Thursday, April 20, 2023

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Makes a Passionate Plea to Jack in the Wake of a Daunting Attack in 'The Last Generation'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 3.10 "The Last Generation"

In a desperate last stand, Jean-Luc Picard and generations of crews both old and new fight together to save the galaxy from the greatest threat they've ever faced.

"The Last Generation" was written by Terry Matalas and directed by Terry Matalas

The Borg are all about evolution now. That was the possibility created through Jack's birth. The Borg Queen was isolated in the depths of space following her last confrontation with Picard. She turned on her own just in order to survive. Jack's voice provided a way out of that banishment. She now operates with more power than ever before. Jack comes into his new powers. And yet, the story is still very much about assimilation. It's more than the simple attachments to technology. Now, it's the rewriting of DNA. The genetic material has been corrupted. That too was possible through the biology abandoned in Picard's former body. The Federation believed they had a way to break people free of the assimilation. It was successful with Picard. Something still lingered. He always felt connected to the Collective. Seven did as well. She obtained a new identity following her assimilation. It took years for her to find her place. She has successfully done so now. Everything must happen with complete clarity. The show offers a thematic note to connect the three stories of adventures together for a fitting conclusion. This is the end of a significant chapter for these characters. In fact, moments occur where it seems likely that death is the fate that awaits each of them. They will have to complete this suicide mission to save the generation of Starfleet officers who have been assimilated. That's not the conclusion. Instead, Picard and his allies have plenty of time to make their escape after the Enterprise detonates the Borg beacon broadcasting this corruption. That action is crucial because it brings this adventure to its natural close. It's a lot of plot objectives that have to be achieved to produce that end result. Riker and Worf must track down the source of the signal. Picard searches for his son. Data navigates the ship through the Borg cube to arrive at its core. Seven and Raffi take back control of the Titan and create a distraction to prevent the unified Borg fleet from destroying Earth. All of these details are crucial. However, the storytelling works because it's grounded in the emotional connections. Picard reveals his life story and the parallels he has with Jack. He joined Starfleet in search of a family. After that service was over, he was content with living on his chateau until his inevitable death. He had no purpose. He found meaning through family. That's what this crew always offered him. They took risks together. They jeopardized Starfleet. And yet, it's through those connections that they rise up to defeat this threat. The Borg Queen is destroyed once and for all. Jack is saved because he accepts that he isn't alone anymore. He decides that for himself instead of embracing the bleak but peaceful nature the Borg Queen offers to all who enter the Collective.

It's a daunting idea for any of the formerly assimilated to connect to the Collective again. Picard takes that risk in the name of saving his son. That love is more powerful than fear. The Borg Queen no longer seeks to welcome Picard back as Locutus. She has a new objective now. So much more is possible. That is only true because of the way life has developed elsewhere. Evolution is a core directive. It's meant to dominate all other forms of society. It's not enough to guarantee a different outcome. She gains more power. However, individual perspectives allow the full gamut of emotions to dictate the terms of many interpersonal relationships. That's how Picard connects with his son's humanity. He's not lost. He has struggled to understand his own identity. Answers were provided. However, that pales in comparison to the love of his parents. Picard and Crusher serve as Admirals in Starfleet upon the conclusion of this story. They are celebrated for the actions they took. They implement procedures to ensure the organization is never invaded by the Changeling or Borg ever again. This serves as the end of an era. It was frustrating how long it defined the conflict depicted across the Star Trek mythology. It still carried resonance for these characters. It was never the only reason they served. They matter far beyond their expertise with the Borg. They each faced assimilation. They risked it all to save as many lives as possible. They are revered as heroes. Raffi finally gets to return home and be celebrated by her family. Seven is promoted to Captain as she displays the determination to break the rules that need to be broken. Starfleet must evolve as well. The way things have always been done isn't necessary the best way to conduct business all the time. Shaw offered that perspective before his death. As such, it's moving to hear him talk about why Seven deserves this promotion. She is offered that dignity and grace. Meanwhile, families are reunited. The Enterprise is honored. It will forever hold a special place within the history of Starfleet. It's all because of the dedication of its crew. It's home for Picard and his friends. They face this latest mission head on. They prevail. They delight in what this reunion means. They take care of one another. They promise to remain present and engaged in each other's lives. Others continue to hear the call for service. That sets up the possibility of more stories. Seven, Raffi, Jack and Sidney serve together. Q arrives to offer tests for the next generation. That's an intriguing tease. It's ultimately more gratifying to see the original Next Generation cast gambling over cards. That's where their personalities shine through the brightest. It's significant. It honors the past as well as what these connections had to evolve into for the present. It works despite some creative bumps getting to this point. It's a sweet and nostalgic sendoff for these characters while honoring the future of what may still come in this storied franchise.