Monday, March 25, 2013

TNG: The Offspring

I don't want kids. I've known since I was a kid that I didn't want kids. I love kids and I've worked with kids for years and even started a Shakespeare Company in rural Kentucky just for kids but there's just no denying that I'm missing the "I want kids" part of my brain. And, I would expect that if anyone from Star Trek could be expected to identify with this notion, it would be Data. But, of course, I would be out of luck because, in "The Offspring" Data straight-up has a kid.

I love this episode. Not in a "watch it all the time" kind of way. Actually, I've gone out of my way to avoid it when it occasionally came up in reruns. Not because it's bad but because it's really, really good.
Basically, "The Offspring" opens with Deanna, Geordi, and Wesley all rushing to Data's secret lab because he's sent them an invitation to some surprise event. When they get there, they find that Data, using new cybernetic techniques, has created a Soong-Type Android. The creation, named Lal, is non-gendered and, aside from basic humanoid shape, featureless. In time, Lal chooses a human female as her form.

Her child-like journey is chronicled throughout the episode but the story really belongs to Data. It's his new life as a parent that we focus on and we see him experience several almost-emotions at crucial points of Lal's life. The whole episode is artful and sweet and it's made even better by Jonathan Frakes' directing. Apparently, this episode was his directorial debut and it works quite nicely. If you're wondering what he did about directing himself--he was basically only in one short scene wherein Riker comes into Ten Forward and hits on Lal before realizing that she's Data's daughter. Classic Riker! 

This is a bottle episodes. No one ever leaves the ship. There are no new sets and only two guest actors. The whole story of Data's life as a parent unfolds aboard the Enterprise and, by the end, you might almost regret (as I always used to) ever knowing Lal. But, maybe not. 

This episode is still hard for me to watch and I would love to hear what actual parents and people who aren't missing the parent part of their brain think of this episode. 


  1. I'm a parent, and I can tell that this episode is a heart breaker. Without being too much of a spoiler, let's just say that the final scenes- the cascade failure, the description of data's attempts, and the exchange between Lal and Data-never fail to leave me...needing a tissue or two.

    I also think Hallie Todd, the actress who portrayed Lal, did a fantastic job with the character. It could have easily been done in a cliched way, but I think she successfully avoided that.

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, KJ! Yes, just the words "cascade failure" puts a lump in my throat. And, I agree with you that Ms. Todd does a wonderful job at portraying an android that's not a cliche and also isn't just a replica of Data.

  2. This blog is great! I recently started rewatching Next Gen because I hadn't sat down to watch it in earnest since I was a kid. After suffering through the first couple of seasons, I'm so happy to be into seasons 3 and 4! You're just about caught up to where I'm at in the series. It's nice being able to read your reviews of eps I've just recently watched.

    I was torn between liking this episode and just plain being uncomfortable while watching it. If you're a fan, you know Lal isn't around in the future and the episode just lends itself to so many possible ways for everything to fall apart. And I love Data, so every time I watch an episode that would lead an ordinary person to heart break, I think I feel it even more strongly because he can't feel it for himself.

  3. I love this episode. It's one of my favorites.

  4. Kid centered episodes like this I used to hate. Now that I'm a parent, they make me weep. Life's funny that way.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...