Star Trek: The Next Generation (1988): S01E13 – Datalore


Introduction

“Datalore” is the thirteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, originally aired on 18 January 1988, in broadcast syndication.

The story was created by Robert Lewin and Maurice Hurley, and turned into a script by Lewin and the creator of the show, Gene Roddenberry. It was Roddenberry’s final script credit on a Star Trek series. The director was originally to be Joseph L. Scanlan, but following delays in pre-production caused by script re-writes, it was reassigned to Rob Bowman.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the Enterprise crew discover and reassemble Data’s “brother”, Lore (both Brent Spiner), who is in league with the entity that destroyed the colony on his home world.

The story underwent significant changes prior to filming, with it originally meant to be a romance episode for Data with a female android. It was then altered to an “evil twin” plot at the suggestion of Spiner and elements of Data’s origin were introduced, first as an alien creation and then at the hands of Dr. Noonien Soong. Soong was named by Roddenberry after a friend in the Second World War.

Edits to the script continued to be made during filming, and while the look of the episode was praised by cast and crew, the characterisations in the script were not. Ratings for the episode came in at 10.3 million for the first broadcast, which was lower than both the previous and subsequent episodes. Critical reception has been mixed, with criticism directed mostly at the quality of the script and Spiner praised for his dual role.

The visuals for the Crystalline Entity were some of the first computer generated graphics on the television show.

Outline

While on the way to Starbase Armus IX for computer maintenance, the Enterprise arrives at the planet Omicron Theta, the site of a vanished colony where the starship Tripoli originally found the android Data (Brent Spiner). An away team travels to the surface and finds that what had been farmland is now barren with no trace of life in the soil. The team also finds a lab which they discover is where Dr. Noonien Soong, a formerly prominent but now discredited robotics designer, built Data. The team also find a disassembled android nearly identical to Data and return with it to the ship.

As the course to the Starbase is resumed, the crew reassemble and reactivate Data’s “brother” (also played by Brent Spiner) in sickbay. He refers to himself as Lore, and explains that Data was built first and he himself is the more perfect model. He feigns naiveté to the crew, but shows signs of being more intelligent than he is letting on. Later, in private, he tells Data that they were actually created in the opposite order, as the colonists became envious of his own perfection. He also explains that a crystalline space entity capable of stripping away all life force from a world was responsible for the colony’s demise.

Lore then incapacitates Data, revealing that he plans to offer the ship’s crew to the entity. When a signal transmission is detected from Data’s quarters, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) arrives to investigate. He finds Lore, now impersonating Data, who explains that he had to incapacitate his brother after being attacked. Wesley is doubtful, but pretends to accept the explanation. Soon after, the same crystalline entity that had attacked the colony approaches the ship.

Lore, still pretending to be Data, enters the bridge as the object hovers before the Enterprise and explains that he incapacitated his brother by turning him off, causing Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) to be suspicious, since Data had previously treated the existence of such a feature as a closely guarded secret. Lore then explains that he can communicate with the crystalline entity and suggests to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) that he should show a demonstration of force by beaming an object toward the entity and then destroying it with the ship’s phasers.

Lore’s attempts to imitate Data are imperfect, though, arousing Picard’s suspicion, especially when Lore does not recognise Picard’s usual command to “make it so”. Although Picard sends a security detachment to tail him, Lore overpowers Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) and evades pursuit. Meanwhile, the suspicious Dr. Crusher and her son, Wesley, reactivate the unconscious Data, and the three of them race to the cargo hold to find Lore plotting with the entity to defeat the Enterprise.

When Lore discovers them, he threatens Wesley with a phaser and orders Dr. Crusher to leave. Data quickly rushes Lore and a brawl ensues. Data manages to knock Lore onto the transporter platform, and Wesley activates it, beaming Lore into space. With its conspirator no longer aboard, the crystalline entity departs, and the Enterprise resumes its journey to the starbase.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Rob Bowman.
  • Writer(s): Robert Lewin and Maurice Hurley.
  • Release Date: 18 January 1988.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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