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Star Trek Picard Season 1 Episode #09 – Et in Arcadia Ego: Part 1 Review

5 min read
In some weird way this felt like the weakest of the episodes this season to me
© CBS All Access

Prepping for the finale.

What They Say:
Following an unconventional and dangerous transit, Picard and the crew finally arrive at Soji’s home world, Coppelius. However, with Romulan warbirds on their tail, their arrival brings only greater danger as the crew discovers more than expected about the planet’s inhabitants.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With events barreling forward at a pretty good clip recently, especially once things dealt with the sidebar on Nepenthe, Star Trek: Picard is getting a lot accomplished. At the same time it feels like the episodes are a bit lighter on content in a way even though that’s not exactly true. There’s a lot going on here but the forward momentum keeps you from really savoring and digging into it like we did with earlier episodes. It’s not exactly feeling superficial but it feels like there should be a bit more depth to it given how it’s operated so far. Picard’s dealing with the death of Hugh is a couple of lines at best and then moving on, which is not going to please a lot of fans considering how many disliked his being killed off like that.

The arrival on Coppelius has a lot of excitement to it but we have to deal with some space battles first. These continue to be fun but it’s the kind of anything goes thing in terms of movement and how it flows. I do like the differences in how the ships operate, such as with Rios and the whole virtual aspect, as it’s a nice upgrade from the shows of the past and a natural expectation. The fight with Narek has a few little twists to it but the whole thing gets surreal when the Artefact Borg Cube comes bursting through the same shortcut that the two smaller ships used. It’s surreal in watching it burst through and they really captured the scale and just how massive it would look. Of course, we don’t get to deal with a lot of this for long because Soji’s people on the surface are getting involved now, sending up their strange orchid defenses that de-power everyone and drag them down to the surface. Difficult enough for a smaller ship, really difficult for something like the Borg Cube. I do like the idea of the cube taking up residence on this world as it would really be something different.

Events on the surface, once we get there, are kind of all over the map. We get Picard admitting his situation to everyone after Jurati uses an old school tricorder on him since he passed out during the trip through the atmosphere. That really gets to Raffi as she’s definitely got a lot of love for Picard but I’ll admit I’m still not completely sure it’s true romantic love and that Picard, who returns her sentiments, truly feels the same way. With them having to go to the colony where Bruce Maddox operated out of being one way, they opt to check in on the Cube first and are delighted to find not only Elnor but Seven of Nine there. And that lets them do some long range scans to see there are 218 Romulan Warbirds on the way. It’s all in service of setting up for the finale with the scale of events and tension, which can build since it’s at least a day or just a bit more away.

The colony itself, when we get there, reminded me of a lot of classic Trek worlds where people have a kind of innocence about them. Lots of synthetic twin sets running around, the twin of Jana as well, who becomes out conduit of knowledge since she feels a kinship to Soji as she and Dahj are basically the same. I do like the gold tinge to many of them as it feels like the Data days given its own little quirk. But that’s also where we get some fun that’s glossed over far too easily. Brent Spiner gets to play Dr. Song’s son in this, which is what Data was modeled after. So he in essence gets to show Picard what a human Data would have looked like years later. It’s a little meta and a little silly but I’m just glad Spiner got to be involved in this without having to try and force things that might not work so well, and just to unnerve Picard a bit.

Again, much of what’s here is to set up the final and the final minutes work toward putting everyone in the places they need to be. The meat of this episode for me is seeing Soji’s cousin of sorts in Sutra, who gets filled in on events and figures out the truth of the Admonition quickly. It wasn’t a warning to humanoids to stop synthetic life but rather a message from synthetics that have moved beyond the galaxy who will come when called. It was a message that Jurati couldn’t understand, just a garble of images, but Surta’s use of the Vulcan mind-meld lets her see the message and truly understand it. It’s definitely an intriguing avenue to explore in the coming seasons and I like that this can really work a kind of larger scale. And since I’ve long enjoyed science fiction novels that have dealt with older species that have “uplifted” to something greater, having them come back to help another species advance forward is definitely intriguing if it can really dig into the science fiction of it and not just the superficial stuff.

In Summary:
In some weird way this felt like the weakest of the episodes this season to me and some of that is because it’s so blatantly a “part one” and it reminds me of far too many other Star Trek part one stories. They’re all buildup without enough meat or payoff to it. And that definitely felt the case here, though there’s definitely good material within it. There’s a lot I’d love to know about Coppelius but so much of the potential of the place and its inhabitants is being streamlined in favor of the tension of the Romula attack that’s coming, providing the big action material that a lot of viewers have been craving since the start.

Grade: B

Streamed By: CBS All Access

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