A science fiction legend returns in the newest ‘Star Trek’ spin-off…
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Isa Briones, Alison Pill, Harry Tredaway, Brent Spiner
Series created by: Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsmen & Alex Kurtzman (Based upon Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry)
Episode directed by: Hanelle M. Culpepper / written by: Akiva Goldsmen & James Duff (story by Akiva Goldsmen, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer, Alex Kurtzman & James Duff)
What’s it about?
“Remembrance” : as the end of the 24th Century approaches, on the anniversary of the devastating destruction of the planet Romulus, retired Starfleet Admiral Jean-Luc Picard is confronted by a mysterious young woman on the run, as a new adventure beckons…
The much-awaited return of a Star Trek legend is finally here with the launch of the new CBS series Star Trek: Picard – from the makers of Star Trek: Discovery (joined by novelist Michael Chabon as showrunner) – with a promising and tantalising first episode. As it very well should be, Picard is quite a different animal from Star Trek: The Next Generation – that show is and ever will be a classic, landmark piece of television, but times have changed and so has the nature of small screen entertainment and as with Discovery, the Star Trek franchise evolves. As expected, it’s a lavish and sophisticated production with feature film quality visuals and some beautiful photography (presenting various locales) and the longform storytelling style we’re now accustomed to.
For Picard, Sir Patrick Stewart reprises his most iconic and forever beloved role as Jean-Luc Picard – former captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise (both ‘D’ and ‘E’) and retired Starfleet Admiral, following the catastrophic Romulan supernova (deftly tying into the events of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek) which resulted in the destruction of the Romulan homeworld and the scattering of its people across space. Embittered by the poor response to the crises by the Federation and Starfleet, organisations whose values he has fought to protect, Picard has withdrawn to a quiet and uneventful life at the family vineyard of Chateau Picard in France. It’s been more than two decades since Picard’s last mission aboard the Enterprise and, now over 90 years old (accompanied by his dog – affectionately named Number One), he finds himself haunted by nightmares of his old friend, the late android Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) and frustrated by the erosion of the ideals he cherished as a Starfleet captain. However, the appearance of a young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones), on the run and desperate for help, thrusts the noble once Admiral Picard back into action. Who is Dahj and why does she have hidden memories of Picard? These questions and more are presented as a new adventure begins for Jean-Luc Picard in “Remembrance”.
At 79, Patrick Stewart has clearly aged – somewhat gracefully – and although he may at first appear a little shaky, it’s soon comforting to see Picard back onscreen. Almost twenty years after he last played the role (on the big screen in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis), Stewart – mindful of his standout performance alongside Hugh Jackman in Logan – brings his talent effortlessly to the fore. There’s an element of melancholy to his portrayal in Picard which befits the story and the mature character-focused approach the series seems to be aiming for, yet as the plot of “Remembrance” unfolds, those familiar traits of conviction and altruism start coming passionately to life once more.
Aside from the obvious joy of Patrick Stewart’s return to Star Trek, it’s also a delight to see the excellent Brent Spiner guest star and equally pleasing that his role, which could have easily been incorporated simply as fan service, has great importance to the story and lovingly celebrates the character of Data and his benevolent nature. Isa Briones delivers a likeable and believable portrayal as the scared and desperate Dahj, with the writers serving the part with a good deal of mystery. A visit to the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa introduces us to Alison Pill’s Dr. Jurati, a cybernetics expert left with little do after a ban on synthetic lifeforms following an apparent android revolt, creating some interesting and fun scenes with Picard. Apart from the closing reveal of Harry Treadaway’s Narek that’s most of the recurring cast, with regulars Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora and Santiago Cabrera to follow. Also, whilst absent from this episode, there are still guest appearance from Patrick Stewart’s fellow TNG co-stars Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis to look forward to in future instalments, as well as Jonathan Del Arco (the former Borg drone, Hugh) and Star Trek: Voyager’s Jeri Ryan.
Picard brings with it a whole sense of history and strokes of nostalgia, with plenty of Easter eggs for fans to enjoy. It’s difficult to say at this point if casual viewers will be able to latch onto the series and become invested but there’s enough exposition in the premiere to help bring new fans into the fold. It’s important to remember that this is merely the first chapter in a ten-episode saga and “Remembrance” serves as a reintroduction to the character of Picard, establishing the world and times in which he now lives and providing the initial set-up for the serialised season-long arc. To this end, “Remembrance” does a good job of balancing the disparate elements and with a whole heap of intrigue and action, whets the appetite for more…make it so.
The bottom line: Jean-Luc Picard is back and Sir Patrick Stewart is on top form as Star Trek: Picard gets off to a promising and enjoyable start.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard are released Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and available to stream in the U.K. and internationally every Friday via Amazon Prime.
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