Star Trek Picard fan-favorite actor explains major Seven of Nine twist

Star Trek Picard season 3 was beloved by lots for lots of reasons, including for putting Jeri Ryan's Seven of Nine at the center of it all.

Jeri Ryan in Star Trek Picard season 3

Todd Stashwick was an unexpected highlight of 2023’s Star Trek Picard season 3, which concluded the series with a Borg cube-sized bang. Literally.

Joining the Star Trek cast for the second time (after a forgotten one-off appearance in Enterprise, in 2004) Stashwick stole the show as one of the grumpiest Star Trek captains we’ve ever seen: Captain Liam Shaw. Coming from the Jellico school of thought, Shaw ran a tight ship and was particularly hard on his newly minted first officer Seven of Nine (who had been officially promoted to the rank of Commander aboard the USS Titan-A between the events of seasons 2 and 3).

In the end, Shaw’s disdain was proven to be a facade. He respected Seven of Nine, challenging her to become her best self through a stern brand of tough love. It was a big twist, especially when watching a hologram of him, after his death, recommend that Seven be promoted. “In episode 10, there was a beautiful moment when he appeared again as a hologram and basically told those that needed to hear it that she is captain material,” Stashwick recalled, speaking with  Star Trek Explorer [via Screen Rant].

Continuing to unpack the situation, Stashwick said, “He actually recorded the message before Riker and Picard ever came on. What’s revealed to her is that he always believed in her. It’s this great insight into who he was. Even though his external presentation was gruff, caustic, and acerbic, inside he was thoughtful and he did see her for who she was.”

With his comments, Stashwick gets to the heart of why Shaw became such a beloved Star Trek character so quickly, despite his frosty exterior. It’s quite rare that we get characters, let alone captains, with major flaws in a Star Trek series, which typically show us the best of humanity working together. But Shaw’s human failings made him relatable, and it was refreshing to see a more grounded and imperfect side of Starfleet, with someone who had been jaded by his service.

And, more than anything else, it was almost always clear that Shaw was a good person deep down. He wanted to protect his crew, but when push came to shove, he also stepped in to defend Picard’s son, Jack, too. That inherent good nature might have been suppressed by his other instincts (and, let’s be honest, trauma) but it was there, and that’s what matters.

Of course, Shaw was killed in the climactic confrontation, much to the dismay of audiences. However, Picard season 3’s showrunner Terry Matalas has explained that if the spin-off sequel series Star Trek Legacy ever gets greenlit, Stashwick and Shaw will be a part of it, somehow.

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“Should there ever be a spin-off — and let me be clear, there is nothing in development at Paramount — but should one day the stars align, there was a plan from day one for Todd [Stashwick] as [Captain] Shaw to be a part of it,” explained Matalas on social media.

Continuing, he said, “How, you ask? It’s amazing. And that’s all I will say. And every time Todd and I talk about it, we get chills. And no, it is not a cop-out. It’s kinda incredible and moving and fresh, and I hope one day we get to do it.”

Time travel? A twin? An EMH-style hologram? Anything is possible in Star Trek, and if Legacy ever hits screens, we’d be delighted to see Shaw back in the saddle.

For more on Star Trek, read our guide to Strange New Worlds season 3, and see our guide to the best way to watch the Star Trek movies in order.