"Star Trek: Picard" Season 3 is in the books, and it may stand not only as one of the best "Star Trek" seasons ever, but also, if we count it as a 10-hour movie, it's the next "Next Generation" movie by a longshot, and the one we needed all this time. Movies like "Generations" and "First Contact" didn't give us time to miss the show the way the original gap between TV and movies had, but now, it's been a long time getting from there to here since all the old gang were together, and it's a beautiful reunion. Cuz they've got faaaaaith .. .of the heeeaaaaaart! Ahem. Wrong "Star Trek" show.
With every original main character from "TNG" aboard (save the killed-off Tasha Yar, single-season Dr. Pulaski, and already-accounted-for Wes Crusher) and some new and returning faces, this season balanced a lot of key characters. Some of them were handled much better than others; it's hard not to notice the way the new show seemed as adrift with the classic female characters as "TNG" ever was. On the whole, it also vastly favored old characters over new ones, though that's to be expected. (Does anyone watch "The Wrath of Khan" because of Carol and David Marcus?)
How did your favorites do? Let's take a look, as we rank every major character's role in "Picard" season 3. Major spoilers ahead for anyone who has not yet watched...
Now that we finally got a proper "Next Generation" season, is it okay to admit that in the first two seasons, "Picard" was absolutely terrible at creating new characters? The highlights were always returning characters or actors: Riker and Troi, every version of Brent Spiner, Q, both Guinans, Seven of Nine. There are probably fans out there whose favorite character is Irish Romulan Servant Lady, Cigar Ego Captain, or Dr. Neurotic-Turned-Borg, but we haven't met them yet. Adolescent Ninja Mutant Romulan was cool, and they killed him. Raffi somehow managed to be the dullest of the lot, and she's still around.
That's not a slight at actress Michelle Hurd, who seems to have been given just one note to play, and that note is "addict." Here's where the aspirational nature of "Star Trek" comes into play: on the one hand, it's a show for everyone, and recovering from addiction is a human, relatable condition. On the other, "Star Trek" is supposed to be at least a little utopian, and by any reasonable assessment, the level of nano-molecular medicine the Federation can achieve should be able to cure the chemical aspect of addiction as easily as it does massive headwounds. So withdrawal pangs as key character traits are an awkward choice; more than that, they're a repetitive one. Raffi's so dull the show even broke up one of the most prominent same-sex couples in "Trek" because she was making Seven of Nine more boring by association. Also, she'd never beat Worf.
The final scene of the series strongly implies that Jack is the future of the franchise moving forward. What did we do to deserve that? There's nothing wrong with Picard having a secret son -- it adds stakes and ups the drama, while also making a point about how male kids with no paternal role models can become dangerous jerks, especially when seduced by online fascists who promise them a place to belong in a hierarchy. It's just that this one's a stiff. All he seems to have in common with his dad is an English accent, which ... how exactly did he get that when Beverly raised him alone? There's no sign of the Shakespearean gravitas that Patrick Stewart brought to the bridge on his very first day, and has maintained.
Given a bit more time, maybe his con-man side can play out a bit more, as both the character and actor Ed Speleers grow more comfortable in their new roles. Perhaps, also, because this season was the "TNG" show, his mandate was not to outshine any of the original cast.
Then again, Beverly Crusher does have a tradition of raising annoying kids. Wesley finally rose to greatness, so there's hope for Jack too ... eventually.
With a few exceptions, most of them in the final season, Troi is the dullest character in any given "Star Trek: The Next Generation" story. It's unfortunate, given that Marina Sirtis routinely gives some of the best interviews around, with zero filters. However, as an actor, she's stuck looking at viewscreens saying stuff like, "Captain, I'm sensing they're hiding something." Her obnoxious, unfiltered mother Lwaxana had more interesting character-centric episodes than she did.
In "Picard" season 3, Deanna shows up late in the game, and goes from being a shrewish wife like her mom, to a damsel in distress, to a convenient plot device to figure out the enemy's plan. Everything she does furthers someone else's arc rather than her own. That's unfortunately par for the course for Deanna, who ought to be more than Riker's motivation or Jack's exposition. After 35 years, the most interesting things she's ever done are fall for Worf and take the command test in which she learned to give life-threatening orders. Those ought to build character, but "Trek" writers still seem to have very little idea what to do with her.
Dr. Beverly Crusher has been the unseen elephant in the room throughout the run of "Picard," as she and he legitimately have unresolved issues. Would they ever act on their feelings and get married, as "All Good Things" predicted? Her complete absence, as well as Picard's budding chemistry with Romulan housekeeper Laris, implied the show might just memory-hole her, even as it brought back her son Wesley for a Season 2 cameo.
Now we know. They did it, and he got her pregnant -- but she kept it from him, and fled. Jean-Luc never felt he'd lost out by not having a family, until he realized that he had one out there all this time. So much time in the previous seasons was spent on Picard's emotional baggage and issues that it's nice to have them constructively serve the plot this time.
That said, a lot of Beverly's role here is akin to Sigourney Weaver's in "Galaxy Quest" -- to reiterate what's going on and explain everything for the benefit of the audience. Only towards the end, when she might have to make decisions contrary to the preservation of her son, does Gates McFadden get to play with some real emotional weight, and feel in the moment.
The "X-Men" Rogue hairdo with the white streak is a nice touch, too.
The Borg Queen
Hiding in plain sight throughout the season, as a voice in Jack's head and a melting meat mask projection on the Shrike, the Borg Queen is arguably now more classic a big bad than Khan, having been Picard's arch-nemesis across one movie and now two series, and Kathryn Janeway's in one too. "Picard" Season 2 made it look like the Borg would follow in the footsteps of Klingons and Ferengi, as the former arch-enemies turned into Federation allies. Apparently, somebody realized they're just too good as villains to wholly convert, so it seems the Agnes Jurati Borg were mere outliers. The original Queen (Alice Krige), repeatedly previously destroyed, just won't stay down.
As if to underscore her nightmarish plans to hurt Picard by putting his son through the worst thing he ever experienced, the Queen now sports a frightening, H.R. Giger-esque body that resembles nothing so much as the twisted Ripley clones in "Alien Resurrection." A grotesque semblance of a descendant is what she is, and what she wants to make Jack. And like so many fascists on the Internet these days, she knows how to take a once-fatherless young man's loneliness and twist it, giving him a feeling of belonging and connection, and a group hatred of the wrong enemies.
True love saves the day in the end, rather than the narcotic effect of interconnection. The Queen has come back from total annihilation before, though, so eternal vigilance remains the price of freedom from her clutches.
Geordi La Forge
With his interest in history, and occasional very specific love interests who are historical holograms, Geordi absolutely seems like he'd be happy running a Starfleet museum that includes a ship he actually served on. In the real world, people with nerdy interests like him might collect "Star Trek" toys or statues; his collecting of the actual starships of significance is a perfect metaphor.
As a dad, he's also a bit of a bad nerd, holding his daughters back from danger too tightly, and forgetting, now that he has a biological family, what it was like to have a work family. (Given his endlessly awkward dating life as shown decades ago, we really need to see how finally managed to start that family.) It makes sense he'd favor the engineer daughter over the reckless one; equally so that he'd fail to notice she broke things just so they'd get to fix them together. The guy with super-bionic sight has to fail to see some obvious things, just for dramatic irony if nothing else.
LeVar Burton may have failed to score the "Jeopardy" gig he wanted, but had he done so, who knows if he could have found the time to play out Geordi's emotional scenes with his girls (one of whom is played by his real daughter, Mica), and reunion with best friend Data, who could finally reciprocate feelings. He is every grown fan, passing the love to the next-next generation.
Now a Commander, Ro Laren is a perfect Starfleet intelligence officer because her past as an infiltrator-gone-native has given her years of practice at making the ultimate poker face. Originally intended to assume the Major Kira position on "Deep Space Nine," Ro got replaced as a character when actress Michelle Forbes decided she didn't want to be typecast. Canonically, however, the tempestuous defector to the Maquis would definitely have seen some sort of action in the Dominion War, and since Kira already showed up on "Lower Decks," it's a nice bit of symmetry to have Ro back, and busting some Changelings.
Perhaps more importantly for her existence in the show, her presence allows Patrick Stewart to play a different note; that of a 30-year grudge-holder. As they vent their pent-up feelings and disappointments with one another on the holodeck, we realize they're playing out the truest test of what a Changeling cannot replicate: a complex emotional history. It's just too bad she never addressed that whole "being lovers with amnesia" episode with Riker from back in the day. Regardless, her troubled upbringing, anger management issues, and divided loyalties make her an ideal handler for Worf, whose own Deep Space 9 experience makes him well-suited to orders from a Bajoran, regarding Changelings.
It's too bad she came back only to get killed off, but showrunner Terry Matalas revealed a way she could survive, and it holds up -- note the split second of blackout before her shuttle exploded.
Sidney La Forge
Geordi's kid being a speed demon notorious for crashing spaceships in training is spot-on. Sidney has her dad's enthusiasm, if not his attention to detail just yet. She's learning, though, and from her fangirl grin when Picard and Riker show up, to her crew loyalty and bravery, she feels like a character well-suited to serve on the next Enterprise. Sure, seeing a dead double makes her barf, but they don't prepare you for that at the Academy, one assumes.
She's progressive too, calling Seven by her preferred name rather than the deadname her Captain commands. While she seems like a helmsperson who will follow orders, there's definitely a wild side there -- and the sparks that fly between her and Picard's kid only emphasize that fact.
Old-school fans all thought it was cool that LeVar Burton could bring his daughter on the show to play La Forge's daughter. Who knew the other daughter would be the better-written one? Mica Burton's Alandra seems interesting, but by virtue of being the script's daddy's girl, she got a lot less to do, allowing Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut's Sidney to steal their scenes together. Family connections only get an actor so far.
It's good to see Worf back for many reasons: mainly because he is the most prolific "Star Trek" character, having been a regular on both "The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine." He's also very welcome because he represents the return of "Trek" to familiar Klingon designs, and not the horrendous 'Enemy Mine" rip-offs introduced in Season 1 of "Discovery." It's not just Klingons -- they revised designs for Andorians and Ferengi as well.
Worf's return ends that experiment. Fans want the classic aliens to look the way we remember them, and his undercover mission with Raffi also brought us classic Andorians and Ferengi just to emphasize the point. Thanks to streaming and a lack of network TV restrictions, we also got to see Worf deliver a full-on beheading. That's the kind of thing we knew he could do and probably did, but now it's confirmed. By partnering him with Raffi, "Picard" also rescues Season 3's worst subplot, making her more interesting by osmosis.
Michael Dorn seems to have either forgotten Worf's voice or simply gotten tired of doing it. Maybe older Klingons simply start to sound more like human actors. He hasn't forgotten the character, though, and his newfound peaceful side feels like a parody of those movies where Steven Seagal claims to be a Buddhist. His pining for Troi? Also aces, though Jadzia's ghost needs to slap him for that. Neglecting his secret phaser because "swords are fun"? This Klingon's more of a Jedi than we realized.
Seven Of Nine
All hail the new Captain of the Enterprise! The second such officer to have been a Borg drone in her life, Seven occasionally overcompensates for her former conformity by being hyper-disobedient, which made more sense as a Ranger than in Starfleet. With the right moderation, however, she could become the next James T. Kirk.
Now that "Star Trek: Discovery" has actual gay, trans, and nonbinary characters, we don't need the metaphorical coded versions as much; still, Seven's journey to being recognized as Seven rather than Annika, and specifically her killing of a Changeling when it blows cover by using her deadname, feels very of the moment. Seven is canonically bi and out, having been romantic with Chakotay and Raffi, but contends with deeper identity issues that feel like struggles viewers may have with their own sense of ethnicity, gender, and anything else key to who they are inside. By the end of "Picard" Season 3, it feels like she finally knows who she is -- and she'd better be damn confident if her ex is going to be her second-in-command, and her special counselor an adult born with genetic evil Borg disease.
Hmm. That actually sounds like a really bad call on her part when it's written out like that. She's handled worse, though.
Yeah, we can blame Patrick Stewart for not getting the gang back together sooner, but even if he didn't want to do it in the beginning, he's made it work now. Picard's got an android body and a retirement, he survived a terminal disease, and along with that he's old enough to be like honey badger and give no [expletive]. After years of seeing him be the mature adult in the room, presenting him as the reckless grandpa is an entertaining evolution... sometimes.
The show probably gave Picard a long-lost son just so Stewart would have something different to play than before, and therefore persuade himself it's not a nostalgia tour. (It's totally a nostalgia tour.) Even though Picard acts like he missed out on so much with Jack, longtime viewers know that part of his joy in coming across an adult son is that he hates kids, and can skip to the good part. Jack dodged a bullet there, really. Based on Wesley's experience, his childhood could have been a whole lot of "Shut up, Jack!" instead of the Space Doctors Without Borders adventures he got to go on instead.
Naturally, Stewart also closes out the show reciting Shakespeare, but we do have to wonder what happened to Laris a year later. Did he dump her to get back with Admiral Beverly Crusher? Did he marry her but hide her from his friends? This Picard is kinda jerky, and he swears. It's fun.
"Star Trek" used to simply pretend Brent Spiner wasn't aging as he played the android Data, implicitly asking viewers to suspend their disbelief. The idea of killing him off -- twice! -- was supposed to remedy that issue. Instead, the narrative jumps through convoluted hoops to justify a new version of Data who looks Spiner's actual age. Too many of the women of "Picard" are characters who exist as plot devices; the Datalore hybrid is the reverse, as a fully developed character who needs a huge plot device to justify his existence.
Clearly, the actor loves participating in "Star Trek," as he's played various Soongs on "Picard." One imagines, however, that the showrunners drew him back to Data by presenting him with the acting challenge of playing a split-personality Data-Lore hybrid. (Yeah, the show tells us initially there are other personalities in there too, but it proceeds to do nothing with those and treat him like a dichotomy.) Additionally, while Data has had emotions before via a special chip, Spiner now gets to play a version of Data as finally human after years of longing to be, and realizing all the new complications. It's exactly the sort of lure that draws exacting actors back to roles they might otherwise find repetitive. Watching Spiner switch back and forth between good and evil personae is as fun as it must have been for him to play.
Actually, any excuse to bring back Data is fine by us.
As a second-generation "Star Trek" villain, Amanda Plummer manages to upstage her late father Christopher's Shakespeare-loving Klingon. She undoubtedly relishes being a baddie as Vadic, captain of the spiky, scary spaceship called the Shrike. Years ago, the movie "Thank You for Smoking" made a joke about tobacco product placement in space; Vadic brings it to fruition, but in a way that ultimately makes sense. As a Changeling who can actually grow replica organs, her lungs will appreciate the sensation unprecedented amongst her people.
While she gives gloriously sadistic ham for the first part of the season, her righteous anger and brutal backstory as the victim of Federation torture experiments make her a similar kind of karma alongside the best "Star Trek" villains, like Khan or Lore. "Deep Space Nine" constantly wrestled with the morality of war and the terrible choices that must be made sometimes to win it. Vadic embodies the shame and the stain that remains afterward, and the only thing better than her coming after Picard would be if she came for Benjamin Sisko instead. Alas, Avery Brooks seems to have retired from acting, but this will definitely do.
Vadic's death is also an all-timer. After killing and tormenting innocent victims, she gets sucked into space and shattered into pieces. Considering how Changelings work, it's possible one of those pieces could still regenerate later. Let's hope so. She's too good to lose. Finding out she was just a Borg pawn was a bummer.
Captain Liam Shaw
Actor Todd Stashwick is reportedly a massive "Star Trek" fan, and he appears to have learned well that some of the best characters are the cranky bastards. From Leonard McCoy to Odo, there's always a fan-favorite who has had it with everyone else's crap, and that's Captain Shaw. A former engineer who found himself swiftly promoted after the Locutus-led Borg massacred most of his crewmates, he's now an angry drunk who hates being told what to do ... even if that means he comes off as a bigot when he forcibly deadnames Seven of Nine.
Shaw's bitterness and conservative stance on risks make sense given what he's been through, and he does enough right when the chips are down to indicate that he was probably a super-good dude once. He even learns from pushback -- after spitefully granting Riker command, ostensibly to clean up his mess, Shaw watches as Riker actually succeeds in the role. He gives Picard, Riker, and Seven time to get their presumably fake alibi straight. In the end, he even (posthumously) recommends Seven for promotion, despite his hatred of the Borg in general and her disobedience specifically.
Of course, since it would cause an outcry to kill off any of the "TNG" crew, Shaw must die so that at least one of the casualties hurts a little bit. This is "Star Trek," though, so his Mirror Universe duplicate might be out there somewhere. Or a clone. Bring him back, is the point!
TV hunks often become more interesting as they age. From Bruce Boxleitner in "Babylon 5" to Lee Majors in "Ash vs. Evil Dead," their generic smiles and magazine-worthy good looks are only enhanced by age lines and a more experienced vibe. Jonathan Frakes was the stereotypical TV leading man in the original "TNG" series, but now he's a man with a past and a character built from many previous choices. He lit up the screen in his Season 1 cameo as Riker, and he dominates in Season 3. Marred by tragedy and his inability to properly hash things out with Deanna, he has grown into the captain's role even as he's fallen away from a familial one.
Back in the day, Riker's impulsiveness contrasted nicely with Picard's reason and inherent pacifism. Now, the roles are reversed: Riker is the more considered one, while Picard's age has taken away much of his patience. Riker still clearly holds an inherent level of deference to his old commanding officer, but there's also an unmistakable relief in being able to shout him down without sanction.
As a lead in the '90s, Frakes felt a little like a Dollar Store Jim Kirk knockoff. As the captain in the 2020s, he's the man, and the best character in "Picard" Season 3.
The show did miss an opportunity to have him lift his leg over the back of a chair one last time, though. Arthritis is a beast.
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The post Every major character in Star Trek: Picard Season 3, ranked worst to best appeared first on /Film.