They were so close to creating something special this year! Then they blew it… Read on for my thoughts about Star Trek: Picard season two.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead for Picard Season 2*
Starfleet intercepts a cryptic message from space which calls out Jean-Luc Picard by name. It’s from the Borg, requesting a meeting. They wish to join the Federation. Picard and the Federation fleet cautiously accept the invitation and are promptly ambushed! But, before they are killed, Picard and his friends are transported to an alternate reality by none other than Q! What follows are time-travel shenanigans and Borg stuff and history being thrown off course. You know: regular ole Star Trek fare.
I meant to get this review out a few weeks ago, but I had to force myself to finish the show… Picard Season 2 somehow managed to let me down worse than Season 1. It’s because Season 2 started with so much promise! Those first few episodes were far and away better than anything in the show’s initial year. Their pacing, character work, tone, and concepts were all superior. Picard S2 hit the ground running… only to stumble and fall on its face by episode four.
I don’t want to spoil anything important, so I’ll be vague… The crew time-travels to modern L.A in episode 3. That’s not offensive in itself. It’s just a new setting to explore, right? The first two episodes were both set in unique environments, and this’ll just be another one-off before they move on, right?! Nope! They stay in modern freaking Los Angeles for 7 episodes! It’s here the series not only loses momentum but grinds to a halt.
Not even the individual episodes were well paced! Each installment feels far longer than it actually is. As I mentioned above: I liked the early episodes better than the others– but even those ones suffered pacing problems.
Patrick Stewart elevates any and all material. And boy, oh boy, does his material need elevating… He’s one of the most underutilized characters in his own freaking show (but I’ll save that rant for later)!
One of S2’s biggest slogs was a series of mysterious flashbacks to Jean-Luc’s childhood. I remembered from TNG that Picard was close with his mother. Picard sought to explain why she made such an impression upon Jean-Luc. It was a question I never thought needed answering… but OK.
I would have been fine with this mental deep-dive had these flashbacks not dragged out for the whole season! The story intrigued me at first but, halfway through S2, I wished it got to the point… This plot felt more like filler than a meaningful exploration of Picard’s character. Said scenes ultimately did have a good payoff– but not good enough to sit through ten episodes for the answer.
Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) was my favourite character of Picard S1, and she’s still great! But her two stories this year were unfortunately shallow. Part of the plot involves Seven losing her Borg implants. And this gives Seven a new boost of confidence. That was fun to see for a while, but it felt half-baked.
Seven’s other big plot was her relationship with Raffi. The two women spent S2 flirting and arguing, trying to pull off a will-they-won’t-they thing. But this plot-line failed to grip me. Seems that Raffi and Seven had a short-lived relationship between seasons one and two, and now there’s tension between them. But I never noticed a hint of their romance in S1! They were just together all of a sudden, and broke up as fast– neither event shown to us. Picard didn’t care enough about this plot or the characters to build their relationship organically, so I didn’t care either.
Speaking of Raffi (Michelle Hurd): she was my least favourite character of S1. I hoped she might fare better in S2, as she began the season more charismatic than annoyingly abrasive (though she never entirely lost her edge, which was fine). But Raffi was quickly saddled with a trauma which she obsessed over to a boring degree. Once again: I might have cared about this plot had the show bothered to set it up past two quick scenes. But this story’s foundations were built on a thin layer of exposition. Therefore, support was inadequate for such a heavy character burden.
Another character I didn’t love in Picard S1 was Agnes Jerati (Alison Pill). Her comic relief was funny at times, but could also be a bit much. Though I eventually warmed to her throughout S2. She arguably earns the most consistently cool plotline of the year, which I can hardly delve into without spoilers. Suffice it to say she unlocks her full potential, and I had a good time watching her do so.
Santiago Cabrera continued to shine as Rios, although his story this season underwhelmed. I’m a general fan of Cabrera’s (mostly from Merlin and The Musketeers). He’s an underrated actor. And his effortlessly cool, cigar-chomping Starfleet captaincy should be instantly iconic!
But Rios falls into a one-note story-line trap (like most everyone else this year) which takes his near-full attention. It wasn’t so undercooked as his co-stars’ stories, but it also didn’t click with me on an emotional level. That’s more down to the fact I was disengaged with the show in general than due to this specific plot. But it didn’t help that Rios’ story was repetitive and predictable. And I was ultimately disappointed in its outcome…
Elnor (Evan Evagora) didn’t get a tonne to do this year, but he remained a pleasant presence– the most upbeat member of the crew. But Picard S2 promptly sidelined the character early on. What a waste of potential (like everything else this season)!
The Borg Queen was a fun villain though. Annie Wersching turned in a captivating, scenery chewing performance. She was always in control of the room. And her motivations intrigued me more than anyone else’s.
John de Lancie has a smaller role than I wished for, but he hasn’t skipped a beat as Q! He’s a bit more sombre (for good reason), but he’s charming as ever. The writers didn’t ruin him, at least. In fact: one could argue some of his all-time best scenes with Picard took place on this series.
I also enjoyed what Picard S2 did with Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg and Ito Aghayere). The origins of her friendship with Jean-Luc were a worthwhile addition to this season. And she got a decent story about her shaken faith in humanity. But then S2 just drops her for other plot-lines. It was strange that they didn’t find a way to incorporate Guinan for the whole season.
Picard‘s cinematography was pretty, and its set design was immersive. The special effects all looked good. Although the action sequences were largely weak.
And now for a rant: I hate when people demand Star Trek be unpolitical! These folks must never have watched Star Trek before– AKA one of the most politically-motivated franchises since 1966… And it’s not always been known for its subtly either. The franchise’s politics aren’t its problem.
The issue with modern Star Trek is that they don’t even try to nuance their political ideas. It used to be these shows would take modern issues and put a sci-fi spin on them. That way, the people who wanted casual entertainment could still be entertained.
But in Picard, for example, the writers directly comment on today’s issues of race, class, and immigration– in modern L.A no less. Literally any other show can do that. Good Sci-fi (in this writer’s humble opinion) is supposed to be more indirect in its commentaries…
Rant number two:
The thing about Picard which bothers me above all else is how they handle Picard himself! Jean-Luc Picard is one of my all-time greatest role models and idols. That character on The Next Generation 100% contributed to my becoming a better person.
But if I showed this series to someone who’d never watched Star Trek before, I don’t think they’d understand why I value Picard so highly. They’d see a kind old man who sometimes has good ideas, is a decent speaker, and seems to command people’s respect for no apparent reason. But they wouldn’t see the tactical and cultured leader whose passion for his ideals inspired a generation.
The old Picard could control a room without saying a word. This version is lucky to get a word in edge-wise with his allies. The Jean-Luc Picard of this series has lost his edge. And now he blends into the background on his own show… Maybe not all the time, but enough to be notable. It just makes this Star Trek fan sad.
Picard season 2 had a decent plot. I liked some of its ideas and there were many good moments. But it’s unforgivably dull because the writers dragged this story over 10 hours! I’ll bet you The Next Generation could have covered these same beats in a two-parter. Picard is a product of “prestige” television’s least savoury aspects. I’m sick of TV seasons being written like extended films…
Star Trek fans should only watch Picard S2 If They’re Bored (but they should REALLY just watch the best scenes on YouTube).
As for casual viewers? Don’t Bother.
Are you excited for Picard Season 3? What did you think of Picard S2? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!
Till next time,