This article contains Star Trek: Picard spoilers.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 2
Based on trailers, promotional material, and interviews, Star Trek fans have been made aware that Brent Spiner is back for Star Trek: Picard Season 2, but in an entirely new role, playing a member of the Soong family that we’ve never seen before. After the first two episodes of season 2, we haven’t seen Spiner in this new role, or have we?
In an extremely brief Easter egg toward the end of Picard season 2, episode 2, “Penance,” Brent Spiner’s secret new character is fully revealed. And, it looks like this specific detail is the entire key to the mystery of the altered timeline.
Around the 42:40 time stamp in this episode, just before we get to the “Eradication Day” ceremony, there’s a brief shot of San Francisco, viewed from one side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Positioned right in the middle of the screen is a holographic “statue” of someone named “ADAM SOONG,” and we can hear a recorded voice saying, over some kind of a loudspeaker, “a safe galaxy is a human galaxy.” The voice speaking these words is none other than Brent Spiner, and if you throw on the closed-captions., you’ll see the line is attributed to a character named Adam.
Who is Adam Soong in Star Trek canon?
So, the riddle as to who Spiner is playing in Season 2 seems to have been solved. At some point this season, we’ll see Spiner, in the flesh, as a human named Adam Soong. And, because we hear this Soong saying “a safe galaxy, is a human galaxy,” it feels likely that in this altered timeline, this distant ancestor of Data is responsible for the entire xenophobic outlooks espoused by the cruel Condfedration that rules Earth. And, because Jean-Luc and the gang are told by the Borg Queen that the change to the timeline happened in 2024, it stands to reason that Adam Soong lives in 2024. Probably.
The Soong family tree
Basically, this Soong is an ancestor of Arik Soong, a 22nd-century member of the Soong family, who was also played by Spiner and appeared in the series Star Trek: Enterprise. In that three-part episode arc — “Borderland,” “Cold Station 12,” and “The Augments,” — we learned this ancestor of Noonian Soong was not a cyberneticist, but instead, a geneticist who was sympathetic to the genetically engineered “supermen,” of which Khan was a member.
As Data said in the finale of Picard season 1, “the Soongs are an acquired taste,” which was basically an understatement that could also be interpreted as “the Soong family has a scary reputation for theories about genetic superiority and discrimination based on said theories.”
Even when human members of the Soong family (Noonian and Altan) began making androids (B-4, Lore, Data, Soji, et al.) at least a couple of those androids (or Synths) decided that they were superior to humanity and tried to kill everyone. For example, Lore and Sutra and — briefly — all the Synths in Star Trek: Picard season 1, have, at one point or another, used racist thinking to justify widespread murder or genocide.
So, as of now, in terms of what we know about the lineage of the Soong family, Data and Soji are odd exceptions to the more common route people tend to take. In other words, because Data and Soji are good people, and are rarely (though sometimes!) tempted to assert their android dominance, they (usually!) don’t.
Where did Synths come from in the altered 2401?
In this new “Road Not Taken” timeline, the evil version of Picard has a Synth servant named “Harvey.” Played by Alex Diehl, Harvey seems to be the same kind of Synth model we saw in the regular timeline in Picard Season 1 during the Synth attack on Mars. In that timeline, the Synths were, in theory, all offshoots of the same basic programming that created Data, implying that those Synths existed because of Noonian Soong’s cybernetic innovations.
But what about in this timeline? If Adam Soong created some kind of political upheaval in the 21st century, which led to human imperialism to dominate the Alpha Quadrant, then who invented sustainable androids? This question may never be answered, simply because Picard season 2 may not linger in this hellish future for very long. And yet, if the La Sirena crew is headed back to 2024 to find Adam Soong, that we’re actually just at the beginning of this mystery, with the end of it possibly something nobody could have predicted.
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 airs new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+