Warp Factor Trek

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Probably due to first-season showrunner Michael Chabon being a novelist first, Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard played like a novel; the season had a definitive beginning, middle, and end, with each episode feeling like a chapter. If Season 1 of Picard played like a novel, then the second season — released in 2022 — worked as a rollercoaster ride.

The first trailers for Season 2 promised we would see the first live-action appearance of Q since the Voyager episode “Q2”, twenty years earlier. There, John de Lancie appeared alongside his son Keegan. Since that Voyager episode, de Lancie had appeared in animated form in Lower Decks‘ Season 1 episode “Veritas” in 2020.

Q in “Q2”, “Veritas”, and Picard Season 2

We were also a promised a hellish alternate reality where the Federation no longer existed. This turned out to be accurate, as Q sent Picard and crew into a different universe, which was human-centric and xenophobic. Instead of the Federation, we were introduced to the Confederation of Earth, in which humans had conquered the stars for a safe and human galaxy. I’ve always been a fan of alternate realities, universes and timelines in Star Trek, and this timeline was interesting enough to see portrayed in a Star Trek: Myriad Universes novella or comic book series someday.

Season 2 also promised that the main characters would travel to the past, something that hadn’t been done since Star Trek: Enterprise‘s fourth season opening two-parter “Storm Front” in 2004. Most of Picard’s second season is set in 2024, the year of the Bell Riots, as depicted in the highly popular DS9 two-parter “Past Tense”. In the second season of Picard, we did get a quick mention of the Sanctuary Districts that serve as an integral setting of that two-parter. However, we never had a chance to see them in this season. The 2024 portion of the story takes place about three-and-a-half months prior to the Bell Riots from “Past Tense”.

One of the Sanctuary Districts, from DS9‘s “Past Tense” two-parter

The Borg play a significant part in Season 2, but not as much as they had in Season 1, which was a good thing. The late Annie Wersching did a fantastic job as the Borg Queen, channeling the previous two actresses who played the character — Alice Krige and Susanna Thompson — while also making the role her own.

In Season 2, we saw a lot more humor than in Season 1. When things seemed to go awry, humor was often used to diffuse the situation. For me, the most memorable example of this was when Seven of Nine and Raffi steal an LAPD squad SUV to track down Rios in a Department of Homeland Security bus. The awkwardness of Seven driving with Raffi in tow made it a fun and very humorous scene. Raffi and Seven’s relationship had its ups-and-downs (like every relationship does) but did blossom somewhat in Season 2, even going so far as to show them locking lips in the season’s final episode.

Seven and Raffi kissing… and the “Punk on a Bus”

During the crew’s visit to 2024, we also got two entertaining surprise cameos. The first was a reappearance of the “Punk on a Bus” character, played once again by Kirk Thatcher, reprising that role from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The second was singer-songwriter Sunny Ozell, the wife of Sir Patrick Stewart.

Unfortunately, the season did have some flaws, one of which was an apparent disregard of the Temporal Prime Directive by some of the characters. In the episode “Two of One”, Picard broke this directive by talking directly with his ancestor, Renée Picard. Rios also blatantly disregarded the Temporal Prime Directive, by revealing to Teresa Ramirez who he really was and by staying in 2024 even though he was from the future.

Rios with Ricardo and Teresa, his new-found family… and Adam Soong

Brent Spiner‘s character, Adam Soong, was too one-dimensional and seemed to have been created only to provide a foil for whatever Picard and his crew were attempting to do to ensure the timeline stayed on course. Spiner’s portrayal felt very flat to me, and while it didn’t detract from my viewing of the episodes that Soong was in, it may have also disappointed other viewers.

The most shocking revelations of the season were the personal demons that Picard faced in his childhood, which had parallels with Patrick Stewart’s. We learned over the course of the season that Picard’s struggles to have healthy, long-term relationships with the opposite sex were because his mother Yvette had struggled with mental illness and his father Maurice had been emotionally abusive. Yvette’s death — when her mental illness led to her hanging herself — was shocking.

All this being said, Season 2 of Picard felt like an improvement over Season 1. The story felt clearer, the time travel aspect was fun, and the ending of the Q storyline — which had been building for thirty-five years, since the pilot of TNG — finally came to a close. While Picard Season 2 may not be the best season of the Kurtzman era (I reserve that accolade for Season 1 of Prodigy), it was still one of the best seasons of Star Trek that I have ever seen.

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