Star Trek: Picard Episode 9 Recap - A Whole New World
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 9 of Star Trek: Picard, "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1," now streaming on CBS All Access.
The two-part finale of Picard season one continues the Star Trek tradition of Latin episode titles. "Et in Arcadia Ego" translates to "And in Arcadia I am," referring to the Greek pastoral vision of harmony with nature. As Picard and his crew finally find the android planet they've been searching for, it initially seems they've discovered synthetic Eden. But like the inhabitants of the planet, underneath the skin, there's a cold, hard reality.
The penultimate episode does away with the traditional flashback to pick up right where we left off, as Soji pilots the La Sirena through a warp to beat the Romulan fleet to the punch. It deposits them in front of the synth homeworld, a planet internally referred to as Coppelius. Before they can proceed forward, though, they're ambushed by a tailing Narek. But both vessels are blindsided by a number of last-minute visitors. First is the Borg Cube, reactivated and piloted by Seven of Nine. Second is Coppelius' defense system, a series of giant orchids that engulf everyone and send them crashing down.
The hard landing not only knocks out the La Sirena's systems, but also Picard himself. His fatal medical condition is finally revealed to the rest of the crew, as he casually tells them about the brain abnormality that will eventually take his life. But there's bigger fish to fry, as within the same breath he directs the crew to set off on foot for a nearby station.
First, though, comes a Detour to the Artifact. Despite how harsh the crash looked, it seemed the remaining xBs, along with Seven and Elnor, are alive and well. As Elnor gleefully hugs Picard, Seven informs him that she tracked the La Sirena's location when she connected to the Cube. Their goal is to now get systems back up and running and tend to the wounded. At Picard's urging, Elnor stays behind, even if that means saying goodbye to his father figure for perhaps the final time.
The crew arrives at the settlement -- coined "Synthville" by Raffi -- to find pairs of gold-skinned twins partaking in their daily activities amidst a modern-looking community. Soji is finally home, greeted by name by one of the androids, Arcana. Picard is also a person of interest as Data's former captain, as well as the grievous lines on his face.
Data is certainly a presence on Coppelius, quite literally in this case. Brent Spiner makes a surprising return to Picard as yet another member of the Soong family, Dr. Noonien Soong's son Alton. Seemingly the only human on the planet, Soong listens to Soji's story, cursing Bruce Maddox posthumously for sending their creations on such a risky mission. Their meeting, though, is interrupted by a familiar face. With long hair and gold skin, Isa Briones plays her third android of the season in Sutra, the twin of Jana, who perished on Rios' ship nine years ago.
Sutra approaches Soji's situation optimistically, seeing this as an opportunity to get answers. Her hypothesis is the Admonition, an artifact from a civilization allegedly destroyed by A.I. that has been the cornerstone of the Zhat Vash, was actually not meant for the Romulans. Their grief and insanity came from the fact that the message wasn't meant for organic minds; it was meant for synthetic ones. With this logic, she puts her Vulcan studies to the test, mind-melding with Jurati.
The audience is seemingly seeing the Admonition through a synthetic mind now, as the message from the Admonition is much clearer upon this viewing. The warning is actually not coming from humanoids, but synthetics, an alliance of them that reside outside of space and time. The message talks about organic life creating androids, eventually destroying them for fear of becoming a threat. This alliance is waiting for a signal from the recipients to bring about their arrival and protection. And, as they put it, "Your evolution will be their extinction."
With that discovery, the crew breaks up to explore Coppelius. Jurati gets to sit down with Soong, who chastises her for killing Maddox. Those feelings, however, do not stop him from offering she stay on the planet to continue Maddox's work, particularly in the field of mind transfer. She makes this known to Rios, who caringly caresses her in a manner that implies their one-night stand may be turning into something more. He heads back to La Sirena along with Raffi, who gets emotional as she and Picard admit their care for each other. The retired admiral, meanwhile, is still attempting to contact Starfleet to recruit them against the Romulan invasion, to no avail.
To Picard's chagrin, at least one Romulan has already made landfall on the planet. Narek is discovered by the synths and thrown into a makeshift prison, where Soji confronts him. He renews his love for her, despite his attempt on her life on the Artifact. She promptly rebukes him, saying, "What a sad and twisted thing you are. You disgust me, Narek. But not as much as I disgust myself for pitying you." But Narek turns Soji's attention back to the matter at hand, warning his people are on their way to rain fire and kill every living thing on this planet.
To help combat Narek's people, Soji tries to convince Sutra for a mass exodus of the synths. Though the two look the same, they do not approach this situation similarly, as Sutra is insistent there is not a solution that doesn't end in multiple deaths. The predicament has Soji confiding in Picard about the logic of sacrifice, and how killing someone is made out of fear of that being the only choice. Meanwhile, Sutra approaches Narek in private. And though she's initially compelled to kill him, she tells him she needs his services, freeing him from his cell and killing Arcana's twin to frame him.
Narek's "escape" serves as the perfect rallying cry for Sutra in this episode's final scene. Speaking to the other synths, she uses it as a drop in the bucket of the horde of organics come to murder them. She and Soong have worked together to decode subspace relays in the Admonition, setting up a beacon to contact the federation of synthetics to provide backup. With their support, she feels they can have the support to take on the Romulans and prevent eradication.
This news understandably shocks Picard. He counters with his own speech, trying to unite his audience around an escape plan and promising he would speak on their behalf. Unfortunately, his history betrays him, as Soong points out that he previously did not receive support from the Federation. Even Picard's own crew turns on him. Fearful for her home planet, Soji tells him, "This isn’t the Romulan rescue. We can’t be your means of redemption. We’re too busy trying to survive." Jurati also pledges her loyalty to the synths, saying this is the culmination of everything she's worked for. All alone, Picard is placed under house arrest, escorted away from the group.
Part 1 of the Picard finale ends on a fearful and dour note for the titular character. After landing on Coppelius with hope in his heart, the Romulan threat and reveal of the group behind the Admonition has only stoked the fears of the synths, turning them to violence. As a result, Picard is left completely isolated, a dying man watching the possibility of the second mass extermination in two decades. With many balls still in play, though, including Rios and Raffi on La Sirena and Narek heading to the Artifact, this game is far from over.
Star Trek: Picard stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera and Harry Treadaway. A new episode arrives each Thursday on CBS All Access.
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