This recap contains spoilers for Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 1. Here we go, then. Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 1 has landed, and the adventures of Jean-Luc Picard and the TNG crew are coming to an end, after almost four decades. Unlike earlier seasons of this Star Trek series, season 3 begins like all good Star Trek: in space.
Doctor Crusher, with a mysterious young man alongside her, is being tracked through space by some insect-like antagonists. A small attacking cruiser manages to dock with her ship, the Elios, and burst aboard. Crusher arms herself with a meaty phaser rifle, and takes the invaders (just the two of them, apparently) square on.
The two invaders have an aim that not even stormtroopers would be jealous of, and as she’s scrambling for cover Crusher manages to waltz through a literal storm of phaser blasts. She ultimately takes a hit, before managing to get a lucky shot on both. But the fun isn’t over yet, and more enemies appear over the horizon. Clearly desperate, Crusher sends out an encoded subspace transmission to Admiral Jean-Luc Picard.
And where is the old Admiral? On Picard chateau, of course, with Laris. The pair are getting ready to leave their home because Laris is set to head-up a diplomatic mission on some distant planet.
Picard meanwhile is taking this as an opportunity to relax and write his memoirs. Aside from the fact that Picard is not a man who would ever write memoirs (being fastidiously private and having a strong dislike for the attention being shone on him), this sets up that Picard is happily looking to begin the next phase of his life, after the goings on of Picard season 1 and 2.
On a cosy night in the chateau, where outside a storm rages ominously, Picard hears the chirping of his old com-badge. Unlocking a box which contains his uniform from the Enterprise-D, he digs out his 20 year old badge and discovers that someone is sending it a transmission.
That transmission is from Crusher. Clearly distressed, she sends him coordinates and says, “No Starfleet. Trust no one.” She’s asking him for help. But Picard hasn’t spoken for her for 20 years, signalling the seriousness of the danger she’s found herself in and after a conversation with Laris, he decides to go to her.
Like in Picard season 1, he seeks out Riker. Amid the backdrop of preparations for Frontier Day (a celebration of milestones within Starfleet history, at which both Riker and Picard are due to give a speech) Riker helps Picard to decipher the transmission, figuring out where it is that Beverly’s coordinates lead to. They agree they’ll need their own ship to help her – but it appears they’re being watched or followed.
Cut to M’Talas Prime, which is where we find Raffi. As ever, she’s on some dingy, Blade Runner-style, drug-riddled planet. We discover that on some covert operation, she’s created a connection with a drug dealer, who she’s using to get information from. The information she’s looking for is about rumours of some “world-ending weapon.” Her drug dealer tells her it’s got something to do with the Red Lady, leaving Raffi just as confused as we are and searching for the Red Lady.
Meanwhile, Picard and Riker’s plan has taken form. Under the guise of an impromptu inspection, the two Starfleet veterans are attempting to take command of the new and shiny refitted USS Titan – which we get a beautiful, panoramic look at. Their goal: re-route the course of the Titan to Crusher’s coordinates.
Aboard the Titan, they’re greeted by the ship’s first officer, Seven of Nine, who tells them to not set their expectation for Captain Liam Shaw too high. The visuals and score as the Titan leaves space dock are top-notch here, and though much too dark (as if it’s in permanent night shift) the interior of the Star Trek starship provides lots to look at and appreciate too.
Picard and Riker meet Captain Shaw, who is prickly, rude, and generally displeased with their presence. During their dinner, they attempt to deceive Shaw and convince him to take them where they want to go. But Picard’s rustiness and unfamiliarity with the up-to-date Starfleet news leaves Shaw with question marks and suspicions, and he declines their request flat out.
Thankfully, Seven’s combination of loyalty to Picard and dislike for her captain leads her to step in and help. She senses that something isn’t right and gets the truth of Picard and Riker’s plan out of them. Picard tells her not to sacrifice her career to help them, but it turns out that Seven isn’t too happy in Starfleet anyway.
As such, while Shaw was asleep, she diverted the ship to where Picard and Riker wanted to go. Now arrived, she facilitates their departure from the Titan with a shuttle, and they’re on their way to Crusher.
Back with Raffi, the search for the Red Lady is progressing slowly. Then, breakthrough. She links the Red Lady to the upcoming Frontier Day. As part of the celebrations, there appears to be a ceremony which will unveil a new statue of Rachel Garrett: captain of the Enterprise-C, as seen in the famous TNG episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. The Rachel Garrett statue is red (she’s the Red Lady), which tells Raffi that the Frontier Day celebrations could be the target of the attack.
She attempts to get in touch with Starfleet security officials to inform them of the impending attack but is too late. The huge weapon – which Raffi had been warned of, destroys the Starfleet recruitment centre by opening a portal from underneath it and then dumping the rubble off to the side. It’s quite a remarkable moment, leaving Raffi stunned.
Picard and Riker have found Crusher’s ship and dock their shuttle to it. Aboard, they find the remnants of her fight with the intruders right at the start. They split up, but the young man who was with Crusher manages to take Riker hostage as Picard finds Beverly Crusher in stasis. He reveals himself as Crusher’s son (gasp! Does that mean…?), but before he reveals anymore, an enormous, spiky, and frankly quite intimidating ship appears to confront them, leaving Crusher, her son, and Picard and Riker in a lot of trouble.
With this first episode, Star Trek: Picard season 3 does get off to a steady start. It has issues (that opening action sequence; Picard’s dialogue sounds like it’s written for another character, Raffi’s side quest feels awkward and hinges on coincidences), but it also has positives. It’s nice to be aboard a Starfleet ship, and Jonathan Frakes still has it as Riker. It also establishes the direction of the plot moderately well, too, and there are plenty of questions left open-ended for the next episode to answer, which is a good position to be in. The best word to describe it is: efficient.
For more on Star Trek, check out our Star Trek Picard season 3 review or our guides to the best Star Trek characters and the Star Trek captains ranked. Or, take a look at what we know about Star Trek’s Moriarty.
Star Trek Picard season 3 episode 1
Far from perfect, but a steady enough start