In Amazon Prime’s original Star Trek series, Partick Stewart steps back into his popular role of Jean Luc Picard, now retired from Starfleet and living at his villa in France at a time when, following an unexpected and devastating attack on a Mars colony, synthetics have been outlawed and in amongst the political turmoil, Picard is visited by a young woman known as Daj (Isa Briones) who has been attacked but was able to unleash previously unknown abilities to destroy her attackers, with unexplained visions leading her to the retired captain. Investigating the young woman’s past, Picard soon begins to unravel a major conspiracy involving Starfleet, the Romulans, and the entire history of the synthetic race and must travel to the stars yet again and team up with faces both new and old in order to prevent a devastating catastrophe.
Although it varied in overall quality and kind of lost the plot with its second series, Star Trek Discovery proved that there were still plenty of stories to tell within the Trek universe and Picard, which is something of a continuation of The Next Generation, is yet another impressive and modern Star Trek series that shows off some excellent visuals as well as giving us plenty of interesting new characters, treats the fans with the return of some old favourites, and gives us a story that, while it’s not perfect, is intriguing to follow and presents a welcome new chapter in the story of Starfleet’s greatest starship captain.
Much like he did in Logan a few years ago, the great Sir Patrick Stewart once again steps back into one of his most famous roles and, as the backbone of this series, he is of course a joy to watch on screen and in contrast to the incredibly serious and awkward-around-kids Picard of The Next Generation, the version of his character here often appears more caring and lighthearted, reflecting Stewart’s own personality as he’s able to not take himself so seriously (especially when he has to pretend to be a French pirate!) and in his interactions with his crewmembers and the various people he meets, he shows plenty of compassion, care and understanding and shows us a Picard who’s far more of a mentor and father figure, offering up his wisdom and advice in order to safeguard the wellbeing of his friends, family and even the entire universe. But alongside this, he also shows vulnerability as he’s done in the past and while still dealing with his previous assimilation as well as a new medical problem and his issues regarding how Starfleet now operates, he often gets uncertain and maybe a even little lost and overall, Stewart expectedly excels in portraying a reliable, loyal and courageous leader while also demonstrating various other aspects of his popular character.
And alongside the veteran actor, Picard makes use of several fun and talented cast members who help make the show such a worthwhile watch; as Daj, and then later as Soji, Isa Briones performs well as the initially uncertain and haunted young woman who has to discover who she really is and then later, she grows greatly in confidence as she accepts her true identity and takes no prisoners as she uses her incredible skills and determination to get what she wants, Michelle Hurd fits in very well as Raffi, a tough-as-nails and ballsy friend of Picard who also hides some hidden pain, Alison Pill provides a great deal of heart and humour as Dr. Agnes Jurati, an expert on synthetics and a bit of a fish out of water as she joins Picard’s crew but reveals that she’s more than she initially appeared, Santiago Cabrera is laid back and funny as the ship’s pilot, getting to flex his versatility as he utilises several different accents when acting as the ship’s various holograms, and Evan Evagora plays the comic relief character of Elnor, a kind of surrogate son and bodyguard for Picard, and while it’s fun to watch him struggle with normal social interaction, he also gets some of the better fight scenes as he wields his sword splendidly in his “warrior monk” role (stealing from Mass Effect‘s Samara, I think!)
There are also one or two actors from previous Trek series who make appearances, including the much publicised Jeri Ryan who returns in style as formidable former Borg Seven of Nine (spinoff featuring her and the Fenris Rangers please!), and there are several other familiar faces that will surely raise a smile when they appear on screen.
The series narrative isn’t the most extraordinary or the most compelling that you’ll ever see but nonetheless, Picard manages to remain interesting throughout its ten episode run and even when it gets a little episodic – with the show going all Mass Effect as it goes on a few side missions which introduce new crew members – there’s rarely a dull moment and I have to say that I admire the showrunners for clearly placing the show within the “Kelvin Timeline”, an alternate universe that was established in 2009’s Star Trek, because although a lot of die hard Trek fans have taken against it for some reason, I’m happy that the writers have remained consistent and have embraced the direction that modern Trek has taken. The series does well in further fleshing out Picard’s character, as well as giving new voices an equal opportunity to shine, the story arc is ultimately easy to understand and to get invested in, and there are plenty of exciting action sequences that “spice up” proceedings.
Much as it was with Star Trek Discovery, Picard makes great use of modern filming technology and as such, the series sure does look immaculate and visually pleasing; the various locations, characters, sets, props and costumes are always great to look at, the action and fight/space sequences are captured smoothly, and the series also includes some lovely musical cues as well as a memorable theme, courtesy of composer Jeff Russo.
An engrossing and visually pleasing original series which takes Star Trek in an intriguing new direction, making great use of an adventurous storyline and a strong cast, particularly Patrick Stewart who carries the series wonderfully.
★ ★ ★ ★Whew, it sure has been a while since my last review, the current global crisis weighing heavy on me as it surely must do for everyone else. Still, it’s nice to be back in the reviewing game!
Stay safe and stay home, people – live long and prosper! 🖖