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Soji finds her way home on a disappointing Star Trek: Picard

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Photograph: Aaron Epstein (CBS Interactive, Inc.)

TV ReviewsAll of our TV evaluations in a single handy place.

Star Trek: Picard had one main thriller left to uncover going into “Et In Arcadia Ego, Pt 1:” the true nature of Soji’s house planet. The promise of a world filled with artificial life-forms, residing in secret with their very own developed tradition and pursuits, had a variety of potential, and whereas little or no on this present has managed to really ship on its guarantees, there was not less than an opportunity “Et In Arcadia” might break the curve. In any case, “Nepenthe” was nonetheless nice; and possibly the flailing of “Damaged Items” was much less about essentially dangerous concepts, and extra about writers who weren’t fairly certain easy methods to cram all the things right into a ten episode season simply shedding their grip on the narrative move.

“Et In Arcadia Ego, Pt. 1”

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“Et In Arcadia Ego, Pt. 1”

Effectively, Picard and the others arrive at Synth Central, and for a couple of minutes, it’s bizarre and type of cool. Soji takes them on a visit by a chronoton discipline to get there, thus bypassing 25 gentle years in lower than 15 minutes. Narek managed to tag alongside in his personal ship, regardless of Agnes destroying the monitoring gadget; however that’s okay, as a result of the Borg Dice arrives a couple of minutes later, as a result of why the hell not. After which big orchids stand up from the planet’s floor, seize all three ships, flip off their energy techniques, and drag them all the way down to the bottom. On reflection, that is extra foolish than the rest, however within the second, it suggests a degree of weirdness I’d need from a present that’s in any other case disregarded best storytelling approaches. If issues are going to interrupt, why not go completely nuts with it. A world of big robotic gardeners. Perhaps that is the place Audrey II got here from.

As an alternative, we get some heartfelt stuff about Picard’s mind issues, and the crew of the Sirena go pop by the Borg Dice for a fast go to, after which, lastly, we see the house of the synths. And it’s… actually the identical as nearly each different “peaceable” society a Trek present has visited prior to now thirty years. Everybody’s wearing flowing, comfy materials, coloured with soothing earth tones, doing yoga workouts or having nice conversations. The structure is all spotless and vaguely Grecian. There’s no actual know-how in sight. Oh certain, among the synths are wandering round in pairs, and some of them have that shiny make-up that the present has determined to make use of to simulate Information’s look from TNG (even though Information by no means regarded like he’d been murdered by Goldfinger earlier than each scene), nevertheless it’s nonetheless lazy and uninteresting.

And that’s an issue, as a result of the entire crux of the present’s two-part finale is on Picard’s efforts to each save the synth colony from destruction and cease the destruction of all non-synthetic life within the universe. A lot of the drama right here comes from the idea that we’ll care what occurs to those life-forms, even when not less than one in every of them seems to be a little bit of psycho. And certain, I’m usually towards murdering individuals simply because they’re bland. That doesn’t imply I’m essentially invested of their destiny. On condition that Picard has already been renewed for a second season, I’m fairly certain that Sutra’s plan to name within the tremendous protectors who narrate Agnes’s imaginative and prescient of Doomsday goes to fail, or on the very least, not achieve the way in which she thinks it should. Meaning the present actually wants us to provide a rattling in regards to the synths themselves, nevertheless it offers us no motive to take action past some bland platitudes and “Keep in mind Information? You favored him proper?”

Talking of Information, Brent Spiner is again, now in Soong kind. In an evidence supplied so blithely and so unquestioningly it virtually has to be a lie, the actor introduces himself to Picard as Dr. Alton Inigo Soong, the son of Noonian Soong, the person who constructed Information. Picard takes this at face worth, presumably as a result of a lot is happening he doesn’t have a lot selection, nevertheless it appears suspicious; Noonian Soong was concerned with a handful of TNG episodes, and nobody ever talked about him having organic kids, though he did construct a duplicate of his spouse who didn’t even know she was a duplicate. I’m going to imagine there’s some type of trickery at work (Alton enlists Agnes in a plan to construct him a brand new physique, which appears suspicious), as a result of the choice is sort of too irritating to countenance—that the writers determined they simply needed to deliver Spiner again, and this was one of the best ways they might handle it.

As for Alton himself, no matter his parentage, he’s not a lot. A number of emphatic, over-written dialogue that lands painfully regardless of how onerous Spiner works to promote it, and no actual motive to care about him past the minor novelty of his existence. The one character in Synth Land to make a lot of an impression is Sutra (apologies if I missed the spelling on any of those), an older synth who appears precisely like Soji, besides with that distracting gold sparkle make-up layered over her pores and skin. She’s clear the chief of the group, and she or he takes the initiative when Soji, Picard, and the others arrive, thoughts melding with Agnes to take a more in-depth have a look at the imaginative and prescient Commodore Oh gave her, after which deciding to sacrifice one in every of her personal so as to persuade her individuals of the need of calling for out of doors assist.

Sutra is the third position Isa Briones has performed on Picard. She was superb within the transient time she spent Dahj, and Soji was kind of the identical character, albeit barely older and in a special context. Sutr is the primary time she’s needed to stretch to be somebody new, and the outcomes aren’t nice. As with Alton, the issue might be extra a failure of the writing than the rest, however whomever is accountable, the outcomes will not be good: Sutr virtually like a distant analog to the Borg Queen—aggressive, mocking, and clearly merciless. It’s a baffling resolution. Sutra finally ends up turning evil by the top, however she’s so clearly a menace the second she steps on display that there’s no weight to her heel flip.

However actually, virtually none of this works. Picard seems to have realized nothing this season, giving a “rousing” speech to try to sway the hearts and minds of the synths that’s extra embarrassing than impressed; we’re reminded that there’s one thing fallacious along with his mind, and that he’s dying, which is an excuse to exploit extra melodrama out of characters we barely know getting weepy on the considered shedding him. (Raffi says “I like you.” What? When? Why?) The return of the Borg Dice is poorly justified, and even when the episode has an opportunity to really deal with the super, terrifying selection Seven made final week, it merely glides previous it, oblivious to the implications. This can be a dumb present now. It was most likely at all times dumb, nevertheless it used to do a greater job of hiding it. Probably the most we will hope for within the finale is a variety of neat wanting particular results, and possibly sufficient of a definitive conclusion that we will persuade ourselves season 2 can be higher.

Stray Observations

  • I legitimately don’t know if Picard goes get a final minute reprieve from his analysis (the remark Troi made about how their son’s illness might’ve been cured in the event that they’d had entry to a positronic matrix is likely to be foreshadowing), or in the event that they’re simply going to string alongside the sickness for one more season, or in the event that they’re going to kill him off subsequent week after which proceed ahead in his reminiscence.
  • Sutra “realized easy methods to thoughts meld.” Positive.
  • In case it wasn’t clear within the assessment (and it most likely wasn’t), when Sutra thoughts melds (sigh) with Agnes, she discovers that the imaginative and prescient the Romulans had been afraid of was really a promise from some mysterious different species that they’d return to guard artificial life when the inevitable battle between synths and natural life arrived. I can not stress this sufficient: that is the plot of Mass Impact 3.
  • It’s a small factor, however characters appearing excessively excited to see one another once more once they haven’t been separated for very lengthy at all times annoys me. Sure, individuals will be sentimental beneath excessive stress, however promoting it like we’re supposed to sit down up and cheer hardly works.
  • Picard telling Elnor he’s “very, very proud” of him can be unearned.
  • The truth that Soong blames the secretiveness of the Soji/Dahj venture on Maddox is fairly handy character assassination, though it appears doubtless that that is one other signal that one thing isn’t fairly proper. (The truth that Soong later refers to Maddox as a “small, shiny candle within the darkness” suggests somebody isn’t protecting his story straight.)
  • Picard is positioned beneath home arrest. They virtually arrest Agnes as effectively, however she makes an impassioned plea to proceed working with Soong. Isn’t that simply an arrest in a special home?
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