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STAR TREK: PICARD S02 | E01 “The Star Gazer” Review

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This review contains spoilers

Star Trek Picard season 2 marks the successful return of Jean-Luc Picard played by the legendary Sir Patrick Stewart. Now on Paramount Plus in the States and debuting today March 4th on Prime Video in the UK and internationally. In season one we saw a new side to the character after being absent on screen for over 20 plus years. It featured Picard now retired from Starfleet following the destruction of the planet Romulus and living on his family’s vineyard comfortably with his loving dog named Number 1 and his staff assistants. Picard is drawn into a new adventure and season two promises for more to come. Picard has a new crew, each a lost cause. They have a ship and a whole galaxy to explore the second season boldly goes where no man has gone before. 

Star Trek: Picard returns to our screens with an explosive episode titled “The Star Gazer” which debuts with familiar friends, old enemies, and the road not taken. 


Synopsis

Starfleet must once again call on legendary Jean-Luc Picard after members of his former crew – Cristóbal Rios, Seven of Nine, Raffi Musiker, and Dr Agnes Jurati – discover an anomaly in space that threatens the galaxy.

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Review

The long-awaited return of the Star Trek spinoff series has officially landed and along for the ride are quite a few friends, both old and new. Some of those friends, in fact, go way back to the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As Picard launches its sophomore voyage, the first episode slightly appears to be a reset of the series, considering the time jump, everything has evolved around them even the characters to some degree. There are ties and progressions to the first season but this season looks to have gone in an entirely new direction, and because I was lucky enough to have watched the first three episodes thanks to Prime Video UK, the new direction the show has taken is a very good one indeed. 

“The Star Gazer” was truly an excellent opener, offering us rich and rewarding character moments with an action-packed entrance as an intruder alert causes chaos on a Starfleet ship suffering an overloading amount of system failures. As a security team struggle to access the bridge we find a distressed Rios (Santiago Cabrera) now a captain, and Dr Jurati (Alison Pill) onboard the newly refurbished USS STARGAZER. The ship and crew encounter a rift in space and time that is sending out two signals, one a request to join the federation, and two a call for help which Jean-Luc Picard can only answer. 

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) who also answers to this odd abnormal rift in space, now commands Rios’ ship the La Sirena. We find her fending off a gang of thieves who are looking to steal her medical supplies, luckily she gets a hand from Rios’ virtual assistant. All board the USS STARGAZER disaster strikes as an unidentifiable masked lady with robotic limbs starts taking over the ship and pauses to address Picard directly before he orders and initiates self-destruct. 

We then flashback to two days earlier where it’s a sunny day at Chateau Picard and the grapes are perfectly ripe for picking but in the future, they beam up straight from the vines. And as Picard contemplates over the change of seasons with Laris (Orla Brady), the two pour one out to toast successful growing and to their lost comrade Zhaban. She asks him why he’s chosen to be alone for all these years, and whilst she leans in for a kiss. Jean-Luc pulls himself away. As Laris wonders what from Picard’s past made him want to turn her down. 

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

“The Star Gazer” showed that it’s about the choices Picard made in his life that led him to become a Starfleet captain, and Laris, hopeful, pushes him to realise that it’s not too late for him. The flashbacks are done incredibly well as we learn the real reason why Picard sought the stars, it is also the most grounding and relatable subject in that Picard’s parents’ marriage was not perfect. His mother taught him to look towards the stars as a distraction from all the fighting. 

Picard is still mulling over Laris and the relationships he’s pushed back. All this over a bottle of Saurian Brandy, however, he reminisces with a very familiar listener. Picard keeps himself separated from those under his command, so that leaves very few people in his life with who he can be totally open. This marks the long-awaited return of Guinan, the former bartender and confidant to Picard, who he goes to for some much-needed advice on relationships. Whoopi Goldberg’s return to me felt like she is effectively driving the overall plot in season 2, she is able to call him out and pry’s some uncomfortable truths out of Picard. Her return for me was full of warmth and pure nostalgia and I do hope she’ll have a bigger purpose this season. 

Photo Cr: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Though Winemaking is Picard’s part-time occupation, he has now returned as an Admiral and heads up Starfleet Academy, where he gives his impactful speech, sharing his sentiment wisdom with the young cadets, he speaks of second chances and that “the true final frontier is time”. He also brings up his mother’s words to “look-up”. Raffi (Michelle Hurd) is there as a teacher and Elnor (Evan Evagora) as a cadet, the first Romulan one. Both are heading off on an assignment. seven is keeping her distance from a frustrated Raffi as, during the time jump, their relationship got complicated, crippled by their competing needs and commitments. Michelle Hurd and Jeri Ryan are bringing such common ground to their characters and are such strong-minded with how they’re able to truthfully react, and dive into a relationship. 

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Now with Picard being reinstated and briefed on the strange request from the rift in space, Picard takes the first shuttle over to the USS STARGAZER and reunites with his crew. Onboard he is treated with the utmost respect whilst Seven feels an uncomfortable welcoming as this new reincarnation of a ship was apparently built using technology from the Borg cube in season one. In response to Picard’s hail, we see the space rift crackle as a gigantic triangular diamond-shaped ship appears which unfortunately is operated and occupied by Borgs who want to begin negotiations by transporting what we believe to be the Queen onto Stargazer’s bridge. All hell breaks loose as the masked emissary takes control and assimilates not just the USS STARGAZER but also the entire fleet. We then catch up to what we saw at the beginning of the episode where Picard orders a self-destruct before hearing the Queen telling him to “look up”. 

Despite the Stargazer exploding, Picard finds himself alone back at his Chateau. Dressed in an unfamiliar looking black uniform and the chateau itself has taken on a spartan/warrior appearance. Laris is nowhere to be seen and in her place is a synth named Harvey. He wonders aloud what’s happening, and this is where I kid you not, chills ran down my spine as a familiar voice replies “An excellent question, Jean-Luc”. Of course, it’s Q (John de Lancie), who politely snaps up to Picard’s age. Picard’s longtime foil is perfect for a season that is clearly about time, as the extra-dimensional fan-favourite being is back to mess with Picard. John de Lancie’s return is everything I hoped for.

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

He tells Picard that humanity’s trial still has not ended and the circumstances Picard has found himself in is truly the very end of the road not taken. 

Verdict

Star Trek: Picard season 2 marks the successful return of Jean-Luc Picard
in his most personal & intimate series to date. It’s a time-twisting, mind-
bending adventure that reflects on personal matters as characters are thrown into turmoil. What awaits them is a mischievous game, a trial that has begun, & a clock that is
ticking.

Episode one comes from writers Akiva Goldsman and Terry Matalas and director Doug Aarniokoski

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Adventure

‘1883’ Spinoff Series ‘Bass Reeves’ Adds Dennis Quaid to Cast

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Dennis Quaid (Far from Heaven, The Day After Tomorrow) is the latest star to join the cast of Bass Reeves, a new drama series coming from Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone, Tulsa King) and Paramount+, according to DeadlineBass Reeves was announced as a spinoff to the Yellowstone prequel, 1883 back in May 2022 with David Oyelowo (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) attached to star as the legendary lawman.

Bass Reeves will follow Oyelowo as someone who is known to many as “the greatest frontier hero” in American history in his own series on Paramount+. The streamer already houses so many Sheridan-fronted programs, most recently, Mayor of Kingstown starring Jeremy Renner returned for its second season while CIA drama, Lioness added to its cast with Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman. Some believe that Reeves served inspiration to “The Lone Ranger” having worked as a peace officer for Indian territory capturing over 3,000 criminals on that land. Quaid will play Sherrill Lynn, a Deputy U.S. Marshall within the show.

Quaid most recently voiced the character Jaeger Clade in Disney’s animated feature Strange World which is currently available to stream on Disney+. He’ll also star in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming HBO Max series Full Circle alongside Zazie Beetz, Claire Danes and Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome. 

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Action

Anthony Hopkins to Lead Peacock Gladiator Drama ‘Those About to Die’

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Peacock is one of the streamers that has yet to break through in terms of their original content getting recognized for awards contention. One such series that might change that fate for the streaming service is Those About to Die and it’s starting to build out its cast. According to Variety, 2-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, The Father) is the first to join the drama series which comes from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat will script the series.

Hopkins will play the character known as Emperor Vespasian in the series which is set in the world of gladiatorial battle. It will be an ensemble drama following many different Roman characters that will set forth for violent affairs in the arena among other complexities such as political power and corruption so expect a starry cast for this Peacock drama. Hopkins’ character is described as “despised by the Patricians jockeying for position in the Empire and looking to supplant his heirs to the throne the first chance they get. Vespasian became the Roman emperor after a ten-year civil war. We expect to get more casting news soon as the show will begin filming in Rome in March.

Anthony Hopkins is coming off a terrific performance in James Gray’s Armageddon Time in 2022 after winning his second Academy Award for his role in The Father the year prior. He’ll next voice a character in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon for Netflix and also will star in British drama One Life alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Jonathan Pryce. Emmerich is coming off directing the sci-fi disaster film, Moonfall in 2022.

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Comedy

Meryl Streep Joins the Cast for Season 3 of Hulu’s ‘Only Murders in the Building

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Many were surprised when the Season 2 finale of Hulu comedy, Only Murders in the Building revealed that Paul Rudd would be joining the series for its upcoming season, however, it seems his casting may have just been topped. According to a tweet from the show’s Twitter account, it appears that Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep (Out of Africa, August: Osage County) will join the cast led by Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez for Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building.

One can believe that Streep stumbled into the series similar to how she did for Season 2 of HBO’s Big Little Lies. With the latter show, Streep was a fan of the mysterious female-led drama and was written into the sophomore season. You wouldn’t be hard pressed to believe that Streep was probably a fan of the beloved comedy series and might want to join in the hijinks along with friends, Steve Martin and Martin Short. Streep will also appear in the upcoming AppleTV+ anthology series, Extrapolations in March.

The original tweet revealed that the third season of Only Murders in the Building has just begun filming. The show has been nominated for tons of awards thus far and with growing popularity as well as the additions of Streep and Rudd to the cast, anything can happen in the murder mystery program. Season 2 released back in June so we can probably expect Season 3 to begin streaming in Summer 2023. 

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