Picard Season 3 Weaponizes Age And Experience – Just Like The Old Star Trek Movies

This article contains spoilers for season 3, episode 9 of "Star Trek: Picard."

It's all been leading to this. The penultimate episode of "Star Trek: Picard" finally explained what's up with Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers), the son of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), who has been plagued with voices and visions. It turns out that the next generation of the Picard family is tainted by Jean-Luc's time as Locutus of Borg, and poor Jack is some kind of SuperBorg who can assimilate people with this mind. Vadic (Amanda Plummer) is gone, but the Borg are an even greater threat, and Jack's psychic ties to them make things even worse. Things seem hopeless, except that there's one advantage the crew from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" has over Jack and the Borg: age and wisdom. 

"Picard" has sought to give "The Next Generation" a proper send-off, and it's reckoned with the idea of legacy at length, but it's also dealt with the ramifications of age. The crew aren't as spry as they once were, but they have decades of experience and their minds are a bit more complex, which proves to be their saving grace. This isn't the first time "Star Trek" has reckoned with the changes of time and the ups and downs of aging — it's a tradition dating back to the Original Series movies. The first run of "Star Trek" movies dealt with the older crew of the original Enterprise in similar ways, and it's refreshing to see the same happen with the cast of "The Next Generation" after all of these years. Old age isn't a curse or something to be dreaded, and "Star Trek" reminds us that even octogenarians can kick some serious butt.

Even Starfleet captains grow old

"Star Trek: The Original Series" finished airing in 1969 and the first "Star Trek" film, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," premiered in 1979. A decade had passed since everyone saw their favorite space-traveling crew, and the actors had aged a bit. This played into the movie and subsequent films to some degree, as it was impossible to ignore the fact that the actors were growing older. By the time the final original series film, "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country," premiered in theaters, 22 years had passed since the TV show ended, and the crew was getting more wrinkled than Morn after a long soak in the bathtub. There are some fun comments on the aging characters in previous films, but in "The Undiscovered Country," their old age is proper a plot point. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and the rest of the crew are on their final mission before retirement, and they're considered dinosaurs by much of Starfleet. They still have something to offer, however, and their wisdom ends up preventing an intergalactic incident that could have led to all-out war between the Klingons and the Federation.

Aging is especially difficult in Hollywood, where everyone tries to stay young forever, but in "Star Trek," characters are allowed to continue being heroes even when they're completely silver-haired and growing a gut. Kirk is able to prevent a Klingon-Federation war in spite of his own prejudices against Klingons and the crew of the Enterprise manages to get away with some wild escapades, allowing our heroes to go out in style instead of being sent out to pasture. 

Wisdom as a weapon

In "Vox," the penultimate episode of "Star Trek: Picard," it turns out that while old age may come with arthritis and some changes in appearance, it also serves as a pretty good barrier against being psychic-assimilated. Jack is only able to get his tendrils in people whose minds are still developing (so for humans, anyone under 25 or so), which means the elderly "Next Gen" crew are safe from that, even if they aren't safe from the under-25s that start trying to shoot them. The assimilated Ensigns start killing everyone and taking over the entire fleet, leaving our heroes without much hope, but Geordi (LeVar Burton) has one last trick up his sleeve. He's been rebuilding the Enterprise-D, the original ship from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and it's old enough that it won't connect to any of Starfleet's systems. Think of the Enterprise-D like the only computer left that's not connected to the internet, so it can stay off the grid. 

It's looking like the oldest members of Starfleet and its oldest working ship are going to save the day (and the universe), just like another ship and crew did back in "The Undiscovered Country." Just as that film said goodbye to the crew of the original Enterprise, "Star Trek: Picard" is giving the "Next Gen" crew a proper sendoff, and that includes letting them kick a little butt in their golden years. We'll have to see how things end up in the finale, but at least we get to see our favorite crew go boldly one last time, while being proud of their age and experience rather than embarrassed by it.

The series finale of "Star Trek: Picard" airs Thursday, April 20, 2023 on Paramount+.