The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard just streamed its last episode, titled appropriately enough “The Last Generation”, and it was a brilliant finale to an exceptional season for the TV show. *Warning: Spoilers will follow.
Star Trek: Picard as a series has been a mixed bag of a Star Trek show. While it was great to see Patrick Stewart reprise his role as retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard, some of the episodes in the first season were not as well executed as they should have been. Meanwhile, the second season started strong but soon fell apart and became a big disappointment. So, in the final season of Star Trek: Picard, the showrunners, led by Terry Matalas, pulled out all stops to make this a worthy swan song to the legacy of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). This included reuniting the core cast of that beloved TV show and numerous Member Berries recalling not just Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the original Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and even other media like Star Trek Online. And you know what? It worked!
The third season of Star Trek: Picard quickly engaged viewers with reunions and beguiling mysteries that threatened the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet. Picard received a plea for help from Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), who he has not spoken to in decades. She and her young adult companion Jack (Ed Speleers) operate independent of the Federation and deliver medical aid to those that need it. They are also pursued by mercenaries led by the mysterious Vadic (Amanda Plummer). The problem is that Crusher is located just outside Federation space and Picard needs to find a way to get to her.
Picard enlists the help of his best friend and former first officer of the Enterprise-D, Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), along with Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), who is the first officer of the Titan-A (a nice nod to Riker’s offscreen adventures as captain of the previous Titan). Together, they commandeer her ship to the edge of Federation space to rescue Crusher and Jack, who turns out to be Picard’s son. Their efforts unveil a vast conspiracy against Starfleet and the Federation itself involving Changelings (last seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and their unknown partner.
Everyone involved with the third season was at the top of their game and it was clear they were determined to turn the season into a love letter for fans. It is incredible that they succeeded as the TV show was exciting, full of emotion and great character moments. Some aspects of Star Trek: Picard evoked previous Star Trek tropes and plot points, but they were executed in a respectful and invigorating fashion that felt fresh. The best example of this were with the early episodes where Picard and the crew of the Titan-A played a cat-and-mouse game with Vadic and her ship the Shrike in a nebula that was clearly inspired by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Then there was the major subplot of Picard getting to know Jack, which was similar to Kirk’s relationship with his son David in that film. But it worked because these moments were not exact duplicates of the famous Trek film but added new wrinkles. Of course, what sold it was the execution with memorable acting and topnotch production values.
It was easy to tell that the bottle episodes, which were almost exclusively set in one location like on the Titan-A, were done to save money, but the producers cleverly used their limited budgets to wow us when it was needed such as the epic spaceship battles.
Speaking of respect, it is obvious that Terry Matalas understands and breathes Star Trek, unlike the showrunners for the other current Trek TV shows. Each episode is jammed to the edges of the screen with Easter eggs and references to previous Star Trek films and TV shows. It created a sense of a well-rounded and engrossing universe. Matalas has earned the right to run all future Star Trek from now on and hopefully he will be given the opportunity because frankly, I’d rather see a potential Star Trek: Legacy (#StarTrekLegacy) than the announced Starfleet Academy show or the Section 31 TV film.
Speaking of legacies, while Star Trek: Picard properly honored the Star Trek’s past, it also presented us with an engaging blueprint for the future, at least in the 25th century vista of Star Trek.
Along with Jack, Star Trek: Picard introduced many new characters who were among the most interesting of the recent Star Trek shows. They were largely composed of the Titan-A crew led by Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick). Shaw, hands down, was one of the best starship captains ever and quickly became a fan favorite. Sure, he is as he calls himself a dipshit, but he’s our dipshit. It was so easy to dislike him early in his appearances because of his nihilistic and disdainful ways which clashed with the TNG characters but soon we learned of his tragic back story involving the Borg and the Battle of Wolf 359. Quickly, he earned a measure of grudging respect and laughs as he moaned about the cavalier way of Picard and company endangered his ship. It’s too bad he won’t be around for any spinoffs but this is Star Trek, a way can be found to bring him back.
The overall story structure of the season of Star Trek: Picard can be broken into three segments which flowed smoothly into each other and formed a large epic storyline. It was amazing how it seemed that each episode seemed to be better than the previous one as stunning revelations and plot developments moved the episodes along. It all came to an eye-popping and emotional climax with “The Last Generation” that had Picard and the TNG crew getting together one last time to save the universe. What made the episode so enjoyable were the character moments which were perfectly performed by the actors.
The entire arc of Picard and Jack’s relationship was unexpectedly moving and heartfelt thanks to Patrick Stewart who did some of his best acting ever in this season. It was easy to identify with Picard and Jack as they worked through their relationship, which had a solid payoff. Speleers deserves kudos himself for creating an intriguing character that has intellectual aspects of his father and some of the swashbuckling appeal of a James T. Kirk. By the end of the season we can see that he literally represents the Next Generation of Star Trek greatness, along with Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), the daughter of Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton).
Acclaim has to go to the original cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Along with Stewart, Frakes, Burton, and McFadden, the other original cast members shined brightly in their reprisals. As always, Brent Spiner was excellent as he now played a new version of the artificial person Data. Michael Dorn had some of the show’s best badass and humorous moments as Worf, the Klingon warrior for peace/Starfleet Intelligence officer. Strangely, Marina Sirtis did not have as much screen time as the others when she reprised her role of Deanna Troi, but she made her contributions when it counted and her chemistry with Frakes felt genuine.
No doubt, this final season of Star Trek: Picard is the best Star Trek presentation since the 1990s era of Star Trek. It left us feeling warm and joyful seeing the TNG gang getting together for one last time. Even though it is sad this is their final curtain call they left at the top of the game and that is the best way to send off a beloved franchise. Now Paramount, please give us Star Trek: Legacy with Jack Crusher Picard and company. #StarTrekLegacy!
I throughly enjoyed Star Trek Picard season 3. The whole season was well paced, thoughtfully written, and it was lovely to see the STTNG crew reunited at last for a proper finale. Easily the best of the modern Star Trek I’ve seen to date.
Completely agree, my faith in modern Trek (aside from Strange New Worlds) had faltered but thankfully the last season of Star Trek Picard restored it. Great character moments, solid stories, excellent special effects and most of all respect for the material are what made this season stand out so much.
Although I haven’t watched Picard since its first season, I’ve checked out a few clips on YouTube and talked to some friends who’ve watched it. I can certainly appreciate how it brought certain closures for many characters. Especially Ro. Thanks for your review.
If you don’t mind the Member Berries and was a fan of TNG then you should enjoy the third season which in many ways is an 8th season of TNG.
Thanks. Most continuations of SF franchises in this generation tend to get a bit too overwhelming for me. So I may often be a lot more nostalgic for the classic era years of Star Trek (as well as TNG), Star Wars and Dr. Who. Though I still find the urge every now and then to somehow keep up to date.
I so agree that I would rather see a Legacy series than a Starfleet series (esp because it will be in the Discovery era) or a Section 31 movie (tho I love Michelle Yeoh). While there was a lot of fan service in S3, I loved every single moment of it! I was rather meh about S1 & S2 of Picard, I wish they had embraced this kind of storytelling sooner. Considering how fans rallied behind Captain Pike and how Strange New Worlds was developed because of that, I have high hopes that Star Trek: Legacy will be greenlit in the near future. Think of the cool graphics that can be made with the word Legacy and the Enterprise-G!
Here’s hoping they give us #StarTrekLegacy, even though Paramount’s plate is full with the other Trek shows the fan reaction to S3 of Picard cannot be ignored.
Even if I had some optimism about a Star Fleet series, for the sake of how obviously new it can be for Trek even if set in Discovery’s time, there can be the risk of things not turning out as well as expected and for Trek that can be a most specific letdown. But sometimes it’s fair to be given a good chance, which I certainly gave Enterprise despite my issues with it.
You bring up an excellent point. We were skeptical of other Trek shows, especially TNG, but most turned out fine. What probably gives many of us pause is that the Discovery spinoff is being done by those who run Discovery. But it could turn out fine, but we’ll have to see for ourselves.
The Trek shows that dare to be most specifically different like Deep Space 9 and Prodigy can certainly earn respect for their courage.
I hope every Star Trek series does well, even if I’m not interested in watching it. Each series has it’s own audience- but I really think a Legacy show would have the greatest fan appeal.
How every new series for Star Trek, Doctor Who or Star Wars might consequently influence our memories of all the classic TV or cinema versions, given your point on each series having its own audience, is always worth contemplating. Because of the nostalgia in revisiting a lot more of the older eras for our favorite franchises that so many of these new shows can now encourage, the greatest fan appeal is most successful for Trek and hopefully Legacy will indeed achieve that.
I feel the same way about Legacy. Some of the other shows, especially the animated ones may turn off some fans because of their format. Yet, they certainly are appealing to some who can see their merit.
I remember when DS9 first came out there many critics who complained about hownit was too dark and different. But now DS9 is considered one of the best Trek shows. So Starfleet Academy may wind up imoressing us. But I’d rather watch Legacy! 😁
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