ST:TNG 6.09 The Quality of Life ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

It's a question of what is life when the tools called exocomps start acting on their own win 6.09 The Quality of Life.

Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

The Quality of Life
Season 6, Episode 9

  • While the Enterprise is assessing the viability of a particle fountain they come across small independently minded tools called exocomps which after self-preservation behaviour is expressed Data takes up the quest of defending them as lifeforms.
    Character Focus:
    • Data is clearly the focus here taking the task of being on the side of the exocomps.
    • Doctor Farallon, who created the particle fountain and is a risk-taking project lead that also created the Exocomps.
    • Depending on where you fall on the question of "are they life", the Exocomps themselves are a focus.
    What I remembered about this episode:
    • I remember the exocomps, and how it was cool that they could hover around but kind of scary that they behaved differently than expected and/or thought for themselves.
    What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
    • They did tons of tests on the exocomp, but they never tried to communicated with it. I know they never discussed any language capabilities with the exocomps, but they've certainly in the past tried to connect with things that may, or may not, be lifeforms.
    • The whole opening scene with Beverly vs Worf, Geordi and Riker playing poker and betting for the men to shave their beards or Beverly to go blond depending on who won. To bad we never got to see the possible result!
    What feels different now, than then:
    • I'm a little surprized at this one as a lot of the themes explored were done so before in 2.09 The Measure of a Man when a trial was held to determine if Data was property or not.
    • Because I remembered the exocomp story well, this time around I was actually more interested in the whole process around creating a project and when or how long it should be in testing, etc.; although it was a bit of a challenge to enjoy that storyline as Doctor Farallon was very abrasive and hard to support.
    What remained the same:
    • They have a very clever reveal in this one, that Data being distracted by Beverly and getting into a conversation is what turns the tide on seeing that they exocomps saw through the illusion of danger in the testing of their sentience.
    What I see differently:
    • It actually took me a bit to place this one, because they are initially helping out some folks who created and ar using a particle fountain and it's all about the (in)stability of it, and that goes on for quite a bit before the exocomps get pulled out to save the day.
    • It's pretty sad to see that Data considers himself alone because he is unique.
    Great Quotes:
    • "The broadest scientific definition might be that life is what enables plants and animals to consume food, derive energy from it, grow, adapt themselves to their surroundings, and reproduce." - Beverly
    • "And what about me? I do not grow; I do not reproduce. Yet I am considered to be alive." - Data
    • "I have observed that humans often base their judgments on what is referred to as instinct or intuition. Because I am a machine, I lack that particular ability. However, it may be possible that I have insight into other machines, that humans lack." - Data
    Left off at:
    When a dangerous situation presents itself where Geordi and the Captain are in danger and at the same time Data finds a new argument for the exocomps to be considered a life form, a moral dilemma arises on if the exocomps should send them to their death to save humans. Then, they realize they can see if they will decided to actually take up the task if given the choice (versus attempting to override their programming), and they decide to do it.

    Images Source: TrekCore


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