Well here it is. A review of the first episode of Picard season 3. I swore I wasn’t going to watch any more of this drek. Star Drek. After Discovery lost me mid-way through season 2, and Picard did everything to piss me off in both of its seasons, I was done. Yes Strange New Worlds is marginally better than those two, but it’s like comparing fresh shit with rancid shit.
Then the positive reviews started coming in from sources I did not expect. Midnight’s Edge had a former writer who hates all of new Trek and has been very vocal about it… gushing over season 3? Dave Cullen, a YouTuber I’ve been following for several years who is not shy about shredding all of new Trek, is ecstatic over season 3 of Picard.
Could it really be?
The new show has the usual suspects in the credits, but further research reminded me that Executive Producer credit is basically a silent investor without any skin in the game. They slap these labels so they can get paid but many times have very little input. So seeing Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman with that credit is hopeful.
Further research confirmed that showrunner Terry Matalas clearly knows what he’s doing and understands Star Trek. He worked on Voyager early on and wrote some episodes of Enterprise during Season 3. While not the strongest of resumes, at least he was there during the last bit of the glory days.
Still, this show with him at the helm is a marked departure from what we’ve been seeing. Picard himself is more like what we would’ve expected at this age way back in ’94. I’m reminded of his portrayal in All Good Things… or The Inner Light where Picard has aged and become friendlier, more relaxed but with no loss of dignity. He’s not putting on an eye patch and making a fool of himself.
The plot is brisk. Where the episodes of the previous seasons felt so long, I was surprised to check how much longer the episode had and found there was only 10 minutes left. Usually there’s 45 minutes left. I was enjoying this!
But I have some concerns.
It’s probably unfair to review a series on the first episode. Certainly, I was very pleased with the first episode of season 2 of Picard only to find it was a scam. So I’m still wary. I’m not going to get into the plot for spoiler reasons, but I will list off my thoughts.
The music. While it does crib leitmotifs and entire sections of themes from the movies, it does so in a good way. When it is more original themes, it feels and sounds like it belongs in any of the movies. The mix of Goldsmith and Horner was great.
The plot. The stakes are mysterious yet clear. There is a threat. The inciting incident is good and gets you going. I feel the tension. It was clear enough to make me want to see what’s going to happen next.
The dialogue. There’s nothing stupid. While there are moments of levity, it feels much like it did when the original cast did it. These are people who have known each other for 30 years and they behave as you would expect.
Seven is back as a first officer, a good move as her being put in as Captain shouldn’t have been permanent in the context of Star Trek. Her captain doesn’t like her very much and insists on calling her Hansen, her given name before she got Borg’d up. It’s a really subtle way of showing disrespect as when he says it, it almost sounds like he’s saying “Ensign” as if he thinks her Commander’s rank is not deserved. Maybe that’s me reading into it but if I’m right, it was kinda brilliant.
The characters. Picard is ready for another adventure. He’s settled in with his new Romulan girlfriend but he’s packing away the past. He loves his past but he doesn’t want to wallow in it anymore. There’s a moment with the flute, the Enterprise painting, it’s all nice and subtle. Memberberries? Maybe.
I always struggle with memberberries. If they are pointlessly shoved into a story, then yes I hate them. If it’s pandering. But the flip side is these characters have a past. We are very aware of it so to pretend these things in Picard’s life don’t exist is also inauthentic. This felt organic enough to me.
Picard and Riker talk and act like the old friends they are. Seven is more like herself in Voyager but with a good mix of the more informal way she had become. In other words, she felt more natural, her manner felt more correct. We don’t get much of Beverly because she’s in a major situation at the beginning. So jury’s out on her.
The Photography. Goddammit turn the lights on. While the exterior FX shots are much better, no more drone cam going all around the ships, upside down, flipping and rotating then in the air ducts and back out…. none of that, the interior shots are just terribly lit. Turn on the f***ing lights please.
Rafi’s back. I’m putting this under bad, but may change on this one. Hurd is doing that crying thing again she did because her feelings are hurt but this time her feelings are hurt because she witnessed a terrorist attack that kills thousands of people! So it’s appropriate and understandable for the situation. It’s just that I saw that same face for petty nonsense in the last two seasons. That’s not Michelle Hurd’s fault, she sold it well. She’s just saddled with the burden of two other crap seasons of writing.
Rafi is deep undercover with Starfleet Intelligence and that has her back on drugs. I don’t like that, but at least the circumstances feel more understandable. She’s having to go to seedy places to get info and that can happen to keep your cover.
Captain Jerkface. The captain of the Titan is an ass. Ok, this is set up. Let’s see how he progresses moving forward but his disrespect of Picard and Riker seems needless. I guess you need more than one antagonists but I’d like more than this “You two are loose cannons!” nonsense. This isn’t McBain.
Well more to come I suppose. It’s promising. It’s definitely the best episode of Star Trek since the Kurtzman coup, though that’s a low bar. Matalas seems to know what he’s doing. People aren’t emotional basket cases. Even Rafi is only emotional because she’s trying to do a job and there are clear stakes. It isn’t navel gazing nonsense.
The Titan crew are proper Starfleet, what little I’ve seen of them. This is the first time I’ve seen on any of these shows a Federation crew acting as expected. No snappy comebacks or little snide remarks. Just “Yes sir”.
The only ensign showing any of that turned out to be LaForge’s kid just happy to see a friend of the family again in Picard and Riker. It’s was fitting, not off-putting. She was still respectful in terms of duty.
So we’ll see. Eggy and I will be doing a discussion halfway through the season so look for that on ourYouTube channel.
I’m hopeful, if for nothing else than to give the Next Generation crew a better send off than Nemesis.
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