Star Trek: Picard the Watcher

In the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard a historic franchise return is occurring. In an early scene in the episode, two characters board a bus while familiar punk rock music plays. Kirk Thatcher, who played the punk rock kid pinched by Spock in Star Trek IV: The Journey Homeresumes his role in picard. As the song sounds “I Still I hate you,” Seven of Nine by Jeri Ryan asks her to turn the noise off. With a quick grab of his neck, he runs. Of course, in this episode of Star Trek: Picard, titled “The Watcher”, the villains of the episode are ICE, meaning those found in the real world. Yes, the US Department of Homeland Security, specifically Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Star Trek has always been about real-world politics, but this might be the most direct critique of the franchise yet.

Before we get into spoilers, it’s clear to me at least why Paramount brought 12 monkeys showrunner Terry Matalas (who, in turn, brought in writers for this series). Kirk Thatcher’s punk appearance isn’t the only person in the past that Jean-Luc (and his fans) will recognize. the 12 monkeys The series is known for both its strict time travel rules and the way the winding, meandering narrative forms a seamless loop. It’s a much more complex mission than going back to the 1980s to save whales. Things get complicated, especially as the titular Watcher finally meets Picard (and is another recognizable face of Star Trek.)

Still, the real villains in this episode are ICE, and what may sound like dystopian fictional tropes are actually a pretty accurate depiction of modern American immigration policy.

Spoilers to follow.

How the observer binds to Star Trek: Picard and ICE as villains

Image by Trae Patton via Paramount+

Thanks to a very practical example of the transporter in the work of Rios’ ship, Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard is sent to the coordinates that Allison Pill’s Jurati took from the mind of Annie Wersching’s Borg Queen. These coordinates bring him to an address: 10 Forward Avenue. A delighted Picard will find Guinan for the first time, played as a youngster by Ito Aghayere. (Fun fact: he’s the second actor to play the young Guinan, after Isis J. Jones in the GNT episode “Rascals”. Jones also played young Whoopi Goldberg in sister actreleased the same year.)

However, unlike the wise and patient Guinan Jean-Luc whom Jean-Luc knows, this younger version is exhausted and disgusted with humanity. In part, she is disgusted by the xenophobia still prevalent in Picard’s past and in our present and near future. At the end of the last episode, Santiago Cabrera’s Cris Rios was detained by ICE. In this episode, he is locked up and brutalized by a particularly sadistic ICE officer. Throughout the episode, the characters talk about ICE’s penchant for making people disappear. They are deported from the United States without a written record or legal representation. (That’s unfortunately not that far off from how ICE really treats the human beings in their care.)

Next week we are sure to see a big jailbreak. But in “The Watcher”, the villains of Star Trek: Picard are not the Borg or Q but ICE and, to a lesser extent, the police. In fact, Picard himself is doing what Star Trek often does when talking about how closed off and repulsive America can be to a Federation officer today. Picard, like many Star Trek captains before him, tries to appeal to Guinan about the redeeming capacity of the human species.

A Punk Rock Legend Returns to Star Trek and Other Familiar Faces

Star Trek: Picard The Watcher ICE punk rock comeback villains Image by Trae Patton via Paramount+

In ‘The Watcher,’ Guinan isn’t the only Star Trek legend to return to picard. Kirk Thatcher reprises his role as a “punk rock guy on a bus with a boombox” while listening to a very familiar song. Although it’s not the same punk rock jam as in star trek 4, it’s very similar and the singer assures the listener that he still hates “you”. Yet when he was reprimanded by Seven of Nine, he seems to have learned his lesson about community spaces and loud music. (Though you have to respect his commitment to boombox life in the age of streaming and digital music.) Plus, the last time fans of the genre saw Thatcher with a boombox was not in Star Trek but in Spider-Man: Homecoming standing next to the “Do a flip!” dude.

There are two big reveals in this episode. First, the Observer appears to be Laris, the Romulan housekeeper and potential romantic interest introduced in the first season of Star Trek: Picard. His ears are rounded, like a human, so this person may not be the same as Picard knows. It could also mean that Laris was never a Romulan refugee, but rather someone on Earth destined to protect the fate of someone important. This person appears to be the blonde woman at the end of the episode, watched not by Laris but by John De Lancie’s Q.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Lateral bar :

This unidentified woman is reading a novel by Dixon Hill, GNT holodeck fame. This is the second time in the episode that this character is mentioned. The novel, titled The pale son is from Tracy Torme – a GNT writer who left the series in the second season due to creative differences. Also, the title may be a reference to Tom Noonan’s villain The Pallid Man from 12 monkeys who dressed much like the figure on the cover of the book.

More importantly, though, is that Q seems to be trying to do some of his sci-fi magic on her, and it doesn’t work. Q Is he stuck in the past and powerless? If so, that’s a very interesting wrinkle, and another suggestion that the two main antagonists – he and the Borg Queen – might have to work with our heroes to fix time and get home.

Star Trek: Picard launches new episodes Thursday on Paramount+.

Q snaps his fingers Image by Trae Patton via Paramount+

What did you think of “The Watcher” episode of Star Trek: Picard and do you agree that ICE were the real bad guys in this episode? Did you recognize the punk rock guy from star trek 4? Also, what other 12 monkeys easter eggs have you found the series fans? Share your thoughts, theories, and reactions in the comments below.

Featured image by Trae Patton via Paramount+

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he’s loved the medium ever since. He is the galaxy’s greatest star pilot, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His superhero short story book, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an e-book or paperback on Amazon.

Diana J. Carleton