It’s old home week, yet also the promising dawn of a new generation, as Star Trek: Picard finally realizes its fullest potential in a thrilling third and presumably final season. To say this is what Trek fans — especially Star Trek: The Next Generation devotees — have been long awaiting is an understatement.
A mysterious distress signal from Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) initiates the first of many reunions, as former sidekick William Riker (a droll Jonathan Frakes) finds himself once again teamed with Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart, still bristling with authority). Try not to smile when Picard insists, “I can’t ask you to put yourself in danger,” and Riker retorts, “Since when?”
Along the way, Picard will consider mortality, a surprising family legacy and, as ever, duty while confronting one of the most dastardly threats in Starfleet history. So come for the nostalgia, as key TNG figures enter the story in often intriguing ways, including Worf (Michael Dorn), the very model of a newly zen Klingon, a hesitant Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and, eventually, the latest evolution of beloved android Data (Brent Spiner), among other well-chosen acquaintances from the past. (At least one deserves to be kept a surprise.)
The only carryovers (through the first six episodes) from Picard‘s earlier seasons are essential ones: Raffi (Michelle Hurd), the volatile former intelligence officer, on a treacherous mission under the supervision of an unseen handler; and Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine, the former Borg (and Star Trek: Voyager regular) now stationed aboard Riker’s old vessel, Titan, whose snarky Capt. Shaw (a hilarious Todd Stashwick) is less than welcoming to the aging warhorses who come aboard without revealing their true agenda.
“We won’t be blowing things up,” Shaw quips, unimpressed by their heroic history. But everyone knows this means exactly the opposite, especially once Picard and Riker spring into action, entering without permission a dangerous nebula where they confront a cackling villain (Amanda Plummer, chewing the machinery-er, scenery) aboard a giant predatory ship named Shrike.
So while the prospect of reliving the good old days might get you inside the door, a suspenseful cascade of first-rate cliffhangers will keep you coming back. We who’ve followed this crew since the 1980s can relate when Riker gripes to Picard, “Your hands are stiff, my knees are killing me. So long as we don’t have to move or shoot, we should be fine.”
Picard has never been in better, or worse, shape. Don’t even think of missing this ride.
Star Trek: Picard, Season 3 Premiere, Thursday, February 16, Paramount+