Star Trek: Picard is a show that takes us further into the franchise’s future than any previous Trek series before it (well, until Discovery takes the crown by a century or nine). But it’s also a show about familiar faces, and catching us up on beloved characters. So much so, that one guest star in this week’s episode almost felt like an uncanny, unintentional throwback.
“Stardust City Rag,” the latest episode of Picard, brought in Voyager stalwart Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine, and explored what has become a quite tragic backstory for the ex-Borg since we last saw her. Part of that backstory involved meeting a mysterious new character named Bjayzl (played by Necar Zadegan), a former ally of Seven’s turned mobster on the seedy planet Freecloud. But despite being on the surface an entirely new character, when Picard and his team first beamed down to Freecloud to meet Bjayzl, I was momentarily taken aback.
Because I thought Deanna Troi was standing right there in front of them. And not the Troi of 2399, but straight up the Troi of The Next Generation.
In Zadegan’s first scenes, my head was spinning a mile a minute. Was it Troi? Wait no, it’s a new character. Why does she look like Troi? Has she seen through Picard’s hilarious, eye-patched disguise, knows who he really is, and is using some kind of holographic disguise to make him as momentarily confused by a familiar face as I was?
Nope, as it turns out. Zadegan—who’s probably best known currently as an ongoing star on NCIS: New Orleans—just happens to uncannily look like a young Marina Sirtis, circa the heady days of TNG. Like, almost eerily so. When I took to Twitter to see if it was just me momentarily bedazzled by Bjayzl, plenty of other people were likewise shocked:
— James Whitbrook (@Jwhitbrook) February 21, 2020
Now, it wouldn’t be out of place for Picard to have done some de-ageing trickery. After all, the show already has: both Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner have had CGI touch ups to represent younger versions of themselves in the show (or, in the latter’s case, the fact that Data is meant to look as he always has, despite the passage of time and that little mixup that is him, uh, dying in Star Trek: Nemesis). We know Sirtis is due to appear too, alongside Jonathan Frakes, when they reprise their iconic roles as Troi and Riker.
Thankfully for our overheating brains, however, they’ll be playing Troi and Riker as they are in 2399, rather than their younger selves—no CGI trickery or uncanny guest star likenesses required. There’s enough to think about in Picard without contemplating that everyone could secretly the younger version of a TNG star.