In the sophomore season of Picard on Paramount+, the bridge crew we saw Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) assemble over the course of the first season returns for an adventure that is decidedly more episodic than its predecessor.

While the first episode of Picard season two is available for streaming on Paramount+ now, the first three episodes of season two were watched for review, so those who wish to remain entirely un-spoiled should consider exiting this article now.

Tales of a Golem

Raffi and Picard. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

While the second season of Picard does not take Michael Chabon’s “Maps & Legends” philosophy for genre narrative as closely to heart as the first season did, the story nevertheless picks up after an indeterminate amount of time has passed. The fact that he seemed to have assembled a pretty decent bridge crew at the conclusion of the first season, Picard has returned to the family vineyard once again (giving us another Number One cameo, in spite of the fact that the canine actor is notorious ill-behaved).

Rios. Photo Cr: Sarah Coulter/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

However, while the first season began at Chateau Picard and slowly added the rest of the characters to the narrative, the second season swiftly re-introduces all of the players over the course of the first episode. The adventures that Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) have been undertaking are of special interest, with the latter’s exploits tying into some very intriguing plot threads which stretch back to some of the earliest episodes of The Next Generation (well, it’s been pretty well revealed by the promos by now, anyway: I’m talking about the USS Stargazer, which as undergone an especially scintillating refit – and I’m not talking Sovereign-class).

Guinan. Photo Cr: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

A common theme in the opening episodes of this season is romantic strife, something that has been implied in Picard’s history but never fully explored. This fact is called out by Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), who is still running a bar called 10 Forward (although it’s now located in 24th Century Los Angeles rather than onboard the Enterprise-D) in a delightful scene that draws on the long history the pair of characters have sharing intimate details with one another over drinks.

Picard and Laris. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Early in the first episode, we see how whatever it is that transpired in Picard’s past still haunts him, preventing him from successfully engaging in a relationship with Laris (Orla Brady). This heartbreak is further echoed in the relationships between Seven and Raffi Muskier (Michelle Hurd) and between Rios and Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill), both of which have disintegrated since we last checked in with the crew. 

California Dreamin’

Given that the story deals with how one’s past affects one’s future, and given that this is Star Trek, it makes sense that the plot of this season involves time travel. In terms of tone, the season is heavily reminiscent of The Next Generation movies, especially Star Trek: First Contact, which even gets its score sonically referenced a number of times as the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) and traveling back into time come into play.

When the time travel transpires, it is clearly very deeply visually influenced by the sequence in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Given that this is one of my favorite Trek movies, this element worked very well for me.

Q and Picard, together again. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

In fact, there are plenty of references throughout the first three episodes of this season, with the second episode being especially rife with allusion (you’ll know the John de Lancie-fueled scene I’m thinking of when you see it, trust me). In this respect, the second season of Picard follows the example of the first season closely, although the references in this season may be a bit more overt.

Picard and Evan Evagora as Elnor with “The Many and the One” by Spock. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

And although I have only had the opportunity to watch one of the two episodes that she directed, Lea Thompson’s work on the third episode is outstanding. According to Thompson, she’s a lifelong Trekkie, and that fact is evident in episode three – I’m very much looking forward to seeing her work on episode four.

Another aspect of these first three episodes that distinguish them from the first season is a more episodic nature. While the story is still heavily serialized, with one chapter flowing directly from the events of the previous one, each of the three episodes watched for review had their own distinct topics to explore. While it remains to be seen whether this will be maintained throughout the ten-episode season, it’s a welcome shift to have a serialized story that has more defined chapter breaks.

Picard Season Two

Annika Seven. Photo Cr: Sarah Coulter/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

It’s clear that there are plenty of surprises still to come in the second season of Picard, and considering we didn’t see William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) until the seventh episode of the first season, that could include some pretty significant surprises.

However, the first three episodes of the season demonstrate that whatever’s coming up next, it will certainly be engaging.

The first episode of the second season of Picard is available now for streaming, with new episodes being released on Thursdays.