This review contains spoilers for the entirety of Star Trek: Picard season 3, currently available for streaming on Paramount+.
Picard season 3 has come to a close. Presented as the final adventure for the Enterprise-D crew, the season embodies the final Crisis Point for these Starfleet legends. Loaded with connections that meditate on aging, family, Star Trek, and legacy, this season is designed to provide engaging conversation fodder for you and your fellow Trekkies.
Picard season 3 includes an especially large number of allusions to three TNG episodes in particular. The first is, of course, “The Best of Both Worlds,” since Picard’s time as Locutus is central to this season’s plot. The other two are the series premiere, “Encounter at Farpoint,” and the show’s finale, “All Good Things.”
This focus on both beginnings and endings is also present in the movie’s many allusions to Star Trek: Generations. Not only was this the first time the TNG crew appeared in a movie, but it was also the symbolic “passing of the movie baton” from the TOS crew to the TNG crew.
Speaking of the TOS crew, the Walter Koenig cameo at the opening of the season finale was an excellent surprise. Appearing as the implied “next generation” of the Chekov family – just one of many intergenerational references that fill Picard season 3 – Koenig’s cameo can also be considered to be another tip of the hat to “Encounter at Farpoint,” since the pilot episode also featured a cameo from a TOS cast member.
Another proud Trek tradition carried on by this season of Picard is the clever allocation of limited resources in order to tell a fantastic story. Consider this: the only reason Trek features teleporters is because scenes in which the ship landed on a planet would be cost-prohibitive. Now, beaming has become an integral element of the Franchise – in fact, it even plays a part in a key plot point of this season of Picard.
In order to accomplish everything that made it on screen in this season of Picard, it’s clear that the budget was spared wherever possible – for example, several flashbacks and holodeck scenes take place in the Los Angeles Ten Forward location. This set also featured heavily in Picard season 2. Again, given that working with limited sets has always been part of the Trek tradition, this is just one more way that Picard carries on the legacy of the shows that have come before.
One of my favorite elements of “The Last Generation” was the naming of the Titan-A to Enterprise-G. I didn’t see this development coming, although in retrospect, it seems inevitable.
The fact that Captain Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) takes command of the Enterprise at the climax was also extremely satisfying. Given that Seven’s arc this season involved her defending her name, she is the ideal commander for the newly christened Enterprise, a ship that earned its own name in battle (and ensuring Michelle Hurd’s Raffi Musiker is her First Officer was the correct choice).
Likewise, the decision to have Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) keep his mother’s last name rather than adopt Picard’s was an excellent one.
One of my favorite elements of the season overall was the way it unfolded as something partway between an episodic series and a serialized series. This is a departure from shows like Star Trek: Discovery or the first two seasons of Picard, which feel wholly serialized, as well as from shows like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds or Star Trek: Lower Decks, which are more episodic.
While Picard season 3 did tell a single serialized story, each episode was also constructed to deliver a “satisfying chunk” of story each week – as well as some key revelations to the overall plot. This coupling ensured that conversation around the show continued to grow with each successive week, an essential component of a successful series in the era of streaming.
Furthermore, the show (and its marketing) employed red herrings with great alacrity. One example is the appearance of Hologram Moriarty in the August 2022 trailer for the season. Another is the appearance of the Changelings and the incorporation of the Dominion War into the plot of the season, which opened up the speculation to antagonists better known from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine than TNG.
Introducing the Borg Queen (voice of Alice Krige) so late in the season worked well for me for several reasons. For one, I enjoyed every second Captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer) appeared onscreen. And for another, this could be considered an echo of the Borg Queen’s own very late appearance within the TNG timeframe (given that she wasn’t actually introduced until after the series had ended, in Star Trek: First Contact).
I also have to applaud the show’s indifference toward a potential viewer’s familiarity with certain plot points. The guest appearance by Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes) in “Imposters” is not going to play as well if you aren’t familiar with the character’s history with Picard over several episodes of TNG. However, Picard admirably allows for this; after all, you can always stream those TNG episodes elsewhere on Paramount+ (and they’re worth watching again).
And finally, Picard season 3 did a good job of introducing compelling secondary and supporting characters. I’ll admit that I was initially skeptical of a storyline involving the son of Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), but the charming character won me over, thanks in part to the excellent casting choice.
And I’m hoping to see more of Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) earlier on the timeline because as suggested by Stashwick during our interview this season, the post-Wolf 359 version could make a great guest star on Lower Decks. Perhaps the unfortunately late T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) could appear in one of the animated shows as well. Plus, I’m hopeful the stories of the La Forge sisters, Sidney (Ashlei Sharp Chestnut) and Alandra (Mica Burton), will be continued in the 25th Century.
Picard Season 3
As I mentioned in my initial review, this season is clearly intended to be a cinematic send-off for the TNG crew. In this, it succeeds, both adopting the trappings of a “Trek movie” and also serving as a satisfying conclusion for the crew of the Enterprise-D… a conclusion that they had previously been wanting.
Seeing every member of the TNG crew again was wonderful, but seeing them together was extremely vindicating – especially since it occurred so late in the season so as to allow the characters to “earn” the reunion while taking place early enough in the season that we got to see them all together for more than just a scene or two. And the final scene – which, according to season 3 showrunner Terry Matalas, was culled from nearly an hour of improv – both echoes “All Good Things” and leaves the characters right where we want them to be: together.
The entirety of Picard is available for streaming on Paramount+ now.
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