Careful viewers of the Star Trek: Picard premiere episode, titled “Remembrance,” may have perked up when Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) name-dropped a character that longtime fans definitely recognized. Heavy recently spoke to Pill and several Picard executive producers about this reference and whether or not it will impact the story going forward. The short answer is — it definitely will. But read on to find out how.
SPOILER WARNING: Do not keep reading if you haven’t watched the premiere of Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access yet. There are major spoilers ahead for that episode and light spoilers for the season at large. You have been warned.
Dr. Bruce Maddox Is Important to the Season
During an interview at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour, Heavy had to ask about Dr. Maddox (Brian Brophy). When we brought up name-dropping the Next Generation cyberneticist during the premiere episode, actress Alison Pill laughed and screamed, “I don’t think I can say anything, don’t ask me!”
But in all seriousness, she said she’ll “get in trouble” if she revealed too much, but Pill did tease that Dr. Maddox comes up “more than that time” in the premiere.
Later, executive producers Michael Chabon and Akiva Goldsman were asked if the mention of Dr. Maddox was “an Easter egg,” i.e. a hidden reference or inside joke for longtime fans of the show. The EPs say it was most definitely not an Easter egg.
“With Bruce Maddox we came to Bruce Maddox because we needed Bruce Maddox,” revealed Chabon, with Goldsman adding, “That’s a setup. That’s not an Easter egg.”
They went on to say that for Picard, they “thought of hundreds more Easter eggs” than they actually used on the show. But they said you can’t go overboard on Easter eggs. There has to be a balance of hidden treats for the fans, but they can’t be so prevalent that new fans’ enjoyment will be diminished because they don’t notice the Easter eggs. An Easter egg can’t be something that impacts the plot because that’s unfair to the fans who don’t notice it.
So with Dr. Maddox, “if you hear something and you notice it, it’s coming back,” confirmed Goldsman.
So Where Is Dr. Maddox?
One of the major plot points of the premiere episode of Picard is that Data (Brent Spiner) is gone — he sacrificed himself for Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) in the 2002 movie Nemesis — and there is no way to recreate Data’s neural net. But when Picard meets Dahj (Isa Briones), he realizes she is Data’s daughter, “something lovingly and deliberately created” who is “the daughter of a man who was all meaning, all courage.”
Picard travels to the Daystrom Institute, which is where Dr. Maddox originally worked, to find out for himself if it’s possible for someone to have created Dahj, a flesh-and-blood synthetic that passes for human. Dr. Jurati tells him no way — before they were shut down, the Daystrom cyberneticists were still 1000 years away from a sentient flesh-and-blood synthetic. But if they had Data’s neural net, making a flesh-and-blood host body wouldn’t actually be that hard.
Data tried to download his neural net into the android B-4 before he died, but he wasn’t successful. Most of Data’s code was lost. However, Picard and Jurati talk about how she and Maddox, who recruited Jurati out of Starfleet, came “so close” to recreating the science that created Data. Maddox’s theory was that Data’s entire code could be reconstituted from a single neuron. But after the ban on synthetics, Maddox disappeared and Jurati has been unable to find him.
So, did Maddox create Dahj? And also her twin, Soji? It seems like that is what the show implied in its final two scenes. It also seems like Dr. Maddox is going to be very important to the season.
As EP Goldsman said, “If you hear something and you notice it, it’s coming back.”
Star Trek: Picard drops new episodes weekly on CBS All Access.