Star Trek's New Nickname For Picard Is Laughably Bad
The newest entry in the Star Trek franchise on CBS All Access,Star Trek: Picard, continues Jean-Luc Picard’s (Patrick Stewart) story after his resignation from Starfleet and introduces a cast of new characters. One character from Picard’s past, however, uses a nickname for the decorated former captain of the Enterprise that is laughably bad.
The series begins with Picard’s quiet post-Starfleet life on a French vineyard, but when an android, later revealed to be Data’s (Brent Spiner) daughter, is killed by Romulan assassins, Picard forms a team to investigate. Among the new crew is a character first introduced in the canonical prequel comics Star Trek: Picard Countdown, Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd). Musiker is a former Starfleet expert on Romulans and served as Picard’s First Officer on the Verity during the events of Star Trek: Picard Countdown.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
In the third episode of Star Trek: Picard, “The End Is the Beginning,” the show’s flashback reveals a conversation between Raffi and Picard, in which fans first hear her ridiculous nickname for then-Admiral Picard.
As they discuss Starfleet’s response to an attack on Mars and the effort to evacuate the Romulan homeworld, Raffi says, “Something’s off about this whole business, J.L.” Of course, “J.L.” stands for Jean-Luc, and this isn’t the only time she uses this nickname. Throughout the episode, even present-day Raffi calls Picard “J.L.”
Raffi’s use of “J.L.” is likely the show’s writers’ attempt to demonstrate a closer relationship between Picard and Raffi, or perhaps an attempt to make the character more vulnerable and human — but it just doesn’t work. The scene simply does not contain enough chemistry between the two actors to make the exchange successful. Not only do the letters sound weird put together, but the very idea of a nickname, a diminutive expression of his name, flies in the face of Picard’s austerity. Years of development of his character imbued him with gravitas. There are some people you just don’t give nicknames to, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard is one of them.
During all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the four films featuring Picard’s crew, he is always referred to as either “Captain” or “Jean-Luc.” His closest friends, like Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) with whom he had a personal history, were freer with his first name, but his subordinates, including his former First Officer, Riker (Jonathan Frakes), almost always used his title, Captain.
Though much of Star Trek: Picard gets the characters right and respectfully treats their legacies, this small aspect of his interaction with Raffi rings hollow. Picard is one of the Star Trek franchise’s most beloved characters, and his return to the screen has been welcomed, as Star Trek: Picard has garnered largely positive responses. While “J.L.” doesn’t work, at least they didn’t make things worse and call him “Johnny.”
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