Star Trek: Picard is set to see the return of several characters from past series in the franchise. The premiere episode, “Remembrance,” already made clear that Data (Brent Spiner) is having a lasting influence, both on the now-retired Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the galaxy at large. Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and the former Borg drone Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco) from Star Trek: The Next Generation are also all slated to make appearances.
Another familiar face coming to Picard wasn’t a part of the TNG crew, but rather a crewmember of the titular vessel on Star Trek: Voyager: Seven of Nine, with actress Jeri Ryan reprising her role. From what we’ve seen of Seven’s return in trailers, she’s attempted to acclimate to human life on Earth in the years after the former Borg drone was freed from the Collective. With a Borg cube getting teased at the end of the premiere episode, it seems the Federation’s greatest foe will have a major role in the series.
Ryan isn’t just bringing Seven back to the small screen, however–she’s also returning to the role in the free-to-play MMO Star Trek Online’s newest expansion, Legacy. Ryan voiced the character previously for the game in its 2014 expansion Delta Rising. In addition to playing Seven in two new STO episodes, Ryan is re-recording her 2014 dialogue to reflect the character’s new backstory in Picard.
In an interview with GameSpot, Ryan discussed returning to the role of Seven five years after her last turn in Star Trek Online and 19 since Voyager ended in 2001. She said she originally passed on the role because of the franchise’s reputation for actors becoming known only for doing Trek.
“I was initially very reluctant to go in for the audition because I didn’t really know Star Trek,” Ryan said. “I just sort of knew it by reputation and I’d seen a couple of episodes of the original series when I was a kid. And I just knew that it was sort of notorious for its actors getting sort of pigeonholed and having a hard time breaking out and doing something else afterwards.”
Eventually, Ryan’s agent convinced her to audition for Seven, where she read two scenes–one of which was enough to get her to take the part.
“The first (scene) was the now infamous ‘Harry Kim, take off your clothes’ scene, which I always hated because it was so on the nose and too obvious, and whatever. I hated that scene,” Ryan said, referring to Voyager’s Season 4 episode “Revulsion,” in which the recently liberated former Borg robotically makes advances on Ensign Kim (Garrett Wang). “The other scene, which we never ended up shooting, but was so beautifully written. And it’s with a memory, or a scene of, I think, I think it was Seven and Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and she was having her first memory of laughter. And it was so beautiful. And on the basis of the writing of that scene, I saw what the potential for this character could be.”
“And so that’s what actually finally drew me in, because a character like this is a real gift for an actor. She’s so rich, and you look for an arc of a character, especially if you’re playing her for multiple years. And this one, she started out not even human. So her arc is huge and her potential for development is huge.”
Ryan couldn’t share much about what has happened to Seven in the years since her ship Voyager returned from the Delta Quadrant at the end of that series, but trailers for Picard give a sense that she’s in a darker place in both the series and in Star Trek Online. In an interview with IGN, Ryan explained that Seven she blames the Federation for a lot of the bad things that have happened in the galaxy, and that Jean-Luc is a representation of what’s wrong with the institution. She doesn’t have the reverence for Picard that other people in the Star Trek universe might.
We also know that Seven has thrown in with a group known as the Fenris Rangers, although their role in the show isn’t yet clear. We do have some clues, however: Fenris is a giant, monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, which might be a reference to the role of the planet Romulus in Picard so far. In Roman mythology, Romulus and his brother Remus were nursed by a wolf. The Romulans are some of the Federation’s oldest enemies, and it seemed to be Romulan agents who were hunting Dahj (Isa Briones) in the first episode.
It’s not just that Seven is in a darker place than she was as a member of the Voyager crew, though. She’s also been working on restoring her human identity, a process she had just begun when we last saw her. Like Stewart, who said he only wanted to reprise the role of Picard if he could explore new territory with the character, Ryan said she’s excited to take Seven in new directions.
“You get a lot of more rich things to play and I love that because she’s more human now and she’s more comfortable with human emotions, she can express them,” Ryan said. “Which is great and I can bring more of myself to the character. I mean, I’m lucky to have not gone through the dark stuff that she’s gone through in the last 20 years, but because she’s more human, I can bring more of myself to the character now. Because she was so different from my character, from my personality when we saw her last.”
In working on Star Trek, Ryan said she also became a fan of the franchise. Part of the reason for that is because of the way Star Trek is able to use science fiction to comment on the real world. We’ve already seen that in the first episode of Picard, which imagines a Federation that banned synthetic life in the wake of a devastating attack, and which turned its back on Romulan refugees–both of which have their parallels in the real world.
“I came to it much later than most people come to science fiction as fans, and it was not until after I was on the show and working in this world that I really got to know it and came to appreciate it,” Ryan said. “Star Trek holds a mirror up to society. It’s what it’s always done and that’s what it does so beautifully and shows us where we’re screwing up and what we can be if we do better.”
The Legacy expansion launches in Star Trek Online today. The second episode of Star Trek: Picard is available to stream on CBS All Access Thursday, January 30.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot’s parent company.
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Author: Phil Hornshaw