Would Captain Picard really say, "Shut up Wesley"?
May 23, 2004
The premise of this episode is one of the oldest in human literature, that of the evil twin. Proving once again that Star Trek often attempts to look ahead by looking back. In this case, it is Data that has an evil twin, found in pieces when the Enterprise travels back to the planet where Data was found. There are also hints of the crystalline entity, a creature that appears to subsist by devouring life. When the Enterprise arrives at the planet, it is completely devoid of life, although a research lab is still intact. Lore is found, taken back to the ship and reconstructed. Once he is together, Lore "awakens" and immediately begins plotting to allow the crystalline entity to penetrate the Enterprise and consume the life on board. He is foiled by the efforts of Wesley Crusher, who seems to be the only one who recognizes that Lore is impersonating Data. There are so many logical holes and inconsistencies in this episode that it becomes a strain to watch. The most amazing is the way that Captain Picard treats Wesley. In the previous episode, "The Big Goodbye", Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher are trapped inside the holodeck due to a computer error. Wesley is allowed to participate in the rescue attempt; in fact he is the sole person examining the circuitry, searching for the flaw. Yet, in this episode, when Wesley voices his concern that the android is in fact Lore impersonating Data, Picard's solution is to yell, "Shut up Wesley!" Riker's behavior is almost as bad, paying no attention to what Wesley is trying to say. At the end, when it is clear that Wesley has in fact saved the ship and the lives of everyone on board, the only thing Picard can say to Wesley is, "Are you ready to return to duty?" This is completely inconsistent with the established patterns of behavior, as Wesley has established himself as one of the most capable members of the crew. The only thing that saves the episode is the excellent performance of Brent Spiner as both Data and Lore. As a consequence of his giving Lore a facial tic and slightly different mannerisms, we always know which one is on the screen. Unfortunately, if we can see it, it should have been obvious to the crew of the Enterprise as well. Fortunately, Lore is defeated in a way that allowed for a logically consistent return in future episodes. Despite this bad start, his appearance in future episodes yields much better stories.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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When an assignment brings theEnterpriseto the star system where Data was discovered and activated 26 years earlier, the crew takes the opportunity to investigate the enigma of the android's origin. Returning to the barren planet where Data was found, the away team finds an underground laboratory containing the disconnected segments of another cyborg, identical to Data. Reassembled and brought to life, this second android grins, twitches his cheek, and introduces himself as Lore. Lore explains that he was created to replace Data when the latter disturbed the humans with whom he interacted (a lie, Data realizes--it turns out to have been exactly the opposite); and that the colonists' fate was the work of a giant "crystalline entity." He offers to guide the crew to it so that it may be destroyed, yet immediately after he's left alone Lore sends secret messages to the giant snowflake in space promising to bring it quite a feast. Yes, it took only 14 episodes forNext Generationto dredge up that hoariest of clichés, the evil twin (right down to Lore's distinguishing facial tic and fondness for penny-dreadful dialogue). Brent Spiner has what fun he can with the dual roles--he was starting to find the humor and humanity in Data by this point, and the more risibly histrionic that Lore's lines become the more Spiner engages in some tasty scenery-chewing, but not even his mercifully campy turn can salvage some of the silliest scenes ever written for the series. And the rest of ...