Sneakily taking the hinges off the doors of perception

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. SK
    April 14, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

    Soong is talking about empathy, which is one of the most powerful and beneficial emotions we can channel

    Empathy is not an emotion. That would be like saying sight is a pretty colour.


  2. Ross
    April 15, 2015 @ 12:16 am

    I detest the whole “homing beacon” thing that overwrites Data's programming and has him violate orders and put lives in jeopardy to take the Enterprise to Terlina III

    I find it interesting that this seems not to have occurred to Soong at all. IIRC (and it's been about 20 years), he brushes Data's concerns off by saying that the Enterprise presumably will go off and do its very important mission and come back for him later. It doesn't occur to him that Data locked down the Enterprise on his way out.


  3. Adam Riggio
    April 15, 2015 @ 5:48 am

    Oh, SK, you're so delightfully pedantic! You could be in the most beautiful forest and obsessive inspecting the tree bark.


  4. Adam Riggio
    April 15, 2015 @ 5:51 am

    Another feature of Soong's own arrogance, as expressed with the line about having always loved that face. It's a common feature of characters who have created radical new inventions ever since Shelley's Frankenstein, that they produce radical new innovations without accounting for the problematic consequences. Like the possibility of creating a psychopathic android that embodies your own most dangerous personality traits.


  5. K. Jones
    April 16, 2015 @ 8:47 am

    I skip this episode a lot. Actually while trying to rewatch to coordinate with discussion I realized that I'll probably skip like the first five or six episodes of Season 4. It's well-trod ground, for starters, but also it's stuff that's not exactly so deep I can't just discuss it off-hand from memory.

    Soong is awesome. Lore is solid enough. But you get to the end of the episode to the point where like, Riker shows up and is like "Wait, Doctor Noonien Soong, furrealz?" and you realize that while it's important for Data to meet his creator, it might've been nice for the rest of the cast to meet him, too.


  6. Josh Marsfelder
    April 16, 2015 @ 9:02 am

    Um, yeah. Me too.

    I tried to be nice and I think this is one of the better outings of the lot, but…Yes, the first few months of season four are profoundly uninspiring.


  7. K. Jones
    April 16, 2015 @ 10:17 am

    They're going to make us work really hard to prove that TNG peaked in Season 4, I think, but once a certain back-to-back pair of episodes strike, my tune will change drastically.


  8. Daru
    April 17, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

    Despite problems in the story as mentioned above, I do love Brent Spiner's triple turn this episode, which was such fun to witness. Some of my favourite episodes now either come from those that have elements of fun or touch on the sense of cosmic wonder – as opposed to forced grimdark seriousness. So yeah, I really enjoy this for the joy of the key performances.


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