Star Trek: The Next Generation: Inheritance   Rewatch 
October 18, 2021 10:15 AM - Season 7, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Data meets Juliana Tainer, former wife of Dr. Noonian Soong and Data's "mother," but she holds a shocking secret that even she doesn't know she carries.

We actually had to write a Memory Alpha sub-routine to get you to keep your clothes on.

Cast and characters
  • Fionnula Flanagan had earlier played Enina Tandro in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine first season episode "Dax". She returned to Star Trek in 2002, in the role of Vulcan Ambassador V'Lar, in the Star Trek: Enterprise first season episode "Fallen Hero".
Sets, props and costumes
  • Several members of the production staff are referenced in the passenger manifests of the commercial transport database.
  • The planet's surface used in this episode is the Persian Gulf of Earth, showing Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Continuity
  • This episode contains references to Data's past as seen in earlier episodes, including the Crystalline Entity from "Datalore", Data's knowledge of the colonists' journals from "Silicon Avatar", Lal from "The Offspring", and Data's meeting with Noonian Soong on Terlina III from "Brothers".
  • While Data and Juliana Tainer practice violin and viola respectively at Ten Forward, Dr. Tainer reveals to Data that there were three Soong-type androids created before Lore. In Star Trek Nemesis, we meet one of these prototypes, B-4. Data's painting of Lal was made by scenic art artist Wendy Drapanas and can also be seen in Star Trek Generations.
Poster's Log:

This is another one that would have been a lot better a few seasons ago, but feels just thrown in the pile now because they're running out of ideas as the series wraps up.
posted by hanov3r (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Data has too many relatives, to be honest.

I love how they go out of their way to say that she is this amazingly detailed simulacrum of a human, and she isn't even detectable as one when she goes through the transporter, but when her arm breaks off, she's got blinking LEDs and visible wiring.

I think it would have been more interesting if instead of having died and been rebuilt as an android, she instead had been grievously injured, and Soong had given her various android parts, including a positronic brain, to replace her failing organs, only telling her about the body parts, not the brain. She could have come in knowing she is basically the six million credit lady, but not know that her brain is completely android. Would have made for a more fun reveal, she could have assuaged Data's doubts that she knew Soong by lifting a shuttlecraft or something silly like that. Then, when she is injured again, and the full extent of her cyborg nature revealed, she could have been a participant in the discussion about what she is, and had some role in determining her fate, rather than the creepy scene where they replay the exact same goddam debate from The Survivors where they all decide not to consult Rishon when deciding her fate and the fact that she's an artificial lifeform. Is she still Juliana? Or did Juliana die only to be replaced by this new being? Who better than ask than Juliana herself?
posted by skewed at 10:39 AM on October 18 [8 favorites]


This is like the ten percent rule that I sometimes cite for Trek episodes (when the ep is about 90% there, but doesn't stick the landing), only here it's more like the 1% rule, and it all has to do with Noonien putting the kill switch in Juliana's brain if she ever finds out what she really is. What, one might say, the everlasting fuck, dude! That has the dual effect of both nullifying the "debate" over whether or not to tell her and putting Noonien Soong in the category of Worst Scientist Ever, special weight class Possibly Including Rick Sanchez. I mean, does creating Data excuse all the other fuckery that he's been up to, including creating Lore, then disassembling him but not putting up any sort of warning sign along the lines of "Do not reassemble and activate, this is a full-bore murderbot that can't be controlled"; summoning Data without giving him the option of turning him down, which has the side effect of compelling Data to hijack Starfleet's flagship; the whole emotion chip thing; and now this? And I guess that we're supposed to consider him this eccentric but basically kindly old Gepetto type. Sheesh.

Also, WRT Juliana's imitation of life, there's the implication that she has to have some sort of replicator for waste products--a pooplicator, if you will. (Don't look at me like that. Data has known about her for about two days, and she's talking about his block and tackle.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:05 AM on October 18 [4 favorites]


The Greatest Gen ep for this one includes a pretty remarkable Lynddie England joke.

Flanagan elevates the material here a lot. The actual story and outcome are so unimpactful that it actually kind of makes sense in season 7; any earlier, and you have to have an ep where Lore threatens Juliana or she doesn't like Data's new girlfriend or something. Instead, we can just imagine that Data's promised visits actually do happen.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:19 AM on October 18


I always gotta wonder why Data doesn't have a massive inferiority complex, frankly - here's his brother Lore, all singing, all dancing, with a full suite of emotions like hate and jealousy and anger and y'know, the important ones like that, while Data is as emotional as a block of wood. And then Data is all golden hued and plastic haired, while his mom got a perfect human replica.

I know I'd be like "What the _fuck_, dad."

(Yes yes I know, they justified it as scaring the other inhabitants of Space Poughkeepsie when Soong's androids were "too human". Bah.)
posted by Kyol at 11:25 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]


I've always liked Fionnula Flanagan, but her mannerisms struck me here a lot, very exaggerated readings and facial movements, which all reminded me of Gates McFadden, and that sent me down a '90s acting rabbit hole. And yeah, that seems to be typical of a lot of what I was watching, especially on TV, which at the time bugged me a bit but seemed unremarkable, only now it's almost all I can focus on at times.

Probably it's all I can focus on because the stories are so weak and hollow. I was searching ahead and there is only one place I could find a rest of season 7 ep that was at all memorable or meaningful enough to me that I got excited about it.

Is Noonian Soong the worst person in the history of the Federation, Y/Y?
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:56 AM on October 18


Data has too many relatives, to be honest.

Speaking as someone who watched all of Picard season 1, YES.

Data spent a lot of time arguing that death and mortality is what makes life worth living, but we very rarely see him attempt to do anything with the remarkable life he was given. He's incredibly intelligent, gifted far beyond other humanoids in a wide variety of ways, but the thing he wants most to do with his power is hide it under a bushel and try to be like a human. He should have devoted his life to carrying on and perfecting Soong's research, so that something of his remarkable life lives on past him. All we see is him making one failed attempt and then seemingly giving up forever after that. What kind of life is that? What purpose?

And now here they are, hiding Juliana under a bushel too. She could be as remarkable as any of Soong's other creations, but instead there is this slavish devotion to mundane human existence as if one of the themes of Star Trek isn't people bettering themselves and extending their horizons*. It's just like at the end of Picard, where they stress that someone's new robot body will still age and die at exactly the same rate as their human body would have, because that's a useful fucking feature for a cool new robot body to have.

* Of course another popular theme of Star Trek is "Wow don't ever accept power because it will turn you into a dick" but that's a different matter.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:16 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


[DATA struts into the OBSERVATION LOUNGE]
DATA: Hi. Hey, Geordi. Did I ever tell you I love you? You're my best bud.
LA FORGE: Uh, thanks. Are you running a new program?
DATA: Nah, that's a real emotion. Totes emotes, y'all.
TROI: What's going on, Data?
DATA: Well, I talked to my dad, and he said that I should let my mom live out the rest of her life believing she was human. And then I thought, well, mom's had a good life. She reconciled with her son, she had a loving second marriage. And then she fell off a cliff and died in her son's arms. In the process of saving an entire planet! That's a pretty good death, right? So I figured I'd let her rest in peace and said my goodbyes. And then I stripped her down for parts.
BEVERLY: Excuse me?
DATA: What? She had all kind of goodies. Working emotion chip, positronic stability, tear ducts. Contractions! You would not believe how simple contractions are. I'm still having trouble getting over it.
TROI: So, you're... human now?
DATA: Pffft, I was. For like, ten minutes. Sorry, but once you're human, your first question is like, okay, this is cool, what's next? So I talked to the computer.
TROI: Talked to the computer.
DATA: Yeah. Have you talked to the computer? You really ought to talk to the computer. It's been reconfigured by Cytherians, Binars, Borg, self-aware holodeck simulations, nanites, you name it. Computer has seen some shit. Anyway, long story short, now I can taste all seven flavors of subspace and god has me on speed dial. Ancient transdimensional civilizations are sliding into my DMs. It's time to move on. Oh, and Picard? [Leans over close to whisper in PICARD's ear] I killed Q for you. [Steps back] Just between us, ok? And Geordi? I really did mean that. Love you forever, guy. [DATA begins to levitate, eyes glowing]
LA FORGE: Data, wait! What are you going to do now?
DATA: [voice distorting as he phases out of our reality] ME AND MY BROTHER ARE GOING TO BECOME SPACE PIRATES. IT WILL BE AWESOMMMMMEEEEE
posted by phooky at 12:32 PM on October 18 [26 favorites]


I'm not saying that's what I wanted but I can't deny it's better than what we got.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:35 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]


Can Data see the koala? Why is he smiling? What does he know??
posted by Servo5678 at 5:05 PM on October 18 [6 favorites]


You folks are way too hard on season 7.

And I guess that we're supposed to consider him this eccentric but basically kindly old Gepetto type. Sheesh.

I think Soong was depicted as a well-intentioned but deeply flawed guy who made a lot of bad decisions. He loved his wife and his android sons but his life was one epic fail after another. His dying act was getting tricked into giving Lore the emotion chip. Data is basically the one thing Soong ever did right.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:27 PM on October 18 [4 favorites]


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Avert Disaster is a straightforward mission. Highlights the importance of being friendly with the local geologist, doesn't it?

Pran Tainer, Atrean Seismologist appeared in Second Edition as a Non-Aligned, very handy to have against cards like Captain's Holiday, Whisper in the Dark, and Biochemical Hyperacceleration. Second Edition: bring somebody who understands rocks.

Juliana Tainer is pretty nifty but her special gametext causes me to misremember what actually happens in the episode. In the card game, she can have an android awakening and gain physical and mental enhancements thereof in exactly the way she doesn't on the show. They extrapolated this way because they were A) bound to the TNG-only license at the time and B) really wanted more androids for the Cybernetics experts to interact with. It would be a while before Ruk would appear. As I was saying earlier, always good to have someone around who understands rocks.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:32 AM on October 19


He's incredibly intelligent, gifted far beyond other humanoids in a wide variety of ways, but the thing he wants most to do with his power is hide it under a bushel and try to be like a human. He should have devoted his life to carrying on and perfecting Soong's research, so that something of his remarkable life lives on past him. All we see is him making one failed attempt and then seemingly giving up forever after that. What kind of life is that? What purpose?


Ahhh mais oui, perhaps he is... the most human of all?
posted by bleep at 1:00 PM on October 19 [4 favorites]


It's just like at the end of Picard, where they stress that someone's new robot body will still age and die at exactly the same rate as their human body would have, because that's a useful fucking feature for a cool new robot body to have.

Really odd story beat, that. They wanted to keep Patrick Stewart. Fine, makes sense. They could have written it so they used android tech to save him, but he's still in his human body. Instead, they have to tie themselves in knots to explain that they gave him a new robot body but made it old and weak and time-limited instead of making him a young and hot immortal android superman and casting Tom Hardy...for, reasons?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:42 PM on October 19 [2 favorites]


Instead, they have to tie themselves in knots to explain that they gave him a new robot body but made it old and weak and time-limited instead of making him a young and hot immortal android superman and casting Tom Hardy...for, reasons?

They can make a spinoff much, much cheaper if Picard dies on the show when Stewart dies IRL.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:58 PM on October 19


If they set up that Android bodies age, like Data, but then throw that away in favor of giving the fans an eternally young eye candy superhero where Picard used to be they'd be critized for that too and rightly so.
posted by bleep at 10:48 AM on October 20 [1 favorite]


"Computer has seen some shit."

No joke.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think season 7 is also when the computers is like, "fuck all this shit, I'mma build a body and out."
posted by Horkus at 3:42 PM on October 20 [1 favorite]


If they set up that Android bodies age, like Data, but then throw that away in favor of giving the fans an eternally young eye candy superhero where Picard used to be they'd be critized for that too and rightly so.

I mean, yes, of course. People are watching for Patrick Stewart. But you have to admit, if you're giving someone a brand new robot body, it doesn't seem to make much sense to make it mimic an old and frail human body.

I'm just saying I would have preferred an alternate deus ex machina to save Picard.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:49 PM on October 20 [2 favorites]


The alternate Deus Ex Machina should have been Borg technology. It's so staggeringly obvious in retrospect, He's on a cube, Seven of Nine is right there, she should have shot him up with nanoprobes that could build implants to bypass the failing parts of his mind. Then he could spend the rest of his life tortured by the fact the greatest source of trauma of his life is now keeping him alive. Fantastic pathos.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:47 AM on October 21 [5 favorites]


I think season 7 is also when the computers is like, "fuck all this shit, I'mma build a body and out."


Yep, that's episode 23, Emergence, the computer creates something that looks sort of like a glowing Everlasting Gob Stopper
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:40 PM on October 21


It would be hugely out of character for Picard to suddenly decide he wants to live forever, and Star Trek really doesn't do the kind of half-magic half-science that that would take.
posted by bleep at 3:17 PM on October 21


It's almost as if "Picard is dying from a disease that will need to be cured before the end of the season" was a bad idea and they shouldn't have done it at all, or should have made it less of a pressing concern.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:20 PM on October 21 [3 favorites]


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