2.9 C
Munich
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 1 – 'The Next Generation' Review

Must read

Note: While we touch upon certain basic plot points for Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 1, we are avoiding discussing major spoilers here. The new season premieres on Paramount Plus on Thursday, February 16.


The return of Jean-Luc Picard to the small screen was a cause for great celebration when the series debuted three years ago, but it’s been a rocky road since then, with an inconsistent first season and a very rough second. But now, as Star Trek: Picard enters its third and final season, the Starfleet legend is off to a promising start to what could finally be the send-off that he deserves.

The Star Trek Next Gen crew’s best “ending” came with the first TV series’ finale, “All Good Things…”, which aired all the way back in 1994. It was an exciting, charming, and emotional climax to the seven years of episodes that preceded it. Eight years later, the crew signed off again in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, which while disappointing and disjointed, did offer some emotional closure at least. And now with Picard Season 3, Jean-Luc, Riker, Beverly, Worf and the rest are all getting one more chance to tie their adventures up in a bow of, one hopes, galactic nostalgia as well as forward-facing new adventures and character complexity.

This first episode of Season 3, appropriately dubbed “The Next Generation,” proves that the nostalgia stuff is easy… perhaps too easy, as the show throws in a lot of familiar Trek sound effects, music cues, visual gags, and story turns – so many as to almost be jarring to anyone who is well acquainted with Star Trek of yore (we’re talking about the Trekkie, of course). For the more casual observer, however, these moments may pass by unnoticed or even feel inspired.

But the real game is in the season’s potential for new adventures and the continuation of these characters’ stories. After all, this is the first time we’ve seen this entire group reunited since Nemesis, and could very well be the actual last time. Certainly, Star Trek: Picard offers a chance to really dig into the lives of Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), and Worf (Michael Dorn) as they rejoin returning co-stars William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and of course Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc himself – potentially in a way that’s never been done before. Remember, when TNG ran in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, each character would periodically get their own stories and episodes, but the bulk of the good stuff went to Picard, Brent Spiner’s Data, and often Worf. And when the movies came around, the supporting cast were essentially relegated to the age-old “hailing frequencies open” capacity.

Star Trek: Picard has taken us where we always wanted it to go: Back to the original Next Gen crew and what they’ve been doing since we last saw them.


So when the Picard series debuted, it seemed like a good chance to give the old Admiral’s friends some more time to shine. And indeed, Riker and Troi got a standout episode in Season 1, and of course the late Data and his Soong android ilk were central to the story – even John de Lancie’s Q and Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher had their brief turns in Season 2. But other than that, the crew of the Enterprise-D has mostly been ignored by the show as part of the mandate to keep Jean-Luc out of uniform, off of starships, and generally not going where he has gone before. Until now, that is.

But “The Next Generation” fires all torpedoes right out of the gate with the return of one of the OG TNGers, McFadden’s Dr. Crusher, as she finds herself in deep space, single-handedly taking on some nasty alien types in a gunfight in deep space. What she’s doing out there, why she’s being hunted, and who exactly the mysterious figure is that she’s keeping behind a locked door is a mystery that’s largely resolved within the first episode, but man, is it great to see her back in action. She mercilessly disintegrates said bad guys in a distinctly non-Bev manner before popping off a distress signal to her old kinda-sorta-but-not-really beau, Jean-Luc Picard: “Trust no one.”

And just like that, Star Trek: Picard has taken us where we always wanted it to go: Back to the original Next Gen crew and what they’ve been doing since we last saw them. Beverly basically cut off her friends 20 years ago? Geordi isn’t an engineer anymore? There’s trouble in Nepenthe paradise for Riker and Troi!? MAKE IT SO!

That’s not to say that the previous two seasons of Picard didn’t have their moments. One of the best things to come out of those convoluted stories was Orla Brady’s Laris, Jean-Luc’s Romulan housekeeper turned love interest. Alas, she appears to have been written out of the proceedings (again) in this episode, although she sticks around long enough to remind Picard that it’s okay to look to the past as well as the future… which certainly seems like it will be one of the themes of this season.

Also returning from the previous seasons are two of the stronger characters from that run, Michelle Hurd’s Raffi Musiker and, of course, Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine, although they are both in very different places from where we last left them. It remains to be seen how Raffi will figure into the bigger story, though credit to the show for acknowledging her Season 1 substance-abuse storyline again here. As for Seven, she’s finally joined Starfleet – and is now questioning that very decision. Maybe she needs to look to her past a bit as well to figure out her future.

Tonally, the show has certainly escaped the more sober and restrained first season, and is now willing to have some fun with things. Stewart and Frakes bounce off each other to great effect, while a subplot involving a Starfleet captain (Todd Stashwick from 12 Monkeys) who is, well, a jerk, is tantalizing in where it might go from here. And for those expecting to see the whole TNG gang back all at once, lower your shields as well as your expectations – this will likely be a slow roll before we get to full bridge crew status later in the season…

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Character Portraits Tease the Return of The Next Generation Crew

Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:

  • The fan service starts right off the bat with the onscreen “In the 25th century…” text, which of course is a callback to the opening of The Wrath of Khan. I’m not going to list every Easter egg that follows here, but suffice to say there are many.
  • The Picard opening titles and Jeff Russo’s theme music from the first two seasons are mostly gone, replaced by a brief title card.
  • Riker: “Who wants to hear some old fart drone on about going boldly for the last 250 years?” Picard: “I’m giving a speech too.” Riker: “And that’s going to be great!”
  • The Neo-Constitution class USS Titan is a cool ship, but I’m still trying to get my head around where the line is between a refit and a completely new ship being built. Ship of Theseus, anyone?
  • Farewell, Picard Squad of Seasons 1 and 2. As Captain Kirk once said, it was… fun. (Sometimes.)

Verdict

After a rough Season 2, Star Trek: Picard is righting the ship while also fully embracing the title character’s Next Gen history with the return of, for starters, old favorites Riker and Beverly Crusher. This premiere episode veers a little too far into fan service at times, but the potential for where this season can go and how it can serve to further the Next Gen crew’s saga is undeniably exciting and off to a strong start.

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article