Jonathan Frakes had returned to the franchise already, having directed numerous episodes of Discovery, but Star Trek: Picard marked his first time in front of the camera as William T. Riker in about 15 years. Episode 7 “Nepenthe” saw Sir Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc dropping in on his old pal, who was now living a peaceful retirement with wife Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) on a healing planet. By the season finale, though, he’d been called back into active duty.
In episode 7, Riker told Picard it would take something big to get him back in a spaceship. And that big thing happened in episode 10, as Riker temporarily returned to Starfleet to command the U.S.S. Zheng He, leading a fleet of ships to prevent the Zhat Vash from attacking the synth homeworld of Coppelius. It was a triumphant, if brief, comeback to the bridge, but Frakes hopes this isn’t the last time we see Riker in captain mode.
The actor recently chatted to the folks at TrekGeeks to raise money for Feeding America. As he’s said before, he was initially wary of reprising Riker after so many years in “Nepenthe.” In the finale, however, he had well and truly got back into his stride. Once he was in the captain’s chair, he even started doing the classic “Riker lean.” And as he enjoyed it so much, he’d like the opportunity to do it again in season 2.
“I did find myself getting into the lean as soon as I sat down. I liked that scene actually. I thought the writing was clever. I was wary of when they had gone to the well to have Riker show up again because he had said he had left Starfleet. But I think between Akiva [Goldsman], and [Michael] Chabon, and Alex [Kurtzman], they cleverly wove it into the story. And I hope that we see him again. I certainly hope to see…to have the spacesuit on again.”
Frakes is definitely back to helm more episodes for Picard season 2, and he’s hinted before that he expects to reprise Riker as well. It’s slightly more difficult to say whether the character will be putting on the uniform again, but there’s a good chance he’ll have got the taste for space-faring again and will bump into Picard and La Sirena on their travels.
Star Trek: Picard season 2 has been delayed by the pandemic, but is a priority for CBS All Access once the industry gets going again.