Editor’s note: This review contains plot spoilers. Please read it after you watch the entire season of “Star Trek: Picard.”
By Fleet Capt. Dave Mason
Jean-Luc Picard has boldly gone where fans never expected.
“Star Trek: Picard” took Sir Patrick Stewart’s iconic character through a story of Romulan espionage, an encounter with ex-Borg (xBs) and finally the home world of synthetic life.
Then came a season finale with even more plot twists. Picard and Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) went on their ship La Sirena and faced 218 Romulan warbirds ready to attack the synthetic people’s home world, Coppelius. Fortunately, the calvary arrived: high-tech Starfleet ships led by acting Capt. Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes).
The day is finally saved by Picard, who sacrifices his life to help synthetic people.
“Star Trek: Picard” consistently stood out for innovative plot twists, fantastic acting (particularly by Stewart) and a great story.
The season finale ended with a surprise. Dr. Jurati and Dr. Altan Inigo Soong (the talented Brent Spiner), son of Dr. Noonian Soong, saved Picard by transferring his consciousness into a new synthetic body. But first, Picard got to talk with Data (Spiner, of course), whose consciousness was preserved. They met in a quantum stimulation of a living room.
All of that is heavy stuff. The first season examined the rights of synthetic life and the meaning of mortality. The writers tackled those issues with amazing dialogue, great action, complex characters and even a sense of humor.
Most importantly, viewers saw how the heroic Picard evolved from his days on the USS Enterprise.
And the series has been a real treat for fans with guest appearances by Frakes, Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi, Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine and Jonathan Del Arco as Hugh. Like Stewart, they showed how their “Star Trek” characters have grown since “The Next Generation” and “Voyager.” (The good traits remain. For instance, Frakes and Sirtis still have that twinkle in their eyes!)
Actors new to “Star Trek” excelled as well during the first season. Isa Briones demonstrated synthetic woman Dahj’s humanity while adding subtle touches like the Data-like tilt of her head. Pill was outstanding as Jurati, who killed scientist Bruce Maddox in a desperate act to save the galaxy. Fortunately, she finds some redemption in the season finale as she helps to save Picard.
A few things about the season could have been improved. For example, it would have been great to have seen a greater variety of Starfleet starships in the season finale. Cmdr. Chris Mulrooney, the USS Angeles webmaster and an assistant chief of communications, pointed that out to me.
More importantly, did Data really have to die? His acceptance of mortality seemed to be, as Picard would say, “a failure of imagination.” Lisa Sobien, our other assistant chief of communications, noted Data’s consciousness could have been planted into a synthetic body as easily as Picard’s. She says more about this in her review, “Data deserves better destiny,” which you’ll find on this website’s home page.
Data said mortality gives meaning to life, and that’s a fair point. But I agree with Picard, who said he would have been happy with another 10 or 20 years on top of his new body’s normal life span.
But what’s the best way this season could have been improved? More episodes! I appreciate that a limited number of segments means a greater production value, but after only 10 episodes, I wanted to see more.
Well, I’ll be patient. The series will be back for a second 10-episode season, and we’ll see where Picard goes next. Engage!
(The entire first season continues to stream on CBS All Access. Click on the CBS All Access banner on the top of the home page for a free one-month trial.)