The Soong boys are back! In “Remembrance,” the very first episode Star Trek: Picard, we saw two of the three Soong siblings: Data appeared twice in Picard’s dreams, and B-4 was in pieces in a drawer at the Daystrom Institute. But what about the third identical “brother”, the infamous Lore? Could Data’s dastardly brother still be around? And could he bother all these folks in Star Trek: Picard? Let’s look at where we last left Lore in The Next Generation timeline, plus meditate on his previous comebacks for clues for how he might have snuck his way back to the Final Frontier. Get ready to boldly explore the lore of…Lore!
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard, season 1, episode 1, “Remembrance.”
Disclaimer: As of this writing, the author has not seen anything in Picard to indicate Lore has returned. The following is pure speculation.
Briefly, Lore was created by Dr. Soong before Data, but after B-4. Unlike Data, Lore was programmed with emotions, which made him super scary to the human colonists on Omicron Theta, which led Dr. Soong to deactivate the android. Lore was discovered by the crew of the Enterprise-D several years later (in the episode“Datalore”) and—unaware he was the worst—they decided to reassemble him. Lore quickly tried to take over the ship and was beamed into space thanks to a clutch move by Data. But Lore didn’t die; he and Data separately responded to a homing beacon (as seen in the episode “Brothers”) activated by their “father,” Noonian Soong. After swapping clothes with Data and stealing an emotion chip meant for his brother, Lore fled the scene only to resurface a few years later as the leader of a group of rogue Borg who had been separated from the Collective. After manipulating Data with the emotion chip, Lore was eventually defeated again, and Data permanently deactivated him.
What happened to him after that? The simple answer is that we don’t know. Presumably, Data did not keep Lore’s body on the Enterprise because that would have just been creepy. In Nemesis, when Picard and Data find B-4’s body, Picard asks “Could this be Lore?” which implies they don’t exactly know where Lore’s body is at that moment. It’s possible that Data handed Lore’s body over to Bruce Maddox at the Daystrom Institute, which would make sense since Data and Bruce became pen pals after Bruce tried to strip Data of his basic rights to do anything in “The Measure of a Man.”
Anyway. If we operate under the premise that Lore’s body was given to Bruce Maddox at the Daystrome Institute, sometime around the year 2370 (after the events of “Descent Part 2”) things start to get interesting.
Lore could have indirectly caused the Synth revolt on Mars
In the first episode of Picard, Dr. Jurati (Alison Pill) says that all the Synths who attacked Mars were made in their lab. Later, she and Jean-Luc talk about the idea that the recreating the science that made Data has been tricky, and that B-4 was kind of useless because he was an “inferior copy.” But what about Lore? If Maddox (and maybe a much younger Dr. Jurati), had access to Lore in 2370, then they could have designed Synths using Lore as the template. In the trailers for Picard, we see there are golden-skinned looking androids out there somewhere. Are these the Synths that were made in this lab? Did they attack Mars? If so, and those androids were based on Lore, not Data, then it’s totally conceivable some of Lore’s terrible personality was duplicated in the process of making new androids.
Lore could have maybe swapped places with B-4
Jurati tells Picard that the android in the drawer is B-4, and Picard wistfully says “he looks so much like Data.” Picard could have very well have said: “He looks so much like that lunatic Lore who tried to kill Wesley.” In two out of his three appearances in The Next Generation, Lore’s big plan was to get himself into a situation where he could do a clothes switcharoo with Data to confuse everyone. This is literally Lore’s master plan in both “Datalore” and “Brothers,” and one has to admit that had he just switched clothes with Data in “Descent Part 2,” maybe he would have gotten away with all of his crazy schemes. So, if Lore somehow got himself reassembled and reactivated, it stands to reason that he could have made everyone think he was B-4.
This feels a little like a long con, but assuming Maddox put Lore back together and actively worked with him at the Daystrom Institute, it would be pretty easy for Lore to switch clothes with B-4 (classic Lore move) and then act exactly like B-4. Jurati says B-4 eventually just broke down and stopped working, but what if that’s what Lore wanted everyone to think? Acting as B-4—who everyone trusted—it’s possible that Lore could have sabotaged the androids being made in the lab, and ensured they would later go rogue. Then, just as an insurance policy, Lore could have vaporized B-4, and then switched clothes with him again and pretended to break down; making everyone think he was B-4. So, what I’m saying is that maybe Lore is in the drawer and not B-4 because that’s what he wanted. Don’t put him back together, Alison Pill! It’s (maybe) Lore!
The Rogue Borg from “Descent” could have downloaded memories of Lore
Dr. Jurati suggests that twin androids Dahj and Soji (Isa Briones) could have been created from one neuron of Data’s essence using something called “fractal neuronic cloning.” She tells Picard that creating the “host android body would be relatively easy,” once you had this spiffy neuron. So, if we’re lead to believe that Dahj and Soji exist because they came from a tiny fragment of Data, it’s reasonable to assume that there may be left-over neurons from Lore floating around, too.
Lore was last seen in the company of former Borg drones, at least one of whom—Hugh—is returning for Star Trek: Picard. Could they have access to little pieces of Lore? If they do, then it stands to reason that Lore’s body could be duplicated elsewhere, and somebody—maybe some former Borg—have a back-up of his personality. The rogue Borg in “Descent” were certainly mistreated by Lore, but hey, who knows, maybe some of them thought he was kind of cool. If Picard gives us factions of former Borg drones, maybe there’s a few out there who long for the good old days when Lore was running the show, and have decided to create a new Lore with direct-download memories.
Bringing back Lore on Star Trek: Picard seems like a crazy, out of nowhere twist that would confuse casual viewers, so I’m willing to admit that all of this stuff is a long-shot. But then again, nobody expected Bruce Maddox—a character who only appeared in one episode of The Next Generation—to be central to the plot of the first episode. Relative to Bruce Maddox, Lore is pretty much a major character. And if the Star Trek folks wanted to get the actor who played Lore, they got super lucky. Brent Spiner was already on the set.
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com and the author of the book Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and Other Geeky Truths (Plume 2015.) His other writing and criticism have been published in Inverse, SyFy Wire, Vulture, Den of Geek!, the New York Times, and StarTrek.com. He is an editor at Fatherly. Ryan lives with his wife and daughter in Portland, Maine.