Todd Stashwick's Captain Liam Shaw dies protecting the other heroes in the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard and he will be missed.
He was an unapologetic jerk, he was — in his own words — a “dipsh-t from Chicago,” and he’s one of the only members of Starfleet with the guts to scream at Patrick Stewart‘s Jean-Luc Picard in front of his only son. And, if I’m honest, I’m surprised he survived this long. Star Trek: Picard‘s Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) gets a hero’s death in “Vox,” the penultimate episode, falling while holding off assimilated crew members to give the other heroes time to escape.
As I wrote shortly after the season premiered, Star Trek: Picard‘s Captain Shaw quickly became my favorite new character in the franchise because he bucked expectations. When we first meet him in his private dining room aboard the Titan, he seems like a very familiar type of Trek character — the by-the-book jerk who, by the end of your usual episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, would either prove to be a coward, corrupt, completely inept, the first to die, all of the above, or a healthy combination.
The rest of Star Trek: Picard proves that yes, Captain Shaw was a by-the-book jerk, but he was none of those other things. He refuses to give Picard or Riker the respect they’re due or even basic courtesy and refuses to address Seven of Nine by the name with which she identifies.
But Star Trek: Picard also proves to us that Captain Shaw is no coward, no crook; he more or less knew what he was doing, and … well okay yes, he does die, but not first.
When Seven convinces him to save Picard and Riker from the Shrike, rather than turn and run, he stays to find out what’s going on. Once Picard reveals that Jack Crusher is his son, Shaw swallows his fear and refuses to turn him over. When Vadic holds him hostage, he orders Seven to blow the turbolift — which would have killed him — though she refuses.
None of these things are the actions of a coward.
Once Picard and Riker convince him that the crew of the U.S.S. Intrepid has been compromised, Shaw retreats even though the alternatives would be much easier. And considering what we know from the Star Trek: Picard episode “No Win Scenario,” imagine how impossible it must be for someone like Shaw to put his trust in the titular Admiral.
The Star Trek: Picard writers dig deeper than normal with Shaw, to reveal that he has what some might argue is a damn good reason to not cooperate with the former Enterprise commander. Shaw was at the devastating Battle of Wolf 359, where Picard was forced, as Locutus of Borg, to aid the villains in killing 11,000 Starfleet personnel, including Shaw’s friends.
Sure, we know as the audience it wasn’t Picard’s fault, but can you blame the guy for how he treats Picard and Riker? What would you do if the guy who killed all your friends showed up at your job and said, “hey I’m here to change all your plans!” Are you going to say “Oh, Locutus, thanks for the wine,” because I’m not.
With Star Trek: Picard‘s Shaw, the franchise gave us a deeply flawed captain and an incredibly relatable one. It’s too bad he’s gone, but I’m grateful he survived literally eight episodes longer than he would’ve in any other Trek series. R.I.P., Chicago dipsh-t.