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This post contains spoilers for all 3 seasons of Star Trek: Picard
Star Trek: Picard ended its third and final season recently with a phenomenal conclusion that explored powerful themes and reaffirmed that the core values and ideas of Star Trek are once again present in modern Star Trek. Let's review each season and cover the major themes.
Season 1: Acceptance and Purpose
This season opens with Jean-Luc Picard defeated and disillusioned after he failed to save Data. Moreover, he also failed to save the Romulans from the Hobus supernova; politics, prejudice, and racism resulted in the loss of many Romulan lives as well as the ban on synthetics. This season also explores what place a geriatric man in his twilight years can contribute; as Captain Kirk would say, can he still "make a difference?"
Even in this broken, defeated state, he still stands up to blatant racism when the reporter interviewing him says "Romulan lives" and he sternly corrects her that all lives should be valued equally:
Moreover, throughout the course of the season, he defends the rights of synthentic beings, culminating in his ultimate sacrifice to save Soji and all of Altan Soong's children on Coppelius:
Jean-Luc also comes face-to-face with Data and is finally able to accept that just like he was willing to sacrifice himself for Soji's people, so too was Data willing to sacrifice himself for Picard:
In a resounding affirmation, Picard demonstrates that even an old man can indeed "make a difference".
Season 2: Forgiveness and Growth
Season 2 centers around the theme of forgiveness and growth, reflected in a number of the characters:
- Picard forgives himself, his mother, and father for his mother's death
- Guinan forgives 21st century humanity for their disregard for the well-being of other humans and the Earth
- Picard forgives Q for his mischief over the years and comes to have compassion for him
- Seven, through her temporary experience as a borg-free Annika Hansen, overcomes her dislike of the Borg parts of herself
- Renée Picard, with her descenant Jean-Luc's help, overcomes her fears and proceeds on the mission to Europa and Io
- Picard moves past the barrier to letting himself get close to others and begins a relationship with Laris
- Rios realizes where he truly belongs and remains in the 21st century
- The Borg, with the help of Agnes Jurati, evolve into a new, voluntary form of collective
- Q learns what it means to not be alone as Picard embraces him before he "moves on"
In one of the most remarkable, powerful, and emotional scenes in all of Star Trek, Q gives Jean-Luc a beautiful gift - the chance to forgive himself. He does this not for some grand purpose, but simply because "you matter to me". Not only does this beautifully demonstrate the theme of forgiveness, but it also shows the incredible value of a single life:
Season 3: Family and Connection
Season 3 focuses on the themes of family and connection through many of the characters:
- Picard learning he has a son and reconnecting with Beverly
- Jack feeling isolated his whole life and seeking connection, which leads him to the Borg and ultimately his family
- Ro Laren and Picard reconnecting and resolving the conflict that occurred when they last saw each other
- Riker reconnecting with his sense of awe and wonder after witnessing the birth of the space creatures in the nebula
- Seven feeling connected to her captain/crew and Starfleet in general
- Data's connection with his family - Lore, B4, Lal, and Altan Soong
- Geordi's connection to and love for his daughters
- Raffi's need for connection, both to her grandson as well as to her new mentor, Worf
- Riker and Troi reconnecting after Riker struggled to move past the loss of his son
We also see a sense of connection and rediscovery of the TNG crew coming together again and solving a crisis as a team greater than the sum of its parts. Seeing the Enterprise D again was breathtaking, and Picard seemed to immediately gain a sense of energy and commanding presence that he had not displayed throughout the rest of Star Trek: Picard.
Ultimately, the transformation of Jean-Luc Picard from a man who could not stand children to the father who willingly faces his greatest fear to try to save his son is profound. When he can't convince Jack to leave the Collective, Jean-Luc tells him, "well then, I'll stay with you until the end. You have changed my life forever" and holds his child in an embrace. Despite always holding others at a distance and thinking he would never realize the dream he had in the Nexus, he finally did. This act of true and deep connection breaks Jack from the Borg's grip and allows both of them to escape:
Through watching Season 3 as well as listening to numerous interviews, it's abundantly clear that Terry Matalas really understands the core of Star Trek: exploring contemporary social issues through a scifi lens and creating a vision of the future filled with optimism, hope, growth, and connection. Certainly Star Trek: The Next Generation embodied these ideals and now so too does new Star Trek created by him. I sincerely hope that we will see future series like Star Trek: Legacy with Terry Matalas at the helm.
Yes, there are parts of Star Trek: Picard that I didn't enjoy. However, all of that pales in comparison to the themes I've outlined above. As I've discussed before, these qualities are what make Star Trek so powerful and significant and why it has inspired so many people to become engineers, scientists, and doctors or just feel a sense of optimism for the future. Finally, with Star Trek: Picard Season 3 as well as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, we see a return to these core ideals and the development of rich characters. We also see actors who are deeply invested in bringing these messages of positivity to the future and a showrunner who thoughtfully weaves new stories while remaining true to what has come before. I'm very excited to see what comes next.