The first season of the series closed with the title character receiving a new lease on life, which felt more than a little manipulative, but never mind. Patrick Stewart remains grand company in the title role even in his altered state, after a finale that essentially traded in one major death for another.
Still, the narrative unfolds at a too-leisurely pace through the first three episodes, and involves Picard and his unlikely crew traveling back in time to the 21st century to thwart an existential threat. While there’s a long history of that, including past sojourns in “Trek” mythology, messing around with timelines “Terminator” style is one of those science-fiction wrinkles that runs the risk of lapsing into head-exploding territory.
“Picard” nevertheless remains perhaps the most marketable title under a “Star Trek” banner that Paramount, in its eagerness to provide must-have content for its streaming service, has essentially overfished. The roster piloted by producer Alex Kurtzman (joined on most by Akiva Goldsman) already includes the “Star Trek”-branded “Discovery,” “Short Treks” and the animated series “Prodigy” and “Lower Decks.” Another live-action entry rooted in the original series, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” is due in May.
“Picard’s” latest mission — returning to the past in an effort to build a brighter future — is thus inadvertently representative of the place where the “Trek” franchise currently finds itself. And while seeing Stewart at the helm is in some respects reward enough, the producers rely a bit too heavily on that goodwill with a season that, three hours in, feels as if it’s barely gotten out of drydock.
“Star Trek: Picard” season 2 begins March 3 on Paramount+.