Jonathan Frakes Is Glad Star Trek: Picard Made Riker A Changed Man
Jonathan Frakes has been back in the Trek universe for a few years, in the capacity of director on Discovery, but he finally returned in front of the camera, too, in Star Trek: Picard. The seventh episode of Sir Patrick Stewart’s big comeback show, titled “Nepenthe,” brought back Frakes as William T. Riker, alongside Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi. And as with Jean-Luc, the episode found the Rikers in a very different place from where we left them.
And where we left them was 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, which saw Riker promoted to the role of captain on the U.S.S. Titan. In Picard, it’s revealed that the Rikers eventually settled on the planet Nepenthe when their son Thaddeus fell ill, later tragically dying at a young age. They remained there with their daughter Kestra, reluctant to go back out into space both because of their heartbreak and to give Kestra a grounded home life and upbringing.
While speaking to ComicBook.com, Frakes talked a little about how pleased he was that Picard fully explored how much life had changed for Riker in the intervening years since he was last on screen, saying:
“I’m glad we didn’t come back on the Titan, for instance, that we were found on another part [of the universe]. It’s 33 years or something. As Picard as changed, so has Riker and Troi and so has Seven.”
In “Nepenthe,” Riker told Picard it would take something big to get him to return to Starfleet. Sure enough, that something big happened in the season finale, with Frakes turning up for a triumphant cameo, as Riker appeared as temporary captain of the U.S.S. Zheng He to lead a fleet of ships against the Romulans in a bid to protect the Synth homeworld Coppelius.
Of course, Frakes will be back to helm some episodes of both Discovery season 3 and Star Trek: Picard season 2. And if you still haven’t caught up with the latter series, you can find it on CBS All Access.