The waiting is over and Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 1 – Remembrance is now available for streaming on CBS All Access. I woke up at 3:30am PST (GMT-8) and it was waiting. I dug right in not knowing what to expect and came away pleasantly surprised with the 46 minutes presented. The following is my (relatively) non-spoiler review.
(Sidenote disclaimer: For those new to my reviews, I usually setup the first part of the story and tease what happens afterwards and encourage readers to watch the episode to find out how everything resolves. I give away enough of the story to comment on whether or not I liked, but try to avoid spoilers. No endings or major plot points are revealed, unless they are spoiled within the first few minutes of the episode. Unfortunately, some episodes of some TV shows do that sometimes)
Episode 1 – Remembrance
In the opening cinematic scene set in space there are stars and then … the Enterprise!
Zoom in a window inside the Enterprise and two very old and dear friends are playing poker. Or so it seems … as Star Trek movie fans will quickly remember and realize that Data sacrificed himself in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), but before doing that he downloaded a copy of his positronic brain, his essence. So, there is already both wonder, surprise and perhaps suspicion about the origins of this opening scene. When is it happening?
“I don’t want the game to end,” Picard tells Data.
This reminded me immediately how several episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation (STNG) begin with the crew playing poker. It’s a clever storytelling technique of weaving in elements of something that will appear later in the episode with one or more of the principal characters.
In this scene, it is an older Picard, not in Starfleet uniform, while Data is in a uniform that is similar to the era of Nemesis. Picard notices Data has a tell in his hand. In poker parlance, this is a way of revealing the strength of the hand. It’s how competing players can determine if another player is bluffing or not. Data, despite his machine brilliance could not bluff his captain and lifelong friend. This sets up the story, foreshadowing that Data has something in his hand.
And then Picard realizes that this scene isn’t right, “Strange, I didn’t know we were on the course to Mars…” and he wakes up and viewers realize it is all a dream.
Present day at the Chateau Picard in France with his dog, Number One, a Pitbull Terrier. He seems perplexed to be returned to present day surroundings. Or maybe it’s just wishing he was young (younger!) again, back with his friends, his crew, his legacy aboard the Enterprise.
Cut to a scene involving new characters in the series: a young woman named Daj with her boyfriend. She’s telling him that she just got accepted into a prestigious institute for robotics. Enter an action scene with several men in black who attack, kill her boyfriend and seem horrified to learn that Daj is “activating!” Now she goes into Terminator mode and takes out the black-clad intruders.
Enter the Picard title sequence which is gorgeous, by the way. It shows pictures of a Borg cube, life in an embryonic state, space, a planet splitting and then we see the image of …
I liked the title sequence which seems to humanize Picard, rather than show just another bunch of spaceships in battle and aliens with humans.
That would be the traditional Star Trek title sequence and this one is less grandiose. Picard’s face morps into a pure white background and the burned in title.
After the title sequence, we’re back to Chateau Picard (like that name). The retired Admiral Picard has a caretaker couple that lives with and watches over him. Picard has agreed to his very first interview in many years about the current state of times on Earth and the Supernova. There is an implicit agreement not to ask Picard why he quite Starfleet, which of course the interviewer almost immediately violates.
This is an information dump to bring us current to what happened with the Romulans and the ban on synthetic life forms. Picard believes it was a huge mistake. He doesn’t buy that the synthetics going rogue were the fault of the synthetics. He is also very angry about how the Federation behaved with stranding innocent people — despite them being Romulans — and angrily resigned in protest. There are some more details, in particular involving a supernova, but after watching the episode you’ll understand. It’s not that complex a setup, really.
That brings us current to understanding where Picard is at as he walks off from the interview. Good, old Picard, showing his discipline to his beliefs and human decency. If only there were more great human beings in leadership like him.
Daj, the terminator synthetic, now surprises Picard with a visit at his chateau and explains that she feels he can help her. She doesn’t know why she was attacked or what these surprising terminator-type powers she has are? Picard finds her ability to track him a surprise and believes she might, in fact, have a deeper secret to her true origins.
The episode then primarily becomes about Picard tracking down the origins of Daj and her secret and his own deductive logic on the past, which I won’t spoil.
This is all the story I’m going to get into. If you’re curiosity is piqued, you should watch the episode to learn what happens with Daj, with Picard and how the opening sequence is relevant to the remainder of the episode.
A very bold move going for the “it was all just a dream” opening. This is one of the oldest cliches in storytelling. And yet it teases that Picard’s dream really wasn’t a dream (or was it?). Maybe it’s a memory, not completely fantasy. We don’t really know at this point.
There is also the whole business with the painting. You have to watch the episode to learn more about what this means, because that would be spoiler territory, but I think this is one of the stronger parts of the episode. Yes, it was a plot device, but it worked.
Overall, I thought the episode was well done for a pilot and first episode, but has only a subtle Star Trek feel to it. I think that’s going to be the main criticism from others. That it is more like an investigation TV series with a retired Star Trek captain longing to solve a mystery.
I guess that’s what we signed up for. It is more mystery/suspense than action-oriented, based on the first episode. The only action was involving Daj and one scene where Picard and her are on the run, Picard gets heavily winded. He can’t be running and gunning at almost 80 years old.
The first episode sets up where everything appears to be going in future episodes. Picard is going to find out how and why the synthetics went rogue. It’s almost like a Sherlock Holmes mystery in the holodeck and we all know from Picard’s character that he loves a good mystery. Can this fairly basic premise — what happened to the synthetics? — sustain 19 more episodes? That remains to be seen.
There is a teaser preview at the end of this episode which shows Picard as part of a newly assembled crew aboard a new spaceship saying, “Engage.” From this we can surmise that he is going to get out into the galaxy and mix it up with some aliens and other planets in his quest to solve the synthetics mystery. My guess is that his new crew — of which he’s more passenger and dignitary — with the younger actors/actresses providing the action sequences. Picard will be the one everybody is protecting from danger because he is the one who can unlock and solve the great mystery. Perhaps it’s a bit pretentious, but it does kind of fit the character and background.
I’m going to stick this one out for at least the first season. I think there might be enough to hold my interest based on this episode, but do have concerns.
What would I like to see happen from here?
Go on some freaking adventures. Find out what the Gorn are up to! Yeah, I know that might deviate from the whole “what happened to the synthetics” goal but perhaps other species, including the Borg, can help solve the mystery.
I’d like to see that is where the series goes and leaves earth for the most part. Leaves Picard’s happy, but boring Chateau with the caretakers and Number One dog at his side. I’m not sure we’ll be so lucky, but the adventure isn’t on earth, it’s out there in the great unknown. That is the Star Trek I look forward to watching. Will I get to see it on this series
This is tricky. If I’m rating this as a Star Trek episode, it’s kinda thin and leaving me a bit hungry for more. It feels only loosely like the Star Trek I’m most familiar with. This isn’t like The Mandalorian where I was blown away by how it felt like what I loved about Star Wars.
This is a different, more pensive and investigative TV show. Do I like it? Yes, but it doesn’t feel very much like Star Trek. The only real spark of action involved Daj, and that was like two minutes of the 46 runtime. Could future episodes be more action-oriented? Yes. The preview promises that it will be at least a little less cerebral. I might be OK with a thinking/mystery show, if it is well written, directed and acted like this first episode, but it’s definitely a very different type of show than any other Star Trek seen to date.
Guess I’m saying after one episode, it’s still too early to tell if this will become a Star Trek series. It kind of fails to fully capture the Trek DNA in the opening episode, however the episode is interesting and has some good plot twists.
There are a couple Star Trek Next Generation episodes that are worth revisiting that do seem very related to this series:
- S2:E9 – “The Measure of a Man” – Bruce Maddox is introduced. How he is interested in preserving Data’s technology, but questions Data’s rights as a sentient being.
- S3:E16 – “The Offspring” – Data creates Lal, his daughter. Noteworthy because it was Jonathan Frake’s directorial debut and considered to be one of the best STNG episodes.
In closing, this is more like an STNG episode that seemed to spend a significant amount of time on Data than STOS where Kirk, Spock and McCoy were the primary dynamic. If you liked Data-centric Star Trek stories, you’ll be more likely to enjoy Picard. Again, I just wonder if there will be enough to explore here or if the first few episodes will be all this series has in the tank. We’ll find out every Thursday for the next two months or so.
Overall episode rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½