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‘star trek: the next generation’ — the 25 greatest episodes.

We boldly go — and revisit the top episodes from 'TNG' and the Enterprise-D.

By Aaron Couch , Graeme McMillan September 21, 2016 6:00am

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'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Episodes — The Best 25

How do you follow up one of the most beloved sci-fi TV shows of all time? 

The cast and crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation can answer that question in a way few in Hollywood can, with the voyages of the Enterprise-D managing to step out of the considerable shadow cast by the original crew.

Patrick Stewart (Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), LeVar Burton (La Forge), Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Crusher), Marina Sirtis (Troi) and Brent Spiner (Data) brought Star Trek to new heights  over seven seasons and 178 episodes.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this month, The Hollywood Reporter counted down the  top 100 episodes of  Star Trek  across all six TV series. Every day through Friday, we're breaking that list down even further — ranking the episodes by individual series.

Here, you'll find the cast and writers behind TNG sharing what makes these episodes the best of what the crew had to offer. 

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It turns out, sometimes it pays to be paranoid. Picard and Riker discover an alien infestation, with parasites preparing to slip into the Federation by taking over officers. The episode culminates with Riker and Picard teaming up to take down the possessed Lt. Commander Remmick (Robert Schenkkan ) to explosive results. It's the favorite episode of TNG property master Alan Sims, who had to use all of his talents for the hour. "Creating the tongue puppet parasites, the live worms that were eaten by Riker to puppeteering the queen parasite that burst out of Dexter Remmick's host body … What an episode,"  recalls Sims. 

"Skin Of Evil"

Tasha Yar's death famously came from actress Denise Crosby's desire to leave Trek (though she would later return as an alternate timeline version of character and then, the character's daughter, Sela ). It's shocking for killing off a main character, and her funeral gives us an early example of Data's journey to understanding humanity. 


Patrick Stewart stepped behind the camera to direct TNG 's Halloween episode, which saw Data begin having nightmares — and gave viewers one of the most iconic and schlocky scenes in Star Trek history: the cellular peptide  Troi cake (with mint frosting!).

"The Offspring"

If Data's creator Noonian Soong  could create an android — why couldn't Data do the same? The surprisingly funny and touching episode showed Data dealing with loss after he creates — and loses — a daughter. The episode marked the directorial debut of Jonathan Frakes (Will  Riker ), who would go on to be among the most prolific actor-turned-directors in Trek history. 

"They were always capable, but you saw the progression of them becoming not just good directors — but becoming really good directors," Michael Dorn ( Worf ) says of working with costars  Frakes and LeVar Burton ( Geordi La Forge) as directors. 

Brent Spiner gets to show off his considerable acting chops in this episode, playing Data, his brother Lore, and their creator Dr. Noonien Soong — who has called his sons home to say goodbye as he nears death. There's a real sweetness to Lore, who is genuinely upset when he learns Dr. Soong is dying, though that's undone when Lore attacks his father later in the episode, which also introduces the notion of Data's emotions chip. 

"The Pegasus"

The shine starts to come off Commander Riker in this episode in which he's forced to come to terms between the demands of his duty to the Enterprise, and to his former commanding officer, who is up to no good. In many ways, this episode feels like a mix between the holier-than-thou TNG and the less perfect original series, giving Riker's blind loyalty to his superiors a long overdue exploration. Of course, his former superior officer is none other than Terry O'Quinn , showing both slightly more hair and slightly more humanity than he would as Lost 's John Locke. 

"Cause and Effect"

Forget going back to a period of Earth's history to hang out with Mark Twain — this Next Generation time travel story from writer Brannon Braga  sees the Enterprise-D crew stuck in a loop that leads in their deaths over, and over. The teaser, showing the Enterprise being destroyed, may just be the greatest opening in Star Trek history. 

"Frame Of Mind"

If David Fincher  had directed a Star Trek episode in the early 90s , perhaps it would have been something along these lines. The episode sees reality blur as  Riker  is imprisoned in an alien insane asylum and told he has committed murder. Jonathan Frakes  gives a stellar performance of a tortured Riker that is unlike anything viewers saw in the show before or after. 


The crossovers between The Next Generation and the original series were remarkably few, as if those working on the new show were fully aware of the potential that it would be overcome by nostalgia. This late-era episode — which brought James Doohan's Scotty back from the void to deal with the fact that most of those he knew were now gone — threatened to be every bit as sentimental as that synopsis sounds, but managed to avoid that fate thanks to some nice performances from Doohan and LeVar Burton's Geordi LaForge , and a great script from future Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore.

"The Lower Decks"

"Have you ever had a dream of working on the Starship Enterprise? I know — like every night!" says  The Guardian 's Hoffman of one of his favorite Next Gen episodes. "This season 7 Next Generation episode offers a glimpse at what life is like for the members of the crew who are off to the side, the ones who aren’t sure if Captain Picard knows their name and, yes, the ones who are in the most danger during away missions."

"The Drumhead"

Star Trek always struck gold when Picard entered the court room, and in this episode he spoke out after one of his crew was the victim of a witch hunt, partially for being a quarter Romulan (not Vulcan, as he said on his Starfleet Academy application). Admiral Norah Satie (Oscar nominee Jean Simmons) conducted a trial, and makes it into an indictment of Picard himself.

"Jean Simmons was a joy to work with," recalls Michael Dorn , who rates the episode as his favorite from his Next Generation years. "If you watch the very ending, it's a very cool scene between Picard and Worf , basically talking about how you have to be on guard from people like Satie . Constantly."


By the final season of TNG , the series was beginning to strain to find new stories to tell about the much-loved cast. On the face of it, audiences had seen the basic concept of "Parallels" before — a crew member finds themselves traveling to a different dimension without any control — but what makes this episode special isn't just the insight it provides into the usually all-too-insular Worf , but also the thrill of seeing so many "What If"? versions of familiar ideas from the series' past. As the series headed towards its conclusion, it was a surprisingly graceful, and fun, way to provide fan service without ruining the show as a whole. 

Having successfully defined the Borg as an almost unbeatable hive mind of destructive force, "I, Borg" sets out to do the seemingly impossible and humanize them. The result is something that speaks as much to Star Trek 's inherent humanist outlook, as one Borg is given his individuality back while Picard and Guinan are forced to overcome their own prejudices against the enemy that in some ways ruined both of their lives. More ethically tricky than a lot of TNG , it's to be lauded for showing how flawed the leads can be — and also raising the specter of the many deaths the Enterprise was responsible for in "The Best of Both Worlds" two-parter . 

"As a kid watching Star Trek I would never have imagined that I would be the first Borg to define an entire alien race- playing Hugh has shaped my life in so many great ways, proud to be a part of the legacy," says guest star Jonathan Del Arco .

"Redemption Parts I & II"

The original series may have primarily been the Kirk, Spock, Bones show, but The Next Generation was able to truly have seven leads — each getting his or her own time to shine multiple times a year. Next Generation celebrated its 100th episode by delving deeply into Worf's story, examining a family dishonor that has plagued him. It's a complicated and undeniably badass arc, seeing Worf resign from Starfleet, Picard navigate the tricky waters of a Klingon civil war, and the Enterprise bridge crew temporarily commanding their own ships. For good measure, there's the return of Denise Crosby as Sela , Tasha Yar's half-Romulan daughter, born after the "Yesterday's Enterprise" version of Yar went back to the past. 

"The Measure of a Man"

The emotional touchstone of Next Generation was Data's quest to understand humanity, and there's no more poignant example than the android's very sentience being put on trial — with Picard and Riker  finding themselves on opposite sides of a trial for Data's rights and life. 

"Even though I was hardly in the episode, I thought it encapsulated everything that was good about Star Trek, " recalls recalls Marina  Sirtis  ( Troi ), of her favorite episode from TNG .

"Elementary, Dear Data"

Holodeck episodes became a mainstay of Star Trek beginning with Next Generation — and the greatest contribution to this genre came courtesy of Data's love of Sherlock Holmes. Geordi asks the computer to create an adversary who could beat Data, and the computer grants that wish in the form of the sentient Moriarty (Daniel Davis). 

"I was twenty years old when we began to boldly go and twenty three years later, I was going with them," recalls Davis, a fan from the days of the original series. "I was sent sides for an episode of The Next Generation called 'Elementary, Dear Data.' I auditioned for the role of Professor James Moriarty and two days later I was on the holodeck with Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton. It was a brilliant script that combined the Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek mythologies. But it was mostly Star Trek , and presaged the questions of reality vs. virtual reality, computer generated consciousness, whether self awareness is all that is required to define our humanity."

"Ship in a Bottle"


Daniel Davis had already established himself as one of Next Generation' s greatest villains with his turn as Moriarty  in season 2, and he cemented his status with the sequel, which raised even greater questions about the rights of artificial intelligences and the nature of reality. The holodek program is initially able to outsmart the likes of Data and Picard — who ultimately grants Moriarty  his wish to live in the real world, though he in fact will continue to live in a holographic simulation in a Matrix -level twist that predates the 1999 film by years. 

"It was an extraordinary thing to be a part of and five years later, I was able to revisit the character and some very mind bending plot twists," recalls Davis of his work on Next Generation . "The cast and crew were as great a pleasure to work with as any I've known in my career. And thanks to the world of conventions, I'm able to enjoy reunions with them from time to time. Cogito Ergo Sum! Happy Anniversary, Live Long and Prosper."

"All Good Things"


Trying to sum up seven years' worth of adventures seemed like a tall order for the show's grand finale, but writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore pulled off the near-impossible with a story that doesn't just send Picard spinning through time into the past of the series and the future of the characters, but goes all the way back to the pilot of the series to reveal that everything really had been leading up to this moment, but no-one had realized it just yet. Add in some fond farewells from familiar faces and great performances from the regular cast, clearly relishing their last chance to play on TV together, and you have arguably the best series finale of any of the Star Trek s.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, ad veteran  Trek  producer Ronald D. Moore recalls his first meeting with Patrick Stewart years earlier on set of the writer's first episode, "The Bonding."

"He was very gracious meeting this young writer and in my enthusiasm, I pitched him the story for the next episode I was writing," says Moore. "He listened with a smile, then said, 'Lovely. Just bear in mind that the Captain doesn’t do nearly enough screwing and shooting in this show,' and then he walked away."

"Chain of Command, Parts I & II"


There! Are! Four! Lights! The two-part "Chain of Command" manages to mix another bravura performance by Patrick Stewart — the second episode, which focuses on Picard being tortured by the Cardassians , is compelling viewing thanks to the interplay between Stewart and David Warner as Gul Madred — with a sly commentary on the status quo of the show itself, with Picard's surly temporary replacement ( Ronny Cox's Edward Jellico ) finally letting Deanna Troi wear a real Starfleet uniform and calling some of the regular cast out on their storytelling tropes. A victory lap from when the show was at its peak.


No alien race in Star Trek history has been as terrifying as The Borg — and it all began with Q flinging the Enterprise to the other side of the galaxy. The hive mind villain's terror would only increase with "Best of Both Worlds" — and subsequently lose some of its mystique as the Borg was further explored with "I, Borg" and in Voyager . But it all begins here, where the Borg is at the height of its mystique. 


Not many shows would be gutsy enough to start an episode by killing off the leading man, but TNG was in the middle of its imperial period, and knew that Picard could be magic-ed back to life via the omniscient Q at any point. He does indeed return, but with a twist — given the opportunity to change his past by Q, he takes it and finds himself a lesser man as a result. Essentially "It's A Wonderful Life," Trek -style, the episode reveals more about what makes Picard tick (literally; the Macguffin is his artificial heart) and plays out as a morality tale about letting go of regrets over past experiences. 


The episode followed the traumatic events of "Best of Both Worlds" and allowed Picard to deal with the trauma of being made into a Borg pawn who murdered thousands of people. Pausing to consider a previous episode was a rarity for Trek at the time — as the show went from adventure to adventure without stopping to reflect on what had come before. It contains the best Picard monologue of the series — but not everyone was a fan of the episode. 

"Gene Roddenberry hated it. He wanted to throw it out," Ron Moore, then a young writer on Next Generation , told THR last year . "We all met in Gene's office and Gene just said 'this isn't the 24th century.' 'These brothers reflect outdated, 20th-Century modes of childhood development. Mankind had solved these kind of issues by then. I hate this.' " Fortunately for us, the episode made it to air. 

"Yesterday's Enterprise"


Considered one of the greatest sci-fi stories every told on television, the story grew from  Next Generation 's unusual policy of allowing the submission of unsolicited story pitches. Writer Trent Christopher  Ganino  pitched the story and ultimately shared a credit with Eric A.  Stillwell , then a production assistant on  TNG . This Next Generation tale explores what would happen had a key historical event not kept the peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It turns out, Picard would be in charge of a militarized version of the Enterprise, and Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) would still be alive. The Enterprise-D teams up with the Enterprise-C, whose crew ultimately decides to return to their own time to sacrifice their lives to defend a Klingon  outpost, thus restoring the universe to its proper timeline. Tasha goes with them … and later we learn gave birth to a daughter. 

"The Inner Light"


Without doubt the best Star Trek episode named after a George Harrison song — although who could forget Enterprise 's third season classic "Wah-Wah"? — this episode is a poignant showcase for Patrick Stewart, who gets to live out the remainder of Jean-Luc Picard's life in just 40-odd minutes after the captain is transported into the life of an alien scientist after being zapped by a probe on the Enterprise bridge. Watching him grow old against the backdrop of a dying planet is one of the most beautiful things TNG managed during its seven year run. No wonder this episode won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

"The Best of Both Worlds Parts I & II"


The two-part episode was the first (and many consider the greatest) cliffhanger in Next Generation history, seeing Picard abducted by the Borg and forced to be its de facto head, Locutus . The arc introduced layers of psychological complexity to the show and would pay off with 1996's  Star Trek: First Contact , considered the finest TNG film. 

"All of us were quite thrilled they had the balls to leave Picard on the Borg cube," Jonathan Frakes told THR last year for the arc's  25th anniversary. "It's commonplace now. Shows like Lost and House of Cards — they'll kill off a regular and think nothing of it. This was 1990. It was not commonplace to be killing off any of your series regulars. That was a big "who shot J.R." type of plot."

'Star Trek': The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in 'Next Generation' History

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 4, Episode 3

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Cast & crew.

Patrick Stewart

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William Riker

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge

Michael Dorn

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

Counselor Deanna Troi

Star Trek: The Next Generation

  • View history

Star Trek: The Next Generation , often abbreviated to TNG , is the second live-action Star Trek television series, and the first set in the 24th century . Like its predecessors, it was created by Gene Roddenberry . Produced at Paramount Pictures , it aired in first-run syndication , by Paramount Television in the US, from September 1987 to May 1994 . The series was set in the 24th century and featured the voyages of the starship USS Enterprise -D under Captain Jean-Luc Picard .

The series led to four spin-offs set in the same time period: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine , which it ran alongside during its final two seasons, Star Trek: Voyager , Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Picard . It is also the beginning of a contiguous period of time during which there was always at least one Star Trek series in production, ending with Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005 .

  • Main Title Theme  file info (arranged by Dennis McCarthy , composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage )
  • 2.1 Starring
  • 2.2 Also starring
  • 3.1 Season 1
  • 3.2 Season 2
  • 3.3 Season 3
  • 3.4 Season 4
  • 3.5 Season 5
  • 3.6 Season 6
  • 3.7 Season 7
  • 4.1 Remastering
  • 5.1 Performers
  • 5.2 Stunt performers
  • 5.3 Production staff
  • 5.4 Companies
  • 6 Related topics
  • 8 External links

Summary [ ]

Star Trek: The Next Generation moved the universe forward roughly a century past the days of James T. Kirk and Spock . The series depicted a new age in which the Klingons were allies of the Federation , though the Romulans remained adversaries. New threats included the Ferengi (although they were later used more for comic relief), the Cardassians , and the Borg . While Star Trek: The Original Series was clearly made in the 1960s, the first two seasons of The Next Generation show all the markings of a 1980s product, complete with Spandex uniforms .

As with the original Star Trek , TNG was still very much about exploration, "boldly going where no one has gone before". Similarly, the plots captured the adventures of the crew of a starship, namely the USS Enterprise -D . Despite the apparent similarities with the original series, the creators of TNG were adamant about creating a bold, independent vision of the future. The public did not widely accept the show on its own terms until the airing of " The Best of Both Worlds ", which marked a shift towards higher drama, serious plot lines, and a less episodic nature. This helped pave the way for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and its two-year-long Dominion War arc and preceding build-up, as well as the third and fourth seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise . Star Trek: Voyager capitalized on the heightened crew relationships and familial bonds first seen on The Next Generation. DS9, on the other hand, balanced political intrigue, character development, and series-long plot threads with a rerun-friendly format.

As with the original Star Trek , TNG's special effects utilized miniatures, but due to great advancements in computerized effects and opticals, the show leaped ahead of its predecessor in terms of quality effects. This series marked the greatest surge in Star Trek 's mainstream popularity, and paved the way for the later televised Trek shows.

Four of the Star Trek motion pictures continued the adventures of the TNG cast after the end of the series in 1994. Star Trek Generations served to "pass the torch" from The Original Series cast, who had been the subject of the first six motion pictures, by including crossover appearances from William Shatner , James Doohan , and Walter Koenig ; it also featured the destruction of the USS Enterprise -D. Star Trek: First Contact , released two years later , was the first of the motion pictures to solely feature the TNG cast, transferred aboard the new USS Enterprise -E and engaging with one of their deadliest enemies from the television series, the Borg. Star Trek: Insurrection followed in 1998 , continuing certain character arcs from the series. In 2002 , Star Trek Nemesis brought some of these character arcs and plot threads to a seemingly definite conclusion, although some cast members expressed hope that future movies would yet pick up the story. Regardless, a new generation of actors appeared in 2009 's Star Trek , which created an alternate reality and returned the films' focus to Kirk and Spock .

On television, characters from TNG appeared in subsequent series. Recurring TNG character Miles O'Brien became a series regular on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine , as did Worf in DS9's fourth season . Jean-Luc Picard appeared in Deep Space Nine 's pilot episode , and supporting characters from TNG appeared occasionally on DS9 (specifically, Keiko O'Brien , Lursa , B'Etor , Molly O'Brien , Vash , Q , Lwaxana Troi , Alynna Nechayev , Gowron , Thomas Riker , Toral , and Alexander Rozhenko ). Reginald Barclay and Deanna Troi appeared several times each on Star Trek: Voyager , and Troi and William T. Riker appeared in the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise , which was primarily a holographic simulation set during the TNG episode " The Pegasus ". However, Star Trek Nemesis was the final chronological appearance of the Next Generation characters for over 18 years, until Star Trek: Picard , which focused on the later life of Jean-Luc Picard. Riker, Troi, Data , and Hugh also appeared in Picard .

In 1994 , Star Trek: The Next Generation was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. During its seven-year run, it was nominated for 58 Emmy Awards, mostly in "technical" categories such as visual effects and makeup; it won 18.

Main cast [ ]

Starring [ ].

  • Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
  • Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker

Also starring [ ]

  • LeVar Burton as Lt. j.g. / Lt. / Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
  • Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar ( 1987 - 1988 )
  • Michael Dorn as Lt. j.g. / Lt. Worf
  • Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher ( 1987 - 1988 ; 1989 - 1994 )
  • Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
  • Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
  • Wil Wheaton as Ensign Wesley Crusher ( 1987 - 1990 )

Episode list [ ]

Season 1 [ ].

TNG Season 1 , 25 episodes:

Season 2 [ ]

TNG Season 2 , 22 episodes:

Season 3 [ ]

TNG Season 3 , 26 episodes:

Season 4 [ ]

TNG Season 4 , 26 episodes:

Season 5 [ ]

TNG Season 5 , 26 episodes:

Season 6 [ ]

TNG Season 6 , 26 episodes:

Season 7 [ ]

TNG Season 7 , 25 episodes:

Behind the scenes [ ]

Star Trek: The Next Generation was originally pitched to the then-fledgling Fox Network . However, they couldn't guarantee an initial order greater than thirteen episodes, not enough to make the enormous start-up costs of the series worth the expense. It was then decided to sell the series to the first-run syndication market. The show's syndicated launch was overseen by Paramount Television president Mel Harris , a pioneer in the syndicated television market. Many of the stations that carried The Next Generation had also run The Original Series for a long time.

According to issues of Star Trek: The Official Fan Club Magazine from early 1987, TNG was originally planned to be set in the 25th century, 150 years after the original series, and the Enterprise would have been the Enterprise NCC-1701-G. Gene Roddenberry ultimately changed the timeline to mid-24th century, set on board the Enterprise NCC-1701-D, as an Enterprise -G would have been the eighth starship to bear the name and that was too many for the relatively short time period that was to have passed.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was billed initially as being set 78 years after the days of the original USS Enterprise . [1] (p. 16) However, after the series' first season was established as being set in the year 2364 , this reference became obsolete as dates were then able to be set for the original series and the four previous films. When this happened, it was established that the events of the original series were about a hundred years before the events of TNG. With TNG's first season being set in 2364, 78 years prior would have been 2286 . Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home partly takes place during this year along with the shakedown cruise of the USS Enterprise -A .

On the special The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation To The Next , Gene Roddenberry commented, " On the original Star Trek , I practically lost my family from working so many twelve-hour days, fourteen-hour days, seven days a week, and I told them, 'You can't pay me enough to do that.' But then they said, 'Hey, but suppose we do it in a way in which' they call syndication, 'in which we don't have a network and we don't have all those people up there?' And Paramount was saying to me, 'And we guarantee that you will be in charge of the show.' "

Andrew Probert was first hired by Roddenberry in 1978 . However, not until 1986 , when Roddenberry was preparing to launch a new show, entitled Star Trek: The Next Generation , did he call upon Probert to take a lead design role. Everything had to be rethought, imagined, planned and redesigned. As the vision evolved in the designers' minds, the evolution was charted in successive sketches and paintings.

Among Probert's creations, in addition to the new Enterprise starship and many of its interiors including the main bridge , are many other featured spacecraft. The Ferengi cruiser , and even the Ferengi species, are Probert designs.

Roddenberry originally insisted on doing a one-hour pilot and assigned D.C. Fontana to write the episode, first titled Meeting at Farpoint . However, the studio was keen on having a two-hour pilot, mainly because they wanted something big and spectacular to launch the series, especially considering first-run syndication. Roddenberry himself volunteered to extend Fontana's script to two hours, eventually adding the Q storyline to it.

Ronald D. Moore commented, " Gene did not want conflict between the regular characters on TNG. This began to hamstring the series and led to many, many problems. To put it bluntly, this wasn't a very good idea. But rather than jettison it completely, we tried to remain true to the spirit of a better future where the conflicts between our characters did not show them to be petty or selfish or simply an extension of 20th century mores. " ( AOL chat , 1997 ) Rick Berman explained, " The problem with Star Trek: The Next Generation is Gene created a group of characters that he purposely chose not to allow conflict between. Starfleet officers cannot be in conflict, thus its murderous to write these shows because there is no good drama without conflict, and the conflict has to come from outside the group. " ( Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages , p. 8)

Roddenberry tried to recruit many production staff members from The Original Series to work on the new series. These included producers Robert H. Justman and Edward K. Milkis , writers D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold (who served as the main creative force behind the formation of the series), costume designer William Ware Theiss , assistant director Charles Washburn , composer Fred Steiner , set decorator John M. Dwyer , and writer John D.F. Black . Roddenberry also tried to bring back cinematographer Jerry Finnerman , but he declined the offer, being busy working on Moonlighting at the time. However, all of the above people finished working on the series after or during the first season.

Unit Production Manager David Livingston was responsible for hiring Michael Westmore for the pilot episode. ( ENT Season 3 Blu-ray , " Impulse " audio commentary )

Remastering [ ]

After several months of speculation and partial confirmation, announced on 28 September 2011 (the 24th anniversary of the series premiere) that The Next Generation would be remastered in 1080p high-definition for release on Blu-ray Disc and eventual syndication, starting in 2012 . The seventh and final season was released on Blu-ray in December 2014 .

Cast and crew [ ]

The following people worked on The Next Generation ; it is unknown during which season or on which episodes.

Performers [ ]

  • Antonio – background actor
  • Charles Bazaldua – voice actor
  • Terrence Beasor – voice actor (17 episodes, including the voice of the Borg )
  • Libby Bideau – featured actress
  • Brian Ciari – background actor: Cardassian ( TNG Season 6 or 7 )
  • Amber Connally – background actress: child
  • Phil Crowley – voice actor
  • Vincent DeMaio – background actor: Enterprise -D operations division officer
  • David Dewitt – background actor
  • Gregory Fletcher – background actor Borg
  • Dan Horton – background actor
  • Carlyle King – voice actress
  • Mark Laing – featured actor
  • Daryl F. Mallett – background actor
  • Tina Morlock – background actress
  • Jean Marie Novak – background actress: Enterprise -D operations division officer
  • Rick H. Olavarria – background actor (1988)
  • Jennifer Ott – background actress: Enterprise -D command division officer
  • Richard Penn – voice actor
  • Judie Pimitera – background actress: Ten Forward waitress
  • Paige Pollack – voice actress
  • Jeff Rector – background actor: Enterprise -D command division officer
  • Gary Schwartz – voice actor/ADR voice
  • Beth Scott – background actress
  • Steve Sekely – background actor
  • Andrea Silver – background actress: Enterprise -D sciences division officer
  • Oliver Theess – recurring background actor (around 1990)
  • Richard Walker – background actor
  • Harry Williams, Jr. – background actor
  • Bruce Winant – supporting actor
  • Stephen Woodworth – background actor

Stunt performers [ ]

  • Laura Albert – stunts
  • John Lendale Bennett – stunts
  • Richard L. Blackwell – stunts
  • John Cade – stunts
  • Chuck Courtney – Assistant Stunt Coordinator
  • Terry James – stunts
  • Gary Jensen – Assistant Stunt Coordinator
  • Lane Leavitt – stunts
  • Pat Romano – stunts

Production staff [ ]

  • Joseph Andolino – Additional Composer
  • David Atherton – Makeup Artist
  • Gregory Benford – Scientific Consultant
  • Steven R. Bernstein – Additional Music Composer/Orchestrator
  • Les Bernstien – Motion Control Operator
  • R. Christopher Biggs – Special Makeup Effects Artist
  • Howard Block – Second Unit Director of Photography
  • Stephen Buchsbaum – Colorist: Unitel Video (Four Seasons)
  • Alan Chudnow – Assistant Editor
  • Marty Church – Foley Mixer
  • Scott Cochran – Scoring Mixer: Advertising Music
  • Robert Cole – Special Effects Artist
  • Sharon Davis – Graphics Assistant
  • David Dittmar – Prosthetic Makeup Artist
  • Dragon Dronet – Prop Maker: Weapons, Specialty Props and Miniatures
  • Jim Dultz – Assistant Art Director
  • Shannon Dunn – Extras Casting: Cenex Casting
  • Chris W. Fallin – Motion Control Operator
  • Edward J. Franklin – Special Effects Artist
  • Lisa Gizara – Assistant to Gates McFadden
  • John Goodwin – Makeup Artist
  • Simon Holden – Digital Compositor (between 1989 and 1994)
  • Kent Allen Jones – Sculptor: Bob Jean Productions
  • Michael R. Jones – Makeup Artist (early 1990s)
  • Jason Kaufman – Prop and Model Maker: Greg Jein, Inc.
  • Nina Kent – Makeup Artist
  • David Kervinen – Visual Effects Illustrator: Composite Image Systems (4 Seasons)
  • Andy Krieger – Extras Casting: Central Casting
  • Tim Landry – Visual Effects Artist
  • Lisa Logan – Cutter/Fitter
  • Jon Macht – Post Production Vendor
  • Gray Marshall – Motion Control Camera Operator: Image "G"
  • Karl J. Martin – Digital Compositor
  • Belinda Merritt – VFX Accountant: The Post Group
  • John Palmer – Special Effects Coordinator: WonderWorks Inc.
  • Frank Popovich – Mold and Prop Assistant
  • Molly Rennie
  • Chris Schnitzer – Motion Control Technician/Rigger: Image "G"
  • Steven J. Scott – Digital Compositor
  • Bruce Sears – DGA Trainee
  • Casey Simpson – Gaffer
  • Ken Stranahan – Visual Effects Artist
  • Rick Stratton – Makeup Artist
  • Greg Stuhl – Miniatures: Greg Jein, Inc.
  • Tim Tommasino – Assistant Editor
  • Peter Webb – Digital Compositor
  • Gregory A. Weimerskirch – Assistant Art Director
  • Bill Witthans – Dolly Grip

Companies [ ]

  • Bob Jean Productions
  • Movie Movers
  • Newkirk Special Effects
  • WonderWorks Inc.

Related topics [ ]

  • TNG directors
  • TNG performers
  • TNG recurring characters
  • TNG studio models
  • TNG writers
  • Character crossover appearances
  • Undeveloped TNG episodes
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation novels
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  • Star Trek: The Next Generation comics, volume 2 (DC)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation comics (IDW)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation soundtracks
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  • Star Trek: The Next Generation on LaserDisc
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External links [ ]

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation at Wikipedia
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation at the Internet Movie Database
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Star Trek: The Next Generation


3.5 stars.

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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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Comment Section

89 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.

Brent Spiner^3 Simply amazing!

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

Latex Zebra

B-4 we talk about this episode there is one thing we should addresss...

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

lol 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.

@Paul 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!

Cheers Patrick, think that one is scheduled for a rerun soon. I may check it out.

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.

The Dreamer

@NCC 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. 8/10

Diamond Dave

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.)

@Dan "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.

@Dan 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.

Sarjenka's Little Brother

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.

Sean Hagins

@Chris It was actually the first thing I thought of! Thanks for mentioning it!

“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.

@Chrome 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

10/10 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. Onward.

@Springy 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: 1-7-3-4-6-7-3-2-1-4-7-6-Charlie-3-2-7-8-9-7-7-7-6-4-3-Tango-7-3-2-Victor-7-3-1-1-7-8-8-8-7-3-2-4-7-6-7-8-9-7-6-4-3-7-6-LOCK

Jeffrey Jakucyk

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. Incredible!

@ 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.


@Mal but no special characters or mixed case :)

@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 :-)

@Mal (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: 1-7-3-4-6-7-3-2-1-4-7-6-Charlie-3-2-7-8-9-7-7-7-6-4-3-Tango-7-3-2-Victor-7-3-1-1-7-8-8-8-*7*-3-2-4-7-6-7-8-9-7-6-4-3-7-6-*LOCK*

^ 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. Whatever... 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*

Willy Lovington

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.

Every starfleet officer should seriously reconsider being a parent.

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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E3 "Brothers"

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Original air date: October 8, 1990

The Enterprise is on a medical mission to transport a sick child to a starbase medical lab after a prank from the boy's brother went awry. While escorting the older boy to pay his sick brother a visit, Data begins acting oddly. Without warning, he turns off the life-support systems on the bridge, forcing the rest of the crew to evacuate. He then commandeers the ship by imitating Picard's voice and setting security codes so that only he can control all the crucial systems, then sets a new course to an unknown planet.

Data beams down to the planet and is reactivated to his normal self by an old scientist. Data quickly recognizes the man as Dr. Noonien Soong, his creator, who was thought to be dead. Data showers his creator with questions, such as why he created him in the first place. Soong states that, just as humans wish to have a sense of continuity with the past, they also wish to have a sense of immortality into the future through procreation. However, their conversation is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Lore, who also answered Soong's summons.

On the Enterprise , the crew is scrambling to regain control of the ship. They have only about 24 hours before the sick boy will succumb to his infection. But Data's modifications to the ship leave them without the ability to use the warp drive or transporters. Geordi concocts a plan to jury-rig the transporters, and he sets to work with O'Brien.

The family reunion between the androids and their creator goes fairly poorly. Soong reveals that most of what Lore told Data about each other was a lie, including the claim that Data is a less-perfect copy of Lore. Soong then admits that he is dying and had summoned Data to provide him with a specially designed emotion chip. Lore thinly veils his intense jealousy through a congratulatory veneer. After a night's sleep, Soong installs the emotion chip, but it turns out that he does so in Lore, who has incapacitated Data and taken his place. The chip immediately begins to malfunction, and Lore hurls Soong into some furniture before leaving.

Geordi, Worf and Riker beam down to the planet using their newly modified transporters and discover Soong critically injured and Data deactivated. They reactivate Data, who rushes to Soong's side. Soong refuses to seek medical attention and wishes to remain behind to die. Data assures his creator that he will live on through Data. When Data admits that he cannot mourn for Soong, the scientist tells him that he will, in his own way.

Tropes featured in "Brothers":

  • Acting Unnatural : When the recall signal takes him over, Data ceases to speak unless it's directly related to taking over the ship. Riker and Picard don't miss this, but Data sidesteps the issue by causing a life support failure on the bridge, forcing everyone to evacuate. Curiously, he does make a show of pretending to leave to keep up appearances, even if he doesn't say anything.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom : During his trek from the bridge to the transporter room, Data at one point initiates a "scan phase" with the forcefields that causes the one ahead of him to jump ahead by a few inches every few moments, in effect creating a moving wall that forces the security officers attempting to stop him to retreat.
  • Amnesia Danger : Much of the drama in the second half revolves around Data not remembering that he locked out the Enterprise while he traveled to meet Soong, being unaware until Riker finally catches up with him, and Soong tells Data to execute an instruction which restores his memory. Had he known this he likely would have immediately returned to the ship, or at least gotten Soong to get their business over with as fast as possible.
  • And I Must Scream : Discussed. Lore says he spent two years floating in space after his last encounter with Data and would still be out there if not for a passing Pakled ship (though he doesn't seem to have been affected by the isolation the way a human would).
  • Ax-Crazy : The emotion chip makes the already emotionally unstable Lore into a full-blown Giggling Villain psychopath.
  • The Bus Came Back : Lore, who had been found by the Pakleds at some point after " Datalore ".
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass : After Data has locked the Enterprise crew out of every system - including the transporter - they network some tricorders together to convince the transporter that it is beaming the last person it transporter - namely Commander Data - to the surface when they beam Worf, Riker, and LaForge to Soong's home. Riker : The computer should think all three of us are Data. I just hope we don't all beam back looking like Data.
  • Call-Back : Data still can't whistle "Pop Goes the Weasel."
  • Calling the Old Man Out : Lore chews out Dr. Soong for simply casting him aside to make Data instead of improving him. Dr. Soong tries to explain that he needed to use the experience of programming Data to learn how to fix Lore, but Lore isn't having it.
  • Crazy-Prepared : Dr. Soong survived the Crystalline Entity because he always has an escape route prepared just in case.
  • Cutting the Knot : When he's intercepted at the transporter pad, Data simply has the computer erect a forcefield around the pad and then restores site-to-site transport functionality to get to the planet below.
  • Didn't See That Coming : Soong had no idea that Lore had been reassembled and also received the recall signal. Invoked In-Universe by Soong regarding the Crystalline Entity.
  • Dramatic Irony : Jake and Willie parallel Lore and Data's relationship of an older brother mistreating the younger brother. Ultimately, though, Jake and Willie make up. Beverly: They're brothers, Data. Brothers forgive.
  • Soong doesn't hold the destruction of Omicron Theta against Lore, even after Data tells him what happened. When Lore fatally wounds him and steals the emotion chip, Soong doesn't seem mad, just sad and disappointed.
  • Also when Picard and the others learn that Data had basically been forced to hijack the Enterprise by a homing device Soong had installed in him, Data appears to suffer no serious repercussions for his actions.
  • Embarrassing Nickname : "Often Wrong" Soong.
  • Exploited Immunity : Data vents the atmosphere on the bridge so the crew will be forced to evacuate, then stays behind after everyone leaves. By the time they restore life support, he's erected forcefields at every possible access route to bar them reentry.
  • Subverted with life support. There is no way that the bridge life-support systems would fail on their own, as Geordi points out; there are seven independent interlocks to prevent it. Data is the cause of the failure, having engineered it to get everyone else off the bridge.
  • Data is able to seize absolute control of the ship's computer by virtue of the fact that, having sophisticated speech capabilities, he can precisely mimic Picard's vocal patterns and fool the voice biometrics authentication that the computer uses. This is in spite of the fact that the computer tracks the location of all members of the crew in real time, and thus must be aware that Picard is not on the bridge even though he's supposedly issuing orders from that location. A simple retinal or facial recognition scan would have foiled or at least seriously hindered Data's efforts. It's really unsettling just how easily one android hijacks the entire Enterprise , and none of the security holes this reveals are ever mentioned following this or shown to be fixed.
  • Feet-First Introduction : The camera focuses on Lore's boots as he enters Dr. Soong's lab.
  • Following in Their Rescuer's Footsteps : When Soong questions why Data would join Starfleet, he gives the reasons that Starfleet rescued him.
  • Genre Blindness : Soong sees no problem in reactivating Lore because Lore has always obeyed him in the past. Yeah, that always works out well for a Mad Scientist .
  • I Did What I Had to Do : Lore: You did what you had to do? What kind of answer is that? Soong: The only one I can give you. You were not functioning properly.
  • Idiot Ball : For the sake of the plot, none of the security officers, including Worf and Riker, think to stun Data first and then ask questions after they have him restrained, allowing Data a few moments to erect forcefields through verbal commands. Their reluctance is understandable, but Data has also seized control of the ship and presents an unknown risk to its crew.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme : Doubles as a I Shall Taunt You by Lore. Lore: Often-Wrong's got a broken heart / Can't even tell his boys apart.
  • "Just Joking" Justification : Jake let his brother Willie believe he had killed Jake during a game, claiming he just wanted to scare him. Willie, panicked, ran into a forest and ate a poisonous fruit after he got lost.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia : Justified , but not with identity. Data doesn't realize what he has done to get to Dr. Soong. The homing device activated a more dominant program. Only after Dr. Soong tells Data to access a certain program does he get his memory back.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father : Dr. Soong reveals to Data that he is his creator, even though Data believed that he was dead.
  • Mad Scientist : A benevolent version, but Soong has the same lack of thought over the morals and consequences of his actions. He summons Data against his will, inadvertently endangering a child's life, and reactivates Lore despite Data's repeated warnings.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory : We start at the requisite glass containers full of bubbling chemicals and lightning generators before panning across to the more homely aspects of Soong's hideout.
  • Moral Luck : A boy pranks his younger brother, which scares the brother enough for him to run and hide. While hiding the younger brother eats a fruit that leaves him so ill he nearly dies. The older brother is severely scolded by numerous cast members for 'nearly killing' his brother. However, while a little cruel for a prank, there was no reason for the older brother to expect anything worse then his younger brother being frightened for a while because of it. This feels particularly horrible since a child that young would likely already be very guilt-ridden to the point of tears and any competent parent would go out of their way to tell the child that this wasn't his fault, not further scolding or blaming him. Especially as humans in the future are supposedly kinder .
  • Jake feels guilty about what happened to his brother and tries to apologize to Willie. Unfortunately, Willie doesn't want to talk to him at all.
  • It's subtle, but the look on Data's face when he unlocks his memories of hijacking the Enterprise might be the android version of this.
  • Narcissist : Dr. Soong examining Data, created in his own image . "I always loved that face."
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup : Dr. Soong's emotion chip for Data. Borders on Forgotten Phlebotinum , since the contents of Soong's lab should have provided a wealth of information about the construction of androids.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome : Lore being recovered by dull-witted Pakleds. The fact that Lore shows up wearing a somewhat ill-fitting Pakled uniform does , however, call into question the fate of those hapless Pakleds—i.e., whether or not there's a pile of Pakled corpses somewhere in Lore's wake.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish" : Subverted. Data creates an insanely long password to keep the crew of the Enterprise from regaining control of the ship. The password is equivalent to a 269-bit key in symmetric cryptography which is impossible to break with current technology, or even 24th century technology. The crew is unable to guess the password or even how long the password is and is stuck until Data returns and unlocks the computers.
  • Pet the Dog : Lore is genuinely upset when he hears his 'father' is dying. Subverted later when he accidentally kills him.
  • Properly Paranoid : Dr. Soong created his escape route because he wasn't too trusting of the colonists. He admits he never envisioned having to run away from "a giant snowflake."
  • Safely Secluded Science Center : Dr Soong has established a secret laboratory on an uninhabited jungle planet where he can continue his cybernetic experiments in seclusion - until he finally summons Data and Lore to his side, of course.
  • Sanity Slippage : Lore was always unstable, but using an emotion chip not meant for him sent him to Crazytown.
  • Self-Serving Memory : Soong and Data call out Lore on this. Data is not a "less perfect" android, they are both nearly identical in construction, just programmed slightly differently. And the colonists on Omicron Theta were not "jealous" of Lore, they were afraid of him.
  • Sibling Rivalry : During their family reunion, Data is deeply affected when Soong asserts that he is not inferior to Lore (as Lore had previously claimed) and that they are in fact almost identical except for some slight differences in programming. Lore feels that he was The Unfavorite given that Dr. Soong decided to move on and build Data rather than focusing on fixing Lore's personality disorders even though Soong insisted he planned on fixing Lore. He tricks Soong into giving him the emotion chip intended for Data by impersonating him.
  • Spot the Imposter : "Often Wrong's got a broken heart, can't even tell his boys apart."
  • This Cannot Be! : Lore's reaction to Soong's You See, I'm Dying .
  • Ticking Clock : The ship needs to get to a starbase to save a dying boy, providing an urgency to the episode.
  • To a lesser extent Soong also nearly gets a young child killed because it doesn't occur to him that forcing Data to travel to his location by any means possible even if his morality program would prevent him from deliberately killing anyone wouldn't cause massive problems by hijacking and locking out the flagship of the Federation.
  • Unable to Cry : Data: You know that I cannot grieve for you, sir. Soong: You will, in your own way.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom : Dr. Soong obviously had no idea there was a terminally ill boy aboard the Enterprise , who his recall signal to Data put in danger. Likewise, Data wasn't in control of himself, and didn't even remember what happened aboard the ship until Soong told him how to unlock his memory files.
  • Wham Shot : Lore being the one to arrive at the lab.
  • Whole-Plot Reference : To the story of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau in the Book of Genesis . In short, Isaac was old, blind, and dying, and intended to give a blessing to his rightful heir Esau. But Esau's brother Jacob impersonated him and stole the blessing for himself. Soong even mumbles something about Esau at the very end of the episode.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess : Data readjusts his strategy fairly quickly when site-to-site transportation is disabled.
  • You See, I'm Dying : Word-for-word when Lore is about to simply walk out of the "family reunion." Soong gets him to stay by pointing out that they'll never have another chance to interact.
  • Younger Than They Look : Possibly if what Dr. Ira Graves said about being Soong's mentor was true. Graves, while still old looking, didn't look anywhere as ancient as Soong does. This might be chalked up to makeup artists overdoing it when a younger actor is made up to play an elderly character. note  Or it might have been that Soong had also been injured by the "giant snowflake" - leading to his premature aging.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E2 "Family"
  • Recap/Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E4 "Suddenly Human"

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Star Trek: The Next Generation - Full Cast & Crew

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Den of Geek

The Star Trek Next Generation Character That Was Originally Drastically Different

Early plans for Star Trek: The Next Generation had very different conceptions of the main cast, including a security chief inspired by a space marine from Aliens.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast

Yaphet Kotto as Jean-Luc Picard? Wesley Snipes as Geordi? Jenny Agutter as Dr. Crusher?

Gene Roddenberry considered all of these actors for Star Trek: The Next Generation before casting Patrick Stewart , LeVar Burton, and Gates McFadden. However, the most surprising alternate idea for a TNG character involved Tasha Yar, the ill-fated security chief aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise .

The Tale of Macha Hernandez

The TNG series bible, released before the show premiered as a guide for writers and actors, describes Yar in terms similar, if not completely one-to-one, with the character we know from the series. “Born at a ‘failed’ Earth colony of renegades and other violent undesirables, she escaped to Earth in her teens and discovered Starfleet, which she still ‘worships’ today as the complete opposite of all the ugliness she once knew,” the description explains.

Portrayed by Denise Crosby, Tasha Yar did show great loyalty to Picard and the Enterprise , even if that loyalty fell short of “worship.” And though we knew she had a terrible childhood, the full details wouldn’t be known until the season four episode “Legacy.”

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But the very first description written for Yar in preparation for auditions was very different. So different, in fact, that she wasn’t even called Tasha Yar.

“LT. Macha Hernandez – 26 year old woman of unspecified Latin descent who serves as the starship’s security chief,” read the first casting call for TNG . “She is described as having a new quality of conditioned-body-beauty, a fire in her eyes and muscularly well developed and very female body, but keeping in mind that much of her strength comes from attitude. Macha has an almost obsessive devotion to protecting the ship and its crew and treats Capt. Picard and Number One as if they were saints.”

If a space-fairing Latina warrior with muscles and an attitude sounds familiar, it should.

Macha Hernandez’s description also matches Vasquez, the standout space marine from Aliens . Portrayed by Jenette Goldstein, who also appeared in director James Cameron ‘s Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Titanic , Vasquez was the standout in a space marine corps filled with colorful characters. While the other marines struggled to shake off their cryosleep (save for Al Matthews’ Sgt. Apone, of course), Vasquez starts doing pull ups and fending off dumb jokes from Hudson ( Bill Paxton ).

Every single line that Vasquez delivers is an all-timer. When the xenomorphs descend upon the marines and overwhelm them, Vasquez shouts “Let’s rock!” and starts blowing them away. She’s got a fantastic final line, telling Gorman (William Hope) just before they both die in an explosion, “You always were an asshole.”

Unsurprisingly, the first actor the producers considered for the role of Macha was Goldstein, but how the heck would a character like that fit on the deck of the Enterprise ? Especially while Roddenberry was in charge? After all, the man was famous for restricting conflict among the crew, which accounts for many of the bumps in TNG ‘s infamously uneven first season. It’s hard to see how even a TV-softened version of Vasquez could work on TNG .

Part of the answer is in the casting announcement. Macha is loyal to the Federation and Picard. So while there would surely be moments in which Macha would have leaned toward violence, a word from Picard would have made her stand down, as often happened with Worf.

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Beside Goldstein, another early frontrunner to play the character that would become Tasha Yar was Marina Sirtis. No, the English daughter of Greek parents isn’t at all Latina. But for television producers of the 1980s, brown hair was enough to signify “unspecified Latin descent.” And Goldstein isn’t actually Latina either despite playing a Latina woman in Aliens .

Interestingly, the original description for Deanna Troi said the character was a “cool, Icelandic blonde, almost Spock-like,” according to Crosby . “Marina [Sirtis] was reading for Tasha. Somewhere, about the second or third audition, Gene Roddenberry had this idea: Let’s just switch them and see what happens.”

From Macha to Tasha

When Denise Crosby became the frontrunner for the Security Officer, not even the most incurious casting director could see her as someone named Macha Hernandez. Instead, the show rewrote the character as the Ukrainian-descended Tasha Yar. With the Hernandez connection severed, most callbacks to Vasquez disappeared as well. Yar became a tough character who was told to stop fighting much more than she actually fought, unfortunately turning her into a bit of a boring presence on the Enterprise deck. Yar died an ignoble death in the 23rd episode of season 1, “Skin of Evil,” but it’s hard to begrudge all involved for abandoning the character.

Of course, Crosby did get to return in various forms throughout the show’s run, getting a proper send off for Yar in the wonderful “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and then getting to play the fun villain Sela. And Goldstein eventually found her way to Starfleet too, as a science officer aboard the Enterprise -B in Star Trek Generations and voicing the Enterprise computer on Short Treks .

Even better, the other attempt to pull from Aliens was much more successful. Roddenberry and the other TNG creators loved Lance Henriksen’s gentle but still uncanny take on an android as Bishop. They looked to that quality for Data, which they first found in actor Mark Lindsay Chapman before going with Brent Spiner . Spiner proved to be the ideal choice, not just because he brought Bishop’s disquieting kindness to Data, but also because he could expand on the character to make him unique and not just knock-off.

With time and the right casting, would Macha Hernandez have also become a distinct and beloved character? Maybe under Yaphet Kotto’s Picard and alongside Wesley Snipes’ LaForge.

Joe George

Joe George | @jageorgeii

Joe George’s writing has appeared at Slate, Polygon,, and elsewhere!


Can Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving hold off inevitable Celtics in NBA Finals?

Can Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving hold off inevitable Celtics in NBA Finals?

The Athletic has live coverage of Celtics vs. Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

The Athletic is launching a new series of sports debates in which two writers break down a specific topic. In this NBA edition, David Aldridge and Marcus Thompson II discuss the NBA Finals and whether the Dallas Mavericks star duo can pull off the upset that many have started to expect. 

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Aldridge: So, we’re here to discuss whether these finals will provide a referendum on whether Luka Dončić will be crowned the best player in the world if the Dallas Mavericks beat the Boston Celtics . And, sure, I get the supposed value in this kind of “debate,” even if I protest my participation in it. These finals will be intriguing.


Thompson: Fine, I’ll say it. If Luka wins the championship this year HE IS THE GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME. Yes, I am yelling.

How is that? How am I doing at this debate thing?

Aldridge: Not enough exclamation points!!! I have to read you shouting!!!

Forget legacies. Dallas-Boston is full of storylines. Any of Luka, Kyrie Irving , Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown could be the finals MVP. Conceivably, so could Jrue Holiday or Derrick White or, if he dominates the paint, Dereck Lively II. This is one of the most fascinating championship series in recent memory. I can’t wait to see what the adjustments are to whatever happens Thursday in Game 1.

Do we see Kyrie guarding Kristaps Porziņģis at some point? Or Jrue on Lively? How does Boston get Luka in screen-and-roll actions defensively, and how does Dallas do the same to KP? Who goes zone first, and for how long? If Boston wins, does Joe Mazzulla finally get some love in Beantown? If Dallas wins, does Mark Cuban say “psyche” and try to undo the deal he made with the Adelson family? Boston’s been the best team in the league all season; Dallas has been the hottest team in the league since March. I’m excited about this one.

Thompson: Oh, we’re doing the adult conversation thing. My bad.

Aldridge: I am just loath to assign lasting value to any one series, even a championship series. There’s this whole referendum structure in Boston (partly because it’s Boston, and the standard every season is championship or bust) about how vital it is for Tatum and Brown to break through and finally win a chip with the Celtics being so good in the last few seasons. But even though this is Boston’s second finals in three seasons, the team that lost 4-2 to Golden State is completely different from this one, even though Tatum and Brown were the main cogs in that machine, too.

To say that Tatum and Brown need to win it this year to somehow validate their status as superstars feels forced to me. I’m old enough to remember when smart people in our business wrote that Michael Jordan, seven years into his Hall of Fame career, didn’t make his teammates better because he hadn’t yet won a ring.

Thompson: But in the scope of legacy, and adhering to the modern discourse of GOAT herding, this is a big series for Tatum. Not because it’s a referendum on his greatness. But because he’d be flirting with joining the list of greats who never won it all. He’s been to five conference finals. This is his second trip to the big dance. He’s spent his preadolescent basketball years on the NBA ’s biggest stages. Usually, the best breakthrough eventually. He’s gone toe to toe with some absolute legends — LeBron James , Jimmy Butler , Stephen Curry — and there is no shame in losing to them. Based on his talent and his experience, he is worthy of being a champion. But when you get this many cracks, with this many versions of teams, you start running the risk of missing your moment. And it’s not getting easier with this new generation of talent.

I remember as a teenager how my beloved Jordan would get crushed for not winning it all. I think people who weren’t around didn’t understand how much of a thing it was until the Bulls finally won in 1991. This will become a thing if Tatum doesn’t win. It will be all about how he can’t win the big one. Tatum has been groomed to be a king. It’s time for him to grab his crown. Because if Dončić doesn’t take it now, doesn’t it feel inevitable he will soon?

Aldridge: Hmm … maybe? The modern NBA is littered with “we’re inevitable” teams: the Cavs of the early 1990s, the Chris Webber/Vlade Divac Kings, Dwight Howard’s Magic, OKC in 2011 and on and on. Injuries ( Derrick Rose ’s knee; Penny Hardaway’s back; John Wall’s Achilles) take rising franchises out in a nanosecond. Coaches lose their locker room; superstars lose their patience. And, the West remains a minefield.

Assuming a return to form for Ja Morant , Memphis will be back in the saddle next season to challenge the Mavs , Wolves, Thunder and Suns. A potential conference-shifting trade is always in the air. We had no idea at this time last season that Damian Lillard would wind up in Milwaukee rather than Miami. And the best player on Earth is still in Denver, and he’s gonna have a horse-sized chip on his shoulder again next season .

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Thompson: I agree Nikola Jokić is still the best in the league. This idea of the best player being this fluid, shifting phenomenon is a bit ridiculous, especially considering the wealth of factors that decide these championships. Now as much as ever, the collection of best players are all capable of winning based on health, quality of supporting cast and even matchups. I am not ready to say Jokić has relinquished the throne after one postseason ouster. I know a lot of people will be ready to anoint Luka if Dallas wins, and I see it.

But whoever wins this year will be the sixth superstar in as many years to win it all: Kawhi Leonard , LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo , Steph Curry, Jokić and either Luka or Tatum. And a seventh could win it in 2025. It’s impossible in this landscape to say winning the championship makes a player the BEST IN THE LEAGUE. But if that doesn’t, then what does? Are we nearing the end of ringzzzzz culture?

Aldridge: Don’t get me wrong — there is a stake in who wins every year. I mean, this is why we have an 82-game regular season and two months of playoffs, right – to find out who wins? These are among the most competitive people on the planet. I just don’t think it should be the only measure of greatness.

I’m old now. But Charles Barkley was a great basketball player. John Stockton was great. Reggie Miller was great. Webber was great. And James Harden , Russell Westbrook and Paul George have had great careers that are not yet over. But none of them has won a single NBA title. Because it’s f—ing hard to get one. Either Luka or Tatum will not get one this year. But, damn, they’re both still great players.

Thompson: That to me is the interesting part about this current era where there is no dynasty to gobble up all the championships. Unlike the Barkleys, Stocktons and Millers of the world, who just happened to come along when the GOAT was doing his thing, there is a real chance for this next generation to grab a chip and the instant credibility that comes with it. And, hopefully, this forces us to rethink these conversations, or at least think about how we measure greatness. If it’s not just about championships — because none of them may end up with a bounty of rings like Kobe, LeBron and Steph — then it becomes a virtual Royal Rumble of future legends.

It’s akin to the ’70s, before Magic and Bird changed the league. It was a roll of the dice who would win. You had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Bucks and Willis Reed’s Knicks and Jerry West finally breaking through with Wilt Chamberlain. Rick Barry’s Warriors won a title. So did Bill Walton’s Blazers. Even your Bullets won a chip with Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld and Bob Dandridge. It was a free-for-all. And you know what we had to do before anointing someone as the GOAT? Wait. Watch how it all played out. Let careers run their course.

I’m saying we like I was there. I was not. So maybe they were debating about what knocking off Alvan Adams and Paul Westphal’s Suns in the finals did for Dave Cowen’s legacy — redeeming himself from losing to the Knicks in his MVP year the season before. Or maybe he was considered a fraud because Jo Jo White won the finals MVP. You know how the media can be.

Aldridge: It’s funny to me that people are now saying they love this post-Warriors era with no dominant team. In that most democratic era you mentioned, in the ‘70s, nooooobody watched! The finals games were on tape delay, at 11:30 p.m. in the East! It took Magic and Bird coming in to save the league.

Thompson: And now we watch them delayed on League Pass. Time is a flat circle.

Aldridge: Anyway, we gotta pick a winner for Boston-Dallas. I’m going with the Celtics in six games, and here’s why:

The Mavs have become an elite defense since the trade deadline; they’re No. 1 in defensive rating since early March. But they’ve become great at defending the very thing that is the least important thing for the Celtics offense: paint points. The Cs lead, and by a lot, in percentage of their postseason shots that are 3s (47.4 percent), just as they led that category during the regular season. (It should be noted: Dallas was second in the league in that category in the regular season and the playoffs.)

Boston is better at hunting and making 3s than anybody in recent memory, and that includes Harden’s Rockets and the Splash Brothers’ Warriors. Even those teams had someone against whom you could play drop coverage ( Clint Capela /Andrew Bogut/ Kevon Looney ).

Who do you slough off of when you play Boston? Yeah, Brown is usually the first name on everyone’s lips, but he’s shooting 37 from beyond the arc so far this postseason. Holiday is shooting almost 40 percent from deep; White is shooting better than 40. OK, Al Horford is only a 34 percent 3-point shooter in the playoffs … but, just in time, here comes Porziņģis , who hit almost 38 percent of his 3s in the regular season, back on the floor, after suffering a calf injury in the first round against Miami .

Daniel Gafford and Lively are true warriors at the rim, but KP doesn’t live there. He sets up at the elbows, is 7 foot 3 and can still get off his shot, even over the 7-1 Lively or the 6-10 Gafford. And if he drifts out to the line, even Lively and/or Gafford can’t recover that much.

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Tatum is shooting just 29 percent behind the arc in the playoffs. Also, Boston is 14-2 so far in the playoffs. At any rate, do you want to build a defense designed to beat the Celtics four times in seven games on the strategy of conceding uncontested looks from deep to Tatum?

And, entering the finals, Boston has a net rating of 11.6. Right now, that is tied, with the 2016-17 Dubs, for the third-best single-season net rating in NBA history, per StatMuse. Eight of the previous 10 teams with the biggest single-season net ratings won the title.

So, while I think the Mavs can take a couple of games in this series on the strength of their significant Luka/Kyrie-centric firepower, I just don’t think Dallas can turn off Boston’s water from deep often enough to win this thing.

Thompson: Boston is 61-9 this season when they make at least 15 3s, which they’ve done in 72.9 percent of their games. That includes all seven playoff games the Celtics have won when making 15 or more from deep — and won those games by an average of 16.9 points. In their two losses this postseason, they made 12 and eight 3-pointers. When the Celtics are making 3s, they’ve been unbeatable. And 15 isn’t some crazy number for them to hit. If they do, they very likely will win that game comfortably.

So either Dallas just cooks the Celtics, which I just don’t see happening more than a game (Boston is good for allowing one), or this is going to come down to the Mavericks keeping the game close enough for Luka and Kyrie to work some magic. It’s quite the ace in the hole, but I just love Boston’s defensive versatility. The postseason is about matchups and the Celtics seem to have the bodies and types to throw at Dallas’ stars.

Holiday and White are excellent point-of-attack defenders who are not deterred by buckets. They navigate screens well and are incredibly smart defenders who can adjust on the fly. Then you have Tatum and Brown, the ideal long and athletic wings. Then you have a 7-2 rim protector in Porziņģis. And even without him, they’ve got Horford, who can still play some defense.

Boston in close games can turn it up defensively. Their defensive rating in the clutch this postseason is 85.4 per 100 possessions. That’s wild. Second was Oklahoma City at 102.2. Boston did that against inferior offenses even when fully stocked, but the Celtics have a switch where they can suffocate. During the regular season, their clutch defensive rating was 105, tied for sixth. Dallas has been tremendous defensively, too. But not so much in the clutch: 116.9 in nine postseason clutch games. You don’t have to be lights out when you can score every time down. But Boston is just as explosive offensively in a different way.

I trust the Celtics slightly more to get the big stops. Celtics in six. It’s their time. The greatness of Luka and Kyrie and the sheer terror they provoke keeps me from picking Boston in five.

(Illustration: Dan Goldfarb / The Athletic. Photos: Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving: Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images)

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  • Cast & crew
  • User reviews
  • Episode aired Jan 15, 1994

Paul Sorvino and Penny Johnson Jerald in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

In an attempt to preserve a race of people on a planet being bombarded by storms that would kill them, Worf's foster brother violates the Prime Directive, leaving the Enterprise crew in a di... Read all In an attempt to preserve a race of people on a planet being bombarded by storms that would kill them, Worf's foster brother violates the Prime Directive, leaving the Enterprise crew in a difficult position. In an attempt to preserve a race of people on a planet being bombarded by storms that would kill them, Worf's foster brother violates the Prime Directive, leaving the Enterprise crew in a difficult position.

  • Alexander Singer
  • Gene Roddenberry
  • Naren Shankar
  • Spike Steingasser
  • Patrick Stewart
  • Jonathan Frakes
  • LeVar Burton
  • 25 User reviews
  • 8 Critic reviews

Michael Dorn and Paul Sorvino in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

  • Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

  • Commander William Thomas 'Will' Riker

LeVar Burton

  • Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge

Michael Dorn

  • Lieutenant Worf

Gates McFadden

  • Doctor Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

  • Counselor Deanna Troi

Brent Spiner

  • Lieutenant Commander Data

Penny Johnson Jerald

  • (as Penny Johnson)

Brian Markinson

  • Dr. Nikolai Rozhenko
  • (as Susan Christy)

Majel Barrett

  • Enterprise Computer

Joyce Agu

  • Ensign Gates
  • (uncredited)
  • Crewman Martinez
  • Ten Forward Waiter
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

Did you know

  • Trivia Paul Sorvino 's request to appear on the series came just as the role of Nikolai was set to be cast. Producers immediately felt that Sorvino was an actor who best embodied what they were looking for in the character.

Lieutenant Worf : [of the holodeck malfunctions] It is the sign... of La Forge.

  • Connections Referenced in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Soundtracks Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage

User reviews 25

  • Oct 11, 2014
  • January 15, 1994 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official site
  • Paramount Studios - 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (Studio)
  • Paramount Television
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

Technical specs

  • Runtime 46 minutes
  • Dolby Digital

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