Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 6 Review – The Bounty
"The Bounty" is Star Trek: Picard's best episode yet.
This Star Trek: Picard review contains spoilers.
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 6
The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard finally puts the proverbial band back together in “The Bounty,” and, to the likely surprise of no one, it’s the best episode of the season. It’s true, the bulk of this hour is pure fan service and contains elements that seem to be there for no reason other than they will utterly delight those who loved Star Trek: The Next Generation. But it’s hard to argue with a classic simply playing the hits when they’re executed with this much verve and heart. Particularly when they’re integrated so seamlessly into the larger story the season is telling.
From a slow-motion panorama across many of Star Trek’s most famous starships—including Captain Kirk’s U.S.S. Enterprise and Seven’s former home, the U.S.S Voyager—to the inclusion of actual The Next Generation footage, there are plenty of moments that will thrill even the most casual of fans. But Picard, thankfully, actually does its best to make these moments both narratively and emotionally significant. For example, while the clip from “Encounter at Farpoint” and the inclusion of the hologram Moriarty are both thrilling moments for longtime viewers, they’re also important signposts that the Data that Worf, Riker, and Raffi discover at Daystrom Station is connected to the Data the Next Generation crew once knew.
While Picard’s first two seasons can be seen as cautionary tales about what viewers don’t particularly want from their shows based on legacy franchises (no one asked for an extended exploration of the childhood trauma we never knew Picard had), the third is proof that deliberate fan service can not only be incredibly satisfying but also incredibly useful. “The Bounty” doesn’t just reunite a half dozen beloved characters, it uses that reunion to say something interesting about the people they’ve all become since the last time we saw them together. From Worf’s zen-like attempt to embrace pacificism to Geordi La Forge’s overprotective dad vibes, Picard understands that these aren’t the same people we watched on The Next Generation, nor should they be. And part of the fun is watching them figure out what their relationships look like so many years after they were last all together.
The arrival of Worf and Raffi to the U.S.S. Titan finally unites the two initially disparate stories that this season of Picard has been telling, and everything is the better for it. (And not just because of Worf’s criticism of Chateau Picard wine or the easy way he and Riker slide right back into snarking at one another.) Unlike last season, which spent its midsection largely bogged down in pointless side quests and diversions that ultimately made its ending feel rushed and messy, season 3 appears to be deliberately building toward a genuine climax. Everything feels deliberately plotted, from the Changelings’ almost certainly disastrous plans to disrupt or attack Frontier Day to Jack Crusher’s erratic behavior that may or may not be connected to the hereditary disease he has just discovered he possesses.
Much of the hour is technically a heist drama, as Raffi, Worf, and Riker break into Daystrom Station in the hopes of figuring out Vadic’s larger plan. Ro Laren (RIP!) believed the group was planning to attack the Federation’s Frontier Day celebrations in some way; Worf and Raffi think the theft of portal tech they used to destroy the random recruitment station was just a distraction; and no one knows precisely what other, more dangerous items the Changelings might have stolen along with it. Their search for the station’s manifest reveals a treasure trove of deep-cut Trek references, including a Genesis device; a violent, genetically modified Tribble; what appears to be the skeletal remains of James T. Kirk; and the previously mentioned sentient hologram, Professor Moriarty. (FYI: There’s no way this episode would have name-dropped Section 31 like 15 times if that Emperor Georgiou spin-off wasn’t happening, just saying!!)
The other half is a surprisingly moving trip down memory lane, as the Titan is forced to hide among the famous starships of the Fleet Museum while Picard attempts to convince its commander, one Geordi La Forge, to help them figure out a way to keep Starfleet (and the Changelings) from tracking their ship for long enough for them to get their friends out of Daystrom. It’s, unsurprisingly, an utter delight to see Geordi again, particularly as he’s become a well-meaning if wildly overprotective father who seems determined to prevent his daughters from making the same sort of risky decisions he made with complete abandon back when he was their age.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve gotten older right alongside these characters I grew up watching, but there’s something wonderfully moving about not only seeing them all together again, but watching them navigate a world where they aren’t necessarily the brash young heroes we all remember. Instead, they’re people who’ve had to make choices and compromises they likely once swore they never would, and both the characters and the audience have to reckon with that. (Geordi and Jean-Luc’s conversation about the things we pass on is particularly well done.)
LeVar Burton isn’t the only exciting return we are treated to this episode, as Riker and his team discover that one of the secrets of Daystrom Station is, in fact, that it’s housing a new version of Data. (Welcome back to Picard for the third time as a totally different character, Brent Spiner!) A flesh and blood synth like Picard himself, this Data is seemingly an amalgamation of many versions of the character we’ve previously seen on Star Trek, including Lal, B-4, Lore, and the original recipe android, all placed inside the same physical vessel and given the aesthetic of old age.
But because the full integration was never finished, it seems as though this is technically Data with multiple personality disorder, but at least he knows what the Changelings stole: Picard himself. Or, his human remains, at any rate. What on earth Vadic intends to do with those remains, or why the Changelings want Jack Crusher so badly that she’s kidnapped Deanna Troi in order to blackmail Riker into helping her get her hands on him are both still a mystery. But after this episode, I have to admit I’m feeling strangely confident—for the first time in a long time—that Picard is going to stick the landing.