If there was ever a more hyped up series that delivered, it's CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard. The premiere episode "Remembrance" does far more than just catch up the avid Trek fan with a beloved character. It also opens windows to dynamic storytelling outside the typical traditional paradigm of the franchise.
Star Trek viewers for generations have grown accustomed to the utopian Federation and its crew being a reflection of its policies. In this instance, the series reminds you just because life derails you off your path, doesn't mean you can't create a new one – redemption is possible. For the longest time, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) defined his legacy by carrying the banner of Starfleet, an organization he once proudly served.
From a philosophical standpoint, "Remembrance" reminds the viewer retirement isn't just some physical status, but a state of mind. The beginning of the episode evokes memories of happier times. Despite its cryptic nature, it lets you know right away Picard is by no means ready to give up now what he's done his entire life: helping others in need.
As the episode unfolds, Picard is wrought with lingering regret from lost friends and betrayal of trust – but that drive never left him. Director Hanelle M. Culpepper does a more-than-commendable job of not letting Picard's past bog down the story. Too often in films and television, anyone who's broken or fractured in any way is wholly defined by their trauma. Despite his somber surroundings, Stewart makes Picard as driven as ever – using tragedy as a tool rather than a crutch to continue as an instrument of change.
"Star Trek": Lingering Unresolved Issues
Despite Picard running at a slower pace than the traditional Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, every scene has depth, meaning, and purpose – yet never drags. Credit to Culpepper and writer James Duff for not stringing the viewer along and bringing forth a more grounded future. In previous Trek series, there was always this sense of "the utopia". In Picard, xenophobia – especially against a once sworn enemy like the Romulans – never really went away.
As far as the story itself, it felt like the series picked up where Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) left off – with more than enough breadcrumbs left for the former Starfleet admiral to pick up on. The chemistry between Stewart's Picard and Brent Spiner's Data hasn't missed a beat since the TNG days. There's also an amazingly choreographed fight scene with Dahj (Isa Briones), and I look forward to learning more about Alison Pill's Dr. Agnes Jurati and how her knowledge of robotics will factor into the narrative.
As far as Star Trek premieres go, it's superior to other series because of the organic nature of its pacing. With every other series taking place on a starship, we typically meet the entire crew in the first episode followed by episodes meant to highlight them individually. With Picard, there's a loose, open, almost playfully cautious approach to the storytelling – not feeling that sense of urgency and more than willing to give up its secrets – when the time's right for the story.
Best of all, it has something for the older fans in that it brinfs a number of familiar faces and stories back into the spotlight; and new fans won't feel obligated to study a ton of previous canon to appreciate what's going on.
The team behind Star Trek: Picard were looking to create a series that was both respectful to what came before it while also blazing its own trail. If this first episode is any sign of what's still to come, I'd say they made it so.