Endings can be a very tricky thing to get right, especially the third time around. After seven seasons on the air, Star Trek: The Next Generation bid a satisfying farewell to television in the 1994 series finale episode, All Good Things. Unfortunately, the crew’s subsequent feature film career mostly underwhelmed. In fact, their last outing in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis was a big dud and a poor last impression to leave with fans. Over the next couple decades, any remaining hope for this cast to have one last worthy adventure felt increasingly unlikely. That changed in a big way with the third (and final) season of spinoff series Star Trek: Picard, which served as the Next Generation reunion that fans long wanted. Thankfully, the show goes out strong.
The fact that this last season of Picard could turn out so well is even more remarkable when you consider just how bad the first two seasons were. After Season 2 drew to a tedious and very dumb close, fan good-will for the series had just about hit its nadir. Frankly, I was surprised it got renewed again at all. Thankfully, new show-runner Terry Matalas made the wise decision to mostly just ignore the prior couple years (even flagrantly contradicting plot points from them in some instances) and treat Season 3 as if it were a limited series of its own. A few insignificant references to past events notwithstanding, a Next Generation fan could easily skip right to Season 3 of Picard and not miss much of importance.
|Title:||Star Trek: Picard|
|Episode:||3.10 – The Last Generation|
|Release Date:||April 20, 2023|
That’s not to say that the season is perfect. The show suffered from plot holes, franchise canon continuity issues, and sometimes just flat-out lapses in basic logic right to the end. Its heavy doses of fan-service are often slathered on a little too thickly, and sometimes manifest as outright copying of prior storylines the franchise had already previously covered. Blatant theft from outside properties stand out as well. (A major part of the finale is heavily derivative of the Death Star battle from Return of the Jedi.) The last-minute shift from the Changelings as primary villains to that old standby the Borg also feels like a bait-and-switch.
As much as the general fan consensus has raved about Picard Season 3, not everyone has been as impressed. A fair number of criticisms have surfaced on social media, and to be honest, I can’t deny many of them. The writing for the season is a little messy. It’s frustrating to think of how easily some of these problems might have been fixed with more effort in the scripting.
All that acknowledged, I’m still with the greater fandom on this one. Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard is a hugely enjoyable reunion for the Next Generation crew. I had a great time with it, start to finish. The problems it has are more than overridden by all the things the season does right. Even if it may be a shameless exercise in fan-service and nostalgia baiting, I can hardly fault the series when the results are this entertaining.
Truth be told, I think the show’s penultimate episode is really the high-point of the season. Its reveal that master engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) had spent twenty years rebuilding and restoring the Enterprise-D to its original glory was a delight the actual finale couldn’t top. The last episode itself spends most of its hour tying up loose ends and then conveniently resolving everything in one epic space battle that feels more Star Wars than Star Trek. A couple teaser scenes attempting to set up future spinoffs are also unnecessary at best.
Nevertheless, the finale is tremendous fun, features some really lovely visual effects footage, and delivers several welcome grace notes for our characters. It may have taken two decades longer than expected and wound up on streaming rather than cinema screens, but Star Trek: Picard finally rectifies the problem of the Next Generation cast never getting a rousing send-off like the Original Series crew got with The Undiscovered Country. Even with its flaws, I’m glad to have it.
When I reviewed the Star Trek: Picard season premiere earlier this year, I was unimpressed with the show’s 4K video quality. While I still don’t think the 2.40:1 image is ever particularly sharp, either the HDR grading improved marginally over the course of the season or (as may be more likely) my disappointment in it mellowed a bit. If nothing else, the finale is chock full of explosions and phaser blasts that provide at least moderately decent highlights. Even so, the brightness pop of those effects could still be a little more vibrant, and the show misses countless opportunities to improve the dynamic range of its contrast.
The 5.1 soundtrack makes very creative use of the surround channels during scenes set inside the Borg Cube, and has plenty of rumbly explosions.
One thought on “Hope Is Never Lost – Star Trek: Picard Series Finale (2023)”
I’m not the most devout Trek fan, nor am I as well versed in the lore as many others, but you should check out Red Letter Media’s review of episodes 8, 9, and 10.
I was surprised how many things RLM pointed out Matalas and the show runners used from previous seasons. Matalas and company did a better job than I thought they did. There are issues I noticed too, but it was cool to see Matalas pull so much from the past while dealing with the after effects of the sludge created by the first 2 seasons.
I think you’ll dig RLM’s take on the show.