Picard: Episode 1 – Dare I hope that this won’t be a complete embarrassment?

After the complete disaster of Star Trek: Discovery, in which no one trekked or discovered, but only waged war, I have not dared to hope for any enjoyable Star Trek experience again. This generation has come to know Star Trek as a war/action franchise, and so it seems highly unlikely that any show or movie that doesn’t involve blowing up ships with torpedoes or running around having kick-fights with fearsome looking aliens would ever be green-lit by anyone wanting to make money.

But, this show seems to be trying. Despite the huge weight of all the recent movies and series crying for constant action and battle, it is trying. Picard is an old, peaceful man living on a farm. He is back to being the original peace seeking diplomat Picard, who looked to any possible alternative before violence.

And Picard is OLD. One of my big fears for this show is that we’d be subjected to the same embarrassing agony we were in the new Star Wars when we had to watch an ancient Harrison Ford running around in the same exact clothes he wore in the original movies, shooting monsters with a blaster and punching people. Picard, thankfully, acts his age. He can barely make it up a flight of stairs without losing his breath. He hides under a table when shots are fired. It’s realistic. What a relief. I’m still 90% sure we’ll be subjected to a scene where the camera pans up on him in his old uniform from TNG for some contrived reason, and the comm badge on his chest will glint and he’ll say ‘engage’ with a knowing grin. But for now, he’s just an old guy who used to be head of a ship, and it’s great.

This show does try to be original, but, it’s Star Trek, and there are all kinds of Star Trek things they have to put a magnifying glass over so we don’t forget it’s Star Trek. This episode made me feel like I was watching an original idea, except that every now and then some really excited guy would run into the scene and say ‘Hey, remember earl grey tea? Picard drinks that! Remember? Hey! Remember number one? Remember that? Remember TNG? Remember Data? Hey! Hey! Remember??”

And there are hints of MUCH more of this to come. I will try to avoid spoilers, but the final scene left me sighing and groaning at the completely predictable and tired direction they might go. There is also hints at bringing back characters that have been dead for 20 years. Please don’t. Just don’t. But, as we’ve learned from Star Wars, no one’s ever really gone if you can make money by digging them out of the grave.

The good news: There were only two action scenes in this episode, and one of them was genuinely entertaining. Almost all the rest of the episode was just dialogue and Patrick Stewart being an amazing actor (so much so that he made the other actors seem bad, which does kind of drag the show down). This kind of show tends to feel a huge amount of pressure to open with a bang, and if this episode was their ‘bang’ then I have some optimism for the future episodes.

This episode hinted at many, many stupid directions the show could take, but I have hope. I was convinced I’d watch the first episode, be completely irritated, and give up. But I actually want to watch the next episode. Even if it does go stupid, as long as I keep getting these great scenes with Patrick Stewart, I might keep watching anyway.

There is hope…


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