Picard Season 3 ~ Third Time's a Charm

If you haven't been watching Picard this season, you're missing out. It's really good!

Like many people who fondly remember TNG, I was excited when Picard was announced. But I was let down by the first two seasons.

Season 1 started strong, bad Data de-aging effect aside. As a side note to that, almost as soon as the episode aired fans were able to use deepfake technology to improve the Data de-aging and make him look nearly exactly as he did during TNG (see below for the new effect), once again proving that Hollywood special-effects teams really have no idea what they are doing and are hiring the wrong people.

Anyway, the first episode was strong, but things immediately slowed down. Sllllllooooowwwwwweeeeddd dooooowwwwnnnn. The pacing on the season was horrible. It moved at a snails pace until the last few episodes when they realized they were running out of time and started moving at light speed. In the process, they were forced to drop the intended resolution to a lot of subplots according to the actors, including a lot of Borg stuff.

It was still overall a fun season, but that uneven pacing made it less good than it might have been otherwise.

Here is the fan remake of the Data scene. Watch the scene to the end to see a direct comparison with it as it aired to see how horrible the official effect was.

Season 2 was... less good. We were all excited when we heard Q was going to be coming back, but the overall story the writers crafted for the season just wasn't very good. In fairness, writing a good Q story is hard. Most of the time in TNG he was used more as comedy relief just because writers didn't know what to do with him. And... Picard season 2 showed they still don't know what to do with him.

Let's be clear, seeing Q again was fantastic. John de Lancie played him as well as ever. There were a few other bubbles of fun, like seeing Wesley again, now a powerful Q-like being himself, and seeing Guinan again. There were overall some good moments to the season, but mostly it felt like a convenient way to get rid of all the new characters introduced in season 1. The best part of that season may have been Q's introduction.

After that, expectations were low. Then the trailers for season 3 came back, showing that all the TNG crew would finally be appearing and getting back together. Fans have been begging for this since season 1. This made everyone cautiously optimistic.


(Watching that trailer again, most of the scenes shown are from the first four episodes. Interesting.)

We are now four episodes in (maybe five by the time I post this) and I can confidently say it has been glorious so far. This is exactly what we have been hoping for since season 1. The show wasted no time jumping straight into action. We have seen Picard and Riker back together with Doctor Crusher, and we have been given another subplot with a much more badass Worf than we ever saw during either TNG or DS9.

What has surprised me the most is the constant allusions to the second and third TOS films. In the first episode when Riker and Picard board the Titan, their entry on the ship, their initial inspection, and their leaving starbase were played very similar to the same scenes in Wrath of Khan, complete with hints of Horner's Khan score woven throughout the scenes and throughout the next few episodes. Near the end of the episode after they have stolen the ship, Captain Shaw's waking up and noticing what has happened was very reminiscent of Captain Styles being informed the Enterprise is being stolen in Search for Spock. There is a battle in the nebula à la the end of Khan, and the 4th episode's title "No Win Scenario" echos the running theme of Khan with both the no win scenario Kobayashi Maru test at the beginning of the film and the real no win scenario Khan puts Kirk in towards the end.

There are many other nods to other Trek episodes and characters from all the series, but the points to those two TOS films seem to be the majority. This may have helped fuel the fan theory that the crew is going to steal the Enterprise NCC-1701A—Kirk's ship—from the Starfleet museum which Geordi is evidently the manager of. As cool as this idea seems, I can't imagine any of the models of that ship remained after the TOS movies ended nor any of the sets, so I can't imagine they will remake them for Picard. Still—if it happened, it would be a wonderful surprise.

My only worry is pacing which has plagued the past two seasons. We are now nearly half-way through the season and we have only gotten hints of the larger plot. I hope the next few episodes are spaced out well so we don't get any rushing towards the end.

So far, however, I don't want it to end. These first four episodes have been such a joy. It is great watching the old crew members interact again. Also, in episode four we were given what may be the single greatest monologue about the events of Wolf-359 that we have ever received. To those who don't remember or don't know, Wolf-359 was when the Borg invaded the Federation and killed thousands—and they were led by Picard, transformed into the Borg Locutus. You can find the monologue on YouTube but I won't link to it. Better to watch it in the episode.

If you are interested in Star Trek but were turned off by the first two seasons of Picard, give it another chance with this season. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Hi there! David LaSpina is an American photographer and translator lost in Japan, trying to capture the beauty of this country one photo at a time and searching for the perfect haiku.
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