Warning: This Star Trek: Picard article contains MAJOR spoilers through the Season 1 finale.
When the La Sirena warps into the great unknown at the end of “Et in Arcadia Ego Part 2”, you could make a strong case that Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard needs a new title. Though the first season of Picard certainly told the tale of how Jean-Luc got caffeine back in his Earl Grey mojo, it also, for the first time, took a very detailed look at the story of how a crew in the Final Frontier comes together. But what does the ending of the Picard Season 1 finale mean?
Put on your La Sirena seatbelt, and put down the snakeweed pipe, let’s assimilate the biggest moments from the season 1 finale of Star Trek: Picard, before we deactivate this simulation in favor of another one. Engage!
Like Will Riker cooking a pizza, let’s start with dough, and work our way up to the delicious (and alien) toppings…
The Zhat Vash and the Romulans were defeated, but not destroyed?
In classic Star Trek fashion, the enemy isn’t defeated by a giant explosion. After proving that the Synth planet is under the protection of the Federation, Riker, Picard and Soji are able to convince the Romulans to pack up and go home. But why? Wasn’t Commodore/General Oh so fanatical that she would do anything to destroy the “nest” of Synths on the planet below?
Well, it turns out, interstellar laws are a bigger deal than we thought. Picard sent a message in the previous episode, which gave Riker proof that the planet is retroactively under Federation control. This means, legally, the Romulans can’t destroy it without going through the Federation first. Although Oh initially thinks about ignoring this, and briefly orders her ships to fight, she changes her mind, and eventually, after Soji destroys the beacon, takes her fleet and goes home.
On some level, this echoes what Narissa said in “Nepenthe” — she wasn’t able to kill Hugh unless the treaty had been violated. The Zhat Vash might disregard borders and laws in the pursuit of their anti-robot crusade, but it seems the Romulan government as a whole isn’t going to be too reckless. None of this is weird. Unlike the Klingons, the Romulans don’t want an open war, they want power. And as countless TNG episodes proved (like “The Enemy”), they also know when it’s a good time to call it a day.
What happened to Narek?
Notably, the episode ends with two of the three big Romulan baddies still alive. In fact, we have to assume that Narek must have been beamed back up by the Romulans before they warped out. Otherwise, he’s still down there chilling in what Raffi so perfectly calls “Synth-ville.” That said, Narek is shifty, and also called himself a “Zhat Vash wash-out,” meaning, the other Romulans might not be people he actually wants to be around right now. Will we see him again? For Soji’s sake, let’s hope not.
What about the Ex-Bs?
At the end of the episode, we see Seven of Nine seemingly joining the crew of the La Sirena. But what about all her Borg friends on the planet below? It’s not entirely clear, but it seems like a decent amount of time passes between the moment Picard gets his new android body and the very end of the episode. In other words, it’s not like Picard got the new android body, deactivated Data’s program, and then rounded up the crew and got back on the La Sirena in like the same day. There’s an implied passage of time here, which also helps to explain Seven and Raffi’s budding romance. Presumably, everyone (including Rios and Jurati) have had time to get a little cozier.
So. We’ve got a gap here. Maybe a month. Maybe a few weeks. It seems reasonable that in that time, someone from the Federation-backed Borg reclamation project showed-up to help out the Ex-Bs. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up sharing that planet with the Synths! It’s big enough!
You could argue that Seven is a bad Borg mama for leaving the Ex-Bs behind, but from a legal standpoint, she’s not part of the Borg Reclamation project, nor does she really want to be. If the Ex-Bs were in good (legal) hands it seems feasible and reasonable that Seven would take off.
Why did Data die? Why was Data alive?
In many ways, after Picard dies, and finds himself in the “massively complex quantum simulation” with Data, the episode becomes, in part, a direct sequel to Star Trek: Nemesis. At the end of that movie, after Data was destroyed in the explosion that took out Tom Hardy’s evil space ship, we learned Data downloaded his memories into B-4, his slightly less smart android brother.
In the first episode of Picard — “Remembrance” — Jurati tells us that B-4 eventually stopped working. But, in that same episode, she also explains that Data’s “mind” could have been reformed from a single neuron. So, this is exactly what happened: Bruce Maddox took a neuron out of B-4’s robot brain, and used it to create the “massively complex quantum simulation.”
Basically, Data’s brain has been living in a kind of android version of The Matrix, which is obviously, slightly depressing.
What about those Uber-Synths?
The huge coalition of all-powerful Synths never actually makes it out of their weird vortex, but we did get a glimpse at mechanical, snake-like creates ready to destroy everything. In theory, the idea of super-advanced A.I. has been lurking around in Star Trek for a long time. Nomad merged with some kind of advanced A.I. in “The Changeling,” whie V’Ger was a massively intelligent A.I. cloud that co-opted an old Earth probe. And of course, Discovery introduced Control, a hugely intelligent A.I., which, at one point, was fated to destroy the future. Control can, of course, travel through time and has an antipathy toward the Federation in specific.
Could the Uber-Synths return in Picard Season 2? In Discovery Season 3? It doesn’t seem likely, but then again, like Zhat Vash, they weren’t actually destroyed, just sent back to their space lair. Soji and Sutra were able to build a beacon, meaning somebody else could, right?
Picard is a Synth now. What next?
Obviously, the biggest change to the mythos of Star Trek is that after this episode, Jean-Luc Picard is now a synthetic lifeform. Granted, he’s a pretty specific variety, complete with a homeostasis program that will allow him to “age” and, eventually, “die” a “natural” death. Back in the day, Picard only had an artificial heart, now he is literally more machine than man, but unlike a creepy cyborg plotline, this is good news.
In some senses, nothing has actually changed. Picard’s android resurrection is merely a complicated Star Trek version of a glow-up. He doesn’t have his pesky brain abnormality threatening to kill him at any moment, but other than that, he’s pretty much the same person he always was. The question is — who is he going to tell? The end of the episode seems to indicate that Jean-Luc is proud of the fact he’s a Synth, like Soji, but who knows? Could this get tricky if he tries to work with Starfleet again?
La Sirena crew—assemble!
It’s not clear what the mission of the new crew will be, but after ten long episodes, everyone is actually all in the same spot. More than any other Star Trek before, this means that whatever happens to this crew next is wide open. They aren’t part of Starfleet, they don’t have specific rules they have to follow. They can literally do anything and boldly go, where no motley crew has gone before.