Like with its previous two seasons, Star Trek: Picard kicked off its third and final season with an episode designed to set up the season arc through lots and lots of mystery boxes. Fandom is currently abuzz with speculation, and I’m sure folks are picking apart every little background detail for hints. Some will turn out to be right, some will turn out to be wildly off base, and some are so out there that you wonder if the person who posted it is even being serious.
Here are three of my theories after watching the first episode of this season, “The Next Generation.” Spoilers abound.
Beverly’s son is an illegal clone
The big “oh, what?!” reveal at the end of the first episode is that the young man (played by Ed Speleers) encountered by Picard and Riker on Crusher’s ship claims to be her son. Of course, it’s possible he’s lying, but given that Paramount+ has him credited him as “Jack Crusher,” I think he’s telling the truth. And hey, doesn’t that name sound familiar?
Everyone’s first instinct upon learning that Beverly Crusher has an adult son, after cutting off the rest of the Enterprise-D crew for 20 years, is that Picard is the father. But I don’t think that’s the case… why wouldn’t Beverly want Picard to know if it’s his kid? And why would she be so insistent that Starfleet be kept out of… whatever’s going on?
My current wild theory is that Jack is an illegal clone of Beverly’s late husband, also named Jack. Maybe even an augment. And she’s spent the past 20 years afraid that if the Federation found out, they’d take him away from her, or harm him in some way. So she ran and even cut off her best friends in order to protect her baby.
Raffi’s handler is Moriarty
The teaser for Star Trek: Picard made much ado of holo-villain Moriarty’s return. Meanwhile, the season premiere shows Raffi communicating with a handler who communicates only via text read aloud by the ship’s computer, and who refuses to meet in person. What if that’s because it’s not a person? We’re meant to assume there’s a living being on the other side of the computer, but what if Raffi’s handler is in the computer itself? Moriarty has been known to run amok in starship systems before, after all. What if he hacked not only La Sirena, but the very core of Starfleet’s operations, and has used that to manipulate the organization and send Raffi on her undercover mission? So much of Starfleet communications is done virtually, after all. How would you know that the person on the screen is actually that person… and not a projection?
Captain Shaw is the good guy
Is there a more obnoxious character in the Star Trek universe than the smarmy new captain of Riker’s old ship, the Titan? From the moment his name is mentioned, we’re set up to hate Captain Shaw thanks to a ringing anti-endorsement from our beloved Seven of Nine, who has been forced to go by Annika Hansen and clearly isn’t happy about it. Shaw then proceeds to be ridiculously, cartoonishly horrible to our primary heroes, Riker and Picard (you know, the guy so popular, they named the whole show after him, and it’s the only Trek show named after a character). So it seems the show is setting him up to be a villain, right?
Except… we’re in an era where TV loves twists as much as Gollum loves the One Ring. So the more obvious something seems, the less likely it is to be true. Call it the TV Twist Paradox. Keeping that in mind, what if the writers set us up to hate Shaw because they’re actually planning to have him be a big hero? After all, he is rationally right – he shouldn’t go on an unauthorized jaunt to the edge of Federation ship on the (questionable) orders of a retired Admiral and off-duty Captain who showed up out of the blue demanding he burn his engines to the max. We the audience are primed to root for Picard and Riker, but we know from the get-go that they’re BS-ing.
So maybe Shaw will be a season antagonist in that he’ll try to stop our ostensible heroes from doing what they want to do… but he’ll turn out to be right all along.