Star Trek: Picard season 2 is a grand return for everyone’s fav geriatric space Captain

Patrick Stewart ain’t no spring chicken, but the new season of Picard remains fresh—with propulsive direction and very fun performances, says Stephen A Russell.

There’s probably a German word for the smug sort of glee derived from figuring out the origins of a temporal rift in space-time long before the brightest minds of the Federation and their 24th-century supercomputers. And so it is that when the opening episode of season two of Star Trek: Picard sees a 94-year-old Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) summoned, once more, from retirement to check out a strange alien signal calling for him from the heart of familiarly neon-green glowing cloud, any Trekkie worth their tribbles will be screaming “BORG!”

Although Flicks was provided with the first three episodes of the new season, embargoes in place mean we can only talk about the opener. Luckily, the show wastes no time in getting to the good stuff, with showrunners Akiva Goldsman (Lost in Space) and Terry Matalas (12 Monkeys) willing to have explosive fun. Bringing the gang back together again, Picard is joined by the troubled and drunk Dr Jurati (Alison Pill) on the bridge of a spiffy new upgrade to his very first command, the U.S.S Stargazer, alongside cigar-chomping Captain Rios (a charming Santiago Cabrera).

And then it all goes to hell as the Borg Queen attacks. Original series villains—including the Klingons and the Romulans—must be seriously peeved that the nasty cyborgs gatecrashed The Next Generation and arguably stole the most iconic villain spot during Patrick Stewart’s celebrated run, but there we have it. It’s only right and proper, then, that the Borg return to centre stage as the baddies in Picard’s solo show, given he was once traumatically turned into one of the techno-zombies who assimilate all their enemies.

Propulsively directed by Douglas Aarniokoski (who also worked on Star Trek: Discovery) from a screenplay by Matalas, they bring back another fan-favourite villain in John de Lancie’s superciliously omnipotent and endlessly annoying entity Q. Initially de-aged with computer trickery, of course Q can’t resist a dig at his old frenemy: “Oh dear, you’re a bit older than I’d imagined,” he sneers at Picard, before clicking his fingers and turning silver-haired. “Let me catch up.”

A fabulously fun actor, it’s a real treat to see de Lancie’s mischief-maker return at the climax of this exhilarating opener, once again proving to be a pain in the arse for Picard. Messing up the timeline, subsequent episodes follow the crew into a dystopian vision of the 24th century—now a totalitarian regime dubbed the Confederation of Earth and ruled with an iron first by a demented dictator Picard, a la the Mirror Universe. To avoid that coming to pass, he and the gang have to head back to the 21st century to try and put things right again.

Whoopi Goldberg also gloriously returns as the enigmatic Guinan, now running a bar called 10 on Earth. There’s a neat bit of housekeeping explaining why the slow-aging El-Aurian looks roughly the same age as the admiral (they age as slow as they choose to).

Picard comes to her in a quieter stretch of the episode, before things go haywire, seeking her wise counsel on matters of the heart. His grieving Romulan housekeeper at Chateau Picard, Laris (Orla Brady), made a move, then left his service in pure mortification after her rejection. Stewart’s vulnerability in these scenes is impressive.
Picard may have been given a brand new synthetic body, but it’s designed to age as any human would.

Time is running out for happily ever after—which is why it packs an emotional wallop when he compels his sorta surrogate son Elnor (Evan Evagora) to “live a little,” while studying at Starfleet Academy. Flashbacks to Picard’s mum Yvette also signal the show will go boldly deeper into who Picard really is and why he has never been able to commit (can we please get Gates McFadden’s Beverly Crusher back?)

Slash fiction fans, queer viewers and allies will also relish the “will they or won’t they” thread featuring Jeri Ryan’s Collective escapee Seven of Nine and Michelle Hurd’s Starfleet veteran Raffi.

It all adds up to an exciting new adventure that promises explosive action and heartfelt character development. What is Q up to? Can Guinan help defeat him and prevent a terrifying future? How do the Borg fit into all of this? They certainly have a chic new tailor. The stylishly sleek new-look Borg Queen sports a sheer black shroud that looks like Alexander McQueen funeral wear. One thing’s for sure: the show’s landed a brilliant return.