Title: Star Trek: Picard Episode 9 – ‘Et in Arcadia Ego Part 1’ Review
Release Date: March 19, 2020
Network: CBS All Access
Genre: Science Fiction
Considering all the work Star Trek: Picard had done to get back on track the last few weeks, we didn’t see episode nine coming. The penultimate episode of the season was … a mess. The show, which has primarily gotten positive reviews from sites around the Internet, has mostly trafficked in nostalgia. Just enough nostalgia that people were willing to overlook some of the many flaws on display.
This new episode “Et in Arcadia Ego Part 1” tread on ground that was lightly plowed before but also took the series in a whole other direction. In doing so, it didn’t stand on its own all that well. We finally got to see what all the commotion was about when it came to the home Soji wanted to return to. We got to meet what was first billed as a kind of utopia where synthetics could all live together in harmony.
Even ignoring that the planet looked more like the island of misfit toys, there were a lot of questions about the point of some of its most interesting features. Then there were the weird motivations of those who lived there, how quickly they changed, and why some of them seemed to naive, while others are evil villains. Then, of course, there was the reappearance of the Borg, an entire civilization that would seem to play a pivotal role in this too so degree. Instead of being at the center of the story yet again, they continued to bit players in the background.
At this point, it is hard to understand why they are still being included in the story of Star Trek: Picard. Was it so that we could be reintroduced to Jeri Ryan’s character? Was that needed, considering she’s also a Fenris Ranger?
The first big question about the decisions being made by Star Trek: Picard writers in this episode popped up almost immediately. “JL” and crew showed up at the planet and were greeted with … giant flowers. Yes, for some reason, the synthetics use giant space flowers to take out visitors who come to their world. These flowers somehow drain the power away from any ship they come into contact with and cause the ships to plummet to the surface.
Those flowers then burn up in the atmosphere, meaning they are apparently one-use tools. The “devices” if they can be called that seem extremely low-tech for a community housing the most high-tech entities in the universe. There was supposed to be a kind of “when you go high tech enough, it goes back to nature” It’s just not entirely clear why this group of synthetic people might not have come up with a defense mechanism that could be used more than once.
There was also the most unexplained part where Picard’s brain was somehow hijacked by “someone” in order to great the group to the planet. He passes out, says hello, and then passes out again. When they meet the “people” on the planet, it’s accepted they somehow put that into his head. I don’t know whether it’s because he has a brain disorder or whether it was just a plot device to show people he had that disorder.
The Plot Twist in Star Trek: Picard
Even when there’s a plot twist to be had in this show, they seem to pull it off as ham-fistedly as possible. It was one that viewers should have seen coming right after the mind-meld. We’ll skip over how a synthetic being was able to pull a mind-meld off because it will never actually be explained. There used to be some understanding that was a uniquely Vulcan practice that had to do with their physiology and brain development, but those lines have been blurred a bit over the years.
What was frustrating to see was just how obvious it was, that was going to happen when they managed to capture Narek all by himself. Of course, there’s still the question of Dr. Soong is banding together to help the evil synthetic’s master plan. Yet, we won’t dive into that too deep either because it appears quite a few people in the Star Trek: Picard universe are quite simply easily manipulated.
Not the way to say goodbye
For most of the season, Star Trek: Picard has been teasing the death of our favorite captain. It’s not clear how they are going to make a second season of the show should he die, but it certainly seems they’re setting up for him to be finished off in the season finale. His “goodbye” to his crew, where he told everyone he was dying and they were supposed to ignore it, was both poignant and watered down.
Part of that was Agnes being far sadder than someone who had just met Picard should be. Especially one who is able to kill so easily. Raffi’s reaction was outstanding. It helps she’s been one of the best characters on the show for the last few weeks. Still, this feels like a terrible sendoff for one of the best characters ever to grace television.
Verdict: After looking like the writers had finally figured out what they wanted the show to be, they are not coming anywhere close to finishing strong. This was one of the worst episodes in the series so far.