When Star Trek: Picard returns next month, as well as the iconic TNG crew it’ll be bringing a similarly iconic vessel as well—the USS Enterprise. But it won’t be the vessel we last saw Jean-Luc captain in Nemesis, it’ll be an all-new version of the Federation flagship—but one that has history before its TV debut.
Which Enterprise Is in Star Trek: Picard?
Chronologically—aside from Enterprise’s NX prototype and its glimpse of the 31st century’s Enterprise-J—the last Enterprise we saw on screen was the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E in Star Trek: Nemesis, all the way back in 2002. The ship we’ll see in Picard season three is its direct replacement, the Enterprise-F, an Odyssey-class cruiser.
Where Did the Enterprise-F Come From?
The newest Enterprise is only really new to TV. It’s actually been around since 2011, in the world of Star Trek Online. The MMORPG, set in its own imagining of the early 25th century—a period where the Federation is beset by multiple rival factions in conflict, from a renewed war with the Klingons to battles against the likes of Voyager’s Species 8472 or the remnants of the Romulan Empire after the events of the 2009 Star Trek movie—ran a competition to ask fans to design a new class of cruiser to be added to the game. That class would ultimately also become the design for the newest version of the starship Enterprise.
Who Designed the Enterprise-F?
After months of entries, it was announced that the new Enterprise would be represented by the Odyssey-class, inspired by design entries from Adam Ilhe. The Enterprise-F entered Star Trek Online’s story in 2012. In Star Trek Online, the Enterprise-F has had a few tweaks since its debut, being re-fitted as a similar Yorktown-class vessel in 2016. It will be updated once again for its appearance in Picard, with Star Trek Online art director Thomas Marrone having made updates and tweaks to the game’s 3D model to pass on to the Picard VFX team.
It’s not actually the first time the Odyssey has appeared connected to Picard though—the ship’s design appeared as the USS Verity in the prequel comic Picard: Countdown, the ship helmed by Admiral Picard during the Romulan supernova crisis.
Who Is the Captain of the Enterprise-F?
In Star Trek Online’s now non-canonical timeline of the 25th century, the Enterprise-F is launched in the year 2409, under the command of the Andorian Starfleet officer Va’Kel Shon. Shon’s former ship, the Defiant-class Belfast, was destroyed during a mission against rogue Jem’hadar forces transported into the near future by Sisko and the Gamma Quadrant wormhole aliens known in Bajoran religious beliefs as the Prophets during the events of the Deep Space Nine episode “Sacrifice of Angels.” One of the Enterprise-F’s first battles, in homage to that episode, saw it and other Starfleet forces rally to re-liberate DS9 from occupation by the temporally-displaced Dominion forces.
It’s currently not known if Shon will also be making the leap to Picard alongside his ship, which would make him one of the first, if not the first, original Star Trek Online characters to appear in Trek TV canon.
What Happened to the Enterprise-E?
In Star Trek Online, the Enterprise-E—then-captained by Data in its version of events—was destroyed during a mission against the forces of Species 8472 (known in Online as the Undine) in 2409. The majority of the Enterprise’s crew escaped the E’s destruction, but Data declined to helm its replacement, instead retiring from Starfleet to teach on Earth.
From what we know of the TV canon already though, it’s probably going to be a bit different. The Enterprise-E is shown as still being in service during the events of Star Trek: Prodigy’s first season finale late last year. Part of the fleet of Starfleet vessels that confronted the USS Protostar—infected by a living weapon that caused its foes to go haywire and turn on each other—it’s last seen heavily damaged after a barrage of not-so-friendly fire. Prodigy’s finale takes place in 2384, so it’s been approximately 20-ish years by the time of Picard season three. Picard showrunner Terry Matalas has implied on social media that the F has been around for a long period of time before the events of the season, so making its Prodigy appearance the E’s final outing makes sense.
Why Are Star Trek Online Designs Coming to TV?
This isn’t the first time Online designs have made their way into the continuity of Star Trek’s movies and TV—in fact, it was Picard itself that lead the way last year with its season two premiere including four designs from the MMORPG in a fleet of Starfleet ships, marking the first time content from the game been canonized in the Trek TV timeline. Continuing that for Picard’s farewell is unsurprising.
But it’s also just a nice way to honor what Star Trek Online did for the franchise in almost a decade of operation with no contemporary Star Trek series running alongside it. For many, even now, its version of a post-Romulan-supernova timeline in the early 25th century is still the definitive rendition of Star Trek’s future instead of the glimpses we’ve seen in shows like Picard so far. If the shows and future movies that could be set in this time period can’t bring over story elements from Online, canonizing generations of the game’s ship designs is a nod to its world—one that kept Trek ticking in people’s minds when it wasn’t on screen.
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