A Review of Picard‘s “The Last Generation”
The tenth episode of Star Trek: Picard’s third season, “The Last Generation”, doesn’t miss a beat. It has more heart than you could fire a quantum torpedo at! Coming in at just over an hour, this series finale of Picard is also a glorious close-out to The Next Generation cast along with the Enterprise-D.
We start in a bleak moment. Starfleet’s ships have been taken over by the Borg-assimilated younger officers and are trying to destroy Earth’s defenses. We hear about this from a vocal cameo by a member of The Original Series playing a fun character that sets the tone going forward. The Enterprise-D is on a direct course to the conflict when it discovers the location of the true big-bad of the season: the Borg. We learn they are hiding in the gases of Jupiter, aboard a super-massive cube. On a pan-out from the Borg vessel, you can almost lose sight of the Enterprise due to how gargantuan this cube is.
Meanwhile, Seven of Nine and Raffi manage to retake the bridge of the USS Titan-A by being highly creative with the ship’s transporters. The couple plan to find some way to break the Titan out of Fleet Formation.
What makes the super-massive Borg cube particularly scary is that, as the Enterprise-D approaches, the cube lowers its shields. The Borg are all but rolling out the red carpet for our hopeful heroes. After a goodbye fit for a team about to face their doom, Picard, Riker, and Worf beam aboard the super-gigantic cube in search of Jack Crusher. Picard finds him — looking similar to how Picard looked in his Borg guise as Locutus — and the Borg Queen… looking scary as ever.
By engaging its cloak, the Titan manages to separate from Fleet Formation. However, even that success is short-lived. The Borg Queen has been driven more insane — as Picard notes — for having had no voices of the Collective in her head, before finding Jack. While the away team and the Enterprise-D come under attack by the Borg, Spacedock takes fire from a massive amount of assimilated Starfleet ships before finally its shields fall. Aboard the Titan, the vessel’s contingent of assimilated officers sabotage the cloak.
Jack Crusher is comfortably operating under the belief that, with the Borg Queen, he is home. Picard has to reconnect to the Collective and convince him that this is all fake, meant to entice him. Through an exchange of remarkably meaningful communication, Picard manages to convince Jack to break away from the Collective in defiance of the Queen, bringing an end to the battle.
A scene with Data and Troi during a counseling session is a reminder of the early days on the Enterprise when Data loved to talk incessantly. We also get a solid ending to the Enterprise-D at the Fleet Museum, powering down, and a line of dialogue from the voice of the Enterprise, performed once again by the late, great Majel Barrett. There’s also a start-ending with a new-old ship, which potentially sets up an exciting new mission. A final scene with the TNG crew calls back to the series finale of TNG. Then, a mid-credits scene brings back a nice surprise guest who shares his name with a letter of the alphabet.
The highlight of the entire third season of Star Trek: Picard and this episode in particular was the crew we knew from TNG coming back and adding to the world we know and love. Every moment they’re together is amazing, and the rebuilt bridge of the Enterprise-D is simply glorious.
The humor in this episode is also right on point. Hilarity ensues, whether it be Worf falling asleep on the bridge or Data taking charge and having his fun, the latter harking back to a certain part of the first film for the TNG cast, Star Trek Generations.
On the whole, this episode feels like the third chapter in Jean-Luc Picard’s battle with the Borg in TNG, from their first meet in “Q Who” to his abduction in “The Best of Both Worlds”. This final chapter is a fitting end to the arc of that nemesis.
Action, suspense, and will-they-or-won’t-they moments keep you glued to your chair til the very last moment of the battle. The fear of someone dying in the conflict is astonishingly real, not to mention how the Enterprise-D is piloted through the Borg cube. It’s amazing to see and leaves the impression that this ship was gone too soon.
There are, however, a few downsides to this episode. The amount of firepower it takes to bring down the space station’s shields is frankly ridiculous, and I was disappointed that the Enterprise-G is of a pre-existing class, not a brand new class of starship. Although Guinan is mentioned in the final scene with the TNG cast, it’s a pity that Whoopi Goldberg sadly makes no appearance here. I would also have liked more to have been said about Vadic and the Changelings.
And what of the face that Vadic regarded as her superior? I wish there was at least one line of dialogue in which the Queen said something along the lines of, “I was the face that Vadic was talking to.” Alternatively, the episode could have shown her as the face in a flashback, showing her perspective of one of the conversations with Vadic. As it stands, them working together doesn’t clearly establish that the mysterious face was the Borg Queen.
We can infer that the Borg Queen’s loneliness is due to Admiral Janeway coming back in Voyager’s “Endgame” and infecting the Queen with a virus in that episode. However, this probability isn’t fully confirmed here either.
Jane Edwina Seymour, the actress cast to physically play the on-screen embodiment of the Borg Queen, was dubbed over by original Borg Queen badass Alice Krige, returning to that role from “Endgame” and the film Star Trek: First Contact (she also voiced a holographic Borg Queen in the Lower Decks episode “I, Excretus”). Due to the dubbing of the lines, some of the Queen’s mouth movements don’t quite match the audio.
These qualms aside, this episode is a joyride turned up to eleven with moments that will tug at your heart, a very fun and exciting conclusion to the next generation as well as a good introduction to the next next generation. While the season and the series are now over, the future of their stories is not and can continue in future productions. As Picard might say, make it so!