Remembrance– | Review Score – 4/5
Maps and Legends – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The End Is the Beginning – | Review Score – 3/5
Absolute Candor – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Stardust City Rag – | Review Score – 2/5
The Impossible Box – | Review Score – 4/5
Nepenthe – | Review Score – 3/5
Broken Pieces – | Review Score – 3/5
Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2
As we push forward into a bold new decade, plenty of science fiction IPs of old have gone in search of greener pastures to catch up with an ever-expanding plethora of solid sci-fi shows. From the excellent Dark and 12 Monkeys raising the bar for time-travel to The Expanse‘s gritty, incredibly well-realized world, sci-fi has come leaps and bounds in recent years. Much like Star Wars and Doctor Who before it though, Star Trek has found out the hard way this year that the grass isn’t greener on the other side as this long-running IP attempts to reinvent itself.
With a returning Patrick Stewart and some promise early on, Star Trek: Picard sets itself up in a distant, bleak, dystopian future that feels alien and forbidding; a far cry from the utopian hope of The Next Generation and other shows of its kind. Unlike Star Trek: Discovery, the promise of Captain Picard grabbing a plucky ensemble of misfits together to save the universe had promise on paper, if delivered in a competent manner. Unfortunately the execution is anything but.
Instead of the familiar episodic format of old, Picard tells a continuing story across its 10 episodes with several sub-plots converging together for the action-packed third act of this tale. The story itself is pretty generic, taking elements of the usual sci-fi tropes and merging them together with a bleak vision for the future. The main arc of the season revolves around humanity’s distrust for “synths” and a prophecy revolving around the “chosen one” (or chosen two as the case may be). There’s also the issue of a dormant Borg Cube looming in the far reaches of space along with the threat of all life ending in a cataclysmic fight for survival. It’s all very generic and these plot threads converge together for the underwhelming and disappointing climax.
Tonally, the series plays much closer to the moody, grim, dystopian futures we’ve seen in other countless sci-fi series and therein lies one of the biggest problems with Star Trek: Picard. Much like Doctor Who teaming up with her “fam” to ham-fist big Earth-bound societal issues into the story, Picard sees fit to make nods toward a lot of the issues affecting us on Earth right now.
Of course, Star Trek has always tackled this and admittedly, early on this season there are some thought provoking ideas thrown into the fold. The execution and sloppy way these are thrown into the story without much subtlety though takes away from any promise this may have as the season wears on.
All of this would be forgiven if the characters and story held up but while the latter struggles to hit much consistency, with a sporadic pacing that flits between slow-paced and mediocre to bombastic and fast-paced violence, the former lacks much in the way of empathy or likability. The first half of the show tackle numerous “call to action” stories that give the series a stop/start feel as Elnor, Raffi and the rest of the cast are convinced to join Picard on his adventure before diving into the meat of the plot.
The development between these characters and with the main conflict itself is lacking on so many levels, with this version of Picard feeling like a shadow of the authoritative, seasoned negotiator all those years ago on The Next Generation. Fond memories of “Shut up Wesley” are dissolved in favour of Picard showing affection to a young Elnor as a child, while Starfleet’s new, bitter commander shooting expletives at Picard takes you completely out of this world.
As someone who’s a casual fan of Trek and not a hardcore Trekkie, I can only imagine the disappointment many fans have coming out the back of this show. Beyond the special effects and a couple of well-placed cameos, Picard slips up in almost every category and when the dust settles, this show will almost certainly take its rightful place as one of 2020’s biggest disappointments. Much like Star Wars and Doctor Who, it seems these rebooted and rejuvenated IPs of old are destined to fail, with Picard yet another casualty in this age of old shows attempting to engage with audiences.