Star Trek: Picard Producer Explains Jean-Luc’s New Nickname

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One of the more enjoyable parts of Star Trek: Picard has been the tension between Picard and Raffi Musiker, his former first officer and reluctant member of the new crew he puts together for the series. We recently looked at how Picard and Raffi’s relationship includes her calling him ‘JL,’ something that’s apparently sparking debate among Star Trek fans, and producer Michael Chabon has now stepped in to shed some more light on the nickname, and what it tells us about Picard’s character and recent history.

When asked about whether the nickname was insubordinate from a lower officer, Chabon had this to say:

“True. But this is not the Picard we knew. And the hard, thankless, desperate refugee aid work that he and Raffi did together thrust them into a strange (non-sexual) intimacy, on those forsaken colony worlds where they would often be the only Starfleet officers, the only human around. An intimacy that made the old ceremonies and formalities seem less relevant, for a time.”

We received a better look at this refugee work in episode 4, whereby Picard tries to add stability to a Romulan colony rescued from the destruction of their planet. Chabon goes on to comment, though, that the nickname likely did take Picard a while to get used to, saying:

“The first time she called him JL, he probably thought about reprimanding her. But something — the welcomeness of connection, in some lonely outpost — incline him just to let it go. Also, because Raffi.”

As we discussed when considering the origins of the nickname, Raffi uses ‘JL’ in the Star Trek: Picard – Countdown prequel series, set fourteen years before the events of the show. In that series, Picard has left the Enterprise to lead a rescue mission onboard the USS Verity, with Raffi as his first officer. By the time of Picard, we know that that Jean-Luc’s relationship with Raffi has become strained, mainly due to his reaction to the failures of the Romulan evacuation and the synthetic attack on Mars.

We’ve certainly been impressed with Star Trek: Picard so far, both for its willingness to take the franchise into darker areas, and for its thoughtful approach to following Patrick Stewart’s character as he deals with the guilt over his mistakes and their consequences. New episodes of the series arrive on Thursdays on CBS All Access, with the fifth installment coming this week to mark the halfway point of the season. And with a second season already confirmed, we expect to learn a lot more about Picard and Raffi’s relationship as the series progresses.

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