Even in a throwback, Star Trek needs to boldly go. After twenty episodes of adventuring around the galaxy with a crew of mostly new faces, the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard finally brings the titular Starfleet officer back to his erstwhile crew. But rather than completely retread the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard will find new ways for the heroes to explore the galaxy. Most surprisingly, the series will take place not on a newer version of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the setting for all seven seasons and four movies of Next Generation, but on an upgraded model of the U.S.S. Titan.
“So, in the trailer, you see our hero ship of season three,” showrunner Terry Matalas told TrekMovie. “It’s actually a class that’s called, in Starfleet slang, the Neo-Constitution class or Constitution III.” For casual Trek viewers, the name Titan probably means nothing. But longtime fans know the Titan as the ship captained by Picard’s Number One, Will Riker. We’ve seen glimpses of the Titan in new Trek series, namely the finale of Picard season one and the first episodes of Lower Decks season two. But Matalas revealed this to be an upgraded version, the Titan-A. “It’s based on a design by fan Bill Krause,” he said. “Let’s say there are a few fan-designed ships that are canonized this season in the fleet.”
For the Titan-A design, Matlas and his crew sought to match the design aesthetic of Picard’s 25th-century setting while honoring the past. Where the Luna class ships, to which the original Titan belonged, “felt like it was more TNG-era than the Picard-era we set up with the new Stargazer,” Matlas and production designers Dave Blass, Doug Drexler, and John Eaves also worried about the aerodynamic look of modern ships. “Oval and arrowheads. All curves, no angles. No proper saucers,” Matlas lamented. “So, we asked ourselves what if Starfleet designers looked backward to some of those old retro designs and updated them?”
The Titan-A reflects the needs of Starfleet in the modern era. With wars against the Dominion and the Borg in the past, Starfleet needs ships to focus on humanitarian missions, such as the evacuation of Romulus, and on exploration. According to Matalas, the Titan-A is “a classic exploratory vessel that is a bit of an underdog in the situation that it gets into.” Starfleet designed it not for battle, but as a “long-range workhorse of a ship […] an exploratory vessel with some serious maneuvering capabilities.”
One can guess that the Titan-A will not have much time for exploration this season. Not only will characters have to deal with a “Khan-level villain,” but they’ll also spend time on reunions. The series will not only reunite Picard with Riker and Deanna Troi, both of whom appeared in previous seasons, but also Worf, Geordi La Forge, and Beverly Crusher (after Data’s latest death and Wesley’s continued adventures as a Traveller, they are unlikely to join the story). So while some of the faces will be familiar, the setting and dynamics will be different. And we’d expect nothing less from a series dedicated to seeking out new life and civilizations.