Star Trek: Picard – Episode OneJanuary 24, 2020
Welcome, one and all, to a weekly review series I’ve been super excited for. I’ve long been a fan of Star Trek, and The Next Generation was truly my era. While I’ve enjoyed later runs, nothing ever really came close to that crew for me. So, when Star Trek: Picard was announced, I was over the moon.
The issue with that, of course, is that it creates a strange contradiction. On the one hand, I loved TNG so much that it sets a ridiculously high bar for this to clear. A bar so high it may be impossible. On the other hand though, the nostalgic glow of the return of Picard means that I will treat it kindly. Perhaps very kindly.
So, having now watched the first episode, Remembrance, did I truly enjoy it? Well, actually, yes. There’s a lot to unpack too. Let’s get into it.
This has a lot going for it in terms of visuals. Taking the effects style that we saw in Star Trek: Discovery and making them in line with the setting means that we have a very nice, modern looking series here.
The futuristic buildings were a cyberpunk dream. Applying makeup digitally is a logical step up from where we’re at with current photo software. Everything clearly bound the rules of the future was lovely to look at. Meanwhile, the signs of the past still remained too. Picard’s vineyard is picturesque, and the style of paintings on show was vintage in an authentic way. Visually, this was mostly a treat.
More standout though was the music. Jeff Russo, the composer for Discovery, also worked on the soundtrack here and has really nailed it. The opening theme was a beautiful piece that ended with a nice little nod to TNG (as well as featuring some nice visuals), and the music throughout the episode went a long way to setting the tone. It feels to me like music will be a much more important part of the series than it was in TNG, and with this quality, I’m all for it.
Picard: Lost And Found
Picard starts the series lost. There are plenty of little hints about his current mental state throughout. At the start, he has a dream about playing poker with Data on board the Enterprise and comments that he doesn’t want the game to end. This is not only a reference to not wanting to leave his deceased friend behind but that he never really wanted to leave Starfleet.
The problem is that Starfleet wasn’t what it used to be anymore. We were given a story about the Romulan sun going supernova. During this time, Picard pushed to relocate the Romulans, even though they were enemies, and a rescue mission began. Unfortunately, it was cut short when a group of synthetics attacked Mars, causing a great deal of death of destruction.
From the pulling out of the rescue mission to the ban on synthetic life, it was no longer the Starfleet Picard knew. He viewed their actions as despicable and downright criminal. So, he quit. Unfortunately, that has left him in a bad way.
Picard’s world view is fully on show when the TV reporter is insistent on talking about ‘Romulan lives’ and Picard counters by describing the people in need of rescue as ‘just lives’. He sees all people as equal, and even enemies can be deserving of help when things go wrong. That was a big part of being in Starfleet for him; Picard is naturally inclined to seek out ways to do good and being Captain of the Enterprise gave him an outlet for that. With the shift in view in the company, he was no longer able to use his role for the purpose he so dearly wanted to.
But leaving left him without an outlet at all. He placed himself in a position where he was ‘no longer living, but waiting to die’. As he said himself, for many, history can just be swept away. It’s not so easy for those that died, or for those that were left behind. Picard is still grieving the loss of Data, the loss of those he could not save, and the loss of his career.
By the end of the episode though, he has a purpose again. Dahj’s arrival means that Data had a daughter. The people that attacked her were Romulans too, which adds further intrigue. Now that Picard knows that there’s more going on that he imagined, he wants to find out more. And being Picard, he will undoubtedly find a way to do so.
I loved this arc. Picard’s worldview ensured that we knew it was the same old Captain, just older. The added wrinkle of his exit from Starfleet and how it affected him was really good too though, as it would be wrong to simply dump him back into the world unchanged after all these years. It also means that the way he acts may change slightly. I suspect he’ll be much the same in his intentions, but the methods he deploys may be different. This was excellent.
Dahj was an interesting tool to get the story kicked off. The whole idea that she – and her twin sister Soji – are Data’s daughters is an interesting one, and the way it’s set up doesn’t devalue his sacrifice in Star Trek: Nemesis. Their link to Picard’s past also serves a good way to get him on track.
I enjoyed Dahj’s fight scenes. The wrestling moves were well executed, and they fit contextually with the close range she was fighting in. She was responsible for the one thing I really didn’t like though: that jump during her final fight. She cleared several flights of stairs with one jump. Part synthetic or not, it looked hokey and felt really out of place.
That’s a minor quibble though. The truth is, we don’t know much about them yet. I’m looking forward to finding out more though.
What’s Old Is New
There were a couple of interesting little touches for fans this week. For one, when we first see Data, he’s wearing his uniform from Nemesis. When we see him painting ‘Daughter’ though, he’s in the older style uniform that was worn during the era that he was said to have done the painting. During that opening poker game, we also hear ‘Blue Skies’, the song that Data (and B-4) sang in Nemesis.
There were lots of little visual recreations when Picard when to the Starfleet Archives too, and Bruce Maddox (who we last heard about in ST:TNG Season 4) got a mention. And, of course, we learn that the Romulan Recreation Site is housed in an old Borg Cube.
This is fan service but done in a way that integrates it in the story rather than just tossing it out there. I appreciate that.
I really enjoyed this. While not as strong as the best that TNG had to offer, this was a fine start to the series. The story is interesting, and it’s made clear that this is a long-form piece rather than a monster of the week format show. Patrick Stewart is obviously relishing his return to the role too. The mix of old and new works for me so far. So, I remain excited.
So, those were my thoughts. But what about yourselves? Are you watching Picard’s solo series? Did you enjoy this episode? Let me know in the comments below.