You Can Go Home Again
Posted on April 29, 2023
I recently finished watching Star Trek: Picard Season 3 and went back to rewatch Season 1. I remember when the first season came out, and my curiosity about what the overall story might be. Patrick Stewart didn’t necessarily want to revisit The Next Generation, and I understood that. The show had run its course and, sadly, left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth (including the cast) with Nemesis, the final film. Why be like the X-Files and just dig a deeper hole with additional seasons of the same without improving the story? Season 1 of Picard was okay. It had its moments, but I stuck with it because, well…it’s Star Trek.
Then Picard Season 2 came out.
If I ever see Season 2 again, it’ll be too soon. The first two episodes fooled us into thinking we were in for something special, then reality hit. Granted, some viewers and fans really enjoyed it. My husband and I didn’t. Tuning in each week felt like a train wreck that we couldn’t believe kept getting worse and worse. The last episode made up for the previous 7. Almost. I’ll still never watch it again. My disdain for Season 2 made me swear off Season 3 long before the first preview aired.
“Hey, Picard Season 3 has a release date!”
“Hey, Picard Season 3 has a trailer!”
Okay, I did finally watch the trailer and admit to being mildly intrigued, but just not enough to warrant me tuning in. The first episode aired and I paid it no mind. Yes, I hated Season 2 THAT much. Here’s the problem: I got curious. I wanted to know for sure Season 3 was a trainwreck I truly wasn’t missing out on. YouTube is an amazing place for short clips of shows, and I found one, a scene when Picard, Riker and Seven are on the bridge of the Titan and they leave spacedock. The bit of dialogue between them and Seven was good. Really good. And it was funny. And charming. There was a spark! The writers also seemed to be pretending as much as possible that Season 2 never took place.
Reluctantly, annoyingly, irritatedly…predictably, I watched the first episode. I was hooked. I hung my head in shame having to admit someone finally got the show right. This wasn’t fan service, though I suspect one could make an argument that it really was. This was the future, a future different enough to realize it’s not the same place we left it in Nemesis, and yet familiar enough to feel my pulse quicken with the sight of familiar faces who slipped back into their roles with confidence and a genuine affection for what they do.
I spent the next 9 weeks on the rollercoaster of a lifetime. The story didn’t feel convoluted or stretched to the point it would destroy the very fabric of time and space. We had moments of intrigue, moments of danger, moments of comedy, a nemesis who truly was a nemesis, wonderful special effects, and not one single episode felt like filler. I can’t remember the last time I could say that about a show. Any show. The only thing I hated was not being able to binge it all at once.
It’s not a spoiler to mention that the crew of The Next Generation come together in this. When they do and how they do, are moments of pure bliss. Sure, they’re a little older, but then so are we. The final two episodes? I’m 52 years old and a grown ass man, and I’ll tell you I had tears streaming down my face. Star Trek to some is about the ships, the battles, and the adventure. To others, it’s about the crew, and the family. For me? It’s about my childhood and my adulthood. These are actors I have grown up with, and even met over the years. They were on the television screen when my parents were still alive, when I was still in high school and the director let us out of play rehearsal early to watch the premier episode, and on the big screen when my then boyfriend (before he became my husband), his grandmother, my father, and I would eat a bucket of popcorn watching the films.
They are pieces in the puzzle that makes up my life, and they connect the good parts, and the bad ones. To watch those last two episodes, to see these actors and characters come together one more time, just like they used to, and in the way they do, made me realize how cynical I’ve become. Maybe a little joyous, too, because of all the times it’s been hammered into us that you can never go home again. You know what? Yes, you can. They did it, we did it through them, and damn if that didn’t feel good!
Need to feel a little good in the world? Need a little taste of what was and can be again, even if just for a little while? You know what you have to watch.
As Picard might say, “Engage!”
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the novella Falling Awake, Falling Awake II: Revenant, Falling Awake III: Requiem, Falling Awake IV: Retribution, The Beautiful Moment, and the forthcoming Butterflies I Have Known.