All the essential ‘The Next Generation’ episodes before ‘Star Trek: Picard’
With the year almost at end, it’s time to look forward to the loads of content coming our way in the new year. On the Star Trek end of the nerdiverse, CBS All Access is bringing us plenty of treats in the new year. Love it or hate it, Star Trek: Discovery is coming full-speed with a third season in 2020.
Of course, the more interesting of the CBS Star Trek shows is the indirect sequel to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Picard. Bringing Patrick Stewart back to his most iconic character, the show takes place 20 years after the last Star Trek theatrical film.
For those who only know the original series, you definitely want to get caught up on the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From the trailers, we know a lot of events from the series play directly into this show. But more importantly, you’ll get a chance to know what kind of captain Jean-Luc Picard really is (or should be).
We’ve handpicked the best TNG episodes to give you the best look at Picard, but also shed light on the backstory of why the captain is the way he is in Star Trek: Picard. You’ll wanna tune in to these before you watch the new series on January 23rd, 2020. Of course, there’s still plenty of creepy and entertaining episodes you should watch too since you’re already binging Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“Encounters at Fairpoint” (S1E1 & 2)
Of course, starting at the beginning is always the best plan. While definitely on the weaker side of things, The Next Generation’s pilot still gives us a solid idea of who Picard is as a captain. When the USS Enterprise-D ends up at Fairpoint Station, Picard comes face to face with omnipotent being Q (John de Lancie).
Q puts Picard on the spot, making him defend all of humanity. Picard’s response makes it clear that he’s not Captain Kirk from the original series. He thinks before he acts: a perfect display of Picard’s leadership style.
“I Borg” (S5E23)
After Picard was turned into a Borg himself, it’s a surprise that he would sympathize with any Borg. Yet in this season five episode, a young Borg soldier (Jonathan Del Arco) finds himself aboard the Enterprise-D and Picard does him a favor.
Picard is given orders to infect him with a virus that will cripple the entire Borg collective. But Picard doesn’t want to turn this young soldier into a chemical weapon against his will, and lets Hugh stay aboard and separate from the Borg. Not only is this key for Picard – Hugh is supposed to appear in Star Trek: Picard as well!
After the drama of “The Best of Both Worlds”, Picard decides he needs to get away from everything in Starfleet. He returns to the family vineyard in France, only to rekindle tension with his brother Robert (Jeremy Kemp). While Picard needs love and support after his horrific encounter with the Borg, all he gets is bitter envy.
Picard finally breaks down in one of the largest displays of emotion we get from Picard throughout the entire show. Picard has always been displayed as a military man, so this is the first glance we get at his upbringing and his family side. Plus, the vineyard is where we meet Picard in Star Trek: Picard, so might as well find out the origins.
It’s A Wonderful Life, but in Star Trek. After a malfunction with Picard’s heart leaves him dead in the medical bay, Q makes a reappearance to let Picard relive his Starfleet Academy days. Picard gets the chance to eschew the fight that landed him with an artificial heart in the first place.
Of course, by the time he comes back to the Enterprise-D, everything has changed. Picard is only a submissive lieutenant! Picard realizes that, although the synthetic organ may be annoying, his heart has helped make him who he is and he can’t leave it behind.
This episode gives you a good look into who Picard was back in the day that made him the analytical, inspirational captain we see throughout The Next Generation.
“Best of Both Worlds” (S3E26 & S4E1)
There’s been mention of the time Picard was turned into a Borg throughout this article, because if anything defines Picard, this is it. The Borg finally enter Federation space, and to make a large impression, kidnap Picard and turn him into Locutus of Borg.
If you want to know everything about Picard, this is the episode. Picard’s character arc can be divided into pre-”Best of Both Worlds” and post-, because the Picard we know from the earlier seasons is gone after this. The scars of this experience affect everything Picard does from this point on, which will definitely play into Star Trek: Picard.
Bonus: Star Trek: Nemesis
This is definitely the worst of The Next Generation theatrical films, but it plays directly into Star Trek: Picard. The new series is set 20 years after the events of this film, so the last adventure of the Enterprise-D crew will definitely be discussed in the new show.
Plus, with movie will clue you in to what happens with Data (Brent Spiner) and why his return in Picard is a such a big deal. If you don’t watch it for that, at least do so for a young Tom Hardy.