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Star Trek: Picard's Poker Scene Was 45 Minutes Of Improv From The TNG Cast

The conclusion of "Star Trek: Picard" gave Trekkies the series finale they all deserved. Even pitted against the evil Borg Queen (Alice Krige) and her deadly Hive, the former crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D defied the odds one last time as a team. It was a victory that sets up Jack Crusher's (Ed Speleers) future while not being sullied by the death of a single member of "Star Trek: The Next Generation's" original cast. And that outcome led to a very satisfying final scene featuring the seven "TNG" alums playing one last hand of poker together. In the spirit of capturing the gratifying moment, "Picard" showrunner Terry Matalas let the actors improv the gambling scene for nearly an hour.

"They're maniacs, that cast," Matalas said during a roundtable discussion (via Screen Rant). "Anytime you call 'Cut!,' they're singing, they're dancing, they're joking, they're blah-blah-blah. They're doing all the things that they tell you to do. And this isn't a movie set where you have the time built in to let them do that. It's television, you're like, 'We gotta go!' Except for this scene, I let them improvise for 45 minutes." Picard wins the first hand the "TNG" family plays, but the real winners are the fans who get to see their favorite characters share a heartwarming swan song together.

An unforgettable improv scene

During the series finale, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) quotes some dialogue from William Shakespeare's "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar." Immediately after his epic toast, Picard whips out a playing card. And the room explodes with excitement as the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" crew draws around the table for one final poker game. True, Data (Brent Spiner) doesn't sport his trademark visor as he did while gambling on "TNG," but it's a fitting end for the iconic crew. And Matalas let the actors improv for 45 minutes to capture the magic of "Picard's" closing moments.

"I rolled the camera and just had the cameras go and let them play poker because I wanted the audience to really feel what it's like to hang out with these actors, to really feel the jokes and the genuine smiles of real camaraderie of these actors [and] what it's like with them," Matalas said during the same roundtable.

"They're really like that in real life," Matalas continued. "And so, I think on the Blu-ray, we'll see an extended version of that scene. But those jokes, those smiles are all real. And I wanted the audience to feel that for a few minutes before we said goodbye." In what was surely a calculated maneuver to evoke even more nostalgia, "Picard's" conclusion mirrors the series finale of "TNG" titled "All Good Things..." During that show's final scene, the exact same seven characters gather around the poker table to play Five-card stud.