Star Trek: Picard Episode 10, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” rushes headlong toward an introspective season finale while also trying to give a whiz-bang action-packed end to the season-long arc. It mostly works. Mostly.
This recap of Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episode 10, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
What does it say about the last episode that I was more excited about the minuscule Star Trek: Discovery teaser image we got than this finale? The last episode – my worst-reviewed of the season so far – continued to lower in my estimation as the week went on. So little of it made sense or came together in any satisfactory way. It tasked me; it dogged me. So much so that I thought I was ready for anything they could throw at us here.
We had more allegiance-swapping in this single episode than in any 10 episodes of Alias. When we last left our crew, Agnes had sided with New Soong and the droids against Picard. Narek had been released by the scheming Sutra who had also convinced Soji to turn against the Organics to summon the evil robopocalypse. By the end of the episode, everyone switched sides. Agnes busted Picard out of holding, New Soong joined her after finding out that Sutra had turned on her own kind to bring about the apocalypse, Narek had convinced Raffi and Rios not to kill him so that they could disable Sutra and Soji’s apocalypse beacon, and Picard died.
Or did he?
Star Trek: Picard episode 10 walks along the edge of a knife, carefully treading the line between inspirational Picard awesomeness and absolute bonkers craziness that makes little to no narrative sense. This entire season has followed Admiral Jean-Luc Picard, retired, along a journey to find himself. He’s older, with a terminal illness, and a determination to seek out what is left of Data’s kin. Along the way, he’s had to rediscover what made himself Picard. He’d lost his edge, his moral compass, but Data’s ‘daughters’ helped him find it again, and he saves them – and the universe – in the process. When Soji claims she’s got no choice but to bring about the Robo-Ragnarok, he retorts: “To say you have no choice is a failure of imagination. Don’t let the Romulans turn you into the monster they fear.” That’s our Picard.
Picard makes a speech about the responsibility of having life and that these childlike Androids have had poor teachers: New Soong, Maddox, and ultimately Fear, who “is an incompetent teacher.” So he’ll teach them how to be moral by example. Because he’s Picard. This was an excellent culmination of his journey this season.
His terminal illness arises right as he saves the day, convincing Soji to stand down (and turn off her portal to another dimension with ridiculous Zack Snyder-esque space-robo-snakes crawling out of it–possibly the worst moment in Star Trek history, and that counts God in Star Trek V). Riker and 200 Starfleet ships warp in and standoff with the Romulan armada, then inexplicably leave. And then Picard dies.
But then he doesn’t. He awakens inside Data’s consciousness which had been reconstructed and used by Maddox and New Soong to create the synthetics. Picard and Data have a truly moving talk, getting much of the closure they couldn’t get when Data sacrificed himself in Star Trek: Nemesis. This is straight out of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Picard sacrificed himself, ended up in “death” and is resurrected because at the last moment Agnes and New Soong scanned his brain (which apparently takes 15 seconds) and put him in a synthetic body that looks and ages precisely like Picard’s original 94-year-old body would. And, once again, characters in Star Trek have cured death–and will likely never revisit this again.
For a few moments, I really thought – hoped, even – that Star Trek: Picard had the guts to kill off their main character. That all the buzz about a second season was a ploy to throw us off. I was actually really OK with the fact that he’d gotten to say goodbye to Riker, to Data, had grown back into himself, and then was able to die. But no–he’s a synthetic now.
To be fair, they built to this throughout the whole season. They went on and on about Soji and Dahj being nearly indistinguishable from humans and that synthetics are equal to humanity. But it really feels like a cheat. Even if they’d brought back Q who, in a Dumbledore-like fashion, told Picard his work wasn’t done yet and magically brought him back–that would absolutely work. This just felt gutless amid a chaotic episode.
So, thus ends a turbulent season. We’ve picked up a crew along the way, a crew who rallied around this bastion of Starfleet morality and traveled to the ends of the universe to help them. And yet the show really did little in the way of keeping a focused narrative. Seven of Nine and Elnor’s side story had utterly no point at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than glad that we revisited this iconic character (and I want a Seven of Nine and her Rangers spinoff more than any old Section 31 show!). But she had absolutely no bearing on anything. She was misserved and underused–as was Elnor. Everything just came hastily and sloppily to a close here–I’m gonna plead with the producers of Star Trek: Picard: hire a Star Trek geek to read the scripts. Just a pass with some notes. Or someone who’s structured narrative TV before. We never would’ve had a mind-melding synthetic if that had happened. Call me.
The spirit of Picard does, however, remain intact. He’ll still be our old inspirational, curmudgeonly Picard, and I’ll love this show going forward. I just really wish they’d taken a cue from Discovery and really just let him go in peace. I know that I’ve been hard on Star Trek: Picard, particularly in the last couple of weeks, and it’s not even the “it’s not my Star Trek thing.” This is Star Trek–but Star Trek isn’t always good every week (just watch any season 1 episode from TNG, DS9, or Voyager–chances are it’ll be rough). It’s got amazing potential, and still, we can glean great, meaningful truths from it: be good, be kind, love one another, lift each other up, be the best you can be, and stand up for what’s right.
- Up until this point, the TV-MA rating which allowed them to use the F-word has felt absolutely out of place. Narissa asking her brother if he’d f—-ed any of the synthetics he met was priceless, funny, and totally organic. The best moments from these characters I’ve detested since their first steps onscreen.
- “I’m not your mother, a–hole.” Agnes gets her groove back. Still not sure how she’s going to be allowed to go free after straight-up murdering Bruce Maddox…
- “Hey, it’s the abusive Romulan boyfriend.” I love Raffi.
- Space orchids vs. Romulan armada–something I didn’t know I wanted to see until I saw it.
- As Picard unplugs Data’s positronic net, he eulogizes him with some Shakespeare: “We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep” (The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1).
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Tyler is a teacher, librarian and the Co-host of The Geek Card Check Podcast. He has been a Film Critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018.