Episode of the Week: Datalore

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Captrek, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This week’s episode, Datalore, is a popular episode. According to GEOS, it is the second-highest rated episode of the season, a little behind Conspiracy and far ahead of the third-place dead heat between Where No One Has Gone Before, The Big Goodbye, and The Neutral Zone. IMDB also has it #2 behind Conspiracy. This is one episode on which I differ sharply from the crowd.

    Everyone other than Wesley comes across as a colossal idiot. When Wesley voices his fear that “Data” is actually Lore, Picard and Riker become furious with him for sharing his concern, and Picard is in the process of firing him for it when he is interrupted. No one considers the possibility that he may be right or makes a meaningful effort to check, despite the android’s suspicious behavior. If Wesley had more presence of mind he might challenge the android with a question that Data can answer but Lore cannot, but given the way Picard is acting it is likely he would berate Wesley for asking it and tell “Data” not to answer. (Incidentally, the stardates in Season One are all over the place and put Datalore before Where No One Has Gone Before. If Wesley loses his commission here, his stint as a bridge officer ends literally before it begins.)

    The Crystal Entity attacks and it is a powerful attack, but the shields hold. After failing to penetrate the shields and receiving a threat from “Data,” it halts the attack. Then “Data” suggests demonstrating the ship’s power by beaming out a tree to zap, which will require lowering the shields. No one sees a problem with this plan.

    Nitpick: “Data” says, “I can beam up some living pattern,” but it was established earlier in the episode that there has been nothing alive on the planet for decades. Anyway, considering the vast size and power of both the Enterprise-D and the Crystal Entity, would vaporizing a tree be intimidating? The TOS 1701 could easily vaporize a tree. (Even NX-01 could vaporize a tree, but that ship hadn’t yet been conceived when this episode was made.)

    The conflict is decided by an unnecessary fist fight in the cargo bay. The cargo bay transporter controls can be overridden from the bridge. Beverly and Data can call the bridge and report what is transpiring so that the bridge crew can shut down everything in the cargo bay. Perhaps Beverly and Data do that off camera and Picard treats them the way he treats Wesley.

    Worf, despite a very small role in the episode, manages to find time for his own moment of facepalm-inspiring stupidity. When challenged by Lore, he punches him in the face! As one would expect, this has no effect on Lore. If not for Lore absorbing the blow so graciously Worf’s hand would be shattered. Tapping his combadge would be infinitely more helpful than punching an android.

    How is it that no security officers arrive at the cargo bay until after Data and Wesley save the day? The security officers who were accompanying Lore and Worf when they got shut out of the turbolift could not have been delayed more than a minute or so by that trick. Even being a mere 60 seconds behind Lore would be difficult to explain, given that they know his destination and should be able to get some colleagues there ahead of him. Evidently, contacting security to dispatch a team from a location closer to the cargo bay is another thing no one thought of. Either that, or they did contact security and Tasha was in the process of dispatching more officers when Picard told her not to bother.

    Best line of the episode: “And you want to be as stupid as them, dear brother?” That line sums up the episode perfectly.

    Most popular line of the episode: “Shut up, Wesley!” Twice.

    Most obnoxious line of the episode: A tie between almost everything anybody says to Wesley, including “shut up.”

    Worst line of the episode: “Yes, sir. I’m fine.” :wtf: It is Data’s second contraction in the episode after “I’ve been most anxious to hear the Chief Engineer’s opinion.”

    The resolution is inexcusable. What appears to happen, and is apparently confirmed in Brothers in Season Four, is that Wesley beams Lore into space and the Enterprise just leaves him drifting out there. What can justify such cruelty? Once the threat has been neutralized and the Crystal Entity has departed, why not beam Lore back aboard, perhaps into the brig?

    Desperate fanwank: I like to imagine that the Crystal Entity picks him up and carries him away before deciding he is useless and dropping him far from the Enterprise, but there is nothing in this or subsequent episodes to suggest anything like that. What is depicted in the episode is just beaming him into space and washing their hands of him.

    Fittingly for the episode, Lore’s defeat can (arguably) be attributed to his own positronic brain fart. He is wearing a combadge. When Data shouts “Wesley, the transporter!” Lore should reopen the channel with the Crystal Entity, which apparently he has closed but should not have. With an open channel, when Data shouts, “Wesley, now!” Lore could shout, “Crystal, now!” and take the place of the tree, bringing his plan to fruition. The threat of that would force Data and Wesley to abandon their strategy.

    Possible fanwank: We can speculate that Wesley beams Lore to a position between the ship’s hull and shields, eliminating the need to lower the shields. An uncomfortable problem with this theory is that it rules out the possibility of the Crystal Entity carrying Lore away or the Enterprise being unable to find him, establishing his fate as the result of cruelty for the sake of cruelty.

    Possible fanwank #2: Lore reasons that he does not want his plan to succeed if Data and Wesley succeed in beaming him into space. If he ends up outside the ship with nobody left alive on the inside, he has no plan for getting back inside or communicating with the Crystal Entity. (His combadge will not help him in the silent vacuum of space.) He assumes that if he spares the crew he will be brought back aboard and not left drifting in space. He does not anticipate Picard’s evil rivaling his own.

    If you think about it, the first fanwank almost has to be the case. With the exception of Lore, no one on the Enterprise has any way of knowing that the Crystal Entity needs somebody on the ship to tell it when the shields are dropping. For all they know, it can detect the shields dropping and react on its own. They would not drop the shields for transport if the attacker were, e.g., a Romulan warbird. (They do drop shields for transport while facing a Romulan warbird in The Enemy, fully aware that it gives the Romulans an opportunity to destroy them. Picard gambles that the Romulans will choose not to, and the gamble pays off.) Unless the boy genius has contracted the stupidity plague that has infected everybody else in the episode, there is no way he lowers the shields for transport.

    Sheesh. For an episode I dislike, I sure wrote a long post. :shrug:
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I think there are two opposite ways to interpret the "Shut up, Wesley!" elements of the story.

    The first is that everybody is indeed a colossal idiot in ignoring Wesley's suspicions. The second is that Wesley is a colossal idiot in voicing out what everybody already knows - that either Data has gone mad and joined ranks with Lore, or then Lore is pretending to be Data.

    The latter explanation would be quite consistent with what the adult heroes do and accomplish. They try to give Lore (or traitorous Data) enough rope to hang himself, while keeping a security team close at hand. It's too bad that Lore is able to get rid of Security easily enough.

    Obviously, when Lore does away with his shadowers, he knows the gig is up. He never intended to beam out any trees - all he wanted was to get the ship to drop shields. So he now has zero motivation of going to where he said he would be going. No wonder Security cannot find him!

    That Lore goes to any cargo hold at all is probably due to his ongoing delusion that everything is still going to go according to plan. Cargo transporter consoles are plausible means of lowering the ship's shields, and Lore thinks he can accomplish that, and goad the Crystalline Entity into gobbling up everybody immediately thereafter. But it seems he's wrong on both counts. Shields are never indicated to have dropped, and/or the CE never makes the move Lore hoped for. As far as we know, Lore doesn't really know how to speak Crystallinean - he's just deluding himself there.

    And that must have been deliberate, as it's accompanied by the telltale "Lore twitch". Our heroes and the audience are supposed to be left wondering, if only for a moment.

    Of course, Data&contractions is something of a fan misconception for the most part. Nobody ever claimed Data couldn't or wouldn't use those. It's just that he tends to speak formally, most of the time...

    Why is this a nit? Nobody suggests the pattern would be coming from the planet, which was left far behind in any case. Beaming something "up" from the ship's arboretum would be a valid description of the process. Although it's amazing how Lore speaks such fluent Starfleetish...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He’s wearing a combadge! And he went to the cargo bay, just like he said he would! And Beverly, Wesley, and Data had no trouble finding him.

    Not completely fluent. He doesn’t understand “Make it so.”

    They express no awareness, even in Lore’s absence, that they know what’s going on. It doesn’t seem to be the writers’ intent. Still, it is an interesting theory that Picard & co. never had any intention of dropping the shields and actually had everything under control until hostages walked into the situation because Picard was playing it too close to the vest and didn’t let either Crusher in on the plan and because Security was nowhere to be seen. If you know where he is, and know or suspect that he’s Lore or a traitor, isn’t it pretty mandatory to have Security in place to keep unwary people from wandering into his hands? The people who end up wandering in are actually wary, and still lose control of the situation very quickly. Some random crewman going to the cargo bay to pick up a crate of self-sealing stembolts would have no chance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  4. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Which one?

    It's like saying he went to the transporter room. According to "11001001", the ship has at least twenty!

    There definitely isn't "the" cargo bay aboard the E-D, as the various episodes not only make mention of several differently numbered bays on a variety of locations, but also use differently configured (or indeed entirely different) sets to portray the bay (or bays) of the week.

    If we go by the "Shut up Wesley, Lore might overhear!" theory, and further accept that the heroes lost track of Lore when he knocked out Worf, then it sort of holds together. Nobody would tell Beverly because she'd just worry and interfere - so she becomes a loose cannon, noticing on her own that Wesley has disappeared and no doubt querying the computer on his whereabouts, which she then gets and proceeds to get herself into trouble...

    The main heroes in turn take their sweet time realizing that they should do the very same thing in order to locate Lore!

    I mean, we should grant Lore that much - he should have figured out how to thwart all direct attempts at tracking him, by commbadge or android signature or whatnot. He has had plenty of time and access to the ship's systems, after all, some of it under the identity and personal clearance of Data. But Lore would succumb to indirect tracking, once our heroes got around to it.

    And the reason the indirect tracking would work would of course be because Data can think like his brother and will have a pretty good idea of where Lore is going to go.

    The only piece that doesn't fit is that Data doesn't confront Lore with a security posse, but with Wesley. I mean, rushing in with Wesley alone is fine, since time is of essence - but that should be no obstacle to also calling for backup. And if Data did alert security en route, then we once again face problems of unacceptable delay. It's easy to accept that Beverly would fail to call for reinforcements, but Data should not be emotionally disturbed even at a time like this.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The episode has a nice score (from Ron Jones). I like getting a little back story to Data. Rob Bowman proves, yet again, that he is a more than capable television director (who should have been kept on by Rick Berman; instead, he was let go).

    Top episode of the season, though? Not by a country mile. You've already outlined some of the episode's major and minor problems.

    The tired "evil twin" trope doesn't do it any favors, either. Lore was a character who never could sustain himself in an episode. He's probably best in "Brothers," where he only comes into the picture at the end. The same could be said for "Descent," but the shock of that cliffhanger was completely squandered in "Descent, Part II."
     
  6. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If you can’t narrow it down, send a team to each of them. But it shouldn’t be difficult. The Crushers and Data found him, no problem.

    That’s pretty stupid. Not telling her is precisely what causes her worrying and and interfering.

    BTW, I see this whole line of discussion as a fanwank that I am sure is not what the writers intended. I’m not sure where you stand on that. (I don’t mean that as a bad thing. Fanwanking can be lots of fun. I just like to be clear on when somebody’s wanking to repair the damage done by the writers and when they’re trying to be on the same page as the writers.)

    Disappeared? They left the bridge together and went to Data’s quarters.

    Speaking of which, if they think that Lore is Data and Data is Lore, why would they just leave the malfunctioning “Lore” on the floor in Data’s quarters? Shouldn’t they have him in engineering or sickbay? This goes double if they even suspect that the malfunctioning android might possibly be Data.

    Along that line of discussion, when Lore manipulates Data’s power switch, it looks like the malfunctioning android is having a seizure. When Riker reports to the captain, he says Lore “became violent.” Bizarre.

    Another wank that is clearly not the writers’ intent, but as wanks go it’s pretty reasonable.

    I’ve always wondered why the Enterprise doesn’t have CCTV.

    Pardon my french but, bullshit. I think it is obvious that he cannot.

    In fairness to the episode, Starfleet Security personnel being incompetent and useless is a staple of the franchise, though it rarely reaches this level of absurdity. Maybe Data figured a 15-year-old boy and his mother would be more effective at handling a security situation than actual Starfleet Security officers.

    Setting aside regulars, (and setting aside Eddington, who is a Starfleet security officer but has his loyalties elsewhere,) how many examples can you think of where the relatively anonymous security personnel are competent or useful? I recall one putting up a good fight against Commodore Decker in The Doomsday Machine, but he ends up losing.

    Not for me it isn’t. When in danger or when one’s child is in danger, calling for help is a natural instinct. If she were that afraid of what Lore might do to Wesley, she wouldn’t bring him into the situation in the first place.

    On a completely irrelevant note, why are TNG phasers so bulky compared to their TOS counterparts?
     
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I believe Roddenberry didn't want them to look like contemporary weapons (i.e. guns). This led to the initial type-1 design, but it was too small to read on screen, so they went to the larger type-2 design.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Why? There's no reason to think Lore would go to a cargo bay. He claimed he would do that, so logically he would not.

    (Which is probably exactly why he went into one!)

    It would suffice for Data to find him. The Crushers would simply follow. And Data can handle "difficult".

    There are about one thousand and six people aboard the ship who simply do not need to know. The ship's CMO is certainly one of them; there's no advantage to her knowing, and every chance that her knowing will lead to Lore knowing. Just look at her son!

    On the fence, really. I'm convinced the writers wrote a stupid plot that would never have worked the way they intended, and that a bit of creative interpreting and a single elegant extra assumption can still make it work quite smoothly, as is the case with most of the plot-driven episodes of Trek.

    However, I'm not quite convinced the writers didn't intend the "Shut up, Wesley - we all know it's Lore already!" interpretation...

    The "disappeared" part was me misremembering the events. I thought Beverly did not accompany Wesley to Data's room originally, but only joined Wes and Data later, which would have indicated she did a computer query at that point. But yes, she tagged along with Wes all the time.

    That's sort of unrelated to what they believe. Leaving a malfunctioning android on the floor is a strange choice under all circumstances!

    That the heroes do such a strange thing should actually count as evidence for them being wary. They encounter strangeness, and they let it stand (or, in this case, lie down) because they want to see how their prime suspect reacts to the strangeness. And lo, he reacts strangely...

    Well, it was "Data" who told him that "Lore" was potentially threatening, and then bizarrely claimed the seizures as evidence for the threat existing. So again, Riker indicating that he accepts the android's bizarre claims is good evidence that Riker is just playing along.

    I'm sure she does. But that would be a prime means of tracking, so Lore would fool it. Note that monitoring the entire ship visually in real time to search for a specific face could only be done by a computer program - a living person could never cope with the magnitude of the task. So Lore wouldn't have to fake the visuals (which Ben Finney was only able to do with careful premeditation, and his editing wasn't particularly elaborate), he'd merely have to tell the analysis program to ignore his face in the crowd.

    (Not that faking of visuals would be a particularly demanding task in the TNG era. Unlike in Finney's time, there would be commercial applications for convincing copies, courtesy of the holo-entertainment technology that the crew is so proud of. Our heroes often fake visuals that way in DS9 and VOY. But that's not relevant here. What might be is Data's oft-demonstrated aptitude in general fakery, of which "Brothers" is a prime example.)

    In early TNG, they weren't doing too badly. Say, the ones that stood guard over the captured Klingon renegades in "Heart of Glory" managed to kill one of them despite the handicap of being directed through the scene in classic Trek "turn-based" fashion. They even called for help before throwing themselves in the line of fire.

    The one bizarre situation in early TNG is "Conspiracy", where Riker gets beaten up by Quinn and calls for Security but at first, nobody responds, and then LaForge and Worf do! But that's another discussion (again with a villain who would be able to sever or pervert communications because he has access and authority).

    Not really. Apparently, women are especially prone to being ashamed of being in danger, or of being angered - and will fail to call for help because that would be embarrassing. They will try and extinguish a kitchen fire first and then tell the man in the next room to open the window to get rid of the smoke; they will drown in quiet in the middle of a swimming crowd because they want to see if they can get out of the water on their own.

    Beverly Crusher likes to fly solo anyway. Another example is the above-mentioned scene from "Conspiracy", where she saves the day after LaForge and Worf fail.

    We could speculate Quinn blocked Riker's attempt to catch Security, and then sent a fake call that would lure Crusher to the scene because the parasite was intended to be inserted into her. We don't know what sort of a plan Quinn had in mind when calling Worf and LaForge all the way down from the bridge, though. But the two guys came in unawares, while Crusher got there alert and armed, without having shared her concerns with the males.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Tom Riker

    Tom Riker Lieutenant

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    I promise if I ever meet Wil Wheaton in person, I'll asked him "Are you prepared to face the kind of death you've earned little man?"
     
  10. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :lol:

    Welcome to the board, Tom Riker.
     
  11. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    How this episode is rated so highly is beyond me, rated higher than 11001001?!

    One good line from Wesley to Beverley - "I've heard you know how to turn them on" «ahem», indeed :lol:
     
  12. Mrs Q

    Mrs Q Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Tis is one of my all time favourite episodes, but I love Data and Lore so any episode which has both of them in it is always a favourite.

    I've always thought the Lore had put the twitch on Data when he turned him off, so if/when he was found and there was confusion to who he was Lore could say I am Data he is Lore, look he has the twitch.
    The contractions are more difficult to explain though, because in The Offspring Lal uses a contraction and Data says it's something his programming has never been able to master. And in Future Imperfect Data says can't and Riker asks "what did you say" Data says "I said I cannot" and Riker says "no you didn't you said can't. You used a contraction didn't you". Therby making him even more convinced what he was supposed to believe was a lie.
    So Data shouldn't ever have used a contraction, because he himself said he couldn't, but he did in several episodes.
    I don't know if it was done deliberately by the writers or was a mistake on Brents part.
     
  13. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Wesley: Lore's gone sir. Permanently.

    Not before you will be I'm afraid.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Data only ever said he hadn't "mastered" contractions. But he also claims he hasn't mastered emotions, yet can emote with the best of them, expressing perfect anger, love, loathing, you name it. He's simply a very self-critical individual, is all.

    The Data in "Future Imperfect" wasn't the real Data and Riker knew that much. The use of a contraction wasn't a tip-off of any sort, it was something Riker rather sadistically homed in on to confuse the already very confused pretender...

    There's no real point in trying to say that Data couldn't use contractions. He always does. And if he can "fake" being in love with Jenna D'Sora, he sure can "fake" a contraction whenever he pleases. It's all in the nuances: Data is formal, Lore is informal, but both can swap at a moment's notice, and both can approach the grey middle.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Danny99

    Danny99 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Was I the only one who found Brent Spiner's portrayal of Lore to be too hammy? I preferred the "Brothers" portrayal where he was slightly maniacal, but not over the top Shatner-ish.
     
  16. The Castellan

    The Castellan Commodore Commodore

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    Probably. I liked how Lore was pretty much the exact opposite of Data.
     
  17. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Two weeks behind! Eeek.

    Script wise this is a mess for many of the reasons outlined above (I also think the timeframe it establishes for Data having been amongst humans is much longer than the original intent and it therefore feels odd how inexperienced he has been- and will continue to be- portrayed. Did he not learn anything in all those years?).

    But there are three people helping it box above its weight, Rob Bowman who- as with The Battle- directs the hell out of mediocre material to make it feel more full blown and operatic than pretty much any non-Bowman episode that year.

    Secondly, Ron Jones. A score that should feel embarrassed to be associated with some of the Weslesy scenes it accompanies.

    And Brent Spiner. Yes Lore is pure ham, but equally suits the episode perfectly and is never less than entertaining. He's just pure fun, in a way only Q has been so far amongst the enemies of the week they've encountered.

    As a final thought, what exactly is it about the order "Make it so" that's so hard to fathom out, even if you've never heard the phrase before?
     
  18. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or at least have the presence of mind to stay in character. “What purpose would be served by inducing the crystal entity to perform needlework?” would have been good.
     
  19. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It really doesn't help how Lore makes no effort whatsoever to pretend to act like Data does it? He might as well be wearing a t-shirt with "I'm an evil doppelgänger- ask me how!" on it and Picard still wouldn't listen to Wesley's warning.

    There's got to be something badly wrong in an episode where Wesley is pretty much right throughout and the other characters are all deeply stupid in comparison yet he still comes off as the sort of person you actually quite like seeing get set on fire by Lore.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Dunno. The idea isn't that he's a criminal mastermind. The idea is that he's a deranged psychopath...

    A flip side of that coin is how little Starfleet has found out about Data or his erstwhile homeworld in the intervening years.

    Admittedly, the crew of the Tripoli didn't yet witness the full extent of the Crystalline Entity's powers of evil: the vegetation was not yet dead, but merely dying. But they did witness a large scale Marie Celeste phenomenon, and had found no plausible explanation for the disappearance of the local colony. Surely this would warrant further study to protect other colonies in the region?

    Perhaps we are to assume that the reclusive Omicron Theta folks were the only ones in the general region, and Starfleet thus felt it had time to sort it all out before further colonization attempts took place...

    Timo Saloniemi