[This story contains spoilers for season one, episode nine of Star Trek: Picard, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1.”]
The secret war brewing between vengeful Romulans and the androids they despise is at a tipping point — and Picard (Patrick Stewart) is the only one standing between them and the galaxy’s end.
So, no pressure or anything, as the retired and somewhat jaded Starfleet officer finds himself once again on the frontlines of a conflict threatening to upend the Federation’s entire existence as Star Trek: Picard‘s debut season culminates in what appears to be an epic season finale March 26. But, with the Romulans, not all is what it seems as Picard and his ragtag crew discovered in the first half of the finale, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1.“
The episode gets into an ancient, apocalyptic prophecy that the Romulans believe predict a new new advanced synth — Soji (Isa Briones) — who would result in the end of one species and the rise of another. The episode also showed us that the androids Picard thought he was coming to save are more antagonistic than we were lead to believe — thanks to the manipulative efforts of Soji’s “evil twin” that have put the galaxy on the brink and put Picard back again on the frontline to save it.
Before next week’s finale airs, here’s everything you need to know about how Picard and its central conflict got this far:
What Is The Admonition?
In episode eight, “Broken Pieces,” The Admonition is revealed to be an ancient prophecy the Romulans learned about on a remote world, with the help of what looks like a round table made out of green lazers that has the ability to help hooded Romulan operatives see the future — or a possible future.
These operatives that have gathered here (all women) are the Zhat Vash — think the Romulans’ super secret police. And the Admonition serves as a pilgrimage of sorts for them — which, for the audience, explains why the Romulans of Star Trek: Picard violently hate all synthetic and android life. To the point where some Romulans would even go so far as to kill their own people to save them from potentially being killed by those they hate. “Broken Pieces” posits that that hatred originated more than 200,000 years before the start of Picard, when a flashpoint in the evolution of synthetic life brought about some sort of “clean slate” event that wiped out most of all organic life.
The fallout of this near-genocide lead to the survivors creating a warning in the form of the Admonition. They somehow brought eight suns together around a planet known as Aia, AKA “The Grief World.” (This configuration is represented in the ringed shape seen throughout the series.) On Aia, a machine (that lazer table) was erected to serve as a Google Drive of sorts, one capable of archiving the details of that terrible event from eons ago and allow future organics to access it to fend off the next generation of synths from doing it again. The Zhat Vash learned of it and sought it out. The images downloaded to their brains drove most of them insane — minus Commodore Oh and Lt. Rizzo, another Romulan spy posing as a Vulcan working in Starfleet Security. Their apocalyptic vision quest galvanized them to make it their mission in life to prevent synthetics from ever peaking again.
Their efforts inspired them to seed Romulan culture with a deep hatred of androids, after they removed all records of Grief World and its eight suns from known star charts.
“Arcadia Ego” implies that their conviction ran so deep, that Romulans seemingly conspired to sabotage their people’s relocation efforts to Mars following the supernova that wiped out their homeworld. The relocation effort that Picard spearheaded and, when it failed with over 90,000 lives lost, sent the broken hero into hiding. But, as we learned in part one of the season finale, there’s a sizable catch. And a problematic twist.
Enter The Destroyer
The Destroyer, Soji, is basically Picard‘s version of Ghostbusters‘ Keymaster and Gatekeeper.
She is the vessel supposedly prophesied in the Admonition to bring about both an android evolution and revolution — the goals of which are nothing short of violently wiping organics (especially Romulans) from the universe. And our only hope? A 90-plus year old retiree and vineyard owner with a degenerative and fatal neurological condition who once commanded two of the greatest starships and crews in sci-fi history and his band of ex-Starfleet officers whose demons have demons. And they’ve brought their friends.
As Picard finally arrives at Coppelius, the advanced androids’ homeworld, he and Soji encounter two key characters with links to their past that will reshape their futures. Dr. Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner), the biological son of Data’s creator, Dr. Noonien Soong, introduces himself to Picard as a “mad scientist.” Altan and Starfleet’s leading android expert, the late Bruce Maddox, worked together to create sisters Soji and Dahj, as well as all the other pairs of androids that call Coppelius home. Altan is working on a new synth project that is incomplete when Picard arrives, but seems to be set up to play a key role in the final moments of the season.
Altan and Maddox also created Sutra (Briones), the sister of the late Jana model that Rios encountered in a fateful first contact mission aboard the starship ibn Majid.
Sutra seemingly hates organics as much as the Romulans hate her. With her mastery of Vulcan ways, thanks to her post-biological and advanced intelligence, she mind-melds with Agnes (Allison Pill) to access the Admonition that Oh shared with her. Here, we learn that the message and warning wasn’t necessarily intended for organics — it was for synthetics.
Her mind meld convinces her that since the Admonition drove organics insane, it must have been meant for a synth’s mind to process. She sees it as a message sent from “beyond the boundaries of time and space” for her kind, arguing that the warning translates to “your evolution will be their extinction.” This revelation makes it so that Sutra, not Soji, is the Destroyer — especially after she lets their Romulan prisoner kill one of her fellow androids to justify her vendetta.
Sutra’s mind meld reveals that whatever entity established the Admonition is a sophisticated alliance of synthetic life with a mandate to monitor time and the galaxy for when the call comes to light the fuse on the end of biological life. Especially humanoid.
“Ego” tries to have it both ways, however, in that Sutra and the Zhat Vash are both right about how they interpret the message. An extinction-level event is coming for either of the messages’ recipient, with organic life at the most risk, especially with over 200 Romulan warbirds on the way lead by Oh.
We’ll see who is left standing when Star Trek: Picard‘s season finale premieres Thursday.