By Nick Schager
March 19, 2020 at 09:00 AM EDT
Aaron Epstein/CBS

Soji learns that her long-sought synthetic family may not be ready to listen to reason in Star Trek: Picard’s penultimate season 1 installment, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1.” And that puts Picard — and the rest of the galaxy — in grave danger.

Having traveled 25 light-years in 15 minutes via a transwarp conduit, La Sirena arrives at Soji’s homeworld: Coppelius. Narek’s ship follows in short order, and a ferocious dogfight ensues. When Narek’s craft suffers a catastrophic hit, and his vital signs begin to wane, Soji says it’s a trick and they should let him die. Picard objects, maintaining, “There’s a difference between killing an attacking enemy and watching a wounded one die.” Before Picard can beam Narek to their sickbay, the Artifact shows up along with five giant orchids — defense mechanisms of Coppelius — that knock out La Sirena and the Artifact’s power, causing them both to plummet to the planet below.

His eyes closed and his head titled backward, a seated Picard mutters, “Thank you for coming, everyone,” and then passes out. He awakens in the sickbay, where Jurati has used some old-school medical equipment on him. He confirms her results: he’s dying. He promptly informs the entire crew that he has a fatal and untreatable brain abnormality and that their mission will go on — just as all conversation about his condition will cease. “There will be no further discussion. Anyone who treats me like a dying man will run the risk of pissing me off. Is that clear?”

Soji has vague childhood recollections of nearby Coppelius Station. The crew arms itself for a trek across the desert to that outpost. First, though, everyone agrees to visit the Artifact to see if Hugh and Elnor are still alive.

As we know from last week’s episode, Hugh has already died. Picard and company do find Elnor and Seven, the latter of whom explains how they followed La Sirena through the transwarp conduit. Seven gets the Artifact’s long-range scanners operational, allowing Raffi to see that 218 Romulan warbirds are on their way.

Elnor wants to join Picard on his quest, but he says Elnor is needed on the Artifact to get its defense systems online and to help the XBs. “I’m very, very proud of you,” he tells the young warrior. Seven is less sentimental. “Keep saving the galaxy, Picard," she says with a smile. “That’s all on you now," he answers.

At idyllic Coppelius Station, Soji is greeted by synthetic twins Arcana (Jade Ramsey) and Saga (Nikita Ramsey), who know Soji as well as Picard. Soji informs them that a fleet of Romulan warbirds will be there soon, which is an especially big problem since there are only ten orchids left to defend the planet.

A stunned Picard is greeted by Dr. Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner), who knew his appearance would have this effect on the captain since he looks like “Data if he’d gotten old and gone soft.” Soong describes himself as a “mad scientist," explaining, "My father had me but he created Data. In fact, he never let me forget.”

Soji recounts her story to Soong, and then everyone is introduced to Sutra, who’s Jana's sister, and the golden-skinned spitting image of Soji. Sutra is happy about this encounter because she thinks Soji and her friends have brought her vital information — namely, the Admonition. Sutra believes the Admonition compelled Jurati to kill Maddox because it literally drove the doctor out of her mind. Sutra is convinced the Admonition is intended for synthetic, not organic, minds. And since she’s apparently (and, one might say, conveniently) a Vulcan culture aficionado, she knows how to perform the Vulcan mind-meld — which she does with Jurati, in order to experience the Admonition herself.

What she receives is a revelatory message: “The dance of division and replication. Imperfect. Finite. Organic life evolves. Yearns for perfection. That yearning bleeds to synthetic life. But organics perceive this perfection as a threat. When they realize their creations do not age or become sick or die, they will seek to destroy them. And in so doing, destroy themselves. Beyond the boundaries of time and space, we stand. An alliance of synthetic life. Watching you. Waiting for your signal. Summon us and we will come. You will have our protection. Your evolution will be their extinction.”

In his lab, Soong tells Jurati she owes a “great debt” for offing Maddox and grants her the opportunity to repay it by giving a life versus taking one. He’s working on perfecting mind-transfer, suggesting — along with the synthetic body he’s building — that he plans to techno-resurrect Maddox. Later, Rios finds Jurati, who’s staying behind to finish Maddox’s incomplete work. Rios assures her he won’t forget her before they leave.

Having heard Sutra’s (for now mysterious) plan, Soji contends that there must be a means of survival that doesn’t result in so many people dying. Sutra counters that hers is the only way, since “to them, we’re monsters. They call us abominations.” Narek is then dragged in and put in a containment cell overseen by Saga. He tries to trick Saga into dropping his cell’s defenses, but Soji thwarts that ruse. Narek justifies his former attempt on Soji’s life, claiming he still loves her. Soji replies, “I know. What a sad and twisted thing you are. You disgust me, Narek. But not as much as I disgust myself for pitying you.” He says he pities her since the approaching Romulan forces will kill her and everyone else on the planet.

Arcana gives Raffi and Rios a device that will repair La Sirena. Raffi ignores Picard’s prior warning about discussing his condition and, after hugging him, tells him she loves him. “I love you too, Raffi,” he confesses before leaving.

Soji finds Picard in Maddox’s old quarters and engages him in a chat about “the logic of sacrifice” — a topic that lets her obliquely address Sutra’s brewing plan, about which she seems more than a bit uncomfortable. Soji wonders if all killing is driven by fear. Meanwhile, Sutra frees Narek because her need for his services outweighs her desire to end his life. A scream brings Soji and Picard running to Narek’s cell, where they discover that he’s escaped and killed Saga in the process.

This murder is the pretext Sutra needs for her true scheme, which she reveals to a public audience. She argues that humans will always hurt synthetics and that the Admonition wasn’t a warning but a “promise” from “higher synthetic beings” that are watching them. Coded in the Admonition are subspace frequencies needed to contact these higher beings, and Sutra and Soong have designed a beacon to do just that. By using this beacon before the Romulans arrive, they can save the synthetics from extinction.

Sutra doesn’t intend to stop with the annihilation of the coming Romulan horde. She believes the higher beings will unite synthetics throughout the galaxy and help them wipe out the greatest threat to their existence: organic life. Picard naturally doesn’t like the sound of that, saying, “You will become mass murders … You will fulfill their [the Romulans’] prophesy. You will become the destroyer after all.”

Picard pleads with them to abandon this course and escape with him on La Sirena. He also pledges to advocate on their behalf before the Federation. Soong reminds his synthetic compatriots that the Federation didn’t listen to Picard the last time he tried to stop the ban, and it won’t listen to him now. He places Picard under house arrest. Going along with Sutra, Soji tells Picard, “We can’t be your means of redemption. We’re too busy trying to survive.”

Jurati begs to be allowed to stay on Coppelius. Given that Jurati is the figurative mother of the synthetics, Sutra asks her if, like a true mom, she’d die for her children. Jurati says yes, and Sutra believes her.

As Picard is taken away, Commodore Oh’s fleet continues racing toward Coppelius. 

Captain’s Log:

  • Soji may be on board with Sutra’s plan for now, but her misgivings about organic-life genocide suggest she’s going to do the right thing in next week’s finale.
  • Picard’s legendary heroism notwithstanding, his promise to procure Starfleet protection for the synthetics is — in light of his past failure to do just that — pretty weak.
  • The biggest question regarding next week’s season finale: Will we ever understand what Rios sees in the weak, treacherous, murderous Jurati?

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