Star Trek: Picard season 3 reunites the entire crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation, meaning Patrick Stewart's character can finally enjoy his perfect ending. Set almost 20 years after the Enterprise-E's last outing in Star Trek: Nemesis, Jean-Luc Picard's solo series promised a totally different cup of Earl Grey, with Admiral Picard joining a mostly fresh cast... aboard an entirely unseen ship... on a completely new adventure. Brent Spiner's Data returned in quasi-spiritual form, while Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis received cameos as Star Trek's most famous power couple, William Riker and Deanna Troi. Star Trek: Picard season 2 has delved even further, reintroducing two separate Guinans and John de Lancie's Q in meaty, era-spanning roles.

Those who always hoped Star Trek: Picard would bring the old gang back together are now finally getting their wish. Paramount has announced Star Trek: Picard season 3 (confirmed as the show's final season) will include Michael Dorn's Worf, Gates McFadden's Beverly Crusher, and LeVar Burton's Geordi LaForge alongside Frakes, Sirtis and Spiner - the full house of Star Trek: The Next Generation legends. All three newcomers have been attached since the series premiere, but some showed more enthusiasm than others about a potential comeback.

Related: Picard’s New Brent Spiner Character Solves A Season 1 Data Mystery

With Star Trek: Picard season 2 only halfway done, it's far too early to predict how these returnees might integrate into Jean-Luc's modern narrative... but their presence alone promises the perfect Star Trek farewell for Patrick Stewart's iconic sci-fi hero.

Why A TNG Reunion Is Picard's Perfect Star Trek Ending

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek Picard Season 2

The absences of Worf, Geordi and Crusher (not you, Wesley) in Star Trek: Picard have been conspicuous at best and downright awkward at worst. We know all about Data's death and the Riker family settling down to make pizza, but there's no information whatsoever on where Picard's other friends have wound up in Star Trek's present day. And when Zhaban boldly mentioned Worf and LaForge in season 1, Picard showed little interest in picking up the phone. These days, Jean-Luc seems to name-drop James T. Kirk more than his own crew. We get it, Picard, you met Kirk...

Watching Patrick Stewart's character grow close to an entirely new crop of allies in Star Trek: Picard - all while barely referencing his old ones - has required some adjustment. Even though those relationships have evolved into deep, meaningful connections over time, the deeper and more meaningful connections built over 7 whole seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation are impossible to replace or replicate. So, when Jean-Luc looked to have kicked the bucket in Star Trek: Picard's season 1 finale, and his "final" moments were spent surrounded by an android he knew barely a week, a tactless Romulan, a mad scientist who betrayed him, and a pirate, the assembled onlookers felt like an ill-fitting sendoff party.

Star Trek: Picard season 3 will be Jean-Luc's swansong - for real this time - and whether he lives, dies, or becomes an ethereal spirit living among Celestials, Picard deserves to bid farewell to Star Trek alongside those who mean most to him. Nothing less than the full complement of his main Enterprise crew will do.

Related: Picard's TOS Easter Egg Is A Dark Reminder Of Star Trek's Future

Gates McFadden's return as Beverly Crusher also promises long-anticipated resolution to a storyline over 30 years in the making. Right now, Star Trek: Picard season 2 is teasing a twilight romance between Jean-Luc and his Romulan housekeeper, Laris. Tempted though the bald bachelor may be, everyone knows Crusher was Picard's true love, and Star Trek: The Next Generation never resolved the simmering emotions between them. Gates McFadden's presence in Star Trek: Picard season 3 can right that wrong, and show Jean-Luc what the "path not taken" really looks like.

Picard Season 3's Returns Should Be More Than Cameos

John de Lancie as Q Star Trek Picard

Paramount's Star Trek: Picard season 3 cast announcement offers no clues as to how big a role these Star Trek: The Next Generation additions will play. Their appearances could ultimately be mere single-scene cameos - Worf riding to the rescue, Geordi looking sad at Picard's funeral, Beverly Crusher visiting her son in a high-security Starfleet jail, etc. Not only would token guest spots of this kind fail to scratch the audience's TNG itch, but bringing back classic characters purely for the sake of having them onscreen would blur the line between glorious comeback and disappointing fan service.

It's a line Star Trek: Picard has fallen either side of in its first two seasons. On one hand, Riker's season 1 cameo could be accused of coming across contrived. Why would Picard endanger his best friend's family by bringing an evil Romulan cabal to their home? Isn't Riker's last-minute return to active duty a little too convenient? On the other, Star Trek: Picard season 2 has utilized both Guinan and Q in fascinating ways that not only further Jean-Luc's narrative, but add extra nuance to their own characters.

In any franchise, legacy characters come with a responsibility to use that legacy in the right way, and Star Trek: Picard's record in this area is mixed. Unless Riker, Troi, Crusher, Worf, Geordi, and whoever Brent Spiner ends up playing are destined for meaningful storylines (and meaningful doesn't necessarily have to mean long), their returns run the risk of leaving Star Trek: The Next Generation fans underwhelmed by forgettable cameos. Fortunately, there's reason to be optimistic. In a 2018 interview (via Inverse), Michael Dorn claimed he wouldn't return to Star Trek for a mere cameo. His confirmed presence in Star Trek: Picard season 3 suggests Paramount has something significant up its sleeve for Picard's old pals.

Related: Picard Gives A Darker Meaning To Spock's Classic Star Trek Quote

Picard Season 3 Must Avoid A Nostalgia Problem

Cast photo for Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1

Getting swept up in all the Star Trek: The Next Generation nostalgia is easily done - and entirely forgivable considering how many years have passed since the entire gang assembled. But spare a thought for Star Trek: Picard's existing cast, who have overcome an absurdly high precedent and wild expectations to develop into an ensemble with chemistry stronger than their limited time together should allow. In Star Trek: Picard season 2, we've seen Santiago Cabrera's Rios, Alison Pill's Jurati, and Michelle Hurd's Raffi all make the most of increased screen time to add extra dimensions to their respective characters.

The arrival of Jean-Luc's Enterprise friends is enormously exciting, and an announcement to be celebrated. It would be a tremendous shame, however, if that came at the expense of Star Trek: Picard's current cast, who have defied the odds to develop a true "dysfunctional family" dynamic. Everyone wants to see their franchise favorites again, but that shouldn't mean dumping Star Trek: Picard's modern crew. A potential solution would be pairing off new characters with a complimentary legend from Star Trek: The Next Generation, allowing both to shine equally. Who wouldn't want to watch Seven of Nine with Worf, Jurati and Geordi, or the devilishly handsome duo of Rios and Riker.

Star Trek: Picard season 3 also faces a Data problem. You can question the validity of Riker's cameo (and we have, very recently), but Data's role in Star Trek: Picard's debut season was almost perfect, giving the android a farewell that far exceeded his demise in Star Trek: Nemesis. Brent Spiner has played various characters in Star Trek: Picard (three, at the time of writing), so his inclusion in season 3 doesn't necessarily mean Data is booting back up. If the pasty synth did return, however, Star Trek: Picard would risk undermining one of season 1's best storylines, and all the emotion that came attached to that.

Jean-Luc surrounded by all his old friends once again sounds like a perfect ending, not just for Star Trek: Picard, but for Patrick Stewart's entire Star Trek journey.

More: Why Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Is So Much Better Than Season 1

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