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.
Episode Rankings: Picard Season 1
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|4||“The End is the Beginning”||E3|