Wellp, it’s finally here: the end… or is it? “The Last Generation” is Star Trek: Picard‘s third and final season’s tenth and final episode, and boy, do they know it! Like every series finale, the episode is long on sentiment (lots of misty-eyed close-ups set to contemplative music) and short on plot (somehow, despite all the twists and turns this season). Naturally, spoilers for the episode will follow, so if you haven’t watched it yet and care about such things, click away now (what were you doing here in the first place?). Review to commence beneath this photo of three old dudes standing by some retro-looking door.
Look, I get it. Star Trek: Picard is a show that exists for fan service, and its final season, with the Next Generation crew back, especially so. It doesn’t even need a plot, as long as it delivers what the people want: namely, our old faves back together for one last romp. In that sense, it succeeds. Watching Picard, Riker, Worf, Troi, La Forge, Data, and Crusher ALL reunite—on the Enterprise-D, no less!—is the kind of tear-jerking moment of fandom magic that few properties can hope to achieve (an opportunity that Star Wars totally squandered… c’mon, all we wanted was to see Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and Lando back in the Falcon!).
Speaking of Star Wars, was it just me, or did that final battle—father and son connecting on a villainous vessel before a monologuing Biggest Bad, supporting characters driving a ship into the core of said vessel to blow up one important part that will chain-reaction the whole thing to oblivion, lots of starships firing lots of lasers in the background—feel awfully familiar? Star Trek: The Return of the Enterprise…
Anyway, the last episode, “Vox”, left the galaxy in the kind of “All is Lost” moment that always precedes the Epic Final Battle in action-adventure franchises. The Borg, using Changeling enforcers, have assimilated all of Starfleet by infusing their officers with Borg DNA (which only works on the young ones) and have turned against Earth. Jack has let himself be assimilated (because… reasons?) and is now the Borg’s new mouthpiece, directing the attack. Captain Shaw is dead, and the young crew members of the Titan assimilated. And, of course, our Next Generation heroes have found their way to the Enterprise-D and are alone against an existential threat. Oof, how are we going to get out of this one in just one hour?
Answer: With fatherly love and a lot of lasers.
On the Titan, Seven of Nine and Raffi to lead a ragtag band of whichever middle-aged crew members are left in an attempt to retake it. They manage to transport all the assimilated crew—including both La Forge girls—away from the bridge and lock them up. Then, they turn their efforts toward stopping the attack on Earth, cloaking the Titan and doing whatever they can against a fleet hell-bent on destroying the planet. We get some zombie movie-type shots of the assimilated crew members trying to break out, and we know the Titan won’t be able to stop this attack by themselves, only try to slow it down. Ending this battle comes down to the Enterprise-D…
… which finds a lone Borg cube hiding in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Scans and transmissions reveal that Jack is on board, and that his voice is the one directing the attack. All the assimilated crew are getting their orders from him, via the cube’s tranceiver. If those orders are cut off, the assimilated will no longer be mind controlled, and the attack will end. So our heroes have to stop the command ship to shut down the attack drones. Wait, isn’t that how The Phantom Menace ended?
Anyway, Picard, Riker, and Worf beam onto the Borg cube to retrieve Jack. And find that tranceiver. But really to retrieve Jack. Once on board, they discover a tomb of dead and rotting Borg drones. And then Picard finds the assimilated Jack before an almost-dead and definitely rotting Borg Queen. The setting was definitely creepy, adding to the zombie-movie feel of the episode.
I wish I could have cared as much about saving Jack as Picard does. Maybe then, what happened next would have had the emotional resonance it clearly was meant to. After listening to the Borg Queen’s monologue about how she lost all her drones and was left alone at the edge of space, and now plans to destroy the galaxy instead of assimilating it, Picard plugs into the collective to reach Jack’s consciousness. Which he does with ease, meeting up with his son in cyberspace (How did he do this without getting mind-controlled by the Borg? Eh, don’t worry about it.)
Now, I’m a sucker for big emotional moments. I swear, I really am! But with Jack so under-developed as a character, and knowing exactly how this scene would end, I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes at all this. Of course, Jack wants to stay in the Collective. Why? Something about feeling “different,” something about belonging… there was a way this could have worked, the way Agnes letting the Borg Queen fuse with her did last season (hey, whatever happened to Agnes’s Borg Queen anyway?). Maybe if Jack’s inner turmoil had been better depicted in the episodes leading up to this, it would have made sense. Instead, he’s here so that Picard can make a big speech about how being a father (for, like, a week) has changed his life, and how he isn’t giving up on Jack… I so, so wanted to feel something, but it all seemed so contrived.
After that, Jack is able to simply… un-assimilate himself. He comes to and unplugs, just in time to be beamed out before the Enterprise-D blows up the tranceiver and, as a result, the whole cube.
To the show’s credit, at least it depicted Beverly agreeing to the attack on the Borg cube— even knowing that her son, her ex-lover, and her friends would probably be blown up too—because it meant saving Earth.
After the cube goes boom, all the danger is ended, and the episode, in true series finale fashion, gives us about twenty endings. Some are satisfying, like Seven of Nine being granted the rank of Captain—by Tuvok! Who though replaced by a Changeling had been kept alive! Some are inevitable but, in my opinion, eye-roll-y. Of course Jack would face zero consequences for running to the Borg Queen, letting himself be assimilated, and staying assimilated (when apparently he had the option to leave??) to direct the attack on Earth that killed who-knows-how-many people. And of course he would be given a plum Starfleet assignment (Ensign after one year, despite, like, no training and a long criminal record! With a special position as Captain Seven’s advisor! Because he’s a legacy! Poor Harry Kim, who never got promoted despite seven years of hero-ing on Voyager… the bamboo ceiling is real, even in Starfleet).
And then there’s the ending-ending, with the Next Generation crew drinking and playing poker. Now there’s the ending we all wanted, and truly, it was satisfying to see.
Meanwhile, the show left us on a teaser that makes a follow-up show feel inevitable. I mean, Seven captaining the Enterpise-G, Raffi as her Number One, Sidney La Forge and Jack Crusher (or is he Jack Picard now?) also on the bridge… Paramount Plus would be leaving money on the table if they didn’t make that so (I could do without Jack, but I’ll put up with him if it means we get to see Captain Seven in action).
With all the trouble the show went through to craft plot threads and create mysteries, it’s a shame that it all boiled down to a super clichéd ending. The whole Changeling story line is waved away, as Beverly creates new tech that easily detects them, and it turns out those who were replaced were kept alive (hey, at least it means we get Tuvok and his epic eyebrow arch back!). There’s no clever strategy or maneuver needed to stop the Borg attack, just a teary father-son bonding moment and some fancy flying from Data.
But the point of the episode was to highlight the Next Generation crew, and in that, it succeeded. I loved seeing the now-human Data delightedly (and cockily) pilot the Enterprise-D through the Borg cube. And Worf Worf-ing out in the Worfiest fashion. And La Forge being in charge of the bridge after Riker chooses to follow Picard. And Beverly being a badass with weapons. If I ignored the actual plot and just focused on the heroes, then it was all in good fun.
All in all, the third season of Picard has been a bumpy one, with some fantastic moments and some awful ones. But in the end, it delivered what it promised: the final adventure of the Next Generation crew.