‘Star Trek: Picard’ starts second season on both personal and dramatic notes
Editor’s note: There are plot spoilers in this review, but not all is revealed.
Space, the final frontier, begins in Santa Ynez.
The rural community and its wine country serves as La Barre, France, in “Star Trek: Picard,” and that’s essentially where the first episode of the second season, which promises to be even more dramatic than the first one, begins.
The series streams Thursdays on Paramount+, and the season started last week.
In the new season’s first episode, viewers see Adm. Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) in his civilian clothes and cap, looking dapper and happy as he oversees the grape harvesting during scenes filmed at Sunstone Winery and its vineyard, not far from the Chumash Casino Resort. Winemakers and vineyard managers likely will be interested in seeing how traditional and futuristic techniques blend in the vineyard, thanks to the visual effects added to the picturesque backdrop of the Santa Ynez Valley.
There’s a great celebratory spirit in scenes with nice music and no dialogue. Then the deep conversations start in “Star Trek: Picard,” where Jean-Luc is being told he needs to stop procrastinating in matters of the heart.
The first episode succeeds on two levels. First, it goes right into Jean-Luc’s love life or lack of and why the brave space explorer and friend to everyone avoids romantic entanglements. That does, in fact, make him the polar opposite of one Capt. James T. Kirk, but neither of them scores high for long-term relationships.
Secondly, the second season premiere successfully sets the stage for universe-rocking drama. Nothing less than the future is at stake because someone or something is messing with the past and rewriting history.
And of course, only Jean-Luc Picard and his team can save everything and everyone.
This episode packs sentimental and dramatic punches. First off, Picard runs into his old friend Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) at her Los Angeles bar, where the sign “10” is a reference to her old Ten Forward bar on the old Enterprise-D from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It’s one of the best scenes ever between the two characters, and Guinan tells Picard to stop making excuses and go after romance. The issue is timely because a woman has confessed her love for Picard. (That character’s name won’t be revealed in this review.)
Picard thinks he just wants to be friends because heck, he’s almost a century old, It’s too late for love at his age!
Or so he thinks.
But before he can examine his heart too closely, the USS Stargazer and its captain, Chris Rios (Santiago Cabrera), need Picard aboard fast to deal with a space anomaly. Only Picard can help Capt. Rios, who captained last season’s ship for Picard and his motley crew. Two other members of that crew — Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and robotics scientist Dr. Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) — are on the bridge too, and that’s where things get exciting and troublesome. Red alert!
At some point in this episode — and it won’t be spoiled here — Jean-Luc encounters an old frenemy: Q (the talented John de Lancie).
And that sets the stage for a season devoted to Picard and his friends going back to the 21st century to correct the timeline and save the future.
The drama is intense. The personal questions are deep. The plot twists are intriguing. The cast is talented, and Sir Patrick Stewart is brilliant as usual. And viewers get to catch up with Soji (Isa Briones), the synthetic lifeform and “daughter” of Data, who has found her place among the stars.
The episode’s only flaw is Picard being this uncertain about his emotions in the romance department at this point in his life. He’s better than that.
But there’s the promise he will deal with his personal issues and stop avoiding commitment.
Right after he saves the universe.