So much has been written about the wonderful finale of Star Trek Picard, or TNG season 8 to many fans, that I don’t feel I need to add my thoughts in terms of a review. I did feel motivated to write something though, so I dusted off my Star Trek pen to share what I feel were the top moments from this spectacular denouement to 90s Trek, highlighting the strength of the storytelling. To show that these weren’t merely fan servicing Easter eggs, but they were details thought over and brought in for the love of Trek, for these writers and Terry Matalas in particular clearly know their Trek lore (see what I did there) to their warp cores.
Phasers Set to Emotional
Original series member Walter Koenig (who once generously corresponded with me via email when I had a very nerdy question for him for an article I was writing,) returns as Federation President Anton Chekov, a tribute to Anton Yelchin, and a call back to Star Trek 4 The One with the Whales.
The Future is Changeable
The Borg played such a huge part in TNG and Voyager and it is apt they are back but not in any rebooted sort of way, in a way that feels classic yet fresh, the idea of the Borg Queen, perched like a spider, eating her babies to survive is truly grotesque, and at one point the Queen says this is “your future’s end” a very specific call back to a pre-Seven episode of Voyager, one that introduces the character of Captain Braxton, who is from the future and features in a key Seven episode in a later season.
Head of Starfleet Medical
One of the greatest pleasures of the third season of Picard is seeing chronically under-used characters given stuff to do that matches their brilliance as actors. It is a problem that dates back to the original series films, and is not acknowledged enough, poor Nichelle Nichols was often reduced to “hailing frequencies open captain,” highlighted brilliantly by Sigourney Weaver in Galaxy Quest, and most often seen in TNG with the characters of Crusher and Troi, with Crusher pretty much non-existent in the movies.
This whole season feels like a deliberate acknowledgement of that and a course correction away from writing rooted in misogynist tropes, best shown with Beverly Crusher now being an Admiral and head of Starfleet Medical, a nice nod to the expanded novels, where she was always given more interesting things to do, including teaming up with McCoy and Bashir. In season three she is also constantly saving everyone and everything, coming up with the scientific solutions to save those she loves and serving the work she does.
Gates McFadden is a true auteur; a dancer, Muppet wrangler, director, icon and podcaster to name just a few things in her repertoire.
Troi Flies to the Rescue
On the theme of female character course correction, Troi gets a great moment (one of many) when she pilots the enterprise to rescue her crewmates. A direct rebuke to a toxic debate. This is also something that Terry Matalas confirms in this article by the awesome Maggie Lovitt, who has written a whole bunch of fantastic articles for our friends at Collider.
Trust Your Gut Data
Data’s whole journey has been one of searching for what it is to be human, he is in many ways a reflection of everyone’s search for meaning, and over the years his colleagues have taught him about aspects of humanity, like telling a joke or trusting your instincts and in the season finale Data gets to experience a gut instinct and his friends trust him, it’s a wonderful moment infused with humour and no little pathos.
I won’t say too much so as not to spoil anything but the return of Data is very clever and brings a fresh and fun spin on the character, I loved every moment. A special shout out to David Mack, whose novels seem to have inspired the idea.
Another brilliant character portrayed by an amazing actor, given an evolution that feels organic and again eschews the possibly sexist motivations for introducing Seven into Voyager. And whilst great writing and acting meant Seven was quickly much more than that within Voyager the character soars even higher in Picard and Jeri Ryan is so phenomenal in season three it’s incredible to think she won’t have a full on, and well deserved, renaissance of her career.
Some quarters of the internet have talked a lot about fan service and how the season has felt like fan fiction, and I’d say, well yes, it is in the sense this season was written and designed by Star Trek fans for Star Trek fans, and I want to shout out a few of the stand outs, although I can’t name everyone, but the whole crew from writers to set design need celebrating.
Wil Wheaton (for the fantastic Ready Room interviews)
Jörg Hillebrand. (Super fan turned Super Trek researcher).
The Writers Room –
Christopher Monfette & Sean Tretta
Jane Maggs & Cindy Appel