'Star Trek Picard' Explained: Everything We Know About Riker's New Ship the USS Zheng He

Star Trek: Picard has been full of Easter eggs and references for fans of the franchise. However, one of the most obscure references came in Episode 10, "Et In Arcadia Ego, Part 2." In that episode, William Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes) comes to the aid of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) at the helm of a new ship called the USS Zheng He. In the CBS All Access series, this ship is named the "toughest, fastest, most powerful ship Starfleet has ever put into service."

The name of this ship is itself a very nerdy historical Easter egg. Zheng He was a 15th century Chinese diplomat and admiral who controlled a group of treasure ships known as the "Star Fleet," beating Star Trek to the name by 500 years.

However, a ship named the USS Zheng He has already appeared in a piece of Star Trek content. As part of the Star Trek Online arc "Agents of Yesterday," players can choose to complete a mission called "In The Shadow of Cestus." In this mission, the player is hailed by the Zheng He to join their crew on the planet Edren IV.

uss zheng he star trek picard
William Riker onboard the USS Zheng He on 'Star Trek: Picard' CBS All Access

This ship is likely to be a different one from the one seen in Star Trek: Picard. The Star Trek Online ship has a very spherical front, for example, which is missing from the Picard vessel. The Zheng He is also implied to be fairly new in Picard, which is set is 2399. The Star Trek Online mission, meanwhile, takes place in 2270.

This is around the same time in the Star Trek timeline as the end of James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) tenure as the commander of the Enterprise, and about a century before Picard took control of the Enterprise in 2364.

However, a number of Picard viewers have noted similarities between the ships in "Et In Arcadia Ego" and the vessels of Star Trek Online. One person on Reddit wrote of the fleet seen in the final two episodes: "I can't say if its the Odyssey or the Avenger or a hybrid of both, or a generic ship that takes all the STO unique Fed ships that were blended together. Whatever it is, it would [fit] right in the game."

According to TrekCore, the bridge on the Picard version of the Zheng He is a redress of the standing set of the bridge from Star Trek: Discovery. To make the ship look different, the makers of Picard, however, have removed its display screens and slightly altered the command seat.

Reusing Star Trek sets has long been a way that the TV series and movies save money. The Next Generation is full of sets from the Star Trek movies. Kirk's ship quarters as seen in The Wrath of Khan, for example, were reused as Worf's (Michael Dorn) quarters in The Next Generation, and a dining room set from The Undiscovered Country also eventually becomes TNG's observation lounge.

Star Trek: Picard is streaming now on CBS All Access.