Good afternoon, my intrepid sci-fi lovers! Have any of you ever watched a good sci-fi series that made you think, challenge your beliefs on life, reflect on your own mortality and thoroughly enjoy yourself in the process?
I have. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the CBS series Picard. My wife and I watched this show a few months after the show launched, but despite being late to the party we had a ton of fun with this story. I will now describe in detail the show’s synopsis, what I loved about it, and what I did not. Please enjoy, and Spoiler Warning.
Star Trek: Picard starts off with Picard in retirement. He lives on a massive estate in France accompanied by his Romulan servants and his loyal dog, Number One. He lives each day walking on the manor and admiring his vast vineyards.
All seems well and idyllic for the former Starfleet Captain until he is visited by a young woman named Dahj. She explains that she is being pursued and was instructed to seek out Picard for help. The fearful fugitive also makes mention to Picard’s recent interview where he denounced Starfleet for forsaking the Roman refugees and banning synthetic life. Picard is moved by how much the girl knows about him and reassures her that once he returns from Starfleet HQ he will aid her in her quest. He urges her to stay on the Picard estate.
Picard travels to the Federation Headquarters in San Francisco where he inquires about a painting that he saw given to him by Data in a dream. Shockingly, he is met with the exact painting he saw in his dream. The bemused Jean Luc walks out of the building only to find Dahj looking for him. Before he can learn too much more she is once again attacked by strange black-clad assassins. Dahj holds her own until Picard sees that she is a synthetic life form. She approaches one of the attackers who promptly is revealed to be a Romulan. The Romulan blows her up.
Picard returns home to his estate, sad and heartbroken that he couldn’t save her. He suspects that Dahj had a connection to his old friend, Data. Together with his Romulan friends on the homestead, they investigate the murder and piece together that Dahj may have an identical synthetic “sister” out there.
We then cut to a Borg Cube filled with scientific personnel monitoring and researching the defunct station. One of the researchers comes into frame and is revealed to be an exact copy of Dahj. Her name is Soji and she smiles as she gazes upon the massive Borg complex.
Our story continues with the young Soji working closely with a young Romulan named Narek. Narek is playful and flirtatious with her. They bond through their working together and become intimate. Narek then reveals to us that he is spying on Soji in order to find more “synths” and destroy them. He reports to a Roman assassin from the Tal Shiar cult named Narissa, his sister.
Meanwhile, Picard, now hopeful that he can save Dahj’s sister, seeks out an old friend who helped him evacuate the Romulans from their dying planet. This friend is a bitter, reclusive addict named Raffi. She blames Picard for being kicked out of Starfleet. Despite her leaning, Picard begs her to help him and leaves her with some information about the sinister Romulan plot. He even indicates that they may have infiltrated Starfleet.
Raffi asks Picard to leave, but soon after decides to investigate the leads given her. The reluctant hermit then agrees to find Picard a ship captain as well as help him on the first steps of his journey. She prefaces her offer by saying there will be limitations to her involvement.
The ship’s captain, Chris Rios, greets them and agrees to take them on Picard’s mission. He is an old contact of Raffi. Rios, although helpful, is a deeply depressed melancholic intellectual. He reminds them that his ship, La Sirena, is important to him and is his property.
The trio are joined by the young doctor Agnes Jurati who Picard previously met and questioned about Dahj, due to her experience with synthetic life forms. Unbeknownst to Picard, however, a mysterious Vulcan Starfleet officer called Commodore Oh met with her in private. We don’t get to see the full conversation between those two…yet. We only know that she’s eager to join this expedition. Jurati contends that this will be an opportunity for her to meet synthetic life. Picard agrees and accepts her as a crew mate.
Before they get much further, however, Picard has a flashback to his final days in Starfleet. He fostered a young Romulan boy named Elnor. Picard and Elnor spent much time together with Picard fathering him; reading to him, playing with him and teaching him. Sadly, however, Picard left the boy in the care of priestesses during the time of Romulus’ destruction and never came back for him.
Picard returns to the planet and seeks out Elnor who is now a young man, complete with warrior’s robes and a sword. The hopeful old man beckons Elnor to join him only for Elnor to bitterly refuse him. Picard then heads to the streets for some relaxation. The local Romulan population refuse to welcome him or serve him. When he asks why a local disgruntled Romulan man says Picard abandoned them when he left Starfleet (This is after he saved them from their planet’s destruction…so why not be at least a little grateful…?). Picard shamefully hangs his head in regret. The rowdy Romulan tries to hurt Picard and Elnor, seeing afar off, steps in. The young warrior beheads the malfeasant Romulan, much to Picard’s disapproval. Picard welcomes his help, nonetheless, and Elnor (living the Romulan warrior lifestyle I guess…) swears an oath of allegiance to Picard. They teleport to La Sirena together.
With his crew assembled, Picard and company are assailed in space but are saved by Seven-Of-Nine. The former cyborg reveals to them that she is a rogue outlaw helping people where she can. She agrees to help them save the foremost expert on synthetic life forms, Dr. Bruce Maddox. The plan works and Maddox is brought on board. Seven-of-Nine leaves, having angered Picard with her ruthless methods. Despite this victory, Maddox is secretly killed by Jurati, who was also his lover.
Picard and Elnor beam down to the Borg Cube where they find Soji. The young synth is on the run, having almost been killed by Narek who just extracted the location of her homeworld from her. Picard attempts to convince her to come with him and escape the Borg Cube. Soji, having just been used and almost killed resists him. Luckily, the two escape the Borg Cube and Elnor fends off the pursuing Tal Shiar.
Picard and Soji emerge on a beautiful forested planet named Nepenthe. They are greeted by a young wild-eyed girl named Kestra. Kestra reveals that she lives nearby with her parents Will Riker and Deanna Troi, old friends of Picard. Once there Picard and Soji are welcomed into their home and offered dinner. Picard and Riker exchange old quips and update each other on their lives (this was actually quite good; seeing old friends reacquaint themselves felt like we were a part of this joyous reunion too!). Soji offers rebuttals to Picard who dismissively mocks her with dry sarcasm. This upsets Soji even further, and Deanna Troi pulls Picard aside and rebukes him. She is angry with how cold and dismissive he is to a girl that has just been lied to, used, betrayed and almost killed. Despite her disappointment in him, Troi smilingly encourages Picard to be the empathetic and wise leader he has always been: a man of compassion. Picard, now inspired by these words speaks to Soji at the dinner table. He tells her to check and see if he is lying, after that he encourages her that he will do everything in his power to help her and protect her. This manages to soften Soji’s distrustful heart.
Picard and Soji leave the planet and are rejoined by their crew mates. We learn that Jurati was a traitor manipulated by Commodore Oh and the Romulan cult; instilling in her the fear that synthetic life forms will herald the end of the universe. She has a change of heart and Rios manages to get through to her about her fears, after he too is offered compassion from Raffi. Raffi opens up Rios who admits that he served under a great captain who ended up killing himself. Rios finally lets go of this guilt and helps steer the crew to the Synth Planet.
Arriving on the Synth Planet, Picard reveals to his crew that he is terminally ill. This softens up Soji even further, and greatly saddens Raffi. Not wishing pity, he urges that they press on. The gang makes it to a small peaceful city populated by synthetic life forms that are also human like Soji. They are met by yet another Soji twin named Sutra. She approaches Jurati and mind-melds with her. Through this connection Sutra witnesses the destruction of everything, the approaching Romulan fleet and a raging fire. Sutra, in a surprising fit of pride and malicious retribution declares that the Romulan prophecy only confirms that the synths will win the upcoming conflict and replace all organic life.
Picard protests, arguing for a peaceful solution. He is promptly imprisoned with Jurati agreeing to save the synths as they are her children, while Soji, reluctantly agrees to help the synths contact “synth gods” that will wipe out the Romulans and all organic life.
Narek returns and seeks help from Raffi and Rios. They form a plan and together free Picard and give him a chance to fly out into space to face the Romulan fleet. Soji remains conflicted; seeing that her actions will defend her kind but commit genocide on everyone else. Picard attempts a daring fight against the Romulan fleet and is outmatched. But, before he is killed a humongous fleet emerges from warp: it is Starfleet led by Riker. Riker issues a warning to Commodore Oh to retreat. Soji begins to open the portal and release the “synth gods”; revealed as gigantic moon-sized creatures with metal tentacles. However, seeing Picard’s sacrifice in the name of peace moves Soji and she closes the portal sealing the “synth gods” away.
Commodore Oh, seeing the futility of her doomsday quest retreats. Riker and Picard celebrate and say their goodbyes. Sadly, Picard begins to die. He is rushed down planet-side where he draws his final breath. Moments later his crew speak his praises to each other in his memory.
Picard awakens in a comfy private study joined by Data. Data explains to him that he is not dead, but that his consciousness has been uploaded to a neural network along with Data’s original consciousness. Picard is moved by this and uses this time as an opportunity to tell Data that he loved him. Data, having lived so long and experienced so much on the Enterprise, acknowledges this sentiment and tells Picard that he loved him. Picard is instructed to walk out into the white light to leave the network, but before he does Data asks to help him experience the final lesson of humanoid life forms: mortality. Picard agrees to unplug Data and finally allow him to die, wishing him a heartfelt goodbye for the last time.
Picard awakens on the planet again unsure of how he is still alive. He is explained that he has been placed into an artificial body that functions like his human body did. Picard frets over being immortal but his friends reassure him that he is still mortal and however many years he had left in his previous body are translated to this new golem.
We then cut to La Sirena and Picard’s newfound crew all smile at him. Picard attempts to give a command before looking at Rios. Rios smiles and defers to his leadership. Picard smiles back, confidently and utters those iconic words: “Engage!” The ship bursts forward into warp and disappears.
This show was a hit for me. I absolutely loved it! Star Trek: Picard represents a fresh adventure in a colorful universe that we already know and love. The characters all had personality and contributed conflict and variety to this show about a man in his twilight years.
I will now discuss what I liked about Star Trek: Picard, what I didn’t like about it and what other Trekkies may not like about this show.
Things I liked:
- This show has a vibrant and colorful tone. This is evident in the lighting, beautiful cinematography and elaborate set designs.
- Soji, a new character to this franchise, has a clear character arc. She makes decisions and grows throughout this show.
- The Romulan people are fleshed out and further developed with expanded lore and new cultures. This is evident on Vashti, with Elnor and the Tal Shiar.
- Picard is further developed. He is an optimistic old man with a wealth of life experience under his belt. Picard is a man of contrasts: he is impatient yet hopeful, happy yet regretful, cold yet self-sacrificing.
- Secondary Characters all get meaningful arcs. Rios overcomes his depression through Raffi’s friendship, Raffi confronts her isolation with Rios’ help, and Rios helps Jurati to own up to her mistakes, which enables her to confront her fears and flaws. All these character arcs pay off in the end because they are stronger together and work together as a team to save everyone.
- This show is rife with memorable funny scenes and action scenes. (Picard teasing Soji, Seven-of-Nine becoming Borg Queen for a few minutes to defeat the Romulans, Raffi conversing with Rios’ multiple holograms, and Rios threatening Narek with phasers.)
Things I didn’t like:
- Picard dies only to be revived a couple scenes later. Not only is he revived but he also is functionally unchanged from when he was a human.
- The synthetic gods are an intriguing and baffling concept that come out of nowhere only to be removed in minutes.
- Starfleet is mostly presented as corrupt, selfish, and inept. This is inconsistent with the preceding shows (Star Trek, The Next Generation, etc)
- Jurati is mostly unlikeable when she first boards La Sirena.
- Killing Dahj at the beginning causes some emotional whiplash, and makes me scratch my head as to why they introduced her only to kill her so quickly and put the attention on a duplicate soon after. Why?…
- While I loved the character of Raffi I don’t see why the writers of this show wouldn’t have just given this role to someone from the Next Generation show (Crusher, La Forge, etc)
Things that Trekkies may not like:
- Starfleet is portrayed antagonistically and not like the benevolent humanitarian force we know them as.
- This show’s plot is emotionally charged and character-driven. Star Trek: Picard is not dry and logical like the Next Generation was.
- While the Romulans are shown as having evolved differently on different worlds their plight could really use some expounding upon to better understand their perspective in this new post-Romulus world.
- The Borg Reclamation project is fascinating but doesn’t delve into detail as to how the project is funded, who runs it, etc. This may confuse and frustrate die-hard fans that know the Borg inside-out.
- The Romulans in this show don’t look like or act like their portrayals in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. (Some of the Romulans in here look like models not shoulderpad-wearing neanderthals!)
Besides the show’s own pros I must mention that I have my own personal reasons for loving Star Trek: Picard. To elaborate, I watched Picard with my wife shortly after our usual trip to the Oregon Coast. We had a grand time at the beach and the small historic town that we stayed in. My wife and I came back refreshed and wanting to do something different. Since we both love Star Trek we decided to watch this show together. It was an amazing experience. We laid on the couch together and enjoyed each episode; laughing, crying and critiquing the writing choices. Watching Star Trek: Picard has been a really fun memorable bonding experience for my wife and I. Every time I think about this show I also think about our quality time together laughing and resting.
I give Star Trek: Picard a 91% approval rating for its excellent quality and amazing character-driven episodes. If you love entertaining sci-fi and good stories I highly recommend you watch Star Trek: Picard. You will be amazed!