The highly-anticipated premiere of Star Trek: Picard Season 2 drops on Thursday, March 3, and Paramount+ has done a stellar job building the hype for its sophomore offering.
There has been eager anticipation for the return of some familiar Star Trek: The Next Generation faces, but much of the credit for the show securing a second season goes to the actors who played the newcomers on Star Trek: Picard Season 1.
Isa Briones as Soji (and Dahj and Sutra and Jana) was the catalyst for Star Trek: Picard’s inaugural adventure. Evan Evagora, the Qowat Milat-trained Romulan refugee orphan Elnor, and Santiago Cabrera as La Sirena’s Captain Rios (and all his holo-crew) impressed and excited Trek fans, both new and old, with their skills in action, comedy, and drama.
Through the magic of technology, Cabrera, Briones, and Evagora spoke with TV Fanatic and other press outlets over a virtual roundtable, sharing their thoughts and feelings about the upcoming season.
With the experience of the first season under their belts, Season 2 is bound to be a different beast altogether.
Cabrera speaks to the transition into the new adventure.
“What I love is that the audience has already gotten to know these characters, so it’s a different starting point. They’re more invested in it. A lot of things land differently. There’s more of a feeling of ‘I know these people’ [for the audience] and [for] ourselves as well.
“It’s great when the group comes together [again]. The good thing is that you have more stories so you can dig in deeper, and you got more places to go when you want to find new colors and a new layer, a new storyline. I think we’ve found some fun stuff in Season 2.”
Briones is not only a great actor but an accomplished singer as well. On Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 10, it’s her voice we hear singing Data’s consciousness to his eternal rest with a cover of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.”
While there are no plans for her remaining character, Soji, to sing this season, Briones recognizes the enormity of being the soundtrack to Data’s last moment, especially fitting as her character is, in a way, his descendent.
“I did very much, very much enjoy getting to sing “Blue Skies” last season. That was such a beautiful, full-circle moment for Soji, for Data, especially for a closing of his character in that way.
“It was not lost on me how lucky I was that I got to be a part of that legacy.”
In the quirky way that Hollywood has, Briones spent Season 1 playing Data’s daughter of sorts and then found herself working on Season 2 with her actual father, Jon Jon Briones, who was cast on Star Trek: Picard without her knowing.
“That was very exciting. We always make a joke in our house that we’re all just trying to get each other jobs. It’s your family, might as well.
“It’s actually not the first time I’ve worked with him. In American Crime Story: Assassination of Gianni Versace, I played his daughter which is really special.
“I didn’t know that he was going to be in [Star Trek: Picard]. He surprised me.
“I came over to my family, to their house, and my dad was like, ‘Oh, Isa, I just booked a new job!’ and I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s so exciting!’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah and he’s this, and he’s blah, and he then does this …’ and he kept dropping these names.
“I was like, ‘These names sound really… They sound like the names from Picard!’ I wasn’t putting it together until finally, the whole room was looking at me like, ‘It’s Picard.”
“It was very exciting. I got to visit set and see everybody. My heart was very full to see my dad playing with all my friends.”
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 finds the young warrior Elnor in vastly different circumstances from whence he began.
Evagora’s eager to share his thoughts on Elnor’s journey and evolution.
“I’d say the moment Elnor left Vashti, he was kind of opened up to this world of possibilities that he didn’t know existed before.
“Right now, he’s in Starfleet Academy, and he’s exploring a new side to him that he didn’t even know he had. He’s learning all these new things.
“He’s the first-ever Romulan to ever be accepted into Starfleet. Hopefully, he’s not the last. He’s really breaking down all those preconceived ideas that people had about Romulans and Romulan culture.”
One of the most tantalizing tidbits the Season 2 teaser trailers revealed was the return of John de Lancie as Picard’s nemesis, Q.
When asked about their characters’ possible involvement with Q in Season 2, their answers were understandably cagey.
Evagora takes the lead in answering.
“I don’t know if we’re allowed to say our interactions with Q because I feel like that’s going to give too much of the storyline away, but I will just say Q has an impact on every single character in the show, and his influence and stretch of power hits us all.”
With the many versions of Rios that crew La Sirena, does Cabrera have a favorite, and has he suggested even more versions to the writers?
“Loads of pitches. Loads. [laughs]
“I think the main man, Rios himself, is always the most fun to play, but I enjoyed all of them. It was just great to do these different facets, but definitely, Rios is the main focus.
“When I go to the writers, it’s mainly about Rios himself more than the others.”
The main Rios incorporates many of the archetype elements of the Han Solos and Malcolm Reynolds of the sci-fi world. Is Cabrera conscious of the beloved figure he embodies in Rios?
“You hope that things like that come across, but when I built him, I didn’t go, ‘I need to make sure that every single pilot in a sci-fi show is in it.’
“The advantage is that I got to play a few of the other versions of him with the holos. Because Rios was introduced later in Season 1, I did think it was very important that he had to have an impact.
“These characters are so big, and everyone is so larger than life, the history of Star Trek as well. He needs to live up to that, and we have to find something within that, something that sets him apart.
“Even though it’s familiar, you want there to be something unique there.”
Time and time travel factor heavily into the narrative of Season 2. The characters find themselves in Los Angeles, 2024, basically a world contemporary to today.
Cabrera loves that the use of time travel allows the show to play some laughs while commenting on the conflicts in today’s society.
“It’s fun because the audience is in on the gag with these characters where you’re not from this place, but you have to pretend to be from the place, so that was a lot of fun to play.
“And then to be able to shine a light to what we’re going through, to what is really happening in the world we live in today.
“[It’s seen through] the eyes of these people that come from a world where there’s much more acceptance and respect for each other.
“It is a much more evolved aspect of humanity, of living beings in general, so it’s kind of like they’re regressing back and going, ‘I can’t believe this is going on today.’
“It was great in both respects to shine a mirror into the reality of today and to also play with that idea of not being of this time.”
The pandemic caused significant disruption on the sets of many productions. Isolating in their far-flung homes, the actors had time to absorb and react to the Season 2 scripts as they arrived in their inboxes.
Cabrera loves the action of the new season. “For me, I thought we hit the ground running. We’re in the world where we know everyone. We don’t need to introduce anyone, so we just went right into it. And I love that.
“It was just action-packed. Also, I thought the details of how we relate to each other were so much deeper. And we got to explore something new.
“I’m only speaking for myself, but there’s a whole new side of Rios that we see. He’s got a different journey and an arc that will have a pay-off in the end, so that was great.”
Briones found delightful surprises in her read of the Season 2 scripts.
“I think it was, as usual, very surprising, reading the first two scripts.
“[One thing] that can always be counted on is that, with Star Trek, it’s always going to come out of nowhere.
“But it’s really lovely as an actor to continue to explore new facets of our character with the new characters that come in, with the new plotlines, and with the new bumps in the road that we encounter.
“We are continuously peeling back the layers of our characters, and I think you will definitely see quite a bit of that character development from everyone in this season.”
Evagora couldn’t have been happier to see the scripts appear.
“For me, it was like FINALLY. We spent a year in lockdown. I was in Australia. I was barely allowed to leave the house, so I spent every day refreshing my email, waiting for a script to come through.
“As soon as it did, it was nothing but excitement because it was like the gang is getting back together pretty much. I felt that in the first Zoom meeting, and I felt that walking back to the studio that first day and getting to see everyone old and everyone new.
“Our bond, this group dynamic is growing and strengthening, so it’s been nothing but fun from the get-go.
“It’s just gotten better and better every day that passed and every season that we film.”
With Star Trek: Picard Season 1 being the first time any of them had ventured into the Star Trek -verse, a franchise with a notoriously devoted fandom, it would be understandable if they were overwhelmed by some of the community engagement.
Briones reflects that the fandom has cemented her commitment to her craft.
“I’ve definitely had some meaningful interactions with fans at conventions and over Instagram.
“In the very diverse world that we live in, any number of people are going to gravitate towards different characters.
“[For] me, seeing fellow young women and femme folks that identify with my character and feel seen in the discovering who they are and figuring out their path, figuring out what their purpose is, it’s given them more confidence to see someone like them and see someone who is going through the same things as them.
“Also fellow mixed kids, fellow half-Asian kids who are feeling represented in that way, it been very touching and reminds you ‘Right, this is a big part of why I do this, is to tell these stories and to touch people and to make sure that they feel seen in this world.”
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 premieres Thursday, March 3, streaming on Paramount+. Be sure to check back here for our episodic reviews and even more Star Trek: Picard Press Day interviews!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.