The future of Star Trek is not just nostalgia. Although the buzz around picard season 3 emphasizes the meeting of The next generation, and the season is full of callbacks to classic feature films, the most striking thing about this season is that it looks to the future.

If you think picard Season 3 will be a warm and fuzzy trip down memory lane, think again. What makes it work is that it’s a sequel to Star Trek’s most famous era.. And this time, everything is at stake.

Which makes picard Season 3 is so compelling – and simply watchable – that none of this continuity matters as much as you might think. In 1982, Khan’s Wrath promised the return of Khan, a villain who only appeared once in 1967 TOS episode “Space Seed”. After the resounding success of Anger, THE TOS Khan’s canon and origin story seemed less important than the events of the film. You didn’t need to have seen it The original series (or the previous film) to enjoy Khan’s Wrathhowever, for longtime fans, this film felt like an old-school adventure, even if the film itself was risque and radical.

It’s the feeling of Star Trek: Picard Season 3.

In the spirit of movies like Khan’s Wrath And The unknown country, picard Season 3 amplifies the stakes of the Trek universe to tell a story that is paradoxically simple and complex at the same time. You don’t need a flowchart to understand what’s going on in picard Season 3, but if you remember some characters and situations from The next generation, the experience will be emotional on a whole new level. The show is endlessly geeky with its retro callbacks, but the story is no vehicle for fan service.

It’s a season in which things happen that can’t be undone. The stakes are high and no one should expect a smooth ride. Or picard Season 2 existed in a kind of closed-loop time paradox, Season 3 takes this era of Trek into the future, without any changes.

picard Season 3 introduces a massive new threat to Starfleet, but, crucially, that threat isn’t some generic galaxy-ending doomsday explosion. The threat is a natural consequence of what happened in the TNG/DS9/Voyager time. In other words, some of the things Starfleet has done over the years have consequences. Starfleet made mistakes, and some of those mistakes have come back to haunt this venerable space marine.

But Starfleet mistakes are only dramatically interesting if we also talk about our beloved GNT characters confront their own personal flaws, too. What distinguishes Star Trek from Star Wars generally is the fact that it acknowledges the failings of human nature (“the dark side”) as well as the good things. In this way, picard Season 3 reflects both the inner light and the inner darkness of the human soul. Yes, there is a bit of a “search for new life” this season, but the tone is closer to the emotional stakes of the movies. This character work is also what defined GNTwhich, paradoxically, could not allow the crew to change too week after week, because that really wasn’t how television worked back then.

Captain Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Admiral Picard (Patrick Stewart) on the USS Titan In picard Season 3.Primordial

Successful sequels are often referred to as “different, but the same”. Which makes picard Season 3 is the same as it touches on aspects of The next generation, Deep Space Nine, And Traveler canons. But what makes it different is that our beloved characters behave slightly more realistically than they did in the 1990s. These people are one big space family, but that doesn’t mean that they are one thrilled family all the time. Action and threats against Starfleet are exciting, but we only care about people. The show always speaks, ostensibly, of Jean-Luc Picard. But his relationships with his most important friends and family are the show’s real focus.

All new Trek series since 2017 (other than picard) began in a pre-existing timeline. Strange new worlds is a prequel. Discovery started out as a prequel. Lower decks And Prodigy technically take place a decade and change before picard. So if you’ve been looking for adventures that tell the continue Starfleet stories after Traveler, Deep Space Nine, And Nemesisthe events of Star Trek: Picard were pretty much the only game in town. And with season 3, picard finally takes this aspect seriously.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 debuts on Paramount+ on Thursday, February 16, 2023. New episodes drop Thursdays, for 10 weeks.