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S01.E09: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

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I'm going to blame Maddox (and Soong jun. I guess) for creating Dahji and Soji as sleeper agents. If nothing else they could at least have given them a subroutine against Romulan honey-traps!

Edited by MissLucas
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The synth colony certainly was in keeping with the tradition of previous idealised or idealistic societies on TOS/TNG, with the flowing clothes that reveal just enough flesh (although we now have gender equality of sorts in that most males also display their wares and it's not just the females with the navel-baring and naked-back robes that were standard on the previous shows). And for once there is a reason for everyone being handsome (no fat or old specimens): they were all designed.

Which does not prevent them from stupidly assigning the most naive and trusting one to watch over the prisoner; sure enough she almost fell for his persuasion, only to be prevented by Sutra who eventually did her in anyway.

I can buy Data mastering the Vulcan nerve pinch since it is just physiological. But a synth learning how to mind-meld just from "studying" Vulcan culture? Sorry, that was much too expedient for me; there are limits to my ability to suspend disbelief. At least for Oh they found an acceptable explanation; she is half-Vulcan, so much like Spock the ability comes from that half, even though the telepathic abilities died out in Romulans.

So how many Soongs has BS portrayed over the various series in the franchise? I count 3, going as far as the creator of the Augments in Enterprise. Perhaps he will eventually do a daring cross-dressing turn and play gentle old Auntie Soong. One thing for sure: his genes are very dominant since every generation looks like the previous one.

So the Artefact it just lying there? Will it play the role of Chekov's gun, i.e. being planted early in the story so it can play a crucial role later, with Elnor and Seven leading the charge?

This episode was mostly set-up for the finale; a lot of material and premises were laid out, which means they have quite a challenge to bring it all together satisfyingly.

Edited by Florinaldo
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3 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

his genes are very dominant since every generation looks like the previous one.

Which leads to my suspicion that Soong keeps cloning himself rather than reproducing normally. Or this Soong is an Andriod claiming to be human who can age or de-age himself at will.

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5 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

I can buy Data mastering the Vulcan nerve pinch since it is just physiological. But a synth learning how to mind-meld just from "studying" Vulcan culture? Sorry, that was much too expedient for me; there are limits to my ability to suspend disbelief. At least for Oh they found an acceptable explanation; she is half-Vulcan, so much like Spock the ability comes from that half, even though the telepathic abilities died out in Romulans

I dunno, they've never actually explained the biology behind the Vulcan mind-meld. If it revolves around electrical impulses in the brain, I can just about buy a sophisticated android learning the technique.

2 hours ago, marinw said:

Which leads to my suspicion that Soong keeps cloning himself rather than reproducing normally. Or this Soong is an Andriod claiming to be human who can age or de-age himself at will.

If Soong was an android, he wouldn't be so concerned with his mortality or in such a rush for Agnes to help him figure out how to transfer his mind into that golem body of his. Clone I could buy, but I don't think any of the Soongs are meant to be clones, it is just an in-joke that they all look so identical, being played by the same actor.

Man, but this series more than any other Trek series really loves making its actors work overtime, playing multiple characters!

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So I just saw a surprisingly good theory that Soong Junior is actually a reassembled Lore, altered somehow to look human. I was skeptical until the part where the person pointed out that if you go back to the Lore episodes that a TON of stuff matches up. Including how Lore called Soong "father", and that's how Soong knew Lore wasn't Data. And when Soong Junior talks about Data here, he says "Father HAD me, but then he made Data". Think that sentence through then go back and rewatch in TNG how Lore's constant refrain was bitterness over Soong building Data and basically throwing away Lore (or at least that's how the emotion capable Lore saw it). Add to that the specific way Soong Junior passive-aggressively undercuts Picard, even when he first arrives, and you have Lore. 

In this scenario, we can posit a lot of theories about Lore's possible motives--most easily slotted in with his anger. 

There's more too.  Apparently the shot with the synthetics doing Tai chi like exercises is straight out of a different TNG episode, admittedly one without Lore, that's all about Data lying to the Enterprise crew to protect them from aliens from afar who mind wiped them. The overall implication being that when we see that scene we should expect what follows to be about an illusion, a series of lies, played out for our protagonists. 

 

Edited by Kromm
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4 minutes ago, Kromm said:

In this scenario, this would seem to all be Lore having a long term plot to lash back at his dead father by destroying humanity (and other biological life along with them). 

When Lore took over the TNG!Borg, was his goal extermination or subjugation?

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7 hours ago, Llywela said:

dunno, they've never actually explained the biology behind the Vulcan mind-meld.

In the ST universe, telepathic abilities were always portrayed as genetically-linked, which is why some races have them and others not, and how it died out in the Romulans for reasons that were given in the movie Nemesis IIRC. I balk at the idea of a synth carrying DNA; they are not bio-mechanical beings, they were manufactured from scratch and have no biological components.

If this Soong turns to be Lore in disguise, it will be laziest and least ingenious plot "twist" possible.

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I have less of a problem with Sutra being able to mindmeld than I thought I would.  While they seemed to forget about this (as Troi couldn't read Soji), we did see her being able to sense emotions in Data when Lore was projecting them into him in "Descent."  That's not any more logical.

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17 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

In the ST universe, telepathic abilities were always portrayed as genetically-linked, which is why some races have them and others not, and how it died out in the Romulans for reasons that were given in the movie Nemesis IIRC. I balk at the idea of a synth carrying DNA; they are not bio-mechanical beings, they were manufactured from scratch and have no biological components.

Dahj and Soji certainly seem to be at least partly biological, maybe in the vein of Nexus models from Blade Runner, skinjob Cylons or Dark Matter's "Two".

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Spock also managed to mindmeld with V'Ger while wearing a space suit with thick gloves.  They've always been kind of loose with the rules.

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17 hours ago, starri said:

Spock also managed to mindmeld with V'Ger while wearing a space suit with thick gloves.  They've always been kind of loose with the rules

TOS! Spock mind melded with Nomad...an Earth probe that merged programming with an alien probe to survive...so the target of a mind meld being synthetic was canon before The Motion Picture

Edited by paigow
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16 hours ago, starri said:

Spock also managed to mindmeld with V'Ger while wearing a space suit with thick gloves.  They've always been kind of loose with the rules.

I remember finding that quite silly at the time (as most of that movie was).

So I am consistent in my reluctance to accept telepathic communications between a machine and a sentient biological, even if the franchise has not been so with such mental processes in general, as you point out.

17 hours ago, Wouter said:

Dahj and Soji certainly seem to be at least partly biological

I do not recall hearing that mentioned on the show. Data had similar synth skin for example, but no true biological component.

Edited by Florinaldo

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I don't think we heard a mention in this episode of "auntie" Ramdha, the Romulan who only went half-mad after the Admonition ritual. Of course, of the surviving characters only Soji knows her and could wonder if she survived the crash of the Artefact. She is supposed to be very strong-willed and resilient, having caused the disconnection of the Cube from the collective.

I will assume that she may pop up unexpectedly in the finale, throwing around her triangular playing cards, screaming "Destroyer!" and disrupting whatever plans have been put in motion by Picard to counter Oh's arrival. Unless she switches sides.

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3 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

 

I will assume that she may pop up unexpectedly in the finale, throwing around her triangular playing cards, screaming "Destroyer!" and disrupting whatever plans have been put in motion by Picard to counter Oh's arrival.

Until Elnor decapitates her...Or Seven uses Bloody Kill phaser setting...

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20 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

I remember finding that quite silly at the time (as most of that movie was).

So I am consistent in my reluctance to accept telepathic communications between a machine and a sentient biological, even if the franchise has not been so with such mental processes in general, as you point out.

I do not recall hearing that mentioned on the show. Data had similar synth skin for example, but no true biological component.

Chabon has explained the mindmeld: "Q: How can an android mind-meld? Wasn't this something tied to Vulcan physiology? A: So Vulcans have always led us to believe. As a physiological effect, it can be synthesized, or rather the physio-anatomical basis can be synthetically reproduced."

And also:"Q: What's required for non-Vulcans to do mind melds? A: Brain function that mimics, or can be modified to mimic, that of Vulcans. For one."

As for Dahj and Soji, their skin is clearly not the same as what Data had (Sutra may have similar skin to Data, being an older model [?] or her look may have been deliberately chosen to mimic Data). Dahj and Soji have passed succesfully as humans for 3 years. In doing to they also must have fooled scanners, including scanners installed by paranoid Romulans on the artefact. And still, it seems that the Romulans only found out she was a synthetic mere weeks before the finale.

Soji tells Kendra that she has mucus, she tells Jurati that she drinks when she is thirsty. Jurati has good reason to be excited and impressed by that, because this means she is someting quite different from Data.

And most of all, Picard seems to be convinced Dahj (and by extension, Soji) is flesh and blood. I think it was in the first episode, when he asked Jurati if it was possible to construct an android who looks human inside and out - an android of flesh and blood. And after Jurati told him that was impossible, he told her that he got the necklace from "one you said couldn't exist".

Jurati also said that perfecting a flesh-and-blood host body (for Data's neuron or neurons - not sure what form that would taken) is relatively simple. And since she is a medical doctor besides a cyberneticist, and she is hailed as close to being a "mother" for the synths, she was likely involved in at least the concepts that led to the creation of Soji and Dahj (and possibly some of the other synths).

Sure, Dahj and Soji seem far too fast and strong to be flesh and blood (with presumably normal weigth for their size and build), but then this happened in Blade Runner, BSG and Dark Matter (and undoubtedly others) too. I find Picard to be compelling TV, but as most SF it's far from being realistic.

9 hours ago, Florinaldo said:

I don't think we heard a mention in this episode of "auntie" Ramdha, the Romulan who only went half-mad after the Admonition ritual. Of course, of the surviving characters only Soji knows her and could wonder if she survived the crash of the Artefact. She is supposed to be very strong-willed and resilient, having caused the disconnection of the Cube from the collective.

I will assume that she may pop up unexpectedly in the finale, throwing around her triangular playing cards, screaming "Destroyer!" and disrupting whatever plans have been put in motion by Picard to counter Oh's arrival. Unless she switches sides.

Ramdha probably was Soji's target, as the breakdown of the Cube must have intrigued Maddox (who was aware of the Romulan anti-synth movement). I think she will play a role yet, hopefully helping to convince her own side that Soji is not Seb-Cheneb (that's likely Sutra).

Ramdha has experienced the admonition firsthand, this may yet come into play.

Edited by Wouter
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I need to hear Brent Spiner say: My name is Inigo Soong. You killed my android. Prepare to die.

No doubt Picard will find Fezzik Soong on some other planet next season...

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Somehow I think that both the Romulans and the Synths are misinterpreting the Admonishon. Perhaps the Artifact has become somewhat corrupted over the millenia? The message has become garbled? That seems the most likely outcome to me. Both sides have "interpreted" it in opposite yet parallel ways, but I feel they are both "missing" some essential part of it.

I hope Picard does get healed, but I can't see him ever wanting to become an andriod. (Especially after being "Borgified". Once was enough!)

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On 3/23/2020 at 8:43 AM, Florinaldo said:

I can buy Data mastering the Vulcan nerve pinch since it is just physiological. But a synth learning how to mind-meld just from "studying" Vulcan culture? Sorry, that was much too expedient for me; there are limits to my ability to suspend disbelief. At least for Oh they found an acceptable explanation; she is half-Vulcan, so much like Spock the ability comes from that half, even though the telepathic abilities died out in Romulans.

Several posts have been made regarding the mind meld since this post was made, but this stuck out to me, also. I appreciate the writer explaining that a bit further, but that's not apparent on-screen.

I laughed when Rios said, "Well, that was unexpected" as the Borg ship showed up. I also laughed at the Stranger Things aggro-orchids.

Brent Spiner is SEVENTY ONE!? That surprised me but of course it makes sense, since time does pass for us all... He looked great as Data and looks great as Soong

Edited by mledawn · Reason: Mind Meld and Nerve Pinch are two different things

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11 hours ago, mledawn said:

I appreciate the writer explaining that a bit further, but that's not apparent on-screen.

Chabon's explanation which was posted above did not seem very convincing for me. It's more like a quick handwaving escape by a resourceful writer to get himself out of a tricky question.

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On ‎3‎/‎22‎/‎2020 at 10:33 PM, Gillian Rosh said:

I really did love seeing Brent Spiner again. He's such a gifted actor. He truly disappears into whatever role he is playing.

Not really. I find the Soongs are all very similar to each other, including Lore. He can be a very mannered actor. (Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see him back, too.) But Isa Briones is far less predictable, I find, and has played 3 distinct characters in this short series already.  

Edit: Yeah, I don't buy the explanation that Sutra was able to learn to mind-meld from studying Vulcan techniques, especially since "Nepenthe" established that Soji didn't register to Troi's empathic awareness at all. Either organic and synthetic minds are different, or they're not; this felt like the show was trying to have it both ways.

Edited by Sandman
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Dahj. Soji. Sutra. Jana. We've got ourselves a regular Orphan Black group here, don't we. I'm intrigued by Sutra. She's seems just as ruthless as Oh and the rest of the Romulans.

And yet Soji, the one we have spent by far the most time with, is the blankest of the bunch. Dahj and Sutra both made more of an impression in 1 episode than Soji has made in 9.

I like this show a lot, but Soji as the McGuffin is just not doing it for me at all. I'm ready for the Romulans to vaporize her and for us to start over with someone new next season (as if, I know).

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