Full spoilers follow for Star Trek: Picard Season 2.
Be careful what you wish for. What other lesson can we take from this second (and also penultimate) season of Star Trek: Picard, which, let’s say from the start, might be the worst season of Star Trek ever produced. Next Gen Year 1, take the party outside.
See, when Patrick Stewart was announced to be returning to his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard a few years ago, it was more than Trekkie could have hoped for. Captain Picard would finally get the ending he deserved! But now we’re two seasons away from that ending, and it sure doesn’t feel like Jean-Luc, or any of us, deserved this.
Star Trek: Picard season 2 images
Picard Season 1 It was certainly a mixed bag, as the series (and Stewart himself) sought to put a parsec distance between the main character and his Next Generation days. No uniforms, no starships, no Enterprise crew – these were more or less the mandates that allowed Stewart to return to space. Sure, there were a few good things here and there, but the result was often a dour, dark, and slightly confusing affair.
And so it seemed to be season 2 attempting a course correction from the beginning, with the opening scene of Episode 1 place on a starship in the middle of a battle. The cast of the first season, Picard Squad, was mostly reconfigured into nicer, more familiar versions of Star Trek, even as Jean-Luc himself seemed to get a new lease on life. He had accepted a role at Starfleet Academy as Chancellor and was even considering a possible romance with Orla Brady’s Laris, a fan-favorite character from the previous season.
Oh, and TNG staples Q (John De Lancie) and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) are back in recurring roles. But again, and Q would know better than anyone, be careful what you wish for…
After that hilarious season 2 premiere, things started to take a turn for the tropey, though it’s still enjoyed. Does Q’s meddling send the Picard Squad into a dark alternate universe? Check. Does the crew go around the sun to travel back in time in an attempt to fix the timeline? I understand. Do fish out of water mischief occur? Mmmmm. The Borg Queen is back… again? Yes, that too. Uh, punk rocker with a boombox on the bus…? Checkkkkkkk.
It’s as if the production, in reaction to Season 1’s distancing from the previous Treks, launched also a long way from the storytelling sun to accommodate all the things we’ve loved about the franchise in the past. Unfortunately, as it unfolded, Picard season 2 started to look like nothing more than a greatest hits album, and not only that, but one of those albums where everything is it covers of your favorite songs.
It seemed clear from the start that the writers wanted to undo a lot of what they had after the previous season. Central characters such as Isa Briones’ Soji and Evan Evagora’s Elnor were effectively cut from the proceedings (although Briones would get another new character to play eventually, the fifth of his at this point). Brent Spiner’s unremarkable Dr. Altan Soong was replaced by another Soong, this time the shrill, hysterical, careless Adam Soong type (played by Spiner again). And even the budding relationship between Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Seven (Jeri Ryan) that was hinted at in the Season 1 finale is in the post-breakup stage when we meet them here.
That said, it was nice to see the gang again as the new season began, with characters like Santiago Cabrera’s Captain Rios and Alison Pill’s Agnes Jurati coming across as nicer versions of themselves in Season 1. But as the characters landed in the past, it became clear that they were not heading return to the futureSo to speak, in the short term (in a seemingly budget-saving move), a running-in-place feel overtook things. This included some characters embarking on multi-episode missions that, in the end, achieved nothing. NASA’s big ball heist-style infiltration comes to mind, where there’s all the gibberish about sneaking into this event. But ultimately the mission seemed to accomplish very little (and certainly didn’t require the entire Squad). But hey, at least everyone got to wear tuxedos and costumes.
As for Picard himself, I’m not happy to say that at times this season Stewart seemed fragile and perhaps overwrought. Who knows what is really going on behind the scenes, but the man is 81 years old. When we got to the middle of the season and got two episodes in a row where Picard was unconscious for the better part of an hour and then spent much of the next sitting in a chair, one had to wonder whether or not the legendary actor needed a break.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Trailer
Picard’s arc this season certainly had promise, and it works to a degree as the show delves into his childhood and his mother’s mental health struggles. Are these difficult memories, locked away so tightly that even he doesn’t fully recall them, the reason Picard became the guarded, emotionally distant man he was often portrayed as? The show seeks to tie his budding romance with Laris, and his seeming inability to commit to that relationship, to the mysterious past that is slowly revealed over the course of Season 2’s 10 episodes. But it hits a wall in part because Laris she’s given little attention, introduced in the premiere as she is, and then basically left out until the final moments of the finale.
Instead, Brady spends most of her expanded role this season as Tallinn, a Romulan “supervisor” tasked with protecting Renée Picard, a 21st-century member of Jean-Luc’s family. In a very TV-like “identical twin from Texas” setting, Tallinn inexplicably looks exactly like Laris, and is also a callback to the Gary Seven character from the original series episode “Assignment: Earth” (which a turn is basically recreated in the Picard Season 2 Finale). It’s a lot, and as the season progressed, it seemed more and more like the disparate threads of the story just couldn’t come together in any satisfying way at the end.
As for Guinan and Q, the younger Guinan from the past, played by Ito Aghayere, brought a spark to the season every time she appeared, but never really He felt like Guinan. And de Lancie’s Q is drifting with no clear direction, alternately diabolical and funny and sometimes, I don’t know, feigning fear? It’s the overall story of Q, which is supposed to be why the events of this season happen, which seems to make less sense. And thus, the season itself ends with a huge shrug. And yes, we are talking about Next Gen season 3, late 80s shoulder pads.
In the end, it’s as if the stage has been cleared for the promised Next Generation cast reunion in the third and final season. How far have things come since season 1 in that regard, huh? Ríos stays in the past to be with her new love and her son. Jurati is now a Borg Queen who has lived for centuries, but also a pretty Queen Borg. Briones’ latest character has just hit the roads and highways of the galaxy with… Wesley Crusher, in a wasted and unnerving cameo. Elnor will presumably be sent on the Excelsior in season 3 to make way for Riker, Worf, Troi, and the rest. None of these character arcs feel particularly earned, sadly, and more just an “ends justify the means” situation.
So what was all this for? What did this extended trip to the year 2024 really give us in the Picard lexicon? Has it really been worth bringing Stewart back for this? I really hope season 3 is awesome and we get one last ride from Stewart and the TNG gang that makes all of this a distant memory. But as this season has shown, you can’t just snap your fingers like Q and make good television…
Q Continuum Questions and Notes: