“The Last Generation”
Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Episode 10 – Debuted Thursday, April 20, 2023
Written and directed by Terry Matalas
A pitch-perfect season and series finale delivered action, humor, and a whole lot of well-earned character emotion.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“What began over 35 years ago ends tonight!”
The USS Enterprise-D (so excited to say that!) ignores the broadcast warning from the Federation President to avoid Earth: Spacedock is the last line of defense and there are no reinforcements coming. They track the Borg signal to Jupiter and find a huge cube hiding in the big red spot… sneaky. Jack is identified as the source of the “command signal” that is Borgifying Starfleet and they have to sever that connection “no matter the cost.” The cube drops shields in an arrogant “invitation” and Jean-Luc accepts, joined by Riker… and Worf, who offers to “make it a threesome”… Phrasing! Geordi is left in command as Picard takes a moment to look at his crew do the “It’s been an honor” thing… gulp. Things are extra creepy down on the “tomb” of a cube, which is eerily quiet, and they find most of the drones dead, their tissue being “cannibalized.” Bev has located Jack, so the landing trio is going to split up, with Jean-Luc saying it is time for him to stop being a captain and start being a dad. None of these guys think they are going to live out the day and their goodbyes are devastating.
Jean-Luc goes deeper into the unimatrix array where he finds Jack, all Borgified, a decrepit Queen hovering over him. Fused to the wall, this fresco from hell laughs as she welcomes Locutus, who can only watch as Jack issues orders and spouts Borg platitudes. The queen declares herself a proud mother, telling a defiant yet powerless Picard that Jack (and he) have been her salvation after the Federation left the collective “poisoned” and dying. Now they will rise again using Jack and Picard’s biology, giving up assimilation for this new “evolution.” Elsewhere, Worf and Riker have sorted out where the beacon is, and fight off some of the last drones as the cube fires on the Enterprise, but weapons officer Beverly (yes Beverly) takes out the turrets with ease. The beacon is buried impossibly deep in the cube but Data has a “gut” feeling so he goes full Lando and Nien Nunb diving the big D (phrasing?) into the Borg ship… and Deanna senses he is loving every terrifying moment. Knowing that time is running out for Earth, Picard starts unplugging Jack, ignoring the Queen’s protestation that his son is hers now. The desperate father is taken aback when Jack continues the attack, only saying “We are the Borg, resistance is futile.” He’s a real chip off the Locutus-block.
“We are all that is left of Starfleet.”
Over on the Titan, Seven has her hands full as she and Raffi fight their way through all the Borfigied youngsters, eventually taking over the bridge using some cool “portable beam-me-up” darts that send the Borgies to a locked transporter room. Spotting the Enterprise D taking on the cube, Seven knows she has to buy Picard time. The plan is to disconnect from the fleet control thing using the cloaking device to distract with a counterattack, but Seven first needs to rally her ragtag bridge crew made up of the remaining middle-aged folks on the ship, including the doctor at ops and a terrified cook as pilot. Seven rallies this team of misfits with a rousing speech that would impress Picard himself as she reminds them what they are fighting (and probably dying) for.
Through a series of hit-and-run attacks, the Titan starts to get the notice of the Collective by diverting resources and hopefully buying that time for Picard’s team. But one ship against the unified fleet can only do so much, especially as the Borg kids have broken out of the transporter room and sabotaged the cloaking device, bringing this raiding party to an end. Dead in the water, Seven’s bridge crew can only watch in horror as Spacedock falls. With the Titan neutralized and the planet’s last defenses dispatched, the Borgified Starfleet turns towards Earth and begins to target all the main population centers, planning to fulfill the Collective’s new directive to eliminate all the non-assimilated. Oh, and the Titan’s youngsters are headed to the bridge to do the same. Thankfully Captain Shaw didn’t live to see his ship come to this… Too soon?
“There was a moment today where I was worried we might survive.”
Things look up when Data gets the Enterprise to the beacon, but Geordi realizes if they take it out, it will take the cube with it—along with the away team. Faced with the worst “needs of the many” decision ever, they reluctantly recognize what they must do. Riker and Worf do too as they vow to stay and try to get to Jack and Jean-Luc, knowing there is likely not enough time, but Will speaks for them both: “I owe him a lifetime, the least I can spare is a minute.” Deep in the cube, Jean-Luc realizes the only way to get to Jack is to do the thing he vowed never to do again: plug himself into the Collective. There he finds his son, seduced by the “euphoria” of all those voices speaking as one. Jean-Luc understands and tries to connect, telling Jack he joined Starfleet to find a connection he could never find at home but now understands that Jack was the family he was always missing. In this Borg mind space the assimilated young man wavers, but the allure of perfection is too strong and he declares this is where he belongs. Kids, am I right?
Out of time on the D, Geordi leaves it to a heartbroken Beverly to fire at the beacon, destroying it and setting off a chain reaction. Knowing what’s coming, Picard tells his son he will stay with him “until the end.” This final embrace breaks through as Jack recognizes he too has changed, giving him the strength to break the hold of the hive mind. Awakened, father and son unplug from the collective. Worf and Riker are there too, with the cube coming apart around them, the Klingon is ready to die with honor and Riker says his final goodbye to his Imzadi. (I’m not crying, you’re crying.) But that connection is the key. Deanna senses them and maneuvers the ship in to beam them out… at the last second of course, leaving the screaming Queenie to be incinerated. The cube’s destruction ends the Borg’s control of the fleet. Earth is saved and these families are reunited with hugs on the bridges of the Titan and Enterprise, except for an exhausted and wounded Worf, who falls asleep… snoring. I know how he feels, this episode has been emotionally exhausting… and it’s far from over.
“Names mean almost everything.”
The threat is over, but there are a number of season threads left to tie up. A captain’s log from Riker sums up the aftermath by declaring this “a new day for friends both old and young.” Time starts progressing as Beverly is promoted to Admiral to oversee Starfleet Medical, purging the fleet’s young officers of Borg stuff and purging the fleet of the remaining Changelings. Real Tuvok briefs Seven on how everyone (including her) gets a pardon for “hijacking” the Titan and disobeying orders. Seven offers to resign over all the insubordination, but her former USS Voyager colleague surprises her with a recording of Captain Shaw’s final crew assessment, calling Seven “reckless” but acknowledging maybe she is just the kind of rulebreaker Starfleet needs. Tuvok rejects her resignation, calling her “Captain.” Dips—t from Chicago FTW! Raffi also gets some closure thanks to Worf leaking her classified heroics to the galaxy, to the delight of her ex and son who want her to finally meet her granddaughter. That Klingon is a big softy, even giving her a hug! Deanna and Riker are also ready to move on together as she plans a much-needed vacation, even as she gives Data one of many counseling sessions to help cope with all his various new feelings that include crying over a random cat. Maybe he just needs a new Spot.
Jump to one year later, and a fixed-up Enterprise-D is snuggled into position at the Starfleet museum with Riker, Picard, and Geordi there to give it a meta goodbye, “If ever there was better evidence that the past mattered… it’s right here.” Returning to a repaired (new?) Spacedock, Jack is now in a red Starfleet uniform, and the young ensign nervously paces in a shuttle with his parents as they approach his first posting. It’s the Titan… but wait, he and Beverly admit to some “subterfuge” as they reveal the ship has been rechristened. In honor of Admiral Picard and his crew’s heroics, the ship is now the USS Enterprise-G.
After kicking Jack out of the captain’s chair, Captain Seven welcomes him as she and first officer Raffi prepare for a shakedown cruise, unable to believe Starfleet has seen fit “to give a thief, a pirate, and a spy their own ship.” Sidney is there too as this new crew gives everyone a sneak peek at the hoped-for spinoff. They really put a button on it as the bridge crew ponders Seven’s potential catchphrase, “Your first official act of command. Writing the open line to your legacy.” Not subtle, Terry. I love it. But wait, there’s more… This is a generation’s final journey and we find the TNG gang having drinks at 10 Forward. Bev is toasted on blood wine, Worf talks about his meditation lecture, the Riker-Trois debate vacation destinations, Data tries to tell a dirty joke after being teed by up Geordi, and Jean-Luc wraps it up with some Shakespeare. They toast to their eternal friendship before settling in for one more game of poker. Perfect.
Oh, and in a mid-credits scene, Q shows up (don’t “think so linearly”!) to tell Jack his father’s trial may be over, but his has just begun.
Saying goodbye is hard
“The Last Generation” is everything you could want in a season finale, and a series finale too. Paying off a lot of the complicated elements leading up to this moment, the finale kept it simple, laying out the goal of shutting down the Borg beacon to save the galaxy. But within that were many layers of character complexity and even heartbreak along the way, setting up some incredible performances. The result was an emotional, high-stakes roller coaster that kept you guessing with a series of gut-wrenching moments when you felt all the weight of these characters and their history together, and how this could have been the end for any one of them. Balancing things out was just the right amount of lighter moments, organically peppered throughout.
Writer/director Terry Matalas showed his love for these characters as each was given their own hero moments, both subtle and profound. Each concurrent storyline is tied together through the fulfillment of various arcs all based around the themes of connection, family, sacrifice, and hope. The ultimate version of this was the titular character, with Patrick Stewart delivering one of his best performances as Jean-Luc Picard fighting his greatest fear to connect with the son he now realizes he has always needed. Ed Speleers’ performance was equally impressive, although Jack himself didn’t play much of a role in saving the day. LeVar Burton and Gates McFadden also stood out playing the heartbreak of Beverly struggling with the decision, weighing the life of her son against the fate of the Federation. With all of these life and death stakes, Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn’s banter continues to delight even as they, too, are challenged with emotional beats. The pacing of all the little goodbye moments, especially Riker staying behind for his friend and former captain, was almost too much to bear.
Jeri Ryan was also tasked with some heavy lifting in this episode, handling a lot of the action along with stepping up for some inspiring speechifying. In a way, this was sort of her audition to be captain, and she nailed it. It was a bit unclear how much help—if any—they were providing, but the scenes on the Titan provided a good POV on what was at stake for the Enterprise crew at the cube, and it was fun to see Seven’s ragtag bridge crew of middle-aged officers. While excellent editing wove these stories together, there might have been more impact if the Titan crew had been coordinating with the Enterprise team and had a clear objective that fit into the plan besides just harassing the Borgified fleet in the hopes of buying some time. It was fun to see Seven and Raffi together again, working as a team, however, it was also a reminder that this season has essentially ignored their romance, teed up in the season two finale.
The queen is dead… for good
The scenes on the Borg cube looked great, really leaning into an H.R. Giger aesthetic, making this final stand of the Borg a true horror show. The makeup on the queen was especially creepy, adding to the menace and even pathos of it all. However, her dialogue was sort of canned villain revenge talk, with a few personal notes for the former Locutus. Behind all the great character moments, the fight with the Borg was a bit predictable, and even in its simplicity there was some confusion, such as why did the Borg attack continue after the beacon was destroyed, not ending until the cube blew up? It also feels like there is a disconnect between how the show transitioned from Vadic and the changelings to the Borg without ever really showing how and why they are working together (beyond a few lines of dialogue). Some viewers may not even make the connection that the Queen was Vadic’s “The Face” handler all along. In the end, the villains of this story weren’t all that interesting, but they provided a good catalyst for a lot of fascinating character stories.
While some fans may have balked at the Borg as the ultimate big bad instead of some less obvious deep-cut threat, there is a poetry to them as the ultimate adversary of Picard and The Next Generation. And one of the layers behind the title “The Last Generation” was that this was the last queen, on the last cube, decades after being “poisoned.” While her revenge was pointed at Picard, the true culprit was Janeway, who started the Borg down this long defeat in the series finale of Star Trek: Voyager, which is why it was surprising after being namedropped so many times this season, the Queen never mentioned her. There is also a poetry here to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which ended years of fighting with the Klingons, the ultimate bad guys for the original generation. While it was satisfying to see the gloating queen come to an end, it would have been fitting for Picard to have at least tried a diplomatic approach or offer some sense of mercy.
A new legacy
One of the upsides of keeping the plot simple is that the main threat wrapped up fairly early in the episode to allow for an extended coda. This picked up on a lot of season arcs for these characters with some fun and heartwarming scenes across the board. Most of the loose ends were tied up, unless you are worried about poor Laris waiting in that café on Chaltok IV for Jean-Luc. Matalas went into extra innings to allow for these bonus moments to breathe and give the audience time to say goodbye to these characters and really give them the closure they need. Even the USS Enterprise-D got a little goodbye in a scene layered in meaning for the characters and the actors. They even forgoed the credit sequence to indulge in the final poker game. It went on far too long and it was perfect.
But Matalas wasn’t done with all these wonderful goodbyes. The coda was doing double duty, setting up what he hopes is a “Star Trek: Legacy“ spinoff, and they weren’t subtle about that at all. Some of this was a bit much, such as rechristening the Titan. It wasn’t necessary and transforming it into the USS Enterprise-G seems more geared for a spin-off, but Starfleet honoring the admiral by naming the ship USS Picard (with special dispensation being that he is still alive) might have fit better in the context of a series finale. Still, all the pieces and characters are now in place for this spin-off, already showing some of the fun chemistry of the bridge crew, although it was surprising (or even confusing) that Jack ended up in command red and being “special counselor to the captain.” Bringing Q back was fun and he’s right, his season 2 death shouldn’t violate canon for an immortal. It was a nice bookend to the TNG era as he was there since the beginning, although it keeps Jack overly tied into his father’s story. After this season, this “next next generation” of characters are well poised to head off on their own 25th-century adventures. Hopefully, viewers see this as intended, aspirational, and fitting into the Star Trek theme of an optimistic future. And maybe fan enthusiasm will help make the Legacy show happen someday. There are always… possibilities.
An excellent finale brought a fantastic season of Star Trek to an end, nicely wrapping up the series as a whole. “The Last Generation” will be remembered as one of the most emotional and satisfying episodes of Star Trek. It was really the finale to what was structured as an extended movie, the feature film ending the Next Generation era deserved. On top of that, it set up what could be a whole new era, with new and returning characters. What else could you ask for? These last 10 weeks have been a highlight in Star Trek history with unmatched consistent quality and execution. Let’s hope this isn’t the end for this team and these characters.
- The opening Star Trek brand animation swapped out the USS Titan for the USS Enterprise-D, along with some Borg elements added to the Star Trek delta logo
- The opening space shot had a visual homage to the opening credits of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Federation President Anton Chekov is the son of Pavel Chekov, and was voiced by Walter Koenig of Star Trek: The Original Series. The president was named in honor of the late Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the three J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies.
- His “General Order 12” message was like the one given by the president in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, warning people away from Earth due to the destruction caused by the Whale Probe.
- Like in the previous episode, Star Trek: First Contact’s Alice Krige returned to voice the Borg Queen, but actress Jane Edwina Seymour played her, credited as “Borg Queen body double.”
- The Queen quoted herself from First Contact, telling Picard she invited him onto the Cube to witness his “future’s end.”
- One of Seven’s Titan bridge officers was played by makeup designer James MacKinnon, his third cameo following previously appearing in Picard (as a Borg drone) and Discovery (as a medical tech).
- Among the alien vacation destinations Troi was considering: Vulcan, Andoria, Omicron Ceti III (misspelled as Omicron Seti III), Bajor, Trill, Zadar IV, and Kaphar Prime. She also browsed Earth destinations Kauai, Malibu, and Orlando.
- Data’s attempt to tell the limerick starting with “There was a young lady from Venus…” was a callback to when he tried the same thing in the TNG episode “The Naked Now.”
- Picard’s final toast was a quote from Brutus from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar.
- The song played during the poker game was “All New Songs” by Al Oxenhandler.
- Ending with a poker game was a tribute to the final scene from the TNG series finale “All Good Things…” It also bookends the Picard series which began with Data and Picard playing Poker in a dream sequence.
- The photo of a younger Picard and Crusher in Jack’s Quarters was of Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden attending a premiere in 1988.
More to come
We will discuss the episode in detail on Friday’s episode of All Access Star Trek. Every Friday, the TrekMovie.com All Access Star Trek podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.
Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and South Korea. It also streams internationally on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
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