Where to start, where to start? So much that I liked about the season finale of season 2 of Star Trek: Picard that I had to rewatch it several times to kind of get my bearings about who and what seemed to leap out at me. Was it the Jurati full circle, the well-hidden fan service of a past TNG character, or perhaps the realization that so much about this season has circled around guilt and loneliness?
There’s just a pile of interesting aspects everywhere, something that I appreciated in the season finale, a finale that showed us the power of forgiveness and acceptance. A finale that left us surprised and delighted that old adversaries parted as friends – as family. It was a good one and aside from the entertainment value, it left me feeling uplifted and hopeful in a way that only Star Trek can often do.
I guess the moment that got me shouting “yes” at the TV the most was a little side story involving Kore (Isa Briones) and her erasure of her “fathers” files. While that was a nice “take that” moment, the real stunner came moments later when, in a small flowered courtyard, she got a recruiting pitch from a former ensign on the Enterprise – now a Traveler.
That’s right, after much deflecting and denial, Wil Wheaton DID show up on Picard for a brief bit with Briones as he recruited her into the Travelers. The speculation about Wheaton’s involvement had been rampant, but expectations had been tamped down by plenty of smoke being blown by the show’s administration and Wheaton himself. Not so fast, my friends. In the end, the TNG circle got a little more complete with Wheaton’s quick appearance. The beauty was the it wasn’t just a bit of fan service, but a believable story arc that turned out to give Kore a new life and purpose. It was well done and I appreciated it.
As speculated in my last review, Tallinn helped solve the Jurati riddle of one Renee lives and one dies as she used her “watcher” powers to cloak her identity and suffer poisoning at the hands of mad scientist Soong. But in her death, she touched Jean-Luc in a real way, reaching deep within him to address his feelings of guilt and fear of opening himself up.
Orla Brady is such a delight as both Tallinn and, later, Laris. She’s intense, she’s empathetic, she’s just got a vibe that makes you want to see her take the character and own it. Playing off Sir Patrick Stewart has been a visual treat throughout the second season And in the finale, we got a chance to see her force open the fear he carries, the guilt he’s lived with, and leave it in the past. And then, when home at last, stand before Laris a man ready to face intimate relationships on an even keel. It was tremendous and really offered an emotional look at them both.
Picard’s crew foils Soong’s plan, Renee Picard is allowed to proceed on the Europa mission and the only thing left was to find a way back home. As Raffi, Seven, and Picard try to reconcile with their presumed new existence in 2024 Los Angeles, they get an assist from a familiar antagonist.
We found out in episode 9 that Q is dying and in his impending walk to the other side, we discover something else about him in the season finale – he has a great deal of affection for Jean-Luc Picard. The reason he couldn’t stay away from Picard, the reason he sent him on this wild journey was to help the admiral rediscover who he was and leave the guilt and shame that had formed so much of who he was in the present, behind. Q’s repeated disgust about humans living or being tied to the past was not just a torrent of verbal irritation, but a direct comment to Picard about the cloud of his mother’s death that had so haunted him.
One could almost say that, rather than simply liking Picard or being enamored with him, Q loved Jean-Luc in a very real way and though he was a repeated antagonist, he was also an entity that found plenty in Picard to value and admire. And in the end, as Q sent Picard, Raffi and Seven back to their time zone (oh, and resurrected Elnor, to boot), we got that incredible glimpse into Q’s heart and soul. As with so many characters in this story, he was lonely as well, with desires to belong to a place, time and people. His final moments with Picard, which included a hug and some kind words, were a very touching moments in the 30-year struggle between the two.
In the end, as Q was nearing the end, the emptiness he’d tried to suppress with games and angles and puzzles that tormented Picard and his crew were seen for what they really were – cries for attention and belonging. He was just incredibly bad at it until that last moment as he sent Picard and crew back to the future. John De Lancie was a mighty engine in this role, just pulling the story arcs with such passion and precision they were impossible to ignore – Q was impossible to ignore or dislike. It was masterful work from De Lancie every single time.
I called it with Rios last week when I suspected he’d stay behind. As he said, he never really fit in the timeline they were heading back to and as the season progressed, you could see him delight in the simplicity of 21st Century earth. It was there, with the lovely doctor and her son, that he truly fit. So it wasn’t a surprise to see his decision. You could see it building for a while, right? Also nice to have Guinan give Picard a little rundown about Rios, his wife and son. Nice touch, that.
So that leaves us with the Transwarp Conduit that Picard and the Borg Queen in the current timeline faced. A nice touch, I thought, to reveal the Borg Queen as Jurati – 400 years later – coming not to attack the Federation, but ask for membership to help deal with this new threat (hello, season 3 storyline). Together, they were able to stymie one threat from the conduit, but as Jurati/Borg Queen pointed out, the arrival of this distortion seemed to portend another threat. Clearly, season 3 will reveal who and what.
If I could boil down season 2 into a short little paragraph, it would be this – it was a season of opening closed doors, shedding light on dark places, rediscovering who these characters really were and could be, and putting to bed once and for all the guilt that we carry with us so deeply. There was a darkness about season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, something that may not have played into the Trekkian trope of positivity we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
No, season 2 saw the writers and showrunner delve into some dark places and I welcomed it wholeheartedly. They cast a 25th Century eye on many of the issues we are dealing with today and provided a nice shake of the head at our behavior. In essence, they implored us to find a better way with mental health, homelessness, the undocumented and marginalized people, etc. Well done.
We know that season 3 of Star Trek: Picard will be the last and that it will have a very heavy TNG flavor. Is this the last we’ve seen of Wesley Crusher and Guinan? What will be the roles of the those who do drop by for another mission? Is Q really dead? Will we see more of the Travelers and the long-rumored tie-in with Gary Seven? Dr. Soong pulling out a file called “Project Kahn” certainly got my attention. And I wonder if we’ll ever get more information on FBI agent Martin Wells? He knows the truth and is that enough for him? Or does he impact things somehow. I guess I don’t want that character to be a one-off type.
My compliments to creators Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon and Akiva Goldsman for seeing a vision within Star Trek: Picard that could tell us a little about ourselves while also showing these characters the power of the past, the power of fear, and the power of pushing past those things to find belonging, family and friends. Just really enjoyed season 2 of Star Trek: Picard and appreciated the messages that seemed to call to me within it.
Follow me on Twitter: @jbakeR2D2 and @threeifbyspace.
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