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.'