It’s the final episode of Star Trek: Picard’s first season, which is hard to believe. It feels like the world has fallen apart over the past few weeks, but one constant has been that this show has never failed to entertain and delight each Thursday. It’s provided a reliable escape for an hour every week, and I’m incredibly sad that it’s time to say goodbye, at least until the next season premieres.
“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” opens with an extremely cool shot of the Borg cube, as Narek scrambles toward it, eager to enact whatever his plan is. He finds Narissa, and she helps him grab grenades aimed at blowing up the ship-destroying orchids. He heads out and Elnor follows.
Meanwhile, Jean-Luc continues to try and appeal to Soji’s better nature, but he’s not having much luck. It’s hard to blame her here — Soji has experienced quite the trauma at the hands of the Romulans, and now this man she barely knows is asking her to trust him with the lives of all her people. What’s more, Picard can offer no guarantees he’ll be able to save them. While I don’t think she’s necessarily onboard with wiping out all organic life, if she is convinced that it’s a choice between one or the other, she is choosing her own people.
Aboard La Sirena, Raffi and Ríos fix the ship using the contraption the androids handed them, but they’re interrupted by Narek. It turns out our favorite teary-eyed emo Romulan wants to team up in order to stop the synthetics from activating the beacon — and he’s willing to be the bait in order to get them back into the compound.
Dr. Jurati, who’s still a terrible liar, actually manages to play the double agent for a little while, distracting Alton Soong and using Saga’s good eye to break Picard out of his quarters. Once Alton is able to access Saga’s memories and see that it was actually Sutra who murdered his dear daughter, he realizes how they’ve all been manipulated and turns against her. As Agnes and Jean-Luc make their way to La Sirena, the rest of the team (including Alton) works to destroy the transmitter after neutralizing Sutra. Their plan fails, so now it’s up to Jean-Luc and Agnes — one small ship against hundreds of Romulan warbirds.
Seven of Nine finally discovers Narissa aboard the Borg cube, and after a brutal and fantastic hand-to-hand fight, Seven triumphantly pushes Narissa off a ledge. I don’t think any of us were sad to say goodbye to her.
The Romulan fleet arrives with Commodore Oh at their head, and Picard is out of time. After Oh gives us a chuckle by ordering Planetary Sterilization Pattern Number 5 (because of course the Romulans would have multiple planetary sterilization patterns), Agnes uses the famed Picard maneuver to buy some time, and Soji activates the beacon.
And then, in an incredibly rousing moment, Starfleet arrives with none other than Captain Riker — so handsome and resplendent back in a Starfleet uniform — at its head. (Sidenote: Did anyone else cry — I mean gasping sobs — when they saw him and heard The Next Generation theme? No? Just me??)
The discussion during these scenes, where Agnes remarks that there is actually a Picard maneuver (first discussed in The Next Generation episode “The Battle”) and Riker’s incredible banter with the Romulans actually reminded me a bit of the movie Star Trek: Insurrection. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Will in command of a starship, and this was an incredibly unexpected treat to cap the first season.
Jean-Luc makes it clear he’s ready to sacrifice himself for Soji and his people — and he does. After speaking with Jean-Luc, Soji closes the portal just as something that looks a whole lot like Control from Star Trek: Discovery (specifically, the second-season episode “Light and Shadows,” when Control from the future attacks a shuttlecraft) begins to emerge through it. The Romulans, faced with Soji’s choice and Starfleet’s finest, choose to retreat, and Picard says goodbye to his friend, Will Riker.
Then he dies.
When it comes to the emotional core of the episode, Elnor wins. From the simple certainty that “Because I’d miss you” is enough of a reason for Seven to not kill herself (which, it absolutely is, but the innocence with which it’s delivered is so heartwarming) to reminding everyone not to trust Narek because “his sister murdered Hugh,” to his gasping sobs in Raffi’s arms as he mourns the man he thought of as a father, Evan Evagora was in incredible form this episode.
As his crew mourns the loss, Picard’s consciousness has a lovely and simple conversation with Data — or at least, the memories he downloaded into the android B4 before Data’s death in Nemesis. The two discuss their relationship, Data’s death, and the fact that Data knew Jean-Luc loved him, before Data reveals that Jean-Luc’s consciousness was downloaded into a new body. Yes, he’s dead, but Jean-Luc is alive in a new form.
His new android body looks exactly like the old one, and he’s not immortal — Dr. Jurati programmed this new Picard with the same life span that he would have had without the brain abnormality. Before Jean-Luc and his crew set out (with Raffi and Seven coupled up — a sudden development to be sure, but a very welcome one!), Jean-Luc has one more thing to do: terminate Data’s consciousness and allow him, finally, to die. After the ending of Nemesis, we all hoped Data survived in some form through B4. This closure was beautiful and heartbreaking, and it was the send off such an iconic, influential, and meaningful character deserved.
With the first season wrapped up, there are many questions we still have to answer: What will become of everyone’s favorite murder-Romulans, Laris and Zhaban? Will the synthetic life, which is likely much too old to have actually been Control, still seek out Soji and her android brothers and sisters, now that it knows they exist? What will they do with Narek? Will Jean-Luc advocate for the ex-Borg, as Hugh asked? Will they be able to build another body for Alton Soong? WHERE IN THE GALAXY IS DOCTOR CRUSHER? This was an incredibly exciting first season, and I already can’t wait until we get more of this found family.
Swapna Krishna (she/her) writes about tech, science, and sci-fi. She’s a contributing editor at SYFY FANGRRLS and has been published at Engadget, Gizmodo, Mental Floss, the Los Angeles Times, and more. You can find her on Twitter @skrishna.
Star Trek: Picard streams on CBS All Access in the United States, in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and OTT service Crave, and on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories.