While all this is happening, Raffi (Michelle Hurd) is working on a plot of her own. Now an undercover agent for an unseen Starfleet contact, Raffi has infiltrated the criminal underground — she had connections after years of drug addiction — and is seeking a mysterious weapon stolen from a Federation space station. The weapon is, more or less, a portal gun from the video game “Portal,” but powerful enough to swallow up buildings and starships. Raffi witnesses the Starfleet recruitment building getting sucked into the ground, only to be dropped again from a mile up. The devastation is massive, but “Picard” has the good taste to continue with the investigation rather than wallow in death and tragedy. 

The episode ends with Picard and Riker on board Crusher’s ship, meeting the mysterious young man Jack, who announces he is her son (odd that he’s named after her dead first husband). It’s Jack the masked baddies at the start wanted. Jack is brash and criminal — definitely a Han Solo type. A massive pointy warship appears out of a nebula. Cut to black. It’s all very exciting. 

“Picard” is clearly being written less like a mystery series a la “Lost” and more like a feature film. The change is appreciated. Stringing along a season-long mystery is a frustrating way to watch TV; just because it worked for “Lost” doesn’t mean it’s going to every time, or ever again. The opening episode of “Picard” doesn’t so much plant the seeds for mysteries, but introduces elements to be explored later. We’ll get to know Jack, of course. We’ll catch up with Crusher. And, most importantly, we’ll respect the relationship between these characters. 

This new season is so, so much better than what came before.