Frakes Talks ‘Picard’ Easter Eggs, New Borg Queen

Lea Thompson

Viacom Lea Thompson as Dr. Werner in a scene from "Star Trek: Picard," directed by Jonathan Frakes.

Fans have noticed that “Star Trek: Picard” is piling on the franchise-wide callbacks and Easter eggs in season two, and Jonathan Frakes is here for it. Frakes returned to the director’s chair for the episodes “Fly Me to the Moon,” which dropped on March 31, and “Two of Me,” which will be available to stream April 7 on Paramount+.

Among the many familiar references in “Fly Me to the Moon” were — SPOILERS AHEAD if you’ve not seen the episode — “Tapestry,” Renee Picard (fans will remember Jean-Luc’s brother, Robert, and Robert’s son, Rene), Kirk, Gary Seven, the “Star Trek: The Original Series” episode “Assignment: Earth,” Rozhenko, Jackson Roykirk, and “Star Trek: First Contact” and “Star Trek: Discovery” (check out the dates on Renee Picard’s passport). And, of course, there are mentions or scenes involving Chateau Picard, Soong and Q.

Frakes spoke with Heavy on Star Trek via Zoom to support the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and their upcoming PanCAN PurpleStride nationwide fundraising event; he lost his brother to the insidious illness. Keep an eye on Heavy on Star Trek for additional features about PurpleStride and Frakes’ personal connection to the cause.


All Those Easter Eggs

“The Gary Seven reference, I had to be clued in on,” Frakes says. “(Executive producer and showrunner) Terry Matalas is a font of information, and (executive producer) Akiva Goldsman is a huge fan of ‘The Original Series’ as well, which I think (the upcoming series) “Strange New Worlds‘ resembles in its structure. Renee Picard I knew about vaguely because it (the episode “Family”) rang a bell for me. That actress, by the way, is spectacular. Penelope Mitchell. She’s wonderful with Patrick. And there’s a very complicated connection to Picard. All the Soongs… Brent Spiner must have a deal with the Devil. He’s played how many versions of Soong? I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think it’s three, four or five versions of Data, B-4, Lore, Soongs. Because he’s such a facile actor, the writers feel that they can throw anything at him and somehow Brent will make sense of it. So, even he has bumped up against it where we’ve had to bring in the logic police so that we didn’t have to bring in the acting police.”

Frakes also oversaw the intersection of beloved sci-fi franchises in “Fly Me to the Moon.” Lea Thompson, who directed the third and fourth episodes of the second season of “Picard,” namely “Assimilation” and “Watcher,” made a brief appearance in “Fly Me to the Moon” as Dr. Diane Werner, a board member to whom Dr. Adam Soong (Spiner) unsuccessfully pleads for ongoing support and funding to help his daughter, Kore (Isa Briones). Frakes and Thompson, who starred with Michael J. Fox in the “Back to the Future” movies, had worked together before, as Frakes directed several episodes of her recent series, “Switched at Birth.”

“I was a fan of hers as an actor,” Frakes says. “Howie Deutch (director of “Pretty in Pink”) is her husband, and he’s wonderful. And their daughters (Zoey and Madelyn) are just killing it now. I’m a fan of Lea’s, period. So, we had a lot of meetings. She was a real pleasure to have with us. She’s playful, she’s smart, and she speaks actor, which I think helps. The scene that you refer to, in which she’s on a board, she had cast herself. Lea had cast herself because that scene originally was in an episode that she was directing. The scene got taken out of Four and put into Five. So, I inherited her, which was kind of wonderful. But for me, the high point of the episode, in terms of the callbacks and the Easter eggs, was having Brent and John de Lancie acting together.”



Directing Another Borg Queen

Frakes reunited with another old friend while directing “Fly Me to the Moon” and next week’s episode, “Two of One,” namely the Borg Queen. Alice Krige famously played the character in the Frakes-directed blockbuster film, “Star Trek: First Contact,” and reprised the role in the “Star Trek: Voyager” series finale, “Endgame.” She also voiced the Borg Queen for a couple of “Star Trek” videogames and the “I, Excretus” episode of the current animated series, “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” Susanna Thompson portrayed her in the “Voyager” episodes “Dark Frontier,” “Unimatrix Zero,” and “Unimatrix Zero, Part II.” Annie Wersching from “24,” “Bosch,” “Timeless,” and “Runaways,” stepped into the role for “Picard.”

Wersching’s iteration of the Borg Queen has fans talking, much the same way fans did when Thompson took over from Krige. They’re wondering, once again, if there’s one Borg Queen, more than one, or perhaps one at a time.

“It’s been a long time since I worked with a Borg Queen,” Frakes says, laughing. “We had the wonderful Alice Krige in ‘First Contact.’ I thought she was brilliant. I know that Susanna Thompson played the Borg Queen on ‘Voyager.’ And now we’ve got Annie Wersching on ‘Picard.’ It’s a fair question, is there more than one? Are they the same exact character? Are they the same character, but in different bodies? I’m not sure, but it’s fun to speculate.

“Annie was great,” Frakes continues. “She’s a fascinating actress, smart, attractive, makes unexpected choices. James Mackinnon and Neville Page came up with a remarkable look for our Borg Queen. She’s still an interesting, sexy character who gets in your head. Annie really made the costume and the makeup work for her. It was an exciting collaboration.”