Thursday, March 26, 2020

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Sacrifices Everything to Secure a Better Future for All in 'Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard - Episode 1.10 "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2"

A final confrontation on the synthetics' home world, Coppelius, pits Picard and his team against the Romulans, as well as the synths who seek to safeguard their existence at all costs.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season finale of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard.

"Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2" was directed by Akiva Goldsman with teleplay by Michael Chabon and story by Michael Chabon & Akiva Goldsman

Jean-Luc Picard had to go on one last adventure in order to find peace in life at the end of his 94-year journey. He saw a world with his increasing irrelevancy. He was punished for believing his words could still inspire thousands to take action. And yet, he is the one who makes the profound sacrifice here to ensure a better future for the entire galaxy. There has long been a sense of finality to the story this season for Picard. He knew before he embarked on this journey to save Data's daughter that he could potentially die because of his brain abnormality. That all comes to its deadly conclusion here. He has to prevent the Romulan invasion of the Synthetic home planet while also preventing Soji from contacting the ominous Synth creatures that lurk out there in the universe. He saw all this chaos and destruction that was targeting each other and could end all of civilization in the process. He knew he had to do whatever it took in order to avoid that at all costs. Soji condemned him because he refused to allow others to have choices in their lives. They had to abide by whatever he demanded of them. And yes, the show made it clear to see Soji's point because Picard has been very self-involved throughout the season. The entire La Sirena crew is made up of individuals on their own personal journeys. Those just never got fleshed out in a meaningful and rewarding way. They had their own reasons for going on this mission with Picard. In the end though, they just have to be the requisite crew for the emotions of the story to swell and feel earned. They lose that personal agency by the conclusion of the finale. It's all in service to whatever Picard demands. It means it's just confusing to watch as Narek teams up with Chris, Raffi and Elnor to stop Soji from completing the signal. They fail in that endeavor. They try to prevent it through force. That is the wrong way to approach that. Picard appeals to her inner humanity. He knows that she can step away from her prophecy as the Destroyer. That doesn't have to be the fate designated for her. She can have so much more in life. Of course, the show makes the narrative demands very contained. That makes the end result very restrictive. Apparently, Soji is the only person on the Synthetic home planet who can make that decision in the end. She is the one who decides to cut off the signal before the Synth creatures can complete their transit. The Romulans are forced away because Riker arrives backed with a Starfleet army. Picard held his own in space while also knowing this will be the end for him. The Romulans leave despite Oh believing this will be the end for them if they do nothing. The Zhat Vash has lived for centuries under that assumption. As such, it's hard to totally accept that they just believe the worse has been averted because the decision was made at one point in time not to alert this other species out there. That has to be the end though because the season wants to focus more on the characters it cares about. That is largely Picard and Data though. Picard dies. The show then goes through the motions of making the crew and the audience believe as if this has truly happened. Seven, Raffi, Elnor and Chris mourn the loss while Soji, Jurati and Soong are working at the same time to bring Picard back through a Synthetic body. It's absolutely insane and manipulative. The show hopes to be a rousing celebration of a group of people coming together to overcome the worst obstacles out there in the known universe. However, it's mostly empty as a resolution. The plot comes to its conclusion. Picard makes a sacrifice. And then, the weight of that decision is absolutely meaningless a few minutes later. Picard's new body has nothing special to it. He isn't immortal. He doesn't have powers that humans can't fathom. He is simply going to die whenever he was suppose to without this brain condition. That undercuts the message that humanity has purpose because it comes to an end no matter what. That's what Data asks from Picard. He can connect to humanity in that regard by letting his journey finally come to an end. Picard gives that to him. And then, Picard and company head off to the great unknown. They do so united as a crew. And yet, there is no real reason why they should stay together. It's mostly because of narrative demands and the need to create a cohesive ending. It's forced and doesn't make much sense. The character work was severely lacking this season. It doesn't even work when Picard dies because there is always the certainty that some twist is going to happen. That twist just doesn't do much to shake up the foundation of what his life has been, what he had accepted at the end and what the future could be now that he has one.