While this review avoids spoilers, the first six episodes of Star Trek: Picard season 3 were screened.
The third and final outing of Picard brings an all-new, all-different flavor to the table than either of the two seasons that preceded it. Intentionally cinematic in tone, scope, score, and content, this season is loaded with starship action. However the very best part of this season is, unsurprisingly, the characters, whether they’ve just been introduced or have been occupying space in your mind for the past three decades.
Crisis Point: The Next Generation
While the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation did get several big-screen outings, Picard season 3 showrunner Terry Matalas has been very open about his desire to make this final outing for the series comparable to the cinematic conclusion that Star Trek: Nemesis failed to deliver.
In this, the season succeeds. This is thanks especially to the score by Stephen Barton, which is inspired by the Franchise’s great movie composers, like Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner.
The season also possesses an overall Trek “movie-style” sensibility. As illuminated by the Star Trek: Lower Decks episodes “Crisis Point” and “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus,” the Trek “movie-style” sensibility is distinct from the Trek “TV-style” sensibility.
But Lower Decks pokes loving fun at those cinematic tropes, using them to comedic effect. By contrast, Picard season 3 pays loving homage, incorporating them without irony. While I don’t want to spoil the surprise of these cinematic Trek elements, suffice to say they will be immediately obvious to those with even a passing familiarity with the Franchise’s films.
Reuniting the D Crew
It will come as no surprise that seeing the cast of TNG portraying these characters again is deeply satisfying. This is true whether we’ve seen them more recently, like Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) or if they’ve been absent since Nemesis, like Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), Worf (Michael Dorn), and Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton).
Naturally, Brent Spiner continues to deliver a series of compelling performances across all three seasons of Picard as various versions of both the Soongs and their experiments. And Picard alums Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) and Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker) are both welcome returning roles.
The most common criticism of this season you are likely to see is that it relies on “member-berries” for its allure. In other words, reuniting the bridge crew of the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E is merely a nostalgic cash-in. This isn’t a fair critique of the season, which both builds on the continuity established by recent Trek shows (especially the excellent and justly influential Lower Decks) and gives the majority of the returning characters compelling characters arcs.
Reserving the TNG reunion until Picard season 3 means that the show’s final season has a very different sensibility than the two that came before. Furthermore, it allowed the first and second seasons to deconstruct Picard, examining his character on a personal and individual level that had never been possible when the crew of the D/E surrounded him.
However, Picard has “earned” this ultimate reunion. And really, who doesn’t want to see the TNG crew get together one last time?
“It’s the Titan!”
In addition to the returning characters, Picard season 3 also deftly introduces a whole bunch of new characters, including the bridge crew of the USS Titan-A. While they may have comparatively little screen time, the Titan-A’s bridge crew delivers a performance that makes a compelling argument for a spinoff featuring this next generation of Starfleet officers.
THREAD! Meet THE BRIDGE CREW of the USS TITAN!
Starting with: Ensign Sidney LaForge – Helm. Unlike her sister, Alandra, she didn't want to build ships, she wanted to fly them. pic.twitter.com/sqUxb6P03b
— Terry Matalas (@TerryMatalas) February 4, 2023
This includes Lt. T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski), Lt. Mura (Joseph Lee), Ensign Esmar (Jin Maley), and Ensign La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut). Meanwhile, Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) is sure to leave everyone talking.
Like many of the new characters introduced in Picard seasons 1 and 2, these Starfleet officers deserve to undertake more adventures of their own. Hopefully it won’t be long before a new Trek series set in this time period launches, allowing us the chance to see more of all of these newly introduced and potential-filled characters.
Picard season 3
Last but not least, any review of these episodes would be remiss not to mention the unhinged performance delivered by Amanda Plummer as Captain Vadic. This antagonist is an instant classic who ranks with the likes of Trek movie villain performances such as General Chang (Christopher Plummer) and the archetypical Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban). Yeah, I said it. Fight me.
The first episode of Picard season 3 will be available for streaming on Paramount+ beginning on Thursday, February 16th, 2023, with new episodes following each Thursday.
I was at the premiere last week (something I’ll brag about the rest of my life) and it was one of the best nights of my life. The show is a massive success and I’m so dang excited to see it reveal itself in the weeks to come!
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