Star Trek: Picard’s last season is throwing everything it can at Patrick Stewart’s legendary hero, in terms of big shocks, big enemies, and big reunions. But while the show teased the run up to season three by loudly proclaiming the returns of The Next Generation’s iconic bridge crew, some returns have been kept quiet—no matter how vital they were to the show’s arc.
Speaking to Collider, Picard showrunner Terry Matalas discussed the heartbreaking return of TNG’s Michelle Forbes, aka Ro Laren, the one-time Enterprise-D Ensign turned Maquis defector, in today’s excellent episode “Imposters.” According to the producer, Picard always wanted Ro Laren back for the story it needed to tell here—that Starfleet had been compromised by the Changelings, now more capable of hiding themselves from detection than they were during DS9's Dominion War. But more crucially, the person who warns Picard of this threat had to be Ro in Matalas’ eyes for a very simple reason: there had to be a level of distrust and drama that only Picard’s greatest regret could match.
“This story was always–the pitch that I had for it was, ‘How great would it be to do a paranoia thriller with someone that you have all this baggage with?’ The only way to be sure you’re sitting across from the person that you hope you’re sitting across from is to get through your trauma with them,” Matalas explained to Collider. “I thought that if we could pull that off, we’d have a really interesting episode of television. But that required us getting Michelle Forbes and convincing the studio and the network it was the right idea, and educating a lot of people on who Ro Laren [was].”
It’s a shame he had to explain who one of TNG’s best supporting characters—her position as Picard’s reluctant protoge in the latter seasons of the show made for one its most fascinatingly combative relationships—was to the higher-ups. But if you’ve watched “Imposters” already, you’ll know Matalas’ advocacy for Ro was more than worth it, and a story well worth bringing her back for.
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