Yesterdays, Once More: Latest ‘Picard’ is powered by bountiful nostalgia…

Finally - the gang's all here. But are the answers for the coming battle buried in far older experiences and alliances?

The Titan is on the run and now it has both Vadic’s Shrike and the whole of Starfleet on its tail and trying to guess its every move. Reuniting with Raffi and Worf and realising the scale of the Changeling threat, Picard notes that the only way to assess what the conspiratorial plan may be is to find out what else was stolen from the Daystrom Institute. But being tracked across the galaxy makes simply ‘visiting’ the already secure facility even harder.

Riker, Worf and Raffi manage to infiltrate the Institute but face a strangely familiar threat among the countless artefacts and collected debris of past encounters. Looking for help from an old friend, Picard and the Titan find an old crewmember somewhat reluctant to help them, but even here there are memories of the past that may prove key to swaying his decision and the odds in the coming battle…

And just what is wrong with Jack Crusher?



We all long for connection. We’re all just that little bit alone, aren’t we? Stars in the same galaxy but light years between us…

The Bounty is probably the most introspective episode of the current season to date – which, if you’ve been following along, is quite saying something. There’s been a lot of talking in this series of Picard – most of it impressively maintaining the balance between looking forward and looking backwards and both with a feeling of consequence, but without ripping itself apart or looking too smug in the process. Here, there’s much walking and running around avoiding conflict, but the more kinetic moments stand at the periphery while the collective mythology of the entire Trek franchise jostles for deep space recognition in an entry that unapologetically channels every single opportunity for nostalgia.

Clearly, Star Trek isn’t immune from that old plot foible of hoarding a lot of past threats together in one place and then revealing that the dumping ground has woeful security when it comes to reactivating such and so compounding their danger. Watch in the highest definition and the display screens show an eastereggaplaooza of references to just about every notable age of Trek. Yes, keep your eyes peeled for top-level object d’art from which every one could spin past or future epic plot-lines. There’s the infamous Genesis Device from The Wrath of Khan (though, technically, wasn’t that destroyed in its use, this looks to be a ‘II’ model?), the skeletal remains of James T. Kirk (with text referring to Picard’s ‘Generations‘-era encounter with him and something called Project Phoenix) and – much to Worf’s disgust – an ‘attack tribble’. there’s also mentions of Star Fleet’s nefarious black-ops department Section 31 (possibly still to be a series with Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh?). If all that wasn’t enough, the rest of the episode is equally full of hat-doffage to the past. At the floating museum / space-dock we have a positive fleet of old vessels seen over decades of Trek. There’s the Klingon Bird of Prey  – also nicknamed The Bounty’ – from The Voyage Home that the crew managed to pilot back home with those whales!), there’s the Defiant from Deep Space Nine and Seven reminisces with Jack Crusher when she spots the resting place of the titular ship from Star Trek: Voyager. Of course, there’s also Kirk’s Enterprise in there too… (the beautiful curves of the Constitution Class NCC-1701-A to be precise, as Jack reminds us).

The hologram of inventor Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner as Data’s creator) seen at the Institute talks about not simply preserving the past but adding to it, that whatever continues should not merely be an echo of what once was… and in some ways that’s a mission statement for not just Picard but general fandom itself… that any new iteration will not (and should not) be a clone or otherwise of what came before.

The teaser trailer for the season indicated the appearance of both ‘Moriarty’ and TNG mainstay Brent Spiner (possibly in Lore form). The appearance of Shaw’s memorable holodeck incarnation of Holmes’ counterpart (created for the 1988 episode Elementary, My Dear Data and in which the android accidentally creates a self-aware holodeck incarnation of the Conan Doyle antagonist – played by Daniel Davis – who then demanded freedom) is far briefer than some might have hoped, essentially the personification (however unlikely) of the Daystrom Institute’s storage facility safeguards. It might have worked better as a nice surprise if it had remained completely unspoiled and was just a wry, unexpected addition to proceedings. Given the ‘Let’s get the gang back together‘ aspect, Spiner was always going to be back (despite ‘dying’ as Data on at least two previous occasions, the most recent being at the end of Picard’s first season). It’s more than a little contrived but the reunion wouldn’t be the same without Spiner and the idea of an ‘ultimate’ android (dealing with the conflicting personas of Soong, Lore, Data and the B4 duplicate) certainly has some dramatic appeal. It’s worth noting as a counterpoint that worries that all these additional characters might clog up the narrative artery with finite episodes left are eased by the way they’re used here – sparingly, but importantly.

With the exception of reuniting the main cast and bringing LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner back into the current central plot, which is achievement enough ( and with Burton’s performance in particular well-crafted and nuanced) the only real move forward in the main plot is the fact that we learn that Jack Crusher is not just having strange visions but is likely dying… though it’s ambiguous as to whether he has days, weeks, months, years or decades until he succumbs to Irumodic Syndrome. Again, another deep-dive into continuity, this is the condition that will rob him of his reasoning and grasp of reality (like an even crueler Alzheimer’s Disease) that was first indicated Picard himself would eventually succumb to during the time-travelling TNG finale All Good Things (and then reared its head again in the earlier seasons of the Picard run). Jean-Luc managed to avoid that fate, or circumvent it, by transferring to his current positronic version, but there’s no such escape hatch for Jack it seems. As a viewer, I’m not totally convinced that the illness is the reason for Jack’s visions – which seem unusually specific and seem more sinister.

Perhaps the most ‘connective tissue’ of the run so far, The Bounty (both as an episode and a ship with a cloaking device) serves its purpose and director Dan Liu settles us in for many of the elements for the back-end of the season… and even gives us yet more great Liam Shaw moments (this time geeking out over meeting Geordi). That it seems to be Picard’s original human body that is the key to Vadic and the Changeling’s plans seems a little disappointing (does Jean-Luc really have to be the key to so many enemy plots and wouldn’t it have been fun if that Kirk skeleton had been that key instead?) but there’s still time enough to establish a more nuanced connection to proceedings. And with Deanna Trois (Marina Sirtis as Riker’s wife or is it a Changeling?) apparently joining him as captives in the final moments, there’s certainly everything still to play for.

'Star Trek: Picard S03  Ep6 - 'The Bounty'  (Paramount+ review)
'Star Trek: Picard S03 Ep6 - 'The Bounty' (Paramount+ review)
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