Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access)
Season One, Episode Nine – “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1”
Written by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman & Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Akiva Goldsman
So many things about this penultimate episode of Picard feel pleasantly familiar while others seem so out of place in a Star Trek story. But that is to be expected with Akiva Goldsman, who delivered one of the most un-Star Trek-like series in recent history (Discovery). He loves things that are conceptually cool and full of visual spectacle. There’s the sense that the final episode of the season will involve a big shooty space battle, which is simply not what Star Trek really is. Star Wars? Most certainly. But I am not looking forward to this conclusion. Star Trek, when it does space battles, is more about one-on-one and the strategy of battle.
Picard and crew have arrived on the world of synthetics Coppelius and Soji is home. They are greeted in a wonderful moment by flying space orchids, apparently created by the beings on the surface. I love when science fiction gets super imaginative and gives us something that challenges our notions about technology and space travel. The idea of a giant flower ship is fantastic. The visuals in this episode and the series are top tier, the visuals and the special effects are where the show seems to be putting its emphasis though.
When Picard arrives in the synth city, he’s greeted by the previously nonexistent Dr. Altan Soong, the son of Noonien Soong, Data’s creator. Altan is played by Brent Spiner, which allows him not to have to pile on mounds of make to attempt to make him look like the unaging android. Surprisingly enough, there’s Sutra, the twin to the synthetic Rios told about encountering in the last episode. She’s a little more cunning than you might expect and proves to be a new adversary for Picard. One aspect I enjoyed about this synthetic utopia is the style of clothing. The beings are dressed in gauzy, flowing fabrics, which feels very much like a visual out of the classic Star Trek series. This is also a chance to actually encounter a strange new world.
I’m pretty annoyed with the wrapping up of Agnes’s arc, as it appears she will not have any real consequence for killing Bruce Maddox. The synthetics essentially wipe her slate clean by stating that she had been exposed to that crazy vision of the synthetic apocalypse, and her brain couldn’t handle it. I just think it would have been more interesting to have her held to some account, and there’s nothing about the vision when we see it through Sutra’s eyes that seems much different from Agnes’s perception.
So a massive fleet of Romulan warbirds is on their way. I suspect Starfleet will show up with their attack force at the last minute to help save the day. The Borg Cube will become operational again. I dread a moment where Picard has to link with the Collective after he’s called Locutus by one of the ex-Borg. Well, here we go, hobbling into the finale of a series that has been somewhat lacking in recreating the world of Star Trek.