What Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Borrows From James Cameron's Aliens

"Star Trek: Picard" season 1 ended with the promise of more adventures to come. Jean-Luc Picard had a new crew, each of them a lost cause given meaning. They had a ship, and a galaxy to explore. Was this going to be the new status quo going forward?


Without going into spoilers, season 2 of the Paramount+ series sees a time jump — an unspecified amount of time has passed between seasons, and each member of the ensemble is now in a very different place. Some of them are expected. Some of them are very surprising. Some of them will make "Star Trek" fans grin from ear to ear. It's a wise choice, one that resets the show so every single character is in a situation that promises fresh stories, and fresh perspectives, even if the journey there happened off-camera. 

When I spoke with "Star Trek: Picard" showrunner Akiva Goldsman about this choice, and why they did it, he referenced one of the most famous science fiction movies of all time as inspiration. And no, it's "Star Trek" at all. It's James Cameron's "Aliens."

'The utilization of empty space is awesome'

Goldsman, an Oscar-winning screenwriter and producer whose credits are wild and varied enough to make your head spin, cited the giant gap between the events of Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece "Alien" and James Cameron's equally masterful 1986 sequel "Aliens" as an inspiration for putting a time jump between season 1 and season 2 of "Picard." As he told me over Zoom: 

"There's no comparison to what I'm going to say, even though I'm using it as comparison, but the best thing about the transition from 'Alien' to 'Aliens' is what happens between the two movies. The utilization of empty space is awesome. And so we did it a little teeny bit. We jumped them a little bit forward so you have to play a little catch-up, you have to lean in and learn where they have arrived. And I think that helps audience engagement, and it gets us imagining."

As you may recall, "Aliens" picks up 57 years after the events of the first film, with Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley awakening from cryosleep having not aged a day. However, the galaxy around her has moved on, putting her in a position where she has no one; she is quite literally alone in the universe. The time jump presses reset on the character, allowing Weaver and Cameron to remold her to better serve the story they want to tell. While the time jump in "Picard" isn't so extreme (it appears to be a few years), it serves a similar function. The characters of season 1 probably weren't ready, thematically, for the threat posed in season 2. But with a little bit of time, and a few new things to care about, they have something to fight for.

"Star Trek: Picard" season 2 arrives on Paramount+ on March 3, 2022.