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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old January 13 2014, 04:39 PM   #1
Jeyl
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Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"




After a rather heavily male driven story about our main male characters and their mostly male centered family, TNG's third Season 4 episode moves in an entirely different direction with an episode called "Brothers". A story that focuses on Data, his father and his brother....

Our episode opens with Riker talking to a young boy named Jake in the conference room in a very stern manner. What the devil could this boy have done that would call upon Riker's anger induced scrutiny? Well, it turns out that Jake and his brother were having some fun on a planet when the boy fooled his brother into thinking that he had actually killed him with a toy laser. Oh, my goodness. Did his brother panic and run away into the woods and nobody has been able to locate him, teaching this boy that experiencing death is a very strong, powerful emotion that can lead to serious misjudgments? Nope! Turns out Jake's brother Willie ran away, ate some bad fruit and is now being rushed to a medical base for treatment. Several things come to mind.

1. While Jake fooling his brother is certainly a cause, eating the fruit was purely coincidental. I mean, it's not like Jake fooled his brother into eating the fruit, and I don't know of any real world reaction to killing someone accidentally leading to hunger that needs immediate quenching. If Jake fooled Willie into eating the fruit, THAT would justify a talk down like this. But no, Willie simply found some fruit and ate it.

2. Was there anyone supervising these kids? The way that Riker is talking down to this kid makes it sound like the dangers of the fruit are well known and Jake clearly shows that he had no idea about the fruit. If there are any dangers on a planet that is known to the adult officers, why the heck do they let children roam freely unsupervised?

3. Why is Riker the one talking to Jake when Troi is right there in the room? She's the freaking ship's freaking counselor, the one who deals with emotional situations with the characters! The only thing Riker is good at is being a jerk to people who do wrong things, and this moment is no exception.

4. Was this really a good idea? His brother is dying and Riker is not only trying to guilt trip Jake into believing this "accident" was entirely his fault, but also say that he should lift his brothers spirits immediately following this meeting. Um, Riker? Making him feel guilty and also telling him to raise his brother's spirits do not go together at all. And while his brother is knocking on death's door and the Enterprise is racing against the clock in order to save him, I don't think all that guilt you put into him will help if, I don't know, something BAD were to happen on the way there.

After Data is assigned to bring Jake to see his brother, something happens that causes Data to get off on the bridge leaving Jake alone on the Turbo Lift. Oh, Jake. You are the worst child ever. Do you know what happens when Data receives an override program that forces him to take control of an entire ship? You don't? Well, let me tell you something Son. He'll leave you alone on the Turbolift! Think about that next time you decide to play a trick on your brother, you irresponsible baby.

And we come to one of the biggest issues with the episode. Data single handily takes command of the Enterprise. In Datalore, security was so crappy that it took security almost 10 minutes to go from one area of the ship to another even though they knew where Lore was and there was no system failure of any kind. In this episode, you can use someone's voice to not only control the entire ship, but lock it out from everyone, including the Captain! In TOS, the Enterprise's computer was able to determine if a voice of a person was a fake. If a 100 year old computer was programmed to recognize fake voices, wouldn't that open the possibility that someone might use the Captain's voice to take command? And it gets better. Despite the computer being programmed to locate where certain individuals are (including Data), it doesn't take this into account when Data uses Picard's voice on the bridge when Picard is not there. Heck, there are no fail safes of any kind anywhere on the Enterprise to retake command, not even with the authorization of the first officer and the chief engineer which is usually needed to blow the whole thing up.

So after more "I can do anything!" moments on the Enterprise and making every single character look like an incompetent fakes, Data beams down to the planet to discover... Dr. Soong! Turns out the old son of a gun high tailed it out before the "snowflake" showed up and ate everyone. Now that Data is here, we get some really nice conversation pieces about having children being a way to reach immortality. Of course, when you're trying to reach for immortality, it has to be a son that looks exactly like you do. If you have a daughter, well, that would ruin your whole attempt at immortality, am I right?

Now here comes my personal problem with the episode.
SOONG: Well, I often hoped you might become a scientist. Perhaps even a cyberneticist.
DATA: To follow in your footsteps, as it were?
Yep. We all knew this was coming. Data makes NO MENTION of Lal, the cybernetic being that Data created in the very last season. While this exclusion can easily be explained as Rick Berman forgetting that there are female characters in the show (Again, female consoler not being the one talking to the emotionally troubled boy), a part of me wonders... You think "Brothers" and "The Offspring" would have played better if "Brothers" came before "Offspring"? After all, the thought of being a parent and raising kids is brought up to Data in this episode like it's a new thing, and the circumstances following Lore's escape and the death of Soong would lead Data to try the same thing but with a different approach. Data would create Lal not for his perceived notion of "immortality", but wanting to raise a child that can be it's own thing. Not taking after his image or carrying his legacy. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that this episode's stardate takes place after "The Offspring"'s stardate, I'd switch the order in a heart beat.

So Lore shows up being controlled by the same override that took control of Data, fools Soong into believing that he is Data, gets the emotion chip and mortally wounds Soong. The Enterprise soon locates Data, Soong gives Data the means to give control of the Enterprise back and Willie is saved! We than get a moment with Beverly Crusher as she is used to enforce once again that this is a male run show by telling Data an ever subtle line, "Brother's Forgive". Data than asks "Do sisters not forgive as well doctor?" to which she responds "What the hell is a sisters?"

Now I know I've been ripping this episode to shreds with every opportunity, but that's only because I've been watching this series from the start and even though the series is getting better, it's still has some very serious issues that I know will not be fixed. Taken on the whole of TNG, Brothers could have been a lot better, but taken on it's own with no connections to "The Offspring", Brothers is a really, really good episode. It explores genuine issues about being a parent and that instinctive feeling of pursuing immortality through your children and/or your works (in this case the same thing) rings very true. Many societies place a heavy emphasis on children carrying the family legacy and god only knows how many stories with grandparents always complaining about wanting grand kids. I just wish that Lore's next and appearance wasn't seasons away and his last.

CONCLUSION:
If you can get passed everyone and everything being reduced to "TNG Season 1" levels of incompetence during the first act and the exclusion of Lal, this episode is pretty great. It not only gives us a nice continuation from Datalore but also another wonderful performance by Brent Spiner playing not two, but THREE characters at the same time! It's a great showcase of Brent's acting abilities and a nice progression of his character. Oh, this episode also introduces the emotion chip, and for those of you who haven't seen Star Trek Generations, be thankful that Lore stole it in the end.... the thought of almost four whole seasons of Generations' Data is- *shivers*

STINGER:
'There were brave men a-plenty, All well known to fame, Who served in the ranks of the Tsar.'
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Old January 13 2014, 07:39 PM   #2
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

I love the A-plot, but haaaaaaaaaaaate the B-plot. I wish they'd thought of something else as a parallel to Data/Lore. What you spelled out with Riker and the older brother is what I think. It's ridiculous that no one surveyed the planet for dangerous plants/animals, that kids can go down to alien planets unsupervised, and that Riker would guilt-trip the kid.

Riker said in his guilt-trip tirade that he was taking responsibility for them while their parents went on sabbatical. So guess what Riker, it's YOUR fault! And if kids are responsible for their own actions, how about the kid who decided to eat foreign berries? Was he never taught what and what not to eat?

I'm not too well-versed with sabbaticals, but I don't think people take them and ditch their kids. Isn't the point of a sabbatical to get away from work and focus on family? Stuff like this not being well-thought out is a precursor to some eventual Voyager/Enterprise scripts by Berman.
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Old January 13 2014, 08:05 PM   #3
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that this episode's stardate takes place after "The Offspring"'s stardate, I'd switch the order in a heart beat.
Hey, don't worry about it. If you accept stardates on face value, then after dying in Skin of Evil, Tasha Yar came back to life for The Battle, The Big Goodbye, Angel One and Arsenal of Freedom.
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Old January 13 2014, 08:36 PM   #4
Use of Time
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

I like how Lore gives you a glimpse of decency with his response to Dr. Soong's statement of "I'm dying." The whole "but you look fine" bit was well done. Too bad he pretty much finished him off minutes later.
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Old January 13 2014, 10:33 PM   #5
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

Use of Time wrote: View Post
I like how Lore gives you a glimpse of decency with his response to Dr. Soong's statement of "I'm dying." The whole "but you look fine" bit was well done.
Agreed. That stood out to me too when I first saw it.
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Old January 14 2014, 07:53 AM   #6
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

Am I correct in thinking that Lore already had emotions (exhibit A: the above mentioned scene where Soong tells him he is dying)? If so, why did he need to steal the emotion chip?

I dislike this episode for the Willie Potts storyline. No parent would leave their children in the care of Riker whilst they swanned off on "sabbatical". And as already mentioned it was not Jake's fault that his brother was stupid enough to eat the fruit. This episode seemed like Eastenders during those scenes and I would happily see them on the cutting room floor. I can forgive "the ease at which Data takes over" and if we imagine the Data storyline to have taken place before The Offspring, we have a craker of an episode (great suggestion Jeyl).

PS. What was with all the dinosaurs in Soongs lab? Did I miss something?
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Old January 14 2014, 02:47 PM   #7
Use of Time
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

MikeS wrote: View Post
Am I correct in thinking that Lore already had emotions (exhibit A: the above mentioned scene where Soong tells him he is dying)? If so, why did he need to steal the emotion chip?
I don't think he took it for his own use but more of a means of keeping Data in check. He could have viewed Data as a potential competitor for his nefarious plans and wanted to keep the emotion chip as a way to manipulate Data.
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Old January 14 2014, 06:09 PM   #8
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

Use of Time wrote: View Post
I don't think he took it for his own use but more of a means of keeping Data in check. He could have viewed Data as a potential competitor for his nefarious plans and wanted to keep the emotion chip as a way to manipulate Data.
I don't know. I have a hard time seeing this as a potential competitor.


I'd argue he'd be easier to manipulate with emotions than without them.

There's one other observation I just thought of after seeing how many of you brought up Riker's treatment of poor Jake. When it comes to the series writers, do you think Riker serves as the unintentional vessel of expressing the writer's personality? In "The Best of Both Worlds", many have compared Riker's conflict of taking his own command or staying on the Enterprise to be Michael Piller using his own conflict on whether to stay with Star Trek or leave the show. Which by the way ended with both Riker and Piller sticking around. In "Brothers", well, Riker is a real bona fide jerk who looks down on people even when they're not at any real fault. Still, it could have been worse. I don't recall Riker ever wanting an officer discharged because they did an exemplary job at his post.
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Old January 14 2014, 11:24 PM   #9
Use of Time
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

^Eh, Lore had no way of knowing that would be the result. Data could have emerged as something even more raw and vicious for all he knew. It is pretty obvious that there were some major jealousy issues involved which is the most likely reason he kept the chip from Data. It was his one way of claiming superiority to "Lore" 2.0.
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Old January 15 2014, 01:40 AM   #10
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

Interesting that Lore arrives on a ship that has no "life forms" aboard. That tells me that when Lore's beacon was triggered, he killed the crew. But then, the lack of life forms means maybe he jettisoned them into space? I dunno.

It makes sense that Data in a subconscious state would complete the trip using non-violent subterfuge, and Lore would just kill anything in his way.

We do see Lore in Pakled clothing, I honestly could not imagine Lore tolerating Pakled stupidity for more than a few minutes. Maybe he killed them immediately, and commandeered the ship.
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Old January 15 2014, 01:41 AM   #11
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

I think you're being a bit overcritical. The B plot was bad because it was irrelevant and badly written. But Riker was not there to calm the boy's feelings, he was there as a disciplinary figure. And I assume kids are allowed to go down to planets deemed safe, and given safety training. It's assumed that the brother ignored the safety training due to his state of emotional distress. When I was in elementary school there weren't adult eyes on every single children all the time during recess, it wasn't too hard for a kid or two to sneak away. It's perfectly reasonable that they weren't being watched at that exact moment.

Now, none of that was interesting, or well written. The only strange thing is that these children were allowed to stay on the ship without their parents, that was a bit of a stretch, but apparently some arrangement was reached.
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Old January 15 2014, 02:46 AM   #12
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
I think you're being a bit overcritical.
Here's the thing. The locals and the crew of the Enterprise know the planet has fruit that's life-threatening when ingested and that the planet itself has no cure for it. Not only did they put an arcade in walking distance from this fruit, they apparently didn't put any warnings signs there either since any existence of such things would have been mentioned. Ignoring warning signs has a lot more weight to it than assuming that a child would know the same things that an adult knows, which is a very, very stupid assumption to make.

As far as I'm concerned, all Jake should have been told was that it wasn't entirely his fault, accidents happen and that the whole crew is doing everything they can to make things better. If there's anything that calls for a disciplinary action, it should come when the danger has passed, not during it.
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Old January 15 2014, 03:11 AM   #13
desfem79
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

I liked it a lot. Brent Spiner is an excellent actor, given the differences in character between Data, Lore and Dr. Soong. And the opening ten minutes in which Data controls the Enterprise is excellent too (as well as how the forcefields open in the security officers' faces lol.)
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Old January 15 2014, 03:29 AM   #14
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

There's one other observation I just thought of after seeing how many of you brought up Riker's treatment of poor Jake. When it comes to the series writers, do you think Riker serves as the unintentional vessel of expressing the writer's personality? In "The Best of Both Worlds", many have compared Riker's conflict of taking his own command or staying on the Enterprise to be Michael Piller using his own conflict on whether to stay with Star Trek or leave the show. Which by the way ended with both Riker and Piller sticking around. In "Brothers", well, Riker is a real bona fide jerk who looks down on people even when they're not at any real fault. Still, it could have been worse. I don't recall Riker ever wanting an officer discharged because they did an exemplary job at his post.
I believe Rob Bowman was fired from the show after season 2, but he was the best man for the job when it came to the split-screen stuff for Spiner, so he was rehired for an episode.

Kinda like Riker in Chain of Command 2.
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Old January 15 2014, 04:39 AM   #15
The Old Mixer
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Re: Episode of the Week: 4x03 "Brothers"

They let kids stay on the ship without their parents? Well, somebody had to fly the thing when Wesley was off-duty.
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