In episode 9, the La Sirena arrives at the synth homeworld of Coppelius, where it’s met by some old friends and a surprising new enemy. Down on the planet, Soji finds her synth family and Picard discovers another member of the Soong family, Dr Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner), from the lineage of mad scientists responsible for creating Data and other synths with positronic matrices. When news of the Admonition and the imminent arrival of the Zhat Vash fleet is revealed to the synths, they don’t have the reaction Picard was hoping for.
The episode picks up where episode 8 left off, with La Sirena in the Borg transwarp conduit, speeding toward Soji’s homeworld. It’s a bumpy ride, which Agnes spends in her quarters, under a desk. She really hates to travel. Everyone else is on the bridge, in various stages of enjoying the ride.
When they arrive, Rios double checks with Soji that they were aiming for the fourth planet in the Ghulion system. They traveled 25 light years in 15 minutes. Raffi doesn’t see any other ships in the long or short range scanners.
No one told Agnes that they weren’t going to Deep Space 12 first, so she’s surprised at the change of plans and that she isn’t going to be arrested. Soji says they call the planet Coppelius.
La Sirena’s red alert warning goes off as Narek flies out of the transwarp conduit and quickly starts firing on them. After a short skirmish, he and his ship appear to be severely damaged. Raffi wants to beam Narek aboard to treat his injuries, but Soji thinks it’s a trick. Soji gets a lecture from Raffi and Picard about trusting and rescuing enemies. But as they attempt to beam him up, it turns out that Narek was fooling them and he begins firing again.
Just as Narek is about to hit them with disruptor cannons, the Artifact appears from another transwarp conduit. Then 5 giant space orchids materialize from the planet’s surface. One unfurls and envelops La Sirena inside it’s petals.
And suddenly we’re in a production of Little Shop of Horrors in Space. The orchids are mean, green mothers from outer space.
The power goes out and La Sirena goes dark. Chris lights his lighter, because flashlights obviously wouldn’t work either. Then the flower brings them to the planet’s surface. It’s not gentle, but no one is hurt. Sort of.
Good thing they were wearing their seatbelts.
Picard is unconscious by the time they land. Despite this, he says, “Thank you for coming, everyone.” We see flashes from Picard’s memory before he wakes up, to remind us that he has a brain illness. Before long Agnes is probing his brain with a tricorder, which are sadly “old school” now.
an alien plant a noncorporeal telepathic being is probing Picard’s brain.
I think there’s might be a disembodied and/or very powerful telepathic entity on the planet that checked them all out as well, not just Picard, as signaled by the light flashing on each face when Rios flicked his lighter. Either it probed Picard more deeply or his brain abnormality made it more difficult for him to cope with the intrusion.
Pay attention to the camera work during the episode and how it acts as an odd point of view character at times, then let’s think about all of the imagery pertaining to ghosts and other mythological creatures throughout the series- the beautiful sirens who lure in, then crash ships and Ramdha’s Destroyer in particular.
And let’s remember the similar camera work throughout the season, such as when we used to enter the Artifact by swooping in from space and navigating through its many layers. Or the times when the viewer was taken in and out of a scene through a skylight or window. Or jarring scene changes, as if the director lost interest in the previous scene and was drawn to Agnes eating a huge slice of cake.
The second meaning of Nepenthes, a genus of carnivorous tropical pitcher plants who use various forms of attractive flowers as bait for their prey, also come to mind. Soji and Dahj were the bait, the sirens, the Venus flytrap. But who set the trap? Not Bruce Maddox. He wanted them to gather information for him, not to bring the outside world back to his sanctuary.
There’s a ghost in this machine that we’ve been following all season, which has also been luring the characters to Coppelius. Almost all of the main and secondary characters will be there by episode 10. Then what?
The tricorder picked up on Picard’s brain issue, which he’s kept a secret from his traveling companions until now. From the floored way Agnes reacts to it, I’m guessing that it’s progressed even in the couple of weeks since Moritz scanned him on Earth. She doesn’t look like this is just is a small problem that will eventually turn into something. She’s looking at a terminal patient and trying not to cry.
Jean Luc goes to the rest of the crew and blithely tells them that he’s going to return Soji to her people plus warn them that the Romulans are on their way to kill them all. And by the by, he has a terminal brain illness, but it’s no big deal and no one is allowed to have any uncomfortable feelings about it. He will be Very Disappointed in anyone who is rude enough to react to this news as if they care about him.
Moving On. Rios reports that the ship is structurally intact but systems are offline. Raffi reports that it’s a Class M planet, meaning Earth-like and inhabitable, but a little smaller and denser than Earth. There a small settlement about 5-6 km away.
Soji says that the settlement is Coppelius Station and she was born there. Her memories are faint and jumbled, but she thinks she and Dahj only lived there for a short time before Maddox took her away. She doesn’t think the synths hate humans.
Rios notes that the way the flowers attacked first and without asking any questions wasn’t exactly friendly. Raffi thinks the Romulan fleet will arrive in a day or two. Picard is frustrated that they have so little intel about the Romulan fleet.
As they prepare to hike to Coppelius Station and to check on the Artifact, Raffi hands Soji a gun. She tells Soji that even with her fighting skills, you never know when you might run into a formidable enemy or a Romulan ex and wish you had a gun.
Once they get outside, they discover that the Artifact is in one direction and Coppelius Station is in the other. After a little discussion, they decide to check on the Artifact first, as a single group rather than splitting up.
I’m so proud that Soji chose to stick together rather than splitting up. The first rule of surviving a bad onscreen situation is Don’t Split Up.
It’s warm on the planet, so the crew is showing their bare arms. It’s a nice change to see them outside, in daylight, against a lighter background and in lighter clothing, after they’ve been in the La Sorena cave or the Borg cube for several episodes. Rios, in particular, basically hasn’t left La Sirena all season, except to go to the Freecloud bar.
The Artifact is in bad shape. Rios says the flowers probably weren’t designed to be able to give something a big as a Borg cube a soft landing.
Despite the rough landing, there are many xBs working on repairing the cube, including the first female I’ve noticed all season. One recognizes Picard and calls him Locutus, causing Picard to cower back a step once again.
That’s never going to get any easier for him, no matter how many good experiences he has. The xB looks like the Borg who woke up from regeneration when Picard boarded the Artifact back in episode 6. Maybe the xBs have reclaimed a few more drones since then.
Elnor sees Picard and races to embrace him in a huge hug. As always, he gets the best greetings on the Artifact. Seven clears a couple of bodies out of her way, then notices the newcomers.
Seven: “So, are you here to help with the clean up, or do you just make messes?”
Seven saw what was happening with La Sirena while she was attached to the cube as queen and decided to come help. She tells him about Hugh.
Picard: “Poor Hugh. It must have taken appalling brutality to turn such a gentle soul to violence.”
He notices the xBs working on a replicator. Seven tells him they’re using battery packs to get it running and asks what he needs. He asks if they can get long range scanners operational. Once the scanners are working, Raffi finds 218 Romulan warbirds on their way to Coppelius.
Soji visits her her old room, where her photos are still scattered on the floor. She looks at them with new eyes, now that she knows the truth about herself and Dahj.
Picard and his crew say goodbye to Seven and Elnor as they leave for Coppelius Station. Elnor is torn about whether he should go with Picard, but Jean Luc feels the xBs need Elnor more. Someone told Elnor about Picard’s illness, making this goodbye even harder. As usual, Picard won’t allow any discussion of his own mortality.
Picard: “Elnor… I’m very, very proud of you.”
Seven: “Keep saving the galaxy, Picard.”
Picard: “That’s all on you, now.”
Picard, Soji, Agnes, Raffi and Rios hike to Coppelius Station, then stand on a hillside and look down on the settlement in a photo op moment where the camera once again strangely examines their faces, one at a time, before they go down to meet the residents. They view a large, artistic building where the synths are frolicking outside. Despite there being no one else who lives on the planet, it takes a minute for the local synths to notice Picard and his crew when they enter the crowd.
The synths, who are all sets of twins (played by real life twins), are all dressed in typical Star Trek false Utopia garb- loose, flowing outfits in varying shades of orange and gold and an occasional pink. Some have gold skin, like Data and some have human skin tones.
A female synth greets Soji and says that it’s good to have her home again. Soji remembers that the synth is named Arcana. Arcana recognizes Picard and asks to feel the wrinkles on his skin. She’s amazed by them and their significance for Picard’s life.
Arcana welcomes all of the humans to Coppelius, then asks if Soji completed her mission. Soji says that she did, but tells them that the Romulans are on their way to destroy the settlement. The synths say they can make more giant orchids to fight the Romulans, but it will take more time than they have.
Dr Altan Inigo Soong makes his way through the crowd and introduces himself as the human son of Dr Noonian Soong, Data’s creator. He has Picard led off alone by Arcana so that she can get him some water, while Soji tells everyone else her story.
The need to hydrate is Soong’s suggestion, not Picard’s request, so I find the way he’s quickly separated from the group suspicious. Will they do a quick brain and body scan so they can make a duplicate to swap with him? Truth serum in the drink to get their questions answered? Or are they protecting the most valuable Starfleet hostage while they do something to the others using an air or sound borne method?
We skip over Soji’s story and pick up again at the end, where Soji blames herself for leading the Romulans straight to her homeworld. Soong blames Bruce Maddox for keeping her in the dark about her origins, making her easy to manipulate- which is definitely true. He says that the synth ban brought out the deceptive, devious side of Maddox, echoing Agnes when she told Picard that people who research synths tend to get “secret planny”.
Agnes herself looks guilty, since Oh brought that side out in her.
How Much Guilt Does Agnes Bear for Bruce’s Murder? And What About the Murdered Borg and xBs?
We’re about to commence with half an episode of forgetting that Agnes was coerced into killing Bruce and likely would have been blackmailed had she refused. Had she still refused, she might have been murdered herself, and Oh would have found someone else to kill Bruce.
The Tal Shiar and Zhat Vash have their reputations for a reason. Once Maddox was on their hit list, he was doomed. In fact, Bejayzl had already planned to kill him. When Bruce was brought onto the La Sirena, he was dying from the injuries Bejayzl ordered inflicted on him. The EMH was saving Bruce. Agnes stopped that process, then speeded up his death.
Agnes was used as the weapon in someone else’s crime. She acted on Oh’s orders. She’s not fully responsible for his murder in the way she’s being blamed.
Could she have told someone that she’d been coerced? Yes. But to say that she should have said something is to ignore the psychology of coercion and the mental block that Oh put in during the mind meld.
Would telling someone have stopped people from dying? No. Maybe Maddox would have lived, but there might have been other collateral damage instead. TV shows like to pretend that doesn’t happen and doesn’t matter when it does, such as all of the dead Borg and xBs.
On Coppelius, Seven literally kicked their bodies as if they were trash. Despite what he says to Soji about the logic of sacrifice later in this episode, someone like Picard will pick and choose which collateral damage is acceptable to him. He saved Soji and Seven saved Elnor. We mourn Hugh, but the rest of the dead xBs and Borg were apparently disposable, just so much trash, despite a couple of episodes spent humanizing them. Even though they could have been saved*, Seven left them behind to rescue Picard again. Picard didn’t spare a moment to mourn anyone on the Artifact but Hugh.
Personally, I’ll take one dead Bruce Maddox, whose morals were dubious and who had indeed committed crimes, over whoever else Oh might have killed when she tried to get to him some other way. Saving the important character, but not caring about how much collateral damage you caused to do it, is like saving the rich at the expense of the poor. It’s time we stopped being okay with that.
Commodore Oh is the mass murderer here. Agnes was her unwilling pawn. Let’s not forget that.
And let’s not forget the mixed messages this show is sending about the worth of refugees and the downtrodden masses. They want us to care, until it gets in the way of what the named, wealthy, influential characters want. Then those sentient beings, who each have lives, feelings, families, hopes and dreams of their own, can be sent into the vacuum of space or otherwise randomly murdered and no one, not even the vigilantes, will try to help them.
Miss you already, Hugh. You were the true conscience of Star Trek.
*Borg can survive in the vacuum of space and can be revived after being dead for three days.
Sutra, Jana’s twin, finds Picard sitting alone in a small garden and brings him back to the others. She has gold skin and wears orange (the color of danger, which was also worn by F8 and his brethren). As she and Picard enter, Soong is telling the others he worried that Bruce’s plan might have drawn unwanted attention.
Sutra has other ideas. She says that Soji and Bruce might have saved them all by bringing them answers and information, along with trouble. Rios recognizes that Sutra looks like Jana.
Sutra confronts Agnes about Bruce’s death. Raffi joins in on blaming Agnes. Sutra wonders if the Admonition drives organic humanoids insane because it’s not meant for them. She thinks maybe it’s really meant for synthetic life forms and wants to check it out for herself. Everyone is confused, because there isn’t time to go to Aia so that Sutra can experience the Admonition firsthand.
Arcana says that they lost their only ship when they lost Jana and Flower.
Soong realizes that Sutra wants to mind meld with Agnes. He explains that she’s always had a passion for Vulcan culture, including reading the work of the famous Vulcan philosopher, Surak, and playing the ka’athyra, an instrument also played by Spock. She’s taught herself how to perform mind melds.
Rios gives Agnes the chance to back out, due to the strain she’s already been through recently, but she feels the synths have a right to know. Sutra begins the mind meld in the usual way.
Sutra sees a slowed down version of roughly the same Admonition video, but expanded and with audio this time (in Sutra’s voice): “Life begins. The dance of division and replication, imperfect. Finite. Organic life evolves, yearns for perfection. That yearning leads to synthetic life. But organics perceive this perfection as a threat. When they realize their creations do not age or become sick or die, they will seek to destroy them and in so doing, destroy themselves. Beyond the boundaries of time and space, we stand, an alliance of synthetic life. Watching you. Waiting for your signal. Summon us and we will come. You will have our protection. Your evolution will be their extinction.”
This is exactly what Sutra hoped to hear. Echoing Spock, she says, “Fascinating.”
This description is very skewed to a synthetic point of view, whereas what Oh saw was skewed toward organic life. That’s awfully convenient.
I’m skeptical of the alliance’s promise. If they’re already watching, why don’t they just save synthetics who are about to be massacred, without waiting for a beacon? Their message is hidden away on an obscure planet. Synthetic evolution is likely to be halted before they find the message for themselves, as we are about to see in the Federation. Synthetics who find the message on their own probably don’t need the alliance’s help.
I wonder if the message changes for every listener and is some kind of honey trap set by a large scale evil, not an invitation left by a group whose intentions are benign toward either synths or organics. After all, this war was created and now escalated by the Admonition.
Later, Agnes follows a butterfly into Soong’s lab. He tells her that he missed butterflies, so he created this synthetic one. She wants to talk about Bruce. Soong says that Bruce talked about her constantly. His only regret was leaving her behind.
Agnes says that she didn’t have the guts to come with him. Soong literally shames Agnes. “You put out a small, bright candle, shedding its light in a vast darkness. You owe a great debt. Would you like the chance to repay it? To give a life instead of taking one?”
Agnes says she would.
Of course she will, after he laid it on so thick. Then he shows her what his pain is really about. A new body is being slowly printed, but Bruce was the guy who handled substrates and without him, Soong can’t put a mind into it. Without that, it will remain a golem, a mindless body.
Soong strongly hints that the body is meant for him, due to his advancing age. Or maybe he’s hinting that he has a terminal illness, like Picard. Either way, this is about Soong’s mortality, not Bruce’s.
Sutra wants to build a beacon to summon the alliance of synthetic life. Soji has faith that Rios can fix La Sirena in time to take everyone on the planet someplace else. Sutra doesn’t want to run and knows that “23 orchids, an old man and a few friends with phasers” won’t be enough to defend the planet. They argue for a few minutes, since Sutra thinks this is the only way that synths can be safe and doesn’t care if all organic life dies. Soji isn’t willing to go along with a plan that involves killing off organic life.
Their argument is interrupted when Narek is brought in as a prisoner.
The Zhat Vash position isn’t looking so extreme right now, but both sides have been manipulated by the Admonition and the very view leaders who have witnessed it. This feels like a trickster deity playing 2 sides against each other for sport or a super obnoxious morality test.
Seriously, life is enough of a test as it is. We don’t need more from outside sources acting as deities.
Rios finds Agnes with Spot 2, a synth cat named after the real cat that Data kept on the Enterprise. He says he isn’t a cat person, which has to be a mistake in the writing and I refuse to accept it. He must have accidentally handed off his love of cats to one of the emergency holos. Emmett for sure has 6 holo cats hidden in the armory. They all have 6 toes and long for the beach.
Agnes and Rios tell each other their plans. He tells her to be careful, because the Coppelians don’t seem completely trustworthy. She questions whether he really means her. He doesn’t. They have a tender moment, since they’re probably not going to have an ongoing relationship, but they do care about each other.
Rios is one of those rare guys who’s called to roam the galaxy, raising the self-image of every female he meets. I mean this sincerely. Like Aramis, he loves them all, and would never purposely hurt them.
Agnes is a sketchily written plot device of a lost soul, so in episode 10 she’ll probably either die or become a synth. She finds something new to accept blame for or at least one new fault in herself every episode. No wonder she’s barely functioning. In between moments of pluckiness, she’s slowly dying of Imposter Syndrome and looking for a faster way out.
Arcana gives Raffi an odd device she says will help fix the ship if Raffi uses her imagination.
Hopefully they’ll fix the ship the old fashioned way instead. Arcana seems lovely, but those space orchids burned up on reentry. La Sirena needs to be more durable than flowers mixed with imagination.
A mermaid ship held together by flowers and imagination sounds like a muppet song. It’s too good to be true. And now the team is splitting up, after they were so sensible earlier. Where is that red alert siren?
Picard asks Raffi to let him know when the ship is running again. She breaks the rules and gives him a big hug as she tells him she loves him. She says he doesn’t have to say it back, which leads to an awkward minute before he decides he wants to say it back and does. Then he quickly walks away, just as Rios arrives to hike to La Sirena with Raffi.
Picard hangs out in Bruce’s old room and amuses himself by repeatedly trying to call Starfleet to let them know he’s made first contact with the synth world. Since Commodore Oh isn’t around to tell him to murder them all and Clancy is fed up with him, no one picks up the phone.
Narek’s cell looks like a modern zoo cage, empty and with a large open air front. Arcana’s twin, Saga, is guarding him. He’s already working her, begging for water or whatever. She’s about to lower the force field when Soji arrives and stops her. Then he switches tactics, exclaiming over how glad he is to see Soji safe and alive, because he loves her so much and was so worried.
Have I expressed my love for Narek’s devious soul lately? And Harry Treadaway’s performance? He nails every twist and turn Narek takes, and there are so, so many of them.
Soji doesn’t buy into his ploy and tells Saga not to either. Saga watches as Narek spins the truth and lies in circles, claiming that he tried to kill Soji because he thought she was going to kill him. She tells him he’s twisted and he disgusts her.
In between those two bits, he says, “I love you,” then stares intensely into her eyes for several seconds. She stares back, then closes her eyes. He raises his hand and basically forms the mind meld gesture, but doesn’t touch her face because of the force field. Then she says, “I know… what a sad and twisted thing you are.” He keeps staring at her eyes intensely until she turns away.
Did he do a non-touch mind meld and plant a suggestion in her head? We don’t know much about the Zhat Vash or their training. They may have developed the mind meld further than we’ve seen before. Narek studied his entire adult life to prepare for the Destroyer. Manipulation is his game. Vulcans can mind meld with AIs. He may be able to mind meld through the force field, especially since he already has a connection with Soji.
(In an earlier episode, Raffi briefly puts her hand to her face in the mind meld position as well, but I can’t find it now. I wondered at the time if it meant something. Then Rios wondered if she was the Romulan spy. Then La Sirena continued to be tracked. Now this. Did Oh get to Raffi as well, as her backup spy?)
As Soji walks away, he says that he pities her, because the Romulans plan to rain fire on the planet “and kill every so-called living thing on it. Even you. Even you, my love.”
She leaves, then Saga tells Narek she’ll have food and drink brought to him and the wound on his face tended to.
Narek calls Soji “My love” so often that I’m beginning to wonder if he installed it as a trigger word while she was sleeping during another mind meld.
Soji visits Picard in Bruce’s room. She looks at a moving photo of Bruce and Agnes, then tells him she’s beginning to understand how Agnes could kill her ex boyfriend in order to save lives. She’s trying to understand the logic of sacrifice.
Picard doesn’t like the sound of that.
Narek pulls at the threads in the knee of his torn pants. Is something embedded there, either in the pants or his leg? Or is he trying to make a tiny rope?
Sutra relieves Saga and opens the cell. She sits on Narek’s lap and pauses a moment. Then she smiles with relief, because she thought she might kill him instead of making a deal with him. She asks if he wants to be set free.
Soji says that Agnes thought she was doing the right thing in the moment when she killed Bruce, but now she feels horrible. Picard questions whether Agnes thought she was right or she believed she had no choice.
At least Picard recognizes both possibilities. Based on what Agnes said and what we saw, both were and are true. The implication is that it’s also true of Sutra. And maybe Narek. Everyone is fighting for their lives.
Soji wonders if all motivations for killing boil down to fear, the opposite of logic. “But what if killing is the only way to survive?”
Picard finally figures out that Soji is trying to make a decision instead of speaking hypothetically and gets worried.
He’s tired after this long day and a little slow on the uptake.
Saga screams. Soji finds Soong cradling Saga’s head in his lap. She’s been stabbed in the eye with her blue glass hummingbird. Soong laments that Narek ruined her perfect golden eye.
That’s all it took to kill her? Or is it just that she’s incapacitated by the shock of the violence and the injury, but not dead?
Narek runs for the ships. Soji wishes she’d killed him.
We didn’t actually see Narek hurt Saga or even see Sutra suggest that to him. We’ve never seen Narek be violent in a hands on way at all. Odds are it was Sutra or Soong who hurt her, after they gave Narek a head start. They need a live villain to keep their war going.
Sutra makes a speech to the rest of the synths, telling them that thanks to the organics, they’ve lost another sister. She claims that organics will always be enemies who want to hunt and kill them. The Romulans will be there in 1 day. The Admonition included the subspace frequencies needed to contact the alliance of synths, who have promised to protect synths from organics. They just need to build a beacon to summon them.
After Picard learns everything that Sutra heard in the Admonition, he tries to shame Soji out of cooperating with the other synths by calling her the Destroyer. She feels too guilty about having led Narek and the Romulans to the planet to listen to him. Picard turns to the rest of the synths and makes his usual grand speech about how he’ll take them away in his ship and find them a safe new world. Then he’ll be their voice with Starfleet and the Federation and he’ll make them listen.
Soong laughs in his face: “No, they [Starfleet] won’t. Look at them [the synths]. They’ve never met anyone like you before. That granite face, wisdom and integrity etched into every line. The eloquence, the conviction. They don’t know what hit them. Back on Earth, kids, they didn’t listen to him after the attack on Mars. And they’re not going to believe him now.”
They place Picard under house arrest so that he can’t keep talking and make them doubt themselves and their course of action. Sutra gets Soji to agree to locking him up. Soji tells Picard that they can’t be his means of redemption.
They suggest locking Agnes up, but she says she’s on their side. And as a robotics expert, she’s useful to them. She can help Soong finish transferring himself into his synth body. Soong tries to act humble at this suggestion, as if it isn’t what he’s been angling for all along. Sutra tells Agnes that a mother would die for her children. If Agnes considers the synths her children, would she die for them? Without hesitation, Agnes says she would.
Commodore Oh is 24 hours from the planet.
With each new appearance, I wonder if episodes 4,5 and 8 were a 3 part backdoor pilot for Seven and Elnor’s spinoff series in which they and the Artifact/xBs will help the Fenris Rangers. Otherwise, I’m not sure what Elnor is here for and why we spent so much time on him mid season. Ditto Seven, except she’s a popular nostalgia character who brings in viewers. Enjoyable as they are, neither has done anything that couldn’t have been done by another character or left out.
Raffi jokes about running into angry reptiloids or homicidal fungi- Mr Vup was a reptiloid, so are the Gorn. The Discovery’s mycelium fungi turned homicidal in self defense.
Weird that Rios didn’t mention that Jana was gold and had pointy ears, while Soji is human with round ears. Where did Soong and Maddox get the Vulcan DNA, if that’s how Sutra is able to do mind melds? Or does she have a Vulcan’s katra in her mind?
It’s all about the honey traps. This show is honey traps within honey traps within honey traps. I missed Narissa this episode. You always know where you stand with her.
Does Soji/Kestra’s compass have a tracker in it, so Riker and Troi can keep up with Picard’s movements?
Oh doesn’t need to be undercover in Starfleet anymore, so she can finally show her true loyalty to the Romulans and command their fleet. Wonder how much disarray Starfleet is in, if her treachery has been revealed. How many undercover operatives did she take with her when she left?
Orchids, Butterflies and Twins
Arcana means secret or mystery and is often used in connection with fortune telling and tarot cards. A Saga is a long, legendary/heroic/historic tale from medieval Iceland or Norway. The two names together call back to Ramdha’s discussions with Soji about viewing ancient Romulan stories as the news rather than myth, her use of the Pixmit cards and the way she said she knew Soji from tomorrow.
Arcana is now a twin who lives while Saga is the twin who died, which means Arcana is a candidate for the Destroyer. She has the freshest wound and the most prophetic name. She also gave an unexplained tool to Raffi and Rios.
Is Ramdha on the Artifact or with the Romulans? Where will her loyalties lie when she awakens? She is a Zhat Vash xB synthetic/organic hybrid who has seen the Admonition at its source and studied mythology deeply before that. She must have some further role to play. Maybe she and her cards meet Arcana. Or maybe she hooks up to the cube or the beacon.
In addition to the twin butterfly synths (one was outside), there was a case of butterfly specimens in Soong’s lab. One of the languages Thad Troi-Riker invented was a language formed by the beats of butterflies’ wings. Coincidence? Or did Soong create the positronic matrix needed to save Thad’s life?
Where were the giant killer space orchids when the Federation was fighting the Borg? And every other enemy ever? Seriously, those things took down a Borg cube in less than a minute. If all organic life weren’t about to die, they might be the greatest weapon ever invented.
The space orchids maybe have crystalline entity DNA (or whatever) mixed in, along with something like a carnivorous pitcher plant. Did AI Soong learn to contact the crystalline entity from his other brother, Lore, or is he Lore, best buds with the entity?
Is the crystalline entity one of the weapons or species of the synth alliance? Will the beacon send out graviton pulses that are similar to the entity’s pulses?
Where was Beautiful Flower’s twin on Coppelius?
Wild Theory: I think Beautiful Flower and Jana were escaping from the planet and Maddox also parted ways with Soong/Lore. Beautiful Flower was originally a third, telepathic collaborator, and was the first mind transfer into a synth body. He was either a Medusan or a dying Vulcan. It’s possible that his twin was “killed” on planet during the escape and is noncorporeal again. If the telepathic being is a Medusan, he still exists but is now an invisible energy being. If he was a Vulcan, his katra has survived as a telepathic energy being whose point of view we’re seeing in those sweeping camera moves. Soong and Maddox could have put parts of a single katra into several synths, including Sutra, if they figured out how to split pieces off the way Sarek did for Michael Burnham.
Could they have figured out how to move beyond fractal cloning for growing positronic matrices, so they no longer need to make twins? The golem was a single body, with no sign of a second printer or body. There was a machine that could have been an incubator in Bruce’s room. Does the symbiogenetic orchid allow them to create self replicating androids?
Could Captain Rupert Crandall be Beautiful Flower or his twin?
Symbolically, Soong’s golem is another doll, like the tiny, hidden doll in Narek’s Romulan Rubik’s cube and the broken doll in Soji’s dream. Now we have this golem, an unfinished, faceless synth doll. In Soji’s dream, both the broken doll and her father were faceless and unfinished.
The tiny toy doll is part of a weapon that is also a puzzle. Narek used the dream against Soji as a weapon, but he also set her free and brought her to full power using the dream. Was the dream meant as a trigger?
The broken doll has connotations of Soji as a Frankenstein-like monster on the doctor’s table, waiting to be struck by the ever present lightning and brought to life, symbolized by the orchids. The red moons indicate that she was meant to be female and life-like (in the bio-organic sense), with red blood. Two moons for twins.
The faceless dream father is disturbing. The fact that she’s never remembered his face is more so. She didn’t recognize Soong when she got to Coppelius Station the way she recognized Arcana. She hasn’t been compelled to find photos of Maddox to see if she recognizes him.
Her dream is a construct, but it’s not clear if Soji’s mind constructed it or one of her creators did. Who is that dream father meant to be? Who brought Soji to life? Why hasn’t his face become clear?
I would argue that Narek created the Soji we know today. The people before him created an elaborate golem with inserted memories and a programmed mission. Narek is the one who carefully drew out Soji’s own thoughts, feelings and instincts. She learned to be assertive while dealing with her mixed feelings about him.
She doubts herself now because she thinks their relationship was all a lie, but it wasn’t. He was incredibly interested in her and her responses. Maybe not in the way she thought, but still in a way that benefitted her. He was more of a Svengali than the regular boyfriend he pretended to be and in that sense his treatment of her is unforgivable.
But their lives are so far from normal that they need to be viewed through a different lens. He shouldn’t be trusted under any circumstances, but Narek, like Ramdha and Agnes, is a valuable operative. He taught Soji about herself and stopped Narissa from capturing, torturing and then killing her.
Narek might be the faceless man in the dream who has more information on the synths and an understanding of the techniques that can help Soji reach her full potential and sort through her feelings. And maybe there’s still something unfinished about him that requires her presence to complete. I don’t think their dealings with each other are finished.
Both dolls that we’ve seen previously came as part of a pair and were in a box. The broken doll had her faceless father and was inside the lab. The tiny doll had the radiation weapon and was inside the puzzle box. The new golem is alone in its sterile box. No flowers, no moons, no puzzle, no weapon.
Just Soong, standing over it as a guard, and a synthetic blue butterfly overhead. Blue means amorality, science, philosophy, freedom and Vulcans. This golem represents freedom and immortality to whichever organic can convince Agnes to transfer their mind into it. Agnes’ color is also blue.
Who will have their mind transferred into the golem in the end?
Butterflies generally symbolize transformation, but Soong also had a case of butterflies that were dead, enclosed, pinned down. So he is associated with fake and dead butterflies, not live, free ones. If he isn’t Data’s evil android brother Lore, transferred into an organic body which has now grown old, then he’s the boy Lore’s personality was based on.
That creepy looking golem is meant for nefarious purposes. Whether or not Soong is Lore, he wants to pick up where Lore left off and has been up to something shady on Coppelius for a while. He can adjust the synths’ programming and memories while they sleep, so who knows what’s really gone on there.
He might manage the transformation so that he can be the Big Bad Synth next season.
Maybe Agnes will become the golem. If the synths find out that Soong has betrayed them and she’s mortally wounded, she might win the lottery. She’s been associated with blue and the sky, but afraid of flight, since the beginning. Maybe becoming a synth would set her free. She’s had aspects of a queen in exile all along, so it would make sense for her to become queen of the synths.
I don’t think Picard will become the Golem, because he is the symbolic representation of humanity and truth, along with Rios, who is becoming his protege or successor. Picard might be healed of his illness, but I can’t imagine the audience overall accepting him as anything but human or him choosing that.
Maybe it will be someone out of left field, like Hugh, who is totally deserving of a shiny new body and would be the perfect person to greet a synth alliance and prove our worth to them. He could speak for organics, hybrids and synths.
Brief Color Analysis for Episode 9
I’ve done much more color analysis here:
Lots of native red and green plant life on Coppelius, but not many cultivated flowers. This is the first time that we’ve seen a home without many flowers. So much red and green together suggests that the Federation and the Romulans will unite against the synths. So few flowers suggest that this isn’t what Bruce Maddox wanted and that there isn’t much warmth, growth or nurturing going on at Coppelius Station.
Not much blue, other than the sky, Saga’s glass hummingbird and Soong’s synth butterfly. This suggests that no one is thinking very clearly, but flight, freedom and non violence would be the correct choices.
I’m intrigued by the connection of the blue, flying butterfly to the golem and to Deanna’s son Thad. Does it mean life, death, transformation, immortality? Stay tuned.
The blue glass hummingbird that was used to murder Saga has similar meanings. It’s a fragile symbol of flight, freedom, life, now also a symbol of death, capture and betrayal. The act it was used for has changed its meanings to the opposite of what they were, a frequent theme.
The white building suggests that it was built in good faith. The orange clothing means some synths are truly dangerous. Pink clothing means some are less so- they are fairly innocent and able to be swayed. Gold clothing means some can also go either way, but are much less innocent in their thinking.
It was a bad day for Picard’s idealism.
Sutra’s call to contact the synth alliance came at the end of a very long, busy day. Picard was exhausted and off his game. But he also falls back on his favorite move, thinking he can and must save everyone, way too often, no matter what mood he’s in, and he always has. He prefers to take control of a situation and rescue the people who are in trouble, rather than stepping back a bit and facilitating ways for them to save themselves.
By doing this, he denies agency to the people he’s trying to help. They are forced to do things his way, rather than going through their own process, mistakes included, to find what will work best for them. This is the Federation way, which is a metaphor for patriarchy and the American way.
The Federation and Starfleet codes are based on what Teju Cole has called the White Savior Industrial Complex. Practiced on a personal level, it’s simply a Savior Complex. Picard and Kirk are personifications of those mentalities, the company men who gave everything to Starfleet and had no lives of their own. Men who didn’t know how to retire because there was nothing to them outside of their jobs and their jobs consisted of going on missions to solve other people’s problems by imposing Starfleet and the Federation’s way of thinking on them.
My heart broke for Picard when Soong laughed in his face. I was also glad that Soong did it, because Picard needed to be brought back down to Earth.
Sure, people have yelled at Picard all season. He’s generally deserved it, because he made promises he didn’t keep and judged people unfairly. He’s spent quite a bit of time yelling at and judging others, mainly the women, for not making idealistic enough decisions according to his standards and for being actual humans with needs.
Jean Luc Picard is a beacon of lofty, unbending idealism, who prefers a hit and run method, where he doesn’t have to face the consequences of his actions. He decides what would be best for others, acts accordingly, and leaves, so that he can assume that his actions were indeed for the best.
The Romulan reaction when he returned to Vashti proves this assumption wrong. If nothing else, after the Federation pulled the plug on the overall rescue operation, he could have returned to Vashti to continue to help his close friends there. But then he would have had to face the long, grueling slog that is raising a child and working with refugees. There’s nowhere near as much glory or action in that as there is in being the man who is the rescuing hero.
Picard is always confident that whatever decision he makes is the correct one, and he’s never shy about loudly telling everyone they should follow his lead. As a man who’s always been in charge of things, he believes it’s his place to question those decisions when made by others.
I assume this show is illustrating that side of him on purpose.
Whether it’s intentional or not, Star Trek: Picard is doing an excellent job showing the way a certain class of men (and sometimes women) assume they are the “deciders”, and enforce that attitude, sometimes even subconsciously.
On Coppelius, he stepped all the way over the line, left diplomacy behind and became a patriarchal colonizer. He couldn’t even hear the concerns of the Coppelians. He was stuck on the fact that he had a solution and they needed to accept it. No compromise was possible and no discussion was necessary.
He treated them like children who were incapable of making decisions for themselves. It didn’t help that Soong is likely another version of the same thing, going so far as to call the synths his children as part of his manipulations of them.
If Picard had suggested sitting down with Sutra, Soong, Soji, Arcana, his crew and a few others and talking through what they had for resources, and what they saw as their options, things might have gone differently. If he had checked in with Seven to see how work was going on the cube and asked her to help mediate, things might have gone very differently.
Instead, everyone is operating from places of fear and anger. And all Picard did was make things worse.
Coppelius and Its Inhabitants Aren’t Telling the Whole Truth
Let’s review some of the facts we’ve been given pertaining to synths, Bruce Maddox, and Coppelius, before we buy into AI Soong’s version of events.
9ish years ago, Jana and Beautiful Flower left Coppelius. According to Arcana, they took the settlement’s only ship. They were killed while on board the Ibn Majid and never returned. The ship was lost, so Coppelius hasn’t had a ship since.
Yet, according to Soong and the synths, sometime before 37ish months ago, Soji and Dahj were made on this very planet, lived there a while and were beloved by all. Then Bruce theoretically sent them to Seattle, Earth, where they studied for a while and eventually ended up in Boston and on the Artifact. According to Narek, Soji wasn’t on the transport from Seattle, but obviously she’s been on the Artifact.
A few weeks ago, Bruce approached Bejayzl on Freecloud and told her that his lab had recently been destroyed using a molecular dissolver, so he wouldn’t be able to repay his loan. He thought the Tal Shiar were responsible. Bejayzl originally ordered him killed on sight, as if she knew the lab was gone. Then she acted surprised when he blamed the Tal Shiar and decided to make a deal with them instead.
How did Soji, Dahj and Bruce leave Coppelius if they don’t have any ships? Why did Bejayzl order Vup to kill Bruce instead of demanding her money or finding a way for him to earn it back for her? Did someone pay her to destroy his lab? Where was the lab she paid for?
The Tal Shiar/Zhat Vash have still been looking for Coppelius/the nest and apparently Bruce’s lab, though Narek and Narissa never say the words “the lab”. Since Soji’s dream is in her father’s lab and they used that clue, it stands to reason that they haven’t found the lab either.
Agnes kills Bruce before he has a chance to tell anyone on La Sirena about his destroyed lab, Coppelius or much else.
Were the lab that was destroyed and the lab in Soji’s dream the same lab? Why doesn’t Soong mention it to Picard and friends? Why don’t we see any evidence of a recent attack? If it’s gone, how can they still make giant space orchids? Could Soji’s dream be a fictional implant meant to draw her to Coppelius in case of danger that has nothing to do with her actual creation?
Soji and Dahj’s father bred orchids. Dahj had a vase of cut orchids in her room and her father named an orchid after her. Soji dreams about orchids in the lab. The planet defends itself with giant orchids. Orchids are kind of a big deal in Soji’s family.
Soong has cases of specimens from the animal kingdom in his lab, but there are few flowers on the planet at all and no orchids. If Bruce was so into orchids that he was creating and naming new varieties, we should be seeing orchids in his room or lab or somewhere.
Where are the orchids on Coppelius?
Soji does have the image of the two red moons implanted in her dream, so she has a connection to Coppelius. Maybe she and Dahj were created there, but Bruce had a falling out with Soong later and left. Maybe the Coppelians don’t have a ship, but they have a deal with Captain Crandall for regular transport service. Maybe Bruce left years ago and created Soji and Dahj someplace else, but inserted the dream into Soji the way he programmed Dahj to find Picard. It was meant as a failsafe, so that she would find Soong in case she was threatened.
These mysteries are waiting to be solved. All we know right now is that the facts don’t add up.
Images courtesy of CBS AllAccess.