It's difficult to imagine anyone arguing against Star Trek: Picard in its current form. Patrick Stewart is unquestionably the most famous actor to have played a Star Trek lead, and his standing as a cinematic pater familias to multiple generations is unshakeable.
Jean-Luc Picard is Star Trek's patron saint, with minor flaws that only serve to make space heroes cooler space heroes: masculine isolation, trauma from that badass adventure, and dislike of children. Certainly, let's make a show about him!
But, after two seasons of Picard, the luster has worn off. Picard has followed a pattern of starting strong and fizzling explosively to nothing by the end of the story so closely that an obvious final-season concept — Next Generation cast reunion! — feels like a desperate last-ditch attempt to be remembered fondly.
Nonetheless, in this season's third episode, “Seventeen Seconds,” Picard hints at the series' future. Picard season 3 is about remembering all of 1990s Trek, not just Admiral Jean-Luc Picard, and it just might be the show's saving grace.
Picard has used elements from Star Trek: Voyager since its first season, most notably Jeri Ryan's former Borg drone Seven of Nine, the only other known person to survive assimilation into the Borg collective. For decades, Star Trek fans had speculated about this connection.
With “Seventeen Seconds,” Picard reintroduced Klingon officer Worf. Worf, after all, had a significant life as a character after The Next Generation, becoming more central to Star Trek canon in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine than he was on TNG: a major player in the Federation's war against the Founders' forces, and a step away from becoming the undisputed ruler of the Klingon empire.
In episode 3 of Picard Season 3, Worf and his Starfleet intelligence officer Raffi interrogate a prisoner responsible for a recent explosion, the prisoner becomes increasingly agitated, both mentally and physically.
Raffi assumes he is in drug withdrawal, but Worf calmly asks him when he last communed with the Great Link. He casually mentions Odo, the shapeshifting constable of Federation space station Deep Space 9.
Reader, I must confess that I gasped. Picard's main antagonists appear to be the same as those in 1993's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: the shapeshifting Founders, or Changelings, who were all involved in the Dominion War.
Only People From the 1990s Know This!
In Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Constable Odo is a member of the Changling race. Captain Sisko on one side and a Starfleet admiral on the other flank him.
This move will be particularly appealing to fans of the at-the-time experimental and least beloved Trek series, which is now regarded as an early forerunner of the era of prestige television, thanks to its long-term character development and season-long story arcs.
Unfortunately, DS9 is still groundbreaking in the way it centered a Black family in sci-fi television. Picard, however, highlights a radical sea change for the franchise by bringing the full trinity of '90s Trek together in one show.
While the stories and characters of Voyager and Deep Space 9 were continued through theatrical films after the series conclusion, the stories and characters of Next Generation were not.
For the past two decades, the Star Trek franchise's attempts to maintain cultural relevance have been concerned with resurrecting the oldest of its parts — and not just in the Abrams/Kelvin film franchise, which in 2009 attempted to retell the greatest hits of a 1966 TV series.
Both 2001's Star Trek: Enterprise and 2017's Star Trek: Discovery transported viewers back in time to a time when Vulcans were exotic and Klingons were mortal enemies.
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