Star Trek Picard: Season Two

Poster for Star Trek PicardThe man who once stated that “what we leave behind is not as important as how we lived,” describing the passage of time as “a companion who goes with us on the journey,” now stands in the vineyards on harvest day, another successful year at Chateau Picard, no longer the boy who once gazed at the stars or the officer who travelled among them, now an old man who is at peace and very much tied to the land which carries his name.

“As days on Earth go,” he tells his friend Laris, “this is reliably one of my favourites,” but for Jean-Luc Picard, a man who has led a celebrated life of exploration, interplanetary diplomacy and securing the interests of the United Federation of Planets and its allies, despite his fascination with history and archaeology he has always looked forward, only now beginning to consider the paths not taken which may have led him elsewhere.

Whoopi Goldberg returns as GuinanYet even as Admiral Picard addresses the graduating class of Starfleet Academy, reflecting on how much has changed with the presence of a full blooded Romulan cadet, something unthinkable only a generation before, in deep space the USS Avalon detects a spatial anomaly broadcasting a cacophony of voices and languages calling a single name and requesting the intercession of that individual: Picard.

Written by series co-creator Akiva Goldsman and Terry Matalas who has joined him as showrunner for the second season of Star Trek Picard, The Star Gazer is directed by Doug Aarniokoski who worked on the first season episode Nepenthe in addition to episodes of Discovery and Short Treks, marching confidently forward with an established roster of returning characters even as they lead separate but connected lives, the title sequence and Jeff Russo’s theme subtly updated to reflect the changes.

Alison Pill is back this seasonHaving played the iconic part over eight television seasons and four feature films, Patrick Stewart is effortlessly comfortable inhabiting a role he has crafted for an astonishing thirty-five years, yet it is in the nature of Jean-Luc Picard to seek the unknown and there are new facets to be found: for all it has given him, the isolation of command has left him alone, the family he was born into gone, the second family he built scattered among the stars.

Yet when duty calls him by name, however unexpectedly, he responds dutifully and without hesitation, shuttled to the namesake of his first command, the Stargazer of Captain Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera), investigating the signal with the help of genius cyberneticist Doctor Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill), as ungainly as ever, confident in her abilities but not herself and more comfortable among simulations than people.

The Stargazer has had an upgradeThe opening episode of Star Trek Picard balancing future and past, there are echoes and reflections of previous stories: the closeted half-Romulan medical technician Simon Tarses summarily accused of treason at The Drumhead, the pre-first contact alien Sarjenka who Data accidentally befriended, becoming Pen Pals, who called to him by name when in crisis, the death of Picard’s brother Robert and nephew Rene in Generations, and more specifically in the presence of a familiar in her first major appearance since 1994, her brief cameo in 2002’s Nemesis aside.

The roster of regular characters from The Next Generation appearing in the first season of Star Trek Picard including Data, William Riker and Deanna Troi, joining that select list is Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan, delighted to welcome her old friend to her new establishment and receive his gift but parrying his deflections and thrusting into his weak spot with her incisive wisdom, aware of the passage of time and that directness is the only approach which will be effective, though as is her way to asking the question rather than offering an answer.

Jeri Ryan returns as Seven of NinePicard’s housekeeper Laris (Orla Brady) perhaps the person who knows him best and Guinan the person who has known him the longest, having first met him when she was visiting Earth in the late nineteenth century and he and his crew had reversed Time’s Arrow, is there anyone else who knows Picard so intimately? Perhaps only the Borg Queen who once sought to absorb his consciousness and make him her consort Locutus, a relationship just as penetrating and personal but far less welcome.

The two major guest stars confirmed so far John de Lancie reprising his role as Q and Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen, the third performer to play the part after Alice Krige and Susanna Thompson, she is introduced in the second episode Penance, written by Goldsman, Matalas and Christopher Monfette from an outline co-written with Michael Chabon, again directed by Aarniokoski.

Jeri Ryan returns as Seven of NineDifferent from how she has been seen before, the Borg Queen is more reptilian and monstrous, torn from herself and her collective yet perceptive, of the absence of her hive, of the thoughts of the inferior species around her, and of the timeline torn apart by Q; claiming she is able to locate the precise point of deviation, Picard knows she cannot be trusted yet has no option but to do so.

Q once again interfering with Picard’s life at a critical moment, as in Tapestry he presents a disturbing alternative which might have been, the Confederation of Earth a totalitarian regime of grey uniforms and enforced conformity, violent, ruthless and intolerant, at war with Vulcan and executing dissidents, terrorists and alien sympathisers, the captured Borg Queen scheduled for termination by the notorious General Picard in front of a baying audience reminiscent of Picard’s first encounter with Q in his recreation of “the post-atomic horror;” as ever with Star Trek, the cracked mirror reflects the worst of our own possibilities.

John de Lancie as QDe Lancie a semi-regular guest on the original run of The Next Generation with appearances also on Deep Space Nine and Voyager, his previously supercilious attitude towards the individual he held accountable for “the crimes of humanity” is now more antagonistic, perhaps informed by his meeting with Benjamin Sisko, a less patient example of homo sapiens than Jean-Luc Picard, though it remains undeniable that few can glower quite like Patrick Stewart having a bad day, and a visit from Q is always a bad day.

Penance showing the flipside of the benevolent United Federation of Planets, a polluted Earth and shielded skies, the scene changes again in Assimilation, written by Kiley Rossetter and Monfette and directed by Lea Thompson with the crew of La Sirena on the streets of Los Angeles in 2024, the same year as the Bell Riots in the Sanctuary District of San Francisco, seeking the source of the divergence in the timeline and attempting to keep a low profile.

Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) once again demonstrating her adaptability while Raffi Musaker (Michelle Hurd) is fuelled by rage at the situation they have been thrust into, furious at the interference in their lives and the decisions which have led to assisting the traumatised Borg Queen, incapacitated perhaps but inherently dangerous, and it is Doctor Jurati who must risk the most to assist an apparently helpless enemy, the cyborg and the cyberneticist going head to head as Picard acts as anchor as he once did for the unstable Ambassador Sarek decades before, centuries in the future.

The debut season  of Star Trek Picard having opened with Picard in retirement and occurring primarily beyond the auspices of Starfleet, with Picard now serving as Chancellor of the Academy and the presence of familiar classes of vessel in the fleet, the introduction of a stunning new capital ship, the Borg technology enhanced quad warp Stargazer, NCC-82893, feels like something of a homecoming, and the awareness that the next season will be the conclusion of Picard’s trek to the stars and back allows the writers to plan and act definitively rather than having to spin plates endlessly, every moment, word and gesture significant in the weight it carries to a future which cannot last forever.

Season Two of Star Trek Picard debuts on Paramount+ Thursday 3rd March and internationally on Prime Video on Friday 4th March with new episodes following every week



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