Star Trek: Picard‘s ruthless season 2 finale means there’s one spinoff fans won’t be seeing on Paramount+ anytime soon. The Star Trek franchise has certainly endured lean periods during its time, but the early 2020s isn’t one of them. Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Prodigy and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are all currently active, while spinoffs based around Section 31 and Starfleet Academy are also in Paramount’s pipeline. On the big screen, Chris Pine’s Enterprise crew are even reuniting for Star Trek 4. Diversifying major franchises is an increasingly common strategy as the streaming wars rage on – the more content, the better.
As Paramount continues its ongoing mission to seek out strange new spinoffs, Star Trek: Picard looked to be laying foundations for yet another TV series. Season 2’s premiere revealed the Stargazer – the vessel destroyed during Jean-Luc Picard’s first command – has finally been rebuilt, and none other than Santiago Cabrera’s Cristóbal Rios is assigned as her captain. A former first officer who became disillusioned and quit Starfleet to try his hand at piracy, Rios evidently rejoined between Star Trek: Picard seasons 1 & 2. Resurfacing as a charming, roguish captain, a spinoff based around Rios’ future Stargazer adventures seemed entirely plausible.
Alas, Star Trek: Picard‘s season 2 finale conclusively rules out any future Rios spinoff. Joining Jean-Luc during his temporal detour, Rios finds the trappings of 2024 too good to resist, and falls in love with a local doctor called Teresa. When departure time finally comes, Rios ignores several chapters of the time traveler’s handbook by electing to remain in the past. A second cameo from Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan then reveals Rios enjoyed an action-packed and charitable existence on 21st century Earth, before eventually dying in a bar fight over medical supplies. With Star Trek: Picard conclusively sealing Rios’ fate, a Stargazer spinoff starring the ex-pirate becomes canonically impossible.
Star Trek is missing a trick by not developing its Captain Rios tease further. Whereas Rios was routinely outshone by his broad range of EMH assistants in Star Trek: Picard‘s debut season, season 2 reintroduced Cabrera as a laid back, heroic, Chilean Starfleet captain carrying bags of protagonist potential. Rios was afforded a suave captain’s catchphrase that put Michael Burnham’s “let’s fly” to shame, and upon arriving in 2024, Star Trek: Picard even implied Rios held the prestigious honor of being Starfleet’s best-ever pilot. Adding these exciting new facets to Rios’ persona – as well as putting him in command of such a prestigious ship – appeared to set the stage for a future Stargazer spinoff, or at least leave Rios’ door slightly ajar for cameos in other projects.
You could absolutely argue that Star Trek‘s jam-packed landscape doesn’t leave much scope for a Rios-centric Stargazer spinoff but, equally, Star Trek: Picard has just wasted a character who held so much promise as a leading man. From his casual style of leadership and checkered past to the effortless cool of chomping a cigar on the bridge and giving his trademark “Dale!” order, Santiago Cabrera’s Rios had all the ingredients to become a long-serving Star Trek favorite. A spinoff following Rios’ new-look Stargazer also could’ve occupied a timeline vacancy between the humble past of Strange New Worlds and the far-future of Star Trek: Discovery.
Sadly, Rios’ stint commanding the Stargazer is now restricted to a small off-screen period between Star Trek: Picard seasons – hardly enough material for a full spinoff. Through Guinan announcing his death, we also know Rios never makes the voyage home. Had Rios returned to his native timeline and continued in his capacity as Stargazer captain (bringing Teresa and Ricardo with him, of course) Star Trek could’ve revisited the character at will. Unfortunately, the manner of his Star Trek: Picard exit leaves Captain Rios zero chance of commanding the Stargazer beyond season 2’s premiere.
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