TL;DR – A season mixed with highs and lows, but at least started and ended on a high note.
Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.
Star Trek: Picard Review –
We have reached the end of Star Trek Picard’s second season, and as I look back on what has come, I can see great heights and deep valleys. While there were some frustrations, when the season worked, it was some of Star Trek’s best. With that in mind, what we will do in this review is look at how the second season charted its way through and then how it landed with the finale episode, Farewell.
To set the scene, at the end of Hide and Seek, the crew of the La Sirena are no longer the crew of the La Sirena because Raffi (Michelle Hurd) did a deal with Queen Jurati (Alison Pill) where she traded the ship for Seven’s (Jeri Ryan) life. However, before Queen Jurati left, she gave the team a clue about how to save Renée (Penelope Mitchell) and their timeline. The only question is how many more sacrifices will Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew need to make to end this final game of Q (John de Lancie). Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Looking back over the season, there has been quite a lot that this season has wanted to explore. The first is what we want our future to be, do we want to head down the realm of the Confederation or the Federation. Here, you can tell that the series had some more pointed commentary about the current situation in America [though to be fair not just America, looking at you and your Refugee policy Australia], a situation that seems to be degrading in real-time. But then, it is also a season looking at the grief of loss, the ability of children to frame their worlds, and the legacy of trauma.
It is that last point where the series didn’t quite stick where they were trying to go. There has been this growing subplot about what happened at Chataue Picard when Jean-Luc was a child throughout the season. At first, it was framed that his father, Maurice (James Callis), was abusive to Yvette (Madeline Wise). Still, as the season continued and Picard looked back further into the past, he saw that his recollections were coloured. This is the guilt that Picard carries because he let his mother out of her room only for her to commit suicide. The emotional damage that would do to someone is phenomenal, and you felt that as it was unpacking it. However, while I have given a neat summation of the storyline, how it was presented was less so, and while they clearly had good faith in exploring these issues of Mental Health, they didn’t always land because of the nature of the medium. This is partly exemplified by the hit and miss that has been the pacing this season. You feel that they could have tightened the narrative to the point that you could have jettisoned a couple of episodes, and the season would have been better for it.
We also take a romp through time, timelines, and space this season. Moving from Earth, out to the Borg Incursion, then back to a different Earth, and then back in time to Earth of 2024, our near future [at time of writing] and the character’s far past, while also flashbacking to early 23rd century France. This meant that we got to have multiple rounds of fish-out-of-water as the team tried to acclimatize to both a fascist hellscape and then to modern Los Angeles. All this time jumping meant that the show was able to scatter the show with some of the best Easter Eggs outside of maybe Lower Decks. Of the season, I think my favourite was the dropping of the refit-Enterprise NX-01 class as a model, making that moment that never came canon.
Another strength of this season must be the cast. Patrick Stewart is a force of will, and all those moments with the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching), Guinan [both past (Ito Aghayere) and present (Whoopi Goldberg)], and Q, you can feel the weight of all those years of working together coming to bear. Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd make for a great double act as they fought their way across Los Angeles. Ito Aghayere and Sol Rodríguez made every moment they were on screen better, and I have to rep for fellow Aussie Evan Evagora because the lack of his presence this season was felt by how good he was every time we got him back. However, I think the clear MVP of this season was Alison Pill. Her slow descent into becoming the Queen was a delight from the start to the end. I loved the back and forth she had with Annie Wersching, who knew that a sassy queen was what the show needed.
All of this leads to the question, ‘did the show land its season finale?’ and I am here to say that I think it did, through its exploration of themes and relationships. Now that is not to say that everything in the finale worked. The whole stopping the launch sub-plot felt like it was never in any real danger and did sort of exemplify that Brent Spiner’s character did feel superfluous this season. However, none of that mattered when we got to the heart of that, which was family and relationships. Chris (Santiago Cabrera) staying behind with Teresa (Sol Rodríguez), and Ricardo (Steve Gutierrez) hurt, but felt right because he had found his family. Kore (Isa Briones) got to see her place in the world and a new future and family with the help of Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton).
However, that final scene between Q and Picard would have been worth it, even if the rest of the season had been a complete mess [it wasn’t]. Two old friends/enemies sitting down discussing life and death moved me to tears. That is because there was a clear conviction to every moment, such a conviction that I became concerned that John de Lancie was tapping into something too personal to show to a stranger like me. Watching a trickster-god suddenly become sincere could have been tonal whiplash, but they make it work through sheer force of will. Much how The Star Gazer and Penance were a great start to the season, Farewell was an excellent well farewell to it. So even if the middle was a bit messy at times, the bookends still supported it.
In the end, do we recommend Star Trek Picard Season Two? Yes, yes, we do. I will not say it is a perfect season. In fact, there are some profoundly frustrating aspects to it. However, it was some of Star Trek’s best when it worked, and I hope that they take this energy into the final season.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek: Picard
Directed by – Doug Aarniokoski, Lea Thompson, Jonathan Frakes, Joe Menendez & Michael Weaver
Written by – Akiva Goldsman, Terry Matalas Juliana James, Jane Maggs, Travis Fickett, Christopher Monfette, Michael Chabon, Kiley Rossetter, Cindy Appel, Kirsten Beyer, Matt Okumura & Chris Derrick
Created by – Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer & Alex Kurtzman
Based on – Star Trek: The Next Generation created by Gene Roddenberry
Production/Distribution Companies – CBS Studios & Amazon Prime
Starring – Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Jeri Ryan, Michelle Hurd, Orla Brady, Isa Briones Evan Evagora, Santiago Cabrera & Brent Spiner with John de Lancie, Whoopi Goldberg, Wil Wheaton, Annie Wersching, Madeline Wise, James Callis, Sol Rodríguez, Ito Aghayere, Penelope Mitchell, Jay Karnes, Jon Jon Briones, Ivo Nandi, Leif Gantvoort, Steve Gutierrez, Dylan Von Halle, Cyrus Zoghi, Anushka Rani, Kay Bess, Lea Thompson, Sunny Ozell & Patton Oswalt
Episodes Covered: The Star Gazer, Penance, Assimilation, Watcher, Fly Me to the Moon, Two of One, Monsters, Mercy, Hide and Seek & Farewell