Star Trek: Picard’s final season is going all in on the nostalgia, bringing back the Next Generation cast for one last big adventure. But it’s quickly proven itself to be nostalgic for more than just TNG when it comes to Star Trek’s past… including with its major villain, who was almost replaced by another familiar foe.
Speaking to Collider today about this week’s episode of Picard, showrunner Terry Matalas discussed the decision to make the major threat of season 3 a rather literal familiar face from the franchise’s past: a rogue faction of shapeshifting Changelings from the Founders, the leaders of the Dominion that menaced Starfleet and the rest of the Alpha Quadrant in the latter half of Deep Space Nine.
“They were the perfect villain because they can look like any anybody, and there’s an episode around the midpoint [of Season 3] where it is absolutely critical, where you’re not sure if the person sitting across from you is a changeling or not,” Matalas said. “And the only way that you can know is to have an emotional catharsis with that person. It gives you such incredible drama.”
But while the Changelings were an early part of Matalas’ plans for season 3, for a brief moment they were almost replaced by another hidden Star Trek villain, this time directly from Picard’s roots in TNG—the parasitic bugs from the infamous season 1 episode “Conspiracy.” In that episode, Picard and Riker uncover a plot by a race of alien bugs to infiltrate Starfleet command, burrowing into their unfortunate hosts and killing them, puppeting them in secret. Which was, for Matalas, the problem with bringing them back.
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“I do like the conspiracy bugs, I did consider for a hot minute, the conspiracy bugs,” Matalas continued. “The issue with the conspiracy bugs is they kill their host. So that would mean anyone that you saw with a bug in them was dead, and you wouldn’t be able to do the paranoia thriller that you wanted to do if it was somebody you loved, that meant they were dead. So there [were] about three storylines I couldn’t do without killing legacy characters.”
And so, Picard traded one hidden enemy for another—and thankfully it seems like none of our faves will need their chests being burst open by phaser-fire because of it.
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