A few spoiler-y thoughts on the first season of Star Trek: Picard as it heads towards its final episode.
Spoilers for Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: The Next Generation lie ahead.
This weekend sees the concluding episode for the two part finale of Star Trek: Picard's first season. This is the series that, of course, has seen the return of Patrick Stewart in the role of ‘Admiral’ Jean Luc Picard.
The series has attracted a mixed reception at best. There are some who find it a real return-to-form, others less convinced. Whichever side of that debate you land, it’s certainly been an audience success. For me, after the episode with Troi and Riker, a pace seems to be building, especially so with the two-part finale, which concludes on Friday.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s not been without faults. It feels like there’s a better series in there than we’ve actually got.
Examples? There have been very sudden changes in character development across the season, not least with the character of Raffi. Picard’s former first officer, during the Romulan evacuation mission we see her suddenly leaving the crew, visiting her distant son in one episode, getting rejected, coming back to Picard’s crew on the ship, and then in the next episode we see that she’s now locked up in her quarters. It’s very fast, very sudden, and it’s not allowed time to build empathy towards the character. It feels as if the writers have quickly scribbled Raffi’s backstory in, and in turn that feels quite jarring.
It’s not unique to Raffi, either. Other characters are affected, and there’s a sense that some episodes are left feeling really quite rushed. Also, threads such as the romance between Soji and the Romulan struggle to land.
I’d argue that there’s an issue with the central character, too: Jean-Luc Picard. Granted, it’s been 20 years since we last saw him in Star Trek: Nemesis, but it feels as though we’re watching Sir Patrick Stewart play Sir Patrick Stewart in places. Which is, of course, a lot of fun to do. But also, I can’t lose the feeling that there are scenes where Picard would have said things slightly differently, regardless of his irrelevance in these times at Starfleet.
These may be first-season faults that can be worked on in future seasons, and you may well disagree with them. Star Trek: The Next Generation certainly had early teething problems before it hits its stride (albeit in an era where a show had more space to make an impact). But for me, I wonder if it’s time to introduce other characters who better work with Picard now, once this ‘season of the synths’ concludes.
Perhaps, then, we may get one or two of the following in Friday’s finale, or in season two of the show. Characters who can help build the show up.
Q: It feels like a sure thing for Q to appear once again. He was last seen in Star Trek: Voyager, but with Picard, they last appeared together in the finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, ‘All Good Things’. At that point, Picard had been put on trial for ‘crimes against humanity’, but throughout his time-bending mission, he was also given the news that he had a degenerative brain disease. Yet towards the end of the episode, as things were coming together, Q had uttered the line “see you, out there”.
But is he out there? And could he make a return in the Picard finale? Q and Picard have always been a fantastic double-act, no more-so than the episode ‘Tapestry’ in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 6. It makes sense for the trial to be ongoing behind the scenes, and maybe what we’ve been seeing has perhaps all been another test, similar to the finale of TNG. With Picard under house-arrest, while Seven-Of-Nine and her crew are working to fix the Artefact, it looks like a huge conflict is about to begin, so to see Q in the middle of this would be a great cliffhanger to take us towards season two.
Guinan: It’s already confirmed that Whoopi Goldberg is reprising the role of Guinan for the second season of the show, after Patrick Stewart invited her to return. Picard and Guinan have had a friendship that has differed from anyone else in Trek, even Data. It’s similar to having a close friend but seeing them as a relative; a close brother or sister, completely platonic.
With the crew of three currently, alongside Seven of Nine and Elnor, it would be a breath of fresh air to have someone like Guinan appear now and again throughout the season, to help give Picard some guidance, especially with the degenerative brain disease he now has. And it’d be a welcome surprise to see Goldberg back in the Picard finale.
Ever since the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘Q Who’, it’s been implied that Guinan and Q have history too, and even powers to possibly defend herself against Q. The return of that conflict is something that season two of Picard could well pick up.
The Enterprise: With an armada from Starfleet seemingly on its way thanks to Admiral ‘F**king Hubris’ Clancy, it would be very welcome of course to have the newest Enterprise appear in some fashion. By now, the ship that was in Nemesis has surely been decommissioned, so to see a ‘1701-G’ appear, perhaps even with Wesley Crusher at the helm to rescue Picard and crew, could be a great way to end the season. There were great moments in ‘All Good Things’, where Picard in the ‘fake-future’ and ‘fake-past’ was taking it all in. The ship, the crew, and sitting in the captain’s chair. To see him on the bridge of the Enterprise again, alongside Q appearing, would be a great way to end it on a cliffhanger.
Next Generation ended with a poker-game, and Picard began with a poker-game. Whether the season ends again with more cards remains to be seen, but it’s where the show sends the character of Picard next that feels the most tantalising. He may well go back to Starfleet as an Admiral, but I do think that Data won’t be coming back. He’s almost become a character in the same vein as Uncle Ben, Anakin Skywalker, and Tony Stark. They’ve all had an important reason as to why they died, and if Data was to come back, it may take away all that anguish and pain that has been a running theme of Picard, and his friends so far.
Job one though for Picard, at least for me, is to tighten the pacing and narrative. And to give us a finale and second season that shows us just how Picard can soar at Warp 9 again…
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