Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
As the curtain went up on new Trek series Strange New Worlds the curtain went down on Season 2 of Picard. And while an improvement over the first season Picard’s sophomore season was not without its issues.
With an intergalactic SPOILER ALERT here’s my review in four blasts:
Blast #1 Something Old
The series is called Picard but ironically it is more an ensemble piece than Discovery which is heavily focused on Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham. That said, Patrick Stewart is still in top form as Admiral Jean-Luc Picard. His main storyline is resolving the childhood trauma of his mother’s suicide. And while I thought Stewart handled the material well and it was great seeing Battlestar Galactica’s James Callis as his father, I didn’t find the subplot the most compelling. The frequent jumps to the past felt distracting from the immediate action. And while I appreciate the twist that his father was not abusive but his mother was suffering from mental illness, I think they could have gone anywhere with the whole “I had trauma so I closed myself off from love” subplot and made the connection to the present more tangible.
What I did enjoy was the interaction with Orla Brady as Laris/Tallinn. Sure, it makes absolutely no sense that Tallinn looks exactly like Laris (I was half expecting this was a trick by Q) but Brady and Stewart have superb chemistry so I didn’t mind it too much. Tallinn’s death scene was pretty touching and the final scene with Laris and Picard bonding was sweet. Time to get some loving mon capitane. Oh, and I was heartwarming to see Whoopi Goldberg return as Guinan, though why they recast her with a younger version for the 2024 scenes is beyond me. Now I thought Ito Aghayere did a solid job but I kept thinking, “Umm, why is Whoopi not there?” Maybe it’s just me.
Blast #2 Something New
As I mentioned the series is an ensemble piece, so the rest of Picard’s ragtag crew had something to do as well. We’ll get to Jurati and the Borg Queen soon, but let’s chat about Elnor, Rios, Seven of Nine and Raffi. Elnor gets taken out pretty early and, other than lingering as a source of loss for Raffi and returning briefly as a holographic version for an action set piece, he does not get to do much this season. Rios falls in love with the beautiful young doctor and her cute son and gets put on ice by ICE. It was alright but again, not all that interesting. Which brings me to Seven of Nine and Raffi. Now I have loved Seven since Voyager and I thought she was well utilised in Season 1, but she felt wasted to me here. With the change in timeliness she loses her Borg implants and this is barely explored. And the romantic relationship with Raffi felt forced and contrived. They dropped the relationship on us at the end of the last season with no context and this season these two seem to be together because the script says so. No explanation, not a hint of chemistry, very little believability, just going through the motions. And while the rebellious Raffi was fun last season, Season 2 Raffi was a bit whiny and kind of annoying.
And speaking of unnecessary, did we have to bring back Brent Spiner as a FOURTH iteration of the Soong family with the exact same face? I am always glad to see Spiner but his obnoxious Adam Soong character felt like he was just there to have another villain when Borg/Jurati took off. His whole storyline felt completely disconnected from what was happening. And we had a third actor playing a new character with Isa Briones returning to play Kore Soong. Were we supposed to care about her? Because I found Briones kind of flat and kept waiting for them to get back to the main storyline. And the scene with Soong looking at the “Khan” folder felt as contrived as Arik Soong talking about Eugenic in Star Trek: Enterprise. It was like a big neon sing that said, “IT’S ALL CONNECTED!” Come on. Trek viewers are an intelligent bunch. You don’t need to spoon feed everything to us. And yea, the whole Renée Picard storyline was kinda dull too.
Blast #3 Something Borg
I might sound like I am criticising a lot but there were things I enjoyed this season. And that includes Annie Wersching as the latest iteration of the Borg Queen. We’ve previously seen Alice Krige and Susanna Thompson versions of the character but Wersching wisely puts her own spin on the role. And I loved it! You have the usual narcissism and menace associated with the Borg matriarch but there is also a wit and a sassiness here that was so enjoyable. Her twisted relationship with Alison Pill’s Agnes Jurati was easily a highlight of the season, from the slow seduction, to the bonding, to the takeover, to the eventual understanding. Really compelling stuff that leads us now to a kinder, softer, but still threatening, Borg. One thing though. Did the Borg Queen have to use singing in public to take her over? It was a kinda odd and off-putting scene. #justsaying.
And while the Borg in Season 1 felt somewhat superfluous they were integral to Season 2. I liked the masked Borg Queen that opened the season with a bang. I enjoyed the design of the Borg Queen with her half body. And the quickie drones added some action to a season that could have used a kick in the pants. With the Borg becoming provisional members of the Federation to confront the new mysterious threat I look forward to seeing what is next from this newest evolution of one of Trek’s greatest adversaries turned unlikely allies.
Blast #4 Something Q
If there is one reason to watch Season 2 it is to see John de Lancie return as Q. Now I knew he was going to be good but even I was not ready for how good he was going to be. He commanded every line, stole every scene, and lifted everything around him. Like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs his presence is brief but it resonates throughout the entire thing. Q giving one last gift to Picard before he died felt like the natural conclusion to the beloved character. And their final goodbye was just a thing of beauty.
So that’s Picard Season 1. Started off very strong with the mysterious Borg “attack” and the Confederation stuff, got a bit dull in the middle in 2024, and then finished strong. With Rios gone (I’ll miss that fun guy) and Jurati now half of a Borg Queen it opens up space for the TNG cast to return in the third and final season. And of course I am excited to see that. What TNG fan wouldn’t be? And we now know why Wil Wheaton was not listed to return because of his surprising Season 2 cameo. I am glad they swung back to the Traveler stuff as him suddenly returning to Star Fleet in Nemesis did not sit right with me (one of many continuity issues with that film). One of the things that Season 2 did right and, despite some uneven storytelling, it was solid season overall.
Editor Jules’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
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Julien “Editor Jules” 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. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.