The third episode of the new season of “Picard” is called “Seventeen Seconds.” It features a deranged, wicked villain — in this case, the evil Vadic, played by Amanda Plummer — following a Starfleet vessel into a mysterious nebula where communication will be limited and sensors will be deactivated. She pilots a massively overpowered battle vessel called the Shrike, which leaves the U.S.S. Titan utterly outmatched. The two ships will have trouble seeing each other and aiming their weapons, making pass-bys infrequent and each shot particularly damaging. This is all lifted directly from “Wrath of Khan,” of course, and — if we’re being honest — is still effective.
But it’s not just the battle that mirrors “Khan.” It’s the entire thrust of the season.
Picard (Patrick Stewart) is about a century old in this season, and he says in the first episode that he is not yet ready to be remembered for his legacy, aching for more adventure. The adventure comes when Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) sends him a secret message asking for defense against evil villains who would kidnap her adult son Jack (Ed Speelers). The season follows Picard’s reunification with Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and their mutual understanding that they are no longer spring chickens.
One might recall that Kirk (William Shatner) was gifted a pair of reading glasses in “Khan,” giving the character a physical symbol of his aging. His eyes aren’t what they used to be, and he’ll never again be the young buck of previous decades. Aging is a major theme of both “Picard” and “Khan.” Authority remains, but it may be flagging.
Another major theme of “Star Trek II,” one might recall, is that of consequences. Kirk and Picard both have repairs to do.