If we've learned anything from the Star Trek: Picard series, in general, and Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 10, specifically, it's that endings are never final.
And these last few episodes of Star Trek: Picard have taught us that showrunner Terry Matalas does not hesitate to provide us with many, many endings in a one-hour narrative.
There's a sense of checking off an itemized list of the different Trek fan clusters, all of whom have a LOT to say throughout this farewell season about plot, character, nostalgia, and canon.
The first grand conclusion settles the central conflict of this specific adventure and happens at about the forty-minute mark of the sixty-two-minute runtime, which says something about how much business Matalas needed to settle before the credits rolled.
Jean-Luc Picard's road to fatherhood spans a lifetime, including a bitter relationship with his father and traumatic events that ended with his mother's death, as explored throughout Star Trek: Picard Season 2.
His journey through time and memory primed him to be open to emotional attachments and opened his eyes to how he'd sought connection throughout his career, his retirement, and now his reunion.
His attractiveness to the Borg Queen and his attraction to the Collective are side effects of his need to belong, hindered by his fear of being rejected. But everything he undergoes in his "retirement" adventures clarifies how his vulnerabilities are, in fact, his strengths.
Jack: You said you’d never give up on me.
Picard: Starfleet protocols dictate that we act in the interests…
Jack: …of what?
Picard: Of everyone else.
Jack: And what about the protocols of a father? Or were you never issued those?
True, learning of his son's existence sets him back on his heels a bit. He retreats into a shell of duty and Starfleet integrity for much of his initial encounters with Jack.
Even learning how he's genetically linked Jack to the Borg doesn't jumpstart the paternal instincts.
Beverly: You’re going down there.
Picard: I need you to lead me to him. You brought him this far. Let me bring him home.
But there's a saying about old dogs and new tricks. Also, one about leading horses to water. Picard overcomes both adages and solves his dilemma with courage and flexibility.
Returning to the Enterprise-D with his son intact and his crew alive is a triumph by any measure.
Successfully defeating the Borg Queen's ultimate gambit through a willingness to sacrifice and choices driven by purely human emotion establishes who stands victorious at the end of this decades-long struggle.
What began over thirty-five years ago ends tonight.Picard
The Borg-Changeling plot arc ends with some happy-ending housekeeping that conveniently glosses over the lifelong trauma counseling the assimilated young crew members are going to need.
And, once again, the Federation's war crimes against the changelings go unanswered and unacknowledged. But we won't dwell on that because that's not what we're here for.
Our second ending scene is Riker, Geordi, and Picard bidding farewell to the Enterprise-D.
Fittingly, Geordi gets the final word here, reminding everyone how the ship always took care of them.
Knowing the Enterprise-D is safely stowed but still ready to fly is quite the wink at the fandom. It never did sit right with many of us that her pieces were scattered and forgotten after the events of Star Trek Generations.
Picard: Will, thank you. It means so much to me.
Riker: You know that I know. Always.
The next ending is for the fans who've stuck with the innovation, canon-tweaking, and side-eye plot twists that have been the trademark of Star Trek: Picard.
With rumors of a Seven-Raffi-led spin-off swirling and sparking -- seeded by the incredible chemistry of Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd established on Star Trek: Picard Season 1 -- Matalas does nothing to slow them down with Jack joining the newly-christened Enterprise-G.
Raffi: I still can’t believe Starfleet saw fit to give a thief, a pirate, and a spy their own ship.
Jack: Bunch of ne’er-do-wells and rulebreakers, really.
Seven: What could possibly go wrong?
Jack even uses the word "Legacy" as he and Raffi goad Seven with the gravitas of the moment, waiting for her to choose her captain's catchphrase. Leaving us hanging is a pregnant promise with the potential explosiveness of a billion tribbles in a cargo hold.
(ICYMI, Ryan and Hurd teamed up between Picard Seasons 1 and 2 for an epic audiobook adventure, "No Man's Land," available from Simon and Schuster Audio. TV Fanatic even spoke with the writers Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson about it when it launched.)
After leaving us panting after the Enterprise-G with its sexy, funny, adorable crew, Matalas hits fans with his nostalgia bazooka.
It's not like he didn't delight us with cameos and Easter Eggs throughout.
This is President Anton Chekov of the United Federation of Planets, broadcasting on all emergency channels. Do not approach Earth. A signal of unknown origin has turned our young against us. They have been assimilated by the Borg. Our fleet has been compromised and as we speak, our planetary defenses are falling. Sol Station is defending Earth as best it can, but we’re almost out of time. We have not been able to find a way to stop this Borg signal and unassimilate our young. But I know if my father were here, he’d remind us all that hope is never lost. There are always possibilities. Until then, I implore you. Save yourselves. Farewell.Chekov
The Federation President opens this final installment with his emergency transmission. President ANTON Chekov, no less, voiced by Walter Koenig, TOS's Pavel Chekov himself, named in memory of Anton Yelchin, the Kelvin Timeline's Pavel Chekov. It was a touching detail, both thoughtful and perfectly pitched.
After the changeling Tuvok's appearance on Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Episode 7, Tim Russ let it be known he would appear again.
The level of Star Trek: Voyager cred chalked up by watching him promote Seven to permanent captain cannot be measured.
But the real kicker is Shaw's recorded officer review.
Hansen is reckless. She’s unrelenting. Doesn’t give a damn about protocol or procedure. However, she’s brave. And loyal and the book that she writes is going to be great and the rules that she breaks, maybe they were broken to begin with.Shaw
Captain Liam Shaw joins the ranks of Rachel Garrett and [Prime Universe] Phillippa Georgiou as Starfleet captains made memorable by their integrity, personality, and sacrifice.
Every season of Star Trek: Picard has given us new characters to love, wonder about, and mourn. Shaw is, without exaggeration, the most curmudgeonly one yet and a real highlight on this outing. I can only imagine (and chortle about) how he and Rios would've gotten on.
And there's some tragedy in that he was never dealt in at the poker table.
Of course, the poker game is emblematic of the Next Generation crew. They sat down for a game around fifteen times in the original Enterprise-D series. The final scene of Star Trek: The Next Generation is a poker game in Riker's quarters, with Picard declaring, "The sky's the limit."
Seeing the old crew close out Ten-Forward with raucous toasts and plans for the future -- complete with an incomplete dirty limerick from Data and Shakespeare from Picard -- is the final flourish on this love letter of a series.
There are questions left unasked and unanswered, certainly. For instance, what happens to Laris? Is she still holding that seat at the bar on Chaltok IV? Does Chateau Picard have room enough for two admirals and an ex-member of the Tal Shiar?
How about Kestra? Does she want to leave Nepenthe? Does she get a say as to whether they go to Orlando or not? Or did Captain Crandall formally adopt her?
What it boils down to is our Enterprise-D gang only has eyes for each other, and, for the most part, that's true of the fanbase as well.
I’ve never felt anything like this before. It’s like… quiet suffering.Troi
Will anyone ever wonder what would've happened if Troi had delayed helping Jack open his Red Door until after Frontier Day?
Will Data ever visit Coppelius? Presumably, Soji's still doing the synth-ambassador thing. Will she make time for some father-daughter bonding?
I'd watch that.
Good shows leave us with on-ramps for potential narrative and character development.
Great shows make us want to take them at breakneck speed and see where they lead.
As much as this finale spends a lot -- A LOT -- of time and energy looking back, it lays intricate groundwork for the future.
Yes, today's Trek confronts the shadowy truths of conspiracy and black ops and dishonorable bad acts, but there's still humor and hope and tenderness.
Riker: You’re not going alone.
Worf: And I will make it a threesome.
Riker: Do you even hear yourself?
Worf and Raffi are a duo so perfect it hurts my heart to think we won't see more of them together.
I have been told tears are the body’s weapon against pain.Worf
I want to know what sort of welcome awaited Geordi and his daughters after Frontier Day. Was Mama Leah just relieved they survived, or did she tear the strip off them the width of the Milky Way?
(Before y'all flame me, I'm just going with the assumption. No one's confirmed or denied it yet, so I choose to live in that possibility.)
Four concluding scenes before the credits roll, and still, Matalas isn't done with us.
He throws a stinger on for the first time and sets the gameboard up for a whole new match between House Picard-Crusher and the Q Continuum.
By my estimation and interpretation, the Trek Book of Terry reads thusly:
I. Death will not be an end.
II. Time is only perception.
III. The only constant is change.
IV. Lead with your heart, and those who love as you do will join.
So much more could be said about this finale, this season, this series. It has pushed the limits of intellectual inclusion. It has stretched our imagination. It has tested our capacity for emotional connection. It has gone boldly, unapologetically, and with joy.
What were your highlights and challenges as the curtain fell on our heroes? Who are you riding shotgun on in the epilogue? Would you suit up again if the call of adventure came again?
Engage your thoughts, Fanatics, beam them down to our comments, and make it so!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.