To Boldly Stream: Star Trek: Picard S1E01- Remembrance - Reviewed

It has been seventeen long years since we have seen a Star Trek story on the big or small screen that pushed the current timeline forward. Some might understand given the cold financial and critical reaction to Star Trek: Nemesis, the last film featuring the Next Generation crew. In that time, we've had two prequel series and a reboot trilogy that focused on the original series crew. These all premiered to varying degrees of success from fans and critics alike. And now in 2020, we are back revisiting our old friend, Jean-Luc Picard. Was it worth the wait? In short, yes. 

The logical fear one would have with a sequel series like this is that it undoes a character's perfect send off. "All Good Things", the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is pretty much the high water mark for satisfying endings for a character and for a series. If anyone deserved peace and quiet, it was Jean-Luc Picard. And we get to see his happily ever after. Retired from Starfleet, he spends his days with his loyal dog companion, Number One, at his vineyard, Chateau Picard. It's peaceful and calm, the sun is shining and the vineyard is successful. It is a good life for a good man. But he is haunted in his dreams by memories of his Starfleet past and of friends long gone. 

To say what draws Picard out of retirement is a spoiler but I can assure you that it is not just empty fan service. It is a compelling and interesting place for this story to be continued. It is not just action sequences but has some thoughtful plotting and smart choices about where the story will go from here. We learn that Picard's retirement from Starfleet was not a happy exit and that this has colored his world and the world of the show. 

What Star Trek: Picard does well in it's first episode is that it establishes it's premise and brings us back into the world in a way that is natural and honest. It takes it's time and wants to engage with deeper philosophical themes. It is a show about what happens to ardent followers of institutions with deeply built in ideals and morals when the institutions fail to live up to those ideals and morals. This feeling is biting at Picard and will not let him rest. This not only feels like classic Star Trek but a statement on the modern world, something that feels as inescapable as the gnawing feeling of just how wrong things are that Picard has been feeling. 

When Star Trek was created in 1966, Gene Roddenberry dreamt of a world where the divisions of prejudice and hate were overcome. It was relevant science fiction in a time of hope for the future. In Roddenberry's world, we would be united by leaders inspired by empathy and a willingness to explore new worlds and make for a better universe. In 2020, that world hasn't happened yet. We are in the exact opposite of that world. It feels like Roddenberry's vision of a unified people might be the most unrealistic part of the show. It might never happen. But for men like Jean-Luc Picard, he'll be damned if it does not happen. 

If the first episode is any indicator, Star Trek: Picard is not a dour funeral march to the end of a popular character's existence. It's an invigorating and exciting story of a man finding his way again in a world that needs a hero with purpose and moral clarity. I can't wait to see what happens next. 

-Liam O'Connor