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The Star Trek University Ed Speleers Went Through For Picard

Ed Speleers, erstwhile Eragon and occasional "Downton Abbey" inhabitant, had a whole lot of responsibility heaped on his shoulders recently. As anyone keeping up with "Star Trek: Picard" will know by now, his character on the series is more than just another floppy-haired, can't-win-for-losing, leather-jacketed starship smuggler with a heart of gold. He's also the son of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher, making him just about the closest thing to royalty that you're likely to find in Starfleet. Carrying on that kind of legacy comes with a lot of homework.

Maybe, like a lot of well-meaning idiots, you've tried to get someone you love into "Star Trek" as an adult. If so, you'll know two things: the cold sting of loneliness, and how difficult it is to find a natural entry point to that franchise. You can't say "just pick an episode of the original series" because that's how you wind up spending the rest of your day off apologizing about pon farr. You can't start "The Next Generation" from the top because it is, empirically speaking, like watching acid reflux for the first two seasons.

Like a lot of sci-fi, "Star Trek" is a 70-30 split between genius and cringe, spread out across 60 years, 12 series, 13 movies, and more parallel universes than you can shake a peel-and-stick goatee at. Encompassing everything from space Abraham Lincoln to the Dominion War, "Star Trek" is too big a universe to describe succinctly. So which parts was Speleers supposed to hone in on while preparing his character?

Luckily, he had a helpful hand to guide him, letting him know which parts were important and which parts were "Star Trek: Nemesis."

Ed Speleers got schooled on Star Trek

When it came time for Ed Speleers to prepare for his role as Jack Crusher, he had a helpful lesson plan laid out for him. In an exceptionally forward-thinking move, it didn't just tell him which parts of "Star Trek" to study — it also let him know which parts to ignore.

"Star Trek: Picard's" Season 3 showrunner Terry Matalas "put me through — I think the email said, 'This is your Star Trek University,'" Speleers told Entertainment Tonight in a recent interview regarding his role on the show. "And it was this long list of 'TNG' episodes and films going back all the way to 'The Wrath of Khan,' all the way through to 'First Contact.' He said, 'Don't look 'Nemesis.'"

For anyone following along at home, "Star Trek: Nemesis" was the 2002 straw that broke the franchise's back temporarily. It bombed so hard that it gave Tom Hardy a personal crisis. It's nobody's favorite.

It sounds like the education process paid off. Speleers paints a compelling portrait of Jack Crusher moving forward, describing him as "an amalgamation of space cowboys and captains" before going on to say that "he's almost Kirk without Starfleet behind him, I suppose, isn't he?"

The final season of "Star Trek: Picard" streams new episodes on Paramount Plus every Thursday.