SPOILERS - Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is now over, and what a season it has been. Patrick Stewart stepped back into the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a story that examined how the times have greatly changed since the iconic character has been away. The galaxy that Picard returned to was filled with dark knew threats like a Romulan espionage cult (the Zhat Vash), an advanced synthetic race that could lead to the extinction of organic life, and even a tragic new world for those trying to escape the grasp of The Borg Collective.
If you can't tell already from that rundown, Star Trek: Picard may have been focused on one particular character, but it has also managed to blow the Star Trek universe wide open in some significant ways!
Major SPOILER! -- The biggest thing that Picard has done was to make a major change to the titular character. In the season 1 finale, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) manages to save an entire community of synthetics from a Romulan death fleet, but he does so at the expense of his own mortality. Jean-Luc had been dying of a brain ailment all along, and finally succumbs to it, due to the strains of battle.
Luckily for the iconic hero (and his fans), Jean-Luc / Patrick Stewart are given a new lease on life in the franchise. Through the efforts of scientists Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) and Altan Soong (Brent Spiner) and some next-gen synth technology, Picard's mind is transferred into a new synthetic body, modeled after his own. While it is still the same Picard in spirit, season 2 will have to get into all the new things an Android Picard is capable of!
Old As New Again
Aside from the primary story of how Jean-Luc Picard finds his way back into the modern Star Trek Universe, Picard took time and great care to bring back some fan-favorite characters from the franchise's past. Not only that, the new series gave those old faces some compelling new dramatic material to work with, and the payoff was pretty much great across the board.
Deanna Troi and Will Riker get a bittersweet story about their attempts at family life after Star Trek: TNG; former Borg side characters like Hugh and Icheb got more focus and humanity than ever; and Brent Spiner's Data truly was the thematic soul of season 1 - including its poignant ending. Some of those characters' stories are now ended, while others are still free to show next season (hopefully with more big returns, as well). But no Star Trek character got a better new start in Picard than Jeri Ryan's Seven of Nine...
The New Queen
Seven of Nine was a one-woman-army badass in the Picard continuity. Voyager's former reclaimed Borg drone and Starfleet officer now crusaded across Romulan space, saving former drones like herself from being exploited and brutally harvested for parts. However, during one of the key battles later in Picard's season, Seven of Nine had to do something she never thought she would again: rejoin the Borg collective!
This time, Seven of Nine didn't just rejoin The Collective: she took command of the entire Borg Cube the Romulans had claimed, and became Queen of the entire Collective on the vessel. It was a short-lived connection, but far-reaching implications already reach into Picard season 2. The lure of The Borg Collective is strong, and while battle time measures have kept Seven of Nine from thinking on it too much, that reconnection moment is bound to have big consequences.
The Real Romulans
The Romulan Empire is one of the oldest enemies in Star Trek, but Picard definitely made them feel new, more interesting, and more dangerous than they have in years. The revelation of a Romulan secret sect even more ancient and clandestine than the Tal Shiar was a bold setup, but the "Zhat Vash" proved to be live up to the ominous rep. The organization has more espionage-style tricks and surprises up its sleeve than Starfleet's Section 31 - and even though Picard dealt them a decisive defeat, their mission to eradicate synthetic life is just getting started again, now that Starfleet has dropped the ban on Androids.
Next Gen Synthetics
As stated, Star Trek: Picard has introduced an entire new generation of synthetic beings/androids into the franchise. These next-gen synths were spawned from Data's positronic brain, and through that connection (plus Dr. Altan Soong's handiwork), Data's legacy of an android becoming more "human" is indeed moving forward.
...Speaking of which, Commander Data's death in Star Trek: Nemesis was something that has long upset a lot of fans. Data's whole story in Star Trek: TNG had been about an android searching for his humanity, but Nemesis basically used the android character as an easy prop for a martyr sacrifice. As even Picard admits in the finale, Data's warped him off of an exploding ship so fast that the two could never even get a proper goodbye. Well, the Picard finale makes sure to right that wrong, by having Brent Spiner's Data sit down with Patrick Stewart's Picard, for the type of goodbye the surrogate father and son truly deserved.
However, with the benevolent community of synthetics Picard discovered came a dark new threat to the entire universe: a Synthetic Alliance, made of artificial (or A.I.) beings that have evolved past mortal constraints of time and space. That Synthetic Alliance nearly comes through a portal to annihilate organic life during the finale episode (looking very much like The Matrix robot army); since the Synthetic Alliance exists outside of known time/space, this threat is far from over.
The revelation of the Synthetic Alliance and its doomsday threat to life in the universe isn't something we've just heard in Star Trek: Picard. Star Trek: Discovery is set an entire century before Picard, but the season 2 of the show proved the threat of an A.I. techpocalypse is all too real, as the A.I. system "Control" had annihilated life in the galaxy by 24th century.
After seeing both Discovery and Picard in their (current) entirety, it's hard not to wonder if both series aren't more connected than we've been led to believe. The same threat seems to be hanging over both shows - could we be headed for an (inevitable?) crossover event?
Star Trek: Picard is current streaming on CBS All Access (temporarily free!). Star Trek: Discovery season 3 is coming soon.
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