Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Premiere Review: The Series Finally Delivers On Its Potential

Our deputy editor says Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere is so good it's practically a different series.

By Michileen Martin | Published

star trek picard season 3 premiere

It may be fitting that it took Picard three seasons to become what it should’ve been all along — considering it took its predecessor Star Trek: The Next Generation just as long to become the beloved show we remember (sometimes through rose-tinted visors) — but that doesn’t make it any less unfortunate. With a less crowded cinematic style that delivers a faster pace, a plot that raises the stakes, and unburdened by a half dozen new heroes we barely know, the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere is practically a completely different series. Really, it feels less like a TV series and more like the Star Trek 11 that might have been if 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis hadn’t failed worse than Worf in a Responsible Dads contest. 


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Star Trek: Picard‘s Season 3 premiere, “The Next Generation,” jumps right into the action with a firefight between Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and a trio of creepily trilling, masked aliens. Not only does it get your blood pumping right away, but the fight is a good example of one of the biggest areas in which “The Next Generation” shows so much improvement from previous reasons: storytelling without piles of exposition. I won’t spoil anything, but by the end of the first scene it will be clear just how much Beverly is no longer the same woman who lectured the crew about ethics.

Adding to the more cinematic flavor, “The Next Generation” completely does away with the opening credits sequence from previous seasons and spares us only the very beginning and the very end of the score. It gives the story a sense of urgency that doesn’t let up for the entire episode.

I want to avoid as many spoilers as I can, but I will say you should not expect all of the TNG crew in the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere. It makes sense we would get the old gang back a little bit at a time rather than immediately in one big meeting, and it feels more genuine. 

In particular, I loved the chemistry between Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) in “The Next Generation.” Their immediate ease with one another and their seasoned back-and-forth comes off as much more natural than it did in Season 1’s “Nepenthe.”

star trek: picard season 3 premiere
Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes in “The Next Generation” – Star Trek: Picard S3, E1

Another bright spot in the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere is Todd Stashwick (12 Monkeys) as the uptight, untrusting commander of the U.S.S. Titan, Captain Liam Shaw. With Picard retired and Riker without his own command, the pair try to trick Shaw into taking them where they want to go but the straight-laced captain ain’t havin’ it. He’s an unapologetic jerk, and Stashwick plays him so perfectly that “love to hate” really doesn’t cover how good it is to watch him be a jerk. 

Shaw’s ill treatment of Picard and Riker highlights something that perhaps shouldn’t be as surprising as it is: that in Starfleet Picard and his senior crew are not necessarily the revered heroes we think of them as. To Shaw, and no doubt to at least some others in the fleet’s higher ranks, they’re dangerous and irresponsible at best, traitors at worst. 

In another brilliant example of the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere telling us a lot without words, in spite of hardly hearing anything from the bridge crew of the Titan beyond the average military flavored call-and-response, we already get a sense of how conflicted the mostly nameless (so far) Starfleet officers feel. They know Shaw better, they’ve worked with him more, but Picard is a legend (and, clearly, Shaw is a tool).

Speaking of the bridge crew, we only get one brief exchange with Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut (Homeland) as Ensign Sydney La Forge — the Titan’s Helmsman and one of Geordi La Forge’s (LeVar Burton) daughters — but it’s delivered perfectly.

star trek picard season 3 premiere
Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut in “The Next Generation” – Star Trek: Picard S3, E1

This may seem like a small thing to some, but the Titan crew includes a larger percentage of non-human characters than we’re used to in live-action Trek, and I hope this proves to be a trend that continues in the other series. Among the more visible aliens of the crew are a Vulcan, a Tellarite, a Bajoran, a Deltan, and some others I didn’t recognize. 

While the animated series have buckets of aliens to spare, ever since Bruce Horak’s Hemmer’s death in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, there have been very few aliens in the live-action Trek show’s lead characters. What’s the point of a sprawling narrative filled with aliens if you don’t make a good chunk of your heroes people with green skin and antennae and random forehead ridges, etc.?

The Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere isn’t perfect. I’ve enjoyed the character and the actor in the past, but I found myself cringing at a scene in which Raffi (Michelle Hurd) is essentially talking to herself. There is also one major reveal in the episode that goes exactly in the opposite direction in which I was hoping it would go.

I also have to say it’s disappointing that Orla Brady’s (Fringe) Laris will likely be absent for most of the rest of the series. She has a wonderful on-screen presence and her character — a Romulan who used to be an intelligence officer according to her Memory Alpha entry — is full of untapped potential. We got to see more of Brady in Season 2, but unfortunately as a completely different character.

Regardless, overall the Star Trek: Picard Season 3 premiere finally delivers on the promise behind the very concept of the show. If you’ve been disappointed with previous episodes or have avoided the revival altogether, now’s the time to get on board.

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