Gates McFadden Is Raring To Go For Another Star Trek: The Next Generation Spin-Off

In the eighth episode of "Star Trek: Picard," called "Surrender," the entire main cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was finally united around a conference table. They have a few wistful moments of remembrance before diving into the task at hand: solving the mystery of Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) and his unexplained psychic powers. In the show's following episode called "Võx," it was revealed that Jack's brain contained a Borg gene and that he was to be used as a tool in an insidious Borg plot to take over Starfleet and all the ships therein. 

When thousands of Starfleet vessels are compromised en masse by Borg shenanigans, the NextGen cast — Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, and Brent Spiner — have to save the day by making use of an older starship that is no longer connected to the vast Starfleet network. Luckily for them, Geordi La Forge (Burton) has spent the last several decades slowly reconstructing the Enterprise-D after its destruction in "Star Trek: Generations." The episode ends with the NextGen cast, back on board the NextGen ship, charging off to the rescue. 

And to this, it was only nine episodes prior that Dr. Crusher (McFadden) was sending out a covert distress call from a distant edge of Federation space, asking for Admiral Picard's assistance. Since then, each character was re-introduced slowly and cleverly, with each one being given an appropriate amount of development over the decades since they were last seen. In the case of Dr. Crusher, she was given far more dimension than she had been given previously.

In a recent interview with Variety, McFadden admitted that, now that Dr. Crusher was better-rounded than in the NextGen days, she would happily return for additional "Star Trek" spinoffs. 

The current state of 'Star Trek'

The current state of "Star Trek" has seen various TV series set all across the franchise's vast timeline of events. This has allowed executive producer Alex Kurtzman and the various "Star Trek" showrunners to resurrect any number of legacy characters for inclusion, and most modern Trek shows have seen the return of at least one recognizable face. For example: "Star Trek: Discovery," at the end of its first season, brought in the U.S.S. Enterprise immediately before Captain Kirk (William Shatner) took command. There are many, many other examples besides that.

The purpose of the third season of "Star Trek: Picard," of course, was to gather the NextGen cast back together and plop them down on a nostalgia-ready starship bridge. With all the players finally together, it seems that their stories would now be permitted to continue, even beyond "Picard." With Dr. Crusher now folded into the broader history of Trek ("Picard" is set in the early years of the 25th century), McFadden admits that she may finally have the leeway to explore her character in a far more satisfying way. When asked if she would return for future Trek projects, she said:

"If she was as three-dimensional as she was really becoming in this one? Absolutely. And, as I said, I trust Terry. I'll play a Klingon for Terry. I mean, he's really a wonderful, wonderful producer and writer, storyteller. And I love good storytellers. I built a theater in L.A., and we did only new work. I think people who can tell a story, I'll be the first one to jump on board to help out. I hope it does. I think he would do a tremendous job. And I would love to be involved in some way."

Dr. Has-It-All-Together

As has been previously stated in the pages of /Film, Dr. Crusher never quite got her due as a character. The role was constructed to be mature, resolute, professional, and adult. She wasn't a young hothead with issues to solve, nor any grand personal drama that she was still working through. In short, by the time we met her, she already had her s*** together. And while her maturity made her an interesting and aspirational figure, "Star Trek" writers often struggled with ways to give Dr. Crusher her own storylines; it's hard to write struggles for a character who is so capable and resolute. 

At the beginning of "Picard," Dr. Crusher was raising a son in his early 20s, had clearly left Starfleet, and was now engaging in guerilla medicine, delivering contraband emergency supplies to worlds outside of the Federation's purview. She had become handy with weapons and, with her son, became savvy with the galaxy's more unsavory element. She was bitter toward Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart) and didn't seem to look at the past as a rosy time. But she still had a strict moral code and she had come to a place in her life where breaking rules and smuggling supplies was the right thing to do. 

Dr. Crusher, if she should be allowed to persist in "Star Trek," would find herself finally given the stories she perhaps never got on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." With a more interesting worldview, her own ship, and a new personal goal, Dr. Crusher could finally be granted the adult drama that writers failed to give her in the 1990s. Would this mean "Star Trek: Crusher?" A continuing guest spot on a future "Star Trek" project? Who's to say? But it sounds like McFadden is certainly game.