Jean-Luc Back In Anger

Last week saw the series finale of Star Trek: Picard, a little over three years after the show premiered.

This post contains spoilers. Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen Picard season 3. There is also discussion of seasons 1 and 2.

I enjoyed seasons 1 and 2 Star Trek: Picard, but as with so much of Discovery-era Trek, I wished it was a bit more… well, Star Trek-ky. I get that Patrick Stewart didn’t want to retread old ground, so they took Picard out of Starfleet and made him a more cynical, world-weary character. But did they have to portray the post-Nemesis era so bleakly? Starfleet complacent and corrupt, with Romulan infiltrators in high places. Gruesome torture porn scenes inserted for no good story reason. Lots of references to Trek lore, without understanding quite what made the original TNG series so great.

Season 3 took an entirely different direction. Most of the cast from season 1 and 2 were jettisoned, with only Michelle Hurd as Raffi and Jeri Ryan as Seven returning alongside Patrick Stewart. The teaser trailer promised the return of the entire TNG regular cast (sans Wesley Crusher, who is still travelling). I was excited, but also worried that they would screw it up.

Episode 1 didn’t start too promisingly. The standard dimly-lit spaceship, with people shooting at each other, as seen so many times before in new Trek. Introducing us to a Beverly Crusher who was traumatised by events in her life and has become rather jaded and cynical. So far, so standard.

Then we are introduced to her son, Jack, and it soon becomes obvious that Jean-Luc is the daddy. Amusingly, and somewhat illogically, everyone bases this assumption on the fact that he has an English accent, despite the fact that he has never met his dad before, and also Picard is French, so… that makes sense. And wouldn’t you know it? Jack is harbouring a terrible secret that harks back to Picard’s past.

Jack is played by Ed Speleers, whose career has gone rather well since he was in Echo Beach on ITV in 2008.

Ed Speleers as Jack Crusher in Star Trek: Picard

Seven of Nine is now serving as first officer on the USS Titan. Her commanding officer is Captain Shaw, whose entire personality seems based around being as big an arsehole as possible. Later episodes reveal more depth to the character, but I really struggled with his abrasiveness in the first few episodes.

Of all the characters to return, my favourite had to be Worf, who got the chance to swashbuckle his way through a variety of dangerous situations alongside Raffi. It really was reminiscent of some of his best scenes in DS9 where he fought off a million Jem’Hadar single-handed. Michael Dorn seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the audience. It was fantastic to see.

And so many other cameos too. It really was a greatest hits of Trek. Ro! Shelby! Lore! Tuvok! Changelings! Spot(!) Moriarty(!!!) Although I am really sorry that we didn’t get to see the proposed scene in the final episode, where Seven would have met with Kathryn Janeway and Captain Harry Kim. Justice for Garrett Wang!

Now, you may think that this is all just fan service, bringing back old characters even if it makes little to no sense to the overall story. And you’d be absolutely right. Also, I don’t care. Fuck off.

Then, in episode 9, for reasons, they need an older ship not fitted with the latest Starfleet technology. So they go to the fleet museum, where La Forge just happens to have…

The rebuilt Enterprise-D in the fleet museum, as depicted in Star Trek Picard

Again, shameless fan service. But it worked, oh my God it worked. The reveal of the ship was beautiful, a shameless callback to the scene in Star Trek IV where Kirk sees his new Enterprise. There’s a perfectly done scene where an awestruck crew step out onto the bridge and just take a few minutes to revel in it. It works because the people watching at home feel exactly the same way. Does it matter that it is very much a Trigger’s broom starship, made largely of bits from other ships? Not one bit.

I didn’t think things could get any better, but then Data (who has been brought back to life again) gets to pilot the ship into a Borg vessel. As the ship swooped around, blasting phasers and photon torpedoes every which way, Brent Spiner’s facial expression was also that of a million fans.

Brent Spiner as a "humanoid" Data, at the controls of the Enterprise-D

It was really everything I could have wanted. I grew up watching TNG, so getting to see the Enterprise-D and its crew riding to the rescue and saving the universe again was a real treat. And it served well as a proper send-off for the cast, after the disappointment of their final film, and the rather unsatisfying previous seasons of Picard.

The last episode also teased the prospect of a spin-off series featuring the adventures of Jack and Seven aboard the Enterprise-G (“plenty of letters left in the alphabet”, as Picard once said). Will it happen? I’m not sure. With Strange New Worlds still running, I can’t see a second series set aboard a starship Enterprise running concurrently.

But then again, stranger things have happened in Star Trek. Like that episode where Janeway and Tom Paris turned into lizards and had babies.