The penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard’s third season, “Vox,” saw something Star Trek fans never thought they’d see again. The main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation on the bridge of the Enterprise-D, nearly 30 years after she was seemingly destroyed on screen. When Picard, Riker, Troi, Data, Worf, La Forge, and Crusher walked aboard that old bridge, you could practically hear the sound of Trekker tears falling everywhere. It was that emotional of a moment. Especially when Picard sits in the Captain’s chair and said “Engage.” But how could the Enterprise-D even still exist? Didn’t it get all blowed up? It turned out that Geordi La Forge was the key.
How the Enterprise-D Returned
In Picard episode six, “The Bounty,” we learned that Commodore Geordi La Forge, was in charge of the Starfleet Museum on Athan Prime. They built it around the old spacedock, and on display were iconic starships from Star Trek’s past. There was Captain Kirk’s Enterprise-A, as well as Voyager, the Defiant from Deep Space Nine, and even the Klingon Bird of Prey from The Voyage Home. In that episode, Geordi’s daughter Alandra mentioned something Geordi was working on in “Hangar Bay 12,” but Geordi quickly shushed her. Whatever it was, he didn’t want to reveal it in front of admiral Picard. Now we know what it was.
In the final act of “Vox,” when Starfleet has been entirely compromised by the Borg and the Dominion Changelings, Picard and company became desperate. On board the Titan, they were totally vulnerable, as all modern Starfleet ships were now networked together. Something planned by the Borg to make them even more susceptible to assimilation into the Collective. With all of Starfleet compromised, Picard and his old crew needed a ship not connected to the rest. Something more “analog.” And Geordi had just the one at the Starfleet Museum.
The Secret of Hangar Bay 12
Once they arrived at the museum, Geordi revealed to his friends what he’d been keeping secret in Hangar Bay 12. For the past 20 years, he’d slowly restored the Enterprise-D to her original glory, piece by piece. In the film Star Trek: Generations, a Klingon ship destroyed the drive section. However, the saucer section survived, although heavily damaged, and crashed on the planet Veridian III. The next time we saw our beloved TNG crew, they were on the brand-new U.S.S. Enterprise-E in the film First Contact. The assumption was that Starfleet had scrapped the remains of the Enterprise-D. But that’s not what happened.
Since the Veridian system was home to a pre-warp civilization, turns out the Prime Directive didn’t allow Starfleet to leave the saucer section of the Enterprise-D on the surface. They had to remove it, or risk contamination. It ended up in the Starfleet Museum, where La Forge painstakingly restored it. The drive section and the nacelles came from another decommissioned Galaxy-class starship Syracuse. The bridge looked exactly like it did during the seven years that Picard was in command of her, right on down to the carpet. In fact, Jean-Luc even cracks a joke at the whole ridiculousness of a carpet on a Federation starship. Every piece of original TNG production designer Herman Zimmerman and illustrator Andrew Probert’s classic bridge design is there. It truly feels like the cast stepped into a time machine.
Is This the Final Mission of the Old Enterprise?
Will the newly restored Enterprise-D survive the final episode of Picard? Or will they destroy the old girl all over again? We hope that she not only saves the day, but gets to triumphantly warp back to the Starfleet Museum, where she can take her place among the other iconic ships of the Fleet. Hopefully, as the one who saved the entire Federation from the Borg. Again. We’ll find out when the final episode of Star Trek: Picard drops on April 20 on Paramount+.