- Created by Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer, and Alex Kurtzman
- March 3 to May 5, 2022
- Based on Star Trek: The Next Generation created by Gene Roddenberry
- Jean-Luc Picard-Patrick Stewart
- Agnes Jurati/New Borg Queen-Alison Pill
- Seven of Nine-Jeri Ryan
- Raffi Musiker-Michelle Hurd
- Elnor-Evan Evagora
- Laris, Tallinn-Orla Brady
- Soji Asha, Kore Soong-Isa Briones
- Chris Rios-Santiago Cabrera
- Adam Soong-Brent Spiner
- Q-John de Lancie
- Yvette Picard-Madeline Wise
- Original Borg Queen-Annie Wersching
- Teresa Ramirez-Sol Rodríguez
- Young Guinan-Ito Aghayere
- Renée Picard-Penelope Mitchell
- Old Guinan-Whoopi Goldberg
- Sally Whitley-April Grace
- THAT Punk on the Bus-Kirk Thatcher
- Maurice Picard-James Callis
- Martin Wells-Jay Karnes
- “Shut Up” Wesley Crusher-Wil Wheaton
Time is broken so Picard and his crew (not THAT crew) journey to the past to fix it. I feel like I’ve seen this before.
I was not thrilled with Season One from start to finish. There was plenty wrong but having spent years invested in the character of Picard either watching TNG or the TNG films that followed that I gave this a look. I must be a glutton for punishment. The show is a running list of Star Trek’s greatest shits. Or is it a shit on Star Trek? Either way what we get is bad. Good for other fictional universes but bad for Star Trek.
Supposedly some designers who worked on TNG returned for this season of Picard. I am not even what was going through their collective heads. For example why does the Borg ship they encounter look like a giant vagina? Seriously. I know the whole ultimate meaning of it at all (or the meaning they may have been going for) but it looks like a space vagina. That and it also defies previous Borg designs such as a sphere and a cube yet they recognize it as Borg just by looking. The scene is supposed to be tense and exciting but I laughed each time we saw the coochie ship.
Picard as a whole looks…generic. I understand the bulk of it takes place in the past or in an alternate timeline. It just fails to look like Star Trek when appropriate or a world still feeling the effects of the Eugenics War after which one would assume this takes place. I will even mention the lack of carpeting on the new Stargazer we meet when the Federation fleet fights the hilarious Borg vessel. The only reason I do is because as people are moving about during the action they get tossed about and slip and fall. Something for traction would make sense given artificial gravity clearly does not mean you are always anchored to the floor.
And that goes to something larger. There is much here that doesn’t make sense or is inconsistent with past material. For example how is it possible during that whole Borg sequence that one man is able to activate the ship’s (and possibly that of the entire fleet) self-destruct? Picard just decides to do that and needs nobody to confirm. Never in the history of Star Trek has such a responsibility been left up to just one person. It takes at least two command personnel to do that-or did no matter the rank. Picard can’t make that decision on his own.
And how does Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) get released to the general public just a year after killing someone? Or how is everything all good so quickly? She killed somebody but is allowed unfettered access in the main timeline. Huh?
Star Trek was never strongly militaristic. It did get a little bit more military with Wrath of Khan onwards but there was a somewhat logical sense of organization to Starfleet. But then for some reason the JJ Abrams universe allowed for a revolving door where you can feel like Starfleeting whenever. That brings me to Rios and how he got command of a starship back after leaving Starfleet. And he was not even a ship’s captain when he left! It has only been a year or so since the incident and he has control of a brand new starship no questions asked. That seems like a tough pill to swallow.
Given past material how does Guinan’s (Whoopi Goldberg) penchant for changing appearance in Picard connect to everything before? I understand here Goldberg is older and has other commitments so they needed a reason to explain why the actress was not there since they decided to force the character in this season. The thing is in “Time’s Arrow Pt. 1 & 2” and Generations (both showing stuff in the past) she looked like Goldberg did at the time. The explanations were aimed at introducing young Guinan (Ito Aghayere) and giving Goldberg an exit rather than making a reason that smoothly fit.
Not to ruin too much of a bad finale but the Borg are there to do a good thing. How could they believe showing up as abruptly and mysteriously as they did would make anybody receptive to anything they had to say or do no matter the reason? Seriously. They did it in a way that could cause the greatest level of suspicion and mistrust.
There is something that confuses me but is increasingly common these days: personal conversations during stressful action situations. It happens a lot in film and I think it’s meant to be cute or humorous but it comes off as rather juvenile when used in any Star Trek. It has been around for ages but got popularized due to the MCU. It happens in every action scene here.
For a group of people avoiding creating a lot of noise they certainly go around getting involved in car chases and stuff that certainly will draw attention and possibly injure individuals. And Raffi breaking a window to get inside the car because it’s more fun? That makes absolutely no sense. It’s just an excuse to get an action sequence
And then there is basically space magic with that Guinan bottle to summon Q. It sounds like something straight out of Doctor Who. A moment is captured in a bottle. It’s very reminiscent of the 50th anniversary episode where a painting captures a moment. This is silly stuff robbed from other fictional universes, Has Star Trek lost its ability to build upon what it has already done without beating you over the head? (I will be getting to that eventually here.)
Star Trek: Picard-Season Two is most certainly a message season. And there is nothing wrong with having a message. I’ve said that before elsewhere. The issue is when they put the message before narrative. You need to tell a good story if you’re going to have a message. And with Star Trek what it can do well is insert that message into the narrative to make it go down easy. In fact that was the whole idea behind the original series: use science fiction to send a message. Here it just becomes so heavy handed that it moves into being a lecture.
And exactly what is the message or ultimate point of this season? There are so many plots and subplots that do not necessarily connect during the story or even very well if at all that it makes discerning that hard. All the things they touch on do not even branch off from the time travel story. They shove them in hoping one will stick. And ultimately nothing gets driven home or has any impact.
The story we get this season touches on immigration, the environment, racism, and a senior citizen in the twilight of his life finally coming to terms with childhood trauma. The latter might be a bit late to deal with at this stage. Maybe not in real life but certainly with a fictional character.
I guess the implication of the Confederacy and Annika Hansen/Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) being married to that dude is that there’s no lesbians allowed in society. I guess that is what they are going for as they poorly craft a relationship between Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Seven. Yet it seems very forbidden. Is this some kind of social commentary? Don’t know because they never go very far in making this point.
There is also an axe to grind in the narrative against ICE as Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera) during a wacky transporter accident finds himself in a clinic that gets raided by ICE and because they work for ICE they are racist. That is it. Then again most characters, main or supporting, rarely get beyond two dimensional in their motivations. This is designed to drive home a point and not tell a story that entertains. Previously the villain was doing good from their perspective. Mark Lenard in “Balance of Terror” and Commander Tomalak (Andreas Katsulas) in his four episodes are good examples of this but no longer in general and not here in particular.
Picard must come to terms with his past and his emotional baggage. He is alone and stays alone because of that. Not to ruin this more than the people behind it did but his mother committed suicide with Picard’s accidental help. This makes no sense. Why? Because mental illness of all types has largely been cured in the future as revealed in “Whom Gods Destroy.” Only the most criminally insane are not easily treatable but treated they can be. That begs the question of how his mom was left so ill for so long. It’s as if nobody making the series is familiar with the lore. This is important because that nugget is given to us in an episode of TOS which occurs long before Picard was born.
And they seem very concerned with emotions in the show rather than fixing time. For example Raffi keeps breaking down and lashing out over the death of Elnor. Never mind that she is estranged from her biological child and her grandchild. Heck, you could be forgiven for forgetting they exist since they do not merit a mention ever here. Saving the universe, as cold as it may sound, is much more important than one person. The thing is in the future of Star Trek we are not ruled by our emotions. Heck, Picard in TNG brought it up a few times but here it is all about getting wrapped up in your own feelings.
It has been a bit of a joke among some that Picard was the most British Frenchman you ever met. It was a sticking point (at least at conventions I attended at the time) but at this point it seems treated with affection than anything else. So why did they jump through so many hoops to explain why he was so British despite decades of him going on about how French he was? It was just one of many things that felt very forced. Supposedly Chateau Picard was abandoned in WWII and apparently only reoccupied when Picard was a boy. That’s a heck of a stretch to let something alone and it appears to have remained in fantastic condition.
Q (John de Lancie) factors into things too. He is there jerking people around like he has always done. And it looks like he is croaking as his powers are failing as the plot of the episode dictates. The thing is he states he only believed himself to be immortal. Huh?
They did a whole episode of Voyager that at its core was about assisted suicide where one of the Q was imprisoned in a comet because he wanted to die. This leads to a follow-up episode where there is a civil war among the Q who wish to die and those that do not ending with Q and another Q having a kid together that I believe was played by de Lancie’s son Keegan de Lancie in “Q2”. Anyway it was clear they were always immortal unless they decided otherwise but their immortality was fact and not supposition.
In this Q is trying to convince Picard’s depressed ancestor Renée Picard (Penelope Mitchell) to not go on the Europa Mission which is an international space mission which gives humanity hope. They do not mention that until very nearly the end of the final episode as if somebody realized they forgot to explain why the mission was so important. How does it give hope? They find a microbe that heals our damaged environment. How does it do that? Don’t know. This was clearly a last-minute addition as even the characters who should know do not know during the season. They are genuinely in the dark on something that for them is known history. Saving Earth on the brink would be something the well educated and best of the best that compromise Starfleet would recall. Or should.
This leads to the involvement of a Romulan named Tallinn (Orla Brady Who also plays Laris) who is an ancestor of Laris who works for the same aliens as those behind Gary Seven (Robert Lansing). Did they watch “Assignment Earth” or just wing it? They call Tallinn a ‘Supervisor’ as if that was Seven’s duty but he was a supervisor in that the two agents he was sent to look for were his to supervise. That and in that episode Gary Seven was knowledgeable enough to realize Kirk and company were from the future but had no knowledge of time nor did they monitor a specific individual. They were there to guide the planet as a whole and intervene as necessary.
Previously other shows sparingly connected to other Trek but now the trend is to slap in as much of the past as possible and it all comes off as propping up a property that has deviated significantly. It is a reminder of what it is. You should not need that.
And then there is the Borg Queen from the alternate reality that they bring along because they need somebody that can do the calculations for time travel and can sense the divergence in the timeline and she can because Borg Queens hear the echoes of other Borg Queens in other realities. She clearly has her own agenda and that leads into another plotline.
And I haven’t even mentioned that badly done romance that Rios has with the doctor. Padme and Anakin was better. It is meant to be some deep and passionate affair but is as tepid as one can get. They fall in love because that is what is supposed to happen and not because it is a natural outgrowth of events.
But wait! There’s more. Adam Soong (Brent Spiner) is contacted by Q to help keep Renée Picard (Penelope Mitchell) off the Europa Mission in exchange for a place in history. He has a sick daughter (Isa Briones) and in exchange for the cure Q gets his help. How him getting a statue makes everybody xenophobic makes no sense. They never connect it but given everything it should connect.
That is a lot and not much really clicks or connects. They toss out so much and develop none of it. So much is added to the aforementioned bits to stretch them out. With so many competing and often unconnected elements there is no sense of urgency to the task at hand. No tension to the narrative even though they’re trying to fix time or deal with the Borg Queen or subvert Q’s plot. The characters talk a good game, but it doesn’t come through in any of their actions.
The timeline has been shattered and they keep worrying about these personal relationships and they analyze them with all the depth and complexity of a teen soap opera. It’s very high school. These are not adults in adult relationships. These are kids.
We get an explanation of the Borg drive for assimilation that is full of the feels. The Borg assimilated species after species and advanced technology because the Queen was lonely? That is the big reveal of the story between Jurati and the Queen. What an incredible downgrade. She wants friends so she conquers entire species? Almost as bad as the kid that destroyed most of the dilithium in the galaxy because he was sad.
And that leads to a nicer Borg Collective. A nicer Borg collective? What a silly idea and what a definite downgrade for a foe that at one point represented the loss of individuality in the face of technology. Now they are a club for the disenfranchised. Now they are a place for everybody to feel good and loved and it cures the Borg Queen’s lonely feelings. Feel free to laugh. I did at this bit of unintended comedy.
And what was with that appearance by “Shut Up” Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton)? We get Wesley recruiting clone girl as a traveler. Where did that even come from? It is just a random bit tacked on to remind you that this is indeed a Star Trek show but it is completely unearned to any extent as a part of the story.
Long story short, this season is all over the place. While well-acted, it is poorly written and lacks focus. The messages are ham-fisted and nothing connects. Star Trek: Picard-Season Two is a sad addition to the story of a character that has inspired so many. Just skip this.
4 thoughts on “Star Trek: Picard-Season Two”
Season 2 of Picard was the shittiest Trek I have ever had the misfortune to watch- I struggled through three seasons of Discovery, so I know my Shit Trek, and Picard Season 2 is without any doubt the shittiest Trek I ever saw. Bloody awful writing, awful acting, nonsensical plot… it ticks all the boxes. I absolutely agree with everything in your review, I just marvel that you bothered to devote so much time and effort to it, because the series really doesn’t deserve it. My only gripe is that you have reminded me of something I had mercifully actually wiped from my memory; that excruciating cameo for Wil Wheaton in which he’s grinning like some maniac sex killer who’s picked up some new victim.
God help us, but season 3 starts on Prime here in the UK next week….
I love your characterization of Wheaton’s Wesley.
I bought it on sale and I have been invested in TNG since I was young. Part of me needs to watch until the bitter end.
It is definitely bad Trek. Not sure about worse than Discovery. It is just sad that it involves a legacy character and STILL gets so much wrong.
The phaser battle in which they shelter from laser fire behind wooden barrels just left me utterly gobsmacked. They wouldn’t get away with that in the 60s Trek. Or a 60s cop-show with good old guns with bullets, for that matter. Atrocious writing with an utter disregard for its audience.
I think Picard’s mom suffering from mental illness is far worse. Its general treatability when diagnosed in the Trek future has been established beyond TOS. At least among humans. Aliens seemed a different issue
This show is what you get when those behind it have no appreciation for what came before and base everything on the first page of a Google search.