Feb 24 2012 3:15pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Brothers”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers“Brothers”
Written by Rick Berman
Directed by Rob Bowman
Season 4, Episode 3
Production episode 40274-177
Original air date: October 8, 1990
Stardate: 44085.7

Captain’s Log: While the Enterprise is on liberty at Ogus II, two brothers, Jake and Willie Potts — who have remained on the ship while their parents are on sabbatical — play at an arcade that sounds suspiciously like Laser Tag. Jake plays a practical joke on his brother by using a balloon filled with red dye that explodes when Willie fires on his brother. Devastated at the belief that he’s killed Jake, Willie runs into the forest and eats a native fruit that is filled with parasites that could kill him.

The Enterprise cuts leave short so they can get Willie — now in quarantine — to Starbase 416. However, en route, Data suddenly stops talking in mid-sentence and goes to the bridge. While never once responding to anyone speaking to him, he takes over helm control, then cuts life support off from the bridge. Any attempt by Picard or Riker to talk to Data or to figure out what’s going on is set aside to evacuate the bridge. Data fools Picard into thinking he’s going to evacuate also, then remains on the bridge — the lack of life support having no effect on him.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

While everyone else reconvenes in engineering, Data impersonates Picard and locks out all command functions and sets up force fields around the bridge. Picard attempts a saucer separation, while Worf and Riker try to break through, all to no avail. O’Brien manually disables site-to-site transporter functions, so Data can’t just beam off the bridge, but when they arrive at the planet where Data wants them to go, he sets up a cascading force field setup so that he’s surrounded by force fields wherever he goes, keeping Worf’s security people from stopping him. When he arrives at the transporter room, he reactivates the site-to-site functions and beams down to the planet.

Data materializes in a jungle near a structure. He walks into the structure to meet an elderly gentleman who deactivates his combadge before restoring him. Data remembers nothing since being in the turbolift and cutting himself off in mid-sentence.

The old man identifies himself as Dr. Noonian Soong, believed to have been killed on Omicron Theta with the rest of the colonists. Turns out he had a route of escape set up. Father and son catch up with each other. Soong asks why Data went into a career in Starfleet — he says it was because the people who rescued him were in Starfleet. Data in turn asks Soong why the doctor created him — Soong says he made Data for the same reason why painters paint, why boxers box, why Michelangelo sculpted.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Lore. Data implores Soong not to reactivate his brother, but Soong ignores Data’s sage advice (not to mention the fact that he conspired with the crystalline entity to destroy Omicron Theta, and almost did the same to the Enterprise) and wakes Lore up. Angered at being brought back against his will — and unintentionally, as Soong only thought Data was active, but the homing beacon works the same on both of them — Lore is about to leave when Soong reveals that he’s dying (though he avoids specifics regarding what he’s dying of or of how long he has to live).

The family reunion is a bit tense. Soong tells Lore that he did what he had to do, which Lore does not think is a good enough reason to have disassembled him. In turn, Soong reveals to Data that Lore was not entirely honest in “Datalore,” and that it wasn’t so much that the colonists envied Lore as they were afraid of him. Lore hadn’t been able to properly handle the emotions Soong gave him. Soong has spent the intervening years making emotions work right for Data. Had he known that Lore was reassembled, he would have spent time working on fixing Lore, as well.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

But before Soong can install the chip, he needs a nap, as he’s quite old, as evidenced by the sheer volume of latex Brent Spiner has been dipped in to play the part.

After his nap, Soong installs the chip into Data — or so he thinks — who starts singing “Abdul Abulbul Amir” by William Percy French. However, it turns out that Lore subdued Data and traded outfits with him, and so Data’s emotion chip is now in Lore. Soong tries to explain to Lore that the chip wasn’t meant for him, but Lore is too busy being pissed at his creator. He throws Soong into a wall and then beams out.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

With La Forge and O’Brien having fooled the transporters into thinking anyone who uses it is Data, Riker, Worf, and La Forge beam down. They find Soong on the floor and Data deactivated. The injured Soong tells Data how to clear his memory, at which point he realizes that his actions endangered Willie Potts’s life. Soong refuses to beam back to the Enterprise, as he’s dying anyway (or so he claims, as his exact words are that he has no intention of dying anywhere other than this planet, not that said death is in any way imminent). The away team beams back, Data restores command functions, and the ship hightails it to Starbase 416 to save Willie.

Data gives Willie a set of toy dinosaurs as a gift, and we see Willie and Jake playing with them, the brothers having reconciled. (One can’t help but imagine Willie saying, “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” with Jake responding, “Mine is an evil laugh!”) When Data expresses surprise at the rapprochement, Crusher says, “Brothers forgive.” For obvious reasons, Data seems dubious at the universality of that statement.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: La Forge somehow recognizes Soong because of the “stuff” in his lab. This is a neat trick, since the lab is filled with bubbling cauldrons, books, anatomy diagrams, and all kinds of other things that give absolutely no indication whatsoever that the world’s greatest cyberneticist uses the lab. In fact, the “stuff” indicates that he’s pretty much anything but a cyberneticist, as there are maybe three pieces of electronic equipment in the whole room. This is more a failure of set design than writing, but still...

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Pretty much Worf’s entire security force tries to stop Data from making it from the bridge to the transporter room, and they all fail miserably. One member of that force gets a name, Casey, making him the first security guard besides Yar and Worf to be named in dialogue.

The Boy!?: Wes mostly stands around and is ineffectual, but to be fair, that’s true of everyone not named Data....

If I Only Had a Brain…: Between his access as second officer of the ship, his ability to impersonate the captain, and his amazing android awesomeness, Data can take over the entire ship without batting an eyelash, which is actually pretty damned scary, yet apparently comes with no consequences. He also comes up with a 54-word code (mostly numbers with a few actual words thrown in) to lock out command functions. (Amusingly, the computer display of the code doesn’t quite match what Data says.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

Oh yeah, and he also is reunited with his brother, meets his Dad, blah blah blah....

I Believe I Said That: “You know what Michelangelo used to say? That the sculptures he made were already there before he started, hidden in the marble. All he needed to do was remove the unneeded bits. Wasn’t quite that easy with you, Data. But the need to do it, my need to do it, was no different than Michelangelo’s need.”

Soong answering Data’s query about why Soong created him.

Welcome Aboard: Cory Danziger and Adam Ryen actually do quite well as the Potts brothers. Danziger in particular handles Jake’s regret and frustration and confusion at the way his practical joke went so horribly wrong quite well. James Lashly appears as an engineer named Kopf — Lashly will return on two episodes of Deep Space Nine as a Starfleet security officer named George Primmin.

But of course the biggest “guest star” is Brent Spiner. After not appearing at all in last week’s “Family,” this time around he plays three parts: Data, reprising his role as Lore from “Datalore,” and getting dipped in a crapton of latex in order to play the elderly Dr. Noonian Soong. That Soong created his androids in his own image retroactively makes Ira Graves’s comment in “The Schizoid Man” that Data has “no aesthetic value whatsoever” even more amusing (not to mention explaining how Graves recognized Data as Soong’s work right away). Spiner will reprise the role of Soong in dream and holographic form in “Birthright Part 1” and “Inheritance.” Lore will reappear in the season-bridging two-parter “Descent.” Spiner will also play an ancestor of Noonian’s named Arik in three episodes of Enterprise.

Trivial Matters: Data’s ability to impersonate someone, established during the trial sequence in “Encounter at Farpoint,” is apparently good enough to fool the computer’s voice-recognition software (which indicates that the voice-recognition isn’t actually all that good, since it should be able to distinguish between something that comes from a biological rather than mechanical source).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

When Soong asks Data to whistle, he attempts “Pop Goes the Weasel,” the same tune he was whistling when Riker met him on the holodeck in “Encounter at Farpoint.”

Riker is the one who reactivates Data, as he’s the only one on the away team who’s aware of his off-switch, having discovered and used it during Data’s hearing in “The Measure of a Man.”

Lore was apparently rescued after two years floating in space following “Datalore” by a Pakled trading ship, and Lore is wearing an outfit similar to those worn by the Pakleds in “Samaritan Snare.”

Data will get his emotion chip back from Lore in “Descent Part 2,” finally installing it in Star Trek Generations.

Soong does not reveal that he was not the only one to escape Omicron Theta — he also rescued his wife, Juliana, who was badly injured. As will be revealed in “Inheritance,” Soong transferred Juliana’s consciousness into an android body, but she eventually left him.

David Mack recently revealed on his blog that his upcoming TNG novel trilogy Cold Equations will deal with Soong-type androids and artificial intelligence.

Although he has been involved with the production of the show since the beginning, having been a co-executive producer since the late first season, this is nonetheless Rick Berman’s first writer credit on Star Trek. It’s also the last directorial endeavor on Trek by Rob Bowman, TNG’s most prolific director to date.

Make it So: “Great. Just great.” There are a lot of nice touches in this episode, from the use of other crewmembers (Kopf, Casey, the engineer who accompanies La Forge to sickbay) to Riker’s mounting frustration throughout the episode (I particularly like the tone Jonathan Frakes uses when declaring that they only knew they came out of warp drive by looking out a window, with his hope that they don’t wind up looking like Data after using the transporter a close second) to the philosophical conversations about creation and legacies and such between Soong and Data to Crusher’s excellent bedside manner with Willie Potts.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

Of course, the real reason anyone gives a damn about this episode is the trifecta of awesome that Brent Spiner pulls off (with tremendous help from director Bowman, who picked a doozy for his Trek swansong). Having three Spiners in a room playing three radically different characters — Data’s quiet deadpan, Lore’s overemotionality and snottiness, and Soong’s borscht-belt shtick — is a joy to watch, and the intensity of those scenes is excellent.

But ultimately, there’s a depressingly inconsequential feel to the entire episode. In particular the lack of consequences at the end are just appalling. It shouldn’t be Soong’s choice whether or not he beams back to the Enterprise, as he is guilty of kidnapping a Starfleet officer and endangering a nine-year-old boy.

Data has also proven to be a massive security risk. As much fun as it is watching him run rings around his ever-more-frustrated crewmates, there’s the simple fact that there is no way he would be allowed to continue to serve as third-in-command of the flagship after this.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: on Brothers

Plus the risk to Willie never feels real because you know they’re not gonna let a little kid die.

As an acting exercise for Brent Spiner, this is a masterpiece, at least an 8. As an episode of TNG, it’s below average, a 4 at best. Luckily, that averages out to....


Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido has always enjoyed writing Data in his Star Trek fiction. The android appeared in his very first Trek work, the comic book Perchance to Dream (which is about to be reissued by IDW in the trade paperback Enemy Unseen), and also played an important role in A Time for War, a Time for Peace. Go to his web site and get all his latest fiction (like SCPD: The Case of the Claw, a police procedural set in a city full of superheroes), read his blog, follow him on Facebook and/or Twitter, and listen to his podcast, Dead Kitchen Radio.

1. Lsana
I had mostly the same reaction. I found Data's reunion with Soong touching, and I enjoyed the scenes between Spiner...and, er, Spiner and Spiner. However that was all eclipsed by the massive "WTF? Data steals the ship, endangers the life of a young boy, and everyone is OKAY with this? AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?" I just could not accept that everyone would say, "Oh, no harm no foul" to both Soong and Data. There's a good argument that Soong should have been arrested, and certainly Data should have been thrown off the Enterprise. The fact that Data couldn't help himself only makes the situation worse: who knows what other surprises might be lurking in his programming?

Oh, and Starfleet Security is amazingly incomptent here. Everyone involved in security for this episode, from Worf and his team to the guys who wrote the protocols for computer security needs to be fired.
2. Mike S.
This is one of my 3 favorites from Season 4 (the other two being "Reunion" and "The Drumhead"). I guess someone's opinion of this one goes by how much they can see past the flaws, and enjoy the Spiner performances. I guess I was able to do that moreso then our reviewer. Personally, I hold this as exhibit A for evidence that no Star Trek performer was going to get an Emmy award, ever. Betch the Emmy committee didn't even consider Spiner for this. Shame. I believed him in all 3 roles (the first time I watched this, I thought it was another actor as Soong, that's how unrecognizable he was - that's a good thing). I rate his acting tour-de-force a 10, to be honest, and knock the rest of the show down maybe 1-2 points for your reasoning (which never occured to me, but I stink at notcing that stuff).

"Borscht-belt shtick"? I used to work at a famous "borscht-belt" resort (even though I'm not Jewish), and I certianly saw that in Soong's "never thought I'd be running from a giant snowflake line."

Anyway, I liked this much more then Keith did. It's not in my top 5 of TNG, but it's up there.
Keith DeCandido
3. krad
I do agree that it's a crime that Spiner didn't get an Emmy nomination for this. It was three fantastic performances -- four if you count the "possessed" Data of Acts 1 and 2.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Michael Burstein
4. mabfan
As you point out, Spiner is brilliant in this episode. In a way, I almost consider it a continuation of "Family," given the themes.

-- Michael A. Burstein
5. Laundry Lady
I never understood why Data didn't bring up his experiments with Lal when Soong comments how he wishes Data had become a cyperneticist. I always felt that was a missed opportunity on the writer's part, especially for Data to express that he can understood some of his father's feelings regarding the need to create. Overall I do enjoy this episode in spite of its sad ending, it leaves a feeling of longing for human family like relationships that Data seems to desire.
6. politeruin
Bit of an unsatisfying episode like you say, saved by spiner's acting and i always loved how data completely owned the entire ship. That was very cool you have to admit, particularly the cascading force fields.
Alan Courchene
7. Majicou
A brief word of praise for Data's use of about the only decent password I've ever seen on TV. If he followed standard TV convention, his password would likely have been "Spot" or "Lal." As for his spoofing of Picard's voice, I'd wager he'd entirely fool a modern speaker-recognition system. Not being a security guy, I wouldn't really care to speculate what defenses a 24th-century computer would have against that kind of thing.

The events in this episode do raise major security concerns about Data, but the notion of having him transferred off or even cashiered out of Starfleet for it is uncomfortable-making after he went through the whole rights-as-a-sentient-being thing in season 2. Starfleet already knows of means by which any officer or crewmember could be subverted or replaced, from the C-in-C on down. An organic officer who was replaced by a shapeshifter or (say) assimilated by the Borg but then rescued wouldn't receive such punishment.

Great to hear about David Mack's upcoming project.
8. Brian Eberhardt
Fun episode with the cascading force shields.
9. Christopher L. Bennett
Funny, I could've sworn that Soong died of his injuries after Lore flung him aside, and that's why he wasn't arrested. And since he was the only one who understood positronic brains enough to hack Data (until Lore figured it out in "Descent"), that would explain the security-risk question.

And seriously, it's not as if organic Starfleet personnel haven't come across mind-controlling aliens or machines on a fairly regular basis -- Landru, Sylvia & Korob, the Platonians (okay, that was body control, but same security issue), etc. But that isn't considered to disqualify humans from Starfleet as unacceptable security risks.

Spiner did do a very good job with this, as did Bowman and the effects artists who orchestrated the complex split-screen shots. But I still wish Keye Luke, who was originally meant to play Soong, hadn't died shortly before the episode went into production. As I said in my comment on the "Datalore" rewatch, that episode's assertion that Data's creator was unknown was rendered nonsensical when we discovered that Data's face and voice were exactly the same as those of famous cyberneticist Noonien Soong. Also, the ethnicity of the name doesn't really fit Spiner, although that's probably less of an issue in the 24th century given cultural intermixing, and we've seen it before with Leila Kalomi.

Although figuring out what ethnicity "Noonien Soong" is meant to be in the first place is a poser. "Soong" can be a variant transliteration of a Korean or Chinese name, but "Noonien" is a name I haven't been able to find in any non-Trek context and it doesn't fit Chinese or Korean naming patterns. Supposedly Roddenberry named this character and Khan Noonien Singh after a Kim Noonien Singh he knew in WWII, an old friend that he hoped would hear his name in the shows and be inspired to get back in touch with Roddenberry, but I'm wondering if Roddenberry misremembered the guy's middle name, which could explain why he never heard from him. There is such a surname in India as "Nunia," but "Kim" is an odd name for an Indian unless his parents were Kipling fans.
j p
10. sps49
I think you're being too harsh. Soong did not intend to kidnap a Starfleet officer and endanger a child, he simply reeled in a construct of his. Did he know Data was in Starfleet? -yes, Lore could've told him, but how long was he there? He had no way of knowing Data would commandeer a starship.

Picard might want to lower Data's access privileges after this, but Data's nature has and will save the entire ship more than once.

And I really don't get how voice recognition is supposed to know whether a voice is generated by a throat or a recorded playback or a really good synthesizer. The computer has to read data inputted via a microphone somewhere, and unless there are scales under the deckplates and IR sensors on the user, sound waves are just soundwaves.

I'd give this a 7, mostly because I hate the kid subplot.
11. Lsana

Actually, "Measure of a Man" is part of the reason I would treat this incident with Data pretty harshly. We established Data was a sentient being with all the rights of a sentient being, but that also means all the responsibilities of a sentient being. Meaning he needs to be held responsible for his actions. And no, I don't think a biological crew memeber who stole the ship so that he could go deal with his daddy issues would get a shrug of the shoulders and a "okay then, carry on." At the very least, that crew member would be removed from his post and given a through psychological evaluation, probably followed by a few months of desk duty before there was even a chance he'd get to serve on a starship again.

Really, the problem here isn't whether Data is an android or a human or an alien, it's the fact that he's part of the main cast. If Lieutenant Commander Redsh Irt from the planet Expendable pulled the same thing Data did, he'd be in the 24th century equivalent of a hospital for the criminally insane. If Wesley did it, it would be treated as a childish prank, almost cute, pretty much the same way it was treated with Data.

But it still bugs me. There ought to have been consequences from this.
Keith DeCandido
12. krad
sps49: You're proceeding from a false premise. Soong specifically said he had been following Data's career, so he knew damn well that he was an active-duty Starfleet officer, and since he wrote the program, he knew how it would work. No matter how you slice it, he caused a lieutenant commander in Starfleet to be somewhere against his will. What Soong did was no different than what Kivas Fajo did in "The Most Toys," and Riker's response to his refusal to beam back to the ship should've been, "That wasn't a request."

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Tim May
13. ngogam
I think the issue with the voice recognition is not so much "Is it reasonable to suppose that a 24th-century voice-recognizer would be able to tell a human voice from a mechanical imitation?" as "If it can't, should they really be relying on it as a security measure?"
j p
14. sps49
krad- d'oh! I didn't remember that, sorry.
15. Shellywb
Lsana @11, how can he be held responsible when his programming was hacked and he was made to act without his knowledge or consent? If a human did this, and as 9 has pointed out, this has happened in past Star Treks, there would be no consequences for the human because it was beyond his control. If anything, Data and such humans are victims of mind rape.
16. Abigail Brady
@15 Certainly, a good case could be made that Data shouldn't be subject to any criminal or disciplinary action for what he did during the influence of the signal. However, he is a security risk still - especially given his proven ability to hijack the ship on his own - something that LaForge or Wesley have never been demonstrated to be do - and removing a security risk from a situation like that isn't unjust punishment or vindictiveness, it's just a sensible precaution.
17. Lsana

As I recall, it was less a case of Data's programming being "hacked" than it was of "some subroutine that was aready there was activated." I don't think I'd consider this the equivalent of mind rape by unknown outside forces. What I would consider this equivalent to would be a human crewmember who went temporarily insane and did the same thing. If it had been a human who did this, I wouldn't have wanted him prosecuted, but I would have wanted him removed from the bridge and subject to a through psyschological evaluation. Likewise, Data should be removed from the bridge and we should examine his programming thoroughly enough to be sure that there aren't any more of these little surprises. And if we can't evaluate the programming that thoroughly without damaging it, then the question at least should be asked whether Data should continue to serve on the Enterprise (the answer doesn't need to be "no," but the question needs to be asked, which it wasn't here).

And as @16 pointed out, a crazed Data can do far more damage than a crazed human or Vulcan, so it's worth taking additional precautions.
Bruce Arthurs
18. bruce-arthurs
It's been a long time since I watched the original series, but didn't Spock take over control of the Enterprise at least once, and try to several times? So there's precedent for not punishing mutineers and hijackers.
19. Seryddwr
I always liked this. Regarding the lack of consequences for Data's hijacking of the Enterprise, I always considered that some sort of evaluation of Data's reliability and/or hearing was held afterward (off-screen).

Then again, maybe I'm just too eager to retcon ST:TNG...
Keith DeCandido
20. krad
Bruce: Well, he did take over the ship in "The Menagerie," but he was immediately court-martialed for it. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Chin Bawambi
21. bawambi
My problem with this episode is not the lack of consequences to Data personally but the lack of security controls but into place after this episode. Okay, the flagship is still voice recognition after this? Not even fingerprint or optical scanning extra layers for the auto-destruct? I seem to recall at least one other episode where the moving force field worked after this (maybe in DS9 or Voyager though). This should have forced a Federation wide security review after the FLAGSHIP was compromised (yet again lol).
22. Mike Kelm
Once again Starfleet Security in the 24th Century appears to be as equally inept as Starfleet Security in the 23rd Century- they've just changed uniform colors. They can't figure out how to get around Data's blocks on their equipment on their own ship? I get the idea that Data can reproduce Picard's voice better than a simple recording and put in a rediculously unbreakable code. But there's no way to manually stop a warp drive? Even on a modern nuclear reactor there is a manual way to SCRAM the pile and stop the reaction. There's no manual block that would say, stop the antimatter flow to the engine and keep an AM reaction from occurring? I'm supposed to believe that Geordi and his crack team of engineers just sat around in engineering doing nothing for X hours until they reached the planet? And there was no attempt to retake the bridge? Nobody said- hey lets beam 10 guys onto the bridge and start firing phasers? How were they supposed to know that Data was just visiting dear old dad? What if he was going to turn the ship over to Romulan command or go strafe Vulcan or someting? Then Data takes a stroll through the corridor as his preprogrammed cascading force field walks along with him... it's your own damn ship! You can't go cut a power line somewhere or blow up a forcefield emitter?

The problem is that if the ship is being hijacked by someone or something, the crew (all thousand of them) should be pro-actively trying to take it back. We see Riker try to sneak onto the bridge and a forcefield pops up... so Riker gives up. They tried separating the saucer section and get blocked... so they give up. I get it that Data is really, really smart and can hack the computer really well, but in true Trek fashion there should be some sort of way to get around it. The only one on the ship who seems to have any success is O'Brien, who manages to do his magic on the transporter system to block Data and then allow the away team (who apparently has forgotten they have 50 shuttles on board) to beam down.

Brent Spiner's acting is tremendous in this, and it's what keeps this episode afloat- but it can't overcome the weak claim on reality that occurs here... I'd give it about a 5- 4 of which are for Spiners ability and the other point for Riker's sarcasm.
23. Edgar Governo
If everyone on the crew except Data gets a pass for being compromised due to a video game addiction in "The Game," I think Data himself should get a pass on this one...and that's without getting into all of the many other times members of the TNG crew have acted against Starfleet orders under an outside influence.
Joseph Newton
24. crzydroid
Consider this: Maybe we just don't see the inquiry into Data's actions. If a season is 26 episodes, and is supposed to span a year, then there are approximately two weeks per episode. Some episodic missions may span a longer time than this, but most episodes seem to take place in a considerably shorter amount of time. We don't see everything that goes on on the ship. Most of that "filler time" is probably travelling at warp from one destination to another (during which time things are presumably happening on the Enterprise as well). I'd also like to think that the ship goes on routine missions every now and then. I'm getting a bit carried away, but I think I've made my point that during a typical season a lot more goes on than we actually see.

Now, perhaps you can criticize the writing and say they should have SHOWN us the inquiry, or at least made mention that there would be some consequences. Nevertheless, I don't think we can necessarily say beyond the shadow of a doubt that there were NO consequences.
25. jlpsquared
I love this episode, I would say easy 8 or 9, but the lack of consequences does bother me also. That being said, this isn't like Boomer in BSG actively shooting her captain. Data, as safely as he could, took over the ship for a trip to a planet.

Yes, there should have been consequences, but I would be OK with a throw-away line from Georgdi like "I re-routed all his emergency fiber pathways to newly created known pathways, and than ran a level one diagnostic..." or something like that.

and let's not forget how many times data has single handidly saved the ship!
Phil Parsons
26. Yakko
It's never bothered me that we didn't see a court martial or any fallout from Data's actions though all the points that are being raised here seem perfectly reasonable. This remains one of my favorite episodes of the series and my reaction to Data's takeover of the Enterprise is the same today as it was 22 years ago - it's just plain cool and exhilarating to watch.

One of my favorite little callbacks is in the episode when Lore reveals that he was rescued from deep space by a Pakled ship. Given Lore's impatience with people he considers his intellectual inferiors (everyone he meets) I've always imagined the unfortunate Pakleds couldn't have survived very long once the evil android came on board!
27. Bernadette S Marchetti
@krad: You mentioned that the security code had numbers and words. Those weren't words, those were letters using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet (i.e. tango = "T", charlie = "C", etc.). Though they probably wouldn't call it the "NATO Phonetic Alphabet" in the 24th century since I'd assume NATO no longer exists, they obviously still use it probably under some other name.
28. Yuu
I've often thought about how dangerous Data can be, and how he is miraculously still given so much access. This is an issue that was probably never meant to resolved (or brought to attention in the first place) by the writers, simply because that would make Data a bit uncool if you will.

As an episode, it was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining (more so for the Data fans), enough that the little issues can be waved completely (trying to count the flaws and mistakes in the series would never end, almost all of the episodes have them). I was however disappointed that Lal was never brought up. It was as if this episode was written before the Lal episode (yet they could remember to insert mention of Lal in future episodes). They missed the perfect opportunity for Data to consult Soong about Lal and for Soong to see that he and Data share a similar desire and be proud of Data's attempt at "continuing the family business". One of the most glaring writing mistakes in TNG imo.
29. Pip
which indicates that the voice-recognition isn’t actually all that good, since it should be able to distinguish between something that comes from a biological rather than mechanical source

Once a software has mastered speech synthesis perfectly, as the one Data uses quite obviously has, imitating ANY voice perfectly is trivial.

Also: why should there be consequences? The Enterprise has been demonstrated to be ridiculously easy to overtake, manipulate and incapacitate time and time again.

Ridiculous was "tap-your-head-and-rub-your-belly". Seriously? An assembly line robot from the 60s can do that.
30. Etherbeard
Other than being mentioned by Remmick, Picard being mind-controlled by the Ferengi went without any repurcussions. If some sooper dooper telepath came in and compromised Troi in some way, no one would suggest that she be removed from the ship. How is Data being similarly compromised any different?

The problem with the security isn't so much that the computer will accept Data's imitation of Picard's voice, but that if there is a function available only to the captain, Data shouldn't have known the pass-phrase at all. The voice recognition should be fine on any other ship, but on the Enterprise Picard should have been practicing safer computer in the presence of an android who he knew could perfectly imitate his voice.
31. Ellis K.
Well, of course: in it's own way, this episode is as ridiculous as anything from Season One. This isn't the first time Data's gone off the reservation, and with this one, the idea that he'd be allowed on a Federation starship again, except in a containment field worthy of Magneto, is absurd. It also falls directly after we've seen Picard assimilated by the Borg and leading an devastating attack against Star Fleet. Just like the plethora of zombie movies points to an underlying societal trend (brainless people disengaged from reality and going through the motions of survival), so is ST:TNG's fascination with crew members being controlled by outside forces and becoming threats. I get it, but it's too easy and too lazy. The wonderful momentum that the show established towards the end of Season Three is being threatened by the repitition of this theme, and the internal consistency of the show is being ruined by recurring characters themselves becoming the threats that the Enterprise has to overcome, and then having those same characters resume their good guy roles in succeeding episodes as if nothing happened.
32. therealarod
This was a great hour of television! Data taking over and getting off the ship was epic, and the scene where Data and Soong discuss the meaning of life is one of my greatest top 2-3 scenes of all time. The lack of consequences is something that is hard to set aside, granted. Otherwise its a very good and memorable TNG episode. 9 out of 10
33. LtCmdrAmart
You can't hold Data responsible for something that was completely out of his control. We've learned in the 24th century that any officer can be possessed by an alien force. They don't immediately lose their rank and secuirty clearance after that occurs. However, holding Soong responsible is a much more valid argument.

I'm certain Geordi also knows about Data's on/off switch. Wesley Crusher states in "The Game" that Geordi and his mother know more about Data than anyone else on board. This is supported by their handy work in "Deja Q" and "Inheritance".

Aside from "The Mind's Eye," this is easily the best episode of the fourth season. Bravo, Mr. Spiner!

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