Star Trek Made Its Best Captain Too Selfish

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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Most Star Trek fans (especially super fans of The Next Generation) agree that the third season of Picard was quite solid. It reunited our titular captain with the rest of his Enterprise D crew and generally gave our favorite characters proper closure. Despite Picard being considered the best captain in all of Star Trek, though, we can’t help but feel this final season portrayed him as being overly selfish when it came to his motives for saving the day, particularly saving Jack Crusher.

Motivated By Self-Interest

How could we declare Picard selfish when Star Trek has consistently portrayed him as selflessly saving the galaxy? It all goes back to his seeming motivation for taking command of the Titan. Previously, Picard was content to let everyone from Shaw to Riker command the vessel, and it took one unexpected revelation to spur him into action.

Picard Takes Action For His Son

Star Trek fans who go back and watch Picard will instantly notice that he doesn’t take command of the Titan until Beverly Crusher confirms that Picard is, in fact, Jack Crusher’s father. This causes Picard to spring into action, taking command of the starship and leading everyone out of danger. As an audience, we are meant to cheer at this moment as we see everyone’s favorite captain embracing his first, best destiny: commanding a starship when the stakes are impossibly high.

Would Picard Have Saved Another Man’s Son?

However, every time we rewatch the third season of Star Trek: Picard, this entire scene leaves a bad taste in our mouths. The clear implication presented to us is that Picard would not have been motivated to save Jack Crusher if he wasn’t the young man’s father. Had Jack been, say, the son of any other man that Dr. Crusher had met in the intervening years, it seems like Picard would not have sprung into action like this and may, in fact, have left the young man to his fate. 

Picard’s Moral Code

Star Trek is a franchise that is all about idealism, and one of the reasons fans love Picard so much is that he is a model Starfleet officer who “walks the walk” when it comes to his own moral code. For example, in The Next Generation episode “Who Watches the Watchers,” Picard literally puts his life in danger to prove to a primitive race that he isn’t a god. In Star Trek: Insurrection, he is willing to throw his entire career away to save a few hundred lives that the upper echelons of Starfleet were willing to forcibly displace.

Not The Captain We Grew Up With

So when the third season of Star Trek: Picard shows that this legendary Starfleet officer is only willing to save Jack Crusher because of their family connection, it makes Picard seem out of character in a very selfish way. The captain we grew up watching on The Next Generation would have been willing to save Crusher no matter what. It’s a tradition going back to Captain Kirk, who tried to rescue David Marcus and his fellow scientists well before he learned David was his son.

Out Of Character Motivation

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As far as Star Trek character moments go, Picard’s sudden turn into selfishness remains surprising and disappointing. Sure, we’ve seen other stories where he seemed out of character, including becoming an angry action hero in First Contact, but seeing Picard willing to consign a young man to death unless they happen to be related is genuinely rough to watch. 

According to Khan, revenge is a dish best served cold. We’re starting to think the best way to keep it completely frigid is to just serve that dish somewhere near Picard’s cold, robotic heart.

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