This Star Trek: Picard review contains spoilers.
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 10
All good things must come to an end. Even the things we might wish wouldn’t. Such is the case with Star Trek: Picard, a series that, to put it mildly, struggled to find a coherent identity and purpose during its first two seasons, but which blossomed in its third and did so by finally embracing the very legacy it at first tried so hard to run away from. I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself wishing this story could last just a little bit longer, that we could somehow spend a little bit more time with these people, that we didn’t have to say goodbye to this piece of Star Trek: The Next Generation, grown older alongside us in rich and fascinating ways.
Look: If you, as a viewer, haven’t been enjoying the purposeful fan service of Picard season 3, you probably aren’t going to like this finale all that much, which aims itself like a laser directly at the heart of anyone who loved The Next Generation and its characters. Yes, there are some narrative hiccups and shortcuts, but if you ask me, “The Last Generation” sticks the landing in nearly every way that matters.
The final confrontation with the Borg and the assimilated Starfleet armada is pure spectacle, dotted with the sort of ’90s-style action movie hero moments that exist for no other purpose than simply to delight viewers. (Seven’s captain’s speech to her ragtag new Titan crew! Beverly Crusher’s surprising tactical skill with photon torpedoes! Worf refusing to fight with phasers because swords are just more fun!) Yet, as has been the case for most of the season, the hour’s best moments are its most emotional ones, each grounded in the decades-long relationships between the Enterprise’s legacy crew.
From Picard’s choked-up inability to express what his Number One has meant to him over the course of their lives together, to Riker’s wordless telepathic goodbye to Deanna and Geordi’s wonder at Data’s enthusiastic embrace of the new emotions he’s only now finally experiencing, these are all moments that carry extra weight simply because these are relationships we’ve spent literal years watching grow. We love these people as much as they love each other, and the result is a climax that feels both utterly earned and deeply satisfying.
Picard, of course, knows that the specifics of its conclusion aren’t all that important in light of these facts, but it does manage to (mostly) tie up its larger story in a generally solid way. (Certainly, it does a better job here than in either of its previous season finales.) Picard’s willingness to risk becoming Locutus again in order to save his son is the thematically rich stuff that Patrick Stewart lives to play, and seeing him face off with the Borg Queen one last time is probably where this series was always destined to end. Do the specifics of Jack Crusher’s assimilation and rescue—including his sudden ability to throw off Borg control—really work? Not entirely. But Picard leans fully into the cheesy heart of the moment, and Stewart and Ed Speleers sell the heck out of Jean-Luc’s decision to finally choose his son over everything he’s always put before things like family in the past.
To the episode’s credit, “The Last Generation” also features some remarkably tense moments, despite all of us essentially knowing going into this that there was no way anything irrevocably awful would happen to any of our The Next Generation faves. Yet, at various moments I was genuinely nervous about the fates of several characters, particularly when both Riker and Picard got the whole “tell your loved one how much they mean to you just in case” treatment on the Borg cube. (Riker did it more than once!!) But, thankfully, this isn’t a bleak and gritty sci-fi drama, it’s a warm fuzzy affirmation that love is still humanity’s greatest achievement. (And a story in which its central romance just happens to share a telepathic bond that conveniently allows one to somehow emotionally track the other in a moment of great distress. We love love!)
Perhaps the most unexpected part of the Picard finale is how quickly the episode wraps up the threat of Borg invasion. “The Last Generation” clocks in at over an hour’s runtime, but the last quarter of the episode is basically devoted to giving us a last few moments of our faves together and determining what’s next for all of them. (And maybe setting up an unexpected spinoff in the process.) Geordi returns the Enterprise-D to the Fleet Museum, where she’s given pride of place among the other classic Starfleet ships and a proper goodbye from the three men who loved her best. (Which includes a callback to The Next Generation’s very first episode.) Data’s talking out all his new Big Feelings extremely extensively during sessions with Deanna. The Troi-Rikers are planning what’s likely their first vacation together since their son’s illness forced them to retire to a planet it turns out they both actively hate. And, of course, everyone’s getting totally bombed together at 10 Forward, playing poker and quoting Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar just like the good old days and reminding us all that these are the sort of relationships that, once again, will keep going on long after the series’ final credits roll.
In many ways, Picard’s finale doesn’t feel as much like a definitive ending as it does a “to be continued,” the conclusion of one adventure in the lives of these characters and the start of many others, whether we ultimately see them play out onscreen or not. It’s incredibly heartfelt and lovely, and maybe the best thing any of us could have asked for from this series’ conclusion. If that is, in fact, what it is. Star Trek: Picard may be over, but if the finale’s credits sequence is anything to go by, there’s plenty of story to tell in this corner of the Star Trek universe.
Jack Crusher, as we all likely expected, ends up in Starfleet, and is assigned to the newly rechristened Titan—now the Enterprise-G, in honor of Picard—under her new captain, Seven of Nine. (Sorry, Enterprise-F, at least that one shot of you last week was a banger!) Raffi’s her First Officer and while there’s no direct confirmation that the two are back together, if hope springs eternal anywhere, it’s probably going to be on this show. But what will inevitably leave everyone talking is the incredibly welcome reappearance of John de Lancie as Q (with predictably incredible outerwear), a twist that not only wipes out his season 2 death but appears to have extended his original obsession with Picard to his son. And I…surprisingly don’t hate it.
Yes, the one-year time jump to what appears to be happy families between Jean-Luc, Jack, and Beverly speeds us past all the difficult and necessary emotional work it surely must have taken the group to reach this point. (And, personally, I’m taking the utter lack of any mention of Laris as a hopeful sign on the Picard/Crusher romance front, do not judge me.) But it’s such a natural extension of the Picard universe that I’m eager to see where it all might go next.
Fandom’s clamoring for a Star Trek: Legacy series, after all. And even if I’d personally rather see Jonathan Frakes get his shot at the captain’s chair—No, Star Trek: Lower Decks doesn’t count—I’m definitely not averse to the idea of a series in which Jack’s established relationships with his father’s former crewmates and BFFs are part of the larger world of his story either. After all, Picard Season 3 has taught me nothing so much that sometimes, impossible things can happen if you want them bad enough. But if this is the true end of an era, and our time with The Next Generation crew is over, I’m grateful this is how they got to go out, and that we all got the chance to be part of it.