We’ve come to the first season finale of Star Trek: Picard and there are certainly a great number of story threads to resolve:
- What is going to happen to Jean-Luc and his failing health?
- Are these futurized synthetics going to answer the beacon and come rescue the colony that Picard and crew have encountered?
- What, if any, hooks are we going to get set up for season 2?
Recap of Picard, S1.E10: “Et in Arcadia Ego: Part 2”
Narek has escaped his cell, leaving behind a dead synthetic. He makes his way back to the Reclamation Project, crashed on this world and finds his sister. Here, as he outlines using some sort of futuristic grenades to take out all the space orchid defenses of the planet, we hear for the first time that Narek is a wash-out and reject of the deepest conspiracy group of the Romulans.
He convinces Narissa to stay and activate the Reclamation Project weapons while he sneaks out and heads to use the grenades. Little does he know Elnor is on his trail and follows him as he exits the cube.
Narek heads to the ship and debriefs Rios and Raffi about how Picard was taken captive and how they are building a beacon to signal the ultime synthetics that they have found exist in the universe and that fights off all organic life to defend the synthetic.
In short, it seems the prophecy about the Destroyer may be true, albeit not in the way originally thought. Elnor nearly kills Narek before the others get him to give Narek a chance to explain.
Meanwhile, in the colony, we see as Dr. Agnes Jurati is working alongside Data’s “brother” in flesh, Dr. Altan Inigo Soong, who wants to move his consciousness to the empty synthetic that has been created. Her expertise, along with the notes from her former lover, Dr. Maddox, seems to make her more than capable of the task. But why she has the skills, she seems to be focusing on a different outcome.
Soji visits the house arrested Picard and they have an interesting discussion, as she has put the beacon and its coming force into the one category that allows the synthetics to choose their future versus having to live by whatever options the organics and Starfleet choose for them.
Dr. Soong makes a shocking discovery when he sees that the slain synthetic from last episode was not killed by Narek but instead by Astra, who used the death to convince everyone else to ignore Picard and call on the greater synthetics that the beacon will call. But this is only after Dr. Jurati remove Saga’s other eye to use to get around security protocols that require an eye scanner.
The crew then uses a rouse of returning a captive Narek to the synthetics to deal with the death of Saga but they are smuggling grenades and intending to use them to take down the tower and the foreboding mythology attached to it. And Dr. Soong joins their side after seeing the death video.
Jurati and Picard bust out and make it out to the ship, only to determine the crew is gone. But Picard makes an excellent speech that the synthetics, though advanced, are all child-like. They have a form of life but they do not have the whole understanding of it. Instead they need to learn by example, and he and Jurati take the ship to stand against the incoming Romulan warbird fleet, at least until the distress call that Picard sent brings the needed help of Starfleet.
So, we have the two battles. On the planet side, Soji is rapidly coding the beacon and pauses only when Narek cries out to her. When that happens, Rios deploys the first grenade. Soji intercepts it, throwing it deep and harmlessly into the sky only becoming more driven to finish the beacon.
Picard and Jurati are targeted by Narissa, who has at least some of the weapons systems on at the Reclamation Project. But she and Seven of Nine have their own hand to hand combat that ends when Seven kicks Narissa into a deep, deep hole in the Reclamation Project declaring “That was for Hugh.”
The Orchids are deployed when the Romulan Warbirds arrive, led by Commander Oh. As they fight on, Jurati is going to use the device that they repaired the ship with to create a bunch of illusion ships. And Picard reaches out to offer Soji one last thing that he hopes may help her understand, as he offers his own life as a sacrifice.
The battle ensues, with Soji watching from afar. The faked duplicates works for a bit until the ship is hit and Picard nearly loses control of it. And the effort to keep it in line has clearly taken a toll on his mental condition. But Soji activates the beacon anyways. And just as the beacon seems to open some red wormhole, Starfleet arrives under the command of Riker!
After giving Commander Oh the chance to surrender, she instead chooses to fight. Picard, knowing that he is running out of time, both personally and in this encounter, has Jurati help him medically and he is able to give one last speech to Soji, helping her see that the choice is in her hands, that Starfleet doesn’t have a prescribed ending. She eventually responds, closing the portal, just as scary red tentacle looking things were about to come through.
The Romulans stand down and all is well!
Except for Picard, whose medical conditions worsens. He is beamed down to the planet’s surface and his crew surrounds him as he dies!
Picard and Data then have a conversation in a virtual world, a quantum simulation. Picard remembers his death and Picard is able to give the simulation Data the understanding of how he died sacrificially. And they compared their deaths.
At the end of the conversation, Picard confesses to loving Data, who asks Picard to make sure that they let Data’s consciousness and pieces “die,” by removing them from the simulation. He wants his life to have meaning in the same way that a human life does, by its finiteness.
And Picard comes back, restored in the body of the golem that Dr. Soong had been preparing for himself, with modifications to make him as normal a human body as possible. The crew them reconvenes and heads into the next adventure.
Review of Picard, S1.E10: “Et in Arcadia Ego: Part 2”
As far as a closer to a season, this one is pretty excellent. There are so many parts and pieces that resolve but also set up what we knew was coming, as other seasons had already been announced. And to be honest, if you didn’t know that announcement, this episode probably had even greater impact.
Let’s talk about the butterfly symbolism that ran throughout this entire episode in particular. The not subtle introduction comes when Picard encounters one in his house arrest and watches it change color. When he comments on it, it just further reminds us of the imagery of transformation.
Butterflies were once caterpillars. And if you were paying any attention at all, I think you had to see the body reboot coming for Picard ever since they introduced the golem idea in the previous episode. But it also serves as a reminder that subtle and impactful do not have to be the same thing.
Even as I was fairly sure I understood what was coming for Picard and his shiny new body, his death and the impact it had on his crew mattered to them and, by their proxy, to the audience.
And, from the practical standpoint of you cannot have Patrick Stewart running around doing his own stunts, I understand that they powered down his synthetic body. And maybe there will be some moments where it malfunctions and we see some of the superpowers Data and other synthetics have demonstrated. But to hard reset it in the manner they did does leave me somewhat disappointed.
And as much as this episode does in terms of closing some plot points, it does leave some ideas ripe to pick up in season 2. Here are some of the ideas that I have:
- The redemption of Narek. Maybe he is too far gone but it would be interesting to see what and how things happen for him. Also, a little convenient in a space show that we didn’t see Narissa body.
- What about the xBs and the Reclamation Project. Seven of Nine and Soji would seem to be drawn towards that cause in some way and Elnor as well. That they didn’t address it at the end means something likely happens in season 2.
- The Ultimate Synthetica. You cannot just show us the red lighted tentacles. We need more about this Destroyer and what it means. Enemy? Friend? Uncertainty?