Can Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Retroactively Fix Picard And Crusher's Relationship?

This post contains spoilers for the first episode of "Star Trek: Picard" season 3.

The first two seasons of "Star Trek: Picard" have worked to clean the skeletons out of the titular captain's closet. When we first reunite with Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), something like 20 years have passed, and he's pretty much turned into the recluse that his old frenemy Q (John de Lancie) warned him against becoming in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" finale. He's turned his back on — or, at the very least, just stopped checking in with — his oldest, closest friends. Only the promise of a new adventure is enough to convince him to pick up the pieces of his old life and form a new family from the connections that remain. Season 2 follows a similar path, but this time it's Q, again, encouraging Picard to get to the root of his intimacy issues. All that emotional overhaul has landed Picard in a place where he can actually admit that he cares for his loved ones (shocking, I know) — and it might just pay off big time in the final season.

"Picard" season 3 heralds the long-anticipated return of the "Next Generation" crew — and more importantly, of Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). Her kick-ass reintroduction immediately stirs up the unfinished business between her and Picard, who left things on a more or less platonic note after seven seasons of mutual pining on "The next Generation." Their withering relationship was one of the biggest missed opportunities of the series, one that "Picard" is now obliged to remedy in the final hour. It's all setting Picard up for a chance to apply what he's learned — but will he be able to fix one of the biggest mistakes from his past?

The way they were

So what exactly happened between Picard and Crusher in "The Next Generation"? The short answer: Nothing, really. There was a time when Beverly Crusher was one of the most important people in Picard's life. They spent years as crew and captain, respectively, aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise — and before that, Crusher and Picard shared a connection via the former's late husband Jack. Picard later admits to harboring romantic feelings for Crusher even while she was married; the fact that she was married to Picard's best friend, however, obviously complicated matters. Crusher is widowed before the events of "The Next Generation," but Picard is so caught up in his guilt over Jack's death — for which he's partially responsible — and lingering loyalty to his late bestie that he buries those feelings beneath duty and ego.

"The Next Generation" notoriously danced around Picard and Crusher's romantic potential for seven long years. Even after that frustrating back and forth — and an alien encounter that made their unspoken feelings perfectly clear! — both decided they were better off as friends. Obviously that was a total cop-out, but as the voyages of this particular Enterprise came to a close, it seemed like fans would just have to live with the wasted opportunity.

A few loose ends

"Picard" represented a unique chance to bring Crusher back into Picard's life, but the series was pretty shrewd with which legacy characters were brought back into the fold. There's little mention of Crusher in the first two seasons of "Picard," but in season 3, we finally get a reason for her absence. Shortly after their last adventure in "Star Trek: Nemesis," Crusher pretty much ghosted the entire Enterprise crew. Picard even alludes to a more specific falling-out between himself and Crusher. "The last time I saw Beverly," he tells his Number 1, Riker (Jonathan Frakes), "the way we left it ... it was not on the best of terms."

Whatever went down between Picard and Crusher was obviously never resolved. But as remorseful as Picard seems now, can we really trust that he would have reconciled with Crusher given the opportunity? He hasn't exactly had the best track record in maintaining relationships, even with all the time in the world (as his exploits with certain characters have already made plain). Picard does have a better grasp on his emotions now than he ever did before, but it's all to the credit of another long suffering lady, Laris (Orla Brady). It was Laris that first encouraged Picard to acknowledge the feelings buried deep inside, right before Q took matters into his own hands. She and Picard have since settled into a comfortable — if not a little tepid — romance in Season 3. And it's nice to see Picard finally choose to let love into his life, but does Crusher's return signal a second chance at the love he was too scared to pursue before?

A secret kid?

Bringing a lost love back into the mix — and just as our hero is finding new love elsewhere — all but promises the beginnings of a soapy love triangle. Naturally, the heart's gonna want what it wants, but it feels like a messy card to play this late in the game. Not saying that "Picard" shouldn't go there (I, for one, love mess) but it won't be the only thing complicating things for Jean-Luc this season. There's also the matter of Crusher's surprise son (Ed Speleers), with whom she's been on the run for years.

In sending a distress signal to Picard, Crusher wasn't trying to save herself from the shapeshifting aliens on her tail. She clearly wants her gruff, British offspring to fare better than she might. But why call Picard? Crusher had to have made some other allies in her 20 years post-Starfleet. She also doesn't even trust Starfleet anymore. Why would she involve her old captain — who, despite a few recent spats with the organization, is Starfleet through and through — unless it was absolutely necessary? Unless her son was maybe... his son, too?

Of course, this is all just hopeful speculation. But even if "Picard" proves us right, will that be enough to reverse course and give the fans what they've been waiting for? It's gonna take a bit more than a secret lovechild to fix over a decade of missed opportunities. In fact, I'm not sure there's anything "Picard" can do now that could make up for all that wasted potential. Maybe Q was right in suggesting that they could only ever end up as amicable exes. It's always been an issue of timing for Picard and Crusher — and as dismal as it sounds, there's a chance that time's already run out.