Today, July 13, is the birthday of two of Geekdom's biggest celebrities: Patrick Stewart and Harrison Ford.
That's right, it's Captain Picard's birthday today! (Make it so.) It's Han Solo's birthday! (I know.) It's Professor X's birthday! It's Indiana Jones' birthday! And then there are the characters we don't talk about as much. (Side note: It's also Colton Haynes' birthday. Arsenal from Arrow.)
Personally, I've always been a bigger Star Trek fan than Star Wars fan. I'm not gonna go into the whole "Why Star Trek is better than Star Wars". For starters, I could just as easily list reasons why the opposite is true and not feel like I'm betraying my fandom.
However, out of the four iconic pop culture characters represented by actors with today's birthday, I gotta say Captain Picard is the best out of the four.
Han Solo is a cavalier man who got women on and off screen to fall for him. Indiana Jones is a cavalier man who got women on and off screen to fall for him. (That sentence sounds familiar.) Professor X is a great character for people to look up to as he fought his former best friend and longtime nemesis, but no one really fell for him.
However, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is an authoritative man with a big heart hidden under the thickest skin possible who to this day probably has one of the biggest group of people with a mancrush on him.
Now let's be fair. Star Trek: The Next Generation had 7 years on the small screen, a decent movie, a great movie, a movie that should have been an after-school special, and a movie that should have been rewritten so that it didn't exist. But still, there was far more time for Captain Picard's character (and his awesomeness) to be fleshed out.
There are so many classic episodes (and even ones that aren't defined as classic but are still noteworthy) that I think it's worth giving them a look.
Season 1: Episodes 1/2: Encounter at Farpoint: This episode is quite noteworthy as it is what brought Star Trek back to the small screen. If "mon capitain" wasn't nearly as awesome as he was, this show would've certainly flopped. Picard showed us who was boss as he commanded his limited crew in court against Q. He stood up for what he knew was right and played the game well enough to prove how good of a mediator he is.
Season 1: Episode 12: The Big Goodbye: Picard's first holodeck attempt. This "story" will show up again and again. But it was a great episode to give us the question of sentience and intelligence.
Season 2: Episode 9: The Measure of a Man: Going back to this sentience and intelligence question, Data is on trial. But Picard is forced to defend him with Riker forced (yeah, cause it'd happen that way) to prosecute his friend. Picard and Guinan have a great discussion on what Data's rights are. And rights for a race are in general.
Season 3: Episode 19: Captain's Holiday: Like The Big Goodbye, Picard is taking a break, this time on Risa. Besides our first look at Risa and a pre-Deep Space Nine Rom, it's also our first meeting of Vash. The "romance" between an archaeologist and a thief builds here. And it's enjoyable to see Picard on something besides a command mission.
Season 3: Episode 26/Season 4: Episode 1: The Best of Both Worlds: Arguably the best episode of all time for this series, Picard is turned into a Borg, one of his greatest enemies. He loses all of himself into a different creature and when it is all removed and he recovers, Picard is no longer the same man.
Season 5: Episode 2: Darmok: Words are interesting. Especially when they don't make all the sense in the world. Communication between two people who don't speak in the same format is almost as difficult as of that for two people who don't even speak the same language.
Season 5: Episode 25: The Inner Light: What many writers deem the best written episode of all time. It is one of the most beautiful episodes in my opinion as well as one of the saddest. But still, no one can deny it won a Hugo and it'd be hard to argue against it. This is an episode where Picard lives out the life of another man and watch as his world prepares for extinction.
Season 6: Episode 15: Tapestry: There are 3 episodes to feature Q that do not contain the character's name. This is one of them. And it is probably the best of all Q episodes. A what-if this didn't happen to Picard episode. And the whole episode teaches Picard a valuable lesson of who he is.
Season 7: Episodes 25/26: All Good Things...: Let's look at the past, the present, and the future. A crazy-seeming Picard goes through a whole ordeal and ends up resetting time so that nothing that happened actually happened. But Picard showing what he's learned in his 7 years as Captain of the Enterprise is a great close to the show. And more amazing is him not shutting up about what the future looked like.
Star Trek: First Contact: One of the best Star Trek movies of all time. Easily arguably the best TNG film. Picard's fight for humanity's future harking back to The Best of Both Worlds is well-told. He refers to justice vs revenge in a way that shows how easy it is to cloud the two.
Well, that's that. My homage to Captain Picard for Patrick Stewart's birthday.
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