Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 11/22/1993
Teleplay by Dan Koeppel and Rene Echevarria
Story by Dan Koeppel
Directed by Robert Scheerer
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The Enterprise arrives to assist in solving the crisis of a threatened world whose molten planetary core is solidifying, which will ultimately render the planet uninhabitable. One of the scientists on the planning team, Dr. Juliana Tainer (Fionnula Flanagan), turns out to be the ex-wife of Data's creator, Dr. Soong. Data never knew this woman existed, but she certainly knows him; she helped Soong create him all those years ago, so in a sense she is Data's mother.
"Inheritance" is probably the best installment in the ongoing series of seventh season's Family Tree Theater. It tells an insightful character story about some of the particulars of Data's backstory, which by this point in the series have been sufficiently traveled, but benefit here from a new perspective from a different individual. The always reliable Fionnula Flanagan is good in the role of the former Mrs. Soong, revealing a woman who once shared the passion of creation that Soong did, but lost that zeal after the catastrophic failure that was Lore.
Indeed, Tainer's guilt over how Lore turned out and how that subsequently affected her decision to persuade Soong to shut down and abandon Data — which results in a whole new round of guilt now that she comes face-to-face with him — is evidence of the complexity of the issue of responsibility faced in the realm of artificial intelligence. "Inheritance" benefits from these two characters simply sharing their knowledge about their life perspectives, including brief but effective dialogue where Data reveals his own doomed attempt to create his daughter Lal. (I could've done without the trite backstory that wants to be earnestly and maternally cute, about an early version of Data's programming who refused to wear clothing.)
There's a twist in "Inheritance" as well, where Data discovers, by way of an accident, that Tainer herself is an android that Soong created when his flesh-and-blood wife died. But she doesn't even know she's an android. Soong was able to transfer Tainer's real memories into an android body that is in every way a perfect replica of a human being — right down to medical scans that reveal living tissue at first glance, and especially the fact that this body ages and will eventually die. (There's a subtly nice detail during a violin performance where Data picks up clues that Tainer might actually be an android even before this accident proves it.) And then there's the interactive message left by the late Dr. Soong himself, who explains to Data his intentions and wishes. Enlightening stuff.
This all comes down to a choice that Data must make: Should he tell Tainer the truth — that she is an android — or let her continue to believe that she is the woman named Juliana that she has always believed herself to be? What would you do? And if you were Tainer, would you want to know? Data ultimately decides to allow Tainer to continue believing to be what he himself has always striven to become — a human being. Given such a binary choice, the android Data is able to make the most human (and, for my money, most merciful) of the two options.
Previous episode: Force of Nature
Next episode: Parallels
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78 comments on this post
Thu, Nov 15, 2012, 12:44am (UTC -5)
It's also dull as dirt at points. Oh, and how could Soong hope that Data would discover Julianna's true identity? When the recording was made, Data was still on Omicron Theta, for all Soong knew.
Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
This is just a personal thing--I hate hate hate when characters get holographic messages from dead people. It is such a conceit! Dead people are dead and they can't tell us things now. I would much rather have them find out whatever "message" was intended through other means.
And when the dead leave holographic "goodbye wishes" for their crew (or son) it is just nauseating. Blech.
2 stars for this one--I won't vomit if I watch it but I don't bother to set the DVR.
Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Really? Of all the regulars, Data's background is notoriously sketchy. His history was deliberately vague until "Datalore," when they finally decided that he was built by a mad scientist, abandoned on a dead planet, and discovered by Starfleet. Between those events and "Encounter at Farpoint," all we know of Data is that Maddox opposed his entrance into Starfleet and, according to "Rightful Heir" (if I recall correctly), Data once contemplated suicide.
So many things about Data we never learn: how was he treated when he was discovered by Starfleet? Do those people stay in touch with him? Did Data have roommates at the Academy? Did he make any friends at all? Where was he posted before Enterprise? What adventures did he have? Why did he experience so much emotional growth in 7 years on TNG but not in the years he supposedly was active before we saw him?
The canonical backstories for TNG characters have huge bilnd spots. We learn a lot about Worf because his convoluted past is tied with Klingon politics, and LaForge accumulates a lot of little details. But little else is brought up in the series. Take Picard: he spent over *20* years as captain of the Stargazer. What do we know of that historic tour of duty? Three things: he took command during an emergency, Jack Crusher died at some point, and Picard ultimately abandoned ship at the Battle of Maxia. That's it. What strange new worlds did he discover? Did he accidentally have an entire civilization's memories implanted in his brain during those 20 years? Did Stargazer encounter any 20th century celebrities mysteriously transported to the future? Judging from what we learn in TNG (not counting novels & whatnot), very little of what happened to the characters prior to Season 1 was worth mentioning.
For Data's backstory to have been "sufficiently traveled," the writers would've had to treat him like a living person with his own rich tapestry of experiences. Instead, we get his origin story, and that's all. Even this episode is nothing more than an enlargement of that.
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 10:46am (UTC -5)
And, other than Riker and La Forge (to a lesser extent), we really don't know much about any other character's pre-TNG career.
I would love to know more about Picard. I always thought it would be interesting to see what happened after the Stargazer court martial and before TNG.
Fri, Nov 23, 2012, 3:26am (UTC -5)
Good points made about the lack of background on the TNG characters. Then again, we don't have a lot of background on the TOS characters either imho. It doesn't seem like background details weren't really worked on until DS9.
The book "The Buried Age" does a good job of exploring the post-Stargazer era. Picard does some teaching and commands a Miranda-class vessel on an archeological mission. He meets Data, who still has under-developed social skills because Starfleet has basically kept him out of the way and everyone avoids him.
They had a whole Stargazer book series going for awhile. Unfortunately, the first several installments were pretty bad and the series was discontinued just as it was starting to get better. I do wish more thought had gone into developing Picard's back story. The idea that he commanded one starship for two decades like Kirk did makes me feel like we're missing a lot.
Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 7:53am (UTC -5)
One of the biggest inconsistencies from TNG to DS9 is the size of Starfleet. In BOBW and Redemption, 40 starships appears to represent a good portion of the fleet. During the Dominion war, Starfleet has apparently thousands of ships (or, at least, hundreds).
There are some ways the difference could have been explained in interesting ways ...
We know from "The Wounded" that the Cardassian threat was around while Picard was on the Stargazer, we also know that 20 years or so before TNG started, things with the Klingons weren't great. The creators could also have brought in the Xgenthi.
Basically, Starfleet might have been looking at new threats and could have instituted a major ship build up sometime after Picard lost the Stargazer. His assignment -- maybe one that looked like a punishment but that he excelled at -- was leading the build up.
Said build up might have taken 10 years, and by the time TNG was ending and DS9 was beginning, Starfleet's numbers could have increased. Maybe Picard's time running this task force would have been where he met Data, Geordi, Worf and most of the Enterprise crew (other than Riker, whom Picard first met at Farpoint).
It's likely that shortly prior to TNG, Picard would have been called away with the first of these ships to address some sort of a threat (which would have tied in the Tasha Yar backstory). His actions there and his work leading the task force might have been the reason he got the Enterprise.
Sun, Dec 2, 2012, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
When GR first pitched Trek, he wanted it set on a ship with some history. He ignored that principle when creating TNG, with its shiny, new-car-smelling ship... and the crew were likewise devoid of history, for the most part. And that continued for 7 years and 4 movies.
Sun, Dec 30, 2012, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 11:45am (UTC -5)
After some blah, blah, blah, explaining why we had never heard of her before, it soon becomes apparent that she is an android and we spend the rest of the episode waiting for her head to pop open.
Then there's some blah, blah, blah, about whether or not she should be told, though we know she won't be.
3 stars is about right considering the implications and the acting.
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 9:51am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
A much more interesting angle would be to keep the "save the planet story", but the scientist was an android unrelated to Data. She would be a xenophobe against Data/androids (as would her husband who was more so in the original script). Her mysterious identity (which was the strength of the old story) would be the focus of this new angle perhaps. Do you tell a xenophobe she is what she despises? That is a more interesting question then an android prime directive question that Data faced.
Tue, Apr 1, 2014, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 14, 2014, 4:06am (UTC -5)
You see, main problem with this story comes from the fact that truth about Juliana was revealed way too late! It should be the main focus of this story, but as it is, it's just an afterthought. Think about it: if Juliana's memories were transferred into an android, then is she this same person as she was as a human, or is she just an artificial simulation of dr Tainer? In other words: is person transferred into a robot, still a person? If your were inside a robot, would you be still YOU? And if you can transferre human consciousness into machine, then what are the consequences for human mortality - are humans now immortal? Those are very cyberpunk-y themes, very reminiscing of "Ghost in the shell" and such - and they are almost completely wasted! And what about Data's dilemma? Should he tell dr Tainer, the truth or should he lie to her - what is the ethical thing to do? What about dr Tainer's husband, who seems to don't like or at least, don't trust artificial lifeforms - how he would react? And what about Juliana herself? If there wasn't deus ex machina program in her positronic brain that would terminate her as soon as she learn the truth - Q forbids, that she would have any character arc! - how would she react? You see - that's interesting and thought provoking questions, but we barely have a time to explore them. So , I don't understand why Juliana's plot twist come so late? Wasted opportunity...
Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 10:33am (UTC -5)
The reason for the size disparity between TNG Starfleet and DS9 Starfleet is simple: Special effects technology advanced in the DS9 era.
Personally, I always thought "less is more", and DS9 went way overboard with the massive CGI fleets. You can find ways to rationalize the discrepancy, if you must, but it's easier to just turn your brain off and watch things blow up when you go through some of those DS9 episodes.
Wed, Mar 4, 2015, 12:30am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 9:09am (UTC -5)
After more than 20 years I had forgotten the twist (though in retrospect after the reveal I did remember it had something to do with eye blinks) so it certainly had value in watching it again.
Wed, Sep 2, 2015, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
Other then that, I found most of this episode very dull, like many other posters. In general, I find a lot of the Data-heavy episodes in the last few seasons dull, as many of them consist of Data repeating "I at not capable of feeling [insert feeling]." several times. Data keeps reminding us he's a machine and the rest of the crew keeps treating him like a human being. Meh.
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
He said "she left me". That doesn't imply that she walked out the door one day and never came back. Most relationships don't die nearly that dramatically.
She said to him "I don't think I can do this anymore. I've booked a flight on the transport to Betazed in the morning, I'll be staying with a friend until I figure things out. I'll be sleeping on the couch until then."
Faced with the certainty that she wouldn't have him by her side forever he deactivated her in her sleep that night and built the Q&A. Obviously the plot doesn't work if he came home to a "dear John" letter, and so that isn't what happened.
Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
The senior staff is discussing the implications of revealing or not revealing to Tainer that she actually is an android.
They decide not to tell her and even Dr. Crusher goes along.
That is wrong!
Dr. Tainer had an accident, Dr. Crusher is her doctor. When Tainer wakes up, any doctor should honestly tell the patient what happened, what the diagnosis and the therapy is. If a doctor discovers something, even something unrelated to the accident, he has to inform his patient.
Dr. Crusher should have objected to the cover-up. Her participation is unethical.
Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Then there's the decision at the end to keep the truth from Tainer. This seems so out of character for Data. It all hinges on Troi saying that the truth would rob Tainer of what Data has sought his entire life, the chance to be Human. But, she's not Human. She just has the illusion of humanity. And Data has never once wanted the illusion of humanity; he has always wanted the real thing and nothing else. This is a man who straight up told Q himself, to his face, not to make him Human because he felt even that would be little more than an illusion (he said the same thing to Riker when he was given the powers of the Q). And yet he's willing to equate this illusion with the real deal? It makes no sense, character-wise. Beyond that, what this choice ultimately comes down to is a choice between a comfortable, pleasing lie and a bitter, unpleasant truth. I'll agree that sometimes a pleasing lie is preferable to an unpleasant truth and if I were in Data's shoes I would probably agree not to tell her. But Data has always struck me as someone who doesn't shrink from unpleasant truths. He's more than willing to take any situation as it is, not as he wishes it would be. A third problem with it is Troi's argument that the truth could devastate Tainer. What the hell kind of counselor is she?! What therapist worth his or her salt would ever make an argument like that?! "Well, the truth could make you uncomfortable so it's okay to live in your fantasy world."? And Data goes along with this? Long story short - he should have told her.
And there is what I had always considered the rather massive plot-hole of how Soong got the holo-recording into Tainer's head after she had left him. I had always assumed that he discovered a Dear John letter one day, which would make absolutely no sense - unless we were to believe that he somehow tracked her down, deactivated her, placed the chip in her head, reactivated her and then left without her knowing anything had happened. I was fully prepared to dock this episode a point for this, but I'm not going to now. Robert (two comments up) provided a wonderful explanation for this apparent plot-hole. I had never considered it like that before. Nicely done, Robert, you just saved this episode a little. :)
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 4:39am (UTC -5)
If watching Star Trek taught me anything, it's that a harsh truth is preferable to a pleasant lie. Even Star Trek V got that right. Perhaps if Roddenberry had been alive for this story, he would've imposed a different ending.
(That's the cue to cite any contravening "illusion trumps reality" stories from Roddenberry's lifetime.)
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
The B-story is a fairly standard and forgettable affair mind. 3 stars.
Sun, Apr 17, 2016, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
Unless, of course, that was another of the bio-tricks programmed into her.
And on second thought...in "Descent," Troi said she could sense emotions coming from Data (which Juliana had). I still don't get that. Betazoids can't even read Ferengi, but they can read android emotions?
Sun, Apr 17, 2016, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Watch the final scene in the transporter room. The look in Juliana's eyes right before and while she kisses Data on th cheek is incredible. She actually looks like she was about to kiss him passionately on the lips for a second there! I thought to myself, "Wow, that's really weird. That's her son." But then I realized, Data looks just like Noonien Soong did when Noonien and Juliana first met. Given the romantic farewell Data had just conveyed on behalf of hologram Soong, it makes a lot of sense. Perceiving the awkward weirdness of her own impulse, although prevented, she lowers her eyes and gets up to the transporter pad as quick as possible. Great job, Fionnula! I give you four out of four shamrocks. 🍀🍀🍀🍀
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Do you genuinely and earnestly believe that it is wrong to withhold from someone the fact that they are an artificial life form, making it morally correct to tell them and morally inexcusable not to? Well sir, then I guess Dr Soong is a contemptible monster. But whether he is or he isn't, he has made it so that you cannot fulfill this person's right to know without immediately and equivalently depriving them of another of their rights - the right to live. Soong has done a terrible thing, then, but your decision is made. You can't murder someone because you have something to tell them. "Dilemma" over.
I'm more than a little surprised that no one - Data, Picard, Crusher, Troi - even mentioned this while they were discussing the matter.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 9:03am (UTC -5)
DATA: If she recovers and learns that she is an android
SOONG: She doesn't have to know. I designed her to shut down in the event the truth was discovered. When you put that chip back in, she will wake up and remember nothing. All you have to do is make up some excuse about what happened to her.
I don't think "shut down" means terminate, I think it means "lose consciousness," i.e. what actually happened in the episode. I think it's a fail-safe for this eventuality -- something *PHYSICALLY* happens to expose that Juliana is an android, such as a disastrous event that takes part of her head off, Juliana's androidness is exposed, people find the chip and play it and Soong explains to whoever found out about Juliana that she should stay an android. Along those lines, while the show *should have* made this explicit, I don't think that telling Juliana that she is an android will trigger the shutdown -- I think it's more about physical trauma, because I think Soong is assuming that the only way for Juliana to be exposed is for something like what happened, happened. The reason that's in the episode isn't that the episode is short-circuiting its moral dilemma, it's so that she doesn't find out she is an android from rocks falling on her and exposing her circuitry.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Part of the fault lies with my memory, as I always recalled Soong using the word "terminate" (rather than "shut down"), which leaves a great deal less room for ambiguity. In my own defense, however, later in that scene (unless I am misinterpreting or misremembering once again), Soong tells Data that he programmed Julianna to "die" after living a long life, and he urged him, "don't rob her of that." We can still assume under your interpretation that Soong meant Julianna wouldn't be able to enjoy whatever time he programmed her to have left if she knew the truth - though it has to be admitted that this seems an odd and even slightly cruel thing to say to Data. But taken with the "shut down" remark, it bolstered my understanding that Julianna would permanently power down if she were exposed to that information.
Still, the episode's final act makes little sense if that is indeed what Soong was saying (especially since the officers didn't even comment on the abortive ethical dilemma I mentioned), so I'm going to go with you on this. It's easy for me to feel that the script should have been a little clearer, but for all I know I'm the only one who misunderstood.
Thanks for the clarification.
Tue, Jun 21, 2016, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 10, 2016, 1:58am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 27, 2017, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
So Crusher just divulges a woman's medical records to someone else, just because he asked.
Fri, Feb 17, 2017, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 17, 2017, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 17, 2017, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
I think Soong makes sense, though. It's a retcon, of course, and that carries with it some of the usual retcon problems, but I think it makes sense for Soong's character. He was never after fame per se, certainly -- he went to an isolated community to do his experiments, for example. I also think that his original intent was not to reproduce a human but to improve on humans -- hence Lore was super-smart, super-strong, while also having human feeling. That worked out badly, and so Data is still super-smart and super-strong without emotions. He talked in "Brothers" about wanting his children to carry on his legacy/be better than him. So certainly Julianna is more advanced in terms of representation of humans, but that wasn't *all* of Soong's original goal, which was to create a *new* life form. Julianna is more of an achievement than Data in that sense, but it also makes sense that Soong would still work on finding a way to fix Data after Julianna left, because he wants to make up for what Data is missing.
As far as Julianna being a better achievement that people would look to recreate, well, yeah, that's why he kept her being an android a secret. I think after the Crystalline Entity struck and all, the best Soong could really hope for is to mitigate the damage he's done, rather than create a new, positive legacy. Data is his positive (public) legacy, and so he tinkers on making Data better while people think he's dead; and Julianna is his personal legacy, his attempt to atone for being responsible for her death. Because he's still an egomaniac, it's a kind of frightening kind of legacy, where he even leaves the choice of whether or not Julianna should know the truth with his son or even some random observer rather than acknowledge Julianna's own agency (as a person or a robot).
Just to add a bit of my own take on this episode: I tend to read Data's not telling Julianna the truth as a bit of a downbeat, somewhat tragic moment late in Data's arc. I think that pre-"Datalore," Data might have simply followed Soong's instructions; mid-series, I think Data would have optimistically told Julianna the truth. The reason he doesn't here is not because Soong told him to -- he specifies in the conference room scene that he doesn't think Soong's wishes are paramount. It seems to be more because of Troi's comment that he'd be taking something away from Julianna that he himself wanted -- the recognition of being fully human. Most of the conversations between Data and Julianna end up having to do with the string of bodies, human and android, in their wake -- the colonists are dead, Soong is dead, Lal is dead, Lore is dead -- and one of the big moments in the episode is Data trying to find out from Julianna why she left him on Omicron Theta rather than take him with her, and the answer was more or less that she loved him, but what Lore had done was so heinous that she couldn't trust Data wouldn't turn out the same way. By this point in the series, especially post-"Descent," where Data chooses not to put in the emotion chip (at least for a while), I think Data has lost some faith in the Become Human Project; that he really *might* turn out to be like Lore if he didn't continue to restrain himself and hold himself back. I think his decision not to tell Julianna is based on this loss of faith -- Data now seems more uncertain that an android can become close to human, and Julianna's sense of her humanity may even be endangered by her knowing she's an android. And I think he maybe weighs Julianna's not rescuing Data because he was an android into effect, too, not out of petty revenge but because despite her ability to love him, she *didn't* see him as fully a person those years ago, and maybe wouldn't be able to see herself that way now, either. This is part of why I've never had a problem with Data not telling her, because I don't think this point is that Data is "right" but that it tells us something about Data's tragic condition and how he sees himself.
In response to earlier comments that Beverly should have told her -- that's probably true. It does seem like Julianna should know her own medical situation. And if we take Julianna's rights seriously as a person, it doesn't make sense for Picard et al. to leave the decision with *Data*. But I think they defer to Data because, well, android rights maybe aren't as settled as it seems. "The Measure of a Man" established that Data is *not* property, but numerous other episodes, including "The Offspring," "Clues," arguably even "Descent" (where Data shuts down Lore rather than trying to bring him into custody), and possibly (see recent discussion) "The Most Toys" suggest that android rights are still a fuzzy area where the right to procreate, not be disassembled for lying, and not to be *summarily* executed after committing serious crimes are still a little undefined and up in the air. No one quite knows what to do in this situation, so they defer to Data because Data is the one who seems most able to identify what being an android would be like. This is probably not actually a good or appropriate idea, but ties in with the overall theme that androids are still subtly treated as apart from other beings, even by Data's closest friends.
Tue, May 2, 2017, 4:18am (UTC -5)
Most intersex people are never told by their doctors about their condition, they just give them meds or surgery to "fix" (meaning hide) their condition because most of the society is ignorant about intersex conditions and how sex is not binary so the individual can be lead to a life of reject, humiliation and worse.
So when I saw that this episode it was a very natural thing to do, they just tried to give her the most humanitarian option, considering her life is almost done. That revelation would destroy her entire world, partner, career, etc.
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 2:06am (UTC -5)
Having her turn out to be an android replica of the real Juliana just lessened the already nonexistent impact her character had. So it's not even the real "mother" but a cheap knockoff that believes she is the real thing? Why should I care about her relationship with Data or even her existence beyond the novelty of it? She provides the reactions the real Juliana would have in those situations, but because she's not the real thing I couldn't care less.
Also, shouldn't her existence as an android capable of emotion while not dying from it or being (too) crazy from it be of interest to Data? Shouldn't he have extensively studied her neural net so he could replicate the ability in himself? That's always been his goal but I don't recall him saying anything along these lines, just closing the hatch and sending her on her merry way.
And personally, I find it very unethical to continue to let her husband believe he's married to a real person when it's just an android programmed to act like one, but in TNG androids are "real people" (or maybe only Data is, like others said it's kind of fuzzy) so I guess it's not by their standards. Still seems very wrong to me. I'd feel very lied to and violated if my spouse turned out to be a machine pretending to be a person.
Another Data retcon shows up in this one: apparently he now appears to age. Can they just make up their minds already? His hair doesn't grow; it can grow. He's virtually indistinguishable from a human without a medical scan and is essentially an artificial version of a man; his head is full of Christmas lights, his limbs come off, and he has an off-switch somewhere near his posterior. Oh but he does "breath" and has a pulse for some reason, both of which are completely useless, given Lore survived months in space and even in places where Data was passing as biological no one in the history of ever has needed to check his fake pulse to be convinced he's alive. Did the writers really think anyone was watching the show and asked themselves "huh, why does Data appear older now than he did six seasons ago?" No one was asking that, no one was wondering, no one cared. Even children understand the concept of "actors get older" so why they felt the need to add that I'm not sure.
Crusher always violates medical ethics, it happens so frequently that I wasn't going to comment on it until I noticed someone else did. It's not a Starfleet medical thing so much as a "doctor" Beverly Crusher thing. She's in good with the captain so she gets to do what she likes, just as all the other main characters are allowed to go variously break the rules and usually get off without even a slap on the wrist.
This episode reminds me of that TOS episode where Nurse Chapel's fiancé turned out to be a robotic duplicate. Except that episode was better. Keep the fembot drama and give me Kirk trying to duke it out with robotic Lurch any day.
Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 1:29am (UTC -5)
So, the idea that Data got left behind on purpose because his mother couldn't bare shutting him down if he went crazy is kind of cool, as is the idea that there were other bad data before.
And of course the great plot twist at the end where Data decides not to tell the women she is an android is interesting moral dilemmas.
But man, think of movies like Deus Ex Machina that do this really well. Or maybe Blade Runner? Whatever. The point is that you can't just come with a great idea and put it in boring soap opera. Not that I have the least idea about how to do this. I just know that Measure of a Man explores some of these issues quite well, with drama, interest, conflict and suspense. If only they learned the lesson from Measure of a Man and admitted Data might be able to feel some emotions. I always thought that Data is a far inferior version of Spock, since Data had no emotions at all and yet for Spock it was a constant source of conflict and suspense.
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
There's the sappy stuff at the beginning which didn't do it for me, although it is decent sci-fi -- the backstory of how Dr. Soong's wife actually created Data and the "love" they had for the androids, the pain they felt when they had to dismantle Lore, not taking Data even though they had room to do so. We even get the typical childhood stories about Data like not wanting to wear clothes etc.
The more interesting part comes when Data's mom is found to be an android and the discussion Data has with the hologram of Dr. Soong. I have to say it seemed odd that when Data's mom jumps to get the beam-out site, her arm just severs and she turns out to be an android. I liked how Data suspected his mom was an android to Riker and then is on some kind of personal quest to prove it.
As for Dr. Soong, shady character for me -- creating an android to replace his wife, but making the android terminate if it ever found out it wasn't human etc. I guess the writers put some thought into setting up the decision for Data to make, but it's impact isn't monumental on the viewer.
2.5 stars for "Inheritance". I guess in the end Data maybe "envies" his android mom who is a more advanced android and truly believes she's human. TNG has done a good job creating a story arc revolving around Data's creation and desire to be human, I suppose it was coming that there had to be a mother somehow.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
I think this is a recurring "moral of the story" in this series, and perhaps in several ST shows. Namely: The denial of identity rights.
In this case the "merciful lie" is preferable to the truth, but Dr. Tainer is deprived of her right to know her own identity. And of all people, the psychologist is the one who proposes such atrocity. Let’s be clear: in our XXI Century, a counselor who proposes such a thing could lose her license, if not going to jail, for denying a client their human rights - let alone be complicit in a lie, which is in itself unethical.
Contrasting with the apparent “flaws” in this episode plot, this message is consistent in different episodes. In another episode, a kidnapped child is left with his kidnapper (who might have massacred his parents) because "he is the only father he knows".
That is obscene. And runs on the premise that the kidnapped children of all massacres have no right to know their identity. And this is against the declaration of human rights.
In the case of Data’s mother, this message is not as extreme as in the other case – after all she is an adult and was never kidnapped. But the instances of denial of this basic identity right in 20th and 21st Century Earth real life are so brutal – the Nazi genocide, the Argentine missing children, the thousand of kidnapped girls in Mexico, Texas, and all over the world – that make this choice of plot, at least unfortunate. And in my opinion, infuriating.
Tue, Mar 20, 2018, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
I just don't see how someone can have a back and forth conversation with the hologram of a dead person.
Sat, Mar 31, 2018, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
That unintended undercurrent aside, it's an OK episode. Retcon never works that well but the episode wraps the situation up well, and Data makes the right choice. I also like the way he notices the clues over the course of the episode that she isn't what she seems, and I like the callbacks to The Offspring too. The visual execution of the "jump" in the cavern is terrible. Overall the episode works but only just, and it's mainly because Spiner carries it.
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
I hope they have good insurance!!
Fri, May 25, 2018, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 19, 2018, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
I couldn't so easily dismiss my objections to Data's final decision, however. It really reminded me of what happened to a friend of mine. It was the 70s. Her mom had terminal cancer. The doctors let her dad make the choice on whether or not his wife should be told she was terminal. Her dad said no. He thought she was too emotionally fragile, etc. Up until the end, she was told recovery was expected.
That was wrong, and Data's decision was wrong. She was a grown woman. There was plenty of evidence she was a strong, intelligent, adaptable adult. Let her grieve, let her deal. Tell her the truth.
Just wrong, wrong, wrong. It's wasn't merciful. It was paternalistic nonsense.
Fri, Nov 30, 2018, 3:37am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
40 ships was probably all of the larger high-powered ships of any firepower had within the multi-day vicinity of Earth
I'm sure they didn't bother ordering minimally armed science vessels, cargo transports, long range shuttlecraft to join the fight against the Borg, and any ships on patrol near Klingon territory, or the Romulan Neutral Zone, or anywhere else in the Federation or beyond that were damaged/under repair or simply couldn't make it back to Earth/Wolf 359 within a day or two at high warp.
I think it's plausible that Starfleet could have had maybe, let's say, 4,000 active duty capital ships spread across the entire Federation at the time of BOBW. So a loss of 40 ships means a loss of 1% of the entire fleet--in just one battle, to just one enemy ship. That would be a pretty viscerally devastating blow, particularly in an otherwise peaceful era of exploration and discovery, even if that percentage is technically low.
Imagine if an enemy attacked the US and killed 1% of our population of 320 million people. To lose 3.2 million people in one attack would be mind-bogglingly devastating.....but whether you consider only 1% to represent a "good portion" depends on your frame.
And then the war with the Dominion facilitated the need for building more ships, including entirely new classes of ships, and enlisting more personnel.
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:42am (UTC -5)
So he knocks together one of the most complex pieces of technology in existence.
How long was she in that coma? 10 years?
And for the first while I thought this was going to be the episode where the woman destroys the Crystalline Entity. Finally realized it wouldn't be when her arm fell off.
Wed, May 8, 2019, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
You said, "I just don't see how someone can have a back and forth conversation with the hologram of a dead person."
The same way they have back and forth conversations with the holograms of fictional characters all the time on the holodeck. Or the way Geordi did with the hologram of a living person he'd not yet met, Leah Brahms. Computer algorithms analyze what the person says and create a response, based on the parameters programmed into the system. Just part of twenty-fourth century technology.
Heck, some chatbot programs don't do that too badly in the twenty-first century. Even not much past the middle of the twentieth century, there were people who asked to be alone with the computer terminal so they could confer in private with a conversation program designed to mimic a counselor.
Tue, May 14, 2019, 10:54am (UTC -5)
I still felt Data should have told her. And would have told her. I think for William B's theory to be most likely, emotions would have to be involved and with Data they aren't.
In general. this was the most disappointing of Data's arc stories. I think if I had seen William B's view of it more clearly directly from the episode it would have been tragic brilliance since Data is the character I root most for.
Troi is useless and unbelievable, But then again she never liked Data from what I could see. I saw many instances where she was almost derisive with him. Certainly superior. I'll give Geordi and Crusher points for not being like that with Data.
And Crusher should have been confidential and open with her patient.
[an aside: Troi reminds me of journalists who sneer at math abilities just because they themselves are weak at them. They are equated with nerd-dom. I will never forget a journalist friend of mine who told me how they competed for who had the lowest math mark in high school. Like that was a matter of pride. Hello! math skills are correlated to critical thinking skills. The same skills that allow you to suss out the assumptions and bullshit in a story. ]
I guess 7/10
Tue, Oct 29, 2019, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
The entire episode hinges on the idea that Soong was somehow able to produce an android which is completely indistinguishable from a human, both visually and when scanned or put through a transporter beam.
There's so many questions here, especially ethically.
What about the fact that she is a clone of someone else's personality? Or the fact that Soong somehow had a complete scan of her personality.
What about more religious concerns, such as her soul (or lack thereof)? What about the fact that she's not realised that her body and mind behave differently to how they were when she was a "real" human.
What about the fact that she's been designed to artificially grow old and even die?
What about the fact she has a relationship with a biological humanoid, who appears to dislike androids?
What about the fact that she is a more advanced model than Data /and/ has a fully working emotion chip? The scientific potential of studying her systems is massive.
(Give or take the fact that the Holodeck seems to be fully capable of producing nominally self-aware and intelligent NPCs. But I digress...)
There are so many questions around this scenario, but virtually none of them are touched on. Instead, we get a weak conversation about whether or not she has the right to know what she really is. And while that is a potentially important question for several of the reasons outlined above, not one of the above is touched on.
Instead, the episode focuses on embarrassing trivia about Data's "childhood" and some stilted mother-son interactions.
It's not as bad as the episode featuring Geordi's mother, but it's still fairly weak, especially when you consider the questions they could have asked!
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 7:17am (UTC -5)
My immediate thought was "Isn't Data supposed to have memories of all the people from Omicron Theta? Shouldn't that allow Data to recognize her?"
I'll let that slide since I never liked the "Data has everyone's memories" aspect of his background anyway. I thought it was kinda dumb (did Soong scan peoples brains? How did he get those memories?) and the writers rarely did anything with it anyway. I think they forgot about it most of the time. :P
Overall I liked this episode. Its not top tier, but it's above average, especially for season 7.
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Ok, in a later scene they make it clear that Data only has the colonists logs in his brain, not their memories. (I could have sworn it was referred to as memories in previous episodes) They also explained why there was no reference to her in those logs, because she retained her first name when she married Soong and hid their marriage from other people.
Sat, Dec 7, 2019, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
DATA: Doctor, I have scanned the journals of the colonists. There is only one Juliana mentioned in them. Her last name was O'Donnell.
JULIANA: That's me.
DATA: But there was no mention that my father was married to you.
JULIANA: Because of my mother. She thought that Noonian was an eccentric scientist who was too old for me. We decided to marry secretly to give her a chance to get used to our being together.
Sat, Dec 21, 2019, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
The discussion over Data's painting of Lal honestly affected me more than The Offspring did. What a whiplash -- finding out that you have a granddaughter and that you have a *dead* granddaughter. Finding out that you even *could* have a granddaughter, for that matter, and that your son-slash-magnum opus (but emphasis on the "son") could even create one.
I was wondering how the hologram of Dr. Soong was even capable of knowing that Juliana had left him, given that the chip was presumably implanted during the android Juliana's creation (and presumably couldn't have been implanted after she left). Maybe it was something of an AI version of Soong that also had access to Juliana's memories, so that he'd know who he was speaking to (presuming that the person knew Juliana). Given how realistic it seemed to be, I almost wonder why there was no question of Data taking the chip with him... though given that Data decided to hide her identity from her, I guess it'd presumably serve the function it was implanted for, should her nature ever be discovered. Additionally, having a Soong capable of sapient interaction hanging around raises the same sort of questions regarding "hologram rights" that gets raised by the Moriarty episodes.
As for Data's decision...
I think people have a right to know the truth about themselves if they want to. The problem here is knowing whether Juliana wants to, because even trying to consult her in a roundabout way risks revealing there's a question about her identity that was never a question before. (The whole episode, she's known more about Data than he does about her. Even mentioning that Data knows something about her that might be difficult to swallow would be an uncomfortable reversal, and one that would no doubt be cause for questioning.) I know that I, for one, can't stand people making decisions on what's "best" for me, and not only when I happen to disagree.
I worry that Data's overcompensates in making his decision -- he mentions his opinion that revealing the truth would be selfish of *him*, in that he doesn't want to be alone in the universe. It's a very Data move to "ensure" no selfishness in his decision by eliminating the option he suspects to be selfish, and thereby going with the other one.
Sat, May 2, 2020, 1:33am (UTC -5)
Totally agree with the above suggestion that Data's mother be played by Spiner in drag. Why not? He already did it a season ago in "A Fistful of Datas".
I think a reason this episode and so many of the "out of gas" later episodes don't resonate is that they're so one-sided with just-so decision storytelling. The more fondly remembered Trek has quandaries and arguments. It's why people like "Measure of a Man" so much. Even "Best of Both Worlds", which is primarily an action-packed special effects extravaganza, has a bunch of arguing where everyone has a good point. In S7 TNG, everyone just goes along with whoever is talking at the moment. It wouldn't surprise me if Data proposed shutting down Android Mom for study and Picard and Crusher said, "Whatever you say, Data. It's your choice." It'd be funny if that happened, though.
It's a good thing that the cast became very comfortable with each other over time, but I think it bled into the scripts and made them too homey. This episode feels like it belonged on something like Highway to Heaven, Touched by an Angel, or Quantum Leap.
Sun, May 17, 2020, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 6, 2020, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
I imagine when she shuts down once she discovers she was an android, she would go up in smoke like a tape from Mission: Impossible.
As far as having a dialog with a hologram, they do that now with the AI in phone voice response systems. It can understand what you say and can guide you where you need to go. They replaced the DJ's on radio stations with AI. It's not 100% perfect, but it can be difficult to tell the DJ isn't a real person.
Thu, Nov 26, 2020, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
I was amused that the phaser repair of the planet's molten core is available to be performed "almost immediately" when Pran Tainer gives the nod. No debate in the planet's parliament, no consultation with local officials, no planning, no initiative to raise public awareness of what's going to happen, no risk analysis, just ZZZAPPP - a massive energy beam ploughing kilometres deep into the surface of the planet on the authority of a geologist.
I also don't quite buy that a single inventor could create an android like Juliana - so sophisticated that every bodily function is replicated exactly; so perfect that she believes she's human herself. Maybe a huge 24th Century corporation or a team of scientists and technologists.
I was amused that Beverley examines Juliana then declares "she should be awake". She's a physician, not a cyberneticist. How would she know? Sloppy writing. Geordi should have had that line.
And the interactive hologram doesn't quite work for me - it's almost an analogue of Juliana; intelligent enough to interact with Data and respond like Soong. Too clever. But I loved the "don't rob her of that, son" moment.
Hadn't seen that one before. It's a good one despite its flaws.
Thu, Nov 26, 2020, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 19, 2021, 3:59am (UTC -5)
Fionulla Flanagan is superb, those Irish-Brit actors who with the quietest inflection of the voice and a minimum of facial expression and body language convey oceans of experience and emotion.
And the ending is the only humane one that could be entertained. Data's love and caring overrides the sterile human ethics of telling the literal truth. Data, like Spock, is so often so much more meaningfully human than the literal humans.
One wonders where Patrick Stewart took a turn away from that mininalist school of acting. The way he flails his right arm-hand pointlessly in the air every time he says "engage" is one of the biggest futilities and irritations in the whole ST universe.
In fact of the regular cast only Brent Spiner puts in consistently stellar performances, with LeVar Burton and Michael Form occasionally as well when they're not given ludicrous lines.
A quiet achiever of an episode, thoughtful and thought provoking. I'm almost beginning to lose my total disdain for TNG.
Sat, Jan 30, 2021, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Or did he presume that she was about to leave him and put that in the chip? But it seems from the hologram that he’s had some time to reflect on what his mistake was, and if she hadn’t left him yet.... why not act on that insight?
Anyway, done nitpicking. 2.5/4. Would be 3 other than that which struck me as a major plot hole and took me out of the episode entirely.
Sat, Feb 13, 2021, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
The one moment that should have been a really cool "aha!" moment for the audience is when they are about to jump off a cliff, and she says "I'm never make it" and Data yells back "yes you will." Instead that could have been "Yes you will!" with triumph, as if to announce he is now certain about his conclusions and know an android will survive the fall. If anything he is surprised that she was injured at all, and mostly it's because she didn't know she was physically capable of landing safely (something about as plausible as a man not knowing he's super strong like in Unbreakable).
So instead of a neat story where Data becomes suspicious of a random scientist, it has to be his mother with all that wasted maudlin melodrama with his dad at the end. Instead of a search for clues, deliberately putting her in a situation where she'd reveal her superior abilities, he just notices them randomly and we are only told he did after the fact (a bit of a narrative cheat some of the time). The music concert could have been diagnostic on his part, but instead the script just makes nothing more of it than a mother/son boring scene. Instead of something in her subconscious making her nervous about the concert, since it would out her (even thought she consciously doesn't really know), she seems nervous but frankly for unrelated and tedious reasons.
Cool story premise, and totally lame writing. If I was directing this I would have demanded to rewrite half of it. This story deserved a much better teleplay, and much more from the actors involved. It should have had at minimum Geordi/Data scene likes Holmes and Watson, but instead we get only Troi and Picard at the end, ho hum.
Sun, May 9, 2021, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
In a real life situation it is not neccesary that one partner just goes out of the door. I assume that the separation process developed and Dr Soong accepted it. He dis though still love Juiliana. So one evening he just switche her of and implemented the disc.
There are episodes with much bigger an real loopholes.
I admit that I did not notice this contradiction when viewing but I van live withit.
Last 5-7 minutes where excellent with a very good philosophical question, when should you not tell the truth.
Crusher said that Data would be the best person to tell the truth. I agree.
But "every mother" would also forgive a child fpr trying to protect and make her happy. Data made the correct decision.
Tue, Sep 21, 2021, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 2:53am (UTC -5)
My main gripe - apart from the lack of excitement - was that during the otherwise good moral discussion at the end (“Should we tell her she’s an android?”), the only issue for discussion was what was best for her. No-one, at any point, mentioned her husband and what it would do to him to discover he’d been married to an android for years. Shouldn’t his feelings and welfare have been ‘on the table’? The writers obviously decided he was an irrelevance by then, and that the only story to consider was Data’s and Tainer’s.
Probably worth 2.5 stars.
Fri, Jul 1, 2022, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
So plodding and ponderous and tedious... A total snooze fest.
I guess it was a matter of "we're out of ideas, everyone loves Data, so let's knock up a low-effort something about his past."
If I hadn't have read Jammer's review regarding the"plot twist," which took more than a half hour to get to!, I'd have skipped this one after the first 5-10 minutes.
Even said "plot twist" was only mildly thought-provoking. There was no need to tell or not Mama Data she was a 'droid for it to be a dilemma to vex over. (Or maybe I missed the reason she had to be told or not during one of the fast-forwards I did.)
This episode was a total waste of...everything.
Oh yeah, there was also something about a planet's core. Apparently they fixed it. Dynamite.
Wed, Aug 31, 2022, 4:40am (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 6, 2022, 10:28am (UTC -5)
Another thing was when they were trapped in the cave...why were they trapped in the cave. I mean why did they have to go back to the beam up point and use those pattern enhancers, couldn't the Enterprise have just beamed them up through that giant freakin' hole they just drilled? They could even look up and see the sky through it.
Sat, Dec 3, 2022, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 1, 2023, 1:15am (UTC -5)
So much maundering from Dr Tainer. So much 'I got high marks in this class in acting school' scenery chewing that I want to start throwing things at the dratted woman.
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