First off, I bought this DVD with my own money. (Well, it was the wifey’s money.) I’m not a subscriber to Paramount+ nor has the company responded to my requests for either products or streaming in exchange for media coverage on SciFiHistory.Net. As such, I just don’t feel all that compelled to say a whole lot about the effort.
Second, I’ve long been of the opinion that Trek – in general – has really evolved past the point of being … erm … authentically Trekish for fans such as myself who’ve been around for decades. The powers that be – for whatever reason – decided that the property needed to be (let’s say) something different than it’s been before. I get it: some myths must evolve in order to survive, and so be it.
Lastly, I’ve stated my position on countless occasions that I don’t believe Trek belongs behind a pay wall. (Yes, yes, and yes: I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m stating it because it kinda/sorta offends me.) I think that there are stories that deserve to be embraced and enjoyed by the widest community possible – especially those that preach (cough cough) social change – so limiting a franchise that’s been a huge part of our culture for so long seems – frankly – idiotic.
I’m good now.
Let’s talk about Picard.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Here’s the season’s plot summary as provided by our friends at Wikipedia.org:
“The third and final season of the American television series Star Trek: Picard features the character Jean-Luc Picard in the year 2401 as he reunites with the former command crew of the USS Enterprise (Geordi La Forge, Worf, William Riker, Beverly Crusher, Deanna Troi, and Data) while facing a mysterious enemy who is hunting Picard’s son.”
At around the midpoint of our making our way through watching Picard: Season 3, the wifey asked me what I thought of the program. We debated the whole premise for a bit – I’ve not been a fan of the Picard “franchise” in general because I don’t think it even remotely fits philosophically within the construct as envisioned by Roddenberry – and about the best we could come up with positively was this phrase: “Well, it’s fun to see the characters again.”
And that was about it.
In reflection after finishing the ten episodes, I asked, “But … did we see our beloved crew again?”
But … as for the rest of the cast?
Well, Picard – for those of us following closely – is and isn’t the Picard we knew. For one thing, he’s now technically Robo-Picard, having died and had his consciousness uploaded into a cybernetic creation at the end of Season 1. (I completely avoided Season 2 as anyone whose opinion I trust have labeled it unmitigated garbage.) Watching him try to work his magic as the venerable captain is a bit of a mixed bag for me because I know he’s not ‘Picard’ as I knew him. I set that sentiment aside when I can, but then each and every episode of Season 3 had moments that showed the character’s mental faculties weren’t quite at the level they were decades earlier. In fact, many times I thought this crop of episodes turned him into a doddering old man, a hero who was well past his leading man prime and perhaps best left to retirement.
Beverly? Well … even within the structure of the show, it’s quite clear that Dr. Crusher has spent the last twenty years of her life kinda/sorta ‘on the run’ (for circumstances that, quite frankly, never really make much sense). This isn’t the same character in the slightest. In the series’ opener, she’s seen running around almost Ellen Ripley style with phaser rifle she cocks like a shotgun (???) and blasts her enemies into atoms. Apparently, that physician’s oath for ‘first do no harm’ no longer applies, so – again – I’m not seeing this swashbuckler as anything like the one I grew up with.
Deanna? Well … I guess it’s good to know that even decades later Marina Sirtis has still never learned to act …
You see what I mean?
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 never felt like Star Trek to me. It may've looked like it, but it never felt like it.
I had a great many people reach out to me online during the show’s airing on Paramount+ to ask what I thought of it. I explained – as I did above – that I’m not a subscriber and that I’ll pick up the DVDs and say something about it later. All of them were wonderfully enthusiastic about the program, saying it was finally a return-to-form for a franchise that a great deal feel has lost its way. Having completed the experience, I can certainly understand why fans might’ve looked at Picard and come away feeling reinvigorated. These are icons many grew up with, and – like the wifey and I agreed – it was great to see them back in action.
Still, there’s no escaping the reality that Picard’s ten episodes probably has little more than maybe four hours of legitimate storytelling. The first half of the season is basically wasted with the starship and crew running in and out of a nebula, hiding and/or fleeing from a laughably overacted and cartoonish villain (played by Amanda Plummer). What interesting ideas introduced into the season – the fact that the Borg may’ve coopted the Changelings for their own purposes as well as some exploration of how Picard’s Borgified DNA may’ve been passed on to his offspring – are really given so little screen time they occasionally feel more like plot twists than they do authentic premises. As often happens with even bad movies, there are some nuggets of gold in here; the problem is that they’re handled so poorly that they vanish without making the impact they truly could’ve in this universe.
My bottom line is honestly that if all of this had been retooled and, say, crafted into a six-episode run – not all that dissimilar from what The Walking Dead is currently doing with their spin-offs – then Picard Season 3 may’ve both worked and resonated with me. (I can only speak for me, folks.) As it instead spent an inordinate amount of time with events that didn’t quite matter, I’m at a loss to have more positive to say about it.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that I’m beholden to no one for penning this review of Star Trek: Picard (Season 3) as I purchased the DVD all on my own. Take that, Paramount+.