Star Trek: Picard - All The Data History You Need Understand What's Going On

Picard incorporates a whole lot of history from The Next Generation about the captain's relationship with Data.

6 Comments

The premiere episode of Star Trek: Picard brings audiences to a new chapter in Jean-Luc Picard's story, but it also shows that the story isn't just about Picard--it's also about Data, the android member of his Enterprise crew who also became one of Jean-Luc's closest friends.

Part of the reason Data is such a big deal in the new streaming series is that he remains basically one-of-a-kind in the universe. He was a sentient android created by the cyberneticist Noonien Soong and spent his life endeavoring to be more human. Other than the two androids Soong built before Data, B-4 and Lore, there are apparently no other artificial lifeforms who are quite like him. That's not for lack of trying, though; as we learn in the first episode of Star Trek: Picard, the Federation created a number of "synthetics," or robots who look a bit similar to Data, but who apparently weren't sentient (although there are those who said the same of Data himself, as TNG fans know).

Data's relationship with Picard, and the Federation in general, was built up over the course of Star Trek: The Next Generation and its films. But you don't have to watch the entire series and four movies to understand the important facts about Data that come up in Star Trek: Picard. All the relevant Data backstory referenced in Picard's premiere comes from just four TNG episodes--episodes we'll summarize here to save you a few hours. And if these sound intriguing, check out our list of the 10 essential Data episodes and you can learn even more about the unique being.

No Caption Provided

Measure of a Man (Season 2, Episode 9)

One of the best early Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes has a big bearing on what's going on in Star Trek: Picard. In "Measure of a Man," a cybernetics researcher, Bruce Maddox, wants to disassemble and study Data in hopes of creating more androids like him. Data isn't into it--he doesn't think Maddox has the skills necessary to do the procedure without Data potentially losing the essence of who he is. Maddox argues that Data doesn't have a choice; as a machine, Data isn't a person, but rather the property of Starfleet. Therefore, Data has no right to refuse to take part in Maddox's experiments.

The argument eventually goes to court, with Picard serving as Data's advocate in arguing that the android is alive and therefore has rights, and Picard's first officer, Commander Will Riker, forced to argue against Picard as Maddox's advocate. Picard eventually prevails after he suggests that creating more androids like Data in a world where they have no rights would be tantamount to creating a slave caste. Picard always shows a profound respect for life throughout TNG, and in "Measure of a Man," he gains even more respect for Data and artificial life in general--a feeling that's obviously still a major part of him in Star Trek: Picard. And the events in the trial cause Maddox to gain a new respect for Data as well. The pair continued corresponding over the years (Data narrates a lengthy letter to Maddox about his typical day in Season 4, Episode 11, "Data's Day"). That's the same Maddox who Picard hears has disappeared when he visits the Daystrom Institute in the first episode of Star Trek: Picard.

No Caption Provided

The Offspring (Season 3, Episode 16)

After attending a cybernetics conference, Data discovers a way to replicate his positronic net--essentially, his brain--to create another android. He uses that knowledge to create Lal, who he considers his offspring. Lal selects her own gender and appearance, choosing to present herself as a human woman, and thus becomes Data's daughter.

Data tries to raise Lal and teach her how to fit in aboard the Enterprise, an experience he finds incredibly rewarding. Of course, Starfleet again wants to study the androids, and attempts to separate Lal from Data to take her back to the Daystrom Institute. Before that can happen, however, Lal's positronic net starts to break down. She eventually dies, although Data downloads her memories into himself so he can keep a part of Lal with him.

Like "Measure of a Man," "The Offspring" further establishes the idea of synthetic life based on Data's design and Picard's respect for it. It also builds on the idea of Data as a form of life and his ability to produce offspring, both of which are a big part of Star Trek: Picard's first episode.

No Caption Provided

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Data spends most of Star Trek: First Contact as a captive of the Borg Queen after she and her drones manage to board and take control of part of the Enterprise. The movie establishes some changes to Borg lore by adding the Queen, and suggests that she wants more than to just assimilate more drones--she wants a true equal. To that end, she grafts real skin onto Data to help him become more human, trying to convince him to join her. Picard eventually rescues Data and together they defeat the Queen and the Borg on the Enterprise, while Riker and the rest of the crew stop the Borg's attempts to disrupt humanity's first contact with alien life (it's a time travel movie, just go with it).

First Contact does a lot of heavy lifting in reestablishing Picard's lingering trauma over being assimilated by the Borg, and builds on his close relationship with Data--though he's planning to destroy the Enterprise to defeat the Borg, he goes back to rescue Data rather than leaving him behind. Data played a major role in saving Picard from the Borg when he was assimilated in TNG, and the captain felt he couldn't leave his friend behind, even though there was a good likelihood Picard and Data would both have been killed in the attempt

No Caption Provided

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

The final of the TNG movies brings Picard's relationship with Data to an end. After the Romulan Star Empire makes overtures toward peace with the Federation following the installment of a new leader, Shinzon, Picard and the Enterprise head to Romulus for negotiations. They discover that Shinzon is actually a clone of Picard the Romulans created in hopes of installing a spy in Starfleet, a plan they eventually abandoned. Shinzon eventually gained power as a wartime commander, and means to destroy the Federation with a weapon that uses a powerful kind of radiation.

The movie is mostly about Picard worrying about what kind of man he could have become under different circumstances, but the part that matters is that Picard heads over to Shinzon's ship to destroy it--with the belief that he's going to die in the process. At the last moment, Data arrives with an emergency transporter, a little gizmo that can automatically beam a single person back to the Enterprise with the press of a button. Data slaps the emergency transporter on Picard and then destroys Shinzon's ship himself, dying in the process.

Nemesis also introduces B-4, a prototypical brother of Data that Shinzon discovered. Though Data attempted to download his own memories into the prototype, B-4's appearance in Star Trek: Picard suggests the transfer didn't take. So as of Star Trek: Picard's first episode, Data is gone, and Picard is still feeling his loss even years later. Data still resonates with the people who were close with him, and with the scientific community in the Federation that studied him. He might be gone, but Data's influence is a huge part of Star Trek: Picard, and it doesn't seem like it'll be waning anytime soon after Episode 1.

Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Picard's 10 Best Episodes Of Star Trek The Next Generation

Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 6 comments about this story
6 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for fowlone69
fowlone69

1

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Your article forgot that there was another sentient being. S7 E10 "Inheritance" Introduced Juliana O'Donnnell. She was the wife of Dr. Soong. She died due to an accident and Soong created another android and uploaded her conciseness to it. Years later, Data was able to verify Juliana's claim that she had been married to Soong by examining passenger ship manifests from this time period. So this is definitely a hanging tread out there that hasn't been pulled.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for lokar82
lokar82

292

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Ridiculous, dead is dead (or exploded in this case). If Data was blown up in Nemesis, how can it (yes it, not he) be in this new show?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for supermariomelee
supermariomelee

190

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@lokar82: There's a theory explained in the first episode that although his body is gone, his memories are in tact elsewhere(as Maddox created a backup for Data). Which where they are is told in the first episode. It also states in the first episode that his memory download to B4 didn't work and most of those memories were lost.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for skyhighgam3r
SkyHighGam3r

3388

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By SkyHighGam3r

@lokar82: Well, putting aside the fact this show has time-travel in it and things like that; he's an android. Copy/Paste his brain somewhere and he's immortal.

3 • 
Avatar image for bdrtfm
BDRTFM

4593

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

LOL. Data is the Deckard of Star Trek.

He doesn't age. Wait yes, he does. Wait, if he ages, that leaves a lot of plot holes in many of the episodes that clearly show he doesn't age. Wait, if he doesn't age, Spiner won't be able to play him until he dies..... Wait, why would someone spend a lifetime building something and then put an artificial expiry date on it? Because: Hollywood.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for skyhighgam3r
SkyHighGam3r

3388

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@bdrtfm: Because "suspension of disbelief" is a necessary part of a viewing experience lol

Upvote •