One of ‘Star Trek: Picard’s Final Scenes Is the Best Possible Tribute to ‘TNG’
The real frontier was the friends we made along the way
The third and likely final season of Star Trek: Picard ends on a satisfying note. Picard and his crew save the world from the Borg, he and Jack finally cement their father/son bond, Raffaella gets to see her granddaughter, and the Enterprise is nestled safely back in Geordi’s fleet museum.
One year later, the gang gathers in Guinan’s bar for a celebratory drink. After a moving toast, Jean-Luc holds up a playing card, and everyone cheers. It’s time for one last poker game! The scene is a delightful homage to the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and fans immediately recognized its significance.
Poker was The Next Generation‘s pastime of choice
On the Enterprise-D, there were plenty of ways to entertain yourself between missions. You could hang out in Ten Forward. You could live through your favorite novel in the Holodeck. You could take in a play or a musical performance put on by your surprisingly talented crew mates.
Or you could just play cards.
The poker table was the site of countless bonding sessions between the senior officers of the Enterprise—not to mention a staging area for existential questions. In the season 2 episode “Measure of a Man,” for example, Data learns about the concept of bluffing when Riker wins a hand with a busted flush. That scene launches the themes that the episode explores when Data is forced to either prove that he’s sentient or face a life of slavery.
Poker didn’t just serve as a vehicle for the show’s themes, though. As a high-concept series that focused on the philosophical issues around space exploration, Star Trek: TNG sometimes risked becoming so cerebral that it lost an emotional connection with its audience. That was why it was so vital to show the crew’s human (or Klingon, or android) side. The crew was what made the show so memorable. Fans love TNG not just because of the weird planets Picard and the others explored or the futuristic scrapes they got themselves into, but because of each character’s unique personality. And what better way to let those personalities shine than through card games?
Star Trek: Picard could have ended with a focus on Jean-Luc himself. After all, it’s his show. Instead, they decided to end by highlighting his deep friendship with his crew. What’s even better is that, according to an interview that showrunner Terry Matalas gave to Variety, that was a real poker game the cast was playing—and it lasted 45 minutes. Sniff. Shut up, it’s dusty in here.
Other nice little moments I noticed:
The series finale was full of other wonderful moments, too.
Worf wants a threesome. Ha! Worf saying he’ll make a “threesome” by joining Picard and Riker, and Riker saying, “Do you even hear yourself?” Juvenile. Classic. I love it.
Deanna gets distracted. I also loved the moment when Deanna’s waiting for Data to shut the hell up and get out of her office, and she starts surreptitiously browsing vacation destinations. Of course Deanna loves Data deeply, but we’ve all been in a meeting that never seems to end. William asking if Data’s still batshit is the icing on the cake.
Worf needs a nap. He may be a badass, but like the best old men, he can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Love it.
Farewell, TNG crew. You were a formative part of my childhood, and I’m so glad I got to hang out with you all one last time.
(featured image: Paramount+)
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