Star Trek: Picard, S3.10: “The Last Generation” is a sentimental sendoff, slathered in fan service…


The season (and, presumably, series) finale of Star Trek: Picard (PIC), titled “The Last Generation,” has streamed, and I debated whether to do a recap of the entire season, or just a review of the final episode.  Deciding that I didn’t have the energy (or patience) to review all ten, I went with focusing on the finale for a simple reason; “The Last Generation” is everything this third season has been leading up to, giving a big splashy sendoff for these characters that TNG never quite achieved with its four feature films (“Generations,” “Star Trek: “First Contact,”Insurrection,” and “Nemesis”). It’s too bad that it took such a dark and murky path to get here…

The episode is little more than a reunion tour for (left to right) Marina Sirtis (“Deanna Troi”), Jonathan Frakes (“Will Riker”), Patrick Stewart (“Jean-Luc Picard”), LeVar Burton (“Geordi La Forge”) and Gates McFadden (“Dr. Beverly Crusher”).  And, of course, the (not-pictured) Brent Spiner as “Data”–more accurately a combination of Data, Lore, Altan Soong, B-4, et al.

This season of PIC seems to have been an excuse to reunite the TNG cast on a picture-perfect recreation of the USS Enterprise-D bridge set. The first two seasons of PIC, for all their obvious flaws, at least tried to introduce new characters and take the character of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in different directions, with frustratingly mixed results. This year, series showrunner Terry Matalas decided to give fans exactly what they wanted from the Day One—an eighth season of The Next Generation with a definitive ending.  While I’m okay with that approach in theory, in practice it quickly became a brooding, exhausting, overstuffed basket filled with Star Trek Easter eggs.  The result was less an original story and more like a ten-episode game of “Where’s Waldo?” set in the Final Frontier.

The EnterpriseD majestically exits the Starfleet Museum’s spacedock for its reunion tour to stop the Borg at Jupiter (never mind that it was destroyed in the 1994 feature film, “Star Trek Generations”). 

I first watched “The Last Generation” this past Thursday on an iPad while pedaling on my exercise bike, and I have to admit, that wasn’t exactly an ideal screening.  So, for this review, I pulled out the 7 ft. /2 meter collapsible screen and digital HD projector to give it a proper viewing. I have to admit, the full ‘cinema’ approach certainly enhanced the drama and the visuals, but some of my issues with the episode—and the third season in general—remained.

Let’s recap.

“The Last Generation.”

Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Captain Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Commodore Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton), Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), Deanna Troi-Riker (Marina Sirtis), Klingon Worf (Michael Dorn), and a recently-resurrected Data (Brent Spiner) take command of LaForge’s ‘pet project’ at the fleet museum; a restored starship Enterprise, NCC-1701-D. The ship’s saucer was salvaged after its crash at Veridian III, and affixed to an engineering section from a retired Galaxy-class ship.  Picard and his crew have learned that rogue Changelings and the Borg have been using Starfleet transporters to assimilate younger personnel of Starfleet via subtle DNA modifications. The Borg are also broadcasting a signal nearby, using Picard’s son Jack as an organic, mind-controlling amplifier. Picard orders their 40-year old vessel to hunt down the Borg ship, which has directed the cybernetically-hacked Starfleet to destroy Spacedock, and target the major cities of Earth…

The Money Shot.
Dr. Crusher, Worf, Riker, Picard, Deanna, Geordi and a newly restored Data take command of their museum ship Enterprise-D.

The episode opens with the Enterprise-D crew entering the Sol system. They hear a planetary distress signal coming from the Federation President, Anton Chekov (voice of Walter Koenig), directing all vessels to avoid the Planet Earth, whose defenses have been compromised by an assimilated Starfleet. Having once been assimilated by the Borg, Picard and Data triangulate a Borg control signal coming from Jupiter.  With no time to waste, Picard orders a course to Jupiter, maximum warp.

Note: Like nearly everything this season, this scene references other moments in Star Trek lore; specifically the Federation President’s ‘planetary distress call’ heard in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), as well as Picard disobeying direct Starfleet orders against engaging the Borg in “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996). And yes, that is Walter Koenig voicing Anton Chekov (the son of his TOS character, Pavel Chekov) who has become Federation president and who doesn’t have his father’s thick Russian accent.

Here’s Borg in your eye…
The Enterprise-D arrives at Jupiter to learn it has a Borg caught in its Great Red Eye.

Arriving at Jupiter, Picard notices something in the ‘great red eye’ of the gas giant. Magnifying the viewer image, they see a massive, cube-shaped Borg vessel partly visible among the orange clouds of the ancient cyclonic feature. The Borg are using a hidden trans-warp conduit inside the eye to enter the Sol system undetected. The cube is also the source of the powerful control signal currency wreaking havoc with all of Starfleet. Scanning Borg brainwaves, Deanna and Beverly detect signs of Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers), who was compelled to meet the Borg Queen herself.

Note: The ‘great red eye’ of Jupiter was first recorded by British polymath Robert Hooke, in May of 1664. The feature is a centuries-old cyclone in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, roughly the volume of three Earths. It was one of the first features of Jupiter detectable from early telescopes. I first saw it with my own eyes when I was 14 years old; it was—and still is—an amazing sight (easily visible on a clear night with a small telescope).  

A nice moment as Picard pauses to say a heartfelt thank you to his crew for risking their lives to be at his side.  The mission is no longer just about saving Jack—it’s also about saving Starfleet and the Federation itself.  No pressure, now…

Leaving LaForge in command of the Enterprise, Picard assembles an away team of himself, Riker and Worf to retrieve Jack and to stop the Borg signal before Earth is defeated.  Data’s newfound emotions cause him to feel intense hatred for the Borg now.  Beverly assures her synthetic friend that she feels the same way, but she also realizes that they need his unique skillsets on the ship. Before exiting into the turbolift, a profoundly grateful Picard takes a moment to thank his friends for being at his side during this crisis.  

Note: Like many moments in the first episode of the season (“The Next Generation”), this scene directly recalls the scene in “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock” when Kirk pauses to thank his crew as they gather to hijack a newly-automated USS Enterprise to retrieve Spock’s body from the Genesis planet in order for Spock’s ‘katra’ to find peace.  In this case, Picard’s mission is twofold; saving the Federation and his son, Jack. LaForge, with his two young daughters in Starfleet, also has a very personal stake in this mission.

Raffi and Seven invent the personal transporter device, while trying to regain control of their Borg-hijacked starship…

Meanwhile aboard the starship Titan, acting captain Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and her ex-lover/acting first officer Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) have devised a way to retake their ship’s bridge from their Borgified junior officers.  Raffi has rigged their phaser rifles to emit a modified transporter signal which displaces its targets… causing them to re-materialize inside of a locked transporter room.  The devices work, and the junior officers find themselves temporarily trapped. Seven recruits older officers from the Titan who aren’t affected by the Borg’s DNA-activating signal to act as command crew.  With the bridge retaken, Seven now faces the challenge of overriding the Borg signal’s control of their systems.  Raffi surmises the Borg signal only affects ships within its line-of-sight. Using Raffi’s theory, Seven activates the Titan’s stolen Klingon cloaking device, which cuts off the Borg signal and allows them to pilot the ship manually.  With the Titan back under their control, they strafe the assembled Starfleet in Earth orbit in an almost Quixotesque attempt to stop the Borg-controlled ships’ devastating attack.

Note: Nice to see Seven and Raffi working together without their past personal baggage getting in the way. This feels more like the ‘evolved humanity’ the late Gene Roddenberry used to talk about in his writers’ bible for TNG (however contradictory those guidelines might’ve seemed, at times…).

Aboard the Borg ship, Riker and Worf realize that today might actually be a ‘good day to die’…

Beaming aboard the Borg ship, the away team finds the vessel surprisingly vacant of Borg drones, with only the grisly sight of scattered Borg corpses within decaying alcoves—Picard suspects their corpses are being used to ‘feed’ the Borg Queen, whom he feels is somewhere nearby. The admiral then learns from Beverly that their son Jack is one level below his present position. Once again imposing on his friends Riker and Worf, Picard tells them he has to deal with this as a father, not a captain. Picard then leaves them to locate the source of the Borg signal, if possible.  

Note: Picard tells Riker and Worf that he has to deal with this as a father, not a captain—um, did Picard just forget that both Riker and Worf are fathers as well?  Granted, Worf is something of a deadbeat dad, but Riker lost a son and very much loves his remaining daughter, Kestra. Writer/director/showrunner Terry Matalas should’ve included a throwaway line, perhaps with Picard saying something like “I know you both understand.”  Riker says something to that effect afterward, but it should’ve come from Picard.

Like father, like son…
A newly-Borgified Jack Crusher is personally (and involuntarily) overseeing the destruction of the Starfleet and the Federation.

Picard reaches the lower level, where he finds his Borgified son Jack, wearing an exo-suit and laser-eyepiece very similar to what Picard himself wore as “Locutus” during his own abduction and assimilation by the Borg (“Best of Both Worlds,” Parts 1 & 2, “Star Trek: First Contact”). Jack is now deeply connected to the Borg hive mind, robotically relaying orders to destroy the Spacedock and major cities of Earth. Picard tries to reach the young man by appealing to his humanity, but to no avail.  He then hears a cackling, familiar laugh…

Note: Jack’s near-exact copy of Locutus’s own “Borg suit” from “First Contact” (1996) is a bit too on-the-nose, and is yet another in a long line of Easter eggs littered throughout the season.  I don’t mind a few such callbacks scattered here and there, but this season of Picard has been almost nothing but.  Nearly every shot, prop, visual effect, music cue, one-liner, etc. references another Star Trek episode or movie. It’s a bit much, like “smothering in honey” to quote a dying Ensign Rizzo in TOS’ “Obsession” (1967).  There, you see?  Now I’m doing it, too…

The Borg Queen (Jane Edwina Seymour, voice of Alice Krige) has looked better.

Looking past the Borgified Jack, Picard is horrified and angered to see the cackling Borg Queen (Jane Edwina Seymour, voiced by Alice Krige).  The queen is now a rotted, starving husk of her former self, with exposed bone and fused, burned flesh. Still haughty and arrogant as ever, she taunts Picard, who fires his phaser to no avail; her defensive shields are up. Seeking revenge on the organization that’s confoundedly thwarted her ambitions and left her to die, the half-mad Queen no longer wants Locutus; she’s perfectly pleased with her ‘son,’ Jack, whom she’s renamed Vox (Latin for ‘voice’). Jack-Vox is playing a key role in the Federation’s annihilation, since assimilation is no longer the Borg goal for Earth and Starfleet.  Picard, desperate to reach Jack’s consciousness before it’s too late, tries in vain to unplug his son from the Collective…

Note: Some nitpicks about the Borg Queen.  Is this the same Borg queen that Janeway destroyed at the end of Star Trek: Voyager (“Endgame”), or is it the dead Borg Queen from 1996’s “First Contact”?  It’s clearly not the more benevolent Borg Queen that Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) became at the end of PIC’s previous season. The presence of the Borg throughout the three-year run of PIC (especially in season two) also contradicts Geordi’s line in the previous episode (“Vox”) about the Federation not encountering the Borg for ten years (?!).  Despite my confusion with how this particular Borg Queen figures into the story, it’s nice to hear “First Contact” costar Alice Krige’s voice, at least, since the badly-disfigured Borg Queen no longer requires the actress’s physical presence.

Jack and his father, Jean-Luc, are able to reconnect by taking advantage of Borg bluetooth.

Increasingly desperate to reach Jack, Picard grabs one of Jack’s direct links to the hive mind and puts it to his own neck—which instantly connects him to a Borg nether-realm; a nonphysical space where he can experience both the Collective and his son.  Once there, he finds Jack in a state of artificial euphoria, experiencing a sense of profound belonging that has long eluded this otherwise affable loner.  Speaking through his own experience with assimilation (and his need for familial connection, via Starfleet), Picard is able to reach Jack by telling him just how much being his father—even in their short time together—has meant to him.  He draws Jack into a hug, and that connection, which both men have sought, finally snaps Jack’s consciousness free.  Awakening from the hive mind, Jack and Picard begin rapidly disconnecting their physical links to the Collective, to the horror of the Borg Queen…  

Note: This deeply emotional (if unoriginal) episode draws heavily upon TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds” two-parter, with Jack needing to find his own connection to humanity (via his father) to free himself from the hive mind. In TNG, it was the inhuman android Data, ironically, who was able to enter Picard’s mind through a Borg sub-pathway in order to free him from the Collective.

“Weeeee! Pew-pew!”
Data does a bit of Han Solo-style flying into the Borg Cube…

With time running out both for Starfleet and Earth, the Enterprise-D is about to embark on a dangerous gamble. Deanna and Data have determined the location of the beacon that’s sending a signal to the Borg forces at Earth; it’s at the exact center of the cube.  Geordi says that even his brilliant daughter couldn’t navigate her way through the Borg ship to reach it.  Playing a newfound ‘gut feeling,’ Data believes that he can do it, and begs his bridge crew to indulge him as he flies, grinning broadly, into the center of the Borg ship. Data takes the Galaxy-class starship through a series of tight twists and turns, gleefully firing phasers at the Borg defensive batteries which try to stop them.  Half-Betazoid Deanna senses deep enjoyment coming from the newly-emotional android.  Arriving at the cube’s core, they have the beacon in sight, but it’s linked directly into the superstructure of the cube itself.  Destroying it would also kill everyone aboard the cube (including Jack and the away team) within a matter of minutes.  With no choice, a solemn Geordi orders acting tactical officer Dr. Crusher to fire at the large beacon, all but ensuring the deaths of her son and the away team…

Note: Nice to see the Enterprise-D do another ‘Millennium Falcon maneuver,’ not unlike the time when the ship barely escaped through the massive, narrowing hatchway of the Dyson Sphere in TNG’s “Relics.”

“You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home!”

The Enterprise-D fires at the beacon, which also frees the Borgified junior Starfleet officers in Earth orbit from the Collective mind. The Queen howls in anguish as, once again, her best laid plans of over 35 years are undone by Picard and the Federation.  The alliance with the Changelings, the slow integration of organic Borg DNA into the Starfleet transporter systems, etc. all for naught.  With the Borg shields down and interference lowered, the Enterprise is able to rescue the away team by flying directly to them, within the Borg cube. Once they’re beamed aboard, the Enterprise flees from the Borg vessel as the Queen dies (once again) inside the flaming wreckage of her exploding ship over Jupiter. On the bridge of the Enterprise, Jack is reunited with his mother, Riker embraces Deanna, and all are grateful to each other for saving the day.

Note: Once again, I have to wonder—is the Queen truly dead?  We’ve seen her ‘die’ horrible and definitive deaths several times already, yet she always comes back…

“Oh what a world, what a world…”
The Borg Queen is really most sincerely dead—or is she?

With the Queen dead and her beacon/ship destroyed, her influence throughout the Sol system rapidly wanes. Aboard the Titan, Seven is relieved to see her junior officers—who’ve escaped from the transporter room and who were about to retake the bridge—slowly lowering their weapons, confused by their own actions.  Seven then takes her helm officer Sylvia LaForge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) in a grateful embrace, as the confused young woman returns to her senses. Throughout Starfleet, the freed crew members are returning to normal.  With Earth on the brink of annihilation, the tide is reversed, as Starfleet forces stand down. While Spacedock is badly damaged, it is not fully destroyed, and the former Borg-controlled Starfleet forces were stopped just short of obliterating Earth, as well.

Note: Apparently these new “organic Borg” recover much faster from de-Borgification than the cybernetic variety. 

Beverly Crushes it.
New head of Starfleet Medical Beverly Crusher begins the long process of filtering out Borg traces from all Starfleet personnel.

We then see the Enterprise-D returning to Earth as Captain Riker narrates a captain’s log for “Stardate One,” as the Federation begins anew in the aftermath of this near-Armageddon.  Riker explains that Beverly Crusher, the newly promoted Chief of Starfleet Medical, is using a new transporter program to filter out any last organic Borg traces from all Starfleet personnel. The same technique is also used to screen for rogue Changelings, as well. The restored Enterprise-D is later returned to the Fleet Museum, where she is powered down to remain under curator Geordi La Forge’s care, along with many other famous vessels. 

Note: Dr. Crusher was (briefly) made head of Starfleet Medical in season two of TNG, after Gates McFadden left the series after season one. McFadden decided to return to the series in season three, following the departure of producer Maurice Hurley, with whom she reportedly had an acrimonious relationship.

Ships, ships and more ships… as far as the eye can see.
Clockwise from top left: The Constitution-class USS New Jersey (NCC-1975), the Klingon Bird of Prey (rechristened the HMS Bounty), the Intrepid-class USS Voyager (NCC-74656), the Defiant-class USS Defiant (NX-74205), Q’onos One (Star Trek VI) and the refit Constitution-class USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A).

Also of Note: Throughout the season, we’ve seen fleeting shots of the various ships at the Fleet Museum, including the USS Voyager, the Klingon Bird of Prey “HMS Bounty” (Star Trek IV), the Enterprise-A, the USS Defiant, et al. While I’ve had issues with PIC’s third season, there has been some eye-popping starship porn within the show, I’ll give it that…

Au revoir, Captain Shaw.
Tuvok (unfocused on the right) plays the holographic performance review of Seven from her late Captain, Liam Shaw.

We also learn from Riker’s log that the Starfleet personnel who were duplicated by Changeling infiltrators were not killed, as their doppelgängers chose to keep them alive to better perfect their impersonations.  To that end, we see former USS Voyager tactical officer, Admiral Tuvok (Tim Russ), who was replaced with a Changeling earlier in the season, back at duty. That duty includes a consultation with his former shipmate, Seven of Nine, who has violated many regulations in saving Starfleet and Earth.  Seven assumes Tuvok will recommend disciplining her, so she preemptively offers her resignation to save him the trouble.  However, Tuvok only wishes instead to play her last performance review, as given by her late captain, Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick).  A hologram of Shaw begins to play, and we see Shaw discussing Seven’s disregard for “the book,” while also noting she’s exceptionally capable and loyal—and that perhaps the rules she breaks deserve to be broken. Capt. Shaw then recommends that Seven be promoted to captain as soon as the Titan returns to port—a recommendation Shaw never got to make in person.  Seven is moved to tears, having assumed that Shaw never appreciated her.  She accepts Tuvok’s offer and agrees to be the ship’s new captain in Shaw’s absence. 

Note: I realize that Todd Stashwick’s Captain Liam Shaw has already amassed a huge fanbase in the short time he’s been in Star Trek canon. However, I have to confess that I don’t like Captain Shaw.  His surly, nasty temperament was too ill-suited to be one of Earth’s ambassadors to the stars. Shaw doesn’t inspire loyalty either, as we see when his junior officers easily take Seven’s side.  This is a potentially fatal flaw in leadership, especially when you need your crew to go that extra light-year for you in a crisis.  Nothing personal against the actor, of course, but Shaw is simply not a good captain. His instincts are often wrongheaded, and he seems to possess a grave lack of intuition, as well.  Personally, I’m glad he’s gone, even if his performance review of Seven attempts to retroactively paint him in a better light.  

“My friends? We’ve come home.”
The rechristened USS Titan now has a familiar new moniker…

Cut to one year later.  A shuttlecraft approaches a rebuilt Spacedock in Earth orbit, with no sign of the chaotic debris we saw a year earlier in the aftermath of the latest Borg devastation.  Aboard the shuttle we see Admirals Picard and Crusher piloting their son to his new assignment. Jack Crusher has been fast-tracked through Starfleet training and is now an ensign.  Like parents driving their nervous kid to college for the first time, they tell Jack to relax.  Jack tells them he’s not nervous for himself, he’s nervous about his new posting.  As they approach the ship, Picard notes that his son has been posted to the USS Titan. “Not quite,” Jack quips, as we see newly painted registry numbers on the former-Titan’s hull, which now reads “USS Enterprise NCC-1701-G,” renamed in honor of the Enterprise-D crew’s heroic actions in saving Earth and the Federation. 

Note: Yet another callback to “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” as Kirk and his officers approach their new ship at the end of the movie; the newly minted USS Enteprise-A.

Seven in the center seat–about damned time, too.

We then see Ensign Jack Crusher playfully plopping himself into the Enterprise-G’s center seat, jokingly giving orders to the bridge officers, just before Captain Seven and First Officer Musiker teasingly shoo him out of the captain’s chair.  On this voyage, Jack will act as “special counselor” to the captain, taking a seat to Seven’s left, with First Officer (and ex-lover) Raffi on her right.  As helm officer Sidney LaForge prepares to leave Spacedock, Raffi gently reminds Seven that now is the time where a captain creates their signature catchphrase for getting underway (“Make it so,” “Take her out,” etc).  Just as Seven is about to give her very first order as captain—we cut to an exterior shot of the vessel as it goes to warp.  Very clever…

Note: There’s already been talk on Twitter and other social media for a “Star Trek: Legacy” series, focusing on Captain Seven and the adventures of the new USS Enterprise-G.  While I’ve not been consistently enchanted with the three year run of PIC to date, I could easily get behind a new Seven of Nine-led Star Trek series. The pairing of former lovers as captain and first officer also reminds me of Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and his ex-wife First Officer, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) in “The Orville” (2017-2022); another space show I enjoy very much (wish it’d return, too).

“The sky’s the limit.”
This series ends just as TNG ended in 1994, with the Captain and his officers playing a few hands of poker.

We then cut to Los Angeles, as Picard and his officers are closing down Guinan’s Earth-based Ten-Forward bar (an overused set this past season, with a holographic version also aboard the USS Titan). The old crew are ready to call it a night when a mischievous Picard pulls an ace from his hand, inviting them all for a couple rounds of poker first.  We get into their game, which feels very similar to the many Enterprise-D poker nights seen during the seven year run of TNG. The end credits begin to play, as the camera cranes above the Starfleet officers’ poker game, mimicking the final shot of TNG’s series finale, “All Good Things…”

Note: As I’ve said before, so many shots, props, camera angles, etc of PIC exist only as references to other Star Treks. I can only imagine what this show looks like to those who aren’t well-versed in Star Trek lore and minutiae.  At least this third season finale fulfills one major wish that Star Trek fans had from the beginning of PIC—an opportunity to give the TNG a proper sendoff.  That is something this finale has accomplished very well, indeed, even if the rest of the season has been a taxing ride, at times.

John de Lancie is back from the dead as “Q,” ready to harass Picard’s son through his own voyages…

One more surprise is in store, as a post-credits sequence shows the Enterprise-G in orbit over a blood-red star.  In his quarters, Jack unpacks his personal effects, including a photo of his parents (a smartly-used paparazzi photo of actors Gates McFadden and Patrick Stewart during a premiere to one of the Star Trek movies).  Without warning, we then see none-other-than “Q” himself (John de Lancie) appear.  As Jack turns to address the omnipotent entity, he realizes who and what Q is, through his father’s stories—he also knows that Q is supposed to be dead, to which Q admonishes Jack for thinking so linearly, like his father.  Jack then asks Q if humanity’s trial has resumed?  Q tells Jack that he is on trial now…

Note: This coda scene left me with mixed emotions.  While I’m sure many fans of Q (myself included) are pleased to see the character’s return after his disappointing exit in PIC’s dismal second season, I can’t help feeling that his return so soon after his ‘death’ last year only cheapens what was supposed to be the character’s swan song.  Yes, I know I’m thinking “too linearly,” but I’m also thinking as a fan of Star Trek, and these near-instant resurrections only cheapen the sacrifice of beloved characters after their departures.  Killing off your darlings (as Stephen King famously advises) means precisely that; letting them go to make room for new characters. What happened with Spock in 1984 was supposed to be an anomaly in Star Trek lore, not an everyday occurrence.

The End.

Summing It (All) Up

Like most serialized Star Trek since 2017, this season of PIC has been characterized by an exciting opener (“The Next Generation”) followed by several meandering, pointless chapters in-between that barely advanced the story, culminating in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink finale consciously designed to pull (hard) at the Star Trek fan heartstrings.  The subplots with Vadic (the talented Amanda Plummer) and her rogue Changelings, along with Jack’s ‘big secret’ (which seemed terribly obvious in retrospect) came across as patience-taxing space-fillers (forgive the pun) designed to extend the wait time for that big, sugar-glazed finale we knew was coming.  It was less suspenseful and more clock-stopping.  

You don’t know Jack.
The nuclear family story of Jack, Beverly and Picard took a long time to bring into focus.

Too much time was also wasted on the standoff between the Titan-A and the Shrike (another nasty-looking pointy ship, just like Shinzon’s Scimitar or Nero’s Narada).  It’s like Star Trek II’s Mutara nebula battle, but stretched over three segments.  Also protracted to a near-fatal length was the ‘big reveal’ of Jack Crusher’s mysterious condition. Troi’s broken mind-meld and subsequent fear of Jack just as she learns his ‘big secret’ felt terribly clichéd, as well.  The revelation that Jack’s visions and Jedi mind tricks were all somehow connected to the big bad Borg was the least creative route to take; especially since PIC has already dealt with the Borg multiple times, including last season’s pointless time travel arc with the Borg Queen (then played by the late Annie Wersching).  On the plus side, newcomer Ed Speleers really shines as Jack Crusher, that other son of Beverly and only son of Jean-Luc. The actor brings an energy and likability to the role that makes the character worth knowing. 

Lambs to the slaughter.
TNG characters Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes) and Admiral Shelby (Elizatheth Denehy) are brought back into the fold–only to be quickly killed off like so many TOS redshirts.

Another nagging issue I’ve had with this uneven season has been the seeming disposability of Star Trek legacy characters, such as Ro Laren (played by the intense Michelle Forbes) and the returning ‘Commander’ (now Admiral) Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) from the two-part TNG episode that cemented the Borg’s status as Star Trek super-villains (“The Best of Both Worlds Parts 1, 2”).  Forbes’ Ro at least has a chance to say a poignant goodbye before she’s bumped off at the end of her appearance.  Dennehy’s Shelby, whom we haven’t seen in 33 years, takes command of the shiny new Enterprise-F, which is immediately destroyed, right off of Spacedock’s showroom floor.  We didn’t even have a chance to get reacquainted before she—and her new starship Enterprise—are wasted.  PIC has a nasty habit of killing off some characters while pointlessly resurrecting others, which brings me to the resurrection—or re-resurrection—of Brent Spiner’s Data.

Data’s death in “Nemesis” and PIC season 1 is undermined once more when headspace Data battles his brother Lore for control of their shared body. These re-resurrections of characters such as Data and Q cheapen the impact of their losses.

The brilliant, childlike android Data is eternally lovable, and his ‘death’ at the end of “Star Trek: Nemesis” (2002) felt cheap and unworthy.  However, he got a final, poignant chance to say goodbye (at least to Jean-Luc) at the end of PIC’s first season, where Spiner also played a conveniently unknown ‘son of Soong’ (Data’s creator).  Season 2 brought Spiner back as a villainous 21st century ancestor of Soong’s, which didn’t go over well with some fans.  So they brought Data back, of course. This second coming (or is it third?) for the android really pushes it–even artificially ‘aging’ Data’s new body to match seventy-something actor Spiner (there is no valid in-story reason to do this, other than to avoid recasting).  Another bow to fan service comes with the resurrection of the Enterprise-D herself, which was destroyed 29 years ago in “Generations.”  Turns out, Starfleet saved the crashed saucer, which fleet museum caretaker LaForge spruces up and pairs with a new engineering section to recreate the beloved TV starship once again… only to put her back in mothballs after her photo op with the TNG cast.

Let’s face it–this TNG cast reunion/photo-op on the Enterprise-D bridge is what fans really wanted to see…

At the end of the series, we ultimately get that big, splashy, finale we’ve wanted to see ever since Picard first visited the Rikers on Nepenthe in season one.  And yes, the reunion-finale did deliver on the promise of giving the aging TNG crew a much better sendoff than they were afforded in their own feature films.  While I don’t see myself revisiting the dark, duller middle chapters of this season anytime soon, I can say that if I ever have a TNG sweet-tooth to sate? I might be inclined to revisit this sentimental journey once again someday…

Where To Watch

“Star Trek: Picard” is available to stream exclusively on Paramount+, along with most of the Star Trek canon. Star Trek Picard seasons 1 & 2 are also available on BluRay from and other sellers (prices vary).

Images:, Paramount+

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Lorraine Fiel says:

    I don’t have Paramount+ so won’t be able to watch any of the new Star Trek shows but I really enjoyed your synopsis of the final episode and now I know what happened.

    1. Lady Maneth says:

      I don’t have Paramount+ either, so I really appreciate the synopsis.

      I suspect that watching all the fan service Easter eggs would irritate me to no end. Heck, even Chekov’s name was fan service. I’m pretty sure he’s named for the late Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov in the Bad Robot movies.

      1. No doubt. I’m with you on too many Easter eggs; it shatters one’s concentration on story and character when every third line of dialogue, or ship’s name, or cameo is a callback to a prior episode.

        PIC sometimes feels more like the best fan film ever made, as opposed to a serious piece of storytelling made by objectively talented writers and producers.

        Yes, as a fan, I like some of that fan service, of course, but as they said in Trouble with Tribbles, “Too much of anything, even love, isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

      2. scifimike70 says:

        That would be a very nice tribute to Anton.

  2. barano says:

    Oof. As someone who neither grew up with TNG as their favorite Trek show and has no particularly strong nostalgia for it, I already wasn’t enamoured with Picard, dropping it after the first season… but even though I didn’t like it much, I had to acknowledge that it was at least trying to do something original and doing its own thing without succumbing to nostalgia-fueled fanservice fest. I’d been mulling catching up, but after reading/watching so many glowing reviews about S3 I just kept noticing that my reactions to those glowing reviews were “uhh, that doesn’t sound very exciting and amazing to me”, so it was nice to read your review and finally realize what my problem is. Fanservice and appealing to nostalgia are fine in small doses, but it’s not what I want to see as the main draw of a series or a movie.

    I guess I’m happy for TNG superfans, but as for me, it just moved even lower on the list of shows to catch up with.

    1. There are definitely times when it feels like all frosting and no cake, yes.

  3. Nancy says:

    You are right that the season and especially the last episode was about the fan service (the above comment that it was all frosting and no cake is somewhat true), yet I loved it! You had to have a suspension of disbelief for some plots-such as old Data, resurrected Borg queen, Enterprise D, Jack being a conduit for the Borg, plus more- but I was willing to overlook it. I admit I liked Shaw, and if a Star Trek: Legacy happens, I believe he will be resurrected somehow. I have more to say on S3, but I plan to write a blog post about it myself!

    1. I look forward to reading it!

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