When Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) returns to TV screens later this year, he will not be the same commanding officer fans last saw in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. In fact, Alex Kurtzman, the new boss of Star Trek and the executive producer of the upcoming Picard-focused series said as much during a session at the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday (according to The Wrap). “It’s been 20-plus years, so he couldn’t possibly be that same person anymore,” said Kurtzman.
Since Stewart first announced his return to the role, there has been the strong implication that Picard had stepped away from the center seat aboard the Enterprise since his last on-screen appearance. But it also seems from Stewart’s and Kurtzman’s remarks that Picard may have left Starfleet all together. And while this massive career change may seem startling — especially as Enterprise captains have a hard time giving up the ship — Kurtzman has an explanation for Picard’s apparent departure. Unfortunately, he’s not yet willing to share it. Instead, he asked a big hypothetical question: “How do you hold on to to being the person that everybody loved, when the circumstances around you may have changed so radically?”
The series will be set after the destruction of Romulus depicted in 2009’s Star Trek. That event will be key to establishing the new future of the future Kurtzman wants to create for the series. Which opens up another possibility for Picard’s possible departure from Starfleet — maybe it no longer exists.
The unnamed Star Trek series is set to debut later this year on CBS All Access.