In Star Trek: Picard Season 3, All Of Picard And Riker’s Biggest Mistakes Are (Hilariously) Laid Bare

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Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the fifth episode of “Star Trek: Picard” season 3.

Season 3 of “Star Trek: Picard” is, by design, drawing heavily from previous “Star Trek” feature films. There are many, many shades of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” in “Picard,” and not just in its use of Jerry Goldsmith’s music cues from that film. This season also features a notable, prolonged standoff between two ailing starships inside a giant nebula, very akin to the battle between the Enterprise and the Reliant in “Khan.” There are also — and this is significant — notable themes of aging, with older characters witnessing their own pasts catching up with them. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) realizes that a stalled romance with Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) produced a child he never knew about. He also finds himself reassessing his relationship with Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), who is now his equal rather than a lower-ranking subordinate. Many small elements of these relationships mirror Kirk’s aging and his facing of no-win scenarios in “Khan.” 

Importantly, neither Picard nor Riker are given any sort of “pass” for their celebrity or prestige in Starfleet. Both men have enjoyed prolonged and distinguished careers, and assume that their requests will all be honored. Picard and Riker, however, hit a brick wall in the form of Capt. Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick), the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Titan-A. Shaw immediately denies their requests with an answer so blunt, it has already become a meme. When his ship is hijacked by the show’s title character, Capt. Shaw is incensed. He doesn’t care that Dr. Crusher’s life is in danger, he would prefer that people respect him and follow orders on his ship. 

In the season’s fifth episode, Shaw even points out how badly Picard and Riker have fouled up in the past, making career triumphs sound like horrendous mistakes.

The Devron System

Shaw specifically refers to the events of “All Good Things…,” the final episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” as well as the climaxes of “Star Trek: Generations” and “Star Trek: Insurrection.” 

The events of “All Good Things…” saw Picard getting unstuck in time, randomly finding himself in the past (immediately before the events of the “Next Generation” pilot), in the present (right at the end of season seven), and in an alternate future where he was an old man. The trickster god Q (John de Lancie) explains that Picard will, through these temporal shenanigans, destroy all of humanity. Eventually past, present, and future will find themselves converging on the same point in physical space at the Devron system in the Neutral Zone. They will unwittingly create a spatial phenomenon that will grow larger as it travels backward in time (it’s all very heady), ultimately growing so large as to prevent evolution on Earth all those billions of years ago. Picard managed to undo the damage, but for a moment it did look like he destroyed humanity in the past. 

I may present point of order: at the end of “All Good Things…” time was restored, and Picard says to Troi (Marina Sirtis) that it may have all been a dream. Shaw wouldn’t have known about the events in the Devron system. Unless he closely studied Picard’s personal logs and took them to be 100% true. The events of “All Good Things…” could very well have been a fantasy. If they were real, however, Shaw would have every reason to be peeved about it. Picard, after all, did briefly wipe out all life on Earth.

Crashing The Enterprise

In the 1994 film “Star Trek: Generations,” Picard was stranded on a planet called Veridian III, confronting the evil Dr. Soren (Malcolm McDowell) who sought to launch a missile into the system’s sun, hoping to wipe it out and use the resulting gravity alterations to steer a traveling Heaven-like spatial phenomenon into his own body. In orbit above, Riker, in command of the Enterprise-D, was facing off against a Klingon vessel that had found a way to penetrate the Enterprise’s shields. Riker manages to defeat the Klingon vessel, but not before the ship’s engine takes a beating. The drive section explodes, and the saucer section crashes into Veridian III.

While there were extenuating circumstances around the destruction of the Enterprise, crashing a ship has to look bad on a Starfleet permanent record. None of the subsequent “Star Trek” movies discuss any kind of disciplinary measures taken against Riker or Picard for losing the flagship of the Federation. Indeed, the ship’s destruction can be traced directly to the kidnapping of Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton). Dr. Soren and the Klingons implanted a small spy device in Geordi’s visor, allowing them to spy on vital technical information. The Enterprise was destroyed because none of the senior staff thought to look for anything untoward on Geordi. Surely someone had to be at least demoted for that.

Perhaps it was the events of “Generations” that prevented Riker from getting his own command for several more years. Or perhaps not. In “Star Trek: First Contact,” the exact same senior staff is merely ported over to the Enterprise-E, and there don’t seem to have been any change of rank or status.

But Shaw remembers, and is willing to bring up that the elderly men in front of him once wrecked their own ship.

Committing An Insurrection

Shaw doesn’t point it out, but there is a plot error in the 1998 film “Star Trek: Insurrection” that makes Picard and Riker seem even more irresponsible than they actually were. In that film, Starfleet, having teamed up with a shady species called the So’Na, plans to forcibly relocate a remote colony of peaceful Ba’Ku farmers, kidnapping them from their homes. The Ba’Ku planet is home to a rare type of radiation that can rejuvenate living cells and allow people to live for centuries without growing old or becoming sick. Picard commits an insurrection to protect the Ba’Ku, feeling that forced relocation is wrong under any circumstances.

It’s said in “Insurrection” that the fountain-of-youth radiation cannot be captured and transported away from the Ba’Ku homeworld without destroying its source. It’s also explained that the Ba’Ku homeworld is located in a region of space that is difficult to enter. Many viewers will be able to see the solution right away: simply build a Starfleet medical facility on this planet. Find ways to more easily traverse the dangerous region of space, make a deal with the Ba’Ku to never interfere with their lives, and allow this medical miracle to proliferate among the many sick people who might need it. No reason to relocate anyone, or destroy the source of life-giving radiation.

Instead, Picard does the ridiculous thing, defies order, and fires phasers at the So’Na marauders. Riker gets into another spacebound firefight, and explosions occur. Picard even blows up the So’Na leader (F. Murray Abraham) out of what looks like spite. And was anyone disciplined for the insurrection? Nope.

Yes, it was a silly way to defy Starfleet orders, and Shaw was right to point out how bad things got for Picard. As always, Shaw is right.

New episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” premiere Thursdays on Paramount+.

Read this next: The Main Star Trek Captains Ranked Worst To Best

The post In Star Trek: Picard Season 3, All of Picard and Riker’s Biggest Mistakes Are (Hilariously) Laid Bare appeared first on /Film.

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