“For a relic you’re in excellent shape,” Admiral Jean-Luc Picard is told in the opening episode of the new Amazon series Star Trek: Picard.
And both points are right.
Patrick Stewart and his Star Trek character have indeed aged since his last adventure Star Trek: Nemesis and is noticeably slower in agility and action scenes. Yet at 79, it’s remarkable that he can lead a series and has the fire in the belly to revive a much-loved role. TV rarely puts the weight of a series on the shoulders of seniors…
Picard is now Earth-bound at Chateau Picard in France, happily growing grapes, sipping Earl Grey Tea and fussing over his bulldog, Number One. He is assisted by Romulan staff Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane) who stand strong with him over his controversial exit from the Star Fleet many years earlier.
“It was no longer Star Fleet,” he insists.
Even agreeing to an interview on the anniversary of his departure, Picard murmurs, “I’m beginning to regret that I ever allowed myself to be talked into this” (a comment on the series itself, perhaps…?).
But memories are hard to shake, including those of Data (Brent Spiner) who is back in all his gold glory, if only as a fleeting vision. Picard’s energy will be reignited by the realisation that a part of his old friend may still be alive and his legacy needs protection.
“I haven’t been living,” Picard admits. “I’ve been waiting to die.”
Meanwhile in downtown Boston a young woman Dahj (Isa Briones) comes under attack from forces which triggers unknown fury within her. She has questions that need answering, and only Picard can assist. I won’t spoil…
While Picard attends to earthly matters there’s a galactic fight involving synthetics, enemies and Star Fleet and the series will whiz around San Francisco, Paris and Okinawa, Japan, where Picard meets Dr. Agnes (Alison Pill) whom he comes to befriend.
Meanwhile at a Romulan Reclamation Site, a hint of romance is in the air for Narek (Harry Treadaway)…
However amid all this complex set-up, the driving concern for Picard is to take flight. It’s surely what viewers want too. Commandeering a new ship will not come easy given his frosty relationship with Star Fleet. Even as a senior, he is still determined to do things his way.
I don’t consider myself a Trekkie, but I’ve enjoyed all of the very progressive Star Trek: Discovery. Picard is far more Earth-bound, more tangible, opens with Bing Crosby singing and is even a little more Euro. It relies more on its star than its ensemble, and more on philosophical than action scenes, with the odd humorous reference. “This facility has gone 5843 days without an assimilation” is straight out of Matt Groening’s mind.
So far Picard is measured and probably one for the fans, elated a favourite actor has revived a revered role. Patrick Stewart is clearly at home as the Admiral, and wisdom drips from his every mellifluous sentence. Fans will doubtless cheer for appearances by Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) as the series rolls out.
It should also be said this was produced for CBS All Access in the US but has oddly landed at Amazon Prime Video in Australia, suggesting CBS is more interested in its profit line than in building up 10 All Access. That may make the latter a final frontier, perhaps?
Star Trek: Picard premieres Friday on Amazon Prime Video.