Thirty-plus years ago when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, I tuned in with a mixture of excitement and reservation (probably like a lot of Star Trek fans out there). And if you’d asked me after “Encounter at Farpoint” if thirty or so years on, that I’d have the same mixture of excitement and reservation for a new series featuring Captain Jean Luc Picard, I probably would have told you no.
The fact that I was is a testament to how the writers and Patrick Stewart molded and shaped the character of Jean Luc Picard over the course of seven seasons and four feature films. And while Picard will never quite replace James T. Kirk as my favorite Trek captain, I do have a lot of admiration for what Picard is as a character and what he represents.
And it looks like Star Trek: Picard is going to be a continuation of that.
The first new Trek series set after the events of Nemesis and after Ambassador Spock went back in time to the Kelvan universe, Picard picks up the story of Jean Luc Picard after he’s left Starfleet. The seeds of Picard’s becoming disenfranchised with what Starfleet was becoming were sewn during the film era (and how ironic is it that one of the least regarded TNG films, Insurrection, is pivotal to a character arc that we see playing out here).
The episode nicely caught us up on what Picard has been doing for the past several decades and gives us glimpses as to why he left Starfleet. (I have a feeling there is more to the story than we’re getting in this one episode). I find it intriguing that there is now a ban on creating synthetic lifeforms due to a revolution on Mars and that the Romulans have apparently been abandoned by the Federation and could be possibly teaming up with or using Borg technology somehow. Those two threads alone could provide for a lot of great storytelling in season one and beyond (since we know that season two has been given the green light).
It’s interesting that these two events have a personal meaning for Picard, as we see in flashbacks to time with Data and because we all know of Picard’s experiences with the Borg.
I will admit that for a long time, I felt sure that Dahj would somehow be revealed to be a new version of Lal (and that could still happen). And I will also admit I ate us with a spoon that we got a shout-out to Bruce Maddox from one of TNG’s best episodes. I feel like this series and the characters are in good hands with a group running things that know their Trek history but isn’t going to be so obligated to it that we miss some great stories. (At least, I hope that’s the case.)
We’ll see where these things all go as the season progresses. But, for now, I’m on-board for this.
Now a few stray thoughts:
- How many more androids that don’t know they’re androids do you think are wandering around out there?
- Anyone else wonder if the technology involved in creating Dajh might not somehow bring Data back inside of B4? Yes, I know that the episode established the files didn’t quite take, but this is Star Trek.
- The de-aging software used on Brent Spiner worked very well. And it was fun to see Data and Picard in their TNG era uniforms in the scene with the painting.
- How much would any Trek fan give to be allowed into Picard’s Starfleet vault just for five minutes to look around?
- I’ve been watching Watchmen and when I saw the set-up for Picard with his two Romulan (at least I’m assuming they’re Romulan) servants, I couldn’t help but think about Jeremy Irons’ character on that show. (And since I’m only halfway through Watchmen as of this writing, I don’t know how that all plays out and don’t want to be told!)