The Star Trek franchise has gotten notably nostalgic in recent years. Paramount has been developing new shows (and less savory Trek-related projects) at a rapid pace as of late, and quite a number of those have gotten very self-referential. The animated, child-targeted Star Trek: Prodigy brought back Voyager’s Captain Janeway, first as a holographic mentor and now as a flesh and blood potential adversary. The entirety of the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is built on fan nostalgia for the earliest days of The Original Series and the idea of finally seeing the pre-Kirk adventures of the Enterprise. And of course, Picard is basically a three-season long love letter to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The season two finale of the show has finally revealed what happened to its most controversial character: Wesley Crusher.
In the second season finale of Star Trek: Picard, a whole lot happens. The titular character (masterfully played by Patrick Stewart, as always) travels back and forth through time. His longtime extradimensional frenemy Q (John de Lancie) died/ascended to a higher plane of existence after they shared a long-awaited hug. The Borg decided to straighten up, fly right, and stop forcibly assimilating people. And one Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) showed up in a cameo as basically Star Trek’s Nick Fury to recruit Kore Soong (Isa Briones) into the time/space Avengers.
That is a slight oversimplification. Wesley Crusher has long been a controversial Star Trek character. He was introduced as one of the original cast of The Next Generation, the son of Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and a child prodigy who nonetheless managed to get himself into dangerous situations on the regular. While the show heavily featured the character early on, a fan backlash to the perceived Mary Sue nature of the character quickly developed. In the sixth episode of the show, Wesley encountered a mysterious alien known as The Traveler (Eric Menyuk) who had the power to control time, space, and pretty much everything. The Traveler saw some kind of special destiny for Wesley and would be a recurring character in the show. Wesley Crusher was a regular cast member for the first four seasons, then would make appearances in the last three, but what the Traveler meant exactly was never explained.
As it turns out in the current Star Trek canon, Wesley Crusher is now the new Traveler, part of a cosmic group of entities who protect the continuity of time from disruption. In line with pop culture’s current preoccupation with timelines being messed with (see: Loki’s Time Variance Authority and the upcoming Flash movie), Wesley recruits Kore to join them and continue to protect time. It is now unclear whether Kore will be returning for Picard’s upcoming (and final) third season, but Wil Wheaton has already made it clear that he will not be showing up.
It appears Star Trek won’t be having Wesley appear in the last season of Picard because his story arc was wrapped up with a surprise cameo. That also explains Wil Wheaton’s carefully worded statement of why he will not be in the third season; maybe he got lessons from Andrew Garfield in how to deflect questions about where and in what he will be appearing. However, pretty much everyone else who appeared in The Next Generation will be joining in on Patrick Stewart’s (presumed) goodbye to the franchise. Farewell and good luck, Wesley Crusher.