Picard: A Self-Indulgent Review

Reading time: about 4 min.
science-fiction  television  star-trek 

Much in the way that people have “their” doctor in Doctor Who fandom, I have “my” show in Star Trek and that show is Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).

Unlike many of my peers, I didn’t grow up watching re-runs of the Original Series (TOS)–I don’t remember much after-school television after I became a teenager. Probably because I watched a lot of MTV and I would get grounded from watching television because I had a smart mouth (I’ll own that–I had a smart mouth then and I have a smart mouth now).

So when TNG debuted, I remember it being a big deal and I started watching. I’ve seen every episode, but I can’t do trivia, because that’s not how my brain deals with narrative. Data was my favorite, closely followed by Picard. Weirdly, I never noticed how Riker sits down funny. I remember that we’d watch an episode of TNG at my grandmother’s house after Lawrence Welk on Sundays before driving home from Traverse City to Oakland County. It was, when I was a teen, one of the few things I would do with my father.

All the movies–some of which are better than others, but Alice Krige as the Borg Queen was an inspired bit of casting–well, I went to them all, often pressed up against sweaty guys in Starfleet uniforms while standing in line to get in.

But they weren’t what I wanted from my show. I think the movie canon is fine, but decisions were made. Many decisions.

I know I’m ignoring Deep Space Nine (DS9), which is probably a better show than TNG–it certainly holds up better rewatching it now–but I had decisions to make, too. And same for Voyager and Enterprise–but I do have plans to watch them, really, I do.

And Babylon Five (Bab-5) is better than all of them combined, but I didn’t watch it until it was on DVD and a friend put the first season in my hand and told me I had to watch it.

Fast-forward to now, when limited run stream programming is a thing that can be done (as long as you pay your writers a living wage you fucking corporate rats), and you get a renaissance of Star Trek programming: Discovery, Strange New Worlds (be still my heart for the glory of the Captain’s Hair), Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Picard.

I watched season one. I mostly liked it, especially all the parts with the synthetics because I’ve been fascinated by robots, cyborgs, and machine sentience since I was a little kid. I felt like I wanted to get to know the characters better than we did–it didn’t have the right sort of vibe.

And then there’s season two, which I stopped watching after the writers decided that a mentally unstable and perpetually lonely woman would be the perfect person to babysit the Borg Queen. And there was Q doing his Q bullshit and there was a dystopia to fix and I didn’t want any of it.

But season three. Oh, season three–you were everything I wanted from this show. The band gets back together again, with a couple of additions from the previous seasons, and there was a ridiculous plot with Changelings–

–I would like to take this moment to celebrate Amanda Plummer in the role of Vadic. Vadic was a villain comparable to Khan and Plummer delivered a hell of a performance–

–and Picard and Dr. Crusher with their obvious Relationship Issues, not to mention their son–their son!–and his issues with Picard. Oh, all so good. And then they brought back Data, or a Data, since there’s a bunch of them scattered around the galaxy. But this Data is apparently meant to be the last Data and there’s more than Data in his positronic matrix. There’s Lore, too.

And there’s one final confrontation between Data and Lore that made me cry with how tenderly it cherished the things that were important to Data: his Holmes accoutrements, Tasha Yar, Spot.

(I only figured out last weekend why they are named Data and Lore: Fact and Fiction. You need both to be complete.)

So the band’s back together and up against impossible odds and then and THEN you get THE BORG–or at least the shell of them. I don’t know if there’s only one Borg Queen or if each cube had their own, but there’s a seriously angry Borg Queen with almost no resources but she’s managed to manipulate the Changelings into doing her dirty work in infiltrating and suborning enough of the Federation so that on Federation Day, when all of Starfleet is together (this sounds like a tactical nightmare), with the assistance of Jack Picard, she’ll be able to (pause to cackle) take over the world.

Except, of course, for the healing powers of a parent’s love for the child he didn’t know he had, of course. Picard is face to face with Borged out Jack and he talks him off the ledge because of course he does–He is Jean-Luc Picard! Greatest of all the captains! Or something.

Anyhow, I liked it. And why hasn’t there been a series announced with Seven of Nine as Captain and Jack Picard as her…assistant? With possible Q bullshit as well (I like Q fine, I just didn’t like that an entire season was apparently his bullshit). I know it was basically an episode of TNG stretched out over six episodes and I don’t care. I liked seeing my crew all together again, like the family that they are.