The Mediocrity Of Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Mars The Character’s Legacy, Film Companion

Creators: Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

In a recent interview, Patrick Stewart, who plays Jean-Luc Picard, said his voice would often sound weak during filming due to the smoke effects used on set. When the thespian wanted to redub his lines, the show’s producers asked him not to, since “the weakness in my voice was reflecting the weakness in the character.” It’s no surprise, really. Weak is an adjective that is applicable across Picard’s second season, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, whether it’s used to describe the plot, performances, or the show’s lack of coherence in general.

At the start of Season 2, Picard and his friends Rios (Santiago Cabrera), Seven (Jeri Ryan), Rafi (Michelle Hurd), Elnor (Evan Evagora), and Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) face off against the evil Borg Queen. As a consequence, they find themselves travelling back in time until they land in our current century. A familiar and legendary foe may be behind what’s happening to them – none other than John de Lancie’s Q.

The stakes are high in the first few episodes of the season. From the return of Q to an alternate future with a fascist version of the Federation, the showrunners try to get fans excited for what’s to follow. Subplots involve the mystery of Picard’s past and his relationship with his parents, especially his mother, shaping the man he eventually becomes.

As the season progresses, it becomes evident that it’s been designed as a bunch of set-ups. It’s almost as if the writers’ room decided to throw everything at the wall in the hope that something sticks. I suspect the conversations in the room went something like, ‘Let’s bring Q back!/Ooooh a version of Soong!/Wait, people liked Will Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, so let’s throw him in too!/Didn’t we do a fascist space faring human civilisation in Star Trek: Discovery? We can recycle that, right?/WAIT! Whoopi, we forgot Whoopi!’

I also assume this fantastic brainstorm was concluded with an ‘Okay, so now what?’ and a ‘Beats me!’ No sooner do the characters land in our current 21st century timeline that the show starts going completely off the rails.

Frankly, Picard’s Season 2 is a tremendous let down and an all-round snooze fest. It’s evident that the whole ‘go back to the 21st century to fix the timeline’ plot was written to keep the production budgets down. For a show that carries the Star Trek name, you can count the number of sets used on your fingers. They are literally: A ship, a hospital, a lab, a chateau, a bar and one Los Angeles back alley. In fact, there is one pivotal scene in the finale, in which Picard tells a character to look up in hope at a passing spaceship. She looks up, he looks up, but the audience doesn’t, because of course, the CGI required to show a spaceship costs money.

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If there is a bright spark anywhere in the show, it’s Rios’ arc with Dr. Teresa Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez). Their chemistry is undeniable, and however ridiculously bad the show around them might be, their ‘out of time’ romantic storyline is always a treat to watch.

One may also be tempted to consider Jean-Luc Picard’s journey as deep and reflective as he deals with his past to understand where he comes from. But here’s the thing – we’ve always admired Jean-Luc for the captain he was and the enigma he carried. We didn’t really need a botched glimpse into the traumas that shaped him, or his reconciliation with the man he is, when it doesn’t move his legacy forward in a meaningful way. We like our Jean-Luc Picard, just the way he is, thank you.

Picard is a disappointing, badly made Star Trek show, though disclaimer: I have a low threshold for Star Trek shows and movies (I liked Into Darkness, and still watch Discovery). As much as I hate to say this, maybe we should just rename it the Star Trek: Retirement Fund.

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