This holiday season, Star Trek is in a lull: except for the occasional Short Trek (and accompanying podcast episode of Transporter Lock), there's been nothing new for us to watch since the second season of Discovery ended in April.
But next year will be a very different story. Not only is Discovery coming back for a third season — one set further into the future of Star Trek's timeline than we've ever seen — but Patrick Stewart will return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in his own series. A trailer that debuted while I was at KansasFest 2019, where we watched it on a projector. Several of my fellow geeks can attest to the three times I screamed — see if you can spot them:
Television has changed significantly since The Next Generation went off the air in 1994. Whereas Deep Space Nine pioneered serialized storytelling, nowadays it is commonplace and even the default. Picard's new adventures won't be neatly bottled episodes that end with a weekly reset button; we should expect his journeys to continuously progress, going where he's never gone before and then some.
But it's not just television that's changed; it's also Trek itself. Picard was captain of the last crew assembled by Gene Roddenberry himself, who believed that humanity has resolved its inner conflicts by the 24th century. The inhabitants of the Enterprise D largely got along, inviting viewers to join their spacefaring family. Two years after Roddenberry passed away in 1991, Deep Space Nine debuted, introducing a station crew that was distrustful, conflicted, lustful, and mysterious.
Which universe will Picard find himself in? From the trailer, not all is well within and without the Federation. Whereas our science fiction in general and Trek in particular was once largely optimistic, as seen in TNG, now it is more dystopian, as often seen in DS9 and even Discovery. Can a retired captain and a new crew hope to make a difference?
We have months in which to ponder that question before Picard debuts in 2020. In the meantime, we can look to our own present, set aside our worries for the future, and enjoy the holiday season. It's what Captain Picard would want.