Star Trek: Picard delivers an emotional and satisfying finale…
Star Trek: Picard has been billed as a ten-hour movie and the season one finale certainly felt like a momentous cinematic conclusion that blended high-stakes action with some meaty emotional drama. Et in Arcadia Ego Part Two didn’t just feel like a season finale; it also dealt with major themes running since the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the last movie set in this universe, Star Trek: Nemesis.
There were some nice moments of character redemption. Agnes was a lot of fun, revelling in being a double agent and helping Picard in his insane mission to hold off an entire Romulan fleet. Whether it means she is held accountable for Maddox’s death remains a loose thread, but it was great to see her back in her enthusiastic, endearing persona of the first couple of episodes.
I’m glad that Picard was so vocal in his dislike of Altan Soong. He didn’t become a surrogate for Data, only joining the fight when the truth about Sutra’s actions were revealed. Saving Picard felt like a redemption for his own actions last week. As for Soji, it was interesting to see her play the fallen hero, becoming one of the twin sisters from Narek’s disturbing narrative of the Romulan apocalypse. Picard’s ‘death’ serving as a trigger for her redemption was a powerful moment, that managed to make the titular character at the heart of the story.
Ans for all the drama unfolding, this was still very much Picard’s story. His Starfleet captain was always at his best at the negotiating table more than the action-centred heroics of the likes of Kirk or Janeway and this episode understood that. While he was willing to sacrifice himself to earn Starfleet time to arrive, his greatest moment came in negotiating the stand off with the Romulans, making Soji stand down and avoiding a disastrous space battle with the Federation. The stakes were massively high and Picard was at the heart of it. It was great to see him fulfil his purpose, even at the cost if his own life.
There were plenty of other great moments. The fight between Seven of Nine and Narissa didn’t really add much to the story, but provided a nice closing chapter on Hugh’s story as his death was avenged. The biggest fault I have with the narrative however, was Seven. I don’t really see how she fitted into the story. The arrival of the Borg cube last week amounted to nothing and there was a lot to her story that still felt unexplored at the end. I wasn’t convinced by her connection with Raffi at the end. That being said, Jeri Ryan is terrific in this series and I hope she gets more to do next season – or perhaps a spin-off? She could certainly carry a show on her own.
One of the biggest surprises of the finale was the arrival of Captain Riker. It was an indulgent moment but a welcome one, building off his lovely return in episode seven. The choice of name for the Starfleet flagship – the Shenzou – was another lovely callback to the doomed vessel that kick started to the Star Trek TV revival in Star Trek: Discovery. I like that Star Trek: Picard has been more than just a nostalgia-fest, but the moments that have played on fans’ love of the franchise have hit the spot well.
Talking of Star Trek: Discovery, I cant help but but wonder if those terrifying synthetic arms clawing their way out of the wormhole might be connected someway to the AI threat of Discovery’s second season. With rumours of an Avengers-style crossover Star Trek TV series, this galaxy-destroying AI threat could be the villainous glue to unite the shows together.
Of course, Star Trek: Picard works very well on it’s own, wrapping up in a satisfying way so that if there were no more TNG-era stories to tell, this season would serve as a nice coda to that era. The best parts of the fianle came in that final closing act, as Picard died from his brain condition and was resurrected. An argument could have been made that this would have been the perfect place to end his journey, stopping a bloody conflict between the Federation and the Romulans and saving the spiritual daughter of Data. But there was something quite special in the manner at which the finale saw Picard become Data – living once more in artificial form – while Data got to end his life as a human, achieving his goal by reaching a finite point.
The legacy of Data, arguably the most loved character of Star Trek: The Next Generation besides Picard, has hung heavy over Star Trek: Picard‘s first season, and the surprise dream-like encounter with Picard as he transitioned from one body to another, was a beautiful climax to that theme. Data reflecting on his death in Star Trek: Nemesis and choosing to end his one living strand of consciousness, was a far more satisfying end than the memory dump in B-4, which seemed like a cynical move to kill of Data and still keep him alive. Intertwining his death with Picard’s, gave Et in Arcadia Ego Part Two an incredibly strong ending, even while setting up Picard’s journey into season two and beyond.
There has been a lot to love about season one of Star Trek: Picard. Patrick Stewart has been magnificent, offering a nuanced, vulnerable look at this great character. It has found new and interesting ways to explore the Borg and the Romulans, the two aliens races with the biggest impact on Picard and has done a stellar job of world building, offering a very different look at Starfleet beyond the TNG era. It has given us some truly memorable characters, particularly Satiago Cabrera’s Rios and Michelle Hurd’s Raffi. I’ve also loved Evan Evagora’s Elnor, even though I struggle to see what he brings to the story. As for returning characters, the brief visit to Troi and Riker proved to be the season’s highlight, Picard’s reunion with Hugh was incredibly heart-warming and Jeri Ryan has been an absolute blast as Seven. Could the season have been stream-lined by a couple of episodes? Certainly. Could we have spent less time on the Borg Cube – a fascinating concept that became a narrative dead end? Absolutely.
But these are largely small issues. The rich storytelling of Star Trek: Picard has given something fresh and enticing to the franchise. Certainly the profanity and violence may have been a bit much, but then this series is the first truly different Star Trek series. The possibilities for Star Trek: Picard‘s second season are endless. I just hope he largely retains the spirit of its first run, perhaps learning to keep a bit more focus this time round. I can’t wait to see where Jean Luc Picard takes us next…
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