5 Key Ways The Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Premiere Already Improves Upon Prior Seasons
This series stepped it up.
Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard's Season 3 premiere "The Next Generation." Read at your own risk!
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 is finally available to stream, and those who haven't used their Paramount+ subscription to watch should certainly do so. Even those who weren't fans of Seasons 1 and 2 should give this season a start, as the series improves on a lot of things fans might've had issues with in previous episodes.
Personally, I was overall a fan of both Star Trek: Picard seasons, but there are some undeniable improvements in Season 3 that can't be denied. Here are some of the things that stuck out to me while watching the premiere and what may encourage anyone currently on the fence about watching to tune in.
The Music Feels Like Classic Star Trek
Jeff Russo has done some phenomenal work for Star Trek in its new era, but he stepped aside this season for Stephen Barton to take over the work for Star Trek: Picard's Season 3 score. Fans might've Barton's contribution from the very start, as the score is immediately reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith's past work in the franchise.
Watching Star Trek: The Next Generation is a massive comfort to me. As such, listening to this score felt like I was in a warm blanket and gave me the same happy feelings as watching my favorite episodes of TNG. I loved Russo's work on the previous Picard themes, but to be honest, I couldn't think of another track that immediately stood out to me. Without revealing spoilers, I can say that isn't the case this season, and I'm eager to listen to the full score for this one.
The Legacy TNG Characters Feel More "Lived In"
Beyond Jean-Luc Picard, we get to see two major characters from The Next Generation in this episode. Will Riker and Beverly Crusher both return, and I loved how "lived in" both roles feel. What's even better is this is executed in different ways between both characters, and both are done amazingly well.
Jonathan Frakes has been in Picard a couple of times, and I think it's fair to say he was still trying to find his character in those scenes. Frakes himself has admitted "forgetting how to act" in interviews from that time. In Season 3, it's clear he found Riker, and whether that's finding the role or Riker being in Starfleet again, Frakes crushed it. I'm a big fan of his performance in this episode and in the episodes to come.
Gates McFadden's screen time to Star Trek in the Season 3 premiere is brief, but man, what a return! Bev is blasting would-be aggressors and trying to warn Jean-Luc of some massive conspiracy. It's quite a re-introduction to the character and a big departure from her work in The Next Generation. And yet, we all change a lot over a couple of decades. I think this was possibly the best re-introduction to the character we could've gotten and far more interesting than if she was doing more or less the same job in Starfleet. It feels like she's lived a life, which is important in selling the story to an audience.
Raffi And Seven Have Larger Roles
Raffi and Seven are the only other returning main cast members outside of Jean-Luc featured prominently in Star Trek: Picard Season 3, and there's a lot to say about both. Seven is officially in Starfleet and on the U.S.S. Titan working for Captain Liam Shaw, and Raffi is deep undercover trying to find information about a developing situation in the criminal underworld.
Things are happening with both characters, and I'd argue more than we've seen in previous seasons. Season 3 gives prominent roles in the story, with the potential to have a major impact on the season as it progresses. Here's hoping they do and survive beyond this season for more adventures in the Star Trek universe.
The New Characters Are Immediately Interesting
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Elnor, Rios, Jurati and Soji. That being said, it took a while for those characters to grow on me, and by the time I formed any attachment to them, they were gone by the end of Picard Season 2. It's not uncommon for me to take some time to love Star Trek characters, so I thought nothing of it. That is, until I met some of the new characters in Season 3, who are instantly likable.
Todd Stashwick's Captain Liam Shaw is a certified asshole, but not because he's wrong. He's dead on about Riker and Picard and their personalities during the dinner scene, but that doesn't mean I can't think he's a dick for being a thorn in their secret plan. His being a heel to their goals makes this season so much better from the jump.
I also need to give it up for Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, who crushed it in her introduction as Sidney La Forge. Her first meeting with Picard made her instantly lovable to me, and I'm already ready for her to have more adventures. There's a connection with these characters I've instantly formed that I didn't have with others, and I think that's really special.
Picard Season 3 Feels Like A Better Mix Of TNG And Modern Star Trek
Star Trek: Picard Season 3, from the opening credits, feels like a better marriage of The Next Generation and modern Trek. This isn't because the series reverts back to the TNG style, however. It's the little changes in the music, the text and just having the cast of TNG more present that really blends it all perfectly, and it's surprising how simple that was to do.
Make no mistake though, while Picard Season 3 uses nostalgia to great effect, this story is great and shows immediate promise. To me, it feels like a TNG movie, but obviously not Nemesis. This story can't emulate the past too heavily or it'll fail its mission to give the cast the proper sendoff they deserve.
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 airs new episodes Thursdays on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Tune in for what should be the final adventure for Picard and his crew, and perhaps the start of something greater for the other new characters.
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Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.