- Patrick Stewart, Johnathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Jeri Ryan
- Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman
- Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
- Release date
- February 16, 2023
- Where to watch
For those who have watched any of the new Star Trek series (e.g. Discovery, Lower Decks, Star Trek Picard, etc.), you already know that they have been littered with plot holes, McGuffins, and unlikable characters. What’s more, is that the people in charge treat canon and legacy characters with contempt, arbitrarily retconning both in order to lower the material to the writers’ competency level and to mix in a heavy dose of BS woke politics posing as narrative. After all, it’s hard writing stories that take place in a utopian society filled with brilliant and experienced characters who make smart and rational decisions, especially if you are a writer who can’t even coherently define what a woman is.
Star Trek Picard (S3E1 – The Next Generation)
Season 3 of Star Trek Picard begins with a severely injured Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), all but alone and in mortal danger from an unknown foe while on a ship that’s at the edge of Federation space. In an act of desperation, she sends a message to Jean-Luc Picard, asking him for help and warning him to “trust no one, not even Star Fleet.”
As it turns out, not long after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis (the year 2379), Crusher completely estranged herself from her friends and comrades of the Enterprise for reasons known only to Beverly. The crew has had no contact with her whatsoever in the intervening two decades and so, it stands to reason that Jean-Luc, upon receiving her message is highly motivated to find out what is going on and to help his onetime companion and longtime crush(er).
In a huge improvement from the first two seasons, this time Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart) doesn’t reach out for help to a group of unlikable randos (at least not yet). Instead, he enlists the aid of everyone’s favorite chair-straddling jamaharon-loving erstwhile-1st-officer-now-captain, William T Riker (Johnathan Frakes). Thanks to both characters’ well-established shared histories and the actors knowing them inside and out, Frakes and Stewart have fantastic chemistry together. Unlike the New Coke that was the cast of seasons 1 & 2, Picard and Riker working together feels natural and right, and it sets a great tone for the episode, a tone that will hopefully continue throughout the series.
Unfortunately, the episode suffers from many of the same issues that plagued the previous installments. The pacing is slow, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing. After all, Star Trek was never known for being a whirlwind of action. However, unlike the meaningful-Wittgensteinian-pregnant-silences of legacy Trek, Picard continues its trend of needlessly stretching the conflict and content that would have fit a single episode of TNG over multiple episodes and then filling in the rest of the episode with redundant and insipid exposition, nerd-porn establishing shots of ships and tech, and, most egregiously, unlikable characters that do nothing to further the plot.
It also continues to rely too little on intelligent and thoughtful behavior on the part of its characters and too heavily on coincidence and convenience to further the story. It just so happens that Riker’s old ship, The U.S.S. Titan is going on a spaceflight as part of a conveniently timed space-themed holiday parade. It just so happens that 7 of 9 is the Titan’s first officer, which is fortunate because the ridiculous “plan” that Picard and Riker have come up with to trick the captain (who is known for being a disagreeable @$$hole) is so absurd that the writers made sure to have the two leads exposit how bad it is. I’ll tell these writers the same thing that I told those of She-Hulk, meta-admissions of problems with your script don’t excuse the problems. Of course, the so-called plan does not work and, instead, relies on 7 of 9 being able to change the control-freak captain’s orders off camera in order to McGuffin Picard and Riker to where they wanted to go. It’s a bunch of artificial plot filler in the guise of conflict with no emotional payoff and only incidentally involves the leads in their own story.
The show, while visually beautiful, also continues modern Trek’s trend (Strange New Worlds notwithstanding) of being dark, both aesthetically as well as in tone. Starfleet uniforms consist of muted and drab colors, the lighting on the ships is gloomy, and everything feels slightly oppressive, and long gone are the “evolved’ and mature humans of the Federation that we all knew and loved. Now they are just as petty, egotistical, and crass as we are today. It’s a far cry from the bright and optimistic future that Gene Roddenberry dreamed of, and that season 2 tried to convince us had been achieved by contrasting it with the cartoon fascist of the Confederation of Earth.
Also, they keep trying to make Raffi a thing. Stop! She’s an offputting character who was thrust upon the audience for the sake of diversity, and someone needs to introduce her to Armus immediately.
Ultimately, the first episode of Star Trek Picard season 3 was watchable, due mostly to the interactions between its two leads. However, it’s too early to see if nostalgia and a handful of likable characters will be enough to right what has been a deeply troubled series.
One of the biggest improvements of this episode over that of anything from previous seasons is that it didn’t have time for much in the way of wokeness. Don’t get me wrong, they made sure to not-so-subtly remind us that Raffi is gay with some cringe-inducing dialogue, and the diversity quotient remains off the charts with 80% of Starfleet consisting of women suffering from RBF. But that was it really. So far, the series hasn’t arbitrarily placed anyone in a cage for illegal immigrants, or hamfisted a Confederation on us (get it? it’s like the Confederacy. Do you get it?).
If things keep going in this direction, the entire season may be less than awful. Here’s hoping.
Star Trek Picard (S3E2 – Disengage)
Star Trek fans, especially those with a couple of brain cells to rub together, especially especially those of the conservative persuasion, haven’t had much to get excited about in quite some time, and the first two seasons of Star Trek Picard didn’t help. So, when episode 1 of season 3 wasn’t absolute garbage and seemed like it might lean hard on familiar faces and throw in the right amount of nostalgia instead of unlikable randos and taking a Nausicaan-sized dump on canon, many of us felt like abused wives, hoping beyond hope that this time he’d really change but not really thinking that he would.
Thank Kahless for episode two! It’s the best episode of Star Trek that I’v seen in nearly two decades. In the best traditions of Star Trek, the villain is mysterious and interesting, the chemistry between its leads is strong and engrossing, and there’s some compelling conflict with weighty consequences (both personal and far-reaching) that doesn’t feel manufactured by elitist suburbanite millennials.
If you’re not excited yet, I’ve got four letters for you, Worf! He’s only in the episode for a brief time but he does not disappoint, and I cannot wait for more of him. Quit frankly, I can’t wait for more episodes, period. I only hope that season two was the last time we’ll have to tell those around us that we fell down the stairs.
Who’s got time for wokeness, there are Klingons near Uranus.
Star Trek Picard (S3E3 – Family Secrets)
There’s no way to talk about this episode without spoilers, so consider this your warning. **SPOILERS AHEAD**
Episode 3 of Star Trek Picard takes a big runny dump on Beverly Crusher. I didn’t say anything about last week’s reveal because there was a possibility that Beverly was lying. However, it has been confirmed that Jack Crusher is in fact Jean-Luc’s son. There’s so much wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s begin with the easy criticism, why did they hire an actor who is pushing 40 to play a 20-year-old character? Ed Speleers, who plays Jack is 35 years old and he looks every minute of it. It’s ridiculous. You can’t tell me that there’s a shortage of 20-something actors out there who wouldn’t want the part.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss the huge problem with this episode, Beverly Crusher would NEVER hide Picard’s son from him. I don’t care what bull$h!t excuse the writers came up with about his fear that he’d be a bad dad. She was there when he thought that he had a son and she was the one to encourage the relationship. She saw how he grew over the course of that episode. Furthermore, she knows how deeply he cares for Wesley, and she practically shoved the two of them together so that Jean-Luc could become a surrogate father to Wes.
Speaking of Wesley, Beverly’s other excuse for robbing Jean-Luc of his son was that Jack would be in constant danger if it were known that he was Picard’s. Once again, I call bull$h!t. In the original series, she brought her then 15-year-old son along with her on the “flagship” of Starfleet, knowing full well the dangers and perils that the ship would face. For f@@k’s sake, she lost her husband on a starship only a few years before that. By season 4, she was encouraging Wes to join Starfleet, ostensibly to be an officer on a friggin starship, which would be in constant peril because, as Q once told Captain Picard, “it’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it’s not for the timid.” Ok, so a lot can change over time but what does she do with her new son? Does she secret him away to some safe and remote hideaway? No, the two of them go (alone) galavanting around to various active warzones to deliver/smuggle medical supplies to various hostile worlds. Yup, that’s a great way to keep your son safe.
Beverly is now an irredeemable character who robbed someone she used to love and her son of a relationship with one another for $h!t reasons. Way to go show.
While I’m p!$$ed and venting, let’s go ahead and nitpick the fact that Jack Crusher has a British accent. “Why,” you ask. Well, because he went to a school in England for a time and the very heavy accent just kind of “stuck.” Did they hire the writing staff for the previous seasons to write this episode?
This episode has a lot of clunky expositional dialogue, most delivered by Worf and Raffi. With the exception of said dialogue, Worf is fantastic. Raffi continues to suck as a character, and she’s not much of an actress either.
Finally, I don’t care what the situation was, Riker would NEVER speak to Picard the way that he did in this episode, and he certainly wouldn’t do it in front of the crew, and he would most definitely not say the words “you’ve killed us all” in front of them.
As slick and well-performed as this episode is, I hated it.
No more than the casting issues that I already wrote about concerning episode 1.
Star Trek Picard (S3E4 – No Win Scenario)
The crew of the U.S.S. Titan is drifting closer and closer to the center of a mysterious nebula. Soon, they will be completely without power and will succumb to the overpowering gravity at its center which will utterly destroy them all. That is, unless Admiral Picard, et al. find a way to escape.
In the last episode, we saw one of the original TNG cast members have her character jettisoned into unforgivable ruination. In this episode, she’s largely forgotten, which is good, since time heals all wounds and my wounds are still fresh. Instead, No Win Scenario focuses on Jack and Jean-Luc, giving them time to try and bond, if only a little. It also gives us more insight into Captain Shaw and why he’s such an @$$hole. In one of the series’ biggest twists, it turns out that Shaw may just be both capable and redeemable.
This was an excellent episode with meaningful stakes, smart character development, and the burst of momentum we didn’t even know the show needed. That being said, it’s not perfect. In the previous installment, it was revealed that there is an evil changeling aboard and 7 is now hunting for it. This is all fine and good, but they completely ignore all of the protocols that Deep Space 9 spent multiple seasons developing in order to identify and disable the goopy species. Worst of all, it’s clearly been forgotten for the convenience of the scriptwriters.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the show continues to retcon things that don’t need it and don’t make sense. In what is clearly meant to be a bit of fan service, Odo’s bucket is discussed as an object in which changelings must regenerate. 7 of 9 even finds one hidden on the ship, and it is just like the one that the curmudgeonly constable used to use. However, every fan knows that the bucket wasn’t necessary, it’s just what Odo liked to use…for a time. Eventually, he regenerated wherever he wanted. Also, it makes no logical sense that a species would evolve to need an artificial container of such precise design and composition. Easter eggs are meant to be fun for fans, not irk them by crapping on canon.
Still, I concede that these are nitpicks. Overall, this episode of Star Trek Picard was exciting and an excellent addition to the continuing mission of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Nothing more than the casting issues that I already laid out in Episode 1.
Star Trek Picard (S3E5 – Imposters)
Wow, that was a fantastic episode. It was emotionally charged and even more emotionally satisfying. Even Raffi wasn’t quite as obnoxious as usual. It also served to answer a number of criticisms that I lodged in previous reviews of the show.
Virtually everything that I could meaningfully talk about would spoil an otherwise excellent reveal. Suffice it to say that, the previous seasons destroyed any goodwill that fans like myself would have afforded this season. So when this show makes radical changes to an established species like changelings, it’s understandable that we wouldn’t immediately give them the benefit of the doubt, especially with what they did to Beverly. However, in this episode, they begin to explain things and give decent to good reasons and hints for why things have changed.
So, my complaints about changeling protocols not being followed are gone. Though, to be honest, I’m not certain that it’s perfectly explained away. I’m going to have to do some very nerdy research to confirm my suspicions.
Episode 5 picks up the momentum-football that the previous episode started and takes it all the way to the 50-yard line. With 5 more episodes to go, here’s hoping for a touchdown.
What’s woke? Never heard of it before.
Star Trek Picard (S3E6 – The Bounty)
Episode 6 of Star Trek Picard was heavy on nostalgia but wasn’t up to the level of quality as the previous episodes. For one, there’s far too much Raffi, which is to say that Raffi is in the show. It could almost be forgiven in the previous episodes because her story arc was only tangential but now she’s been brought in full contact with the rest of the crew and her suckage can no longer be ignored. She is the Jar Jar of Picard.
Raffi’s presence notwithstanding, the rest of the episode was somewhat slowly paced and nearly completely manufactured out of coincidence for the sake of finally getting the rest of the old crew involved. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a terrible episode, and it had a lot to live up to after **SPOILER** Ro’s emotional sacrifice in the last episode, **END SPOILER** but it also was contrived and artificial feeling.
The series’ biggest weakness is still its two previous seasons. I still find myself assuming the worst about the writers’ abilities, knowledge, and intentions. So when what should have been an exciting and intriguing Easter egg appears, my gut response isn’t wonder or excitement but an immediate assumption that the show is taking a dump on canon. It doesn’t help that the showrunners often seem so desperate to make up for seasons one and two that they seemingly arbitrarily toss in every Easter egg that they can think of at any given time.
The fact of the matter is, that even though they are faaaaaaar better at respecting canon in this season than the others, they are still willing to sacrifice canon for nostalgia – case in point is Geordi LaForge. I don’t want to give too much away but he is in this episode (there’s your nostalgia), and his personality was changed just so that he could “dramatically” remember who he used to be and embrace it. It was forced and lent nothing to the overall story and served to only detract from his mythos.
While the last episode was full ahead at warp factor 9, this episode had some issues with the anti-matter / dilithium intermix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not limping along at impulse speeds, but the series needs to get right back on course in the next episode.
Blessedly, I haven’t had much to write in the Woke Elements sections of the previous episodes and, while I have a bit to write in this one, it’s not a dealbreaker.
- Remember the ridiculously contrived lesbian relationship between 7 and Raffi? Well, just in case you were starting to, they’re going to remind you in this episode.
- Geordi’s personality is significantly different than it used to be (with no good reason given) for the sole purpose so that his twenty-something daughter and first-year ensign can school him on what is the right thing to do…because she’s a strong and infallible woman and he’s just an overprotective dad.
Star Trek Picard (S3E7 – Dominion)
It’s taken 7 mostly excellent episodes to start washing the taste of gagh that is seasons 1 & 2 out of my mouth, and I’m almost ready to love again. Dominion was a very intense and exciting episode, full of suspense and some interesting reveals. Even so, it manages to open up as many questions as it answers, which is great as long as we’re given satisfying answers by the series’ conclusion.
As always, the visuals are top-notch, the performances are above par, and the pacing is pretty much pitch-perfect. Yet, what was the most gratifying was Geordi’s interaction with the new Soong android, not only because everyone loved Data and Geordi’s relationship in TNG, but because Levar Burton gives such an emotionally charged and compelling performance while Brent Spinner slips into his two most iconic roles like they were well-worn leather.
That being said, there are some things in this episode and others that deserve addressing:
- The writers often seem so desperate to prove that they know and love Star Trek, that they are willing to stuff in every possible Easter Egg that they can think of, sometimes at the expense of canon.
- For instance: O’Brien and Dr. Bashere were willing to sacrifice their lives in the pursuit of a cure to the virus that Section 31 introduced into The Great Link. However, in this episode, Vadic says that it took one of her own to cure them and that Star Trek basically had nothing to do with it. In this instance, Vadic is treated as a reliable narrator.
- Beverly voices the seeds of an idea to be able to detect these new changelings. However, she also voices her concern that creating a biological tool to do so is tantamount to genocide.
- No…genocide is genocide and detection is detection. Even shuttlecraft possess sensors that can detect and discern between different species from thousands of miles away (possibly even light years – canon is a little murky on this). Also, in an early episode of this season, they make sure to let the audience know that, since the Dominion War, every new crewmember is scanned in order to make certain that they are not a changeling. Using a different technique to do what you’ve been doing since the advent of sensors isn’t genocide. It’s a silly argument. See more in the Woke Elements.
- **SPOILERS** Integrating Lore into the Soong android alongside Data is fun for the audience and gave this episode some nice moments. The writers try to conjexposition (conjecture-exposition – I’m coining that) the reason for it away with technobabble nonsense about how the joining of the two personalities might allow Data to be more human, but the fact of the matter is that its nonsense.
- First, Data’s emotion chip had already allowed that and, even though it was destroyed along with Data’s original body, it’s silly to assume that Data or Geordi wouldn’t have detailed files on its construction.
- Secondly, as shown in the first season, Adam Soong was already able to create androids that were virtually indistinguishable from humans. Now, you mean to tell me that he can’t do that again while integrating Data’s personality? Ridiculous **END SPOILERS**
- I absolutely hate hate hate that Geordi addresses Picard as Jean-Luc. In the final episode of TNG, a future Geordi struggles with what to call his one-time captain, and is specifically uncomfortable with the idea of addressing him so informally. It’s a sign of the deep respect that he has for him.
- There is some really awkward voice-over work done in this episode. It comes out of nowhere, isn’t done particularly well, and the gist of it could have been done with a look. It was really amateurish.
- It’s time to go ahead and reveal what is going on with Jack. We’ve had enough hints.
Even given the nitpicks mentioned above, this was a very exciting and satisfying episode of Star Trek Picard, and I’m finally feeling hopeful that we might get an equally satisfying conclusion to the series.
Blessedly, I’ve not had much to write in this section of most of the episode reviews, but I’ve got one now.
- I’m fairly certain that Beverly’s inane hesitancy at creating a biological detection system for the neo-changelings was so that the writers could interject their beliefs about the current national debate on trans issues. I also think that it’s subtle enough that only the nerdiest of conservatives would pick it up…or those who read this first. Enjoy the poisoned well.
Star Trek Picard (S3E8 – Surrender)
Surrender isn’t the strongest episode of the final season of Star Trek Picard, but it still beats anything from the previous season. There’s a lot of Data fan service given, but not much of it is done particularly well. In fact, much of it is a contrivance that we’ve seen in dozens of movies and shows, and done better. Still, there are some really nice moments between Geordi and Data.
This episode suffered from some uneven pacing, and some scenes that were overlong. For instance, Riker and Troi, who have been experiencing marital problems, have a really touching scene together in which they patch things up. Then, after some action takes place elsewhere, we’re back to them and they’re still discussing their marriage, and it goes on for a while. It’s not the only redundant moment, but it is the most glaring.
The episode’s biggest issue is that it still hasn’t answered anything. We’re 8 episodes in with only 1 to go and all we have are fan theories. If the finale doesn’t have an incredible payoff, that satisfactorily explains everything that’s been going on, it will completely ruin the entire season. That’s the danger of spending so much time building to something without giving the audience any real clues.
With all of the nitpicking above, you might think that I didn’t like the episode, but I did, it just wasn’t as strong as it could be. However, it was wonderful to see the whole crew back together again. My gut says that the landing will be stuck, but I’m only cautiously optimistic.
P.S. They really have to kill off Raffi now. Every moment that she’s on screen, it feels like an imposter is intruding upon the show. She’s just the worst.
Star Trek Picard (S3E9 – Vox)
Episode 7 was a very crisp and focused penultimate entry. We finally have the answers that we’ve been waiting for, and they are mostly satisfying. However, the Changelings’ part in the overall story arc now seems far less fluid (get it) than it did and seems to have been nothing more than a simple plot device. Unfortunately, this only serves to somewhat cheapen the previous episodes.
Vadic’s death in the previous episode feels very much diminished. Her character and the entire Changling subplot were nothing more than plot mechanisms, the purpose of which was to fill in time in what could have been condensed into a very tight and amazingly exciting two-hour feature film. Truth be told, they probably could have fit all of the important stuff into a two-part episode back in the day.
It’s a nitpick because almost every aspect of the season has been handled so well. Despite some contrivances, the pacing has been incredible, the effects and the action have been top-notch, and the fan service has been overflowing.
That brings me to the last few minutes of this episode. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will only say that there is a big beautiful nostalgia-burger with extra cheese that is served up hot and delicious. If you were a fan of TNG, you will find yourself smiling so hard that your face will hurt, and you may even mist up a bit. It is worth watching the entire season just for this moment.
Star Trek Picard (S3E10 – The Last Generation)
The final episode of Star Trek Picard was a nail-biting heart-pumping sentimental send-off for the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-D. The pacing was perfect, the dialogue was strong, and the conclusion was satisfying. What else could anyone want?
If only all legacy franchises could be handled this way. Season 3 of Star Trek Picard wasn’t perfect, but it was treated with respect for what came before while world-building a new franchise that might actually be interesting. However, it wasn’t a perfect show, it often sacrificed logic in the name of nostalgia and it continued to thrust Raffi upon us. All in all, though it was thoroughly enjoyable and it pleases me to no-end to mark it as Worth it.
STAR TREK PICARD: THE FINAL WOKE ELEMENTS
Overall, the series somehow managed to stay away from wokeness. In fact, the entire plot was that a communist mind virus took over and homogenized the thoughts and actions of the youth. However, the show couldn’t stop itself from certain things, in particular, the new-Trek trope of 99% of the cast being women…for reasons. That being said, I’ll take that over all of the other woke agendas being shoved down our throats on a day-to-day basis.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.