Title: Star Trek: Picard Episode 1: ‘Remembrance’ Review
Release Date: January 24, 2020
Network: CBS All Access
Genre: Science Fiction
It’s hard to believe that the last time Patrick Stewart took on the role of Jean-Luc Picard was 18 years ago. Star Trek: Nemesis was the last Next Generation film in the long-running series. It’s possible one of the reasons that flick was the end of that chapter was because the movie was almost universally hated. It was a sad conclusion to the story of a beloved character in the Roddenberry universe. At least we thought it was the conclusion. Then Star Trek: Picard was announced.
Debuting on January 24, the show was always set up as a way for fans of the Riker, Picard, Data, Worf, and the others to see their heroes in action one more time. So far, we’ve only see Jean-Luc in any kind of action, and even then, it was mostly him standing around, with his mouth agape.
Still, the debut episode of Star Trek: Picard did what it was supposed to do. It reintroduced the titular character and set the stage for the rest of the season. That”s all it really had to do. There’s so much excitement around the show it was already renewed for a second season. The good news is the episode set the stage in a way that was captivating and engrossing and made the season premiere episode seem too short.
It’s A Conspiracy!
Star Trek: Picard opens on what appears to be a happily retired Jean-Luc, living at his grand, wine-making estate. He’s got some beautiful scenery, a couple of employees who vaguely talk about the fact they owe him everything, and his adorable squirrel killing dog Number One.
Yes, if you were expecting the CBS All-Access series to be packed with callbacks, you won’t be disappointed. Naming his dog after William Riker is just one of the things that will make Next Generation fans grin from ear-to-ear at the outset.
On the flip side, the idea that all is well in Picard’s world is put on its ear in the opening scene. The show begins with Captain Picard and Data aboard the Enterprise, and at first, it seems like another of those scenes where Jean-Luc is teaching his old friend how to be more human. It quickly goes downhill from there.
The captain turned Admiral, turned retiree’s real-life quickly takes a turn from the idyllic as well when a mysterious young girl named Dahj shows up after being assaulted men in what appears to be futuristic biker outfits.
This is one of the parts of episode 1 that turns out to be a big set up for the rest of the season. Picard soon learns why people are after Dahj, at least a surface reason, though doesn’t get to the bottom of the bigger question when the story takes a rather abrupt turn. All of it, the way he meets Dahj, their interactions, and the story laid out to explain the world at large feels nothing like the Next Generation. This series is set to feel quite a bit more like the new Star Trek movies, where Chris Pine is Captain Kirk.
That feeling of pulling TNG into this generation is especially apparent when looking at the framing and the sort of always shiny backdrops and bright colors. Whether that’s an improvement on the old approach is going to largely be up to how much you like the newer movies, but it was visually impressive, and I felt like it pulled me in more than the old show was able to do.
Now, Where Did I Leave My Teeth?
While Star Trek: Picard episode 1, Remembrance was quite a bit of fun, there were a few sticking points. Chief among those was an apparent effort to soften Picard. At times, it was almost like he just wanted to give every person he met a hug. His interactions with Dahj, especially, were far too grandfatherly when you consider he’d known her for about a day by the end of the episode.
Next Generation fans remember a Jean-Luc who was prickly to a fault at the beginning of the series. It was genuinely fun to watch him squirm whenever he had to interact with young Wesley Crusher. Yes, he became more comfortable and more lovable as the series went on, but he was never really a “Grampa Picard” type character. Perhaps this new series did that intentionally to show how much older he was and how much mellowed he was. It didn’t go well.
There was only one scene where we came close to the old Jean-Luc Picard persona, and that was more “do you know who I am?” than “don’t mess with the captain of the Enterprise.” We haven’t seen him command a ship in this show yet, but we know he does. Perhaps the older version will show back up when he starts going where no one has gone before, once again.
Verdict: Remembrance was a decent enough introduction to the world of Star Trek: Picard. We got to see some old friends, and there was the promise of seeing even more. There is a genuine mystery that seems to have a good shot at only getting more engrossing as the series goes on. Still, the “Grampa Picard” persona needs to be kicked to the curb. He was never an action hero, that’s not what fans want out of him, but the extreme touchy-feely stuff doesn’t really seem to fit either.
- Nostalgia is cashed in on early and often
- Updated visual approach is a definite improvement
- The mystery unfolding is genuinely engrossing
- Maybe a bit too much story off-screen.
- Jean Luc Picard seems like a doddering old fool at times.
- If they hurt the dog, we riot.