The Next Generation: Picard S301 Review.

The Next Generation: Picard S301 Review.

The Next Generation: Picard S301 Review.

After receiving a cryptic, urgent distress call from Dr. Beverly Crusher, Admiral Jean-Luc Picard enlists help from generations old and new to embark on one final adventure: a daring mission that will change Starfleet, and his old crew forever.

There was a lot of excitement going into this episode. Knowing that the season will bring the Next Generation cast together a final time despite losing some brilliant cast members form the first two seasons is an exciting concept. Especially from Terry Matalas who takes over as full show runner after splitting responsibilities last season with Akiva Goldsman. Thankfully, the first chapter lived up to those expectations.

Opening with the often cast aside member of the cold crew, Beverly Crusher. Years gone from her role as Chief Medical Officer on board the flagship, she’s got her own ship and under fire. But unlike days of old she’s throwing herself into the fight, thwarting the mysterious baddies and calling her old pal Jean Luc for help. She and Jean Luc haven’t spoken for over twenty years and here she is needing the help of the one person she still trusts the most. And she wants his help and no one elses. Especially not Starfleet. Or course, Picard ignores that bit, shares the message with Captain Riker and together they end up pulling Starfleet into the mix. Because of course they do!

Promising to be a bit of a slow burner reunion show there was both excitement and hesitation when it came to playing on the nostalgia of the 90’s and taking Picard to a more familiar past than Season 2’s dive into his childhood and family history. A lot of that hesitation fades as soon as Riker enters the scene. Back in uniform, but seemingly with more of a ceremonial role, he moves the plot along with an overly excited need to get himself in the thick of the action. Despite the years that have passed, there’s still that excited undercurrent of Riker playing at being young again – convincing the reluctant Picard to lie his way onto the brand new version of the Titan

This really was an episode setting the ground work for the season. We have Beverly Crusher in danger and reaching out with a paranoid message after ghosting her old crew for over twenty years. Her mysterious companion on her medical aid ship, who ends up announcing himself as his son Jack, and new faces including Captain Shaw who’s not putting up with any of Picards nonsense.

Shaw was one of the best elements of the show. An instant antagonist, the by the book master of sarcasm brings Picards ego back down to the place it was at in the series first episode. Maybe not as dramatically, but it brings us back to Picard being retired with no real power or control. All he has is Riker’s half baked plan to redirect a test run of the Titan to covertly help Crusher and a captain who can see right through him.

The elevation of Seven under Shaw also made for a nice touch, keeping her involved with genuine purpose as she works under Shaws clear loathing of the Borg, making her use her human name and giving her someone to rebel against when she disobeys her captains orders and follows Picard’s plan. It all came together rather nicely, with a lot of teases and pacing that all led to Picard and Riker showing their chemistry in an unauthorised away mission to save Beverly, stumble upon her secret offspring and come face to face with what they were running; The Shrike. An imposing and relentless starship…

For all that could be said about the previous two episodes of Picard, their openers have always been good viewing. This was no different and had just the right mix of action and fun. Riker and Picards chemistry as two men past their prime still ready to go into space was wonderful to see. In contrast we had Seven doubting herself and trying to be part of the new collective on board the Titan and her frustration at not really finding the home she hoped for, as well as Shaw who perhaps quite rightly put his foot down when he said it was his ship, his rules.

For an opener the show gave us a bit of everything. The pacing, style and performance all made a great hour of viewing and the way the story ended on a cliffhanger gave us a lot of anticipation of what’s to come with so many questions ready to be answered in the next nine instalments.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Knowing there was more to their arrival, seeing Seven calling out Riker and Picard and standing up for herself whilst explaining while she struggled was a great moment for her. Jeri Ryan has always been “the one in the catsuit” in Trek popular knowledge but she’s really earned her pips over the years and being rewarded for it.

  • “It’s not a plan, it’s a ruse!” Riker’s near child like enthusiasm in getting back into space wads wonderful throughout, even when pointing out he and Picard were clearly too old and broken to be wielding phasers on a rogue mission…

  • Raffi’s sublot. I’ve not mentioned it at all, but her frustration over having to join the wonderful world of Starfleet intelligence shows both evolution and usage of her shaky career so far.

  • Shaw. Easy to hate him, especially ‘deadnaming’ Seven. But his sarcastic and blunt analysis of Picard and Riker wasn’t far off. How many Badmirals did the Enterprise deal with in their time?

Our latest issue of Comms takes a look at the last year of Star Trek, sci fi, superheropes and more!! With the usual features including What If, Fistful Of Data and more, the “All Good Things” issue of Comms is available as part of SFCQ2’s free membership! To find out more visit our Comms preview or Enlist Today!

ADM JT Marczynka, DoFA
Creator of things, writer of words, caffeine addict. Director of Communications for Starfleet Command Quadrant 2.

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