Star Trek: Picard season 1 ran into many of the same story issues that Star Trek: Discovery faced early on, but Picard has a chance to turn its story problems around by learning from Discovery’s recent success. Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery are both parts of a recent franchise renaissance, with Discovery premiering in 2017 and Picard kicking off in early 2020. Star Trek: Discovery started out as a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series that mostly focused on the Federation and Klingon conflict, while season 2 told the complicated story of the Red Angel. The show continues to be divisive among fans, but season 3 marked Discovery’s greatest success to date, focusing on the ship’s time jump to the 32nd century and the fascinating storyline of The Burn.
Star Trek: Picard is a very different show from Discovery, but the two bear some striking similarities in terms of tone and style. Set 20 years after the end of Star Trek: Nemesis, season 1 of Picard followed the now-retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard as he navigated through a complicated conflict that involved banned androids, ex-Borg, and a secret Romulan organization bent on the destruction of all synthetic life. Picard season 1 adopted not only a serialized format but also a dark tone, portraying an increasingly lawless galaxy and a surprisingly unsympathetic Federation. Not surprisingly, the show’s first season received mixed reviews from fans, who heaped many of the same criticisms on it that they had on Discovery.
With season 2 of Star Trek: Picard currently in production, however, the show has a chance to turn fan opinion around. One of the biggest ways Picard can do this is by making sure that the storytelling in season 2 is focused on one grounding storyline rather than several interconnected ones. Picard’s biggest problem in season 1 was the number of different pieces it attempted to fit into the plot. Any one of the storylines tackled during the season, the Federation ban on synthetic life, the issue of the ex-Borg, or the conflict with the Romulans, could have been handled on its own successfully, but all of them woven together often ended up causing confusion and pulling audience focus. Star Trek: Discovery also struggled with overly complicated storylines in its first two seasons, but season 3 provided a solid issue to the tackle in the form of The Burn, which served as a compelling focus for the audience. If Picard can find its own version of a storyline like The Burn, season 2 will be much better off.
Another thing that Star Trek: Picard can do to improve in season 2 is to focus more on incorporating references to the broader Star Trek universe. This was arguably the thing Picard was most successful at in season 1; the show’s main draw was the fact that actor Patrick Stewart would be reprising his iconic role, and the inclusion of characters like Will Riker, Deanna Troi, and Seven of Nine was what garnered the most praise from fans. Similarly, Discovery season 3 made an expanded effort to do this as well, incorporating established Star Trek species like the Trill and even producing the episode “Unification III” that served as the continuation of a classic Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter.
Star Trek: Picard has ample opportunity to continue this trend of bringing back beloved characters, species, and concepts from the wider franchise in season 2. Indeed, rumors have already been flying about the incorporation of more familiar faces from The Next Generation, with characters like Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan already all but confirmed to appear. If Star Trek: Picard can take a page of Star Trek: Discovery’s book, and combine exciting cameos with a less convoluted storyline, season 2 can fix a lot of the issues that have made the show so divisive among fans.