Star Trek: Picard season 2 is a love letter to fans that honors the 50 plus years of the source material while still creating a riveting and fresh story. Episode 201, “The Star Gazer,” is a shining example of why this show is now the science fiction crown jewel of Paramount Plus. The first episode of the season takes place a year or so after the events of Season 1’s “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2.”
[Please note there are heavy spoilers ahead. If you don’t mind spoilers, carry on.]
The first season of Picard focused on grief and professional failings. This season appears to focus on personal failings and loss. The first episode touches on profound emotional regret – a lack of lasting love and deep relationships for Picard (Patrick Stewart) and a sense of time slipping through the hourglass.
We Finally Find Out More About Picard’s Family
Save for his brother Robert, Picard’s family has always been somewhat of a mystery. In The Next Generation episode “Family,” we learned about some of the unfortunate family dynamics through Robert. We know Robert bullied Jean-Luc and that their father wasn’t a terribly nice man.
In the S2 premiere of Picard, we actually get to meet Picard’s mom, Yvette. From the flashback memories that we see, we’re led to believe that his family life wasn’t happy. His childhood had yelling and domestic violence. At his mom’s behest, Picard used the stars as his way of escape from a bad situation. She tells him to “Look up!” It seems like the season is taking us down a path where Picard has to process his past to have the deep emotional connections that have eluded him thus far.
Picard Still Has Commitment Issues
Part of Jean-Luc Picard’s personal distress in the premiere occurs when his Romulan housekeeper/lethal bodyguard Laris (Orla Brady) confesses her deep feelings for him. They’re outside at his Chateau having wine, and he doesn’t take the confession well even though it appears he also has feelings for her.
Picard isn’t a stranger to short romantic relationships. He’s unattached in Picard. Twenty years have passed since the events of Star Trek: Nemesis and a lot could have happened. On TNG, he was involved for brief periods with numerous women. The most profound relationship of all was with the one that got away – Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). She was the closest thing he had to an emotional core; it will be curious to see if this is addressed at all in Picard, especially considering how Q has in the past shown Picard what could have been.
Big Characters Return and the Forward Avenue Historic District
The trailer for Picard S2 showed all the cards for the major characters returning this season, and the premiere episode delivers on this as Guinan, the Borg Queen, and Q all return. We get a hefty amount of time with Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan. She’s running a bar at 10 in the Forward Avenue Historic District in Los Angeles on Earth. The centuries-old El-Aurian is wise as usual and accurately diagnoses Picard’s grave emotional state.
The new 10 Forward has a different vibe than the original Ten Forward on the Enterprise. When Picard arrives at the bar, he spends an extra beat lingering at the historical marker outside. The Forward Avenue Historic District doesn’t appear to be a real place in LA. Given that the Picard S2 trailer shows some events happening in the past, it will be interesting to see if the historic district has any role there.
The Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) is an emissary of destruction. When she beams onto the bridge of the Stargazer, Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) accurately quips, “That’s new.” Instead of the traditional look, her character is wearing an all-black outfit with a cape that looks like Alexander McQueen could have designed it. You don’t see her actual face, instead of seeing shiny black scales across her face that shift and power up. She’s also got a serious Doc Ock vibe going on with two telescoping tentacles that do her bidding.
John De Lancie’s Q also appears, albeit at the end of the episode. There’s a great callback to the TNG episode “All Good Things…” where Q reminds Picard that the trial never ends. We’re left wanting the next episode to find out what’s going on.
Who is Missing
The episode does a great job of organically checking in with most of the main characters we saw in Season 1.
One guilty fan favorite was missing from the premiere – the scheming Romulan Tal Shiar member Narek (Harry Treadaway.) As of the S1 finale, he was still alive. He’s not mentioned and doesn’t appear in the first episode.
The New and Improved Borg
The Borg typically transit around the galaxy in Cubes or Spheres. In the S2 premiere, we see the addition of a new pointy ship of doom to the Borg’s arsenal. It’s angry-looking with multiple spikes. It also appears to have some temporal radiation properties.
Picard is the Cool Admiral
As multiple characters remind us, Picard may be pushing a hundred, but he still looks good. He’s got swagger and a roguish Admiral look. We see it the most evident when Admiral Whitely visits Picard and tells him about the voice in the anomaly. She’s in her Starfleet uniform, and Picard is in his turtleneck. The swagger continues on the Stargazer. Instead of the standard uniform that everyone else is wearing, Picard has a tremendous black uniform with leather shoulder accents.
The Evolution of Seven of Nine
Seven’s evolution has been fascinating, and Jeri Ryan’s acting has been stellar. In the Voyager finale (“Endgame”), we see Seven start to make peace with her humanity. In Picard S1 and now S2, it appears she has fully embraced her humanity and her emotions.
In S1, we saw this most clearly with her association with the vigilante organization, the Fenris Rangers. We saw her passionate sense of justice, and we saw her anger. The torture and subsequent death of Icheb, her ex-Borg “son” that she raised on Voyager, was the catalyst for her revenge and growing body count.
In the S2 premiere, Seven continues her work fighting the baddies when she encounters the anomaly that has drawn the Stargazer and the others to the same space sector. She has a very emotional and human reaction and wants to destroy the Borg.
We Need to Talk About Janeway
Picard has a well-known history with the Borg. In The Next Generation episode “The Best Of Both Worlds,” he was assimilated and became Locutus of Borg. We see the lingering effects of his trauma from that experience in S1 and now in S2. But Admiral Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), who has her own, arguably, deeper history with the Borg is missing from the first episode. You’d think there would be some mention of her or maybe a stray reference to the neurolytic pathogen she unleashed on the Borg. Furthermore, Janeway is the only other character (unless you count Vash) with such a deep relationship with Q. Here’s hoping she’s acknowledged later in the season.
The Famed Stargazer and More Ships
We get to see the new and Borg-improved Stargazer early on in the episode, and she’s a beauty. And it gets better – the cigar-smoking Rios is the Captain.
One of the big criticisms of S1 was that you didn’t see a lot of variety with Starfleet ships. Season 2 shuts the door on this particular complaint early. In addition to the Stargazer, there are also Nova class, Steamrunner class, and what looks like Sovereign-class ships in this episode.
The Many Characters of Santiago Cabrera
One of the most entertaining parts of the first season of Picard was the many Cristobal Rios-inspired holograms that Santiago Cabrera played on the La Sirena. In episode 1, Seven is in command of the La Sirena, and we find out Rios holograms fully crew it. We only see the warrior hologram in this episode, but it will be fun to see more as the season continues.
The Computer Voice
The voice of the late Majel Barrett as the computer is also absent, continuing the new tradition from Star Trek: Discovery. In S1 of Picard, there was very little time spent on actual Starfleet starships. The first episode of S2 has scenes on the Stargazer and includes many red alerts and ship alarms, so the computer’s voice is notable.
Everyone Remembers Picard is a Golem, Right?
At the conclusion of S1, Picard’s consciousness was transferred into a Golem-like android that Dr. Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner) was building on the android homeworld. This fact is barely touched upon in the Season 2 opener, even though it has major implications for Picard moving forward. Number One, Picard’s faithful dog, doesn’t even seem to care about the difference.
The Actual Show is Still Beautiful
If you’re a fan that grew up on the miniatures of The Original Series, TNG, VOY, or DS9, it’s mind-boggling to see how good things look now. We’re in a golden age of filmmaking where cinematography and special effects are used together to make beautiful works of art.
New Episodes of Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard are available every Thursday on Paramount Plus. Check out the trailer below!
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