Also to say the episode is meaningless because it's episodic is really knocking TNG at it's core, since that's the nature of the beast.
I don't mind the episodic nature in general, I just don't like it when huge episodes like this goes unmentioned when it shouldn't. Even TOS had elements of continuity where events from previous episodes were brought up, and Season 3 of TNG does a lot in establishing elements that would later play major roles in the coming seasons.
In Brothers, Data and Soong have this conversation.
I gave you the ability to choose whatever you wanted. To do whatever you wanted. Why Starfleet?
It was Starfleet officers who rescued me.
Ah. So you decided to emulate your emancipators, huh? How disappointing.
What choice of vocation would have met with your approval, sir?
Well, I often hoped you might become a scientist. Perhaps even a cyberneticist.
To follow in your footsteps, as it were?
I see nothing wrong with that.
Wouldn't Data's creation of Lal qualify as something a "cyberneticist" would do? I realize for Data that creating Lal was more than an experiment, but Data and Soong's conversation goes into that as well when they discuss the concepts of immortality and children. If Lal was such an important part in Data's life, why is there absolutely no mention of her here in Brothers? By all accounts, Data should be telling Soong that he is a grandfather and that through Lal, he was able to create genuine emotions.