The finale of Star Trek: Picard had several twists and turns that the audience was not expecting, most of all the apparent death of its eponymous star at the episode’s climax. As it turns out, though, it also came as something of a surprise to Patrick Stewart.
The episode’s events mostly revolved around attempting to prevent the opening of a portal intended to release a synthetic equivalent of some Lovecraftian Elder God to obliterate all organic life in the universe and thus bring about the Romulans’ self-fulfilling prophecy of Soji being the Great Destroyer, but the biggest shock came afterwards when Picard succumbed to the terminal neurological illness than had been hanging over him.
In a recent interview, the man himself had this to say about it:
“I only learned of [Picard’s death] way into [shooting] the first season, because that final episode wasn’t written yet, and I didn’t know it was part of the storyline. There was a moment where I thought: ‘Oh, lord, am I being killed off? What did I do wrong?’ I remember the writers worked on that up to the evening before we shot it. I suggested one or two little tweaks to the script, and [the writers] got it so right.”
Some people weren’t happy with Picard’s subsequent resurrection into a synthetic form, being of the opinion that he is now just a copy rather than the true character. However, one of the major themes of the series is that synthetic life is just as valid as its organic equivalent, and with everything that made Picard who he is being transferred into the ‘golem’ body and the dialogue making pains to establish that he is in more or less exactly the same biological state he was prior to his ‘death,’ minus the terminal illness, we can accept him as still the same man.
With a second season Star Trek: Picard having been commissioned before the first had even premiered it was fairly inevitable that Picard’s death would be defied in some way, but that didn’t make his passing any less emotional or meaningful, particularly for a character who has been a part of some viewers’ lives for over three decades, and will now continue on to have further adventures.