Of course, Trekkers have been analyzing every frame of the trailer since it was released. One eagle-eyed Redditor noticed a very specific detail that seems to tie “Picard’s” second season to events depicted in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Back to the Bell Riots?
Toward the end of the trailer, Raffi (Michelle Hurd) is seen fighting a hooded figure in an urban area. The shot widens to her standing over the body she’s knocked to the ground. In the right corner of the shot, there’s a yellow sign. It doesn’t even take any zooming in to see that the yellow sign says “Sanctuary District Regulations.”
Fans of “Deep Space Nine” will immediately recognize this as a reference to the fan-favorite two-parter “Past Tense.” In those episodes, a transporter malfunction sends Commander Benjamin Sisko, Jadzia Dax, and Julian Bashir back to the United States in 2024. When the episode aired, 2024 was almost three decades in the future.
The version of 2024 imagined by DS9’s writers was pretty bleak. The country was run by the ultra-rich. There was a major employment crisis. The poor and disadvantaged fought for both jobs and housing. All of the low-income housing was packed into “Sanctuary Districts.” However, there still wasn’t enough housing. Tent cities full of the homeless filled Sanctuary Districts. These sectors were established by the government as public assistance, but they quickly turned into crime-filled, urban nightmares. Notably, many of the residents of the Sanctuary Districts were people of color.
The police were violent and oppressive, often targeting their abuses at those living in the Sanctuary Districts. Sisko explained to Bashir that Gabriel Bell, a Black resident of a Sanctuary District, clashed with the police, leading to a riot that forced the country to reckon with its income inequality and racial tensions. When Bell was killed during an altercation that Sisko and Bashir accidentally incited, Sisko impersonated Bell to ensure that the Bell Riots took place, preserving the established timeline.
According to the “Deep Space Nine Companion,” the story behind “Past Tense” was conceived by writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe as a commentary on America’s apathy to the problem of homelessness. However, his story idea wasn’t quite working for the other writers.
Then Ira Steven Behr suggested the idea of Sanctuary Districts for the homeless and impoverished. Behr also came up with the idea for the Bell Riots, which he based on an Attica prison riot that resulted in better living conditions for the prisoners.
Theories About Season 2’s Story
The quick scene in the “Picard” trailer suggests that Picard and his friends will be traveling back to the 2020s. The exact point in time to which Picard and his friends will return is unclear. It’s also not clear which events Q changed.
Given that a fascist version of the Federation or Starfleet seems to have taken control of Earth in the trailer, it’s possible that Q changed the outcome of the Bell Riots. He could have created a world in which the government violently cracked down after the Bell Riots, leading to the fascist regime. Or he could have removed Bell from the timeline entirely. If the crew is headed to 2024, it’s possible that they could run into Sisko, pretending to be Bell. That could set up a cameo by Avery Brooks.
Though DS9’s picture of 2024 isn’t quite as bleak as real-life 2021, it’s not particularly far-fetched. Income inequality is a major issue in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has created a massive employment crisis. Clashes between police and citizens have ended in violent protests. Police violence is a common occurrence. The parallels between real-life and DS9’s 2024 are plentiful.
So, it makes sense that the characters of “Picard” are traveling back to the 2020s as depicted by “Deep Space Nine.” The second season might be an allegory for what could happen in real-life America if society and the government don’t honestly grapple with the issues facing the nation.
The possibilities are endless. No matter how it plays out, the tie-in to DS9’s vision of the 2020s is exciting!