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Jean-Luc Picard

Star Trek Picard: Season One

While I had been fond of Star Trek (TOS) from watching re-runs, it was Star Trek: The Next Generation that cemented my love for the franchise. I have watched every episode of the seven-season series (some multiple times) and the four movies afterward. I was also a big fan of Voyager, DS9 and the Kelvin timeline movies but didn’t care for Enterprise and have found the recent Discovery uneven; so when I heard that there would be a new series about TNG’s iconic Captain Picard, I was in! Plus, I was thrilled that my husband would watch the series with me, for while he was a fan of TNG and DS9, he hasn’t watched any newer series with me, until now.

Set in 2399, twenty years after the last movie (Star Trek Nemesis), Admiral Picard is retired from Star Fleet and has been living on his family’s ancestral vineyard in France. We find out he left Star Fleet under less than ideal circumstances, as he was an advocate for helping the Romulan population escape a planet-destroying catastrophe. When some synthetics destroyed the Mars ship-building colony, Starfleet reneged on their offer to help the Romulans due to their fleet being depleted. Picard resigned in disgust, and the public has taken a dim view of his perspective on what happened.

A young woman, Dahj, is introduced when Romulan assassins try to murder her, and she inexplicably manifests super strength during the fight. She has a mysterious vision of Picard and finds him, only for the mystery to deepen when signs point to her being an android and somehow connected to Data, another android who served with Picard and gave up his life to save others in Nemesis. As synthetic life was banned after the Mars disaster, Picard is trying to piece together what happened when he is then led to a former Borg cube, where former assimilated Borg are being released from the collective and rehabilitated.

We meet a lot of new characters, as Picard commissions a ship with a motley crew, and frankly, the storyline is rather wonky and confusing here to summarize. We have an uptight scientist who gets away with murder, a young Romulan swordsman (who looks like an elf), a rascal of a captain who is Han Solo-ish, another Romulan who is a slimy Lothario, a troubled drug-addicted former Starfleet officer with a heart of gold, Dahj’s twin Soji, and Seven of Nine from the Voyager series. Seven was a former Borg who wore skin-tight clothes and was the hottie who got Kes kicked off the Voyager series (aside-I was in the minority in not liking her, as I had preferred Kes). At least in the new series, her character was more developed and I actually liked her (yet another aside-as a bonus that frees up Chakotay to be with Captain Janeway, as I always shipped them, and I was so flippin’ mad that Seven had been paired with Chakotay). At least Picard meets up with Will Riker and Deanna Troi, former crew members of his who are now married, and they assist him at a critical juncture.

The last episode of the series was somewhat controversial for me for several reasons- there are huge leaps of logic, a confusing fantasy/mystical element is introduced and a poignant moment concerning Picard is erased which eliminates the emotions associated with what happened. There are a few romances between characters, but they are so quick and unexpected that you don’t build up investment in their relationships. Perhaps that will develop in the future.

I just have to say that I missed not seeing more of the Enterprise-D crew. I know it’s not TNG-Part 2 and wasn’t supposed to be a nostalgic stroll through the past, but still. As I had guessed would happen, the series diverted from The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard (2017) as in his supposed memoir Picard had married Dr. Beverly Crusher, and she is nowhere to be found in this series. This was wrong! So wrong! I also want to see Worf (who should have a series based off him IMO) and Geordi LaForge (LeVar!).

Picard’s first season was stronger than Discovery’s first and second seasons, and I’m not really anticipating that series’ season three.  Picard’s second season is already greenlit, and I look forward to seeing what further adventures await our intrepid captain. And of course, I hope the remaining original crew members get a small cameo, as when you have been as invested in a series and characters for years, you want to know what has happened to your tv family. In the meantime, live long and prosper!

-Nancy

Picard hugging Will & Deanna- I teared up!

The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard

After my rough start with The Autobiography of James T Kirk, I was leery of picking up The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, but I’m glad I did. Listed as the “story of one of Starfleet’s most inspirational captains” it is presented as if it were written by Picard and once again it is “edited” by David A Goodman.

The foreword by Beverly Crusher Picard immediately establishes that Picard and Dr. Crusher married sometime after their TNG days together, which pleased me to no end, but when Q co-opted her foreword I almost put the book down. The editorial choice for Goodman to interrupt a book by Q was unbelievably lame.

We start in Picard’s youth on his family’s vineyard in Le Barre, France, and he establishes the difficult relationship he had with his father and older brother. He shows ambition from an early age and never gives up on his quest to join Starfleet. His Starfleet days showed that he was a stickler for the rules, and didn’t necessarily have the charisma that you associate with a captain.

To me, the book started to take off when he graduated and began his career leading to an early captaincy of the USS Stargazer. He ended up spending 20+ years on that ship, and we are shown why he would choose to stay on an old ship for so long. Normally we associate officers in Starfleet as having stellar careers but Picard has some ups and downs, and sometimes makes decisions that are a bit suspect. He also has time off-ship and has to deal with bureaucracy and uncertainty.

What I liked about this book, so much more than the Kirk novel, was that the relationships between Picard and others were so much more believable and fleshed out. His friendship with Jack Crusher and a young Beverly on the Stargazer, established the crushing guilt he felt when Jack died under his command leaving Beverly widowed with a young son. He long carried a torch for her but felt he couldn’t act on it. I enjoyed meeting some people from his past that were new to me, and I loved every time that he first met a character that you knew would play a role in what we know as Star Trek canon.  When he was given the USS Enterprise to lead he specifically asked for some officers that he had met in past missions on other ships.

His time on the Enterprise wasn’t covered in-depth, as this book is geared mostly to fill in gaps of his life we are not familiar with. I was disappointed that so few pages were devoted to his time with the Borg, as I thought that was a crucial and life-changing event for him. His later years, including his time as Federation Ambassador to Vulcan, and his late in life marriage to Beverly isn’t given much time either.

These books are supposed to be viewed as canon, as they are approved by Paramount and CBS Studios, but as it was written in 2017 I question how much it will hold up as it was recently announced that there will be a new Star Trek series starring Patrick Stewart who will once again play Jean-Luc Picard. While I am thrilled at the chance to experience further adventures with Picard, I do wonder how they will handle storylines, and if any of his TNG crew will make appearances, especially Gates McFadden who played Beverly. Please have all of them on the show- make it so!

An autobiography about Spock will be coming out in August of 2019 (edit- pushed back to September of 2021), and since my opinion of these novels written by Goodman has improved, I plan on picking it up. I need to know the identity of Spock’s wife that was hinted at in this book! In the meantime- live long and prosper my friends.

-Nancy

For more information on Picard’s book, tune in to the enjoyable podcast Trek FM: Literary Treks 209 that interviews Goodman

 

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