Julien Neaves – Editor
As a longtime Trekkie I remember the halcyon days from 1987-2005 when there was always Star Trek on the small screen, and for a long period not one but two shows at the same time. But then came the long, dark times of no Trek at all except the Kelvinverse films which, while entertaining, failed to really fill that black hole in our Trekkie hearts. Though we must be grateful that it renewed interest in the franchise.
Now we have a renaissance of Trek with two concurrent series, Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, and plans for other series as well. And while Discovery was sadly another prequel and stuttered out of the space dock, though it has been slowly moving forward on impulse, Picard was in the post-Nemesis timeline we all wanted and when it hit warp nine it never looked back. With a Dyson Sphere-sized SPOILER ALERT here is my review of Picard Season 1 in four slices:
Slice 1 – Welcome Back JL
It is tricky bringing back an iconic character after so many years; just look at how they messed up Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. But both the treasure that is Sir Patrick Stewart and the writers did a fantastic job on retired Admiral (guess he didn’t listen to Kirk’s advice about not letting them promote you) Jean-Luc Picard. It really feels like an organic progression for the character. Picard is still stately, wise, cautious, witty and strong-willed, but there is also a bitterness from his break with Starfleet and sadness and regret over the choices he made.
I have seen people complain that this Picard lets people talk down to him and push him around. But they seem to forget that this is not Captain Picard. He is not in charge of these people and they have absolutely no reason to listen to him. He is “begging ah lodging” as we say in Trinidad. This adds a new layer and dynamic to the character which I appreciate. And Stewart also acts the hell out of the role.
Slice 2 – Someone old, someone new
When Picard describes his new crew as “motley” he is not kidding. I must say I like every one of these quirky crew members. The roguish Rios and his wacky EMHs are fun, Dr Agnes is sweet and actually funny (though the crew seemed to get over the whole murder thing kind of quickly), sarcastic Raffi is a welcome audience surrogate, and the candid Elnor is the Romulan samurai we never knew we needed (more on him later). The Asha twin synths were a bit meh but I still cared for them.
In promoting the show they advertised the hell out of the returning characters of Seven of Nine, Will Riker and Deanna Troi. And I was glad that they were not just glorified cameos and these folks had things to do in the plot. Seven got the most play and this haunted, more human version of the character is a complete bad mother shut your mouth. Seriously, I would love to see Star Trek: Seven or Star Trek: Rangers. Riker’s acting captain scenes were great as well and I laughed loudly when he talked about Oh’s “treacherous Tal Shiar ass”. Classic Riker. The reunion scenes with Picard were also remarkably touching.
Slice 3 – What stun setting?
I must admit that I don’t always pay attention to music in my reviews (my fellow Trini reviewer Matthew Bailey of Beers, Beats and Bailey is pretty good at that though) but I really enjoyed the tunes in Picard, from the contemplative opening theme to all the Next Gen callbacks. The sound effects were pretty dang good too.
The action sequences were also very well shot. You see every kick, disruptor blast and blade slash. Some standout scenes include Dahj’s activation, the assault on Picard’s chateau, Elnor’s Romulan slaughter and Seven’s double phaser killing spree. I did find there was a lack of space battle action (was I the only one who wanted to see the Romulans and the Federation go at it, or team up against the super synths?) but you can tell they spent money on the ship effects so I’m not complaining too much. Those orchid anti-ship things looked cool as well. Flower power indeed.
Slice 4 – Do Androids Dream…
I found the overall story of this season to be well done but there were some flaws. My biggest issue is with the Borg subplot. I really thought it was actually going to tie into the main plot but in the end it felt like they just wanted a cool setting and something extra for Elnor and Seven to do. They could have at least had the Borg Cube attack someone or something. But no, just crash and burn. What a waste. It also seemed a bit convenient that both Rios and Raffi had experiences that tied into the synth conspiracy. I also thought the villains, other than the conflicted Narek (wonder what happened to him), were somewhat one note. Of the Romulans we see very little of Oh and Narissa is cold-blooded but not much else. And while I’m glad they showed there could be evil with the synths as well via Sutra the most interesting thing about her was her Data-inspired look.
Picard’s arc of once again finding purpose was a welcome one, though I saw his resurrection coming a mile away which took away from any pathos from his death. And it reminded me somewhat of how he came back to life as Professor X in X-Men: The Last Stand and anything that reminds me of that movie can’t be good. Still I was glad that Data got the send-off he deserved after his all too abrupt end in Nemesis, and Brent Spiner playing yet another Soong family member (seriously, do they ALL have the same face?) just seems fitting. And speaking of abrupt what was that hand holding between Seven and Raffi? Did I nod off at some point because I did not see that set up at all. But I must say that when the motley crew blasted off I was eagerly looking forward to their next adventure, which is probably the highest praise I can give the show.
Score: Picard Season 1 gets an 7/10
So that’s my review. How would you rate Star Trek: Picard Season 1? For my ranking of All 8 Trek Opening Themes you can click here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel but dreams of being Batman. Also loves creating board games and is an aspiring Caribbean sci-fi author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Can also be found talking about stuff on Facebook at Movieville.