This post contains spoilers for "Star Trek: Picard," season 3, episode 3.
The single best scene in "Picard" season 3 so far has nothing to do with aliens or starships. Rather, it's the dialogue scene in episode 3 where Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) reckon with the how and why of Crusher's disappearance for twenty years, without explanation, so as to raise Jack (Ed Speleers), the son Picard never knew he had, in secret. Jack and Riker (Jonathan Frakes, who doubled as the episode's director) exit the room, leaving Picard and Crusher to stand across from each other with a visible gap and the weight of two lost decades between them.
/Film's Vanessa Armstrong recently spoke with Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, and "Picard" showrunner Terry Matalas about the scene in question, and Matalas revealed that he and the show's writers "spent a month with Jonathan and Gates and Patrick just working that scene" in order to get it right. Picard and Crusher have a long history together, going back to "Star Trek: The Next Generation;" as he says, they ended their on-again, off-again romantic relationship five times before Crusher vanished without even giving him the chance to say goodbye, let alone clue him in to the fact that she was pregnant with his son.
"It's a very distressing situation," Stewart said. "And I was very happy to embrace Picard's disappointment, and loss, and sadness that he had been isolated from family. I felt that very strongly."
'She Had Very Powerful Instincts'
Terry Matales also emphasized that it was important the audience "understood both parties and agreed with everybody by the time it was over." This, in addition to the gravitas Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden bring to their roles, is a big part of what makes Crusher and Picard's scene work so well. It's a true ping-pong patch where the dialogue bounces back and forth between opposing viewpoints, and we can understand both sides.
"I think for the Crusher character," McFadden said, "it's really tricky because I said, 'It's got to be balanced,' because, personally, I would have trouble not somehow telling the father of my child this. But you have to look at the situation and the danger that's involved."
As Crusher explains her side, we realize that it was only after she and Picard last ended their relationship that she discovered her pregnancy. She tried telling him, but his life was always in danger from assassins and other external threats. This complicates matters for Crusher as her motherly instincts take over and she begins to feel that being Picard's son would put a target on their child's back. McFadden concluded:
"I think we start to realize that [Crusher] had very powerful instincts, and they guided her, and thank God they did, even though she might not have seen other aspects. So I love the fact that she's in conflict with a lot of these things and realizes how much she has hurt this person who she cares enormously about. That's the way life is so often: It's not just easy. There are situations that are so complex that you do the best you can given the circumstances and what you know, and that is life."
New episodes of "Picard" stream every Thursday on Paramount+.
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