Star Trek: Picard: Et in Arcadia Ego: Part 1
March 19, 2020 5:45 AM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

(via IMDB). 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.

(Memory Alpha has a detailed summary up. Spoilers abound!)

Coppelia may be a reference to the ballet. The episode’s title, Et in Arcadia Ego, is a well-known latin phrase drawn from Virgil and used as the title of two different well-known paintings as well as appearing in other works,
posted by mwhybark (85 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Amusingly, the closed-captioning in this episode mistook Surak for Sarek.

We last saw makeup-less Brent Spiner in Star Trek: Enterprise's fourth season as Arik Soong, an ancestor of the other Soongs.

Noonian Soong, creator of Data and Lore, secretly married Juliana Soong in 2328, but they had no biological children, which means Altan Inigo here (is he "prepared to die"?) presumably was born to a previously unmentioned S.O. of Noonian's, and presumably no later than 2328 or so. Altan's apparent age seems to fit.

I noticed elements of Spiner's performance here that were impressively distinct from his characterization of Lore, Noonian, AND Arik.

Lots of obvious setup here for a battle royale in the season finale, but what's more interesting to me is the moral conflict that Soji's navigating. I liked her line about being disgusted with herself for pitying Narek, of course, but her chat with Picard here introduced some good tension that had better pay off in the next one!

(Theory: Picard dies in the next episode but his mind is transferred into the half-finished Soong-synth that Altan and Agnes were talking about, so a new actor can play him in case Stewart doesn't re-sign, and they can keep the series title. I will laugh if they get Tom Hardy)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:06 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

Of all the possible options, "secret son of Soong" is not one I was hoping for.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:49 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

I think my predictions about them wrapping up the plot too quickly are...correct, unfortunately. And the world-destroying synthetic life forms were well over into cliche territory--but maybe they'll redeem that. I did like Soong's deconstruction of the patented Picard Speech, though, which fit very well with the season's themes.

Oh, look, a currently-uninhabited android body! And mind-transfer possibilities! However will they resolve Picard's situation?

You can take out an android with a hummingbird pin to the eye?! That's not good engineering. And an android with Vulcan mind-meld capabilities?!! That'
posted by thomas j wise at 9:55 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]

I love the repeating theme of a Soong living among a society of his own creations that are considered superior to humanity. We saw Arik with his Augments in Enterprise and now Altan with his synthetics here. History doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:28 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Not Tom Hardy, James MacAvoy!
posted by danhon at 11:13 AM on March 19 [15 favorites]

And an android with Vulcan mind-meld capabilities?!! That'

We had a discussion about this in the OfBrazil domicile. My justification is this:
- There is such a thing in Trek as the "psionic field" (VOY: "Persistence of Vision")
- The Vulcans developed a weapon that uses psionic energy (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")
- Many depictions of psionics outside of Trek allow for it (that is, for mental abilities) to interact somehow with technology.

Now, AFAIK, canon Trek never established that Vulcan mental abilities are strictly psionic in nature, but it's a very reasonable (almost said logical) conclusion based on what we do have, and on that basis, I suppose I can accept a hyperadvanced Trek android figuring out how to mind-meld.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:04 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Don't forget, Spock melded with Nomad in TOS and V'ger in TMP. Of course, feel free to argue the ins and outs of those melds.
posted by Fukiyama at 1:13 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

Bringing in James MacAvoy to play a "young" Picard would be hilarious. I can find no fault in it.

Another piece of data for Androids having Vulcan abilities: Data was able to perform the nerve pinch, which may or may not require a Vulcan's touch-telepathy. It was originally conceived by Nimoy as potentially telepathic in nature, even though subsequent series have made it seem more a matter of technique. Anyway, Spock being able to mind-meld with synthetic life certainly lends plausibility to the idea that a synthetic life form might be able to return the favor.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:36 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Picard nerve-pinched  Tuvok  this guy in TNG:  "Die Hard on a Galaxy-class"  "Starship Mine."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:55 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

Cannot get over our folx’ decision to check out the downed Borg Cube in the vain hope of finding survivors before, you know, warning a whole settlement of synths that a Romulan fleet was coming to exterminate them.
posted by adrianhon at 2:20 PM on March 19 [16 favorites]

Aw, when Picard said goodbye to Elnor and Annika (and basically announced their spinoff with that “it’s your job now”) then stepped into the light I shed a tear, which may have been a first for Star Trek for me.

Hated the fatal hummingbird thing though. But it had a certain style anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:32 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Narik saw the hummingbird pin, but that didn't mean he was the one to use it. I think Sutra did that to bolster her hubris. I find it fascinating Sutra needed his services and they seemed of a personal nature...

I found this episode disjointed maybe because of the addition of heavily weighted characters at nearly the end of the series. The naming interests me, who we have left is Sutra=lesson, Soji=administrator.

I hope they have found some hopeful and neat bow to tie this all up with, that leaves a mystery and then a way forward. I adore all the old characters in this series, and the new ones, well I think they have that quality of expendability that runs through Star Trek. The very first Trek was populated with surf rats and ex-cowboy bit players, this new group of instant extras looks like a make-up commercial gone terribly wrong, the rest of the lab rats look like extras left over from a rehash of Woodstock. It seemed too much to take in, the dozen new plot lines generating out of this episode.
posted by Oyéah at 2:52 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

I personally am not interested in a Picard show without Patrick Stewart as Picard. Nor do I want to see Picard die at this particular point in time given current events.

I would love a series with this crew without Picard though. Have Annika join and they can travel the neutral zone and the fringes of Federation territory and help people and forge themselves a family. Once in a while they could take on a job because they need the money - they could be the A Team in space.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 4:13 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

While I can see why androids might be created in the humanoid mold, the head is a terrible place to store critical hardware like a brain-analogue. Even better would be distributed and redundant systems (this is another example of where octopodes had evolved more efficiently than us vertebrates).

The "kill all humans, exterminate!" synths are outside of (our) time and space. They've transcended. Why are they poking around it's old neighbourhood and messing with lifeforms? It's like they're looking for friends to go stomp on bugs for an afternoon.

They're total jerks.


I liked how the Romulans were the good guys (protecting against reavers), then bad guys, then suddenly good guys once again, when the synths go nuts.
posted by porpoise at 7:33 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]

Honestly it seems like the Romulans were actually pretty close in their interpretation of the admonition.
posted by ckape at 9:12 PM on March 19 [15 favorites]

As this is a two-parter I am reserving my judgment til the end- but I will say that spot II tickled my funny bone and I hate "choosing between two terrible options" as a plot point as there is always another choice- which I suspect we will get next episode. I also don't like any plot that's "oppressed class justifies oppression at last second by being terrible" and considering who's involved (Chabon) I have to believe it's a fake out. Also battle ready 7 of 9 in Janeway's muscle shirt is doing very funny things to my insides. So that's a thing about myself I now know!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:14 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

I'm so happy they kept the Soong naming convention. Lore, Data, Saga, and Arcana (IMDB also lists the two males who dragged Picard away as Rune and Codex, but I don't recall their names being spoken in episode).
posted by hanov3r at 9:24 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

- Many depictions of psionics outside of Trek allow for it (that is, for mental abilities) to interact somehow with technology.

With all the references to Patrick Stewart's Other Franchise, I thought that someone would mention Cerebro as a telepathy-interacting/boosting technology--one that, in fact, predates this franchise.

So many things to chew on here, not just the super-synthetics seeming even more Reaperesque, or the self-fulfilling prophecy of the Admonition (it leading the Romulans to try to wipe out synthetics, leading them to try to wipe out organics first). Did Sutra simply decide that they wanted to go with the super-synthetics instead of trusting in the Patrick Stewart Speech [TVTropes] and pre-emptively kill Saga, or set her up to be killed by Narek? What will Narek do at the Artifact? Will it be Picard who is synthed, or Jurati? And is Oh now basically officially a Romulan, given that the preview shows her on a Warbird in a Romulan uniform?

And, above all else, will Spot II join the cast?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:36 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

For real, did they just forget about Juliana Soong? She was a pretty advanced synth, and Noonian transferred her human consciousness successfully, so that’s actually a solved problem that his son apparently doesn’t know about. But if all the other synths were grown from Data’s cell, shouldn’t they know? And Picard definitely knows, he actually knew Juliana and the truth about her....

Otherwise, reserving most judgment until the two-parter is complete.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:34 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

From one of the links in CoB’s first comment:
In a last attempt to preserve her memory, Soong built a new android and transferred his wife's memories into it, using a synaptic scanning technique. He made several modifications from his earlier androids: skin with the appearance of veins, capillaries, tear ducts, and sweat glands. He also included a feedback processor that sent out a false bio-signal, self-adjusting to mimic Human aging.
Seems consequential to the current plot arc. Noonian really left no notes about this super-advanced android and consciousness-transfer technique he invented?
posted by LooseFilter at 11:40 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Am I wrong in assuming that *BIG Spoilery THING* is how Picard the show connects to Star Trek: Discovery the show?
posted by Faintdreams at 1:58 AM on March 20

The big big unspoken question in all this human-mind-into-robo-body stuff being, of course, do memories = consciousness? Perhaps the finale will get into that big big question.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:04 AM on March 20

Michael Chabon has been doing Q&As on Instagram, but that's not the best medium for those who don't have Instagram accounts, so here's a Reddit transcript of the one for this episode. Possible minor spoilers, mainly in regard to refuting some fan theories, in particular one fan theory I haven't seen here on FanFare but had been getting some traction on reddit.

Re: that Q&A, I love that people are still so interested in Laris and Zhaban, when we haven't seen them since Ep. 3. (Although the transcriber doesn't identify the people asking the questions, so those might all be from a single user, I suppose.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:43 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I think Homo neanderthalensis summed it up for me, too - while I'm glad that there actually _is_ a Planet of Android Hats, this episode felt pretty rote. Hopefully the second part justifies it and isn't just 45 minutes of laz0r space fighting and 5 minutes of "and the real admonition was the friends we made along the way!"
posted by Kyol at 7:03 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]

"Also battle ready 7 of 9 in Janeway's muscle shirt is doing very funny things to my insides"

proof, that indeed, you are human.
or a synth.
or any sentient entity with a libido

posted by lalochezia at 7:49 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]

or any sentient entity with a libido

that is fully functional

posted by bfranklin at 9:02 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Android world reminded me of the TOS episodes that involve discovering a space utopia planet, where the utopia looks a lot like a California hippie commune. But their idyllic lifestyle conceals a dark secret! (in this case, Picard brought them their dark secret: they can choose to destroy all organic life to save themselves)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:12 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]

Of course Chabon had to call the empty android body "the golem".

If these space robots/harvesters are able to wipe out all of humanity couldn't they just protect this one little planet or scoop up its inhabitants and leave the meatsacks alone? Maybe golem-Picard will be able to convince them to do the right thing in a way he couldn't convince the Federation or the denizens of synth-planet.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:43 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]

I'm kinda having a hard time with the idea that the Borg cube crashed and wasn't a planet-destroying event like a giant asteroid.
posted by briank at 10:14 AM on March 20 [6 favorites]

I'm kinda having a hard time with the idea that the Borg cube crashed and wasn't a planet-destroying event like a giant asteroid.

Let's just say the giant space orchids slowed it down enough to not do that.
posted by Automocar at 10:19 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]

Yes but how did they launch the orchid pod deploying whatever thing?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 AM on March 20

I liked a lot of this one, and got all giddy when the cube came whadoooming through the conduit, but Sutra telegraphing creepy evil from the second she appeared really bummed me out and made the series seem entirely more ordinary than it has for me up to this point.

It's funny how much this whole series is a pastiche of tropes cribbed from Galactica, Altered Carbon, Blade Runner(s), Westworld, and PKD's more paranoiac episodes and yet it still feels to be of a piece in its own way, but I fear that potential moment of oh-here-we-go descent into grimdark everything-is-terrible-forever counterpoint to the endless field of beige of modern Trek.
posted by sonascope at 11:34 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]

For me, the worst thing about that AI commune was the terrible makeup. Was it intentionally that amateurish and distracting as an homage? Maybe they could’ve shifted some CGI budget away from the cinematic orchid reentry vehicle shots and used digital skins?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:48 AM on March 20

I'm still holding out hope for a classic Trek-optimistic, organics and synths can peacefully coexist, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination style resolution. If not in the next episode, then at least by the end of the series.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:37 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]

For me, the worst thing about that AI commune was the terrible makeup. Was it intentionally that terrible as an homage?
My read on that was that the gold makeup on the actors was meant to represent... gold makeup on the synths.
Soji shows that it's not an essential part of their appearance, it was a pretty weird community, and I can absolutely see it being a place where it's customary for advanced androids to show their pride by wearing gold makeup.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 12:50 PM on March 20 [6 favorites]

a place where it's customary for advanced androids to show their pride by wearing gold makeup

Also makes for good Cyberman repellent.
posted by sonascope at 1:23 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]

Soji shows that it's not an essential part of their appearance

I think Soji might be a different type of android made to blend in more with humans. I'm not sure if the differences are just cosmetic, more "realistic" hair and eyes, or if they are greater. Soji eats and drinks when she "feels" hungry or thirsty. Data could eat and drink. But what happens to the food they consume? I could picture that Data just empties some compartment in him or his body just vaporizes it but wouldn't Soji have to use the toilet in order to maintain her delusion of humanity, or would her programming kick in like it does for her conversations with her mother and she just thinks she went to the toilet when really the food was vaporized inside her? I don't think we'll ever get an answer on this important topic.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:41 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]

I was interpreting the appearance to be showing how Soji is a more advanced (more human-like) android than previous models, the earliest being inherently more disconcerting for their visible artificiality. In that same way, her emotions have more complexity for also being more humanlike.

Interesting the different interpretations!
posted by past unusual at 2:14 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]

Data could eat and drink. But what happens to the food they consume?

Have you seen 'The Great Escape'?
posted by biffa at 2:28 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

I was interpreting the appearance to be showing how Soji is a more advanced (more human-like) android than previous models

In one of Asimov's robot novels the point was made that just because one robot/android was more human-like than another it doesn't mean it was more advanced. The robot that looks like a toaster might be more intelligent and physically capable than one that is indistinguishable from a human. I could believe that Soji might be less advanced than some of the others because trade-offs had to be made to make her pass as human. Especially in a society of only androids.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:36 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

My theory is actually that the Admonition is a trap, of sorts. That there does exist a Synth Alliance, but they left the Admonition as a way to see which Synth societies should not be allowed to join it. Soji will be the destroyer not because she will destroy the human worlds but because she will argue for the human worlds in the end, which destroys the synths willing to kill all humans.
posted by corb at 4:53 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

But what happens to the food they consume? I could picture that Data just empties some compartment in him

Isn't that the way that it usually works?
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:01 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

Otherwise, reserving most judgment until the two-parter is complete.

I'm not reserving judgement. This series had some great ideas and potential but this was awful. I kept reminding myself this is a mainstream show and give it some leeway but this was unbearable garbage. Unearned emotional or character moments galore.
posted by juiceCake at 6:22 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

Okay, so possibly daft question: what was Soji’s mission that she fulfilled? The synths asked if she did and she said yes but I’ve possibly missed what it actually was all along?
posted by liquorice at 6:24 PM on March 20 [6 favorites]

The Pensky File podcast review.
posted by juiceCake at 6:33 PM on March 20

The gold makeup made me think of Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium

"Gather me into the artifice of eternity:
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling"
posted by communicator at 2:39 AM on March 21 [5 favorites]

I just figured the metallic skin was kind of a literal re-skinning sort of thing. Like any of them could switch back and forth between shiny skin and android eyes versus human looking, without too much hassle. Same underlying models. And the shiny ones were as human as the two sisters out in the wild, just shinier and more naive because of differing experiences.
posted by zeek321 at 7:11 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

I know it's probably just a matter of Brent Spiner loving to show up on Star Trek, but I'm just going to assume that Noonian and Altan are actually clones (of clones of clones...) of Arik Soong. In which case, he's probably coming up against that replicative fading thing we learned about in the Space Irish episode. All the more reason to transfer to a synth body (on top of the more acute reason of not wanting to be in an organic body when the organic-destroying supersynths show up)
posted by ckape at 8:26 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]

I don’t know if the Chabon Instagram story Q&As are considered spoilers here, since they only really cover aired material, but he does directly address a question about the synths’ skin in one of his posts for this week (the 3.19 story pinned on his profile; I’m sure it’s in the Reddit transcripts somewhere too), for those who are curious. He also covers the question of what Soji’s mission was.
posted by Kosh at 10:23 AM on March 21

"In my entire fifty-six years on earth I've probably met about fifteen people whose opinions were one of their best features,"
This was a pretty good quote from Chabon.
posted by Oyéah at 11:44 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in to say that that Q&A is not to be missed. Those concerned about spoilers could presumably revisit it after the season finale.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:00 PM on March 21

I've been reading Chabon's Q&A on and off and I do like it, especially for bits of trivia and easter eggs - but I kind of want big things like "What was Soji's mission?" to be able to be inferred from the episode/show itself.
posted by liquorice at 4:29 PM on March 21 [6 favorites]

I hate "choosing between two terrible options" as a plot point as there is always another choice


Other thoughts:

Please, please, please give me Borg Cube Adventures.

Oh my goodness those outfits. Truly, this is Star Trek.

Golem, eh?
posted by curious nu at 8:22 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]

I hate "choosing between two terrible options" as a plot point as there is always another choice

This especially bothered me in this episode because the obvious correct answer, if you're on the pro-wipe-out-all-organics side, is still to do BOTH THINGS. Flee the planet or trigger the 800,000 year old message? Well gee, I dunno, maybe allow for the possibility that when you trigger the 800,000 year old message they might not respond in less-than-24-hours. I mean, they've had all that time to develop new hobbies, or get involved in wiping out all the organics in some other galaxy, or who knows what. So, if you trigger the message and it still takes the super-powerful AIs all of, say, an entire week to get around to wiping out all organic life for you, then oops, you all died to Romulans before your omnicidal cavalry could come. So obviously you should also make plans to evacuate your planet, just to buy some time if nothing else. As we are all feeling probably pretty hyper-aware of right now, when you're faced with an impending disaster on a massive scale, the correct answer is not this one plan, or that one plan, but to pursue literally as many different possible options as you can manage.

That said, I did appreciate both how much less sidelined Picard felt this week, and the very traditional Trekkiness of the entire population of a planet consisting of one relatively small group of oddly dressed people. We'll see how the finale plays out.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:24 AM on March 22 [7 favorites]

Please, please, please give me Borg Cube Adventures.

I would watch any show headlined by this version of Seven, Jeri Ryan has been very convincingly bad-ass (especially if the spin-off included Elnor, great sidekick).
posted by LooseFilter at 12:12 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]

As a follow-up thought, though the plotting has been kind of WHAAAA??? here at season end, the characters have been fully terrific.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:34 PM on March 22

I thought this was the weakest episode so far, with some questionable plot choices and a lot of really clumsy dialogue. Everything with Soji's ex felt clunky and weird, like they'd handed the dialogue over to an intern. Soong Jr. literally said "shame on you" to Jurati for killing Maddox. That's something you say to a misbehaving child, and not to somebody who murdered your friend. I found the android planet surprisingly blah in general, with the weird big orchid defense things (What were those? Were they ships? Robots? Actual giant flying flowers that the androids trained?), the android "society" seemingly consisting of about 20 individuals and even the Soong Jr. reveal feeling strangely underwhelming. I feel like Soji is kind of drifting away from us as a character, as this troubled person we knew starts serenely talking about this world as "home" and renounces her humanity.

I realized something strange about this show, or at least about my reaction to it. I feel like Picard is recognizably Picard, Seven is recognizably Seven, the Rikers were recognizably the Rickers, et al, and all these old characters feel true to the people we knew. But it feels like they all had nothing but bad breaks and ended up sad and cut off from their old friends, it's nothing but worst case scenarios for everybody. (I had the same problem with the Star Wars sequels, only that was a thousand times worse.) Despite having all these Trek characters in it, this show doesn't really feel like Trek to me. It's as if all these people were scooped up and put in a different franchise, one that feels more influenced by stuff like the BSG reboot series than Trek in some ways.

And just like BSG, I fear we may be in the hands of somebody who's a great writer but not a great show runner. Those are two different skill sets. Moore brought us a show that crackled with life and had a lot of great episodes, but it meandered and lurched. (There's an early episode where Tigh is put in charge, and suddenly the volatile, bold idea man is the boss and it's a fucking disaster. In hindsight, I kind of think that's what happened to BSG.) I've liked a lot of what Chabon has done in this show, but I also have this growing feeling that maybe he shouldn't be the one in charge. Like, maybe we needed somebody with a stronger feel for Trek's overall shape. I mentioned in a previous thread that this doesn't feel like a universe where Q could exist, but it also doesn't really feel like a universe where a lot of TNG-era stuff could exist. Honestly, I get more of a Trek vibe from The Orville than I get from this show, and that's just... weird.

I really hope they find some way to save Picard that doesn't involve putting his mind in the robot golem. Just don't go there, Chabon.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:39 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]

Oh shit that’s going to happen somehow isn’t it.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:19 PM on March 22

Gotta add a 'default hegemony' trigger warning: The fleshy galaxy versus "synthetic" life reads to me like TOS (and other great science fiction) with its metaphors reflecting our present times. (I can't watch Westworld because it's blind to monied privilege and power as a metaphor for the structure of USA racism -- but let's not forget it's on panem et circenses HBO.) In Picard, we have a controlling hegemony suppressing their created workers with violence and extermination, and there's a story about those workers having allies who want to wage war on their fleshly oppressors.

This episode took a turn where the default estate of fleshy meatbags might be under threat from their non-person, manufactured workforce. How I feel about my that is coloured by my default cis-het-white-male-educated place in the universe is nudged by being in a post-colonnial former-empirist country.

I'm genuinely okay with ceding power from my privilege (and I get that people as-heritaged but less-priveleged won't be OK). Anyone want to talk about how this reflects upon us?
posted by k3ninho at 3:59 PM on March 22

I think that little thing that was handed to Raffi, the thing that fixes stuff, with the help of your imagination, is likely, quixotically to fix Picard, as well. I don't think the golem is for him. I think it is for the Data comeback, maybe. I know nothing about the next episode, I have no spoilers to offer here, just speculation. I mean, there are so many loose ends to tie up in this finale, I have no idea how they will get it done without using high speed playback and blather dialogue, that goes with it. But, my hopes are high, I love this series! It is not exactly like I live until Wednesday at midnight, ha ha ha, but it is good, something to look forward to.

Having lived in a condominium, I know that we, as a species are capable of horrific evil, via many routes, neglect of our effects on the whole continuum seems to be the worst.
posted by Oyéah at 4:44 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]

Re: Soji and Dahj's mission: Maddox basically explains what their mission was when he's talking to Agnes in sick bay.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:58 PM on March 22

Yeah, long story short Maddox thought the attack on Mars was specifically engineered to get synths banned and he wanted them to go out and find out why. Soji came back with the story of the Zhat Vash and the Admonition, which is the answer Maddox was hoping for.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:38 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]

"Please, please, please give me Borg Cube Adventures."

Yeah, as long as every entrance of the cube has that Inception foghorn sound. It's a cliché, but I'm in favor in this case.

Unfortunately, they crashed the damn thing.

I, for one, loved the orchids. That's the kind of weird tech we should see more of on Trek. But when I saw it, I assumed it was some advanced alien tech and now I'm wondering how Soong and company could be responsible.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:15 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately, they crashed the damn thing

Enh, they’ll make it a Borg Dodecahedron - every post-crash ship redesign just adds greebles.
posted by mwhybark at 8:30 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]

Given that Soji seems to have some of Data's memories (she knew Data loved Picard, for example) and Sutra also seemed to have hints of Data's memories judging by the way she seemed fascinated by how Picard had aged (as if she'd known him when he was younger), I'm guessing Data's mind may be downloaded from them. He may be revived using the golem and maybe he'll be the one to save the day. Is the golem an "organic android," like Soji? That'd be neat, giving Data a body that's a lot closer to human than his original one. This episode didn't really do it for me, but I gotta admit that bringing Data back like that would be a pretty great development.

Of course this show has been renewed for another season, which raises the question of what they'd even do with Data if he was back. I'd love to see a CGI Data having space adventures with Picard, but I suspect he'd just take off somewhere and Picard would be back to this weird thing where he's barely in contact with the old gang at the same time that he seems to be determined to get over his emotional remoteness with all these people we've never seen before. It was sweet when he haltingly told Raffi he loved her. But how freaking devastating would it have been if he'd said it to somebody from TNG?

The more I think about Soji throwing in her lot with the androids, the more it bugs me. It really does remind me of Ronald Moore at his worst, the way his characters could be good people one week and then the next week they'd do something cruel and horrible purely for the sake of drama. (The characters were trapped in a desperate situation and it made sense that they couldn't always be their best selves, but the swings of their morality could be so extreme it gave you whiplash.) Not long ago Soji was desperately clinging to her humanity. Now, overnight, she's happily let it go. It could work if the episode suggested she was in thrall to the society somehow, that she'd been "activated" as part of their group and the Soji we knew was gone. Then there could be an exciting twist where our Soji fights to get control back, or we find out she was faking being on the side of the androids. Instead she just seems like, "Oh, I guess I belong here and these androids are my friends now. Bye, humanity!"

The AV Club reviewer floated a theory that Soong Jr. might be a clone or something. It'd be cool if he was secretly an android, or even Lore, programmed to look as if he was aging just like Data was. But I suspect he's just some son who was never mentioned before. There are a lot of ways this android planet stuff could still be made awesome, but Chabon has a way of going off in some direction that makes me say, "Oh. Well, that's not what I expected, or what I would have hoped for, but let's see where this goes..."

It's not that I really minded the big orchid things in themselves, I was just annoyed that their nature was so vague. Like, we literally don't know if they were sentient organic life native to the planet or just big robot drones shaped like orchids for some reason.

I'm not sure if the Borg are still a threat at this point or not. If so, waking up that cube and Borg-ifying all the XBs seems like it might bring the Borg sniffing around. We shall see...
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:42 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]

The more I think about Soji throwing in her lot with the androids, the more it bugs me.

I didn’t think it was clear that’s what happened, my sense is that she was kind of overwhelmed with finding her home and her people and was kind of a mess because of it. As you say, we shall see, but I’ve been keeping in mind that this was really only half of an episode. (Which is not to say that I won’t be disappointed with its resolution, but that we don’t yet know where Soji will end up.)
posted by LooseFilter at 1:25 AM on March 23 [7 favorites]

Finally watched this and meh, I'm in the camp of this being not what I was hoping for. Like Mr.Encyclopedia said, "secret son of Soong" is really not a great plot device. For that matter to make Maddox such a big thing in the series and then irrelevant in this episode. Same with the Borg Cube; why even bother bringing it to this planet if it's all for one cliche fairwell? If I were Elnor I'd be mad at my agent. Maybe it'll play a part in the space laser show in the finale.

What I really want to know is: what are Maddox and Soong even doing? Look at all those sexy bots, scantily clad, walking around being all alluring and idle and innocently beautiful. The planet of the android hats is a brothel planet. Seriously the costumes and duplicates had a huge Mudd's Women vibe. If you were really serious about building an android civilization wouldn't you put some more effort into androids that can build spaceships? Or androids that can build other androids and research AI? Instead all the two middle aged dudes did was build variants on Pleasure Model Bijou and Hanging Stallion Bruce bots lounging around all day full of ennui and synthmones. Super skeezy.
posted by Nelson at 7:32 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]

The more I think about Soji throwing in her lot with the androids, the more it bugs me

She's probably straight-up lying, no?
posted by zeek321 at 8:24 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]

Super skeezy. One individual's paradise is another's skeez nightmare. Paradise is only spelled one way, but imagined in many different ways. I prefer the over made up mess of this, over the falling on one's face in the presence of deity fantasy, that captivates so many. Soong two is sorta the patriarch of the place, but much weaker than his "children." Though his children seem weakened by the society they live in, since they see one movie out of someone else's head, and decide to become mega homicidal maniacs within a few minutes time. I am hoping for the mega Federation Fleet to appear, and resolution. And maybe this old, old admonishment is just a time manipulation, as it appears to be, since Data is in it, then everyone gets it, and the Romulans fess up to who they really are...

Well, there is always this, as far as endings go!
posted by Oyéah at 8:25 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]

I figured Data was just shown in the admonishment because it was an interactive psychic madlib that picks the most famous synthetic lifeform the admonishee knows of for that shot.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 11:21 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]

It seems the Admonition gets regular OS updates by the still active ancient AI. Maybe they’ll hack it or something next episode.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:44 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

It seems the Admonition gets regular OS updates by the still active ancient AI. Maybe they’ll hack it or something next episode.


Hey, it worked that one time, right?
posted by briank at 1:37 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]

I'd have to watch it again, but IIRC Soji was doing all this, "At last, I am HOME" stuff when the other androids weren't around and she was just talking to Picard and co. I tend to think she will eventually side with the humans again, but the way it's been presented so far sure made it look like she was sincerely into being an android, after weeks of being horrified by the prospect.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:59 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

Not directly related to the series, but this weekend Sir Pat posted this.

It appears he may be providing a sonnet a day. We’ll see. I, for one, appreciate it.
posted by mwhybark at 2:25 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]

I said it a lot in the Disco Trek threads, but

please don't explain the Borg please don't explain the Borg PLEASE DON'T EXPLAIN THE BORG
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:23 PM on March 23 [10 favorites]

The Borg are like the Joker, better without an origin story.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:14 AM on March 24 [9 favorites]

I agree but expect to see that the ancient Romulans created the Borg to fight whoever installed the Admonitoon and it failed miserably so that’s why they went full anti-AI.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:52 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]

The explanation given for the borg in the ST:destiny novel trilogy was VERY GOOD. Not perfect, and without spoilers- essentially the borg are a horrific accident. I'd love it if elements from that novel stayed canon-ish.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:52 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]

didnt the swedish chef create the borg
posted by lalochezia at 3:45 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]

Maybe not, but I just imagined the entire Muppets cast as made up as Borg and singing a monotone “We are Borg” showtune in a big stage cube.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:12 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]

This was the most Trek-like episode of the series, I thought. (Did I like it? Only kinda!)

But if it ends up being the Borg origin story... especially since Guinan will be in S2 in some way... not sure how I feel about that. I’d rather have it tie into Disco, frankly, if it needs to tie into anything at all.

On balance, still reallllly liking this show.
posted by hijinx at 6:22 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]

Ok, so Soji was supposed to verify that that Zhat Vash existed and were after the synths. Maddox sent her on this mission after they attacked his lab, and I guess without telling Soong 3 anything about it. So what was Dahj's mission? She was on her way to work at Daystrom. Why did Bruce send her there? Did he just want to check up on Agnes? And what are the Romulans doing with the cube? That whole operation can't be a cover for luring out Soji and/or Maddox, can it? Did the Lannister Romulan sister imply that they let her aunt be assimilated because they knew her "madness" would shut down the cube? You'd think that with their antipathy to synths, the Romulans would just vaporize the cube ASAP. What is it they're looking for on that cube?

I assumed the ocarina thing the synths gave Raffi was some kind of addiction-eraser for her brain. Also, I assume that Sutra did the hummingbird to the eye because I got instant Lore vibes from her prowling around. Soong 3 and his kingdom of naive bare-midriff android "children" were a bit too Little St James for my taste. Things in the land of the sentient dollies are not as innocent as they appear.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:31 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]

For me, the worst thing about that AI commune was the terrible makeup. Was it intentionally that terrible as an homage?

My read on that was that the gold makeup on the actors was meant to represent... gold makeup on the synths.
Soji shows that it's not an essential part of their appearance, it was a pretty weird community, and I can absolutely see it being a place where it's customary for advanced androids to show their pride by wearing gold makeup.

In TNG, when Data creates his daughter, Lal, he makes her first body gold.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:59 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]

Pursuant to my witticism about a Borg Dodecahedron, it occurs to me the Borg would of necessity have a preference for a spherical base of operations over the canonical Cube due to the maximization potential of utilizable space and superior structural properties. Which leads me to retcon a writer's room brianstorm: Borg cubes are a nick from Star Wars, each one a Death Star. Borg, then, are Imperial military personnell. Which, I suppose, makes Jeri Ryan into Werner Herzog, and that seems kind of awesome.
posted by mwhybark at 2:32 PM on March 31

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