Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Is Soji Really Picard's Villain?

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 9

In Star Trek: Picard episode 9, Soji (Isa Briones) made a choice to stand by her sister Sutra and her fellow synthetics; on the surface, it appears she is destined to be the show's villain but this could also be her last temptation before her final redemption. Like the dozens of androids on the planet Coppelius, Soji was created from the positronic neuron of the late Commander Data (Brent Spiner), which makes her Data's daughter. And though she never knew her father, who died 20 years before Soji met Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the iota of Data that lives inside Soji could be the spark that keeps her on the side of light.

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Soji's life cycle (she estimates she has only been alive for 37 months) has, ironically, been the opposite of Data's. The android Operations Officer on Captain Picard's U.S.S. Enterprise-D and E spent his entire life trying to understand and become more human. Data never fully achieved this goal, but his heroic sacrifice to save Picard and his friends in Star Trek: Nemesis was the final example of Data's noble efforts. In contrast, Soji and her deceased twin sister Dahj, were the most advanced and human-like synthetics built by Dr. Bruce Maddox (John Ales) and Dr. Altan Inigo Soong, the son of Data's creator Dr. Noonien Soong. Physically and emotionally, Soji is completely convincing as a human being; she even believed her programming that she was a human therapist named Dr. Soji Asha working on the Romulans' Borg Cube Artifact. It was only when Narek (Harry Treadaway) tried to murder her that Soji's true nature activated and, since then, she has struggled to cope with the reality that she is synthetic.

The Romulan anti-synthetic cult, the Zhat Vash, prophecized that Soji is the Destroyer who will lead the androids into exterminating organic life - a destiny Soji accepted at the conclusion of Star Trek: Picard episode 9, "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", After events were manipulated by Sutra, Soji sided with her synthetic brethren over Jean-Luc Picard's appeals to her better nature, and she agreed with Sutra's plan to summon the ancient federation of synthetics from beyond the galaxy to destroy the pending Romulan invasion (along with all other organics). If Soji does lead the synthetics' army, she becomes the Destroyer that the Zhat Vash believed her to be - and this means Trekkers have watched the evolution of Star Trek: Picard's main villain throughout season 1. However, Soji is clearly struggling with her decision to support Sutra's plan, and that's because she can still choose to embrace the best aspects of Data within her.

Soji's debate with Picard about the "calculus of life and death" in Star Trek: Picard episode 9 is the key to what could be her final evolution into her best self. Soji wanted to kill Narek when she had the chance but she didn't and she blamed herself when the Romulan (with Sutra's help) murdered her sister Saga (Nikita Ramsey). If she was already a devolved android without morals or ethics, Soji wouldn't have thought twice about killing Narek instead of lamenting that she pities him. Perhaps more than the rest of Soong and Maddox's synthetics, there are genuine hints of Data within Soji beyond her tendency to tilt her head like he used to. Ultimately, Star Trek: Picard could prove to be about Soji reclaiming the best aspects of Data so that his spirit continues to live on through her.

If Data was a machine who wanted to be human, Soji has a tougher path as a machine who had her innate humanity stripped away and she now has to rediscover the value of organic life. Soji is still reeling from multiple traumas inflicted on her by Narek, her trust issues with humans (including Picard), and the overriding question of who she really is. And just like Data had his evil older brother Lore, Soji has her older sister Sutra, whose twin Jana was killed by humans, which left her with a hatred of organic life. Star Trek: Picard left all the pieces in place for Soji to be tempted to be the series' ultimate killer machine only to choose the higher path instead and defend all life, organic and synthetic. If Soji really is like Data, she will make the right choice in the end.

Star Trek: Picardstreams Thursdays on CBS All-Access and Fridays internationally on Amazon Prime Video.


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