Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Unleashes The Wrath Of Vadic In Its Second Episode

Upon last week's debut of the third season of "Star Trek: Picard," it was clear that the series was gearing up to be more tonally attuned to the "Star Trek" feature films than to the previous seasons of the series. Already, the story is cleaner, the conflict is easier to understand, and the characters are all familiar. Indeed, it seems that Raffi (Michelle Hurd) is the only original "Picard" character that has survived into the third season. Capt. Rios, Dr. Jurati, and Elnor are gone, and it seems that Picard's potential love interest in his housekeeper Laris (Orla Brady) will be brushed off. Instead, "Picard" — as mentioned in previous reviews — has retreated into familiar. 

Episode 2, "Disengage," shows just how familiar this season aims to be by revealing itself to be yet another riff on "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," a ploy Trek has attempted with several features in the past. Many, perhaps too many, of the "Star Trek" movies focus on a threatening, scary, often revenge-driven supervillain who engages in destructive combat with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Such a setup has proven effective, of course — "Wrath of Khan" is often considered the best of the Trek films — but Trekkies who appreciate their beloved franchise more for its diplomacy, science, and optimism may find themselves frustrated to see "Star Trek" reduced to simplified "action movie" moral absolutes. In the best of cases, "Star Trek" has no "heroes" or "villains," but debates between people with conflicting principles. 

That said, Vadic (Amanda Plummer) is a strikingly dramatic and memorably evil villain. When the U.S.S. Titan-A flees into a nebula at the episode's conclusion, and Vadic cackles wickedly to herself as she pursues ... well, it's hard to be mad.

Jack Crusher

At the end of the last episode, the Titan, just outside of Federation space, and weakened by a nearby energy cloud, was approached by a massive and threatening starship keen on apprehending a mysterious young man named Jack (Ed Speelers) from the custody of Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). "Disengage" introduces Vadic as a cackling, glove-wearing monster not looking too unlike Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) from the "Austin Powers" movies. She has a slicked-down hairdo, a large scar on her cheek, and threateningly pronounces Admiral Picard's name with the proper French inflection. She is, essentially, a James Bond villain. Whether or not she is out of place in "Star Trek" is a matter that can be debated, but one cannot deny the character's dramatic immediacy. Also her power; at one point in the episode, she essentially "lassoes" a starship with a tractor beam and flings it at another starship. 

The episode's ethical dilemma comes when Jack has been taken on board the Titan along with his mom, Dr. Crusher, who has been locked into a stasis tube. Vadic wants Jack as there is a sizeable bounty on his head. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) trust Jack just enough to sense something mysterious is afoot with Vadic and her determination to get him. This causes them to butt heads with the by-the-book Capt. Shaw (Todd Stashwick), the Titan's commanding officer who, quite rightly, feels that a single criminal, being sought outside of Federation space, isn't worth engaging a supervillain over. Capt. Shaw is curt and even kind of a jerk, but one can see where he's coming from and why he's not willing to assist the show's title character. Capt. Shaw continues to be intriguing. 

Of course he's Picard's son

Ever since Speelers first began appearing in early press materials for "Picard," there was general fan buzz that he might be playing the son of Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher. Fans were proven right. Right at the end of "Disengage," after some observations by Riker (e.g. "Tell me you see what I see"), Picard finally acknowledges that Jack Crusher is his son. More details as to how he came to be, how Beverly went on the lam with him, and how the Crushers were wanted by the law will, presumably, be filled in in future episodes. For now, one can speculate that Picard and Beverly had an affair some 25 years prior. Given that Picard is over 100 and Beverly is about 80 in the "Star Trek" timeline, one can't help but marvel at the state of 25th-century fertility medicine. Presumably, too, we'll learn why Jack Crusher has an English accent while his mother doesn't. 


The world outside of Starfleet has remained a little nebulous throughout "Star Trek," and anytime the franchise delves into ordinary modern life, no unified ethos or aesthetic has emerged. The non-Federation criminal underground in "Star Trek," for instance, wasn't seen directly until the debut of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" in 1993, and even then, it was filtered through its presence on a Starfleet-controlled space station. The franchise, as a result, always looks a little "off" when dealing with gangsters and murderers and the like. Raffi had been investigating who stole a devastating portal weapon in the first episode, and in the second, her bitter ex-husband gives her a lead to a wicked, weapons-dealing Ferengi (Aaron Stanford). 

That character's end will see a fun introduction.

Enter Worf

Raffi, previously explained to be one of Picard's closer confidants has now been relegated to a supporting role, present to facilitate the introduction of Worf (Michael Dorn) into the story. In the first episode, Raffi was a secret agent who took orders from an unseen higher-up somewhere in Starfleet Intelligence. She strays from her handler's order to investigate the above-mentioned Ferengi, and has to take a hit of the drugs she was once addicted to in order to prove herself. Thus compromised, it will be up to Raffi's handler to rescue her. Raffi's handler is Worf, now grey and distinguished, and still deadly with a blade. 

In previous episodes, it was dismaying to see how many murders took place at the hands of characters were previously not killers. Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) killed many as a bounty hunter in the show's first season, and Dr. Crusher machine-gunned infiltrators just one episode ago. Worf, however, is a different matter. Previously a security officer, as well as a Klingon warrior keen on combat, it makes dramatic sense that Worf would be prepared to dispatch criminals in a pinch. He, like the other characters, has become an older expert, keen to aid the next generation. 

Worf, being part of Raffi's story, has not yet had any contact with Picard or Riker, and Dr. Crusher didn't lock eyes with Picard on the very end of this episode. The show's restraint is admirable, as it seems eager to tell a story, rather than rush headlong into nostalgia. One can hope that the entire cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" doesn't reunite properly until late in the season. The slow meting out of nostalgia is appreciated. 

This season only continues to improve.