And Other Dangling Plot Threads the Show May or May Not Pick Up Again in S2
More discussion of odds and ends leftover from my recaps of S1 of Star Trek: Picard. In this installment, I’m working from the TV series, the prequel novel, The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack, the 3 part Picard S1 prequel Countdown graphic novel by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson and the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Another ongoing theme in Season 1 is the idea of freedom vs ownership and control, whether it’s the freedom of sentient beings, the freedom of ideas or the theft of body parts and someone else’s work. Rather than assimilating the Romulans into Federation life, as Picard planned for them, the Romulans have insidiously assimilated the Federation into their way of thinking. They value secrecy and hierarchy above all else and don’t value life or justice for their own sake.
This season introduced some deep concepts that we on Earth have only begun to explore as a world here in the 21st century, such as how is sentience determined? Which species have the right to self-determination and which can be treated as objects or livestock, harvested for their parts or used as slaves by anyone who sees fit? If humanoids can’t even recognize the sentience and basic rights of other humanoids, such as synths and xBs, how will we recognize sentience in other forms of life when we encounter them, including here on Earth?
ST: Picard took this exploration further, showing that the philosophy of the Synth Alliance has evolved beyond their organic humanoid forebears. The Synth Alliance views us the same way we look at our primitive hominid ancestors. They see us as anachronistic and unnecessary potential threats to their way of life and they stand prepared to slaughter us wholesale, the way humans slaughter large predators or livestock. Who can argue that we aren’t large and dangerous predators?
ST: Picard also showed us how Federation and Romulan societies treat their impoverished, elderly and disabled members. Romulan society was always portrayed as feudal and hierarchical, with little patience for weakness or mistakes. Perhaps because of the increased contact between the two cultures, and increased contact with Klingons as well, the Federation has taken on more of these attitudes.
It’s clear that those with hereditary wealth and privilege and those with the skills, talent and luck to climb the ladder of privilege are still doing well in the Federation. Picard, Moritz the doctor, Clancy, Riker and Troi are all living well. But anyone who separated from Starfleet/the Federation payroll on less than friendly terms is scrambling to make a living, often also trying to help others who are in similar positions. Rios, Raffi, Seven and Maddox all found ways to eke out a living on the edge of society after their Federation careers ended. After Maddox left, Agnes continued getting paid enough to maintain her financial security, but she stayed in a boring, dead end job that she was undoubtedly overqualified for.
Meanwhile, many in the outer worlds are hungry or have resorted to violence and crime to survive. Vashti (where Elnor lived), Freecloud (where they negotiated for Bruce Maddox) and Vergessen (where Icheb died) are all crime ridden worlds that also have other issues. The characters discussed many other planets and sectors that were in the same condition or worse.
Even Earth was subject to multiple deadly attacks by the Romulan secret police on multiple days, including one that breached Admiral Picard’s home security and one that took place right outside Starfleet Command, the military headquarters of the galaxy. The 90s Star Trek series portrayed Earth as a peaceful Utopia. Now it’s a place where terrorist attacks happen in broad daylight and are covered up by high ranking Starfleet officers. A place where Admiral Picard’s bodyguards hide weapons all over his country house and then actually need to use them in his inner sanctuary.
Not to mention Commander Oh’s assault on Agnes’ mind. How many times has the head of Starfleet security mentally assaulted and brainwashed unsuspecting humans and other susceptible species? Make no mistake- the Zhat Vash weaponized the Admonition. When Oh shows it to an unprepared party through a mind meld, she either creates a convert through torture or she destroys the mind of a potential enemy. Given what we saw and heard from Agnes and the Romulans who experienced the Admonition, no one walks away from it with their mind intact.
Federation security is clearly lax, easily bypassed or non existent- Raffi hacks into whatever she needs, whenever she needs it; Soji and Dahj both had such flimsy credentials that it only took Agnes a couple of hours to decrypt them, yet multiple levels of Federation security didn’t notice. XBs are hated, hunted and slaughtered for their body parts rather than protected as returning prisoners of war and disabled veterans.
Because the xBs are all military veterans, whether they started out soldiers or not, since they were press ganged into service against their will by the Borg and then the Federation never rescued them. Then the Federation shamefully left the xBs who were Federation citizens on the Artifact to the Romulans to exploit for parts, enslave and kill. In the old days, the Federation would have fought for the rights of all of the xBs.
Romulan and other refugees are left to the Qowat Milat, who help run the refugee system of planets at the edge of the Federation. The Fenris Rangers do what they can in the rest of the Beta Sector- the Federation has abdicated its role there.
Synths and synth technology are banned outright, even when the technology could save organic lives. Yet Maddox and Soong still managed to illegally create and distribute advanced synths. They may have embedded more synth spies that we don’t know about, who are still still out there, waiting to be activated and complete their missions.
But shouldn’t the uber secretive and disciplined Zhat Vash, who were in charge of Federation security, run a tight ship, focused on law and order? Of course not.
While they believe in secrecy, they also believe in hierarchy, which means that they believe wealth should be distributed according to privilege and political favor rather than need. They don’t care if a criminal underworld and black market exist, because the wealthy benefit from unregulated commerce and lax law enforcement in general as much or more than the poor, while they are largely insulated from its consequences.
The Romulan leaders didn’t care when many of their people died after Picard’s rescue collapsed and they don’t care now that many of the survivors live in poverty in the Federation. Except when they can use the Federation’s failures with Romulans as a political tool. The Federation hasn’t produced any new peacemakers and diplomats to replace Picard, so those in need suffer while the Zhat Vash and Tal Shiar continue to manipulate the system.
Overall, we’re given the sense that by the beginning of the season, the Zhat Vash and Tal Shiar have so thoroughly infiltrated the Federation that Clancy doesn’t recognize the traitors in her midst because they’re no different from everyone else. Callousness and greed rather than compassion and generosity have become the rule for the Federation, just as they are for the Romulans and Klingons.
Picard and His Merry Band of Space Rebels
Picard and his crew are presented to us not as members of Starfleet who are spreading the enlightened gospel of the Federation, but as rebel freedom fighters who live in a semifeudal society. They operate within the law when they can and when necessary, they don’t hesitate to break the law. Picard didn’t even blink when his crew told him a cash gift, aka a bribe, was required for entry to a planet and he took part in the scheme to traffick human beings in order to retrieve Maddox.
Picard is introduced in his new show not as a Starfleet captain, but as a bored feudal lord who’s stifled by the expectations placed on him by traditional society. Though, let’s recall, he is to the manor born, he is also the second son, who wasn’t tied to the land in the same way as the oldest son who inherits the title, the vineyard and everything that goes with it. No one expected that he ever would be, so he was encouraged to run off to make his own fortune as a sailor/soldier.
When Picard’s older brother and his family died, the vineyard fell to him, the second son, the hereditary spare. Picard has given it a go, but farming just isn’t for him. Luckily, in Laris and Zhaban he’s found a couple of stewards who will take care of the place with fierce devotion. And who would dare cross Laris???
So Picard is now free to go live out his Don Quixote/Three Musketeers fantasy, having already been a family man in the TNG episode The Inner Light, a starship captain in TNG, and a savior in the Romulan Rescue, the Borg War, All Good Things, etc. If there’s a form of responsibility, and even martyrdom, that Picard hasn’t found a way to act out yet, I can’t think of it.
Like Seven, he’s done his time in the system. And anyway, the Federation failed him, as soon as he stopped holding it together. Then it turned around and blamed him for the failures, as if he was responsible for the entire Federation, forever, like a God with no backup.
He can now choose his own adventures. Many of which will of course be rescues. He’s still Jean Luc Picard, after all.
Captain Picard’s Three Musketeers in Space
Raffi = Porthos- the partying pirate with panache who always knows a guy.
Agnes = Athos- the serious, sensible one who gets stuff done but has murder in her past.
Rios = Aramis- the compassionate, romantic philosopher with a practical, strategic streak and a broken heart.
Soji = D’Artagnan- the over enthusiastic but extremely talented young recruit who tends to get ahead of herself and fall into problematic love affairs, yet always manages to pull out a win by the end of the story.
Picard = Captain de Treville- the older, wise, honorable leader of the Musketeers. The metaphor breaks down a little here, since de Treville is a slightly removed figure, the way Picard was in TNG, rather than in the thick of the story like New Picard. In ST:P, Picard is really the self-insert fan fiction character who gets to move through the story playing whatever role he wants in each episode, because he’s the star. He’s having fun and we live vicariously through him.
Elnor and Seven are composite characters or visiting from another story. Elnor is clearly Space Legolas, while Seven is the Rebel Borg Queen. I have a feeling that she’s so unique and larger than life that no comparison can contain her.
With a capable team, a healthy body and a galaxy full of injustice, Jean Luc Picard and Captain Rios can point La Sirena in almost any direction in S2 and find some trouble. Let’s take a look at some of the dangling threads this season left open.
What Is the Connection Between Lore and Altan Soong? What About Juliana Soong Tainer?
In season 1, there is much talk about B4 and Data, but the characters ignore the existence of two other canon original synths, Data’s brother and mother, Lore and Juliana Soong Tainer. I am convinced that Altan Soong has something to do with Lore. This could be one of those times that I’m completely wrong, but I just don’t trust Altan. He was too smoothly self-serving, until he flipped and gave the golem to Picard. Agnes may have convinced Altan to let Picard be a test case for his new mind transfer process.
In addition to being secret-planny, Star Trek scientists in the android business also tend to be self-serving and manipulative. Other than Data and Juliana, the Soongs tend to take care of themselves and their work first, even if that means abandoning or injuring the people they love. When we met Bruce Maddox in S3 of TNG, he was trying to get custody of Data as an inanimate object. We saw Agnes turn out to be an effective secret operative this season, even after she broke through Oh’s mind control.
When Picard shows Dahj’s necklace to Agnes, it upsets her. She explains that it’s the symbol for fractal neuronic cloning and gives Maddox credit for the idea. But in the book The Last Best Hope, fractal cloning is Agnes’ idea. There are small changes between the book and the show, but I was really surprised they made such a huge change.
I’ve wondered since then if that really was a change. Agnes lies, a lot. And she grew smarter and more competent once she left Earth and then again after Bruce died- once she didn’t have to hide her knowledge anymore.
I wonder if Bruce stole Agnes’ fractal cloning work and threatened her if she said anything. Could she have had an additional motivation for murdering him? At the very least, we know that he used her work to create the advanced synths. But he only admitted that she also deserved credit when she was standing over his bedside in sick bay.
Maybe she was angry that he stole her work and didn’t give her credit. She was mostly acting on the power of Oh’s mind meld when she killed him, but the lure of coming out from behind Bruce’s shadow might have motivated her a little bit, too, once she saw that he was using her ideas without her.
When Picard tells Agnes about Dahj, she says, “Females. I suppose you could make them that way. They’re created in pairs. Twins.” She says it if this is a process that’s already been accomplished and only with males. Maybe she’s thinking of the Mars synths, who appeared to all be male.
But maybe she and Bruce did a little home cooking before the ban. Either way, since everyone thinks of synths as male, making Soji and Dahj female was a clever disguise, in the same vein as Juliana Soong, who was never discovered as a synth, as far as we know. Juliana was a Soong synth who aged naturally; had natural looking skin; had embedded programs so that she scanned as human; and was created by a human to synth mind transfer. That’s exactly what Bruce and Altan would want for themselves. If either of them knew about her, capturing her and using her as a template for themselves might be irresistible.
Broken Romulan Ghosts
Like Picard, Narek is a younger child who chafes at the traditional bit, but it’s Romulan rules that he has problems with. Narek and Picard also both study and analyze history and have an affinity for synths. They both prefer to settle conflicts with words rather than violence if at all possible, but are decent fighters when they do fight. And they were both disappointments to their families, who failed at the family business.
Narek is not Picard. But I think the events of this season opened Narek’s eyes to some possibilities that he hadn’t considered before. Picard was raised on a vineyard, but he could always see the stars and knew there were other possibilities for his life.
Narek was raised to be a Zhat Vash operative in a society that kills those who don’t follow protocol. When he washed out, he was probably lucky to survive. Laris and Zhaban had to run all the way to Earth and live in hiding to escape punishment for defying the Tal Shiar to help Picard.
Narek has spent his time since his failure proving he’s still useful, because it’s the only path open to him if he wants to remain part of Romulan society and continue working in the field of synth technology, which he’s devoted his life to up until now.
Narek saw how Ramdha cleverly, if accidentally, took her failure to withstand the Admonition and turned it into a victory over an entire Borg cube. While it’s not a path anyone would choose, it can be seen as a legendary triumph. If I were a mythmaker, I might suggest that the Gods chose those particular Romulans for that task. That they only appeared to be failures temporarily- they actually sacrificed themselves for the greater good of Romulan and even organic life.
Now he’s been exposed to Picard and his crew. He’s met Soong and dozens of synths like Soji, with different looks and personalities. He was part of the successful operation to drive back the Synth Alliance, though I expect the Romulans aren’t satisfied with the outcome and might blame him for their failure to destroy the synths.
We weren’t shown what happened to Narek, Narissa, Ramdha or the rest of the disordered xB Romulans at the end of episode 10. It’s plausible for all of them to be dead, though that would be tragic for the story, unless they’re just going to drop the Synth Alliance as if it never happened.
Seven kicked Narissa into a seemingly bottomless pit, but in earlier episodes Narissa saved herself twice using her personal site to site transporter. There’s no reason she wouldn’t use it again, unless the producers want her dead.
Ramdha was on the Artifact and could have been evacuated before Seven arrived or she could still be on the cube, alive or dead. Again, it all depends on the direction the creators want to take the story. There are rumors of a deleted scene in which Ramdha shows the pixmit cards to the Coppelius synths, suggesting one version of the script had her make it to Coppelius alive and awake- maybe even more lucid than she was before. Maybe Seven fixed Ramdha’s mind while she was the temporary queen or maybe Ramdha woke up from her long nightmare when the Artifact went offline.
Narek was arrested when he threw a grenade at the beacon and Soji caught it. He could still be on Coppelius or in Federation custody. Commander Oh could have beamed all three Romulans up when she arrived. A scene was written that may or may not have been filmed which showed Starfleet arresting Narek and taking him into custody, but it’s not canon if it wasn’t used. Did the show change their mind about Narek’s fate or decide to wait to reveal it?
Once arrested, he could have either escaped or talked his way out of custody. I doubt the show will go in this direction, but Narek has valuable information about the synths and the Romulans that he could use to cut a deal with the Federation. After all, unlike Agnes, he didn’t actually kill anyone (Sutra killed Saga) and Soji knew from the beginning of their relationship that he was a Tal Shiar spy. He’s a spy who turned out to be working for the same goal as the Federation, who came to them with a plan to stop the Synth Alliance.
The Romulan and xB storylines were my favorite parts of the season. The characters, relationships and mythology were all complex and compelling. I enjoyed the whole show, but I’m more interested in exploring the new layers that were added in the Artifact storylines than in taking more trips down memory lane with old characters.
If the Romulan, Synth and xBorg developments are going to be dropped on Picard, I hope the franchise will consider picking them up in another Star Trek show. Narek and family could be pretty great additions to Section 31. Maybe we could go back and nab Hugh and a couple of other xBs before Narisa kills them, too.
There were those odd announcements in the Artifact in episode 6 while Picard and Hugh were searching for Soji that suggested time travel might be occurring. Maybe Phillippa Georgieu comes back to get Hugh and Ramdha, then picks up Narissa and Narek from Coppelius in episode 10 when the battle is over, and whisks them all away to whichever time period will be her home base when she sets up shop as head of the clandestine espionage organization. She could recruit a couple of synths while she’s on Coppelius, too. Arcana is now a lonely singleton and available. I’d love to see Sutra on Section 31, but that might be difficult for the actress.
Or maybe in season 2, Guinan tells Picard he messed something up and he has to go back to fix something he broke in the Artifact. Like Hugh.
I think Narek could be especially open to defecting to the Federation because of how moved he was by the compassion Soji showed for the xBs. His own culture rejected him and his Aunt Ramdha because they became imperfect through failure and perceived weakness. Soji shows him that you can be loved because of imperfections, rather than despite them. That blows his mind. When he’s on Coppelius, he sees more of that compassion and loyalty in action among Picard’s crew and the synths. If given the opportunity to save himself and especially his family by bringing them to a more accepting place, he might take it.
Discovery just finished a similar growth arc for Georgieu, but she was unable to save her Terran family. It might be meaningful for her to help a few people save their families from repressive cultures. But not too many, and only those she needs for her staff anyway- we wouldn’t want to get sentimental.
It’s Soji’s imperfections that make her unique and able to pass as human. Agnes describes them as artistry rather than flaws. Eventually, Narek makes a similar speech to Narissa, explaining that the very qualities that caused him to wash out of the Zhat Vash are the ones that have now allowed him to be successful in finding the synths’ nest, so she needs to step aside and let him finish what he started. He then proceeds to use honesty and diplomacy to work with Picard’s crew in a way that no normal, paranoid Romulan ever would, after he’d used his spycraft to escape from the synths.
I’m still holding out hope that he’s Elnor’s brother. But he and Narissa could also be Georgieu’s new adopted children.
More Broken But Useful Monsters
Picard is the original broken symbol that’s baked into the season, since he gets put back together like a puzzle during the opening credits of every episode. Within Picard are all of the other themes- the feeling of having become both a deadly monster and an ineffective ghost; the vibrant, beautiful flowers that signify life and the clinging vines that signify deadly traps; the old man who’s lived a full life filled with memories and the hollow man who wonders if it was all a waste.
The other characters also reflect pieces of the puzzle. As with many grand quests, the characters’ brokenness, weaknesses and sometimes even their deaths can disguise meaning or talent that’s revealed only at the moment of need. We discover this at the start, when Dahj activates so she can defend herself against the attack by the Zhat Vash and then her death gives Picard new purpose.
Agnes has an opposite awakening. She becomes able to hasten the death of a dying man during her moment of truth, rather than allow him to slowly bring about the end of the galaxy. Not long after, she risks her own life to save the crew by eliminating her internal tracker. Agnes’ complexities include bravery but moral indecisiveness, which makes her unpredictable and dangerous. Even she isn’t sure which side she’ll choose at any given moment.
At the Daystrom Institute, Agnes shows Picard a chilling sight- Data’s prototype B4, who has been deactivated and disassembled. He’s now kept in a drawer, like a pair of old socks. Though synths have been banned because of the Mars attack, it’s hard to look at Data’s brother’s innocent face and not feel like the people who would do that to him are the monsters.
Dahj says that activating and suddenly knowing how to fight was like lightning seeking the ground, but then there was so much blood everywhere. She means that it was as if she found her true nature when her mind became unified, but she’s also a little frightened by what she’s now capable of.
Picard speaks in the final episode of the reverse of this, of feeling his mind dissolving like a sand castle in the tide at the moment of death. But when he gets his own synth body, the feeling is reversed and there’s so much life ahead of him and in him again. It’s as if the blood that spilled out when Dahj was activated, a metaphor for life force, has been funneled back into Picard now that he has been activated.
Almost as if he is a Borg again. I doubt anyone will say this out loud to him.
But Soji “just knew things” about the Artifact, like that they were in the Queencell. The brain or intelligence of the cube itself seems to have granted her access to classified files, bypassing Romulan protocols, so that she knew top secret information about Ramdha’s assimilation.
The Borg may have recognized Soji and set up communications with her not because she has Borg tech inside her, but because they recognized her as a descendant of Data, who they remember from his time as the Queen’s favorite during Star Trek: First Contact. The Borg also had advanced cyborg tech, including the capability to give Data human skin. Maybe Maddox had more dealings with Bejayzl than we realized.
We may have been shown that there’s a black market for Borg cortical nodes (in Icheb’s death scene), for example, because the advanced synths’ positronic matrixes interface with technology Maddox and Soong bought from Bejayzl and then developed from that particular part. In that case, instead of being free from his psychic connection to the Borg, Picard/Locutus may now be connected to them in two or three ways instead of just one.
Will Picard also eventually be activated even further, the way Dahj and Soji were? He could have abilities hidden behind a firewall, put there out of goodwill, just in case he needs them to survive, as Dahj and Soji did. Extra abilities that can be accessed in a crisis, combined with a maintenance and surveillance suite similar to Soji’s “Mom” program, may also be standard for off world synths.
Or they may be part of the basic structure of the synth brain, depending on how controlling Maddox was. My bet is on Maddox being super controlling. He’d want the ability to watch his synths’ every move through an eyeball camera and control them using a remote, even if they were supposedly free and on the other side of the galaxy.
Given the potential of a synth brain vs what would have transferred over from Picard’s original brain, I’d be surprised if Maddox and Soong didn’t take advantage of the extra space in some way. Maybe Picard will have dreams that will turn out to be the expanded instructional manual for his synth body.
Speaking of B4, there is a symmetry that I don’t like to the way he was kept in the drawer at the Daystrom Institute and the way Data’s mind was kept captive on Coppelius. B4 was essentially imprisoned in the form of a medically induced coma and would have been destroyed if his positronic matrix wasn’t so unique and important to potential future research. The way Data’s mind was kept in a container to be used for medical experimentation and production of new synths reminded me of the Henrietta Lacks cell line that has been used without her permission for medical research for decades.
The Language of the Plants
Plants were used to reflect many things over the course of the season, especially that the advanced synths were engineered humans. Bruce Maddox developed a hybrid orchid for each twin and gave them the same name, his gift to his synth daughters along with their matching fractal clone necklaces. At the other end of the plant engineering spectrum, Bruce or someone else on Coppelius engineered giant space flowers that are strong and agile enough to bring down a Borg cube. That’s some creative engineering, to say the least.
Deanna talked with Soji about the difference between a food plant that had grown in the ground, in a planet’s native soil, soaking up the sun, and an engineered plant that had grown under lights. Soji figured out on her own that the plant who’d experienced more natural variations and had to fend for itself would have a stronger taste. But then Deanna told her that Thad could have been saved by a positronic matrix, so sometimes an engineered solution is better.
Adding another layer to the mix, Soji and Deanna discussed homeworlds and how being from a specific place, time and culture helps make someone an individual rather than a generic clone. The native plants of a planet or a region help define the local culture. The main items Saru (Star Trek: Discovery) brought with him from his home planet when he thought he was leaving forever were seeds to recreate the plant life he’d left behind.
Though they aren’t native, the orchids of Coppelius help make them part of Soji and Dahj’s synth homeworld and culture.
Overall, while Coppelius has a fair amount of plant growth for a desert planet, much of it with mixed red and green foliage and strikingly empty of flowers. The synths’ main compound was one of the few, maybe the only, planetary residences we saw with no potted flowers. Flower blossoms symbolize all good things on ST: Picard- life, health, growth, healthy attachment. But the main flowers we saw on Coppelius were genetically engineered to be weapons and act as guard dogs in the sky.
Throughout the season we also saw growing vines that looked or acted as tentacles or traps: Raffi’s snakeweed; Picard’s grape vines; the vines growing on the concrete wall behind Soji as she worked on the beacon and of course the vines in the opening credits. When Narek helped Soji analyze her dream, the lines on the floor of the Romulan meditation room were like vines that entangled them both and probably Narissa as well.
The creature sent by the Synth Alliance that we barely saw through a portal appeared to have some scary mechanical tentacles, making it clear that certain entanglements aren’t a good idea. Rios hasn’t become entangled in physical vines, but he’s heard and been trapped by the siren’s call, a similar entanglement. In ancient times, those who followed the sirens became trapped on an island, their bones eventually lying among a field of flowers.
Seven also became re-entangled in Borg cables/vines. But she did it with her eyes open and after years of hard work to break her mind free, which means she was able to voluntarily detach again. Maybe she should be La Sirena’s ship’s counselor in S2, to help the rest disentangle from their vines.
I might pay to see how that would work out.
Where Did Soji’s Dream Take Place?
This is not the same as “Where was Bruce Maddox’s secret lab that either the Tal Shiar or Bejayzl destroyed?” It doesn’t appear that the Tal Shiar have been anywhere near Coppelius, since they or the Tal Shiar would have destroyed everything and everyone. So I think it’s safe to say that Maddox left the planet on his own some time ago, either with Soji and Dahj or before he made them. Soong either has money of his own or has a deal with an investor. Maddox left and made a deal with Bejayzl which backfired on him, because if there’s one thing we learned about Bejayzl, it’s that she’s a double crosser.
Bejayzl may also have a deal with Soong. The falling out between Maddox and Soong may have been over something other than money. Maddox comes from an academic background and might have different standards for his research and for how he sources materials. Soong comes from a long line of rogue scientists who pay no attention to the law or mainstream science.
Their different approaches clearly lead to a fruitful partnership. But Bruce is a control freak and the Soongs tend to be as well, so it was only a matter of time before their disagreements would split them apart again.
The four photos below contain many similar elements to Soji’s dream from episode 6, The Impossible Box. I was struck by the similarities between the dream and the scenes when Soong sees Narek and Sutra projected in Saga’s memories in episode 10. Saga is laying on a table, inert, with her memories playing over her- they look like a skylight. There are lamps overhead that are shaped like moons, but there are also windows with plants outside. The giant orchids circle over the compound. Soong and Agnes both hover near Saga.
In Soji’s dream, she’s both a child in the hallway and a disassembled mannequin on the table. She can’t see the face of the person who’s working on her. She looks out a window in the hall and doesn’t see moons or lightning, then sees the moons through the skylight. There are orchids between her child self and her mannequin self. The orchids are the truth about the procedure she’s remembering, but they are also the border between life and limbo. The child in the hall equals her memories/soul being implanted into her physical body. This dream is essentially her memory of being born. She can’t remember the adult because in the dream, she hasn’t met them yet.
She might have been sent away before she woke up and not ever have met the man in the lab in her current persona. But the procedure she remembers might also have included the procedure we saw Saga go through- a memory wipe. Everyone on Coppelius remembers Soji, but she doesn’t remember them until she sees them again. Her memory was wiped and the memory files were placed behind the firewall in her mind to wait for the time when she was ready for them again.
Has Soji’s mind been fully restored yet? What other secrets and talents might be hiding in there? If someone did more deep meditation rituals with her, could they help her figure out where Bruce’s other lab was and remember more of the life that was wiped? Could Raffi and Agnes do some scans and downloads with her to examine her programming?