And why Gene Roddenberry might not have been a fan.
Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, Jonathan Frakes, Riker-at-large and director of this past week’s episode of Star Trek: Picard, shared his experience directing the episode, and what it was allowed to do that much of earlier Trek wasn’t.
“It was completely the luck of the draw,” Frakes said, explaining how he came to direct this particular episode. “But I was grateful to be apart of reintroducing fans to Seven, particularly their mini-scene — where these two former Borgs — they exchange their baggage and their feelings about having been ‘Borg-ified.’ It’s one of my favourite scenes I’ve ever done.”
And it’s a scene that, for all its compelling drama, might not have happened before the modern Trek era.
“We never could have done [a scene like] this on our show,” Frakes said. The reason was that Gene Rodennberry preferred to keep conflict away from the protagonists—that is, there wouldn’t be emotional drama between the core set of protagonists, like the core of the Enterprise. While that’s obviously changed over time, rarely has the series gone to such a personal and psychological place as it does in this episode, when Picard and Seven ruminate over their shared trauma at the hands of the Borg, and how that shared trauma continues to shape their relationship to humanity at large.
“As we know, conflict is what creates drama. So, on Next Gen, it was a very challenging set of rules — primarily for the writers — to find ways to create drama. In this new version of Star Trek, which honours what Roddenberry laid out — in terms of the optimism and respect toward themes like racism — all of those elements are sort of strongly rooted in this show,” Frakes went on to explain. “But the notion of self-doubt, the vulnerability — especially for a [character] like Picard — the damage of past experiences, are so much more compelling to watch … It’s a denser show than Next Gen, I think that’s fair to say. Pushing Picard to these places, watching Patrick act that out — and he was in the writer’s room as they developed this story — it’s all so rewarding to see.”
To keep up with this denser, sadder story, you can watch Picard on Amazon Prime Video, and you can also check out our recaps.