Star Trek: Picard Review: “Et in Arcadia Ego,” Parts One and Two

Picard and his associates reach their destination: a colony of Synths presided over by a descendant of Noonien Soong. But will the Romulan fears about the colony prove legitimate?

Will our ruthless enemies turn out to be the heroes?

Assume serious spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

Et in Arcadia Ego, Parts One and Two

Cast and Crew

Directed by Akiva Goldsmith
Written by Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, and Akiva Goldsmith

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard
Isa Briones as Soji and Sutra
Alison Pill as Dr. Agnes Jurati
Evan Evagora as Elnor
Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker
Santiago Cabrera as Cristóbal Rios
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
Santiago Cabrera as Cristóbal Rios
Brent Spiner as Dr. Altan Inigo Soong / Data
Harry Treadaway as Narek
Peyton List as Narissa
Tamlyn Tomita as Commodore Oh
Jonathan Frakes as Will Riker
Kay Bess as La Sirena Computer
Brian DeRozan as Romulan Officer
Jade and Nikita Ramsey as Arcana and Saga
Matt and Mark Perfetuo as Rune and Codex

Premise

Picard and his associates discover a planet inhabited by Synths, who may be trying to awaken a threat to all organic life.

High Point

The series borrowed from other fantastic genres and franchises—a little too often—but, in the end, it gave us Star Trek, with action, characters, and theme. It’s worth building towards an Arcadia, a Utopia, even though you won’t achieve it. The original series espoused some worthwhile values. We should support those ideas, especially in difficult times.

The other themes, related to synthetic life, identity, and the purpose of existence, are certainly worth exploring, but it’s fair to say other shows (yeah, we’ll get to West World’s new season soon) do a better job of exploring those.

Low Point

The episode and the broader story raise too many unanswered questions. I could handwave away a couple of them. I could offer possible explanations. Cumulatively, however, they press the tale to breaking.

-We have seen numerous super-beings in Trek’s history, many of them clearly organic. Would the ancient Synths be able to overpower all of them? Would they all just sit on the sidelines, munching popcorn and watching? This is an intrinsic problem with a shared universe.

-If the ancient Synths really are that powerful, are we just going to leave them, wherever they are, and not worry about the potential threat they pose? (I grant, they’re not quite what the Romulans believe, but still….)

-The Romulan Empire is in relative ruins, but it can amass the largest Romulan fleet we’ve ever seen to destroy one colony?

-Starfleet couldn’t save more Romulans in the recent past but now, after being less than Starfleet, they amass the largest star-fleet we’ve ever seen to protect one colony?

-We’ve seen androids and synthetic life forms throughout Trek’s history. Why did the Romulans take so long to act? Wouldn’t they have suspected every android of being a potential Destroyer, just to be on the safe side?

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 The space-orchids are interesting. The plan to infiltrate the colony has been used once or twice before:

“Where are you taking this… thing?”

Effects: 6/6 They have done an excellent job of creating the space orchids, crashed ship shots, and a moderately-more-alien-than-average Star Trek Short-Sleeves planet.

Acting: 5/6 Patrick Stewart shines here, making even Picard’s hokier moments work. His final encounter with Commander Data was powerful enough to offset the slow drag of the show’s epilogue.

The rest of the cast try. Some, like Treadaway, are hampered by underdeveloped characters.

Story: 4/6

Production: 6/6

Emotional Response: 4/6 I have grown weary of emotional death scenes that get undercut a short time later.

Overall: 4/6: Jeri Ryan has become a favorite character, something she never achieved for me in her earlier incarnation.

In total, Picard, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Parts 1 and 2,” receive 30/42

3 replies on “Star Trek: Picard Review: “Et in Arcadia Ego,” Parts One and Two”

  1. So, if you’re reading this page, you either already saw the episode or you are okay with spoilers, right?

    • We knew Picard was going to end up in that golem from the outset, didn’t we?
    • I thought Soji was operating a beacon, but the beacon that would let the C’thulhu-AI’s know they were ready to be “rescued” from the organics, but the device on the show seemed to open a portal to the R’lyeh. When she decided to shut it off, she angrily hit the off button, and … it… slowly closed the portal, allowing time for the beefy evil tentacle machines to retract.
    • God-like AI-liens outside of time and space felt very “Classic Trek” to me.
    • It makes no sense that Riker was able to get back to pilot a huge fleet to show up and save the day.
    • I don’t care how little sense it made, it was bad-ass and I loved it!
    • Where did Narek go? I lost track of him after his plan failed.
    • Blue Skies was a great choice, and Data’s Daughter sang it!
    • I feel like this entire show was written so that at the end, Picard is backed up and he decides that is not the way Life is meant to be, and decides to allow himself to die, giving his character a beautiful send off, being the great father figure his character was always meant to be…. but then the producers decided that a Season 2 was happening, so they wrote Data’s appearance in to get a great death scene and gave JL a golem body.
  2. vanyel says:

    I can’t agree with the Emotional Response comment more – that is one of my pet peeves when you know bloody well exactly what’s coming, especially when it’s the title character for the series. I would give it a score of 1 as it overrides everything else in the episode. And much as I like Evan Evagora, I thought the breakdown scene was weak, plus it seemed odd to me that he would wait that long to do so.

    Despite the epilogue and other weak spots though, I think Picard is a great show…

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