Deaths in the Star Trek: Picard season finale not only write an end for beloved characters, but will also change the United Federation of Planets forever. Major spoilers ahead for Picard Episode 10, “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2.”
In the first half of the two-part episode, the final stakes for Star Trek: Picard‘s first season were revealed, as Data’s daughter, Soji Asha (Isa Briones), debated whether or not to summon the synthetic lifeforms that have terrified the Romulans for generations. Since ending a season of Star Trek with the destruction of all organic life in the galaxy wouldn’t fit the series’ utopian bent, you’ve probably already guessed that retired starship captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) convinces Soji that fellowship and peace between organic and synthetic life is preferable to genocide. But far more surprising are those moments in “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” that reveal the high cost of peace, with multiple character deaths occurring in the season finale.
The first death is the Romulan spy and member of the Zhat Vash, Narissa (Peyton List), who Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) kicks off a high platform in the Borg cube. This is a pretty standard villain death, with little consequence for the wider Star Trek galaxy. But what comes next changes Picard and the future of humanity forever.
Major deaths are a controversial thing on Star Trek, especially after Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) got crushed by a bridge in Star Trek: Generations. For every great death—Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan—there’s an ignoble one, like the end of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), which was so hated by fans that The Next Generation writers fixed it in one of the best episodes of the series, “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”
In Episode 10 of Star Trek: Picard, Jean-Luc himself dies. His end comes after he successfully puts a stop to the destruction of the synth’s adoptive homeworld, Coppelius. With his willingness to sacrifice his life to oppose the Romulan fleet, Picard demonstrates to Soji the possibility of peace and understanding between synthetic and organic life. Unfortunately, the confrontation overtaxed Picard, which combines with the defect in his parietal lobe to end the captain’s life.
Jean-Luc Picard died in 2399 on the planet Coppelius, surrounded by the crew of the starship La Sirena.
“I gave you a choice,” Picard tells Soji with his last breaths, “not being the Destroyer was up to you. It always was.”
After sharing a final moment with Elnor (Evan Evagora), his last words are “Raffi, you were quite right,” likely referencing her willingness, in the previous episode, to openly share her affections with the typically reticent starship captain.
But while Picard’s death is epochal in itself, what comes next has major implications for the future of human civilization and the entire United Federation of Planets. Remember that synthetic body Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner) is building for himself? Sometime after Picard’s death, Soong and Dr. Alison Jurati (Alison Pill) solve the final roadblocks to uploading consciousness and insert Jean-Luc Picard into the synthetic body. That’s right, in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, Jean-Luc will be an android.
Previous to Star Trek: Picard, Data was one of the only androids with sentience in the known galaxy, thanks to an ahead-of-its-time positronic brain. Even decades after The Next Generation, androids remain more tools than individual consciousnesses. This only changes after the ban on all synthetic research, which sent Bruce Maddox and Soong beyond Federation space to continue their research and finally create conscious synthetic life. After the events of Picard‘s first season, the Federation’s ban on synthetics is lifted. Should they be reintegrated into society, Jean-Luc will prove a powerful advocate.
While Jean-Luc is now an artificial lifeform, Star Trek: Picard goes out of its way to highlight how little the character himself will change. Picard’s new body has zero enhancements and still ages normally. But while Picard may be much the same at the dawn of the 24th century, Star Trek will be different forever.
There’s one last death in the Star Trek: Picard season finale and it’s another surprising one. After dying, Picard finds himself in a room with Data, even though the android died in 2379 after sacrificing himself to save the Enterprise in the 2002 movie Star Trek Nemesis.
“It is a massively complex quantum simulation,” Data tells Picard, explaining how they are talking, even after death. “My consciousness exists in a massively complex quantum reconstruction, made from a copy of the memories I downloaded into B-4, just before I died.”
The consciousnesses of both Data and Picard survive their bodies on a futuristic hard drive, essentially. But while a part of Data has been alive, in storage, all these years, he makes a final request of Picard, before Jean-Luc is inserted in his new body.
“I would be profoundly grateful if you terminated my consciousness,” Data tells Picard. “I want to live, however briefly, knowing that my life is finite. Mortality gives meaning to human life, Captain. Peace, love, friendship, these are precious, because we know they cannot endure.”
In one of “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” final scenes, Picard unplugs Data’s hard drive (appropriately, the well-read captain quotes Shakespeare’s The Tempest). Within his quantum simulation, Data finally dies, while holding Jean-Luc’s hand.
With two deaths, Star Trek: Picard not only writes a contemplative end for one of The Next Generation‘s most beloved characters, but also opens up a new future for the Star Trek galaxy.