ST:TNG 3.16 The Offspring ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with a new family member in...

Before we get to the episode, I'm thrilled to share that Netflix Canada has added all 7 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation to their roster as of December 1, 2012! So all you lucky can watch any TNG episode, at anytime! Huge happy dance for you!

The Offspring
Season 3, Episode 15

  • Data returns from a cybernetics conference with enthusiasm on developments in the field which he in turn goes ahead to create his own child, Lal. Once Starfleet gets wind of it they send an Admiral to assess the situation and want Lal to be transferred to a Starfleet facility.
    Character Focus:
    • Lal is the clear focus, as we see her character in this episode from activation on. I won't go into the technobabble, but basically she has the same data as Data but process the information a little slower but also progresses beyond his programming by being able to say contractions as well as eventually feel.
    • Data is also a huge focus here, as we see him as a parent. He also stands up for his creation of Lal and does his best to guide her development as a sentient being.
    • Picard also plays a huge role here as he's furious with Data for creating Lal, and then later ends up defending both Data and Lal to Admiral Haftel who after a very brief assessment orders Lal to be brought to a Starbase facility. Picard won't comply and tells Data not to do so either, and that they will go to Starfleet and contest this action as it goes against Lal's choice.
    What I remembered about this episode:
    • I remembered mostly as 'the Lal episode', or more likely 'Data's kid episode'. I actually don't think I remembered more beyond that, and didn't tend to rewatch it as this time a lot felt pretty fresh in the mind. I guess I wasn't that impressed with it the first time round.
    What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
    • Picard comes down HARD on Data for doing this without consulting him, but I love Data's argument that no one else on the crew consults him on procreation. This might be the first time we actually see Picard fuming mad, without being controlled by some alien entity or device that is.
    • It's a pretty lame argument by Admiral Haftel that Data and Lal should be separated as they are the only two Soong androids around (and actually not *quite* correct if I remember right), and that if there was a destruction of the ship they would both be lost.
    • This episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes (Riker), which explains the explainer line at the beginning (Riker is attending personal matters...or something like that), and he does return and has 1 brief appearance where Lal flirts with him and kisses him! I totally forgot that happened. It's cool to see the cast take a turn in the directors chair, and the majority of the main cast does direct at least 1 episode.
    What feels different now, than then:
    • This is the second time a crew member has had a child born and die in 1 episode, as this also happened to Deanna with her son Ian Andrew in 2.01 The Child. I guess Wesley will just have to continue being the youngest regular member of the crew, because life expectancy of any newbies isn't very long!
    • It's hard not to think of the song Keep 'em Separated when I hear "The Offspring" now.
    • It's also hard not to think of LOL whenever they say the name Lal, which means this episode may pre-date the term LOL. It certainly aired well before I ever heard or used it!
    What remained the same:
    • I think it's really quite cool that Data let Lal choose her own race and gender and that we get to see that selection process. Although chooses a human female, but also considers a human male, Klingon male and an Andorian.
    • I couldn't place the actor that plays Admiral Haftel, but now with the miracle that is IMDb I know it's Nicolas Coster who I know best as Lionel Lockridge from Santa Barbara (the fasted-paced soap opera, ever!)..
    What I see differently:
    • I enjoyed this one a lot more than I anticipated, and there was a lot I didn't remember in the episode including Guinan's awesome guidance to Lal as well as taking Admiral Haftel to task, Data asking Beverly for advice and his genuine concern at being a good parent.
    • I thought it was both creepy and interesting that Lal has basically the same programming as Data, but develops differently. Although she doesn't interact well at school, she does seem to learn a lot in Ten Forward working with Guinan and becomes quickly adept and understanding others, which Admiral Haftel doesn't seem to like and basically says she's speaking out of turn. Big meanie!
    • It's ridiculous that Starfleet feels they have the right to dictate how and where Lal should develop. She's not part of Starfleet and as it was already established in 2.09 The Measure of a Man that Data has the "right to choose", so why would that be different for Lal?
    Great Quotes:
    • "I have brought a new life into this world. And it is my duty - not Starfleet's - to guide her through these difficult steps to maturity." - Data
    • "You acknowledge their sentience, but you ignore their personal liberties and freedom. Order a man to hand his child over to the state? Not while I am his captain."- Picard
    • "Thank you for my life. - Flirting... Laughter... Painting, family... Female... Human." - Lal
    Left off at:
    After Admiral Haftel tells Lal she must go to a starbase even though she has chose not too, she becomes afraid and it's inferred that this is a cascade failure and Data and Admiral Haftel try to repair her, but she eventually degrades faster than can be fixed. Data transfers Lal's memories to himself, and receives sympathies of his loss from the crew.

    Images Source: TrekCore


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