Amazon UK TV review: Star Trek: Picard: Season 1, Episode 9 (Et in Arcadia Ego pt.1)
Chris Bryant | On 24, Mar 2020
Having escaped the chaos of Episode 8’s reckoning, Jean-Luc and co. arrive at Soji’s famed home world – Coppelius. With the Romulan’s not far behind, the crew must put together a plan to deal with the incoming threat, and convince the synths to join them.
This new Star Trek series manages, in its ninth episode, to follow a disappointing chapter with a messy one. Opening on a spectacle involving shootouts, Borg cubes, and galactic flowers, Et in Arcadia Ego falls more or less flat the moment it hits solid ground. There’s simply too much information to process given the 44-minute running time. The entire episode feels like the optional recap at the beginning of the next, jumping from one expositional milestone to the next with no pause for emotional connection.
The audience are forced past hints about Picard’s health, a nostalgic cameo and the looming prospect of annihilation. The episode primarily revolves around the awkwardly eerie mistrust that develops between Sutra (an advanced version of Soji), Picard, Soji, and a captured Narek. Sutra’s theories about The Admonition (that it was never designed for “organic” minds to perceive) appears to be the central idea, but the lack of focus in the plot allows the idea to be brushed aside in lieu of contrived over-dramatisation. In an episode where our crew are facing certain death and discovering a whole new race, it seems unnecessary to inject so much cheap tension when the real deal is so readily available.
Narek’s arrival is the only portion of the episode that provides genuine depth of feeling. Begging for forgiveness, apologising for his methods, Narek’s talent for weaponised empathy shines and cements Harry Treadaway as the real highlight of the series so far.
A chapter without a clear direction, it’s somewhat ironic that Picard’s penultimate episode is steeped in inorganic emotions given it’s a show obsessed with the dangers of the artificial.
Star Trek: Picard is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription. Episodes arrive every Friday, within 24 hours of their US debut.
Captain’s Log (Spoilers)
– An episode packed with odd choices also appears to lead us directly to the agenda the “bad guys” have been pushing since the synth rebellion that kicked off the whole story. It’s possibly poetic, but also comes as somewhat of a confusing disappointment. Jean-Luc, in all his diplomatic glory, more or less sits out the episode in which diplomacy is most vital, leaving Sutra’s belief that synths are superior to lead the way.
– With Narek’s release, it would appear that a war between synths and Tal Shiar is inevitable (assuming his declarations of love for Soji were a survival tactic and not the truth) but also that Jean-Luc may well end up on the wrong side of it, having effectively delivered a version of The Admonition to Sutra himself.
– Picard’s call for “first contact” may well be the crew’s only hope, provided the Federation are willing to listen to him this time.