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“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”
I’m gonna be honest with you guys. Last week’s episode of Star Trek: Picard was probably the first season’s best. This week’s episode, however … well, it was very not good.
I mean, the pacing is all over the place. The story hardly makes sense. If you’re doing part one of your season finale, you should be tying up loose ends, not creating new ones.
I’m so disappointed in this week’s episode, I don’t even have words to write a proper introduction to this post.
Let’s just get down to it. Here are five things I noticed from the eighth episode of the first season of Star Trek: Picard.
1. OK, so Picard is sick and headed downhill
There’s no way they’d kill off Jean-Luc Picard on a series literally named Star Trek: Picard, right?
We’ve known for the better part of two decades that he has a structural defect in his brain that could lead to, among other things, Irumodic Syndrome — a degenerative neurological disorder not unlike Alzheimer’s which is almost always fatal.
The defect hasn’t really been a problem for Picard since his diagnosis in Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, after La Sirena’s encounter with the space orchids (I mean, seriously?) that protect Dr. Soji Asha’s home planet of Coppelius, Picard falls unconscious. Apparently, very unconscious. Unconscious enough to compel Dr. Agnes Jurati — who is apparently in good graces with the crew again — to break out an old tricorder.
She learns of what fans can only assume is Picard’s degenerating synaptic pathways — a diagnosis that the former admiral announces to his gang about La Sirena, informing them “anyone who treats me like a dying man will run the risk of pissing me off.”
Look, I’m all for the rougher language in this iteration of Star Trek. But, really? That’s the best line we could come up with?
2. Androids have evolved … and we get to see it
We’ve known the entire season that there’s a significant evolutionary jump from Data to his daughter, Soji. It’s visually apparent.
Whereas Data was devoid of emotion, completely ununderstanding of social contracts and possessed not-quite-human skin and eyes, his “offspring” is almost indistinguishable from an average human — minus the signature head-tilt.
But, on Coppelius, we get to see several generations of Androids living in the same society, which is pretty cool.
Several citizens of the planet still have the yellow eyes and almost oily synthetic skin we know from Data. Even they are seemingly evolved from Data’s generation, apparently possessing critical thinking skills and emotions.
Others look like Soji. And still, some are in-between.
And then there’s this mind-transfer business, which Jurati offers her services towards after uncovering something called a Golem on Coppelius. It seems to be a vessel to merge Android and organic society, wherein an organic mind can theoretically be integrated into a mechanical body. The technology isn’t quite perfect yet, but, in my opinion, there’s a good chance that first Golem is going to be for Picard.
And, yes, I know the show calls them “synthetics” and “synths.” I’m deliberately calling them Androids. Why are we renaming something we already have a name for?
3. One of these people is definitely Lore
In this episode, we meet Dr. Altan Soong, allegedly the son of Dr. Noonian Soong, the creator of Data. I say allegedly because Dahj and Soji also thought they were biological daughters of somebody and that proved to be false. Also, because Altan looks exactly like Noonian and we’re not just going to ignore that.
Alongside Altan is Sutra, an Android from a previous generation who gets some major Che Guevara ideas after somehow downloading The Admonition from Jurati’s mind via the Vulcan mind-meld. I’m not even going to get into how ridiculous it is that a synthetic life form could somehow mind-meld right now. I’m way too frustrated at this point in the blog.
Both, however, give off weird Lore vibes. You remember Lore, right? Quite literally Data’s evil twin and quite possibly one of the worst storylines in TNG.
Altan Soong has a weird cult vibe perforating throughout his colony of Androids, which even goes so far as to call his “children.” Sutra, on the other hand, appears to spark a revolution among her fellow machines that eventually leads to Picard being placed under house arrest on Coppelius so he won’t poison the minds of the Androids with conflicting ideas during their Great Awakening.
One of two possibilities exist: either Altan Soong or Sutra is some kind of reincarnation of Lore, which would make sense if a reincarnation of Data is possible…
Or the writers phoned this one in and chose to recycle a storyline from TNG. I’m not sure either outcome is satisfying.
4. The Destroyer revealed?
Throughout the entire season, we’ve been wondering if Dahj or Soji is what the Romulans call “The Destroyer.” Both, apparently, fit the bill physically. Neither, however, seem to be any kind of destroyer from a personality standpoint.
Enter Sutra, who seems to be just off-kilter enough to launch some kind of organic purge. She helps Narek escape captivity, not before killing one of her own Androids, Saga. (Let’s be clear — Sutra killed her. Narek would have been slapped halfway across the room before he managed to get that brooch off Saga. Let’s not forget how quick Androids are. Also, what is it with this show and eye gore?)
I don’t have much more to say on this point. I’m sure we’ll get some kind of resolution in part two of the season finale, when the Romulans finally arrive. But introducing a new character in the second-to-last episode of the season to fill a major question mark kind of feels lazy.
5. It wasn’t all bad
Look, the episode wasn’t a complete wash. There were some cool things this week.
For example, the Borg cube coming out of the transwarp conduit? That was an awesome visual. Even better was the image of the cube falling into Coppelius’ atmosphere, protected by four space orchids.
And I’d be remiss if I went 1,000 words without mentioning Spot. Well, technically, Spot II. During the five seconds between seeing the cat and its name revealed, my inner monologue was chanting “SPOT. SPOT. SPOT.” like a WWE crowd.
Here’s what frustrated me the most about this week’s episode — I just mentioned a couple cool things that happened, but neither of them did anything to progress the story. We don’t even see the Borg cube after it crashes.
The four other points I made in this post are completely brand new to viewers. In the penultimate episode of the first season. That’s not good storytelling over the course of a series. And for a series that has, honestly, struggled with pacing and development so far, that’s not a good sign.
Either we’re going to have a lot of unanswered questions after next week’s episode or a lot of cop-out solutions, but the fact of the matter remains there are officially two many worms out of the can to effectively corral in 60 minutes.
The only thing I can tell you for certain, however, is that the finale of season one has to be absolutely bonkers for Picard to have been picked up for a second season before the first even aired. I guess we’ll find out.