Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 77 (Brothers)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

In Family, there was a conspicuous absence of Data.  In Brothers, we get to see a lot of Brent Spiner.  The story begins with a child eating the fruit that contains a lot of parasites, putting his life at risk.  I’m not entirely sure how the child was allowed into an area where this fruit was growing, but I don’t want to get into that just yet.  The point is that the Enterprise has to rush to get to a nearby starbase, which happens to have the equipment and personnel to deal with the infection.

Data is escorting the patient’s brother down to see him when Data goes silent and starts acting all twitchy.  Data immediately goes to the bridge and, without saying a word, commandeers the ship.  When the bridge crew starts asking questions, Data makes the environmental controls fail, forcing everyone else to evacuate.  Data pretends to evacuate, but stays on the bridge.  By the time everyone else regroups in engineering, Data has locked everyone out by impersonating Captain Picard.

When the ship arrives at Data’s destination, he discovers that the transporters’ site-to-site function has been disabled.  In order to override, he just walks there, using cascading shields to stop anyone from interfering.  On the planet, he finds an old man that turns out to be his father, Dr. Noonian Soong, who was presumed dead.  Data gets to ask his father why he was created.  Soong goes through this whole elaborate series of questions to tell Data that it’s as a way of continuing his existence.

This is when Lore walks in.  As you may have noticed by now, you do need to have seen previous episodes to understand this one.  Like Brothers, this isn’t for the casual viewer.  For those that haven’t seen the episodes in question, Lore is Data’s evil brother.   Well, not evil, per se.  Just misunderstood.  Soong created Lore first, but Soong’s fellow colonists protested, as Lore was kind of a jerk.  So, Soong disassembled Lore and created Data without emotion.  Despite Data’s protests, Soong reactivates Lore, who goes right on being a jerk.

Since Lore was presumed to be disassembled by Soong and presumed to be floating in space by Data, neither one was expecting him.  Anyway, the reason that Soong called Data was to give him an emotion chip.  You see, Data’s gone his entire existence without emotion.  Lore points out that with the chip, he might come to understand his evil twin.  Well, Soong is all worn out from having two of his sons show up so close to each other.  It’s a simple task that he’ll have to take care of after a short rest.  In the meantime, Lore gets one of those evil grins, leaving us to wonder how he’ll screw over his brother.

The crew of the Enterprise manages to get the transporters to work.  They beam down while Soong implants the chip in Data, except that it’s really Lore, who wants the emotion chip for himself.  (I always wondered why Lore, who already has emotions, would want an emotion chip.  It took me 20 years to realize that he’s probably hoping that the new programming will overwrite his own.  However, it still strikes me as redundant.)  An away team misses Lore, but does manage to see Soong nearly dead.  Chief Engineer La Forge instantly realizes that the place must been Soong’s, even though it took Data a few minutes to realize who his own father was.

Commander Riker offers to beam Soong up to the Enterprise to be treated, but Soong refuses.  Data takes a minute to say good bye to his dying father before going back up and fixing everything so that the sick child can get to the starbase and be cured.  The two brothers, who had been at odds, are back to playing with each other.

When I first watched the episode, the big thing that bothered me was that they just left Dr. Soong.  You’d think that Data would want so badly to know more about his father that he’d insist that they beam back up.  Soong says that he wants to die on the planet.  That can still happen, but at a much later date.  This isn’t even considering the fact that Soong caused Data to divert the Enterprise from an important mission.

This brings me to two other points.  It’s bad enough that Data has to take the entire Enterprise for this.  Soong says that Data’s ship will be back for him, leading me to believe that Soong didn’t know that Data would take the Enterprise, which begs the question:  Why wouldn’t a shuttlecraft have done?  Isn’t it a little cliché to risk the life of a child when we know full well that the child will make it?  Also, shouldn’t they take Soong in for questioning?  It seems a little irresponsible to make two androids that will just drop everything and come to a planet.  Soong said that he had been following Data.  He had to know this might happen.  Why not wait for Data to take a vacation?  (Speaking of which, what would have happened if he hadn’t had access to a ship?)

Rewatching the episodes so close together, I noticed something else.  Soong says that he would have liked Data to become a scientist.  Maybe even got into cybernetics.  It’s worth pointing out that not more than a season ago, Data created Lal, another android.  I’m sure this is something that Soong would have liked to know.

The only other concern was the aftermath.  First, Lore is let go.  Granted, he was probably long gone by the time that the away team beamed down, but you think someone would put out a BOLO now that they know he’s out there.  Second, it was pretty easy for Data to fool the ship into thinking he was Picard.  You’d think the ship would know that one person can’t be giving commands from two different places.  There isn’t any mention of improving the security on the ship.

It’s one of those episodes that’s easy to like on the surface, but has too many issues.  There were a few that I forgot about while writing the ones that I did include.  I know I’ll remember a few more just before I fall asleep tonight.  There are too many clichés for me to get over.  It was one of those things I didn’t pick up on so much when I first watched it, but I’ve been noticing more of now that I’m older. 

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