The final season of Star Trek: Picard launched on Paramount+ February 16 reuniting Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart) with former first officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and it feels like coming home.
The episode, titled “The Next Generation” was written by show runner Terry Matalas and directed by Doug Aarnioksoki. Warning: minor spoilers ahead.
The episode opens with Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) doing something she rarely got to do in The Next Generation series – action! Most of the time, Dr. Crusher was a background character tending to people’s wounds, having an on/off love interest in Picard, or being irritated with her son, Wesley. Here we actually see her on her own ship taking down some bad guys. Unfortunately, she is in a little too much action and gets wounded. But she manages to get off a distress signal to Picard, who she cut off all ties with along with the rest of her former crew mates 20 years prior.
Just over a year after his last adventure (season 2), Picard is preparing to move to Chaltok IV, a Romulan planet, to settle in with Laris – but when Beverly needs help, he swings into action calling on William Riker for help. The banter between Admiral Picard and the now Captain Riker is some of the most fun moments in the episode as they launch a scheme to get to Crusher’s location in the Ryton system.
Even though Crusher’s message tells Picard to trust no one and not involve Starfleet, this scheme involves Riker’s former command, the USS Titan, about to leave drydock after its refit with Captain Shaw (Todd Stashwick) at the helm. Shaw is openly antagonistic towards the legendary Picard and Riker which is one of my gripes with this episode as his attitude is not explained. Granted the whole (retired) Admiral wanting a joy ride in the new Titan is sketchy and he had a right to be suspicious, but his attitude even before asked to do this is condescending and down right rude. Fortunately, his first officer is more receptive – especially considering her former aid to Picard in season 2. That first officer is none other than Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) who Shaw prefers to refer to as Commander Annika Hansen, her birth name.
With Seven’s help, the Titan delivers Picard and Riker to their destination and the pair find and dock with Crusher’s ship. Finding her in a stasis pod, they confront a young man they soon discover is her second son, Jack (Ed Speleers). Of course this immediately opens up the question – who is Jack’s father?
We also catch up with Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) to find out she and Seven broke up and she is again working for Starfleet Intelligence tracking down clues to a mysterious “red lady”. She is a little too late to figure out what that refers to as a devastating terrorist attack is launched against a Starfleet recruitment center. How this attack fits into the Crusher problem will surely unfold during the rest of the season.
All in all, this was a solid opening for the final season of the series, plot holes and unexplained attitudes aside. Having enjoyed the first 2 seasons, it will be interesting to see how this season unfolds.