Star Trek: Picard S2E1 — “The Star Gazer” Resets the Premise and the Timeline

Q stares down Picard in the study of Picard's vineyard
Photo: Paramount +

The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard S2E1, “The Star Gazer” (written by Avika Goldsman & Terry Matalas and directed by Doug Aarniokoski)

Star Trek: Picard S2E1, “The Star Gazer” takes off in a very different direction from where Season 1 left the characters off. In real life, it has been over two years since the show debuted and within the show’s universe, it is at least a year and a half later, which has given everyone time to change circumstances and grow. Much more so than Season 1, Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard seems to be setting itself up to be the grand swan-song for Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) that we wanted the series to be.

Laris sits in the study in the vineyard and looks over her shoulder
Photo: Paramount +

Structurally, the opening scene is an in media res battle between the crew of a Starship and an unknown assailant. We will learn in time that this is the Star Gazer, the ship which was also Picard’s first command. And the villains are his old adversaries the Borg, and the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) in particular. But in the midst of this tired trope of starting in the middle of the action, with characters we don’t know being shot down all around us, we flashback to 48 hours earlier.

Picard has returned to his vineyard and seems to be enjoying his pastoral life, inspecting bottles and having dreamy conversations with his Romulan friend and employee (and maybe more) Laris (Orla Brady). Brady and Stewart have been great together throughout the series and here the chemistry between them is even stronger than ever. Laris’s partner was killed in one of the attacks last season and she specifically lets Picard know that she is ready to move on and to have a relationship with him. But, as Picard leans in to kiss her, he suddenly has doubts. It seems our dear Admiral has never really allowed himself to open up to love. His head, always, was too turned to the stars.

Before they can really resolve the tension, Picard is whisked away on an adventure. But this scene sets the stage for the principal theme of Star Trek: Picard S2E1: what do we do with the time we are given. Every step Picard takes is layered with both regret and determination. He had to be the person he became, and otherwise, we never would have had the great Captain from Star Trek: The Next Generation nor the elder statesman of this show. Now Picard has to figure out who he was meant to be, and discovering if he can open himself to love is part of that.

Guinan and Picard meeting in her 10-Forward bar
Photo Cr: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Picard’s search first brings him to our first great reunion of Star Trek: Picard S2E1, Picard meeting back up with Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg). Guinan has set up a new “10 Forward” on earth, possibly just for Picard to be able to go to her for advice. When he does she is as shocked as anyone that he is actually there to discuss romantic woes. Goldberg and Stewart are both seasoned pros, and both are probably unappreciated for how good they can be at their best. When the books are closed these may be the most famous roles for both of them (despite their accolades for other roles) and they really let the feelings flow. Picard also starts to open up about his past, and how his mother is the one who told him to “look to the stars”.

The “star gazer” motif runs throughout the episode and, I think, will be the central theme of the season. Star Trek: Picard seems ready to focus on the interior workings of the man Picard has become more so than Season 1 did, even though that season eventually replaced his entire body to ensure he would not deteriorate. This is about Picard the dreamer, the lover, the man, and the focus is less on the crazy plotlines than that interior journey.

The refocus has also shaken up the cast pretty significantly. Last season focused on the small ragtag team in Rios’s ship La Sirena. Rios is now Captain of the Star Gazer—which is apt considering his established love for Picard and history—and seems fully reabsorbed into Starfleet. Raffi (Michelle Hurd) and Elnor (Evan Evagora) are also in Starfleet now but seem to be shunted off to a different ship and therefore, at least for now, off of the show.

Raffi, Picard, and Elnor stand in Starfleet academy
Photo: Paramount +

Despite being the focal point of the entire previous season Soji (Isa Briones) also seems to be sidelined. She and Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) had been on a diplomatic mission with the Deltans and Rios only takes Jurati away. Though considering the way the Deltans operate and Soji’s own “enhanced skills” I’m sure she won’t mind too much.

After picking up Jurati, Rios has the Star Gazer investigate an anomaly. Anomalies have always been bad in Star Trek, and always will be, so this does not go well. The anomaly has drawn the attention of Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) who is now using La Sirena in her continued efforts to help the other former Borg. It turns out the anomaly is sending a message asking for assistance from Picard, which is how everyone winds up together for that climactic battle that was the opening scene of Star Trek: Picard S2E1.

In reality, that message is from the Borg and they want to join the Federation. Seven—and almost everyone else—recognizes this as the dangerous ploy that it is. But Picard cannot help but be the diplomat and so he tries to find a way to accommodate the request. Of course, that’s when the Borg Queen beams over to the Star Gazer and attempts to take over the ship. In order to stop her, Picard gives the self-destruct order. Destroying the Borg, the Star Gazer, a huge Starfleet Armada, and the cast of the show, himself included.

Q (John DeLancie) standing ominiously in Picard's vineyard
Photo: Paramount +

Until he wakes up on the road not taken. And we get our other, also much anticipated, reunion. Q (John Delancy, as charmingly dangerous as ever) returns, and he is not finished with his favorite plaything. “The trial never ends,” he winks at Picard as they stand in the quite different Vineyard. We close in grand Star Trek tradition—the timeline has shifted and only Picard can set things right.

Written by Clay Dockery

Clay Dockery is an actor, author, and impresario extraordinaire. They are the co-editor of Why I Geek: An Anthology of Fandom Origin Stories and was the co-head organizer and creative director of MISTI-Con, Coal Hill Con, and The West Wing Weekend fandom conventions. They live in New York City with their girlfriend and their two chonky cats.

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