Picard – Season 3
There are times when a piece of art can be utterly ridiculous, and yet so beautifully executed that it deserves heaps of praise. That is certainly true of season #3 of Picard. To say that it provides fan service is to massively understate the obvious. It is to fan service what the great pyramid of Khufu is to a balsawood coffin; or what Trantor is to a village of mud huts. It is fan service dialed up so far to the max that mathematicians are arguing over which size of infinity is required to put a number to it.
When I first heard that season #3 would be a “getting the gang back together” thing I was deeply dubious. How could they do that without it being horribly cheesy? And yet, despite this show being about a bunch of people as old as, or older than, me rushing about the galaxy and having adventures like they did when they were several decades younger, it manages to work. It does so sometimes in ridiculous ways, but when it does you simply nod and say, “of course, how could it be any other way?”
The most glaring example of this is that Geordi La Forge, whose day job is now running the Starfleet Museum, has been spending his spare time building a full-size working model of the Enterprise D, which is there ready to be used when it is needed (and without a crew to operate it).
There are, of course, fans who are not happy, because this is not 100% exactly how they remember Star Trek: TNG. Apparently there was never conflict between members of the crew on that series, because such things are un-Trek-like. Well quite right. Can you imagine Dr. McCoy ever disapproving of something that Jim Kirk did? Of course not.
Possibly more cogently, there are those who argue that a Starfleet crew would never put slavish devotion to the book, and their own lives, before saving the galaxy. Personally I prefer to believe that people who serve on a ship called Enterprise are a different breed to your run of the mill Starfleet crew.
That said, Captain Shaw is one of the weak points in the show. At times his character was great, but at others he had to be shoehorned into being someone different because the plot required it. He was the only character whose story arc felt forced to me. Which is a shame, because I really loved him treating Picard and Ryker as a couple of naughty geriatric schoolboys trying to have an Excellent Adventure.
The thing I loved most about the series, though, was the way in which the plot absolutely hinged on having the gang back together. Without Data, without Worf, without Beverly, without Geordi or without Deanna, all of whom contributed specialist skills, Picard would have failed. It is possible he’d have been OK without Riker, but then Riker’s specialist skills have always been loyalty, bravery, and an unfettered willingness to get into trouble to help his captain.
Oh, spoiler. Of course they find a way to resurrect Data. How could they not?
If I have complaints about the series, they mostly revolve around the fact that it seemed to completely jettison much of what had gone before. At the end of season #2, Jean-Luc was just starting to settle into a romantic relationship with his Romulan housekeeper, Laris. That all gets forgotten as soon as Beverly Crusher is back in his life. Also at the end of season #2, Agnes Jurati, now queen of a friendly, neighbourhood Borg collective that just wants to be nice, petitions to join the Federation. That goes completely out of the window. Season #3 acts as if Jurati had never existed. I don’t know, maybe Q has erased her from the timeline or something.
Talking of Q, Picard #2 promised us that he was dying. That too appears to have been forgotten. < endless screaming >.
I’m not even going to ask what has happened to Wesley Crusher. Surely with all of his new time-travelling superpowers he would have seen that his mum and half-brother were in big trouble? No?
Anyway, there will be no further seasons of Picard. Nothing about the TNG characters could possibly follow that. What there will be is a brand new Enterprise, the Enterprise G. It will be captained by Annika Hansen, or Cap’n Seven as I hope her crew refer to her. Sidney La Forge and Jack Crusher look likely to be part of the crew. And Raffi Musiker is the First Officer, so maybe the relationship between her and Seven, which began so promisingly in Picard #2, and was jettisoned like so much else in #3, will be back on again. I’m looking forward to it.