Amazon UK TV review: Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 1
The Man Himself9
Chris Bryant | On 30, Jan 2020
Eighteen years after the traumatic events of Star Trek: Nemesis, Jean-Luc Picard returns to our screens to confront his past, and unravel his future in Star Trek: Picard. Having retired to the family vineyard, Patrick’s Stewart’s decorated adventurer now spends his time hiding from the world, simultaneously comforted and plagued by dreams of Data and the destruction of Romulus.
Resurrected by the crews of the JJ Abrams Star Trek universe (Alex Kurtzman) and Star Trek: Discovery (Kirsten Beyer, Akiva Goldsman), plus acclaimed author Michael Chabon, Picard’s outlook has changed dramatically in this new series. Patrick Stewart’s Picard draws inevitable comparisons to his portrayal of Professor X in 2017’s Logan – a larger-than-life hero turned bitter and solemn, seemingly having abandoned his taste for adventure and duty.
That is, until a familiar face demands his help. Isa Briones as Dahj gives Picard a link to his past, and a reason to face it. Her quickly revealed identity also gives way to several action sequences, certainly more akin to post-2009 Trek outings than Next Generation’s message of diplomacy. While the combat sequences are impressive, they get lost among waves of nostalgia and mystery.
Picard is also introduced to android expert Agnes Jurati – a perfectly cast Alison Pill. Likeable, intelligent, and underestimated (think Discovery’s Ensign Tilly), her expertise in android evolution is paramount to the opening episode’s plot, and there’s no shortage of that. Quickly introducing new characters, paying tribute to old ones (occasionally in the form of a pit-bull – hello to “Number One”), establishing Picard’s internal and external conflicts, as well as the technological and political landscape of 2405, the initial episode is functional more than enjoyable. It serves to grip fans, old and new, and draw them into a world far more reminiscent of ours than what once was Picard’s.
Outlawed races, publicity stunts, and faceless death-squads certainly do not sound like Starfleet’s manifesto is succeeding without Jean-Luc’s unyielding morals front-and-centre. But duty and the puzzle are simply too important for Jean-Luc to ignore, and while the moral exploration takes a back-seat to establishing the story at first, it’s guaranteed to be too exciting for fans to ignore either.
Star Trek: Picard is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription. Episodes arrive every Friday, within 24 hours of their US debut.
Captain’s Log (Spoilers)
– Data, Lore, B-4… two daughters, with Isa Briones also playing Dahj’s twin, Soji? For a race that have been outlawed, it’s certainly clear that android technology is going to be central to Picard’s journey, not least because his grief summons the heart-warming visual of Jean-Luc and Data together.
– Fans everywhere are now desperately awaiting the moment that Number One (the dog) will meet Number One (the decorated starship Captain played by Jonathan Frakes).
– The final shot of the episode (Harry Treadaway’s Romulan, Narek, with Soji at a Romulan reclamation site that turns out to be a Borg Cube). It raises many questions, most of them likely to be screamed in fear. Questions such as: Why is there a Borg Cube? How do you even go about gentrifying a Borg Cube into a living space? How do I get far away from it? Which, even as a cliff-hanging parting shot, truly puts into perspective The Next Generation’s impact, having introduced The Borg 34 years ago and still being able to deliver panic with only a hint of their presence.