Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Ep. 4 Review: A Cinema-Level Masterpiece
Stewart, Frakes, McFadden, Speleers, Stashwick, and Ryan thrive in arguably the best episode of Star Trek: Picard yet, "No Win Scenario."
To say that Star Trek: Picard season three hasn't missed a beat would be an understatement, and a big reason for that isn't necessarily what you might think. From the initial onset, one might think it's primarily due to the presence of The Next Generation cast, but that's nowhere near the complete sum of its parts. You can make the case for each principal cast member pulling their weight in the episode "No Win Scenario." The following contains minor spoilers.
Why "No Win Scenario" Is a Star Trek Classic in Every Sense
When we last left our heroes, Vadic (Amanda Plummer) & the Shrike were grossly out-matching the U.S.S. Titan-A with Riker (Jonathan Frakes) put in provisional charge after its original captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) became incapacitated during an attack. Riker reluctantly finally goes with Jean-Luc's (Patrick Stewart) plan for a counterattack before the Shrike's portal weapon rerouted the Titan's torpedoes back at it, causing them to fall deeper into the nebula. Let's start up at the top when it comes to the performances. We can always rely on Stewart to go above and beyond, but this is definitely the most layered we've seen him as Jean-Luc because of what he has to deal with throughout the episode. We see the direct cost of what his celebrity status brings him. Not that Star Trek wasn't willing to confront his past before, but we see newer additions, Stashwick and Ed Speleers (Jack Crusher), take it to a whole other level in their Holodeck scene together. I'd even argue for all the clinics Stewart's put in the past, this manages to top them all in the Paramount+ era.
There's a certain joy as a TNG fan growing up seeing Stewart's Picard, Frakes' Riker, and Gates McFadden's Dr. Beverly Crusher pick up where they left off on their problem-solving dynamic again along with Speleers' Jack. On the investigative front is Jeri Ryan's Seven, still trying to find out who the Changling spy is trying to sabotage the Titan and later helping to implement the aforementioned group's plan into action with Stashwick's Shaw. I have to say that Shaw is starting to grow on me like a space Archie Bunker. Yes, he's a bigot and an asshole, but it's imperative we see those types of characters grow too, because maybe if we see him stop deadnaming Seven, others can learn from his example.
Directed by Frakes and written by showrunner Terry Matalas and Sean Tretta, "No Win Scenario" is a huge victory for long-time fans of the franchise that find themes beyond the ones we expected in resourcefulness, survival, and escape. The face we come away with a sense of wonder was a bonus. No one is wasted, and everyone at every level works the formula to perfection. As all the action in this episode takes place on Titan, we don't get Raffi (Michelle Hurd) or Worf (Michael Dorn). Star Trek: Picard streams Thursdays on Paramount+.