Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: How Picard And Discovery Could Crossover

With Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard both warping onto TV screens in 2020, is there a way the two might intersect, either via an epic crossover event or small interconnected references? It's been 20 years since Star Trek was represented on television by 2 separate series, with overlaps occurring first between Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and then Deep Space Nine with Star Trek: Voyager shortly before the turn of the millennium. The twin-Treks phenomenon is set to come around again in 2020. Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will premiere on CBS All Access later this year, with a new far-future setting after the time traveling antics of season 2's finale. Before that, however, Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard gets his own solo series in Star Trek: Picard, premiering on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime on January 23rd and bringing back a host of familiar faces.

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There's plenty of history when it comes to inter-series Star Trek crossovers, from fan-pleasing cameos to full-on crossover events that meld two casts together. Michael Dorn's Worf hopped from The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine for the latter's fourth season, becoming a key cast member, DS9's Quark appeared in an episode of Voyager, Picard starred in the DS9 premiere, John De Lancie played Q in no less than 3 different Star Trek series and Voyager's Robert Picardo guest starred in DS9 as the doctor's programmer after playing Voyager's own holographic doctor. And that's just to name a few.

With CBS looking to vastly expand the Star Trek brand moving forward, crossovers could prove a major factor in boosting the franchise's popularity, and with the same creative names in charge of all upcoming projects, there's certainly a possibility that 2020's Star Trek TV output will bleed together in some fashion. The past proves that Star Trek and TV crossovers are natural bedfellows, but will this be the case with Discovery and Picard?

Star Trek: Picard Can Reveal The Discovery's Secret

The biggest in-story obstacle to overcome is the huge timeline gap between the two shows, with Star Trek: Picard set near the end of the 24th century and Star Trek: Discovery season 3 set in the 32nd century. Discovery's big hook for the upcoming season is Burnham and co. being confined to far future, so to show any of the main cast in Star Trek: Picard (which airs earliest) would be counterproductive, essentially confirming Discovery's trip to the future isn't permanent before it even begins. Additionally, it's incredibly unlikely that any human characters from Star Trek: Discovery's first 2 seasons would still be alive by the time of Star Trek: Picard.

Fortunately, there are several ways in which Picard's series could still include elements of Star Trek: Discovery. It's often considered a plot hole that the adventures and technology of the Discovery aren't mentioned elsewhere in the franchise, and season 2 attempts to solve this by showing how the ship was erased from Starfleet's records. Star Trek: Picard takes place in a largely unexplored area of the timeline, and therefore has the opportunity to explore what might happen when that information begins to come to light, and the Discovery's existence (and subsequent disappearance) is uncovered. This could take the form of subtle Easter eggs, with brief nods to hidden records or an unaccounted ship, or become a fully-fledged plot-point that shakes Picard's trust in his former employers.

While most of the Discovery's crew accompanied Burnham into the 32rd century, Star Trek: Discovery season 2 saw Ash Tyler appointed head of Section 31 in the present day and, thanks to his Klingon heritage and genetic modifications, it's possible that Ash could still be alive during Star Trek: Picard's timeline. Featuring Ash in Star Trek: Picard would be a neat way of tying up a character that's unlikely to feature prominently in Discovery's third season, and might simultaneously help build towards up the forthcoming Section 31 spinoff. Picard looks set to dip his toes into some distinctly shady business in his new series, and Section 31 could play a key role in that. If so, it might be difficult to pass up an Ash Tyler namedrop or an appearance from an aged version of the character.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Has Already Introduced Time Travel

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will have more scope for a crossover with Jean-Luc's solo series, since time travel is already deeply embedded into the storyline. The trip 900 years into the future was meant to be one-way, but that rule's unlikely to stick now that the Daedalus Project technology has been introduced. With a time travel mechanic firmly in place, this temporal flexibility allows the Discovery to interact alongside all manner of familiar Star Trek characters and settings, even if the narrative remains grounded to the 32rd century initially.

The overall story for Star Trek: Discovery season 3 appears to be saving the future from a grim fate, with the Federation scattered and Burnham suggesting that something must've gone awry with the timeline. In an attempt to correct the course of history and alter the future, one of the main Discovery crew could wind up being sent back to the 24th century, the setting of Star Trek: Picard. Identifying this era as the moment history started going sour could be a neat way to involve Picard and the events that transpire in his own series into Discovery.

Drifting more into the unlikely, Star Trek: Picard represents Jean-Luc's swansong in the franchise and is designed as a conclusion to the character's story. If the Discovery crew are in need of a legend's assistance, they might use their time travel capabilities to bring Picard to them, thereby giving Patrick Stewart one last run as a Starfleet captain on a major ship. The Discovery itself is still without a permanent leader, after all. Although perhaps a more contrived option, who would dare begrudge Picard one final space romp in the 32rd century? Even if a full-on crossover episode of this kind isn't forthcoming, there are bound to be references and allusions between the two series, given that they're airing so close to each other.

Why The Streaming Wars Could Prevent A Star Trek Crossover

Unfortunately, there may be a fly in the ointment for any potential crossover between Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. While both shows will premiere on CBS All Access, their international distribution is a very different scenario, with Discovery's streaming rights owned by Netflix, and Picard's by Amazon. Only the parties directly involved know what legally can and cannot happen, and some middle ground might be found where both platforms can air a crossover. Alternatively, perhaps a deal can be struck where any crossover ventures appear solely on CBS All Access, although this would risk isolating Star Trek's considerable international fan base.

The already messy and complicated legal web becomes more tangled because of the money Netflix have spent on Star Trek: Discovery, reportedly fronting as much as 100% of the show's budget. As such, the streaming platform would undoubtedly loathe the idea of characters and stories they helped pay for appearing on a direct rival, and the same could be said of Amazon Prime, although their financial contribution to Star Trek: Picard may differ. With that said, the potential benefits of a crossover won't be lost on Netflix and Amazon, and it could be argued that a meeting of the two shows would benefit everyone involved.

Of course, these legal worries won't prevent the smaller interconnected elements. Amazon Prime won't cry foul if a photo of Picard finds its way into the 32rd century, and Netflix won't think twice if Star Trek: Picard name-checks the Discovery. Anything that involves characters directly crossing from one show to the other, however, might encounter some roadblocks. While the issue of one franchise being divided among different streaming services is something that might become more pronounced over the next decade, the problem isn't entirely new. A similar situation occurred between Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its David Boreanaz-fronted Angel spinoff. While the two shows existed within the same universe, direct crossovers were banned after Buffy moved networks, although minor references remained. The crossover concept has become even more popular since the heady days of the early 2000s, so it'll be interesting to see if a deal can be worked out for Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picardto collide.

Star Trek: Picard premieres January 23rd on CBS All Access and internationally on Amazon Prime.

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premieres in 2020 on CBS All Access and internationally on Netflix.