Star Trek Picard Season 3 Review
I watch Star Trek TOS anytime it is one, and usually, the same goes for TNG. DS9, Voyager and Enterprise usually don’t garner the same loyalty, but I have watched each episode dozens of times.
I can’t say the same for the new Paramount Treks. While I love being in the Star Trek Universe, my frustration with everything from garish Klingons to time crystals, from tantrum-induced dilithium crystal implosions to mycelium networks for space travel, from the transfer of Jean Luc Picard into an android body to giant galaxy-eating sentient beings, from teenagers stealing a starship to make the new series hard to watch a second time (except for Lower Decks, but…you know). Rewatching does not make the poor narrative choices any better.
The insistence on a big story arc also makes for unforgiving television. There were plenty of bad Star Trek episodes, but if you skip those, you don’t miss anything important—that’s what episode television is all about—the self-contained episode.
Strange New Worlds romped in near episodic television—but not completely. Several episodes did attract a couple of rewatches. It wasn’t until Picard Season 3, however, that I felt not only that I could rewatch episodes without increasing my anxiety but that I wanted to rewatch them in the same way I wanted to rewatch TOS or TNG episodes—for pleasure.
While Picard isn’t without its flaws, it’s intricately woven plot that seems to cascade through fan service like a tribble through a plate of quadrotriticale just worked. The music hit at the right notes at the right time. Everybody showed up and acted mostly like themselves. Worf delivers appropriate, inappropriate humor. Data finally beat Lore. Old enemies returned and were vanquished. And the Federation and Star Fleet are some whinny symbols for our current angst about world leadership. They may have been duped, but they weren’t sad.
Picard Season 3 perhaps benefited from its arc, or arcs, as Picard realized he was a father to someone other than a Romulan clone—that the Borg and the Changelings were ganging up on the Federation to “take ‘um, take ‘um down” (that you Jeff Goldblum from Independence Day).
Geordi’s got kids, Troi and Riker are on the rocks—Kirk’s body is in a stasis field on Daystrom Institute next to a carnivorous tribble, and the Enterprise-D has been lovingly restored by Geordi after its retrieval from Veridian III. All fun easter eggs and plot twists that make Picard Season 3 a delight.
As many have already written—this is the send-off that Star Trek TNG deserved—years ago. That it took two seasons of Picard to get here plays into the larger narrative of poor narratives when it comes to Star Trek at Paramount+–but they did get here, and hopefully, they have heard the fans and will create more Trek that expands the story rather than creates huge logic gaps for Star Trek Canon—yeah, Picard S3 did some of that, but it created new facts that could reconcile with older assertion more often than it changed established facts.
Thankfully, facts like Picard’s time-traveling evil alter ego or his android body would be more important to the current show, but they aren’t—the main tactical advantage of Picard’s android rebirth was time afforded the show to hire a good writer who could write Picard’s way out of plot wormhole.
And listen to the soundtrack. Absolutely wonderful. Available on Apple Music and other streaming services. It is the perfect blend of nostalgia and invention.
Picard is well worth the watch—and the rewatch. Paramount+ didn’t boldly go where no one has gone before, but they finally went where the fans wanted them to.
Now they just need to disconnect from the past and create entirely new stories. Lower Decks is their best move in this direction so far—all of the other shows use Trek canon to ill effect as they both break it and remain anchored to it.
Now that I have seen a great TNG send-off, I want a 25th, 26th, or 27th century that is truly astounding in its discord with the past—unfortunately, Paramount already broke that with Discovery traveling to the far-flung future only to find its exactly like the past only not as good. Had the Romans traveled to the current day, not only would they find it difficult to communicate outside of Vatican City, they would find technology and culture completely foreign, even in Italy, where they could visit their artifacts but not navigate commerce or the city. Star Trek’s depiction of the far future could have been so much better if it had been delivered through the past.
And enough time travel. Take viewers somewhere utterly new and let us experience space exploration through fresh eyes.
Thank you to Picard for showing how to properly close out a series after one movie too many and two inconsequential seasons, but you got there. Now take those lessons and apply them to the future without repeating what made Picard Season 3 great. I worry about the campaign for a Star Trek Legacy that it will be more reunions and less exploration. If Captain Seven of Nine gets a show, let her take her ship to new places with her only baggage coming from a couple of Borg implants and nothing more.
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