star Trek that are more consistent with the style, philosophy, and character of the show that I know and love.

On a recent recording for the Let's Play channel On the Branch, I spent some time pitching these ideas for a rewrite of the entire series. I had literally come up with the ideas a night or two before that recording session, and so the ideas were not very well thought-out. They were mostly just big-picture concepts. Now that I've had more time to think about them and further flesh them out, I've decided to record them here on the blog for posterity.

You can hear more of my thoughts about Picard in an un-filtered discussion with On the Branch Gaming.

I tried to take the few ideas that I actually liked from the version of Star Trek: Picard that CBS actually put on the air, and use them to construct episodes and a season that I feel would have been more in-line with what I would have expected from Star Trek. So this isn't just me rambling about my own pie-in-the-sky ideas here. I'm actually taking the ideas that Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsmith, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer, and the other writers and producers came up with, and trying to turn them into something that is actually faithful to the spirit of Star Trek, and consistent with the philosophy and characters that we've seen in the TV shows as I understand them.

The good ideas

So first of all, what were the few actual good ideas that CBS's writing staff came up with for Star Trek: Picard. Well, I identified three of them:

  1. Romulans as environmental refugees after nova of their sun.
  2. The Borg Reclamation Project attempting to de-assimilate and rehabilitate former Borg drones.
  3. Data's consciousness being trapped in a quantum computer, awaiting a suitable positronic brain.
The best ideas of Picard involved the Romulans and es-Borg as refugees.

I think there's some genuinely good ideas there for some thoughtful, high-concept sci-fi stories that would fit well into Star Trek's canon and philosophy. It's too bad that none of them were more than minor subplots in Picard that were never thoroughly explored, or treated with any degree of thoughtfulness. These good ideas were sadly squandered by being sidelined compared to the larger, less intelligent plots that dominated the season.

These ideas were certainly better than the apocalyptic plot about conspiracies to destroy all life in the galaxy. Seriously, can we get some smaller, more down-to-earth stakes for our TV shows? There's only so many "end of all life as we know it" plots that can be told before they get stale.

I would stay as far away from apocalyptic, inter-dimensional robot tentacle monsters as possible.

Star Trek: Picard, as produced by MegaBearsFan

My philosophy for the show would be for the series to be more episodic, but with a dominant over-arching storyline that encompasses the entire season. Since these three ideas mentioned above are actually good ideas, I'm going to give each of them a full episode or two of their own to really help explore the ideas. Each episode would be an independent, self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end, but would all tie into the larger story.

I also wouldn't constrain myself to the 50-minute runtime of traditional television. Being on a streaming service gives the writers more freedom to tell their stories at the pace that they feel is best. As such, each episode would probably clock in at between 60 and 105 minutes.

Premiere: "Nova"

The first episode could begin similarly to the first episode of CBS's Star Trek: Picard, with Picard dreaming about playing poker with Data on Ten Forward of the Enterprise-D (except with Data wearing his gold TNG uniform, instead of black-and-gray Nemesis uniform). Picard could lament that he "doesn't want the game to end", and he expresses regret that Data had died instead of himself, to which Data responds that Picard is the one person best-suited to the vitally-important coming task. Had Data not rescued Picard, Picard would have died, and he would not be here today to complete his mission; hence, Data's sacrifice was not in vain. A star suddenly explodes out the window, and Picard wakes up in his chateau.

We could start out with Picard dreaming about playing poker with Data,
except Data should be wearing his gold TNG uniform.

We then cut to Picard on Romulus 10 years ago, meeting with Romulan dignitaries about signing a permanent peace treaty between the Federation and Romulan Empire. It would be explained that after the failed Reman coup depicted in Nemesis, Picard was promoted to admiral and assigned as an envoy to the Romulan government. It should also be established that Picard takes this mission very personally, since he feels like permanent peace with the Romulans would make Data's death not in vain. He could make some mention of having to return to Earth for treatment of his Irumodic Syndrome, and he expresses regrets that he won't be able to stay to meet with Spock, who is due to arrive in a few days with the Red Matter necessary to continue to stabilize the Romulan sun that had been undergoing unusual fluctuations for months. Picard beams up to a Federation starship, which leaves orbit of Romulus.

We witness the explosion of the Romulan sun 10 years ago.

Shortly after, Picard is summoned back up to the bridge by Captain Raffi, and the science officer explains that the fluctuations in the Romulan sun have suddenly accelerated. During the conversation, the sun explodes, and everyone watches the viewscreen in horror as the shockwave expands across the Romulan system.

We cut to a panicked Romulan population trying to flee Romulus and Remus. The explosion was entirely unexpected, and the Romulans were not prepared for a rapid evacuation of the planet. They only have a matter of minutes before the shockwave destroys the planets and the orbiting star ships and starbases. We cut back to Picard on the bridge of the starship, watching in horror as the Romulan homeworld is enveloped by the shockwave. Roll opening credits.

This episode could possibly also establish that the Romulans knew their sun was unstable for over a century and could have stabilized it sooner. Politicians thought they had centuries before the instability would result in any sort of catastrophe, so they kept kicking the can down the road and didn't spend any more than token investment in mitigating the problem. They neglected the pending (preventable) environmental catastrophe in favor of maintaining military parity with the Federation and Klingon neighbors, and maintaining the standard of life for the citizens of Romulus.

The rest of the episode would take place 10 years later, and be about a political debate within the Federation Council regarding the extent to which the Federation shall provide aid and relief. The Federation had already diverted as much of the Starfleet and civiliian convoys for years to evacuate the worlds closest to Romulus, and they are debating whether to continue to do so as the nova shockwave spreads to other systems that are more than just a few lightyears from Romulus. The vast majority supports the idea of providing relief to the Romulans, but there could be a vocal minority that still sees them as a duplicitous mortal enemy of the Federation and refuses to support any plan to provide aid. Picard and Raffi advocate for an extensive effort to relocate as many Romulans as possible to Federation worlds, but other politicians are slowly starting to side with the vocal minority for reasons of their own.

The aftermath of the Dominion War should be a major factor in the Federation's inability to aid the Romulans.

Here's a list of possible excuses / reasons for opposing aid to the Romulans. The episode should cite at least a couple of them, if not all:

  • Federation still hasn't restored all of its industrial infrastructure that was destroyed in the Dominion War, and doesn't have the infrastructure to perpetually provide that level of aid or relief. The aid is unsustainable and has to end sooner or later. Every year that they continue providing aid with their limited resources is another year of reallocating those essential resources away from the Federation worlds that it was actually intended for.
  • Diverting resources away from supporting Cardassian reconstruction (and towards Romulan reconstruction) would lead to a power vacuum on Cardassia that could allow another military coup and lead to renewed conflict with the Cardassians.
  • Gorn, Tholians, Kzinti, and/or Sheliak have been making power plays on worlds that used to be in the Romulan sphere of influence, pushing Romulan settlers and refugees away from those worlds and towards Federation worlds. This is increasing the number of refugees beyond the Federation's capacity to process and relocate them.
  • Romulans are already travelling to Federation worlds on their own ships and are destabilizing the local economies and straining those colonies' ability to support their own (Federation) populations.
  • Klingons are violently repelling Romulan refugees arriving at their worlds, and support for the Romulans may lead to animosity with the Klingons.
  • The fall of centralized Romulan government has lead to piracy along the former Neutral Zone that has lead many border worlds to demand that Starfleet shut down the border.
  • Powerful factions within Romulan society insist the Romulans can resolve this crisis without handouts from the Federation, so providing more than token relief risks conflict if those groups become the governing bodies within the Romulan Empire.
  • The Romulan government could have stabilized their own star decades ago, but they didn't. If their government wasn't willing to invest in preventing their own sun from going nova, why should we invest in rescuing them now?

The whole episode should be an exploration of the collapse of governments during an environmental catastrophe, and of the moral and ethical imperative to provide aid and relief to refugees. By the end of the episode, the Federation has canceled all but minimal aid to the Romulans by a hairline, partisan vote. Picard and Raffi resign their commissions, and use their remaining clout to pull some old freighters and colony ships out of mothballs and personally take charge of a convoy to resume the rescue efforts before another Romulan system is due to be enveloped by the nova.

A mid-season episode: "Reclamation"

During the resettlement efforts, Picard is travelling back and forth between Federation and Romulan space, he decides to stop at The Artifact, a derelict Borg Cube in Romulan space. Just as in CBS' show, Hugh is running the Borg Reclamation Project, trying to de-assimilate and rehabilitate former Borg left behind on the derelict Cube.

I think this is an interesting metaphor because the crimes of the Borg go so far beyond the fact that they "technically broke the law" by crossing a border, so there are very good reasons why Borg would be unwelcome within the Federation -- or anywhere else in the galaxy. Instead, Hugh presents the Borg as victimized refugees who are unwelcome throughout the galaxy (paralleling the plight of the Romulans), but who just want to be re-introduced into society so that they can be functioning members of civilization again.

The ex-Borg could be a great allegory for unwelcome refugees, as well as victims of human trafficking.

This episode could play out largely the same as what we saw of Hugh and the Borg Reclamation Project in Star Trek: Picard. Perhaps one or more of the ships in Picard's convoy is suffering from engine failure, and they consider re-activating the Borg Cube in order to use it to house rescued refugees. Hugh could say that it would be impossible for him to re-activate the Cube. Without an uplink to the Collective, they would need a Borg with more implants still active in order to act as a makeshift "queen" to manage the Cube's vital functions. None of the former drones on the Cube would be psychologically capable of handling that, but Hugh knows who might...

Picard then leaves to attempt to recruit Seven of Nine, who (along with Icheb) is currently operating in Romulan space hunting down pirates who have been plundering the Cube for its technology, and even kidnapping deactivated drones in order to kill them and sell off their implants.

Not only are the ex-Borg being compared to refugees, we also now have a human-trafficking or sex-trafficking allegory.

This episode would probably end up being one of the longer ones, and may even need to be broken up into 2 parts, with the second part focusing on Seven of Nine and breaking up the cartel that is selling Borg parts. Seven of Nine should be established as having been working with the Borg Reclamation Project, and Icheb was the Starfleet envoy to the project. Seven took it as a personal mission to track down those responsible for kidnapping and murdering the ex-drones. I'd prefer not to include the gruesome murder of Icheb, but if some producer insists that it has to be here (for whatever reason), then this would be the episode in which to include it.

Seven could take control of the Borg Cube
and join Picard's rescue convoy.

The episode could end with the pirates sending a fleet to destroy the Cube in retribution for Seven's interference. If the producers also insist on killing off Hugh (which I would prefer not to do), then he would sacrifice his life at the end of this episode to help fend off the pirates and protect the Cube while Seven installs herself as the new "Queen". At the last minute, Seven re-activates the Cube, activates its weapons, and fends off the raiders. Picard may have to talk her down from pursuing the raiders to the death, insisting that he can use his contacts within Starfleet and what's left of the Romulan government to try to get law enforcement to pursue the pirates and bring them to justice -- hopefully without bloodshed. Seven reluctantly yields and lets the pirates flee.

Last Episode: "Data"

The last episode should be about Data, and give Picard some closure regarding Data's death, just as happened in the final episode of CBS's show. After successfully relocating a colony of Romulans before the nova overtook their world in the previous episode, Picard receives a message from Bruce Maddox. Maddox had been working in Romulan space to develop A.I.s to coordinate Romulan evacuations, but he had also been working on the side to further the development of positronic brain technology. His research has caught the attention of the Tal Shi'ar, and he believes they are coming to steal his work. He asks Picard to help protect him and move his equipment.

Picard sends the convoy on ahead, and takes one ship with Seven of Nine to try to rescue Maddox. When he arrives, Maddox informs him that he has transferred Data's consciousness from B-4 into a quantum simulation, and is trying to finish construction of a functioning positronic brain. Maddox is also experimenting with transposing human consciousness into a positronic brain, which is what has the Tal Shi'ar most interested in his work. He intends to test it on himself, by downloading his consciousness into a second android body that he has constructed.

Maddox has almost completed a positronic brain in which to download Data's consciousness.

In the meantime, Picard's Irumodic Syndrome becomes terminal. He and Maddox contemplate downloading his consciousness into the android body intended for Data. But when the Tal Shi'ar arrive, Maddox is killed in the fight, and Picard's condition deteriorates. The positronic brain is still incomplete, but Seven fights off the Tal Shi'ar agents and transfers all of Maddox's equipment to Picard's ship.

Seven of Nine attempts to finish the work (along with Dr. Jurati, if we decide to include her in the show at all), but she isn't familiar enough with positronics to solve the problems that Maddox was attempting to resolve. Or maybe she discovers that Maddox's positronic brain is flawed, and the transfer would never have worked to begin with? They could try downloading Data's consciousness into the brain, but the brain might not last long if they do. Picard interfaces with the simulation through the holodeck and explains the situation to Data. Data decides that he wants to go through with the transfer, even though it is likely to fail. He doesn't want to be trapped in the simulation forever, and would prefer to experience mortality. Data feels that mortality was the most important aspect of humanity that Data never had, and this is his chance.

Data is downloaded into a replica of his old body, and Seven determines that he has a matter of hours before the brain fails and he dies. He and Picard spend that time reminiscing over a game of poker, in a callback to the opening scene.

If it's possible to excuse the appearance of Geordi and Beverly Crusher, I would like to include both of them in this episode. This would allow the characters closest to the deceased to both have an opportunity to say "Goodbye". Geordi could have a farewell with Data, and Beverly could have a farewell with Picard. Perhaps all four of them share a game of poker near the end.

The final scene could play out similarly to Data's scene at the end of CBS' Picard, with a similar melancholy conclusion. The episode would be about the idea that mortality is part of what makes us human, and part of what makes each moment precious. At the end, Data dies, and Picard dies shortly thereafter.

Picard and Data get to say goodbye to each other.

Other episode ideas

The whole series could probably be 6 or 7 episodes long, but it could also extend to 10 episodes if there's enough other good ideas that are consistent with the vision that I've presented. Feel free to post your ideas for episodes in the comments! The over-arching story would be Picard using his makeshift convoy to try to rescue Romulans from a colony that will soon be destroyed by the nova. Perhaps this colony is home to friends that he made during his time as the Romulan envoy, and their evacuation convoy was cancelled by the Federation when they voted to suspend aid. The time pressure could be used as the excuse for why Picard doesn't seek the help of former Enterprise crew, who are all on deep space assignments, or retired and living in distant parts of the Federation.

The second episode could be about Picard recruiting a crew to help him run the convoy. We could maybe introduce Rios and Picard's Romulan housekeepers, all of whom could go with Picard on the rescue mission. The second-to-last episode would have Picard evacuating those colonists. Perhaps the Borg-tech pirates come back to try to capture the re-activated Cube, Seven, and the other ex-drones. Maybe a fleet of Romulan warbirds mistakes the Artifact for an actual Borg Cube and attempts to intercept it. Either of these ideas could provides some additional conflict and an excuse for some climactic action scenes and space battles. They could also allow Picard to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The second-to-last episode could end with a cliff-hanger in which Picard receives the message from Maddox.

Try to get John De Lancie for a Q episode.

We might need a couple other stand-alone episodes to fill out the rest of the series. I would definitely like to have at least one "planet of the week" and/or "anomaly of the week" episode. Maybe we could throw in a whimsical Q story in there for some fun, and an opportunity for Q to say goodbye to Picard.

Moving forward with new characters

The season would end with Picard dying, but it would serve as a spring-board for each subsequent season to focus on another Star Trek character. Next season would be about Seven of Nine and continue her adventures to help rehabilitate ex-Borg (with Hugh, if he's still alive). Perhaps that storyline could intersect with a subplot involving Klingons as an excuse to feature Worf. Michael Dorn has been asking for a Worf spin-off show for years, so this would give him that chance.

Well, I tried to do my best to salvage Star Trek: Picard with the material that was given to me by CBS. These outlines are all, of course, rough drafts, and I'm sure would need to be revised considerably if they were to be adapted into an actual screenplay. My hope is that we now have a legit Star Trek series that tackles all of the worthwhile subplots of Picard in a manner that is respectful and consistent with the tone and philosophies of The Next Generation TV series.

Had I been in the writing room of Star Trek: Picard, I would do everything in my power to avoid the abysmal overarching plot of Romulan conspiracies to prevent space Armageddon at the hands of Lovecraft tentacle robots from another dimension. That's Star Trek canon now, by the way: Lovecraft tentacle robots from another dimension.Thank you so much, Alex Kurtzman!

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