How Picard Should Have Ended

I’m probably beating a dead horse at this point, but I can’t get this out of my head. Star Trek: Picard had a chance to do something amazing with its ending. Something which I swear was being set up by everything in the show up to that point.

The Power of Nostalgia

I didn’t like Star Trek: Picard’s first two seasons. Both kind of fell flat for me, especially the second season. The way it ended was very unsatisfying. They just kind of realise it was Jurati all along, then blow up an energy beam that we’ve never heard of before, in order to save the galaxy. Or something. Whatever. It wasn’t great.

I decided to give it one last chance for Season 3. The marketing was on point. They were pulling all the stops out for this one. Pretty much every character you know and love will be back. Riker and Troi. Beverly Crusher. Geordi LaForge. Worf. Even Data is back! I suspected they might just do a nostalgia bomb, but I hoped they would do something a bit more interesting with the premise.

And they almost did. It started out so well. I actually thought for a while that they might actually pull off a satisfying ending for Picard’s character, as well as most of the other characters in the show. But those hopes were dashed in the finale.

It turned out it was the Borg all along (which was obvious from the get go), then they blow up a Borg space station. That’s it. No real character development. No actual challenges or genuinely surprising reveals. Just, “hey we can kill all our enemies with the power of nostalgia!

The thing is, they had the perfect ending lined up. One that could have brought closer to so many of the characters in the show, old and new. They had all the pieces lined up in such a way it looked like that was what they were going for. It was right fucking there, and they missed it.

The Playing Pieces

The earlier parts of Season 3 started off well. Seeing where the older characters were worked beautifully, and they had all moved on to things that made sense for the characters. Picard also introduced a few new characters, and these were just as well written, and sometimes even more interesting than the old.

Beverly Crusher returns to the show with her youngest son, Jack Crusher. There is something about him that we don’t quite understand. It’s obvious from the get go that Jack is Picard’s child as well, and this is revealed to us a few episodes in.

Beverly chose to raise Jack alone, thanks to Picard’s tendency toward adventure and danger. Something which devastates Picard, and in one of the greatest scenes in the show, we see the pair discuss Beverly’s choice with varying levels of anger and sadness. The biggest gut punch is that Jack knew who his father was, and chose not to pursue a relationship of his own accord.

The ship that Riker and Picard decide to use is commanded by Captain Liam Shaw. I love Shaw. He doesn’t take shit from anyone. Especially these two Admirals who have decided to commandeer his ship without the proper authority. It’s an interesting dynamic to see Riker and Picard treated as the interfering Admirals for once.

It’s revealed that Shaw was at Wolf 359, and that Locutus was responsible for the death of his crew. He was among those chosen by his commander to go in an escape pod. He was only an Ensign at the time, and clearly had survivor’s guilt from the experience. His hatred extended to Picard, the man who had been assimilated to become “the only Borg so deadly, they gave him a goddamn name”.

Among Shaw’s crew is Seven of Nine, another XB (ex-Borg) like Picard. A fan favourite from Voyager, she is forced to use her human name by Commander Shaw, thanks to his overwhelming hatred of anything Borg. Seven was assimilated as a child, and rescued in the Delta Quadrant by the crew of the Voyager. The only name she ever really knew was Seven of Nine. Shaw is effectively deadnaming her.

The final piece, the one piece that brings all of this together is Picard himself. As it should be. At the end of season one, Picard becomes a golem, a robotic reconstruction of himself, with the memories and consciousness of the original implanted in him.

His original body, as it turns out, was recovered and was being stored in Daystrom Station. It was stolen by the Changelings for some nefarious reason that is never really explained. In the show they say they want his Borg DNA, since an XB never really gets rid of all their Borg implants.

All of these pieces seemed to be going somewhere. But they were all dropped in the end. Commander Shaw, the best new character in the show, is killed off in the penultimate episode. He’s basically fridged so they can give Seven the Captain’s chair. That was the moment I knew I was going to be disappointed with the finale.

And disappointed I was. It was nice to see the TNG crew back together one last time, I suppose. And there were some nice explosions that looked cool. But nothing interesting happened really. Things went boom, the good guys won, roll credits. The end.

Full Circle

It was a missed opportunity. Imagine if Shaw had survived instead. Imagine Starfleet lining up to face the latest Borg attack. The Borg’s last ditch attempt at survival since Jurati was gaining a foothold in the Collective. We’re on the Excelsior, Borg cube in view, and communications come in from the ship.

I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service us.

Shaw is forced to stare at the image of the man, the physical man, that slaughtered his crew in the Battle of Wolf 359. We know that Shaw isn’t the only one – Sisko lost his wife and mother of his child in that battle. It was the most devastating battle before the Dominion War. And now the only Borg with a name is back. All of Starfleet is facing an enemy that almost destroyed them. From a writing perspective, Shaw acts as our stand-in for their collective trauma.

Jack Crusher (and Beverly) are now looking at a physical manifestation of the Reason. The reason Beverly chose to keep Jack away from Picard, and the reason Jack decided not to have a relationship with his father. Now they have to face it anyway, so perhaps they were wrong to cut Picard out.

Seven faced with the Borg once again, and the idea that she could be assimilated again. The Collective that “raised” her is back, and she now has to defend her newly gained humanity. Like Picard, she likely committed some atrocities as a Borg drone, and would be the only character with an understanding of what Picard is now facing.

And Picard. He is now both protagonist and antagonist in his own series. Picard as a golem is forced to face up to his past, to the actions he committed as Locutus. Only this time he has to experience them from the other side. He has to watch himself slaughter even more of Starfleet, and relive the trauma of memories he’s been trying to suppress for decades.

We could have had a bittersweet ending. Starfleet would win, of course they would. The entire franchise would be over if they didn’t. But it would come at a cost. The only solace of the characters would be that they could now work through the trauma together.

We could have a scene in which Picard apologises to Shaw for the horror he caused to him and everyone else Locutus hurt, only for Shaw to respond that he doesn’t need to apologise: it wasn’t him that killed the people at Wolf 359 and in this battle. Something that shows growth in both characters.

They will never fully recover. It never gets easy. But it does get easier. Now our characters have seen each other at their lowest, they can build each other up again.

I’m not a professional writer. So maybe this is all nonsense. But the thing that disappoints me most about Picard, is not what we got. It’s what we could have gotten.

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