We are halfway through the second season of Star Trek: Picard, and so far, this year has been a large improvement from the last. It’s a love letter to the best of Star Trek, with several classic elements in play. There’s time travel, alternate dystopian Federations, the Borg, and even Q. But the series just wrapped filming its third and final season. Next year when it ends, it’ll hopefully leave a space for a new spinoff set in the same era. And we think that Captain Cristóbal Rios, played by Santiago Cabrera, is the person who should lead this new series. And the perfect name for this show? Star Trek: Stargazer.
As for why that name, at the start of season two, the roguish Captain Rios is in command of the newly commissioned USS Stargazer. This ship carries the name of the first command of a young Jean-Luc Picard. This provided a nice tie between the younger Captain and his elder mentor and friend. Assuming that the season ends with the currently broken universe set right, and Rios back on the Stargazer, we think this is the perfect springboard for a continuation of the world Picard has introduced.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Santiago Cabrera has been the secret MVP of Picard since the start, essentially playing multiple versions of himself as holograms. He deserves his own series just for that alone. It would also be the first time in Trek history that a Latino actor was Captain of his own starship, and a series lead. Here are the reasons why we think a Stargazer series with Captain Rios could absolutely rock.
It Could Keep the Cast of Picard Together
With Picard ending after season three, a Stargazer show could provide the perfect opportunity to keep the rest of this wonderful cast together. Obviously, Captain Rios would remain as the captain of the Stargazer, but there is room for the rest of the cast of Picard as officers on board his ship. (Depending on how Picard wraps up of course, and who survives until the end).
But we think this show would be a perfect way to continue characters like Raffi and Seven of Nine in particular. Also, Rios had a romantic relationship with Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill). What would that relationship be like now if she served under his command? Needless to say, we based this whole idea on Rios making it to the end of Picard. But given that the producers gave him such a prestigious command, we doubt they’ll kill him off.
Rios’ History Is Perfect for Drama
Cristóbal Rios has a fascinating backstory. He was the first officer on the USS Ibn Majid, and he served under Captain Alonzo Vandermeer. But his story took a tragic turn. When encountering a new species, Captain Vandermeer received a “ black flag directive” from Starfleet Security to kill two of the visiting aliens, otherwise, they would destroy the ship. Rios confronted Captain Vandermeer, and after his C.O. murdered the two beings with his phaser, the Captain shot himself. Rios then covered up what happened, and they discharged him from Starfleet.
Suffering a great deal of PTSD from the incident, he became a broken man. Soon after, Rios became the Captain of the heavy freighter La Sirena. Essentially, a Han Solo-esque captain for hire, he programmed his ship with various holograms of himself in different positions. And each Rios hologram not only had a different function on the ship, but also a different accent. Which was a great showcase for the range of Santiago Cabrera as an actor. This is where we first met him, right as he encountered Jean-Luc Picard, who hired him when he needed a ship. And Rios then helped him save the galaxy from the threat of synthetic beings from outside known space.
Returning to Starfleet
At the beginning of season two of Picard, they jumped forward two years, and Rios was back in Starfleet. Not only was he back in, but they promoted him to Captain of the brand new Stargazer. We only briefly glimpsed the cigar-chomping Captain Rios in action in the premiere. After the first episode, Q changed the timeline, and Rios was living in an alternate reality. (But we expect time correct by the end). All of this tragic backstory is ripe for exploration in his own series. Deep Space Nine proved that a captain with a tortured past was great for drama.
A Stargazer series could pick up the threads of Picard, as they use it to explore the 25th century, a brand new era in Trek lore. Picard still hasn’t really dealt with certain things fans want to know about a post- TNG era Federation. What became of the Klingon Empire? The Bajorans? Heck, even the Ferengi? And many other alien races that are part of the fabric of Star Trek. So far, Picard hasn’t really dealt with any of that, outside of androids and the Romulans. A Stargazer series would be a perfect place to explore the Alpha Quadrant in this largely uncharted era of Trek canon.
Seeing Old Faces Again
Because a Stargazer show would take place in the early 25th century, it would also be the perfect opportunity to populate the crew with actors from previous iterations of the franchise. Imagine Ezri Dax from Deep Space Nine as ship’s counselor, or Voyager’s B’Elana Torres as Chief Engineer. They could run into Captain Geordi La Forge, or really any other legacy characters from that era. It could be the ultimate Star Trek show for fans of its ‘90s heyday. Many of these actors would love to put on their Starfleet uniforms once more, and show us where their characters ended up. They could even do Stargazer flashbacks, and show fans a young Captain Picard and his First Officer, Jack Crusher.
As shown in the first episode of season two of Picard, Captain Cristóbal Rios also had the coolest “let’s hit warp drive” catchphrase of all. Captain Picard had “make it so,” and Janeway had the direct “do it!” Most recently, Discovery’s Captain Burnham started using “let’s fly.” But Rios says “¡Dale!” in Spanish when engaging warp speed, which is a casual way of saying “hurry up and go” in English. We’d love to hear this one coming from his mouth week to week. Here’s hoping Paramount+ gives Captain Rios the spotlight he’s earned.