Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and now we’ve seen the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, it’s now become clear exactly what role Star Trek: Picard – Countdown has been given to play in setting up the TV series.
We now know the exact nature of the calamity which drove Admiral Jean-Luc Picard to turn his back not only on his illustrious career, but on the Federation too. With the climax of IDW’s three-part Star Trek: Picard – Countdown, we also know that this isn’t that story. Instead, this mini-series has been more to establish the lead-up to those events, and to introduce us to some of the supporting characters who’ll be featured in the series.
Two of them – the Romulan couple Laris and Zhaban – are evidently a significant part of Picard’s post-retirement life, as seen in the series opener ‘Remembrance’, so it really is intriguing to learn here about how this came to pass. Why would two Romulans not only be so trusted by Picard, but also living on Earth? The answers to both those questions are given here, and it’s reassuring to find that they deliver in a satisfying way.
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Another important thing Star Trek: Picard – Countdown has managed to do is fuse together where we left Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis and where we find him in Star Trek: Picard, in terms of scratching that itch of seeing him in charge of a starship and in action again. Patrick Stewart does an amazing job of showing us a frail and somewhat more vulnerable Picard than we’re used to seeing, one who believably gets winded when being chased up a flight of stairs.
However, deep down what we want is to go back in time to a point when Picard was more vital, and able to cope with the rough-and-tumble that comes with serving in Starfleet. Star Trek: Picard – Countdown delivers admirably in that respect, as it’s given us another opportunity for us to have Picard doing what he does best, being part-diplomat, part-action hero. It’s so clear that this is his purpose, his raison d’être (I’m sure he’d approve of the French), so it becomes starkly evident in Star Trek: Picard just what he’s lost.
The potential pitfall of telling continuing stories in other media – such as comics or books – is that the makers of any future TV shows or movies in the Star Trek franchise can simply ignore or overwrite what you’ve done, should it conflict with the story they want to tell. It’s happened with 2009’s Star Trek: Countdown tie-in comic to J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the classic series, where some developments in that have now been flatly and outright contradicted by Star Trek: Picard.
Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, it appears, are much more fortunate with Star Trek: Picard – Countdown, as it forms part of the official backstory for the TV series; Beyer is also Supervising Producer on Star Trek: Picard, so you can feel pretty much certain that this will stick. It definitely helps in making this comic feel significant, giving some extra weight behind the storyline.
Is it essential to have read this before watching Star Trek: Picard? No, not essential, but you’ll certainly find the first episode even more rewarding than if you hadn’t, and just gone in cold. It’s certainly worth making the extra effort to make this part of your overall Star Trek: Picard experience.
Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #3 is out now from IDW Publishing.