Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Just Set Up Will Riker's Return to Starfleet

This week’s episode of Star Trek: Picardreunites Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard with two of his former Star Trek: The Next Generation castmates and crewmembers aboard the USS Enterprise, Jonathan Frakes as former first officer William Riker and Marina Sirtis as former ship’s counselor Deanna Troi. While the two are living a quiet life on the planet of Nepenthe with their daughter Kestra -- and mourning the loss of their son Thadius -- the episode reveals that there is the possibility for at least one of them, Riker, to return to active duty in Starfleet. SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard episode seven, “Nepenthe,” follow.

In “Nepenthe,” Picard travels to the title planet with Soji, Data’s daughter. He’s seeking shelter while he figures out what to do next and waits for the La Sirena and his crew to catch up with him. He catches up with Riker and Troi in the meantime and has a private conversation with Riker on a lake dock shortly before he departs.

During that conversation, Picard asks Riker if he would ever consider returning to Starfleet. Riker responds by saying that he is still on active reserve, but it would take a very good reason to get him back into action. Could this be foreshadowing Riker’s return to acting later on in Star Trek: Picard?

Of note is that the episode also sees Picard admitting that he may need to contact Starfleet for help given how far things are escalating between him and the Romulans. Could this be more foreshadowing? Perhaps Picard’s call for help to Starfleet will go unanswered, only for Riker to return to duty to give his old captain a hand.

The last time fans saw Riker (aside from the flashback in the Star Trek: Enterprise finale) was in Star Trek: Nemesis. The events of that film took place in 2379. They included Riker finally marrying Troi and the two making preparations to leave the Enterprise so that Riker could take command of the USS Titan. Based on “Nepenthe,” Thadius would have been born about two years later, in 2381. Sometime after the synth ban went into effect in 2385, Thad came down with the mendaxic neurosclerosis, a condition that ultimately killed him because the ban outlawed the kind of treatment he needed.

It isn’t clear how long Riker’s been out of active duty, but it seems safe to assume it has been a significant amount of time. Given that, and how Troi seems worried about her family’s safety, Picard will have to be in serious danger for Riker to ship out again. Then again, why else include that bit of information about his Starfleet status in this episode?

New episodes of Star Trek: Picard become available to stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.

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