Monday, 10 October 2022

Picard: Third Try at the Greatest Adventure?

The third season of Picard might only be due in February but already the second trailer has the pulse racing.

Featuring, unsurprisingly, the whole of the TNG crew, the last season of Jean-Luc's story is set to be the biggest the show has produced and maybe even the biggest risk in the franchise's history.

I say that with just as much trepidation because the trailer throws all in perhaps with the exception of that kitchen sink cliche. 

TNG has been owed, some would say, a decent send off since the disappointment of Nemesis and the subsequent "final" movie that never happened. There was franchise lethargy back in the early 2000's and we wont retread those board here but this could be the closure that fans of the now 35 year old series may actually deserve.

Posing not one but three nemeses in its last run, Picard apparently has the crew reassembled to go hunting for Beverly Crusher and her ship but ending up in all sorts of trouble at the hands of incoming main baddie Vadic played by Amanda Plummer.

Perhaps more well known for her appearance in Pulp Fiction, Plummer is also linked to the franchise through her legend of a father Christopher who raised hell in 1991's The Undiscovered Country as renegade Klingon General Chang.

Alongside her there will be a return for Daniel Davis' Moriarty previously seen in Elementary, Dear Data and Ship in a Bottle. His character has seen further life in the expansive universe of the Star Trek novels but this marks his first onscreen appearance since 1993. As yet, his involvement in the season is unknown.

Many fans were also wondering how Brent Spiner would be able to return to the show and be alongside his fellow TNG crewmates for, as we have been teased, at least one scene. Featuring in both seasons as Data and also two family members of the Soong dynasty, that question has now been answered - Lore.

Looking significantly different to his last appearance in Descent, Part 2 from 1993, the new question is how did he come to be reassembled given the verbal reference in that episode and also in Picard's first season?

Alongside her father, Geordi we have a new La Forge in Starfleet with his daughter at the helm of possibly the Titan-A or... could it be the other ship we spot in the trailer?

Fans of Star Trek Online will have no doubt rejoiced at the confirmation that the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F is an Odyssey Class with its first ever appearance in live action coming this season. STO has made a mark in the show already with the provision of ships from the game in the season two Starfleet armada including the Gagarin and Venture Classes yet this is the step that fans have been screaming for. We already had (via the Picard prequel graphic novel) known that the Odyssey Class existed with the USS Verity so it was only a matter of time.

News has it too that viewers will learn the fate of the Enterprise-E. If you think about it, that starship had a maximum life of 25 years which is pretty good for any craft with the name when you review its history!

The trailer itself looks near-cinematic with its battle sequences, enormous enemy vessels and a true feel of one last mission. Raffi and Seven are also back, being the only members of the original Picard ensemble to have made it through the previous two seasons fairly unscathed. Note that Seven finally has a Starfleet rank of commander, something that was teased heavily towards the back end of season two.

Yet even with the news, the trailer and the overall excitement for what will concretely be the final final season of Picard and the last time the TNG crew assembles, the show still has a mountain to climb.

For entertainment value it's been great and nostalgic if nothing more. Season one provided much promise with the return of Data and the closure of his narrative in a more suitable way. Indeed, that final scene with Picard was truly one of the show's greatest events. Season two likewise seemed to have gone big with the inclusion of both Guinan and Q, the latter receiving one heck of a final scene that eclipsed the Data version from the year before.

When watched on a binge viewing, the 20 episodes are a good run but there are so many timing issues, plot holes, pointless directions and a narrative in both seasons that doesn't hang together. There's either too much going on that not everyone gets to play a suitable part or there's filler that doesn't add a thing to the story. Season three has to iron these points out and provide a stable, cohesive story that will satisfy fans and ensure that this send-off is remembered for all the right reasons.

I openly admit I enjoyed both batches of Picard. Initially it was fortunate to be up against Discovery and quite easily trounced it for quality but both Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds have upped the expectation of fans in this Kurtzman era. Yes, it started well with seasons one and two of Discovery but I for one feel that the show has lost its way and the trailer for the fifth season doesn't look like it's trying anything new. Ok, season four was affected by Covid and they did what they could but the move to the 32nd Century hasn't been quite the success I would have hoped nor does it have the heart of those 90's iterations.

Picard's final journey looks to have ticked a lot of fan requirements but to do that and manage a coherent narrative will prove its worth. Can all of these elements - the TNG cast, a new villain, Lore and Moriarty (plus whatever else we don't yet know) work in a ten episode arc? Viewers won't just want to see those aforementioned boxes ticked but will want Star Trek to deliver a worthy story for one of its most beloved characters after a very uneven two series.

We can but remain hopeful and the signs do seem to point in a more positive direction yet we'll only really know how it works when the show returns on February 16th.

What are your hopes for season three? What DON'T you want to see?

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  1. I honestly wish I could be more excited to see the entire cast of my favorite show returning. It could have been the Undiscovered Country of TNG; a final send-off epic adventure, peace with the Romulans or a final confrontation with the Borg. However it's the same people behind the pen, the same dark dreary deconstructionist tone. I'm afraid they will just take people we used to love, and ruin their memory, with another modern ending that has no catharsis or meaning.

    1. It's finding the balance between the nostalgia of the mid-90's and a thoughtful update to the 2020's. Sadly it's not gelled anywhere near what fans would want and that's perhaps more due to expectation than delivery. It needs to be epic and adventurous but across 10 episodes it might be somewhat drawn out and not as well paced as a movie adaptation of the same story would be. Perhaps there will be one more story to tell but this has to deliver and after two previous seasons of misfire it's going to be doubtful.

    2. I have a different opinion on why shows have become dull, compared to most people.

      I think that when people lack a coherent metaphysical vision of reality, they cannot write a coherent or satisfying story. That is why current entertainment lacks the catharsis of older shows like Babylon 5. There is no sense of completion if a story has no direction or purpose, other than to superficially entertain on a "moment by moment" basis.

      Contrast this nihilism with a coherent metaphysical standpoint like "the salvation of humanity is to uncover reality", or "civilization must place eternal good over it's kings and presidents". This allows for direction and resolution, revelations, moments of trancendant triumph, and you can have a tearful ending where friends and colleagues earn their shared sense of accomplishment.

      Without it you get exactly this pointless directionless type of entertainment that never has an 'ending', it just fizzles out without resolution, having dragged people along for ten seasons.

      JJ Abrams with his 'mystery box' style of storytelling is the epitomy of this. None of his shows ended, they just continued stringing viewers along for as long as they could, because current writers, educated in post-modern nominalism, are incapable of writing endings by default.

      A coherent framework of reality allows one to filter information, and boil the essentials down. It gives structure to a person's life. It is paradoxically freeing, to have limits.

      Having seen what you have seen, do you honestly think Picard season 3 will be any different? These people hold the same post-modern axioms they did at the start of the revival in 2017; deconstructionism and cynicism are expected and required in current Hollywood.

      The entire post-modern assumption of Hollywood and indeed Western civilization is deeply unhealthy.

  2. Revenge..........Again.

    1. Have we, dare I say it, started to run out of ideas???

    2. For me personally, I don't think it is ever possible to run out of ideas. Stories are endless in their potential to fascinate. Good, timeless, ideas are eternal in their compulsion.

      It is the execution of said ideas that is found wanting in modern Star Trek. The problem lies not in reality containing finite ideas, and those being exhausted, but in writers being wrongly guided. Writer's block is essentially a deficiency of understanding.