The first season of Star Trek: Picard was, for me, streaming the show on Amazon Prime Video, like a piece of magic.
Suddenly, before my eyes, I was watching Jean-Luc Picard boldly go back into space, having new adventures and taking me along with him like he did all those years ago when I was much, much younger than I am today in 2022.
Watching Patrick Stewart return as Picard felt almost unreal. It has been decades since Jean-Luc had captained the USS Enterprise and I, like I am sure many other Star Trek fans had done, had closed the box on Jean-Luc, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the series of TNG movies he starred in.
So to see Jean-Luc again was incredible.
And, while the proceeding first season of Star Trek: Picard was far from perfect, and definitely lost its way a little mid-season, by the close I was excited for season two. Watching more of my Star Trek captain, the best captain (come at me Kirk lovers!), sounded great.
But now, three quarters through season two of Star Trek: Picard, I'm mad as hell as, simply put, I feel the show has derailed epically, managing to boldly go nowhere for the last 6 episodes. And, what's worse, as Picard is my Star Trek generation captain, I feel held hostage to continue watching the show now. The show's makers re-opened the Picard box and I cannot now just walk away. I need to follow his story to the end, no matter how bad the show gets.
Here I list what I think has been good, as well as bad, about Star Trek: Picard season two, as well as spell out how I would fix the show for the now confirmed (and final) season three.
To be very clear, what follows is my opinion on Picard season two. You may disagree with me and love it – and that's totally cool, what I consider to be bad or good may not be the same as you. I'm not a Star Trek super fan, either, so do not profess to talk for the Star Trek community. This is just my opinion on Picard's return as a Star Trek: The Next Generation watcher in the 1990s.
WARNING! THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR SEASON TWO OF STAR TREK: PICARD AHEAD. WARNING!
Star Trek: Picard Season 2: The Good
Ok, let's talk the good bits of season two, which are basically all confined to the first two episodes.
The whole pitch behind season two is that the show's makers are basically doing a kind of homage to Star Trek: First Contact, the 1990s movie which sees the crew of the USS Enterprise-E travel back in time to stop cybernetic Borg baddies from conquering Earth by altering the past.
Even though it's been done before, this is still a good plot and feels bang on Star Trek in my opinion. First Contact was also a great Star Trek film, and maybe even the best, so even getting echoes of it still resonates with me today. That opening with Picard looking into the mirror...
And, talking of the Borg, the return of a Borg Queen is also good. The new queen isn't quite as good as that played by Alice Krige in First Contact, but is still suitably menacing and looks and acts the part.
Also, the bit where the Borg Queen slingshots Picard and his team around a star to initiate the time travel was awesome!
Season two isn't all just a First Contact rip off, either, as the season also brought back mysterious TNG quasi-bad guy Q, with John de Lancie returning. De Lancie is great and really sticks a rocket up the show in the first few episodes – every time he is on screen the show ratchets up a few notches in terms of quality and excitement.
I also enjoyed the bad past future version of Earth where everything had gone a bit to hell and a fascist, war-mongering regime was in charge, with key members of the crew finding themselves suddenly playing out the lives of different people. It was classic Back to the Future 2 'bad Biff future stuff', and I liked it.
Ok, I think that's about it.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2: The Bad
Ok, now let's talk the bad.
I feel the biggest problem with season two is that writing has been for large swathes terrible. I didn't really notice in the first couple of episodes due to the action and quick pacing, but from every episode after it the limitations of the dialogue have become super stark to me.
Firstly, the story exposition is not handled well. What typically happens is that we get a clumsy, 'hang a lantern on it, nobody talks like that' exposition bit crammed into about 10 seconds, before the characters then proceed to talk at length around the plot in personal or cryptic ways, while often falling back into communicating their emotional or mental state at that moment.
And this is compounded with the slow pacing of many of these scenes, which also tend to be quite static. The result is you get many scenes that are just deflating to watch, crammed with awkward dialogue. It's like faux emotional filler that leaves you a bit dazed and confused, which funnily enough is how Picard looks in many scenes as he tries to come to terms with what is happening. I feel your pain Picard!
Talking of filler, boy does Picard season two have a lot of it! After the first couple of episodes, I've watched as the amount of Borg Queen and Q action is reduced to a tiny amount of each episode, taking up mere minutes (or less!) of each 45-minute show, all the while being fed filler B-plots that have left me cold or bored.
The sub-plot with Rios getting imprisoned was not only flat and not exciting to watch but obviously never going to come to anything but his inevitable safe return. While I got so bored watching Raffi and Seven traipse around Los Angeles and that car chase with them was terrible – slow and repetitively shot. Something that is supposed to be exciting just turned into more boring, meaningless filler. The dialogue between Rios and Dr. Theresa is also wildly inconsistent in my opinion and that whole episode where Picard and Guinan find themselves trapped in a miserable looking concrete room with the FBI agent, only for the FBI agent to suddenly have a complete change of heart, set them free, and then actually quit his job all because Picard tells him he once saw some Vulcans when he was a kid just felt so cheap. Once again we'd had multiple scenes with main characters trapped in filler dialogue with nothing of action or consequence happening.
Oh, and then there was the weird, trippy 'in Picard's mind' episode. The less said about that the better.
Honestly, it feels that the core main narrative of this season, which is First Contact retold but with Q madness injected into it (sounds exciting right!) is just buried behind a raft if filler. Even the 'themed' episodes we've had in the middle of this series, such as the heist one set at a party, felt only loosely connected to the plot and largely inconsequential. I just can't get away from the idea that what we're watching in season two of Picard is First Contact, a 1 hour 51 minute movie, but stretched out over 7 plus hours with largely boring filler to justify a series.
Basically, for me, it comes down to season two of Picard not giving me enough of the good stuff, while also not learning from the first season's flaws. The first season went missing mid-season for a few episodes, but season two has gone missing so far for every episode after its second. Each episode since I've been waiting for Q or the Borg Queen to stick another rocket under the show and get us back on track at the same time, but so far it just hasn't happened.
Here's hoping, then, that tomorrow's penultimate episode of Star Trek: Picard season two can move toward ending the series more the way it started, with its big guns and primary plots front and centre. Hopefully 6 episodes of mostly filler have left the powder dry for a spectacular two-part finale.
Oh, and one more thing
I think my frustration with how season two has panned out, for me at least, comes down to me desperately wanting the show to do well and for it to give Jean-Luc a good send off. After all, if you're going to bring one of the most beloved Star Trek heroes back then you've got to do it right and, while I felt season one was on the right track to doing this, I feel season two has moved further away from it markedly.
Come on guys, this is Picard – let's make sure his final trek isn't tripe.