Star Trek: Picard, Season 3, Episode 1

Posted by TJ on 2/17/2023Tags: Star TrekStar Trek: Picard, Season 3, Episode 1

I probably don’t have to tell you that this entire article will be filled with spoilers. So RED ALERT.

Red Alert

I don’t know if I’ll write a review of every episode this season (or if I’ll even have time). But I had thoughts after watching S3E01 and I wanted to write them down.

Season 1

First, let me back up. It’s not that I hated season 1. I found it enjoyable. But it didn’t feel particularly like Star Trek sometimes. It had it’s moments, but I wasn’t thrilled. And I should have known to some extent that it wouldn’t be up to my standards based on Patric Stewart’s stated criteria for returning. He wanted to “do something different.” As a Star Trek fan, that’s not necessarily what you want to hear. I understand wanting to move forward, but it turns out that his and the writer’s idea of “different” was that Picard became very un-Picard like in the years he was off-screen. He was sitting around waiting to die. That’s not what you want of heroes in stories.

I have other things I could say about season 1 both good and bad. But the only other thing I’ll say here is that I liked the season okay, until (remember I said SPOILERS)…

…they killed Picard and brought him back as an android. I felt that was just disrespectful and not very forward-looking. And it certainly did the character a disservice. Personally I try to pretend that didn’t happen moving forward or else it overshadows everything that comes after where you’re thinking, Picard is actually dead and the Picard we see now is a copy. I can’t deal with that so I pretend that didn’t happen.

Aren't you dead?Aren't you dead reaction

Season 2

Season 2 started off really good. I’d say the first 2 episodes were stellar. Episode 3 was like treading water. And it tanked from there. In the end, I quite disliked season 2. Oh, I loved seeing Q back on-screen, but I felt he was dreadfully misused and it was a terrible send-off for him.

On the other hand, Annie Wersching was a fantastic borg queen and her loss last month was so sad.

Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen

On to season 3

What Works

So, here comes season 3, and while I’ve been hyped based on everything coming out about the season, I’ve also had a bit of trepidation (and still do) based on past experience with Picard.

But I will say Episode 1 was mostly good. The pacing is fantastic. The vibe feels right. Seeing Beverly Crusher AND Will Riker was great. And it’s so good to see Seven of Nine in a Starfleet uniform.

Picard, 7 of 9, and Riker in the Titan A's Command Center

The episode has a lot of callbacks to various eras of Star Trek — TOS movies, TNG movies, TNG series — and those callbacks come in various forms: scripting, visuals, music, and sound design (you’ll hear a lot of familiar chirps and chimes). It mostly works. That coupled with production design and basic look and feel say feature film quality rather than TV quality.

And there’s a lot of fun romp vibe for Picard and Riker as well. Though they’re a bit hesitant at first, they’re both glad to be “back on the road” so to speak.

I’d say, in fact, that this is the best episode of 24th century and beyond Star Trek we’ve seen on screen in the new era of Star Trek on TV. The reason I qualify that time period is because Strange New Worlds would probably take the best overall show with the best episodes so far of the modern era of Star Trek. It’s set in the 23rd century, hence the time framing.

In short, I really loved this episode, I laughed at the jokes, I sat on the edge of my seat for some of the suspense. And it’s clear that in large part, there’s a great story coming, and we’re left wanting more and wanting to unravel the mystery that’s been set up.

It’s also clear that Terry Matalas and his crew also really love Star Trek and that Season 3 is starting off as a love letter to Star Trek. And indications are the rest of the season will continue in that direction.

In keeping with the title of this section “what works,” Picard and Riker’s relationship is a delight. They are both much more mature people at this point, and they work together as equals, even if, technically, Picard is an Admiral (retired), and Riker is still a captain (but with no chair). Watching them work together as old friends really makes this episode feel special. It was particularly delightful when Will referred to Picard as “captain,” then apologetically says, “old habits.” And shortly after, Picard refers to Will as Number One with no apology whatsoever.

Picard and Riker sit in a bar

As always, it’s so great to see Seven of Nine again. I know she was brought onto Voyager to make that show gain a little more sex appeal, but what happened instead is the show became more intelligent and following her journey into becoming human again after living in the Borg collective gave the show heart. Bringing her into Picard and mixing her up with the former “Locutus” just made sense. And now that they have an established rapport from seasons past, Picard and Seven’s relationship here feels natural. And her direct manner with Picard (and Riker), along with her loyalty, really makes our 3 main characters here stand out.

Seven, Picard, and Riker

What Doesn’t Work as Well


While the lighting and overall look and feel of TNG could be very bright, carpeted, and washed out — which, much as I love TNG, wasn’t always great — Picard has taken a much more dark and metalic approach. Overly so. Season 3 is no different. Many scenes feel difficult to see. The bridge of the Titan A feels like a very dark place to work.

Yet again, Starfleet is the enemy

Look, as a card-carrying libertarian (reminder, small L, not the Libertarian party), I get it: government and quasi-government organizations can be bad. But it feels like this has been played to death in Star Trek. And not only do you have Beverly saying, “don’t trust Starfleet” causing our heroes to go rogue, but you also have Captain Cold in charge of the Titan A. At least he’s not a “badmiral” (Haftel, Satie, Pressman, Dougherty, Jameson, Marcus, Leyton, Cartwright, Buenamigo, Kennelly). But there have been plenty of bad captains in Star Trek (Styles, Esteban, Jellico, Harriman, Braxton, Waters, Ransom, Decker [technically a commodore], Garth, Tracy, Maxwell, Lorca, Benteen) and I’m over it. I can’t figure any reason Captain Shaw would ever actually have made it to the rank of captain with how bad he is at actually working with people.

Captain Shaw

And let’s talk about Shaw a little. Shaw is clearly displayed as the bad guy for our heroes to overcome. But he’s put in an impossible situation. He has no orders to do what Picard and Riker are asking him. And, yes, he’s bad at managing people or responding graciously or having any respect for Admiral Picard and his predecessor in captaining a ship named Titan, Captain Riker, at all. And he clearly doesn’t like Seven; there’s bad blood there.

But then, he turns around and trusts Seven with the command of the ship while he goes off and does whatever he wants. And that clearly indicates a level of trust that would seem unwarranted by everything else present in the story. And then she rewards the trust with betrayal. I liked a lot of the writing in the episode, but I felt this part was not so great.

A Tad Too Much Fan Service

I’m a fan, and I like a little fan service. Nevertheless, there were several times when I felt that it was overplayed. Some of the direct echos of past script and music in the departure sequence made me feel strange.

Titan A

Before I say the parts I don’t like, I do want to say I’m generally a fan of the ship’s design. It’s a nice harkening back to my favorite era of Starfleet ships (the refit constitution class is easily the best looking starship ever made). And it makes sense that Starfleet would still be making ships of this general design. There are plenty of cars still being made that hearken back to older eras because there are things about those designs that still work well. And I also buy that line of reasoning for Starships.

Titan A

What’s not working so well for me is that this ship bears the name Titan. Riker’s “Titan” was a Luna class starship, very different from this neo-constitution class ship. And I get that nameplates get transferred to new classes of ships. But with the Enterprise, you could at least see a progression from no modifier and A, to B, to C, to D, to E. This feels like it’s out of left field. Nevertheless, if that was all, I’d be okay.

But it gets stranger. As Picard and Riker are pulling up and getting ready to park in the shuttlebay, Picard refers to this new ship as Riker’s old command. And Riker looks like he has stars in his eyes looking at this ship he never actually commanded.

But it gets stranger still. Captian Shaw says he had to purge Riker’s jazz music out of the system. What? How? In an interview, show runner Terry Matalas said that it was because they salvaged some of the systems from the Luna class Titan to reuse on this Neo-Constitution Class Titan A. But that’s so weird. Wouldn’t whatever the equivalnt of disk storage is in the 25th century have been purged, or, probably, replaced?

This could have been any ship, why Titan? It’s very odd. If you’re going to have the Titan, why not just make it the Titan?

Will and Deanna Are on the Rocks?

Look, I was actually one of the 3 people very into the idea of Worf and Deanna near the end of TNG’s run. But then the show ended, Worf went to DS9 (where he was a wonderful addition), and he married Judzia (also a big fan of Worf and Judzia). And it’s clear that from TNG and the writer’s perspective, it was always supposed to be Will and Deanna. And, in Insurrection, they really started pulling their relationship back together, then in Nemesis they tied the knot.

Will And Deanna's Wedding

Further, one of the most moving parts of Picard Season 1 was Will and Deanna’s relationship, what they had been through, and their daughter, Kestra.

Picard, Will, and DeannaKestra Troi

So the hint from Riker that he and Deanna aren’t doing well is unwelcome and unneeded. And why do we need that drama? The show seems to have plenty of other drama to worry about. I’d be much happier if Will and Deanna could just be happily married. And I really quite liked the young actress who played Kestra in Season 1. I hope we get to see her again this season.

Make it so

Despite these complaints, I hope it was apparent from earlier sections in this “review” for lack of a better term for this stream of consciousness, that this first episode made me quite happy and I’m greatly looking forward to the rest of the season. Terry has been saying all the right things. The set-ups in this first episode are intriguing. And, I’m greatly looking forward to seeing the crew back together.

And, as I’ve already stated, the pacing feels much more like Star Trek than the often languid pacing of past seasons. I’ll say again that this feels like Star Trek in a way that the previous 2 seasons have not. So thrusters on full, I say.