Star Trek: Picard Episode 8 Has The Best Scene Of The Series
Star Trek: Picard just featured its best scene yet, and it didn't involve alien battles or dogfights in space — it was just two people talking over breakfast. In a rare quiet moment, Picard and Soji find themselves in a discussion of the latter's past. Soji is having a hard time adapting to the realization that she's a synthetic life form — created by Bruce Maddox only three years earlier — and tells Picard she has no real past, as the events she previously thought of as her life are simply part of her programming. Picard comforts her, and the subsequent exchange is one of the most heart-warming moments in the Star Trek series so far.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
Picard warmly corrects Soji, telling her she does indeed have a past — the life of the late Lieutenant Commander Data, from whose engrams she was created. Soji asks Picard what Data was like, and for just a brief moment, Jean-Luc's face suddenly looks like it did all those years ago on the Enterprise. Picard recalls how kind and gentle Data was, how terrible he was at telling jokes, and how deeply he was missed. Soji asks Picard if Data loved him. Picard sidesteps the inquiry by explaining that Data didn't really express emotion in the way most people did — something the good captain wistfully admits he's had his own troubles with over the years.
Soji then asks Picard the obvious followup: if he loved Data. Picard hesitated, but then admits that he did indeed love Data in his own way, and had Data survived him, he hoped Data would remember him as a trusted mentor and valued friend. Soji lets that information sink in for a moment, poking at her eggs, before matter of factly telling Picard that Data loved him; whether that was some ability to access Data's memories or simply a kindness, time will tell.
It's a perfect scene, with some fantastic writing by showrunner and Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon, and Isa Briones does great work as Soji, but the heavy lifting here is done by Patrick Stewart, who at 79 years ol, is at the height of his powers as an actor. The dialogue is lovely, but Picard's face tells the story in more profound ways than the words.
This also addresses one of the issues some fans have had with the series: Picard's dramatic reaction to Data's demise, which essentially served as the beginning of the end for Picard as we knew him in the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard mourned Data in a way that one would mourn a spouse or sibling, and some fans have questioned whether or not the pair had that sort of relationship. While it's true that the pair largely kept their relationship professional over the seven seasons of TNG, the pair grew noticeably closer during the TNG movies, with Picard set to name Data as his new first officer.
But they were also two men, as Picard admits, who didn't easily express affection. Picard served with the crew of the Enterprise for 15 years, and for all intents and purposes, thought of the senior staff as his family. Data's death not only marked a tragic loss for that family, but its dissolution, as most of the Enterprise senior staff were reassigned shortly thereafter. Picard has been in search of a purpose ever since, and he's found it in Soji Asha. Star Trek: Picard still has to stick the landing of its first season, but even if the finale is a mess, it'll always have this lovely scene.