Star Trek: The Next Generation


3.5 stars.

Air date: 10/8/1990
Written by Rick Berman
Directed by Rob Bowman

Review Text

The Enterprise races to a starbase to save the life of a young boy who has inadvertently eaten poison for reasons that ... well, are perhaps a little more contrived than they need to be. (I've always found the initial premise of the sick boy to be the episode's most obvious weak link.) This emergency is halted, however, when a homing signal in Data's brain is triggered and he takes over the ship, diverting it to a nearby planet. Data's takeover of the Enterprise is depicted with some memorable opening-act action that proves just how dangerous Data can be when his human qualities are disabled and he becomes, simply, an unstoppable machine. (His multi-dozen-digit lockout code of the computer — recorded in Picard's voice — is classic.)

"Brothers" is like "Family" with a plot. Coming on the heels of "Family," the thematic similarities are interesting, even if the storytelling method is completely different. (For one, we're dealing with the family roles surrounding an android who has no emotions; for another, we have a more traditional Trek structure, with action and plot.) When Data's conscious mind is reactivated, he finds himself in the lab of his creator, Dr. Noonien Soong, long believed to be dead. Not too long afterward, Lore walks through the door, having also followed the signal home (and proving that "Datalore" was merely the beginning of their arc). With both Soong and Lore, we get two surprises where we might've expected only one; the story brings the entire Soong "family" to one household to tell a tale we didn't envision when the hour began. In that telling Soong reveals he's dying.

Brent Spiner is superb in three roles of characters who are very different and yet vitally connected by the intimate history they share. We see here that Lore is not simply "evil," but a tragic victim of his own existence gone awry. No one is more regretful of that error than Soong, who would've liked nothing more than to fix Lore, if only he'd known he'd been reassembled, and if only there were enough time. Rather, Soong has brought Data here to give him the gift of basic emotions.

In the final act the story pulls the ol' switcheroo — which, I suppose, was inevitable — with Lore disabling Data and taking his place so that Soong installs the emotion chip in Lore's positronic brain. This seems to have the effect of making him even more unstable. The way Lore lashes out at his father makes you wince with sympathy; here's a man who had good intentions but felt forced to shut down Lore like a failed project, and that project now resents him for it. And now the father's failure for his first child prevents him from realizing his dreams for his second. (Note: No comments about B-4 will be entertained.) It may be with a sci-fi twist, but human feelings are still the point here. The message of the final scene all but guarantees Data and Lore will meet again, and seems to ponder what they might ultimately mean to each other.

Previous episode: Family
Next episode: Suddenly Human

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88 comments on this post

    The contrivance in "Brothers" that made the Enterprise's own sickbay incapable of treating a parasite that lives in fruit, when we've seen Beverly Crusher far more elaborate reversing de-evolution and cultivate a spinal cord from scratch, was just too ridiculous to accept.

    Or, once again, simply running him through the transporter should cure him...

    Entertain this!!!! (B4 floating in space with Worf firing a big-ass phaser at 'it'.)

    Um, why didn't Brent Spiner get an Emmy for this episode? This was Brent Spiner's finest performance on TNG on the same calibre as Patrick Stewart in "The Inner Light". His triple performance is amazing.

    The other incredible part is taking the rather lame evil twin idea from "Datalore" and giving it some much needed depth. Lore, while an definitely an evil character is given much needed motivation behind it--he's a child who felt snubbed by his "father". And there's that brief moment where he shows concern for Dr. Soong, when he's told he's dying. Is it an act? Who knows. (Who says there was never ambiguity on TNG?)

    But, one of the great things about TNG is how it didn't let things go to waste like Star Trek: Voyager did so often. Tasha Yar's death in "Skin of Evil" seems anti-climatic, but later would be used to give "Yesterday's Enterprise" its dramatic power. The Ferengi were terrible adversaries, but were revamped as comic relief foils (which worked in varying degrees). Q went from a one dimensional omnipotent tormentor to one of the most fascinating characters in the history of Star Trek. Here, "Datalore" (which I consider to be a highly overrated and dumb episode) is improved upon 10-fold with this follow-up story.

    TNG was like the plains Indians and their used of the buffalo--very little went to waste.

    Spiner should have won an award.

    With his dual role with Lore, he's always top-notch. As a triple role with Lore and Soong, he excels.

    Patrick makes a good point as well - while TNG season 1 was bad, it was how they relied on the early year's concepts and did something *better* with them. Yar, the one Data beds (!!!) is referred to several times, and each time she's referenced it's a home run.

    With Lore and Soong, it's no different (though "Descent" would be the one exception...)

    The Soong/Lore subplot is a half-cliche (Seigfried from "Get Smart" had a similar background, as would Darth Vader, Davros, and others - they all would later use the same "I was abused as a kid so I will become the most evil being in the universe, have pity on me now instead of before I wanted to wreak havoc and we'd all be licking ice cream cones in perfect harmony instead" trope... of course, everybody forgets that bit... trying to fix problems before they begin...)

    The story has some conveniences but so much more makes the whole story that much better in the end. "Chain of Command" would be similar in that regard; contrivances that can be overlooked because the overall effect was a success.

    Like all Data-centered episodes, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Brent Spiner is fantastic.

    @ Latex Zebra

    Nemesis is best treated as akin to Season 9 of Dallas.

    I just never understood why the writers could be so lazy sometimes, introducing stuff that has clearly never been mentioned b-4 (hohoho)and expecting us to swallow the big plot hole.

    @Latex Zebra

    I'm really playing devil's advocate here but: in season 7's "Inheritance", Data's "mother" mentions that there were three androids before Lore and Data, so....B-4 *could* have been one of those aforementioned Soong-prototypes. It's too bad Star Trek: Nemesis was such a sloppily made movie, that they could have used a throwaway line that made B-4's existence seem less convoluted.

    @Patrick D: 'Inheritance' does lay some groundwork for B4. But how would Shinzon have found him? Granted, the "perfect cloak" would have let him get to Omicron Theta. But didn't the Enterprise crew in "Datalore" look through the lab and what was left of the colony pretty thoroughly? Is it really plausible that B4 was just left in Soong's lab?

    It seems to me that it might have been more interesting if Shinzon's people built B4 using Soong's work. The fact that B4 was less advanced could have been chalked up to the fact that Shinzon's people were just parroting Soong's work. The difficulty in building Soong-type androids had been established already.

    The dramatic payoff would have been better, too. Just like Shinzon was an imperfect Romulan adaptation of a human/Federation individual, so would have been a (renamed) B4.


    In Star Trek Nemesis, it was never clearly explained how Shinzon got B-4, nor did it explain clearly where the Romulans procured Picard's DNA either. Writer, John Logan didn't feel it was necessary to fill in those little cracks.

    But, back to "Brothers"--the much maligned Rick Berman wrote this episode and it's fantastic!

    If the only difference between Lore and Data really is "a bit of programming", then the "those circuits weren't meant for you" bit makes little sense...

    Plus, had he not died, considering what he did to the Enterprise, I would think (and hope) that Soong would be facing trial and possible prison.

    Yeah, Dr. Soong does not come off this episode very well -- the primary reason that his scenes alone with Data come off as sweet as they do is because Soong has ensured that Data doesn't remember how he got there, and so doesn't actually realize that Soong's call has done actual damage. SFDebris' review of the episode has a really neat argument about Data as Soong's "good" half and Lore as Soong's "evil" half, and I think that gets at how the episode characterizes Soong (a complicated man with lots of good and lots of bad) very well.

    Actually, in a big way I think that we are meant to recognize that Soong is something of a tragic figure -- "deserves" would be going too far, maybe, but he certainly brings Lore's killing him on himself. Data is the culmination of Soong's dream (well, apparently; it turns out in "Inheritance" that Juliana is the actual culmination of his dream, which is itself a creepy matter), but in the process of getting to Data he made Lore and his recklessness in creating and discarding Lore is the cause of the deaths of everyone on Omicron Theta. That he brings Data there and doesn't bother to give Data his memory back right away, so he can continue controlling him perhaps!, is a sign that his dark, myopic side is still present.

    Um....I don't like this episode. It was pretty dull, actually. Also, I find it really irresponsible of Dr. Soong to cause Data to go to his home by any means possible. Had the Enterprise been in danger when Data's mind went, lots of people could have died. Dr. Soong doesn't have the right to screw up the doings of a starship on his own personal whims, and it really spoils the "family" nature that this episode was trying to convey.

    Also, I found a lot of the dialogue about human nature to be inane and simplistic. Meh.

    This is what Datalore should have been. We have the crew actually being competent in dealing with an evil Data. And we have Lore as a real character, rather than a mustache twisting villain.

    In fact, it really is Lore that saves the episode. Data and daddy talking to each other? Well, that's going to feel rather formulaic and feel-goodish. Don't get me wrong, their scenes together are very good, but of course it's what we expect. Of course Data is going to ask why he was created, of course Soong wishes Data became a cyberneticist (hey, no mention of Lal?). But Lore, wow... We see a bit of why he's an evil jerk; he's really pissed off about the whole being deactivated thing. And more importantly, he has severe insecurity issues. He wasn't just the unloved older brother, he was the deactivated and ignored brother. Soong created him and tossed him aside to try to figure out his problems with a new model. Essentially, he treated Lore like a machine. Ouch...

    As an aside, Data seems to have some insecurity issues too. See Peak Performance. Also, his "I am not less perfect than Lore" mantra. Seems to be a personality quirk in Soong androids... Anywho, Lore and Soong's argument was very well done, and frankly with Soong coming off as the wrong one. Not bad when you already have a reason to think Lore's a jerk. So with a bit more justification for his actions, we're not too surprised when he's goes crazy murderous again. And his ultimate plan, to get "fixed" via obtaining the emotion chip that, of course, Soong made for the perfect son and didn't even bother trying to make for him, makes perfect sense based on what we've seen.

    On the other hand, the kids subplot was a bit... off. I don't mind it; it's nice to see the civilian side of the ship. And with a name like "Brothers", there is an attempt to link the two stories together. But how? Bev seems to provide the moral of the story by saying that brothers forgive each other. But how does that apply to Data and Lore? Lore started to seem more understandable over the course of the story, only to pull the ole' knocking out Data and taking his place trick again. Not to mention possibly hastening Soong's death by tossing him around like a rag doll. At this point, Lore is essentially unredeemable. Why should Data forgive him when he has shown no sign of remorse for his actions? Brothers may forgive, but it requires some reciprocity on the part of the aggressive brother. Sigh...

    I agree with the rating. Masterful performance by Brent Spiner. Am I the only one who hadn't noticed that he played Soong?

    The episode does leave a lot of questions unanswered. First, there's the question of Soong's call to Data. I have no problems imagining that a selfish old man would program a simple homing beacon without thinking about the consequences, but there should ideally have been some sort of reflection about the morality of doing that. Alright, that would probably require a double episode, so I can see why they left that out. It's probably also why we don't see them helping Soong at the end. They just left the old man injured in his home. No one would do that.

    @SkepticalMI " At this point, Lore is essentially unredeemable. Why should Data forgive him when he has shown no sign of remorse for his actions? Brothers may forgive, but it requires some reciprocity on the part of the aggressive brother. Sigh... " I thought that Beverley's line about forgiveness might be foreshadowing a future episode where Data has a good reason to forgive Lore.

    This is a 3.5 for me as well.

    Obvious gripe: The subplot with the boy who ate poison was weak and cloying - I would have much preferred the old standby cliche of "We need to get medicine to the colony of the week within X hours or else", however old that plot device is.

    Setting that aside, every other element was pitch-perfect. Data's takeover of the Enterprise was classic, especially when he started making commands in Picard's voice and issued the bridge lockout code so fast the computer couldn't keep up. Picard's irritated attitude towards being locked out of his own ship, and angry face when the computer wouldn't even tell him how long to the starbase was priceless.

    Lore was a good addition to the story, and I still find it hard to believe that Dr. Soong was played by Brent Spiner as well. How Spiner was able to portray three different characters all in one episode is pretty amazing. I saw the 'switcheroo' coming the instant Dr. Soong said he needed to rest, but that didn't make it any less heartbreaking once Soong realized his mistake.

    Regarding B-4, there was a (non-canon) short story written that explained how Shinzon got B-4, called "Twilight's Wrath", but that story does raise a set of questions in of itself. (Spoilers - Basically, according to the story, Shinzon was tasked with destroying a Tal Shiar lab during the Dominion War, where he discovered B-4 there and appropriated him before completing his mission.)

    It was OK but I thought Lore seemed mostly insincere while the writers were trying to make him more sympathetic and I also didn't buy that Data wouldn't give back control of the ship even after he beamed to the planet.

    I love this episode, the build up as Data takes over the ship is intense and well put together. But has anyone else noticed the knowing 'nod' Data and Picard share just as they clear the bridge? Everytime i see this episode i wonder about it. When i first saw it, i presumed this 'nod' implied Picard was 'in' on whatever was about to take place. But its clear he isnt. Saw it again the other night, and theres also a 'nod' between Data and Riker just before Picards 'nod'. Bizarre!!! Im guessing its a 'meet you in engineering in a minute' type acknowledgement but im still not sure. Even Mrs Todayshorse noted it, i paused and rewound my tivo box to better grasp whats going on. Maybe its nothing! Still, brilliantly done, and as a few others noted i didnt even realise Spiner played Doctor Soong until more recent times. Its one i can watch over and over whenever its aired. 4 stars from me easily.

    The "nod" is just Picard and Riker acknowledging that Data will remain on the bridge. There's no reason for him to leave his primary station because of a life support failure.

    "They're brothers Data, brothers forgive". Picard's face also changes to one of deep thought. Anyone ever try to guess why? I always find that scene very subtle because everyone is focused on Data's face but it's obvious that statement moved Picard as well.


    In the Nemesis novelezation, (the audio book was better then the movie BTW) Shinzon references a "Cardassian scientist who discovered b4" But that is not canon either.

    Magnificent performances by Brent Spiner, good action, a wonderful way to bring Lore back into the mix and a generally all-around engaging story - what isn't to love about "Brothers"?

    Well, like Jammer says, the subplot with the two kids on the Enterprise. It was so unnecessary and is only relevant in one scene, the final one with Crusher's line of "brothers forgive." I would have much more preferred there to be no ticking-clock plot on the Enterprise at all. Data just commandeers the ship and they have to regain control, simple. Instead the episode expects me to emotionally invest in the fates of two characters that I (sad to say) simply do not care about. This plot does nothing but take time away from the much more engaging and interesting story of Data, Soong and Lore. Quite frankly, I would rather watch Data do more tricks for Soong, like when he pats his head and rubs his stomach.

    There's also the fact that Data literally receives no punishment for what he did here, not even a reprimand. Granted, there were extenuating circumstances, but not even a reproach from Picard?! He just says "to hell with it" and wrests control of the flagship of Starfleet away from its legitimate authority and all he gets is a "we'll discuss it later" from Riker? That really strains credibility.

    However, the one thing I love about this episode above all is that the writers are willing to take ideas from Season One and actually make them work. The first two seasons are so horrendously bad that it would have so easy for the writers at this point to simply throw up their hands and say "you know what, you're right, those seasons suck, so we're just going to pretend that they didn't happen and kind of reboot the show." And, honestly, I probably wouldn't have blamed them if they had. But, instead, the writers rolled up their shelves and did the hard work of making those concepts enjoyable. They could have just never brought back Lore, or never did anything with Tasha Yar again, or jettisoned Picard's love for the Dixon Hill stories or not bothered to further develop the Borg. They eventually go so far as to tie the final episode of the series back into the first (that's certainly something "Voyager" refused to do). I have to give them massive credit for doing that.


    Having missed Data last episode this is clearly a "Family" for the android.

    However, I enjoyed this much less than many others it seems. To me, I was unable to get past Brent Spiner as Soong - the unconvincing make up, mannerisms etc made it seem less of a virtuoso acting performance than a set of verbal ticks. Add that to Lore's scenery chewing and it seemed gimmicky rather than organic.

    The lack of emotion generated by the conclusion - in comparison say to the almost exact same set up with Lal in "The Offspring" - is also notable.

    Yes there are indeed some compelling scenes - the first act as Data takes control of the Enterprise is engrossing. But for me the lack of any true emotional connection is difficult to get beyond. And even where a hit was made in Lore's difficulty coming to terms with his deactivation, he then instantly reverts back to mustache-twirling villain mode.

    And the less said about the little Willie in peril sub-plot the better - as a contrivance to drive the story to a deadline it's unnecessary. The "giant snowflake" description of the crystal entity is a knowing in-joke though. 2.5 stars.

    Really not getting this one. I definitely wouldn't rank it above "Family".

    Contrivances abound. Don't want to nitpick, but how about the central premise: Dr. Soong and Lore *both* mysteriously survived their apparent deaths. How did they each escape the Crystalline Entity? What has Dr. Soong been doing for 31 years*? How could he resist interacting with Data, the culmination of his life's work (and why not just take Data with him)? The few nods we get towards these questions are unsatisfying. Later episodes might attempt to address them, but that's too late to help this one.

    A couple of other big things that are really hard to swallow:

    - I get that Data is in a position of trust on the Enterprise, and has some unique skills, but, come on: all it takes to take over control of the ship is mimicking Picard's voice? No passwords? (Love how Picard gets back to the bridge and is like, "what, somebody put a *password* on my account?!") No biometrics? No "root" account that Picard can use as a back door? Starfleet: your security policies need work.

    - Dr. Soong, Data's creator and one of the foremost minds of his age, gets hurt, says "No, I don't want to go to your ship," and so they just leave him there to die. I get that there was some (manufactured) urgency. But couldn't they at least leave a nurse behind to take care of him? Did he really have an incurable disease, or is this more like the half-dozen other cases in which the Enterprise shows up and is like, "Oh, that -- it's nothing. Give us a week and you'll be right as rain"?

    All that aside, the point here is to contemplate the nature of Data's "family". It's nice for him to get to meet his father/creator, and vice versa; and there's an interesting dynamic where Lore feels hurt because he was abandoned (kind of reminds me of Toy Story 3). But in order to really appreciate those exchanges, we need to understand and empathize with Soong, and, frankly, that's really hard when almost everything about him is a mystery.

    And for Lore/Data, I'm not sure what we're supposed to take away. Data doesn't trust him, has good reason not to, and ends the episode continuing to not trust him, with even more reason not to. The "brothers forgive" line rings hollow when there's really nothing here for Data to do -- how would a forgiving Data act differently than this one? Does it even make sense, when he is (maybe?) incapable of holding a grudge? If you want character growth for Data, look for it in "The Offspring" or "The Most Toys". It's a shame neither gets any mention here.

    This isn't to say it's horrible, but it's not one of the great episodes. More like a 2.5 for me, too.

    (*After 31 years, I'd really hope Soong would have solved the inability to backup/reproduce his androids' brains, but alas, apparently not.)


    "How did they each escape the Crystalline Entity?"

    This is explicitly explained in the episode. Soong, being somewhat of a recluse, liked to keep an escape route ready just in case. Lore was found by Pakled traders. If you've seen "Samaritan Snare" you will understand that Pakled are obsessed with high-tech trash and go to great lengths to steal used technology. I'm not sure how you can dismiss these explanations as "nods" when they're fairly detailed.

    "all it takes to take over control of the ship is mimicking Picard's voice? No passwords?"

    Data's third in command of the ship too, such that if Picard or Riker were ever lost, the computer would recognize him as an executive officer of the ship, capable of initiating lockouts (See Riker in "Rascals"). Also, Data is a sophisticated computer and knows how the Enterprise's systems work. There is no full-proof security system, and clearly whoever designed the Enterprise didn't calculate for an out-of-control Android CO.

    "The "brothers forgive" line rings hollow when there's really nothing here for Data to do."

    Data could forgive Lore over time for taking his chip away from him. Lore did have a somewhat legitimate gripe with his father, after all. Mind you, I'm not saying Data *should* forgive Lore, but the idea that "time heals all wounds" is likely a human concept, and this point at least furthers Data's understanding of humanity.

    Soong said he had an "escape rout", but didn't describe what it was, or how it enabled him to escape when everybody else was killed, or how it led to him leaving Data behind.

    Lore said he was found by traders, but didn't explain why he was floating through space in the first place. In "Datalore", Lore is transported into space, as "food" for the Crystalline Entity. Wesley says he is "gone permanently". The Crystalline Entity then floats away, because "without Lore, it had no way to reach us." What we're supposed to believe, I guess, is that either i) Lore was just sitting there in space, the Crystalline Entity ignored him, and the Enterprise didn't bother to either fully destroy him or recover and disassemble him; or ii) the Crystalline Entity, rather than destroying him, carried him away for unspecified reasons, but then abandoned him in space somewhere.


    Does it really matter precisely what Soong's escape route was? In "Inheritance", we learn that there was an escape shuttle, which doesn't seem out of the question for a man of science to keep around.

    As for Lore surviving the crystalline entity, we know from "Silicon Avatar" that the entity is capable of communication and quite possibly can be reasoned with. Since Lore helped the entity, it probably spared his life, or in a worst case scenario drained his energy and let his pieces float in space.

    And Wesley saying Lore is gone...seriously? Can we really trust Wesley as a reliable narrator? It's not like Wesley went to the sensors and attempted to track down Lore either. It was just a big assumption on his part, and he was a kid in shock so maybe that's forgivable.

    Episodes like this one (the other primary offender being the otherwise phenomenal "Remember Me", in which Beverly runs the entire ship by giving orders to the computer) really make me wonder why Starfleet puts over a thousand people - including families! - aboard a dangerous ship that comes perilously close to getting blown up once a week. The Enterprise obviously doesn't need them. "Brothers" is proof that one officer can not only manage the ship's affairs by himself, but he can do it while simultaneously fending off active resistance by an annoyed legitimate bridge crew. And if it's only Data who's so competent (at least Beverly didn't have a hostile onboard presence with which to contend), shouldn't at least he just be given his own ship? As in, a spacecraft whose entire "crew" consists of only him? He has no need of life support systems, he doesn't suffer from loneliness, and he can obviously captain a ship so well by himself that an entire trained Starfleet crew is powerless to unseat him. Making him work with others seems like a waste of his talents after seeing this.

    But I don't want to appear negative on the episode. Fantastic story (save for the painfully contrived "sick little boy" subplot), and positively godly acting from Brent Spiner. It's a shame this is the only time in the series we get to see Dr. Soong outside of holograms and dream sequences. Top notch!

    @Nesendrea: "really make me wonder why Starfleet puts over a thousand people - including families! - aboard a dangerous ship that comes perilously close to getting blown up once a week."

    You sound just like my daughter! She's had this argument with me for years now. 'Why would they put families (and babies) on a ship that's always in danger?' My counter is always that space is a dangerous thing and that's just where these people work. Kind of like a family in the DMZ, but obviously with a lot more action.

    "And if it's only Data who's so competent (at least Beverly didn't have a hostile onboard presence with which to contend), shouldn't at least he just be given his own ship? As in, a spacecraft whose entire "crew" consists of only him?"

    There was a good episode where they had to expand the fleet and temporarily gave Data the Sutherland (I think that's the ship). In it, he butted heads with many of the crew. I wonder if most of Starfleet sort of secretly holds a bias towards him which is why he never got his own ship full time. Also I don't think they'd ever even give him his own personal small ship / runabout class because they might not trust him without human counterparts to 'keep an eye on him'. Which is total crap when you consider that Data totally took out the Enterprise is about 10 minutes at the start of this very episode and none of the crew could stop him anyway.

    Two points to add:

    As even stated in Remember Me, the primary purpose of the Enterprise is exploration, along with diplomacy, aid, scientific research, defense, etc. Certainly risking families the way they do is an issue, though I think the idea is still that it's a calculated risk for most family members and life on starships may be safer than on colonies. But even if a single crew member can run the ship, in ordinary circumstances (Beverly could probably not stop a warp core beach), they couldn't do anything else. The Enterprise is like CERN and a military base and embassy and aid station all in one moving package, and the purpose of the ship is for these functions to be served by the crew.

    On the issue of Data commanding a ship solo, that would be possible (not on the Enterprise with its mission, but maybe on a different ship) but I think it would depend on Data. Data does actually want to be around people, even if he does not suffer "psychologically" from loneliness acutely the way most humans (and presumably most humanoids) do. Starfleet probably avoids putting individuals alone mostly for psychological reasons and post The Measure of a Man, Data could presumably appeal putting him on a ship alone because he's an android as discriminatory if he does not want to do that mission.

    Have to disagree with Jammer here. Jammer clearly preferred this over Family, calling this Family with a plot. I completely disagree that Family doesn't have a plot but that's a different argument.

    Family allowed me to get emotionally invested and be genuinely moved by Picard's plight. There is no such emotional investiture in this as Data is under remote control for the first 15 minutes, then he is out of play and been doubled by Lore for the final 10. This feels more like set up for Descent. Yes Brent Spiner does an admirable job playing the three roles all very distinctly, yet I find the episode a bit on the dull side. The side story with the two kids is boring and filler, just there to add a ticking clock. And once Lore turns up, the story becomes very predictable. Also the problem with having the same actor play all three parts, the dialogue between them becomes very stilted and obviously you can't build a chemistry between characters when each part is filmed seperately.

    Good episode, but not great.... and no-where near the same league as Family - 2.5 stars.

    And Dr. Soong is supposed to be a genius…?

    “Data! My favourite son! Glad you got my invitation.”

    “Oh, Lore. Uh… how did you know I was here? No, no— I totes would have invited you too, if I’d realized you weren’t still stuffed in a box unconscious the way I left you. And had intended to leave you forever.

    How are those dark and twisted emotions going, by the way? Still malevolently jealous and ambitious? Perfect, perfect— you should definitely stay and listen to the conversation I plan to have with Data.”

    “Oh, Data— don’t be silly, with all that ‘Lore is evil and we should be afraid of him’ stuff. I can’t imagine where you’d get that from— except the detailed story you just told me, which I’m going to disregard. What’s that, Lore told you the villagers hated hated him because he was 'too human'? No, they thought he was evil and were afraid of him. No idea why everyone keeps thinking that. Except for all those reasons that led me to deactivate him.”

    “Lore, what do you mean you think I love Data more? I love you both equally! Now, Data, I have a gift that’s only for you and not for Lore. It’s really quick and easy to install but I’m gonna let you both think about the disparity while I go have a nap, first."

    Like, come on, man. Also, the pain factor of the writers inventing a precious 'emotions' chip for the *sole purpose* of having it ripped out of Data's hands in the same episode... foul play. I can't even bring myself to re-watch past the family reunion scene.

    I don't see how the events of this episode didn't result in Data immediately being removed from his position on the bridge and sent back to a Starfleet research facility to ensure this never happens again.

    If his brain is able to be hacked into, it's a huge security risk even having him on board.

    If that's the case, then every damn member of the bridge crew should be sent back to a Starfleet research facility, because they've all been possessed and/or mentally compromised at one point or another, with certain crew members practically making a habit of it. I'm looking at you, Troi.

    People always bring up how much of a security risk Data is, but how many times has he saved the ship because he's an android? Just off the top of my head "Clues", "The Game", "Cause and Effect", "Timescape" and I'm sure many others I can't keep track of. Considering this, if you were a captain of starship, would you seriously refuse to have Data in your crew?

    ^^ How many people could even compromise Data like Soong did? ^^

    Data has proven himself way too much and is an invaluable member of the crew- maybe it's greatest member overall. He has probably saved the Enterprise 20-30 times all by himself!

    So this is "Family" for Data after BoBW -- more of a story in some ways than "Family" since it actually has a plot due to Lore's appearance but somewhat less satisfying emotionally since we don't have a history on Soong who seems to be brilliant but dodgy and the family theme just doesn't work here.

    What I liked was that it followed up on "Datalore" and it was good to see the character of Lore again. Spiner's flexibility in acting is great (Data is my favorite character on TNG) but I don't think he did anything special in acting for Soong. It's more the Lore character that I like Spiner playing.

    What was also compelling is how Data takes over the Enterprise -- impersonating Picard is probably meant to provide flexibility in case the captain is MIA but here Data uses it to his advantage. It was cool how he set up the moving force fields as he went to the transporter.

    What I didn't like was the subplot of the 2 boys. If it's just for Crusher's line at the end of forgiveness, that wouldn't apply between Data and Lore given what took place on the planet. So as for proving the "ticking-clock" element, that's about all it does but it's hardly compelling.

    Also, the Soong/Data interaction was not anything particularly enthralling but getting some background on why Lore turned out to be "evil" was -- and seeing Soong's regret is understandable giving that he's dying. And in the end the Enterprise crew (at his request) just leave him there to die?

    For me, "Brothers" gets 2.5 stars -- definitely not a great episode but a decent one. The "emotional" part of it didn't work for me and overall wasn't a very compelling episode. But I guess the arc with Data and Lore has more to come...

    2.5 stars

    I thought this to be a little weaker than most of season four episodes. The takeover was okay but not anything extraordinary. Brent is excellent and I mean excellent at playing Data—not just in this episode but the series as a whole—from his speech patterns, the way he handles the computer controls, the way he handles tricorders, his mannerisms. But. I didn’t find though his other performances as anything that stood out.

    The family story was kind of underwhelming actually. The one notable scene was Soong conveying to Data why he created him.

    Then things don’t pick up again til the final act when the episode finally is able to squeeze some genuine emotion with Lore’s vicious assault on this frail old man and the final goodbye between Data and Soong

    Overall the episode was uneven I thought. Between this, Matter of Time and ENT you can see why Rick Berman didn’t do a lot of writing for the show

    He spiner was fantastic in this episode and it was very entertaining to watch.

    But the fact that data went rogue and commandeered the federation flagship when there was a dangerously ill child on board and faced no consequences for his actions is absolutely ludicrous.

    Even if we employ the excuse that data was himself commandeered against his will and made to do these things. It still raises the major security issue of having such a powerful creature who is susceptible to outside influence in such a position of authority and importance in the first place.

    Surely Starfleet would have least rotated him of their premier ship after these events.

    But no because star trek never has any lasting consequences for anybody.

    @Chris I noticed Picard's reaction to that line as well. It was a beautiful touch that would have gone over my head if I hadn't been watching the episodes in order.

    Brent Spiner had an awful lot to do in this episode and I would like to say his performance was superb.
    I prefer his portrayal of Soong's 22nd century ancestor in Series 4 of Enterprise to the 'professor Littleoldman' impersonation here.

    I agree with Startrekguy's observations-after this mutinous farrago Starfleet ought to conclude that Data is too easily subborned and far too dangerous for active service.

    The Data Lore switcheroo was infuriating and how come Soong didn't spot the difference when he opened up the android's head-he would have seen the serial number 001 next to the Intel badge surely.

    Two episodes ago Dr Crusher manages to wholly reverse Picard's cyborgisation ( probably not a word) in a few days-a total medical science miracle but two weeks later she can't remove a few parasites accidentally ingested by a child-that is a ridiculous inconsistency.
    Also leaving dangerous fauna near a playground should result in a prosecution for corporate negligence and while we are at it if Riker is supposed to be looking after these kids he can be charged as well.

    I love Data (after all, he was so good to Sarjenka), but I've never warmed up to the episodes about Lore, his father and his mother.

    I did love the one about his daughter, though.

    "But the fact that data went rogue and commandeered the federation flagship when there was a dangerously ill child on board and faced no consequences for his actions is absolutely ludicrous. "

    Good sir, any episode of Star Trek that has FTL travel as depicted in the series is absolutely ludicrous. So, yeah, just about every single one of them. Sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief in a standard orbit to, you know, enjoy yourself. Never let facts get in the way of a good story, they say.

    And let's just be honest here, in the Star Trek universe, anyone, cybernetic or not, is susceptible to being mind-controlled. Data is not unique in this category aboard the Enterprise. Should Picard have faced charges after destroying an entire armada in BOBW? Would that really have been satisfying or even worth discussing in the first place? Both were controlled against their will, thus should not be reprimanded for actions they did not intend to take.

    As for the episode, I found it simply fantastic and far above the (over-rated) standard set by the third season. Data is by far my favorite character in a show that distinctly lacks them, so it's always a pleasure. So far, I'm glad to report that season four is living up to the hype that season three gets tossed at it. I only hope it continues this way and we don't regress back into the vanilla Undiscovered Country esque political intrigue and bland characterization/Sixth Sense syndrome (in which a single line of dialogue at the end somehow justifies manufactured and awkwardly obfuscated mystery) present in 1989's latter months.

    I'm surprised no one has noted the obvious parallel of this story with the Biblical tale of Jacob, Esau, and the stolen birthright. Dr. Soong even says "Esau" when he realizes that he just put the chip in Lore. Maybe it was so obvious that no one else thought it needed to be acknowledged, or maybe I some of you should have paid closer attention in Sunday School. ;) Either way, I thought it was an interesting aspect of the story.

    “I’m surprised no one has noted the obvious parallel of this story with the Biblical tale of Jacob, Esau, and the stolen birthright. Dr. Soong even says "Esau" when he realizes that he just put the chip in Lore.“

    Er just checked, and no Soong doesn’t say that. Not that you couldn’t be right about the reference.

    @ Saul

    Yes he does! When Riker, Geordi and Data revive him, the first thing he says is, "You're so alike! Esau! I couldn't tell you apart!"

    @Sean H

    I didn't remember Esau either, transcript I looked up says: "He saw I couldn't tell you apart."

    Have no idea if the transcript is transcribed by a listener or some kind of official transcript. The "he saw" makes more sense to me, though. I haven't checked the closed captions (that's what I usually use when I'm not sure, though those aren't perfection - they're almost always right).

    That's an interesting interpretation, though. Definitely some parallels.

    Springy is right, the closed captions the show provides says, “He saw...”

    @ Saul and Springy

    The closed captioned must have been made by someone that doesn't know the Biblical account and thus interpreted it as best he could. Brent Spiner even mentioned the reference in an interview once I believe

    @Sean Hagins

    If you look at the production history for the episode, Lore wasn’t even originally in this story, so I doubt the writers had that parable in mind. That said, it’s is a fun way to interpret the final product. If you can find a link to that Spiner interview, I’d enjoy reading it.


    I recommend checking youtube or some other video site. I saw it before, but can't say where. The writers may still have had that in mind once they included Lore. But I do not know when they would finalise their arrangements


    I love the Data/Lore/Noonien Soong episodes. Brent Spiner is a master actor. I don't know what else to say.

    This episode was good, a solid offering, but not a favorite. I think this is mostly because I find Soong unlikable and not very sympathy-evoking. He's manipulative, kinda nuts, and one dimensional.

    Spiner is fantastic in it, and fun to watch.

    There are really three sets of brothers in this - the little boys, Data and Lore, and Jean Luc and Robert. We just finished watching two brothers fighting in Family, now we're watching more adversarial-brother action.

    I suspect it's really all about Jean Luc. The resentments between Jean Luc and Robert, and how they've impacted Picard. Jake is resentful and feels made fun of by his little brother Willie, and now a parasite is in Willie's belly. Lore takes what Dad has to give, leaving his younger brother to be different, more detached.



    That’s interesting that you’d link this one to “Family”. I bet when they were writing “Family”, they were trying come up with someone for Data to visit only to remember this his relatives were presumed dead or scattered across space. This episode gives us a chance not only to see Data’s family but also the potential harm family can do to us. I don’t know if they intentionally made Data’s family harmful to emphasize his android side, or if they just wanted to show that hardship is part of being in a family.

    It’s a good continuation of ‘Family,’ mostly because of Spiner’s tour de force performances. But the entire addition of the youths and artificial deadline is so contrived. Much more believable to simply have Data lock up and say,”Captain, I have just received an internal message. It appears to be ... from Noonien Soong.”

    Picard’s frustration over losing control of his ship could have filled the extra time much better. Coming on the heels of his assimilation and heart-to-heart with Robert, it would have been an excellent way to further our introduction to the man inside the uniform and how he handles being helpless.

    For once, Riker gets the best line: “ The only way we knew we had come out of warp was by looking out a window.“ Speaks well of the work done in space dock on the inertial dampeners!

    I had misremembered this one. I had thought there were two Lore TNG episodes, in the second of which Lore becomes even more threatening and has, ultimately, to be dismantled permanently.

    But Lore does nothing much more harmful or perilous than stealing Data's emotion chip and throwing out a few snarky insults, and I was still waiting for the story to hit its stride when the end credits came up. It really does feel to me like an episode that ultimately goes nowhere interesting.

    Nonetheless, Data going into his ingenious full-on mutiny mode is highly entertaining. And Brent Spiner's three-way acting is remarkable, especially when you consider that he must have been reacting to someone speaking his own lines in those scenes. Bravo.

    Isn't it odd that Sung doesn't recognise Lore, even when he's poking about in his brain? I guess he must have used exactly the same parts for both of them.

    And yes, the contrivance of the poisoned child, and the parallel theme about brothers is a bit hard to take.

    Data gets away with activities bordering on mutiny. For all the fine talk about Data being sentient, etc., Picard shows he does not in his heart of hearts believe that, by letting Data off with what the episode shows are zero consequences. If Reg Barclay, or any other member of the crew, had done what Data did, they would have been thrown off the Enterprise & out of Starfleet quicker than you can say “The existence of Section 31 proves that Starfleet is a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites”.

    But Data is, after all, nothing but a machine, with no more moral sense or conscience than a bar of gold-pressed latinum. That this is Picard’s truest conviction on the matter, is absolutely proven by the absence of any penalty for behaviour which, in any other member of the crew, would (rightly) have been regarded as gravely criminal. ST cannot have it both ways - and its attempting to do so, does not say much for the moral pretentions of ST.

    TOS managed its treatment of Spock much better, even if that series did have the advantage of comparative brevity. Making Data an android with plausibly human features was a mistake. Voyager handled the Doctor with much greater artistic tact than TNG managed. Data is allowed to become insufferable, a robotic and backward version of Picard at his preachiest - Voyager avoids this, by deflating the Doctor now and again, so that he is never allowed to make the blunders Data does; and by dividing his functions between the Doctor, and Seven of Nine. The Doctor is amusing. The relationship between the Doctor and Seven is amusing. The relationship between McCoy & Spock is amusing. Data’s attempts at humour are flat, not sparkling,

    Usually, episodes show Data acting, and being treated as, a moral agent. In this episode, and some others, the mask slips.

    @ james04,

    "If Reg Barclay, or any other member of the crew, had done what Data did, they would have been thrown off the Enterprise & out of Starfleet"

    Except for the fact that Reg Barclay *does* do almost exactly what Data did in The Nth Degree...and they don't throw him out.

    Might have been wise to postpone this episode a little later in the season.

    Here the Enterprise is fresh out of an extended stay on Earth, but the crisis is already "cutting short a liberty".

    I enjoyed the episode well enough but at the same time I found it borderline irresponsible. Ok, irresponsible isn't the right word but I feel like writers need to think about the logical impact of a story before they write it.

    Here we see a routine remotely triggered that turns Data into the ultimate mutineer who could have easily killed the entire ship's crew. This is, to put it lightly, a glaring fucking issue that never gets addressed. There's no way you could allow a Lt. Commander on the flagship of the federation to continue to serve if he can be remotely commandeered.

    This episode should have never been written the way it was. Ok the stupid poisoning plot device can stay there just have the cure be something very rare. The Enterprise races to the one place where the cure can be found. Beam down Data and whoever else. Data gets his hands on the cure and then boom is kidnapped by some of Soong's other robits who then transport him to Soong after disabling/removing Data's badge. You can still have the pressure of of the poison subplot without opening up a can of worms with Data and how vulnerable the Enterprise is if he can be remote controlled.

    Best Line:


    Yes, @microfish & @Jeffrey Jakucyk, the password is absolutely epic!

    If you watch it again, you'll realize that both Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart had to say exactly the same thing at exactly the same speed - total coordination.


    @ microfish

    That entire process - from the moment something first goes wrong with Data, all the way through the crew's frantic attempts to stop him to the password scene and his matter-of-fact escape - is the very best part of the episode and one of the most impressive shipboard computer-centred action scenes in TNG as a whole.

    'Power Play' does similar very well later on too.

    @ Mal

    Yes! And when you go back and watch the clip, the twitch that Data does at '888' and again at '764' is excellently done by Spiner.

    Love it.

    @Bok R'Mor said, "That entire process ... is the very best part of the episode and one of the most impressive ... action scenes in TNG as a whole."

    It is just so cool! I've seen it literally a dozen or more times, and it sends chills down my spine each time.

    I mean, is there anything in any Star Trek episode as exciting as Data taking control of the ship? It's like Mission Impossible or something!

    @Stevensa128 said, "but no special characters or mixed case"

    LOL! As against to,

    Peekaboo :-)


    (I'm responding to your comment back on April 9, because I have been away from the site for a while.)

    Regarding Spiner having to lip synch Stewart perfectly during the password scene, actually, I think there's another possible explanation:

    I have read that Spiner could imitate Stewart so flawlessly that he used to play practical jokes like calling Stewart's assistant and ordering him to Stewart's dressing room, where Stewart would be puzzled as to why the assistant was there. I think Spiner may actually be the one saying the line, imitating Stewart's voice. When I listen to it with that possibility in mind, it does sound just ever so slightly "off."

    @Trish there's some examples of Spiner's impression on YouTube, and they're very slow, quiet, gravelly, and pontificate-y in order to fit how Spiner's own voice works, so I don't think he could pull off the password scene which is exactly the opposite. Lip-syncing doesn't seem all that difficult really. They both have the script and could very well be reading it together, or Spiner is reading it from a sheet, or watching a tape of Stewart. There's many ways to movie-magic this.

    If you want to be really harsh, I don't think one of the 7s and the "Lock" were perfectly synchronised:



    I have to agree. I have NEVER thought that was actually Patrick Stewart's voice.

    I always figured they brought in a imitator and dubbed it in post because Stewart didn't want to be bothered wasting an afternoon saying a bunch of random words in monotone over and over again.

    The only problem I have with this episode is a pretty big one in my mind:

    The connection between the parasite little brother storyline and Data's storyline. The needed to be connected in the sense that Data (and his father) SHOULD NOT ALLOW ANY RISK OF LIFE to happen to the little parasite brother boy in sickbay. Soong should have informed Data that there was no risk to the boy, since he has scheduled the Enterprise to divert in time. Or, even better, Soong could know--through Data--what the little boy was suffering from and give him an antidote when Data first arrived on Soong's planet ("Oh, but here's an antidote just in case you don't reach that staircase of yours in time my boy..."). You could make it one step better by having Lore not care about Data returning to the Enterprise--wanting him to stay for his own emotional reasons, or Lore could even smash the antidote in a fit of rage.


    The only thing I'm driving at is that Data (and Soong) seem to be quite callous at not considering the child's life being endangered by the diversion of the Enterprise. There is simply no mention of it. The writers could have used the opportunity to nicely tie in the Data/Lore storyline and keep Soong and Data sympathetic to the child's life.

    The Brent Spiner show… he is brilliant in it, and keeps us entertained throughout the episode. It’s never boring, but…

    Too many issues with the plot and concept!

    1. Lore as the “evil twin”; I’ve learned to accept Data as a sentient android (fictional), but an android with evil intent? Sorry, that’s a step too far in credibility.

    2. Voice recognition as the only method of security? Ok, this was written long before iPads etc, but would it have been too outlandish to conceive of face recognition in 1990?

    3. Sensors can only recognise life forms? With a sentient android in the crew, you would have thought Starfleet could have invented sensors that would have detected him.

    Given these problems, I would only give Brothers 2.5 stars though it’s still an enjoyable episode.

    Oh, a couple more things:

    4.Why does Lore steal Data’s emotion chip when he already has them?

    5. Why doesn’t Starfleet have safeguards against an android trying to steal a starship? At the very least, it might require bio-life signs for certain Alpha level overrides.

    I guess it was fortunate...and conveeenient...that Soong lived long enough to tell Data how to unblock his memory wipe.

    Also...we gotta HURRY UP if we're gonna save this kid!

    But can I have privacy to say this long goodbye first? If the kid dies two minutes before we get there...oh well.

    Having more backstory on Data is always cool but I thought casting Spiner as Noonian Soong was a mistake, besides old age makeup always looks unconvincing.

    Wouldn't it have been better if they had cast a sagely older actor like Peter Falk or Dick Van Dyke as Soong or someone like that. Sean Connery etc.

    @Dan (2015)

    "I get that Data is in a position of trust on the Enterprise, and has some unique skills, but, come on: all it takes to take over control of the ship is mimicking Picard's voice?"

    You'd think the computer would be sophisticated enough to be able to distinguish between Picard's actual voice and someone's mimicking Picard's voice. Even the computer on the original Enterprise-no-bloody-A-B-C-or-D could do that when it verified that Kirk had not sent a recent message to the ship but actually it had been Anan 7 "doing" Kirk ("A Taste of Armageddon"). OK, the computer didn’t know it was Anan 7, but it knew it wasn’t Kirk.

    The sub-plot with the kids was annoying and unnecessary. Child actors on TNG were generally insufferable and this was no exception. It doesn't help that they write these 24th century children to be incredible simpletons.

    It's interesting that Soong programmed free will into his androids, except when he wanted to recall them. If I were making androids with super strength, super speed, and extremely high intelligence, I would have programmed in a "never kill your father" code to prevent accidents. So, Soong programmed a way to control them, but only to bring them home. And yet, in future episodes, Lore is able to transmit emotions to Data, and shut down his ethical program remotely. I guess I am grasping at straws because I just didn't want Soong to die, as he was a potential treasure trove of stories.

    Data taking over the ship had one fatal plot flaw, which was that he only needed a voice print to do it. A code is usually required as well. If it's as simple as providing the voice, then even enemy ships could exploit that. Also, when Data sits down at OPS, Riker or Picard talk to him several times and he doesn't respond, which is highly unusual. You'd think they would have said, "Commander Data, I asked you a question?" It seemed unnecessary to make Data so quiet, as lying could be easily integrated into his recall program.

    Other than that, it was a pretty compelling episode that has aged well.

    The Data arc was fantastic up until he beamed down and the crotchety old dude appeared. Hadn't the "brilliant eccentric old scientist with wacky hair" trope been done to DEATH already even by 1990!?! And he's rocking dusty old books... - in the 2300s. Seems legit.

    Oh, it's Data's Daddy. Oh, brother.

    HA! Five minutes later: Data's "brother." Oh my gods... ***FACEPALM***

    Papa is dying. ***yaaaaaaaaaaaawn***

    The contrived drama of the B-story with the kid and his brother has got to be one of the most boring, unimaginative, unengaging subplots of all time.

    I fast-forwarded through >70% of this one.

    I don't get why these kinds of episodes receive such high ratings. I guess some people care about the characters and their "development" far more than I do... *shrug*

    I say, that's my nephew in this episode! Young Willie Lovington-Potts the III. What a rascal in his see-through box. I would have given him a comic book to read or something. Can't be much fun to be had in a perspex box, what! Take it from me, I know. Why, when I was in the King's Hussars...

    Brent Spiner is of course wonderful in this episode, but that's all it has.

    On a re-watch I was struck by one bit of absolutely awful acting by Gates McFadden - as the crew are in the briefing room discussing the problem, Dr. Crusher says that the sick boy will die if they don't get access to the ship controls soon. Except that she says it in such an off-hand, relaxed, throwaway manner, without any urgency at all, as if the already knows that the boy is in no danger. At that point, they have no idea how to regain control of the ship, no idea if they'll even see Data *ever again* or if he's even alive. Crusher should be in a blind panic with worry that this boy will die under her care. Instead, she's not really bothered at all!

    As for the rest, it's just so weak.

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