May 26, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Weekend Trek “The Offspring”

Data takes a step forward in his programming in unexpected ways.

How do you follow up something like “Yesterday’s Enterprise” when the fate of the entire galaxy may be at stake?  Probably with something on a much smaller scale, something that deals largely with one or two characters on a more intimate level.

That means Jimmy and Tom are discussing Data’s latest attempts to be more human with “The Offspring”.

“The Offspring”

Data builds a child for himself.

jimmy:  Convenient that Frakes picks an episode he’s barely in to direct.

tomk:  And when he does show up, Lizzie McGuire’s mom kisses him.

jimmy:  Who?

tomk:  Well, you know me.  I look up actors in these things.  The actress who played Lal was also Hillary Duff’s mother on the TV series Lizzie McGuire.

But, small note:  Frakes may not have “selected” this episode.  I think the series may have had a pool of directors and they were assigned episodes by the producers.

jimmy:  Perhaps. According to the audio commentary the script was written with the idea that Frakes was directing and his role was kept very minimal so he could concentrate on that.

tomk:  It could be a lot of things.  I just know that a late season stinker was directed by him, and he didn’t choose that one to direct because it was his turn or something.

jimmy:  I don’t know the inner workings of behind the scenes of TV, but it does seem to make more sense that producers would line shows up for the directors and not the directors cherry picking from a pile of scripts.

tomk:  That was my understanding.

jimmy:  Plus my first sentence was a joke.

tomk:  And Frakes was the first of the cast to direct an episode, but not the last.  Levar Burton and Patrick Stewart, I know, directed episodes later.  Others probably did too.

And I figured it was a joke, which is why I followed up with a reference to a show neither of us have seen.

jimmy:  We get jokes.

The commentary also referred to it as a bottle episode since no new sets were built. Data’s lab was a redress of the battle bridge.

tomk:  Sure looked that way.  And that Admiral clearly did not consult Bruce Maddox before going to see Data.

jimmy:  It’s an interesting companion piece to “The Measure of A Man,” especially the part like you said, where they ignore the lessons from that episode. Which even Picard points out.

tomk:  Picard knows what he’s doing.

jimmy:  Just make sure you consult him before procreating.

tomk:  Well, there’s only so much space on the ship.

jimmy:  So let’s address the elephant in the room…if Data can build a perfectly human looking exterior for Lal…why not build one for himself?

tomk:  Really?  I would have thought the elephant in the room is wondering why he didn’t try again.

You know, until Star Trek: Picard or something.

jimmy:  They already had it in the works for ST: Picard.

tomk:  Well, Data probably doesn’t get new skin because he’d have to do it himself.

jimmy:  And it would ruin all the t-shirts Paramount already had printed up.

tomk:  Plus action figures.

jimmy:  Exactly.

They are both great questions though. You would think Data would be right back at trying to create Lal 2.0.

tomk:  Well, the episode ends with Data simply going back to work, and it’s sad that he, well, can’t be sad.

jimmy:  Or can he?  The commentary does talk about how Data does have feelings, even if he doesn’t have the capacity to recognize them.

tomk:  Data was ruling through logic here.  He kept asking smart questions that should have put the Admiral in his place if he thought to pose those questions to the Admiral.

jimmy:  Some he did. Data’s no dummy.

tomk:  Well, Worf was apparently just a voice on an intercom all episode, so someone had to be competent.

jimmy:  He was resting up for next week.

tomk:  In the meantime, we have a nice, low-key episode where Data does something that shouldn’t have caused too much trouble if he were just a regular human being.

jimmy:  Picard isn’t happy about it at first, but grows to defend Data and Lal.  Starfleet/The Admiral were just a dick throughout.  (Slight redemption moment when he described Data trying to save Lal at the end.)

tomk:  Mostly because Starfleet higher-ups are supposed to be no worse than misguided more often than not.

You know, unless they’re possessed by bluegills.

jimmy:  Then you can just phaser them until their head graphically explodes.

tomk:  That’s not a good way for Data to keep his kid.

jimmy:  So did Lal start feeling emotions because she was malfunctioning or did she start malfunctioning from feeling emotions?

tomk:  Yes.

jimmy:  That’s what I thought.

tomk:  Yup.  You get a brownie.

jimmy:  Good.  I’m starving.

tomk:  In that case, take two.

jimmy:  You’re the best!

tomk:  I do what I can.

jimmy:  Obviously a different type of show from “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” but I think that next level quality is still there.

tomk:  Oh yeah. That one was about saving the timeline. This one was just about Data’s rights as a parent.

jimmy:  But it works.  And with a similar grey area as “Measure of a Man”.

tomk:  Very true.  Now wait until Data builds a dog.

jimmy:  Just don’t let Agatha near it.

tomk:  It was Admiral Agatha all along?

jimmy:  It would have been.

tomk:  Hmm.  Your extended universe intrigues me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

jimmy:  Excellent.  You are subscriber #6!

tomk:  Who else is there?

jimmy:  Tom, you know that info is strictly confidential.

tomk:  Lemme guess:  the Moose, his mother, Jenny but not Jonathan, Lt. Barclay, and let’s say Moe.

jimmy:  …

I can neither confirm nor deny.

tomk:  Well, I can just pretend I’m right and point out Data’s idea of who to reveal parentage to are Geordi, Troi, and Wesley.

jimmy:  Who else was there?  Riker was away.  He knew he’d get hell from Picard.  Worf was on intercomm.  Only one he forgot was Beverly, but he was keeping her in reserve for later.

tomk:  Well, there was O’Brien, the other members of his string quartet, Dr. Polaski, and the ghost of James T Kirk.

jimmy:  But seriously, who knows.  Geordi for sure as his best friend.  Wesley’s special and would appreciate the technical achievement.  And Troi…we love Troi.

tomk:  Troi theoretically offers good advice.

jimmy:  That’s her job.  If she can stay awake.

tomk:  Well, Picard seemed to be the one who had to take a wall call in his pajamas.

jimmy:  Frakes had to insert the sexy in there somehow.

tomk:  Well, if Beverly and/or Troi were sleeping in Picard’s bed, that would have been sexier.

jimmy:  And made that call more awkward.

tomk:  Eh, maybe.

Who knows which way the Admiral swings?

jimmy:  Who knows indeed.  But apparently he is skilled enough to assist Data in attempting to save Lal.  Not Geordi.  Not Wesley.  The random Admiral.

tomk:  It’s his specialty.  And Geordi was busy.

jimmy:  And Wes?

tomk:  He was working on his Weather Dominator.

jimmy:  Oh that Wesley!

tomk:  Plus, he dropped Geordi’s Visor down the Warp Core, and that was why Geordi was busy.

jimmy:  Oh that Wesley!

tomk:  And he may have been trying to follow Data’s example by building the perfect girlfriend.


tomk:  Those guys?  Well, Wesley wants one that doesn’t alter reality.

jimmy:  Where’s the fun in that?

tomk:  Q keeps coming by for visits.  Reality alteration isn’t that appealing or novel when it happens every Tuesday.

jimmy:  True.

tomk:  And his last girlfriend changed shape and freaked him out.

jimmy:  Also true.

tomk:  So one very obedient girl who stays the same shape is probably what he wants.



tomk:  Lal did miss the joke, I see.

jimmy:  She got it in the end.

tomk:  Sadly true.

jimmy:  Indeed.   Did they mention Lal on Star Trek: Picard?  I don’t think so, but don’t remember.

tomk:  They might have. They should have.

jimmy:  Doesn’t appear they did.  Not much on the interwebs if so:  “While musing in 2399 on the creation of Dahj Asha through fractal neuronic cloning from one of Data’s positronic neurons, Jean-Luc Picard remarked that Data had “always wanted a daughter”, a possible reference to Lal. ”

tomk:  And Lal chose her own gender. So how much did Data want that?

jimmy:  Good point.  He left it completely up to her.

tomk:  That’s rather progressive parenting for the late 80s/early 90s.

jimmy:  And maybe Picard didn’t know that part.

tomk:  Picard knows about everything that happens on that ship…eventually.

jimmy:  Maybe.  Doesn’t seem like something that would easily come up in causal conversation, especially with her dead.

tomk:  Data will talk about anything if you ask him to.

jimmy:  “Hey Data.  So, your dead daughter…how come you decided to make her female?”
“Actually Captain, I allowed Lal to choose her own sex.”
“I see.

So Riker, any good ‘sights’ on Rygal IV while on your vacation?”

tomk:  “Why yes, Captain. There was this one woman who could do the most interesting things with her spine…”
“She chose a human female, Data?  How fascinating.”

jimmy:  Nice.

tomk:  It’s why Picard is such a good diplomat.

jimmy:  So, a daughter for Data, a directorial debut for Frakes and a week free from the make up chair for Michael Dorn.  Have we covered everything?
I guess we should discuss if Starfleet had the right to take Lal…but that seems like a “Measure of A Man” rehash.

tomk:  Mostly because it is.

jimmy:  They’re a stubborn bunch.

tomk:  They didn’t want to go through “The Measure of a Teenage Girl”.

jimmy:  Neither did Riker…well, he did at first.  That guy is insatiable.

tomk:  Wikipedia did tell me this episode was among the personal favorites of Michael Dorn and Patrick Stewart.

jimmy:  I can see that.  It’s a good episode.

tomk:  And Dorn didn’t need to sit in the makeup chair.

jimmy:  Exactly.  Did it also tell you that the guy who played androgynous Lal had to wear a diaper since he couldn’t get out of his makeup until the shooting day was over?

tomk:  Um…I may not have read that much.

jimmy:  And how the makeup crew had to get in the shower with him and scrub him for like an hour or more to get it all off?

tomk:  …

So, the Moose let his artificial child choose its own gender. Fascinating.

jimmy:  Haha

tomk:  Are we done here, Jimmy?

jimmy:  You certainly are.  :slightly_smiling_face:

tomk:  Judges?

You might be too.

jimmy:  You can’t argue with the judges.

tomk:  But we’ve called Worf the series MVP. What’s he been up to?

jimmy:  Possibly something iconic.

tomk:  He’s not Madame Xanadu.

Next:  “Sins of the Father”