Star Trek Picard Season 1 Episode Reviews and Rankings
Make it so, again.
The return of (Sir) Patrick Stewart is to be celebrated, and we’re doing it with Star Trek Picard season 1 episode reviews.
The franchise is back to life, and while Star Trek: Discovery does its thing over a millennium in the future, Star Trek Picard is a little closer to the present. And by that we mean it’s still almost 400 years in the future.
Expectations are that this new series, airing exclusively on CBS All Access (just like Discovery), takes place just before the year 2400. Things are getting in Admiral (not Captain) Picard’s head, and he’s setting out on a new mission. No, if it’s before January 23, 2020, I don’t know what it is yet.
Star Trek Picard Season 1 Episode Reviews
That interview lady was a real rhymes-with-witch, wasn’t she?
The first episode in what can be reasonably called a sequel to The Next Generation began on January 23, and do yourselves a favor and ignore outfits like Entertainment Weekly. I’m not even going to link to the swill they call a review of the series premiere. The vast majority of those who consider themselves Trekkers or Trekkies would have found “Remembrance” enjoyable. I speak for all of us whether you want me to or not.
We have a lot to unpack after almost 20 years of the TNG arc being left alone. In the “Star Trek” reboot movie I rather disliked, we know Romulus was destroyed, which is where the Kelvin timeline departed from the one we all know and love. Because we dove into Kelvin, we did not see any of the fallout (literally or figuratively) of what we assume is the destruction of the Romulan Empire. There are Romulans on Earth, working on French vineyards. I mean, if Romulus is going to get smoked, there are worse places you can end up in the Milky Way than a place stocked with wine.
Data is back, but as a dream. Said deceased android had a “daughter,” or, more succinctly, two. One copy was killed by space banditos, to borrow a “Futurama” phrase (but really, they were Romulans), and the other is living on a Romulan…Borg cube? Again, whole lot to unpack. This episode, and we can assume the next one, did a lot to set up what will be a fascinating arc. It left me wanting to know what Picard is going to find out and how he is going to do it. Since there were strong indications already, I also want to know how Starfleet lost its way.
There were so many “Easter eggs” and/or nuggets from prior Star Trek movies or TNG episodes that I lost track. That made it feel like it was tied in to canon, even though there are those out there who I’m sure have already poked holes in it. Hard not to be roped in to the action, even just one episode into the series.
“Maps and Legends” (E2)
The action in this one was not always gripping, but they set up what I think will be some fascinating storylines down the road this season.
Those are some bad synths. Why you gotta blow up Utopia Planitia? And let me tell you, those bald Androids were very creepy. Not because they were bald, as it’s a sexy and distinguished look on HUMANS, but because they were, er, creepy. You know what I mean. The other lady even said so. Their destruction of Utopia Planitia on First Contact Day was premeditated, but notice this: it was a Federation holiday and there weren’t as many people there. Maybe the casualties could have been a lot higher. Or maybe, with fewer people there, they could get away with coordinating the attack. We may find out the rationale soon enough. Were they calculating killers, or were they just made that way?
Romulan treachery: we missed you. So, it turns out that there is an even more secret police in the Romulan Empire than the secret police Tal Shiar. Not only are they out there trying to destroy sentient artificial intelligence, but they’ve infiltrated the Federation. There are a lot of layers to the Romulans, like a fine red onion. Homeworld burnt to a crisp or not, they are the clear main antagonists of the season, and it’s not lost on us that these are the people Picard tried to save.
De-Borging the Borg. As it turns out, this mysterious Romulan Borg cube (in which a Romulan secret agent banged a synthetic life form) is one in which Borg drones are being treated as reclamation projects. Evidently, the “lady” Picard needs to save has been liberating Borg drones. Now we see why Seven of Nine is about to become involved, and I have an idea why Hugh will resurface.
Starfleet ain’t what it used to be. The Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Clancy, yelled Picard out of her office. Note how she said Picard had hubris but then she said the Federation did get to decide which species live and die. Starfleet principle and moral courage are on the decline, and as we know from the future in which Discovery will lie, so is Starfleet itself. No wonder Picard left in disgust. It would be hard, however, to see Starfleet on any level as the “bad guys.” Of course, they are also infiltrated by Romulan double-secret police.
Just how old are Dahj and Soji? And where in the Milky Way is Bruce Maddox? Let’s have Lynne Thigpen get the Acme Gumshoes on the case.
Patrick Stewart has jokes? He never liked science-fiction — he just doesn’t get it. Also, he apparently has Irumodic Syndrome, as established in “All Good Things.” Keep the continuity coming, baby.
“The End is the Beginning” (E3)
Star Trek: Picard remains a solid effort so far in its brief existence, but would I say that the second and third episodes were not better than the first. Do they have to be, no, but one would hope that three episodes of character and plot establishment will lead to serious action the remainder of the season. Keep in mind that we still have not seen Seven of Nine or the Rikers, so we have that going for us.
More backstory was established this time, taking us to 2385 once again. Of course, this is backstory to the people of 2399, but still 365 years in the future for the rest of us. Just think: Jean-Luc Picard won’t be born for another 284 years. Mark your calendars for that one and maybe if you are cryogenically frozen, you can be in France for the big day.
We learned that Hugh is the chief of the reclamation project for the ex-Borg. That project has some Romulans who seem to know who Soji is and what she means to the universe. Meanwhile, the Romulans’ “subtle” approach to Soji is…developing slowly. The only hope I have at this point is that this picks up and builds into something fascinating, without a lame cop-out of some sort from the writers.
I also want to know more of Raffi’s experience. We know she and Picard were close, but how did they get close, and why would Starfleet kick her out for being close to Picard? There is obviously more to the story, and a lot of season left. We also want to know why the Zhat Vash hate the synths so much, but we may have to hang on until the season finale for that one.
Other than the fact that the first few episodes have been enjoyable, we need to take them for what they are: episodes to establish the rest of the season. The plot is moving forward much like the chair lift getting you to the top of the mountain. Right now, we are on the lift and just starting to go up the steeper slope of the slope.
“Absolute Candor” (E4)
Did the appearance of Jeri Ryan at the end, returning as Seven of Nine after almost twenty years, make it all worth it?
Who doesn’t like bullet points? We happen to like them and we are using them now:
- Picard let the Romulans down. Really, the Federation did, but he never went back to Vashti, and now they hate him. I mean, the nuns didn’t, but everyone else, sure. Please also note he dressed a little bit like Don Fanucci from Godfather II when he beamed down the first time, or at least Mr. Roarke, and I respect this.
- They took on Trump. You knew it was coming. First, there was a yuge, bigly space wall around Vashti, but then on the planet, there were “Romulans Only” signs. After all, it’s a Romulan Rebirth movement. They would “Make Romulus Great Again,” but for the fact that it was burnt to a crisp. Whether or not you agree with things going on in the contemporary political arena, this was the target, and they made their views clear.
- It’s the oldest trope around. That being “assassin falls in love with the person he’s supposed to kill.” Maybe not the oldest, but they are setting that one up pretty hard between Soji and Narek. Now, while we are all expecting this fastball over the plate, will the writers throw us a curve?
- Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One. And Picard owes her a new ship.
- Elnor has some anger issues. Either that, or he just really wanted to kill that Romulan senator. Guess that Senate seat is vacant now, eh?
- The world of holograms. Picard’s new ship has a navigational hologram, a medical hologram, a holographic pilot that looks like a Sons of Anarchy character, and a hospitality hologram. What’s next, a holographic Isaac Washington to tend bar? And where the hell is Guinan? (I know, next season.)
This particular episode was a little slow and, except in a few minor ways, did not advance the season’s story arc. We are four episodes into the season and still building the foundation. The hope, like in an NCAA Tournament where there are no upsets in the early rounds, is that the middle and end will be the payoff, where high quality is on display. Picard’s cast is set, and aside from the Rikers, we’ve now met everybody. Let’s get this show on the road.
Closing thought: Next week looks like a doozy. They are going to have to explain the pimp costumes to me as Picard heads for Space Vegas.
“Stardust City Rag” (E5)
This episode, as seen from the sneak previews:
“They’re going to Space Vegas. Fine, so this is going to be the comic relief episode of the season like the one on DS9 when Quark dressed up like a woman. And why is the captain in that pimp costume?”
This episode, as it actually happened:
“Oh my God…I mean, what are they…OH MY GOD. Wait, what’s she…OH MY GOD SO MUCH KILLING. And wait, I thought she…OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP.”
So much for the comic relief. They tried with poor Elnor who grew up with ninja nuns, but those jokes weren’t landing at times. They also tried with Picard acting like a snotty French mercenary, but that didn’t quite cover up the pain of watching Icheb dismembered and killed, the Borg harvester killed by Seven, and then, the big shocker, Agnes killing her mentor, Bruce Maddox. So much murder, to the point where no, I can’t explain it all. What’s more is that the Romulan samurai did NOT get to do any of it.
Lost in all of this was the “C” plot in which Raffi went to go find her son at the clinic, only to get shunned and end up back with Picard. That was actually the least depressing part of it.
Federation Gone Bad! Seven of Nine is now a kill-thirsty vigilante. Okay. And dear, sweet Agnes is a murderer of the man she loved and respected. Sure, why not. At least we’ve now dispensed with the “getting to know you” episodes and we are on to some action. Except now, we have so much action that we’re going to need professional movers to unpack it all. What I can unpack is that I do not think I can get used to a Seven of Nine who has traded her expertly-crafted nutritional supplements for straight bourbon and vaporizing people. Granted, she had to put a mutilated Icheb out of his misery; that’ll do it.
If it entertained you, made you smile, made you uncomfortable, and made you take notice, it was probably good television. This did all those things for me, with the obvious questions now being:
- Who is Evil Agnes working for now? Is it the Evil Commodore? Gotta be, right?
- What’s the dark secret Bruce Maddox took to the grave?
- What do the Romulans and the Borg have to do with each other, and why do the Romulans hate the synths?
- Why was the Mars attack not really what it seemed?
- Do we see Seven of Nine come back with (more of) a vengeance?
- What happened to Seven of Nine’s prurient unitard?
“The Impossible Box” (E6)
This show is getting good, and just at the right time.
Even this sixth episode of Picard started out slowly, but we got there, didn’t we?
Romulan Spy Finally Turns on His Faux Lover. Narek, not his real name, sells an emergent Soji down the river to what he thinks/hopes/plans his her death. After weeks of his sister’s nagging, he finally gets useful information out of her and then sheds a sliver of a tear as he tries to off her. Only problem is that she “activated” and herself turned into a kill machine. Maybe soon we will find out why the Romulans hate them so much. Hey, the Klingons massacred the Tribble homeworld, and what’s left of the Romulans has their own enemy.
Agnes, Wrought With Guilt. She feels badly that she killed her friend, mentor, and lover Bruce Maddox, but not badly enough that she hasn’t instantly moved on to Captain Six-Pack. Wouldn’t you, ladies? Wouldn’t you?
Raffi, Full of Booze. Her son’s rejection fueled a relapse of alcoholism, but under the stench of Jim Beam is a Starfleet officer who can still pull a few tricks out of her bag.
Elnor, Slay King. The insolent and socially awkward Romulan samurai is a lean, mean, green blood-spilling machine. You have to imagine he’ll rack up a lot of confirmed kills in those few minutes we don’t see at the end of the episode. I like what they’ve done with the character: the typical assassin is large, confident, and cunning. Elnor is as lethal as anyone but is a maladjusted manchild. You have to appreciate how the writers went in a different direction with his personality.
Borg Queen, Slay Queen. Look at you, hiding your long-distance transporter in your secret lair.
Resistance Is Not Futile. That’s what Hugh said all those years ago. Now he and the Romulan samurai are going to have to resist a lot of Romulans. Hopefully Seven of Nine swoops in and vaporizes a few more bad guys.
The “getting to know you” phase of the season is over. Narek and Soji are over, Picard and Soji are far away together, and all will soon be known. And WILL RIKER is coming up soon.
I’m not sure if this was the best episode of Picard, but I loved it on balance. However, I will start with what I did not love:
- They killed off dear sweet Hugh.
- They killed off dear sweet Will and Deanna’s kid whom we never met. (I get it, they were making a point about healthcare being unavailable because of the government.)
The list of things I liked was longer:
- Everything about Riker and Troi teaming up with Picard again. Every single element. When Deanna said they’d help and to pretend their dinner table was “the ready room,” I had multiple, simultaneous nerdgasms. Cleanup on Aisles 1, 2, 3, and 4.
- That the Romulan ninja lived and found Seven of Nine’s bat-signal.
- That the Romulan bad guy lost the track because Jurati, overcome with grief, tried to make things right by (almost) offing herself. See, under that Vulcan brainwashing there was a conscience. Admittedly, after she killed Bruce, I hoped she’d get hers, but when she actually did it, it wasn’t as justice-serving as I expected.
- The Rikers called up another TNG memory naming the kid “Kestra.”
If Will and Deanna had just said, “you know what, screw it; let’s go back to the Enterprise and figure this out. We’ll call up Worf and Geordi,” it would have made no sense but I would have LIVED for it, anyway.
There are just three episodes left and we are approaching the climax of the season. Now we know, thanks to Will and Deanna’s kid searching on Space Google, where the Synth Homeworld is. The remaining questions are as follows:
- What’s the context behind what Jurati saw?
- Why was it all Romulans/Vulcans getting killed by the AI?
- Why did the Synths attack Mars?
- Did Jurati kill Bruce because the Commodore told him, or because his knowledge of where the homeworld was proved too dangerous?
- How much ass can Seven of Nine kick before Neelix shows up and kills the mood?
- Is Picard actually on the “right” side trying to save Soji but possibly destroying all sentient civilization?
“Broken Pieces” (E8)
How’s THAT for being admonished?
An admonition so cruel, so terrifying, so chilling that it makes people want to kill themselves. In Jurati’s case, kill Bruce Maddox.
We are nearing the climax of Season 1, with the “crew” heading to the synthetic homeworld next week. At least we have answered some questions now (refer to the review for Episode 5):
- Who does Evil Agnes work for, exactly? Obviously, Commodore Oh, who is a Romulan double-secret spy.
- Bruce Maddox’s dark secret? Not only the location of the synethic homeworld, but he had to go because of the role his work would play in the destruction of all sentient life. Reminds you of the problem faced in a certain Discovery season, doesn’t it?
- What really happened on Mars? The Romulans made the synths attack Mars so that the Federation would ban all synthetic lifeforms.
We also got the answer to another question: Why is Rios so messed up from his time in Starfleet? The answer beamed aboard and her name was Soji.
One buzzkill was Seven of Nine coming back and reactivating the Borg, only for them all to be sucked out into space. That part was a little pointless; might have been better to just have Seven of Nine kick ass, blow up the cube, and ride off to her next adventure, but what do I know.
“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1” (E9)
We are hurtling towards the Season 1 finale of Picard, and there are a few things you need to know:
The Romulans were…right. The synths are bad mofos. Now that they’ve seen the Admonition, which gives them a reason to exterminate sentient life, they’re all hot and bothered by the idea. The one that looks like Soji with the Data eyes (and skin) is not a nice whatever she is. Part of the intrigue regarding this season is, who are the bad guys? Picard may have been trying to help the bad guys without realizing it, but the one synth with which he bonded could prove useful.
Good to see you again, Brent Spiner. No additional commentary required.
Seven of Nine, you’re a bad bitch and I am HERE for it. I hope there are more asses to be kicked between now and the end of the tenth episode.
Screw that terminal disease; Picard can’t die. Well, then again, they killed off Kirk, so anything is possible. They won’t kill him off in the middle of his own series. Maybe it’ll be one of those Godfather III things where he just slumps over in a chair in the series finale.
Where do Soji’s allegiances really lie? Will she be the Destroyer she is fated to be, or will she try to save the ugly bags of mostly water?
“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” (E10)
If you are looking for a summary of the season finale of Picard, try this:
The Romulans make it to the synth planet.
So does the Federation, thanks to Picard getting some help from Will Riker (there were many, many nerd boners around the world during that scene).
Soong figures out that Evil Soji killed the other android, and she is neutralized.
What happened to planetary sterilization procedures one through four?
Picard convinces Soji to stand down, and then he…dies!?
You KILLED Picard!?
On his own show!?
Picard’s memories were then transferred into a synthetic lifeform.
Why did you have to kill Data again? I’m still not over the first time!
I want Jeri Ryan back on Star Trek permanently. I must have more Riker. Sadly, not much more Data.
Can I get used to Jean-Luc Picard as an android, becoming that which his beloved friend Data always wanted not to be? Funny, Picard became what Data was while Picard gave Data the ultimate essence of humanity.
Don’t make me wait too long for Season 2.
Episode Rankings: Picard Season 1
|1||“The Impossible Box”||E6|
|3||“Stardust City Rag”||E5|
|4||“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”||E10|
|5||“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”||E9|
|8||“Maps and Legends”||E2|
|10||“The End is the Beginning”||E3|