In 2018, Patrick Stewart made an appearance at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention to reveal he would star in a new TV show: Picard. I watched the show recently.
When Admiral Picard learns the home star of the Romulans is going to go supernova, he organizes a mass evacuation. Then androids rise up on Mars and kill everybody there, and the Federation draws back all support for the mass evacuation Picard had planned and ban all synthetic life. Picard refuses to be a part of that Federation and resigns. Fourteen years later, he lives in his vineyard on Earth, growing wine.
Then, assassins attack a young woman in her apartment, triggering something in her that allows her to kill the attackers and escape. She flees and goes to the person she somehow knows and trusts: Jean-Luc Picard.
I grew up with the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The Next Generation aired around the time I entered my teens, in the same period I saw Star Wars for the first time and developed a lasting love for science fiction. Heck, First Contact is one of my favorite movies.
But like all icons from one’s youth, they age along with you. Patrick Stewart, who plays Picard, is eighty years old now. That, combined with the smaller scope of the show, gives Picard a whole different dynamic and feel than the other Star Trek shows. The Captain is no longer unbreakable, but more frail. And like in the movie Logan, it helps revitalize the story instead of just a rehash of old themes.
The other characters
Picard’s opposite is Dahj. Well, sort of. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say events cast the girl Picard chases adrift, looking for a way to find out who she is.
As the story progresses, we run into people that Picard left behind when he left the Federation. Raffi is a former Starfleet officer who did not have the luxury of retiring. Starfleet ousted her and she now lives in a trailer in the desert hunting conspiracy theories. Fourteen years and Picard never even called her up.
Elnor is a young Romulan left behind by Picard in a monastery of fighting monks in the neutral zone. Picard was going to come back for him, but then vanished from public life instead.
Then there are Captain Chris Rios and Doctor Agnes Jurati. They were not wronged by Picard, but both have seen themselves sidelined because of decisions by Starfleet.
There are others. Some old Next Generation cast have cameos, as does a Star Trek: Voyager cast member.
All in all, a combination of old and new characters. There are not too many of them, but contrary to the first season of Star Trek Discovery, the characters have an actual personality.
There is one exception though. Narissa Rizzo, a Romulan agent opposing synthetics, is both extremely annoying and totally superfluous. My wife noticed it first at the end of the season: if you completely removed her character, nothing would change about the story. Nothing at all.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the writers or producers added the character after the initial script was already finished, although I don’t know why. Aside from being so incompetent she has no effect on the story at all, she’s evil-for-the-heck-of-it, and an almost cartoonish villain.
Picard is not a great show. It’s not bad, and I enjoyed watching it. However, it has quite some clichés and some pretty stupid plot holes. For example, it never becomes clear what Dajh was doing on Earth in the first place. The timing of the attack on Mars also seems remarkably stupid, in hindsight. And finally, why had Picard completely ignored his former friends for fourteen years? Is he just that big of an asshole?
On the other hand, my wife and I watched through the entire season without any trouble. Picard is the most interesting Star Trek show I’ve seen the last decade or two. It’s not really Star Trek, though, and that’s a good thing, maybe: times have changed, and the original concept has been done to death.
Although, I do need to talk about the last ten minutes of the end of the season. I won’t spoil it, but, really? The writers really broke the ending as far as I’m concerned. If you watch it, you’ll probably understand what I mean. It was just a cliché cop-out and could have been handled far better.
Despite some misgivings, I can recommend Picard to anybody who likes Star Trek. Even if you don’t like Star Trek, you might like this, although a lot of the callbacks to the older Star Trek shows will go over your head and you might find it too generic.