The day finally arrived. Star Trek: Picard made its debut on Thursday, January 23. After it had been announced, and the release of the various trailers, online speculation ran rampant. Much like I did with The Mandalorian reviews, I will stay away from spoilers and give points on the finer elements of the story and some of the various surprises that fly in the face of online speculation.
The opening shot brought tears to my eyes, being a Star Trek fan since I was eleven watching reruns of The Original Series on channel 13. Opening on the “Blue Skies” song, which is itself an Easter egg for TNG movie fans. Data sang the song during Riker and Troi’s wedding. It opens on Ten Forward with Data and Picard playing cards. That is a play on the final shot of the Next Generation’s final regular episode with Picard playing cards with his bridge officers.
Shortly, the nostalgia is broken by a disaster happening on Mars. We come to find Picard awaken in his chateau in France. A vineyard, which is something that we saw in that final episode. It makes it interesting given that between the future timeline from the original finale to this episode is about a year. Picard is a shell of a man. Bitter. Older. A man that was forced into exile and has given up all hope.
That is until Dahj appears on his vineyard. She is drawn to him by some unknown force, which compels Picard with purpose again. However, it deals with an old friend that he hasn’t seen in over twenty years. In the intervening years, he resides on his vineyard with two Romulan aides (Laris and Zhaban), and his loyal pitbull, Number One.
For those of you looking for Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Eight, you will be seriously disappointed. Patrick Stewart himself made it clear that this is not the same show you saw for seven seasons and four films. In fact, in order for him to return to the character, it had to be a different version of him. Something darker. Not the inspirational figure that everyone looked up to. Someone that may have had a fall from grace. Brings into being, who lifts up the man who lifts everyone else up?
Director Hanelle Culpepper did a magnificent job distinguishing itself from the old series. Using more bright colors to differentiate itself from its counterpart Star Trek: Discovery. The vineyard setting helps keep the story more grounded and natural than futuristic green screen effects. The tranquil life Picard has established himself in contrast to the life of the 24th century.
The mystery around Dahj come into play around the hallway point of the episode. The mystery as to her real identity and who are the people chasing her. We get some clues as to who she is and who is after her. Unfortunately, the answers are slow in coming. However, like The Mandalorian, the series is focusing on bringing Picard back into the limelight after being forced to resign from Starfleet over their new ideology.
Seeing Patrick Stewart back in the iconic role is a gift. Seeing him as a man that misses the world he was in and anger over how it treated him in the end. Self-loathing to the point of considering his exile as a “waiting to die” sentence. Picard’s start is a journey that I’m willing to go on and see where this adventure takes us. If you have never seen a single episode of Star Trek, the series is made for you. Like the 2009 Star Trek, it was made for non-fans with tons of Easter eggs for hardcore fans. That archive scene alone is what I’m talking about.
Star Trek: Picard releases new episodes every Thursday on CBS All Access.