Spoilers The legacy of Star Trek: Picard?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Eddie Roth, Apr 23, 2023.

  1. Eddie Roth

    Eddie Roth Commodore Commodore

    May 16, 2001
    I'm sure over in the general discussion thread, there will have been some posts addressing this point, but I feel it merits its own discussion now that the show is over. It's been a long time since we last completed a ST show and can now look back on it as a whole. I wonder how you all feel (although I have guesses what you might say): what will the legacy of Star Trek: Picard be as a series?

    I will say upfront that I enjoyed this show tremendously from day one and while criticism has been valid, I never understood why the early seasons attracted such vitriol. Season 1 (and later seasons as well to some extent), to my mind, suffered from two interrelated things:
    • wanting to be a movie, i.e. buying into the apparent common sense these days that a watercooler-worthy show has to be fully serialized, which had never been the way ST was done. (That is despite DS9's serialization, which however always presented as links between episodes that could still be watched on their own and had their own identity.)
    • the "mystery box" approach to serialized storytelling. There have been shows in which this worked splendidly, but as fans of shows like The X-Files or Lost know - there had better be a good resolution in place when you tease a mystery.
    Now IMO, the resolution of the story arc of Season 1 was satisfying, but while all of the aforementioned shows unraveled their mysteries over many seasons and always included more standalone episodes or respectively aspects to each episode that stood on their own, PIC tended towards its episodes as "chapters" in a larger story, moving from narrative obstacle to obstacle while always playing its cards somewhat too close to its chest. On first viewing, which happened with a week's break between episodes, it soon became very hard to follow. They threw so many balls into the air (the XBs, the Romulans including not only the Tal Shiar, but an apocalyptic cult offshoot to that organization, Data's legacy and Picard's grief over his death, Picard's illness, the question of what exactly Dahj and Soji were, the story of Picard's resignation from Starfleet, the mystery of the synth rebellion, not to mention the Qowat Milat etc etc). Lots of stuff, which as it turned out on a second (binge) viewing, do work together rather well. But there might probably have been a more economical way of telling such a story without making it so labyrinthine.

    That said, PIC Season 1 ultimately became one of my favorite seasons of ST ever, because where it succeeded, it probed deeply into the characters, old and new, and ended in such a moving way when Data finally achieves humanity by actually dying in consciousness as well, while Picard in turn is reborn as an android of sorts. Although Season 3 retconned that ending somewhat, it also didn't erase it and further underlined how Picard and Data, (who were played here as the central axis of TNG, which I suppose in truth they never were back then to that extent), are now ontologically one and the same. In a show that investigates, throughout its run, how man and machine and interlinked - and by now inextricably so - I see this as an instance of classic ST optimism. The imperfect bodies and identities of both Picard and Data, marred by having been infested by Borg assimiliation as well as disease and age, and respectively by being an android without emotion, have been 'cleansed' of these flaws and reborn into a more perfect version. Quite the (trans)humanist statement.

    It was because I saw such depths in Season 1, and in fact it informed my own Ph.D. research, which was all about transhuman identities in mythopoeic science fiction (Trek and Star Wars), that Season 2's approach paled by comparison. Clearly they had heard fan criticisms about the first season's somber tone. So where Season 1 is a less-triumphant TSFS narrative, what follows is obviously their version of TVH: a fun romp, more lighthearted. And I did think it was fun, but the depth of S1 got reduced while still playing much by the mystery box book of storytelling. And if it was possible, S2 was even more labyrinthine. To this day, I still don't know if I understood the mechanics of it all - or even what set off the plot. Was it Q trying to say goodbye, thus engineering the whole ordeal? Was it him saving humanity through his universe-shifting tactics that ended up producing the thing (Jurati Borg Queen) that would save the day in the 25th century? And why did it matter to the big picture that Picard confront his mother's death?

    Even on second viewing, I gave up trying to figure it all out. But episode to episode, I also had a great deal of fun with these characters, all of whom had grown on me. Which is why my one gripe with the third season, which is obviously the most fulfilling of the bunch, is the fact that all of the new characters except Raffi (and Laris, if you count her inconsequential cameo) were so unceremoniously dispensed with. They all got good endings, yes, but in terms of the identity of this show, it's odd in retrospect that you would replace basically the entire cast for the final season. It feels like the admission of some sort of defeat. Certainly, the majority of fans would prefer the TNG cast over the original PIC cast (and if given a one-or-the-other choice, I would make the same decision), but there might have been a way I'm sure to give Jurati and Soji at least a guest appearance to maintain the cohesion of the series as a whole.

    The final season of course was such a success because it fully articulated what the earlier seasons had done only for Picard (and Data, Riker, Troi in their short guest appearances): reunite us with these characters we so loved, and be bold in doing so by demonstrating how time changes people. Neither entirely for the better, nor for worse, just different. There's a sense of reality in this that the TNG crew hadn't gotten before. Where the TOS crew had a decade before we were reunited with them in the movies, TNG transitioned directly, which may have been part of the reason why their movies so often felt just like extended episodes. PIC Season 3 (and by extension the earlier seasons too) finally provided that sense of people who grow and change that GR wasn't much interested in during TNG (and which was of course not the way TV shows were made at the time) or their film series. Especially the final poker game, if compared to the "All Good Things" ending, drove this home. Where the final TNG scene was heartwarming, but still a somewhat formal/awkward affair because it was Picard's first time joining the game night and because he was still their boss, the final PIC scene showed us seven people who are all equals and joined together because they're friends and family and don't have anything to prove to one another. Beautiful.

    And I take that as the legacy of this show: who is the hero after his hero's journey is over? How do the glory days of the past still affect him, haunt him even? And can one reinvent oneself even in old age, make peace with the past, embrace it even, but still set out on a new journey of discovery? A resounding yes, according to the show. I love that.

    How about you all? Will you rewatch the show from the beginning, give the early seasons another chance, and do you expect that your judgment of them will change in light of how the series ended? Or is PIC sort of an inverse TOS to you: three seasons, two of them universally acclaimed, one seen as a letdown (in PIC's case two lambasted, one acclaimed)? Is PIC ultimately a transitional series that serves to wrap up the Berman era once and for all while setting the stage for a ST: Legacy (or whatever it may be called) which will FINALLY bring the right balance to a modern-day Trek show?
  2. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 9, 2008
    The last episode is pretty much "look we could do an Star Wars type film with the right budget".
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  3. Pubert

    Pubert Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 13, 2014
    Oh my gosh. You're going to say you didn't like the Enterprise D moving that fast within the cube and that it looked like the millennium falcon? Right? The ship can do warp speeds and made quick one time turns even in the first episode of tng. Geirdi tells data its impossible to maneuver the ship so fast in such an intricate way but data knows he can do it because he can process information faster than a human so he can turn the ship much faster than any human could at much higher speeds. The ship has the capability but humans cannot pilot something so fast. Data can. Yeah it was a homage to the death star but so what. As I recall the falcon didn't beam anyone up within the death star.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2023
  4. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 9, 2008
    No I am not going to say any of that - you are a headcase.
  5. BlueStuff

    BlueStuff Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 15, 2011
    South Coast, UK - formerly 中国
    I'll definitely rewatch the first season, at least (memories of the second are still too bad for me). Initially, I had to deal with the feeling that I couldn't recognise the character Stewart was playing as the Picard I knew. By now, I've come to terms with the fact that of course the character would have naturally changed over time. Season 3 did a lot of work to reconcile that with echoes of the past. Even now, though, I'm hesitant to say that I was ever particularly interested in the story of the first season so much as I simply wanted to spend more time with the character of Picard.
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  6. Tosk

    Tosk Admiral Admiral

    Jan 7, 2001
    On the run.
    Neither did the people making it. The way it all works in the finale completely contradicts the original set-up.
  7. Pubert

    Pubert Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 13, 2014
    You mentioned star wars and everyone who didn't like the last episode were upset about the way the D moved and compared ot to star wars. If that isn't it what is it?
  8. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

    Feb 4, 2002
    The Old Mixer, Somewhere in Connecticut
    Post, not poster.
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  9. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2001
    Ferguson, Missouri, USA
    PIC shows what happens when Jean-Luc Picard leaves the captain's chair only to discover that the advice James T. Kirk gave him was spot on. It becomes much harder to save the Universe without your own ship...
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  10. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    The Wormhole
    Season 1 was excellent up until the last three episodes.
    Season 2 was flawed but enjoyable.
    Season 3, once you strip away all the nostalgia, fanwank and memberberries doesn't really have much depth to it at all. However, that nostalgia has fueled a lot of attention for the show, and ultimately Star Trek Picard will be remembered as ushering in a new era of unapologetic fanwank.
  11. vulcancicada

    vulcancicada Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 14, 2023
    It's an interesting question. I am never good at predicting legacies of anything. But, after having watched all the seasons again and seeing the finale, I remember really enjoying season 1 and parts of season 2 more so than season 3. I didn't think I'd say this, because I had kind of forgotten everything from season 1, but upon rewatch, I think that it may have been my favourite. Season 3 felt like a season 8 of TNG, to be honest and barely related to Seasons 1 and 2, having removed the majority of the characters. Also, for me, the writing was best in Season 1 (sorry, Matalas fanboys!) I liked that it was not TNG. But I also loved a lot of the nostalgia and fanwanking of season 3 too, just will probably go on to think of it as part of TNG in my head and not PIC.
    DonIago, burningoil, danellis and 2 others like this.
  12. FederationHistorian

    FederationHistorian Commodore Commodore

    Feb 6, 2020
    To me, PIC is a story about a person healing what is broken.
    • Broken spirit (S1)
    • Broken heart (S2)
    • Broken relationships (S3)
    Which makes the paths these characters have taken make sense.

    That makes this show pretty unique within Star Trek, since it explores what being broken means.
  13. Supervisor 194

    Supervisor 194 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 12, 2003
    Somewhere between timelines
    While I did not enjoy the first two seasons in the least, this is an excellent description.
  14. Sketcher

    Sketcher Captain Captain

    Aug 31, 2003
    This show might go off the rails with its bombastic finales, and weird things like robot space tentacles and Borg commandos, but its exploration of Picard from his childhood trauma, coping with old age, and relationships has been on point, to me.
  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 19, 2013
    Bad Thoughts
    Although I don't think the shows succeeded, this is a great way of characterizing the concept of each seqson.
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  16. urbandk

    urbandk Commodore Commodore

    Aug 20, 2008
    DFW, Texas
    This is all brilliant and was a joy to read. Thank you.

    I don't have much to add, except something I've posted once before: Picard S1-3 were emblematic of something that affected the star wars reboots; fan expectations and genre conventions ultimately trump attempts to make something really new.

    S1 was in many respects more radical than anything Discovery did. S2 couldn't decide what it wanted to be. S3 gave up and just gave the people what they want. To extend the Star Wars analogy, S1 and the first half of S2 were TLJ, and S3 was TROS.

    I'm glad it's all over and am looking forward to new and different star treks that don't have all the baggage.
  17. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 19, 2013
    Bad Thoughts
    I'm afraid that season 3 portends more conservative storytelling. The message that the studio is probably hearing is that fans was less challenging stories that give satisfactory endings to characters rather than ideas. Whatever their background, all the characters end up in uniform and serving on a government ship.
  18. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Apr 11, 2014
    Classic Space
    Nope. It will be a perfectly serviceable and entertaining series.
    Indeed. That will be the legacy is moving towards as familiar as possible, while using very basic storytelling to be inoffensive as possible.
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    I really didn't care for Season 1 and loathed Season 2 (after enjoying the second season opener, as well as the first several episodes before it all fell apart). I did enjoy Season 3, and I've went back to look at some of the first season (more so at the moment to inform my fan fic writing than to really look at it, and admittedly, it's not as disappointing as it was the first time). I can't say I will ever go back and look at all of the first two seasons of PIC, though I do intend to purchase the third season when it hits home video. If I got the other two, it would be for the random episode, performance, or just to look for my writing.

    That said, maybe in time, I will soften on PIC overall. I came around on ENT (though the third and fourth seasons really helped there). A few years back I went back and looked at a good deal of the first season and it wasn't as bland as I remember, and I got more nuance from Archer than I remembered. I've also mellowed on VOY which I also didn't care for (though there were some episodes I liked of that series while it was on too). I think I liked more VOY and ENT while they were on than I have of PIC, but now that the series is over, and I see the big picture (or think I see it), I might be able to better enjoy it all now that I don't have expectations of something different, or more, and can meet it on its own terms.

    I really like how some here are breaking down what PIC was all about. I wish I had read that years ago and I might have looked at the series differently then and been more charitable. Though the fact that I gave it my time was charitable enough.

    I think sometimes there's a false choice that suits and fans made between being different and fan service/fan wanking/nostalgia, that I don't think has to be there. While PIC's first season did do something different with the character, I don't think it did it well, or that it flowed organically from when we last saw him. That's where the writing came in, and how they didn't do enough world building to make me understand why Picard would just quit like that (that's the same gripe I had about Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi). It goes beyond simply people change with time. Certainly, people do-myself included-but for a drastic change I want to know why (definitely in a fictional story). The third season of PIC also had the TNG characters changing over time but did it in a way that felt more organic to the characters, and that's how so much heartfelt moments as well as dramatic ones stood out in the series. It's much different say to see Ro argue with Picard about his failures than it is Raffi, a person we just met, and don't have a history with, and who also was saddled with calling Picard by a nickname that felt very out of character for TNG or even movie Picard, but I imagine was quite in line with Sir Patrick Stewart's idea of the character.

    I think you can have both fan service and taking chances, as long as it flows organically and makes sense. I've seen a reviewer wish that the third season of Picard had been the first and I think if that had happened, they could've just got the TNG reunion out of the way, paid respect to those characters, and then moved on to the new generation, and perhaps that would've caused less gnashing of teeth.

    One of the series' biggest failures is the lack of worldbuilding. It set up some very interesting stories to explore-the destruction of Romulus and the aftermath, the xBs, Picard moving on with his life, Tal Shiar housekeepers, but it went back to trying to turn Picard and Data into Kirk and Spock, which I wish the TNG films hadn't attempted to do. And it also gave us a boring evil robot storyline that had an almost magical finish. I still didn't like the idea of Synth-Picard, but instead of exploring that storyline in the second season, they did a weird time travel story, which created a new offshoot of Borg that were dismissed away in a line of dialogue by Shaw when they really could've, should've, been back to help out in the series' finale (something that would've also helped put a bow tie on Star Trek: Picard as a series in its own right). While I didn't care for PIC much as a franchise overall, I do think the PIC characters deserved more of a send-off than they got, which came across as a bit unceremonious, even more than how the ENT characters had to make room for Riker and Troi in their series finale.

    Right now, I think PIC did the best by Seven of Nine. I didn't necessarily like where the character started on this series, but I also got that it made sense particularly in the world they set up. And while I do think that her promotion to captain of the Enterprise is rushed, we also got to see the evolution of her character throughout the series so it's not really a left field decision.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2023
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  20. Racefuel

    Racefuel Commodore Commodore

    Sep 3, 2016
    Southern Oregon
    For me the legacy of this series is simple:

    You can go home again, and it turns out that your favorite characters, more realistic and flawed, can go home too.

    Im glad the TNG were able to have one last adventure and put a bookend to their era.

    That’s it. For me that is the Picard legacy.