So if you know me by now you probably know that the first season of Picard didn’t really do it for me. And that’s fine, right? With so much Star Trek virtually at our fingertips, we have the freedom to pick and choose our own adventures. Now firmly in Trek’s second golden age, we’re simply spoilt for choice.
In the wake of a certain scathing (but firmly and clearly tongue-in-cheek) review from a certain old grump whose name rhymes with trinkett, I’ve decided to go in a bit of a different direction…
In true TREKLAD fashion, I’ll be looking at the aspects of Picard that I DID enjoy.
Back To The Future!
With the exception of a brief glimpse in 2009’s Star Trek movie, we’ve not seen much of the Trek universe post-Nemesis. For a lot of people, myself included, this was a bit of a sore point.
Picard may be a little too bleak and mature for some tastes, but a clear concession is that at least we’re back to moving forward instead of seeking to fill in gaps or wedge new stories to try and capitalise on Kirk and Spock’s enduring popularity.
Revolving a new story around Picard makes total sense, from a storytelling perspective, and commercial standpoint. No matter how dark and cruel things get in this show, the visual of Sir Pat doing his thing as Jean-Luc once again is a real joy to behold.
Opening Titles and Theme
Pulling double duty following his work on Discovery Jeff Russo delivers the score for Picard, and much like this show, it’s a little quieter with plenty of stings and subtle ambiance, fitting of the era and the show’s central character.
While Russo has a legion of fans I’m still largely unconvinced. Russo’s scores are rich and varied but sound a little generic compared to the likes of Goldsmith, Horner, and Giacchino. Perhaps it’s just the way television music is done these days.
Having said that, however, Russo never disappoints when it comes to opening and closing credits music. Discovery’s theme was great, but Russo takes it to another level here with a wonderful piece that features some insanely beautiful and subtle nods to key moments in our heroes’ past exploits. For these pieces alone Russo gets a huge thumbs up.
A Dreamy Throwback
The questions were numerous when Picard was initially announced. Where would it take place? What would we see? Who would we reconnect with? Picard’s first episode ‘Remembrance’ was wonderfully titled with the premiere paying homage to TNG but also setting up a new world and an intriguing new story.
But it all started with the widest of wide shots, deep within a nebula. A tiny speck of something slowly moved through the void, a speck slowly and deliciously revealed as the classic Enterprise D.
While a dream sequence, this opening gave us a wonderful throwback. It was wonderful to see Ten Forward lovingly and painstakingly recreated. And it was a real treat to see Data and Picard interacting once again in a sequence that beautifully tied into the finale of The Next Generation all those years ago.
The game, and all good things, clearly, don’t have to end.
Brave New Worlds
Picard is a slow-moving show that takes its time exploring new worlds and new characters. While I would have preferred a little more urgency and less needless deviation at times, the show’s exploration of the old and new was quite fascinating.
New glimpses into Romulan customs and family dynamics were…let’s say, interesting. But seriously, I loved seeing the show give one of Trek’s some really interesting new characteristics.
The Borg, particularly the idea of a community of ex-drones, also proved interesting. It was great seeing, Hugh, a classic character so evolved, leading a community that I’d love to see explored further in future seasons.
Even the world we saw in Stardust City Rag (I’m not staying there long), threw up so many possibilities. A side to life at the furthest edges of Federation space is something we need more of, and a mature Trek show is the perfect place to do that.
Past Is Prologue
Alright so by the fifth episode the constant flashbacks to open grew a little stale, but I loved that Picard attempted to use these past glimpses to tell a generational story.
These cold open visits to a past not yet seen added a great sense of scope to the story being told, and never really felt tacked on. Prologues featuring Raffi and Picard, while a tad clunky, helped ease us into the idea of the two being great friends, further helping reinforce Raffi’s attitude and demons in the show’s present.
And while the most controversial prologue, the horrific mutilation and subsequent euthanisation of the beloved Icheb, didn’t sit well with me, I love the dynamic and drive it gave to the returning Seven of Nine.
New Heroes (and some old ones too!)
Let’s talk about Seven. Aside from a clunky reintroduction, the return of Voyager’s standout character was a resounding success. This new version of the character, tough and fierce but driven by love and a motherly instinct likely taught to her by a Captain Janeway was initially difficult to comprehend. But that’s the point. The idea that Seven’s reintroduction to the Alpha quadrant was a difficult one is tragic but perhaps destined to happen as a result of so many years spent as part of the destructive Borg Collective.
It didn’t sit well with many, but life rarely goes according to plan, and I love that the show took this direction with such a wonderfully versatile character, again superbly realised by the AGELESS Jeri Ryan.
New heroes will always need time to take and Picard’s first season is no exception. However, Rios stood out a mile as an instant classic character. Packing swagger, but plenty of substance below the surface, this Hispanic hero is already a fan favorite, and totally someone I’d be happily trapped on a desert island with…
Unicorn Rabbit Pizza
Nepenthe almost made me cry. Not just because it was so much better than the episode before it, but because it reintroduced us to two precious members of Trek royalty.
The sight of William and Deanna Troi was just so wonderfully executed. Perhaps done too well, to the extent I was upset the show’s first season deprived us of more moments like this.
In 45 minutes of slow, relaxing, and perfectly fine exposition and backstory exploration, we learned of the Troi’s family’s tragic backstory, while also meeting their daughter, a wonderful new character we’ll have to see again.
For me, this was the clear highlight of a difficult first season.
Oh, and burnt tomato has NEVER sounded more appealing.
A Nod to the Past
The heart of Picard is a woman. Not just any kind of woman though. Soji eventually revealed to be the next step in Data’s evolution was, for the most part, a triumph of the first season.
One of the most consistently written aspects of the show, Michael Chabon and team revealed the stunning truth of Soji and twin sister Dahj slowly over the course of the show. A character whose development took plenty of twists and turns, Soji’s transformation was at the very core of the show.
But the moment Soji, and actor Isa Briones really nailed it, were in the quieter moments. Small, subtle things like movement and speech helped tie the character back to one of TNG, and Star Trek’s favorite character. Data might no longer be with us, but the legacy of his legendary character is in safe hands.
Truly Sailing Into The Unknown
The first season of Picard ends emphatically, with the crisis (mostly) resolved, and Picard (stay calm, TREKLAD, finish strong) boldly imbued with a new lease of life. The rag-tag crew of the galaxy’s new hero ship sets a course for more adventure, with plenty of universe and interesting new character dynamics to explore in a second season.
Picard’s first adventure wasn’t perfect. To me, it left much to be desired. BUT it did bring us boldly forward. Gave us new characters, and gave old ones new meaning. It explored new worlds and new races, while also adding exciting new dynamics to familiar foes.
Above everything, it was lavish in design, stunningly produced and expertly assembled. With tighter writing and a little more forward momentum, this is a show that has incredible potential.
Let’s see what’s out there.