Patrick Stewart had happily said his goodbyes to the iconic character of Jean-Luc Picard. However, much like Sean Connery and Never Say Never Again, studios have a way of giving actors offers they can’t refuse. So here we are and we’re all better off as Trek fans for it.
Not content to simply be a nostalgia-fest (though if you want references to just about every previous Star Trek series, including Discovery, you’ll find them), season one proves to be essentially a mini-series about Picard searching for redemption in the twilight of his life. And he does so in a time when the Federation has lost its way… though it has picked up smoking, drinking real alcohol, and recreational drug use.
The show also manages to give some long-awaited continuity for the Trekverse since Nemesis… and not coincidentally does a whole lot of Romulan world-building.
The series also remains the least standalone of any of the series next to Short Treks (which is essentially meant to be an adjunct series of shorts that connect to a greater Trek whole). While season one of Picard is not impossibly unknowable to a casual or new Trek viewer, the season finale simply won’t have the emotional heft if you haven’t come to know many of the characters seen previously.
This isn’t a dealbreaker, but that aspect of built-in familiarity and a certain sentimentality is both the series’ pro and its con: it’s the latest book in a series of books and most people probably won’t want to start here. It’ll still be exciting to see where it ends though.
Note: Everything below may contain spoilers and definitely contains some snark.
The new captain is the same as the old captain, except he’s an admiral (retired) with some Shakespearean-level regrets. He’s not the man he was in TNG (quite literally by the end of season one), and yet Patrick Stewart’s performance makes it a natural continuation. End this well, showrunners. End it well.
Dr. Agnes Jurati
One minute, her city-mouse-never-put-to-space comments makes you laugh and another minute you curse her sudden, but inevitable betrayal. I’m not sure yet how I feel about her character, but I want a damn fine arc, writers’ room. Just maybe not as on-the-nose as she is.
Soji, et al
She contains uncertain multitudes, but Isa Briones ably channels the same curiosity and specificity that Brent Spiner was able to bring to Data and the rest of the Soong family (artificial and otherwise).
His emotions may be Romulan, but his straight-man schtick is full-on Vulcan. He’s like Tuvok as an over-earnest recent college grad who majored in swordsmanship. I look forward to seeing how he grows as he helps
Bilbo Frodo Picard on his quests.
Somewhere on La Sirena is a closet dedicated to skeletons, but tough luck getting the stoic, cigar-chomping captain to divulge that information. Isa Briones may get to play many variants of her synth self, but Santiago Cabrera clearly gets to have more fun as his holographic essential crew are, apparently by design, a bit more broad and silly than standard sentients.
While some viewers will never warm to her because of her cavalier attitude at calling their favorite
captain admiral retired admiral “JL,” she doesn’t care. That’s just how Raffi rolls. Full of joie de vivre even when she’s sick of her lot in life, Raffi is an interesting mix of skill, passion, and regrets.
9) “Maps and Legends”
Season 1, Episode 2
After the emotionally charged series premiere, it’s hard for this entry to feel more than the second movement of the season-long arc that it is. Nevertheless, it arranges the pieces artfully even as it drops the F bomb a couple times less elegantly.
8) “The End of the Beginning”
Season 1, Episode 3
Picard finally gets enough of his
Island of Misfit Toys disaffected Starfleet/Federation crew together to put to space, but not before having to deal with a messy past, weighing in on his family legacy, and — Hey look! Another Romulan Death Squad!
7) “Absolute Candor”
Season 1, Episode 4
At long last we get a vital clue as to why the Romulans separated from the Vulcans so long ago: Romulans were prepared to go full Space Elf. The episode itself offers some additional backstory to Picard’s failed Romulan rescue, yet more holograms on the Misfit ship, hints at current power struggles in the Beta quadrant, and a rollicking space battle with a fun reveal at the end.
Season 1, Episode 1
A perfectly lovely return of a beloved character that rewards longtime fans with some “deep cut” references. At the same time, it comes across as an exciting and intriguing opening chapter that newcomers can enjoy in what promises to be a solid “prestige” TV series.
5) “Stardust City Rag”
Season 1, Episode 5
Our misfit crew is out of the gravity well that is setup and exposition and off to Space Vegas. We are rewarded by some of the most fun moments of the series to date as well as some of the most harrowing, plus plenty of references to previous Trek. Demerits for the torture-porn at the beginning Didn’t you all get this out of your system with Season One Discovery?
4) “The Impossible Box”
Season 1, Episode 6
Ratcheting up the tension that was already bursting at the seams of the previous episode, we learn that when it comes to breakups, it’s really Narek, not you. Also, we better see Elnor versus some Bat’leth-wielding Klingons next season.
3) “Et in Arcadia Ego” (Parts I & II)
Season 1, Episodes 9 & 10
An amazingly tense first half gives way to a somewhat more by-the-numbers second half, but it still hits the notes of a feature film/season finale quite well. There are character moments and curtain calls sure to please long-time fans, not the least of which is Data fully embracing what it means to be human.
Season 1, Episode 7
The action doesn’t completely stop for this reflective episode because Narissa apparently needs to earn her “Callous Murder” merit badge. However, that death does underscore much of the quiet sorrow and perseverance we see in characters old and new. Troi has never been better.
1) “Broken Pieces”
Season 1, Episode 8
The penultimate episode of the season has a starship full of payoff as we learn a lot more backstory and motivation as well as Seven of Nine wielding her version of the One Ring. Thoroughly engaging.