The new look at 20-years-younger Picard and Riker is also believable enough, even if the show clearly doesn’t have the massive budget of something like a Marvel movie. The cast and crew of the series hyped up this final season as especially cinematic, and the framing device of Picard and Riker’s conversation definitely lends a more epic scope to the episode. Plus, they don’t look or sound especially unnerving, like the de-aged Luke Skywalker did in “The Book of Boba Fett.” Sure, Riker’s hair has some hard lines to it that make it look a little less fabulous than the real thing (fabulous present-day hairstyle included!), and you can hear the years a bit in Stewart’s voice, but the pair are a passable if slightly digital-sheen shiny younger version of themselves. And Sirtis, shown only from a distance on a hazy screen, is classic Deanna.
While the de-aging in “Star Trek: Picard” looks good — better, I daresay, than plenty of the show’s other effects — I hope “Star Trek” on the whole continues its trend of letting viewers grow up along with the shows’ casts. The franchise has always felt timeless, but that doesn’t mean it has to be ageless. Its stories often work because despite being set in the future, they’re inspired by the present. That makes each series and film a time capsule of the era in which it was made, a delightful quality that allows for an endless revisiting of all our favorite moments. Seeing the original “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast united at this moment in time, 20 years older than they last were, is a new entry in the time capsule, and a very welcome one.
New episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” stream Thursdays on Paramount+.