The announcement that almost the entire lead cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation would be returning for the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard inspired a lot of questions from fans. With Data in whatever afterlife androids enjoy, who will Brent Spiner be playing? Will sparks fly between Jean-Luc and Beverly? And exactly what has Star Trek’s favorite Klingon, Michael Dorn’s Worf, been doing all these years? Well, we don’t know all the answers to that last one, but thanks to Picard showrunner Terry Matalas we know that when we’re reunited with Worf, he’ll be a Captain. But, he won’t be Captain of a ship.
San Diego Comic-Con brought with it, among other things, a teaser trailer for Picard‘s third season featuring most of the lead cast in costume — including Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine and Michelle Hurd as Raffi — save for Brent Spiner. Michael Dorn’s long-awaited Star Trek re-appearance as Worf was one of the more impressive moments in the teaser, giving us a white-haired Worf looking as distinguished and fierce as ever. Eagle-eyed fans noticed that for just the briefest of moments, you can spot four pips on Worf’s collar, signifying that he’s a Captain. When a fan asked Terry Matalas about the shot on Twitter, he confirmed the rank with the caveat that he was captain “in rank only.” When another fan asked if Worf took over the Enterprise-E after Picard, Matalas wrote, “You’ll just have to see,” adding that his rank as Captain relates “to the Dominion War.” You can see those tweets below.
Saying a Trek character is Captain “in rank only,” should sound pretty familiar to longtime fans, and that could be a big clue regarding exactly what kind of Captain Star Trek: Picard‘s Worf proves to be. Even though Avery Brooks’s Benjamin Sisko commanded the titular station of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he wasn’t promoted to Captain until the season 3 finale of the series. That episode may have originally aired in 1995, but some fans will still argue that since Sisko’s primary assignment was the command of a space station instead of a starship, the rank of Captain shouldn’t apply. This could be what Matalas is hinting at. In the Deep Space Nine finale, Sisko is taken away from DS9 to live with the Prophets. It’s possible at some point between the events of 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis and those of Picard, Worf was named the commander of DS9.
Matalas’s second tweet could back up the theory. He writes that in season 3 of Star Trek: Picard, Worf’s promotion is related “to the Dominion War.” Erupting in the season 5 finale of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion War rages in the final two seasons of the series. An assignment to DS9 could certainly be related to the Dominion War. After all, while the good guys defeat the Dominion, the Founders are still out there in the Gamma Quadrant as far as we know.
It’s also interesting to note that in Michael Dorn’s voiceover for the Picard season 3 teaser, he says, “Do not presume to know what I have and have not sacrificed for this.” While we don’t know exactly what he’s talking about, it could have something to do with a question that will be on the minds of a lot of Star Trek fans when they learn about Worf’s promotion. In the season 6 Deep Space Nine episode “Change of Heart” Worf and his wife Jadzia Dax go on a mission to extract a Cardassian spy from a Dominion base. Jadzia is mortally wounded and Worf chooses to save her rather than the spy. Though he understands Worf’s decision, Captain Sisko tells the Klingon that his service record will now carry with it a black mark that will make it very unlikely he could ever make Captain. Clearly, Worf somehow managed to reach the rank in spite of “Change of Heart,” so whatever he “sacrificed” could have something to do with that.