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Star Trek: Picard - Et in Aracadia Ego Parts 1 and 2 - Reviews: An Ending and a Beginning

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*NOTE – This review may contain spoilers.

In my first review for Star Trek: Picard I made the case that this show was not and was not going to be the same Star Trek we knew. The recent airing of the thrilling two-part season finale, Et in Aracadia Ego -Parts 1 and 2 made me believe that more than ever. The intense end of the show’s first season brought us, if you will excuse the pun, the best of both worlds. To oversimplify the plot, our ragtag crew of the La Sirena led by Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has found their way to the synth home-world of Coppelius with the intent of warning them of the approaching Romulan attack and convincing them they were there to help. And trust me, that is an oversimplification thanks to the many involved storylines interwoven. Suffice it to say they took the best parts of the old (themes of honor, courage, the quest for life and sacrifice and interstellar space battles) and combined them with the new (the definition of life, the passing of the torch to new and intriguing characters) to create something very entertaining and special.

I’m going to focus on what I liked and did not like, and yes there were some things that did not work. I am willing to forgive some of the plot holes and contrivances because the acting was just so incredibly good. And naturally at the top of that list is the magnificent Patrick Stewart. Here, he showed us everything that Jean-Luc Picard was and always has been, a man of conviction, a diplomat, and a leader. He gave us one of the most convincing and heart-breaking death scenes as befitting the character. Jean-Luc Picard completed his hero’s journey this season and died a noble death while sacrificing his life to save Soji (Isa Briones)’s people. That was one of the riskiest things the show did, they killed their lead character only to find a plausible way to bring him back so his journey could continue. And it was only fitting that some of his finest moments were with guest-star Brent Spiner as both Dr. Soong and Picard’s beloved Data.

Speaking of Briones, she gave what I consider one of the breakout performances of the season in these episodes. Not only was she stellar as the gentle but conflicted Soji, but she convinced us it was two different actresses as she took on the persona of Sutra. As Sutra, she possessed an appearance that reminded us from whence they came, the core of Data, and yet had that calculating and almost evil persona in a way we’ve not seen since Lor. And if that wasn’t enough, she made her presence felt in the final touching scenes between Picard and Data as the voice of the singer in the background singing, Blue Skies during Data’s final moments.

I’ve made it no secret that one of my absolute favorite things about Star Trek: Picard was the return of Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine. They found a way, a big way of making her part of the finale and it pays off in a big way. Her character piloted the Borg artifact through space to follow and assist Picard, then had her taking charge of the XB’s (ex-Borg) on the ship, although it’s never clearly explained why she ultimately leaves them to travel through space with Picard and crew in the end. She was a total bad a** in dispatching Peyton List’s evil Romulan, Narissa, getting revenge for the death of her friend, Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco). Yet, she was equally effective in her quiet moments with Picard and later joining Rios (Santiago Cabrera) in a toast to life and Picard. I also really liked the chemistry and the mentor and mentee relationship she was building with El Nor (Evan Evagora). If they wisely decide to honor the fans’ wishes and give Ryan her own show, please consider having Evagora by her side as El Nor, they made a great team. I am glad they gave us indications about addressing Seven’s sexuality, although I am not thrilled in the way it was done. It has been widely reported that Seven was to have always been gay and had to be downplayed in Voyager so it was refreshing to see Star Trek: Picard deal with it so matter of factly. My problem with it was that her connection to Raffi, shown by a brief scene in the ending moments seemed to come out of the blue, without any context or previous indications of interactions between the two. Hopefully, that will be more fully addressed in Season 2.

Alison Pill also made me care more about her character as she showed there was so much more to Agnes than the bumbling scientist and killer of Maddox (John Ales). She gave us a smart and brave Agnes who figured out a way for Picard to live; calculated, manipulated and executed a plan to help Picard escape from the synths who had placed him on house arrest; and then assisted him on his virtual suicide mission aboard the La Sirena to stall the Romulan attack until Starfleet could arrive. In two episodes she convincingly took us through so many sides and emotions of this character and gave her the redemption she needed for earlier actions. She was fierce, compassionate, feisty (I am NOT their mother!), brave and clandestine.

Michelle Hurd’s Raffi had standout moments as well. She was at her best bantering with Rios trying to fix the ship with the unusual synth technology, but also touching in her good-bye scenes with Picard and consoling young El Nor after his death. But please, one thing I do NOT care to see this character continue to do in Season 2 is continuing to call Picard, JL! I know it is meant as a term of endearment, but to me, it came across as jarring and disrespectful every time she said it.

Visually the final episodes were stunning masterpieces with the La Sirena’s first encounter with the space orchids and the final battle between Starfleet (whose arrival was timed perfectly and of course had to be led by a swashbuckling Captain Wil Riker-Jonathan Frakes) and the Romulans. The music was exceptional as well and it was only appropriate the season came to an end with Picard on the bridge of a ship and uttering that iconic command, Engage as the original Star Trek: Next Generation theme swelled to a crescendo behind him. The perfect way to bring this season to an end and set us off toward a second season of the exceptional Star Trek: Picard.

As we await that second season, it is my sincere hope that some of the lingering questions left by the finale are addressed. Questions such as, what happened to the XB’s? Did Seven and El Nor abandon them or did they leave them in the care of the inhabitants of Coppelius? Will they address more of Seven and Raffi’s sudden relationship? And perhaps the biggest question of them all, Will they show us more of Picard adjusting to his synthetic body? Do they reveal his identity to others, or will that be a shared secret among the crew? Since they mapped his mind and consciousness, will this be the same Picard we’ve come to know or will there be something more?

I know this wrap-up couldn’t cover every aspect of the wonderful season finale of Star Trek: Picard. What are your thought on the first season of the show and how they brought it to close? Share them in the comments below.

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