Hey! Hallie here!
We finally have episode one of the highly anticipated third season of ‘Star Trek: Picard’! I’ve seen a lot of mixed feelings about this start of the season. It seems you either love this episode or hate it, and I haven’t seen much in between. But I’m pretty solidly in the middle on this one. The episode made several really good moves, but also suffered from some extremely irritating drawbacks, some of which we’ve seen in ‘Picard’s writing before. I’m starting out the reviews for this season with just this one episode, but I do want to warn readers that I might double up on some episodes in the future depending on the schedule of the blog. That said, this first episode has plenty to talk about all on its own. So here’s your SPOILER WARNING and let’s get to the review!
What I Liked:
The Return of ‘The Next Generation’: We haven’t reunited with all of our old favorites yet, but the re-introduction to Picard, as well as the way the plot is currently pulling in Beverly and Riker, are extremely well executed. I liked opening up on Picard and Laris as a nice reminder of Picard’s arc from last season. Q put together a whole series of dramatic scenarios, (Unsurprising considering we’re talking about Q,) all to help Picard realize he was putting too much distance between himself and the people who loved him. Through Q’s own loneliness he was able to convince Picard to let people into his life, and that started with him asking Laris for a second chance at a romantic relationship. Though they don’t get a ton of time in the first episode, they’re adorable and it makes me happy to see just how much joy Picard has now that he’s able to share his life with someone he cares for so much. However, we can’t spend all our time with Picard’s new domestic life because Beverly’s apparently in danger. The season starts out with Picard receiving a message from Beverly which Laris warns him bodes badly, and that’s coming from a former member of the Tal Shiar.
Though Beverly’s starting out the season as a bit of a damsel in distress that needs saving, the show does a good job of quickly establishing that she isn’t helpless. The first time we see her she’s in an epic firefight where she clearly has the upper-hand even though she’s outnumbered. She’s also protecting someone else which is noted as the entire reason she reaches out for help. Though I don’t know how I feel about her non-Wesley, very British son, I like how badass she is in her efforts to protect him. Despite that, her distressed state still means she isn’t in a large amount of the episode. To make up for that we then get to see Riker introduced into the story. I was surprised to see how bitter of a man Riker is so far. He seemed so laid-back and carefree when we saw him back in season one, but when Picard catches up to him he isn’t doing well. He’s a bit testy about the upcoming Star Fleet celebration, he notes that his wife and child probably want a break from him very seriously without elaborating on that, and even becomes angry at a ship Captain when he can’t pull rank on him later in the episode. He’s not irritating though. He’s still kind to everyone and quicker to make a joke than to snap at someone. And his back-and-forth with Picard is so much fun to see again. I love these two on screen together and I can’t wait for an entire season of it.
Seven of Nine: We don’t have many reoccurring ‘Picard’ characters to speak of here, but I’m already loving Seven in this season. We all thought she was going to shoot straight to a Captain position, but instead she’s been forced to serve as First Officer to a Captain who’s such an ass that he makes her identify as Annika Hansen, even though that isn’t something she’s comfortable with. She proves to still be an amazing leader though, which is shown off in an epic scene where Picard lets her take the reins on taking the USS Titan, her new ship, out of docking. My favorite thing about Seven in this episode wasn’t the way she disobeyed orders, though it was very satisfying to see her turn against her ship Captain. My favorite thing about her this episode was how quickly she saw through Picard and Riker’s bullshit. The two at first attempt to keep her in the dark when it comes to their planned rescue mission for Beverly, but after she has to cover for them multiple times, she becomes angry at Picard for not telling her. I really liked the scene where she yells down Picard. It shows some of her interesting character motivations, surrounding her uncertainty with Star Fleet because of how long she wanted to rejoin only to be placed under a Captain who has no respect for her. It also shows Picard’s respect for her. Riker instantly becomes angry at the tone of voice she uses to scold Picard, but Picard waves him off and accepts her anger, appreciating that it’s coming from a friend whose concerns deserve his attention. I like the strong friendship between Picard and Seven, and I’m interested to see what role it’ll play once the entire ‘Next Generation’ cast is back together.
What I Disliked:
Off-Screen Changes: We saw a lot of these at the beginning of season two and now we’re seeing them again at the beginning of this season. Instead of ‘Picard’ developing some of the things they set up in the last few seasons, they’ve decided to ignore a bunch of it entirely by “resolving” them off-screen and briefly acknowledging them in throw away lines. That means Seven and Raffi finally getting together last season was undone off-screen when Raffi revealed that they broke up for an unknown reason. (Jurati and Rios anyone?) That means Seven’s triumphant return to Star Fleet happened off-screen so we could just skip to her having problems with Star Fleet again. That means Riker’s relationship with his family is suddenly shaky because the way it was in season one evidently didn’t fit the plot. They’re all last minute changes that feel completely sloppy. There were so many ways the show could have built up to any or all of these plot points, but instead they made no effort to integrate them well into the story. I don’t even hate all of these developments. I just want the ‘Picard’ writers to stop doing rewrites in between seasons that practically make the previous seasons inconsequential. It’s extremely irritating as a fan who’s looking for a cohesive story.
Raffi: Everyone knows Raffi was the worst part of this episode. Her storyline already started off on the wrong foot with the reveal that Raffi and Seven aren’t together anymore for no reason. But then the rest of the episode sets out to make Raffi pitiful. Granted, her whole addict persona turns out to be a ruse she’s putting on to get information for her mysterious handler. But the rest of the episode is her alone in her ship, yelling at her handler for not giving her any straight answers and drowning in her own self loathing. And the worst part is, you don’t even really feel sorry for Raffi. The dialogue between herself and her handler makes her seem petulant and there’s moments of almost bewildering overacting. I love Michelle Hurd, but her constant whimpering and heavy breathing most definitely didn’t fit every scene she was in. I didn’t even find her reaction to her first-hand view of a horrible tragedy very genuine. This has to be directing because I have never had such a large problem with her acting before. But all that aside, let’s be honest here. They gave us no reason to care about this storyline, and everything we saw from it didn’t do much more than break up the action or take us away from a more interesting storyline. I hope Raffi’s story gets better really fast, because there was nothing I liked about it in this episode.
And that’s it! I really want to like this season. There’s definitely things I can see in the setup here that I feel could lead to an amazing final season of ‘Picard’. But I’m also seeing some classic ‘Picard’ writing that feels way too messy. I liked the nostalgia in this episode. I liked seeing characters I fell in love with from other seasons coming together again after many, many, years with a few scenes that obviously called back to ‘Star Trek: Generations’ and the way the Original Series characters returned to the ‘Star Trek’ universe. But it felt like that nostalgia was the best thing the episode had going for it while the big ugly monster that is ‘Picard’s strange writing loomed in the background. Hopefully the writers can prove that monster isn’t as big of a problem this time around, but I won’t believe it until I see it.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!