When the news that the third season of Star Trek: Picard was also going to be its last, fans wondered if the series would finally boldly go where it had never gone before. The first two seasons of the Patrick Stewart-led series explored Picard deeper than ever. That was all well and good, but fans knew what they wanted. They got it when the announcement included the news that this season would serve as a reunion of sorts, having Jean-Luc Picard joined by his The Next Generation crew for his last journey around the universe.
Star Trek fans were electrified, and with good reason. It has been over 30 years since the incredibly popular crew of the Enterprise-D last teamed up on the small screen – and over 20 years since their last film. As the sands of time pass, anxious fans know there is no time like the present to give them what they want, more time with their beloved crew.
Up to this point, for review purposes, I have been lucky enough to have watched six of the 10-episode season. As always, I will do my very best to avoid any information that will take away from your viewing experience. Let me say do not know how this all wraps up, but do understand the stakes are big here. This is all about legacy; the characters’ legacy which is explored throughout the season and also for TNG as a whole. By embracing that legacy we prepare for the end of an era. It is a closure that can either fizzle out only to be forgotten (as so many revisits do) or one that will boldly plant itself in our minds like a star in the night sky.
Picard soars, saving the best for last! The best part is it does so with style, offering a proper dose of nostalgia (and you cannot help but be nostalgic) as well as a rewarding action-packed space adventure that holds up on its own. Fans get what they have been craving since Picard premiered, and those not too familiar with the Trek lore should have an easy time getting wrapped up with the venture. Like Strange New Worlds before it, this is very accessible Star Trek. If given a chance it will surely entice new viewers to explore the universe even further.
The premise has Picard answering the distress call of former crewmate Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) who along with her shipmate Jack (Ed Speelers) are under attack by aliens of unknown origin. Of course Picard cannot sit idle while a friend is in danger so he reaches out to Capt. Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) for an assist. As the threat scales well beyond their original assessment with a frighteningly powerful portal weapon holding them in its crosshairs, it becomes apparent that more help will be required.
Picard and Riker reach out to some familiar faces, weaving in the original cast in a variety of ways across episodes which feel organic and far less fan service-y than expected. Worf (Michael Dorn), Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), Data/Lore (Brent Spiner), as well as Star Trek: Voyager’s Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). As the old gang gets back the TNG magic kicks in and it is delightful. It is like watching someone meet up with good friends from their past and quickly regress into a former version of themselves. Also aboard the ship are Ensign Alandra La Forge (Mica Burton) – that last name should sound familiar and Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker, the only major returning player from previous seasons of Picard.
Leading the charge is Stewart who is now the elder statesman of Star Trek. After thirty plus years his gravitas has not faded a bit. While a bit older and losing a touch of the timber in his voice, he remains the emotional core of the series. Still the wise leader who commands with a touch of recklessness – seeing him on the bridge is always a joy. As Stewart ages up he remains as irresistible to watch as ever, but now the confidence in Picard’s eyes evolved, softening a bit and is tinged with the reminders of mortality. Knowing this may very well be the last hurrah for some of these characters makes this ride more emotional weight than expected. I was so excited to see them get back together that I kind of forgot that this is quite likely an ending not a beginning.
This past fall I was lucky to witness the TNG cast reunite at New York Comic Con. As the cast made their way to the stage the natural chemistry, mutual love and respect for each other was evident. It all carries over into the series. This is most evident in the rapport between Riker and Picard which has only gotten better with age – stripped away are some of the reservations created by the ranking between a Captain and his number one. Riker has a lot of gusto and is not afraid to spar with Picard, while being respectful.
The humor sprinkled throughout has been one of the most joyous surprises of this season. I found myself outright laughing at some moments when I least expected. One scene with Worf particularly took aim at my funny bone – levity juxtaposed against intense drama. It is one of the reasons I am enjoying the series so much, the characters feel more ‘human’ than ever. They have changed over time, escaping the arrested development is too commonly found as we revisit characters.
Too much occurs to cover it all concisely without giving away the best moments and the best surprises of the series. In many ways the series goes back to TNG basics while raising the stakes at every turn including a maniacal big bad to counter named Vadic (played by Amanda Plummer). Overall the series has a more cinematic feel that plays like one long film; the writing, the direction, the cinematography, the impressive visual effects and Stephen Barton’s fantastic score inspired by the past music of Jerry Goldsmith.
The best addition to the Trek universe and one I hope to see appear again in future endeavors is Todd Stashwick’s Liam Shaw who captains the USS Titan. He holds a grudge against Picard and Riker making every interaction between them more engaging than it should be. Quite frankly, he is kind of a jerk who will not allow himself to fall for their shit. You get the idea he would rather fail than to let them outwit him. He actually pushes back, he’s abrasive, he’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch – a welcome breath of foul air.
The true sign of a good series is if it retains that sense of wonder that keeps you wanting more. Past seasons of Picard I found I was fine watching an episode or two before revisiting. This season had me devouring episode after episode and searching for more. While I am very gracious to Paramount+ for providing me with 6 episodes, I want more – now. At the same time, I am also grateful that the lack of access allows me to prolong the ride.
Between Star Trek: Prodigy which keeps getting better and better, the you-had-us-at-hello Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks endless humor and what looks to be a very promising season of Discovery, it seems clear that the Star Trekissance is in full effect. I grew up watching Star Trek with my dad and now share Prodigy with my daughters.
After a pause, over the few years I find myself more connected to Star Trek than ever. It is easy to understand why as Picard honors the past while leading the way to a bright future for the franchise. If you are here for a rousing space adventure, you’ve got it. If you just want to hang out with some old friends, you’ve got that too. Either way, it is a rewarding voyage that will thrill old and new fans alike. It is hard not to get a little sentimental knowing that is probably goodbye (one I am not ready for).
We recommend following along with our weekly series coverage over at The ‘Verse! Podcast where two Trek fans and two Trek newbs break down series episode by episode. The in-depth discussion from four different perspective will make you appreciate the series even more.