I thought this was a very strong start to the new series. The settings were all familiar (Picard’s vineyard, Star Fleet HQ in San Francisco) but cleverly the show avoids the familiar structure. It announces itself with a dream sequence as a sequel to The Next Generation and the movies that feature Picard but the episode firstly barely leaves Earth and is not about the crew of a starship.
I’ll touch on spoilers beyond here, so beware if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
The background premise is cleverly delivered by Picard facing a combative interview with a journalist. He has retired but his last major mission for Star Fleet was an attempted evacuation of Romulus due to its sun exploding (best not to think to much about other timelines…). That mission was sabotaged by “synths”, i.e. artificial people like (and unlike) Data. Data, of course, died during the events of the final Star Trek movie before the reboot.
Elsewhere a young woman is targeted by assassins and in the process discovers her own capacity to fight multiple armed teleporting aliens. Shocked by her own new found abilities and questioning her own identity, she goes in search of the one man who might know the answers…Picard.
In my reviews of Star Trek Discovery, I talked a lot about the theme of Bad Star Fleet. From the original show onwards, Star Fleet has had both a utopian streak to how it is portrayed but also a morally compromised element. Discovery repeatedly leant on that darker element of the organisation but failed to critically examine the idea in any depth. I think Picard may well do that better.
Already, a single episode has delved into the Romulan and into the potential for artificial beings. Brent Spiner reprises his role as Data but only in dream sequences. Even so, Data’s presence is felt throughout the episode.
Early days but I’m eager for episode 2.
- I’ve never actually watched Star Trek: Nemesis and I think I’d better.
- The dog playing No. 1 is called Dinero.
- When the series was announced I suggested it should be a remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Patrick Stewart playing Picard as Smiley and the rival alien spymaster played by Ewan McGregor.
- The visual reveal at the end was nicely done.