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Beyond Data: Brent Spiner’s many roles in the Star Trek series

In 1991, Brent Spiner released an album of pop standards entitled Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back. The title, as well as being a love letter to the songs of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, was an indication that the star was now synonymous with the beloved android officer of Star Trek: Data.

Spiner’s relationship with the Star Trek universe extends far beyond the late Lieutenant Commander, but his final role in Star Trek: Picard (as Dr. Adam Soong) becomes the seventh featured character in the series.

Here we crush androids, genius inventors. and distant relatives – artificial and organic – that Spiner brought to life.

Major Data

Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: CBS)

As you can see: Star Trek: The Next Generation (all episodes except ‘Family’), Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek: Picard (season 1)

Brent Spiner guaranteed himself sci-fi immortality when he signed up to play the first android to enlist in Starfleet and, as far as we know, the only serving officer with a built-in toggle switch.

Powered by a prototype of a positronic brain as powerful and super-fast as a Marvel superhero, Data’s logical perspective and ability to “remember all the truths I’ve been exposed to” is what Dr. McCoy, 137, wondered if there really was a Vulcan. While Data takes on a similar role to Spock in the original series, the character’s desire to be more human also makes him the emotional heart of the series alongside 24th century Pinocchio and Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

While synthetic beings are not traditionally known for their cultural interiors, Data doesn’t need sleep, so he spends his free time learning the violin, cosplaying Sherlock Holmes, and caring for his pet cat, Spot. He also had at least one sexual encounter during his time on the Enterprise, and the late Lieutenant Yar later held a special place in his heart – or any collection of circuits and relays that served a similar function in android anatomy.

In the movies, its creator, Dr. It continues to gain emotions thanks to an upgrade chip designed by Noon Soong. Even though his newfound feelings were only there for comic relief at first – he just love they seek out life forms – eventually becoming sources of dramatic tension. In fact, when the Borg Queen tries to seduce him on First Contact, she is seduced for about 0.68 seconds; that’s – as Data duly puts it – “almost an eternity” for an android.

Perhaps fitting for a replacement character for Spock, Data has a similar moment of heroic sacrifice as he gives his life to save the many forgettable crew. Star Trek: Enemy. Even so, the explosion on the Romulan ship Scimitar didn’t completely end Spiner’s involvement with the role, as some aging CG allowed him to return almost two decades later in Star Trek: Picard—first as a visionary in Jean-A. . In Luc’s mind, then as part of a complex “quantum simulation”.

Now that this simulation has been shut down at Data’s request – and Spiner admitted “doesn’t really entertain the idea of ​​doing [Data] again because I don’t think it would be realistic — looks like we’ve seen the Enterprise’s last synthetic hero. Unless you count it immortalized as a bubble bath bottle on Lower Deck.

Information

Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount)

as you can see: Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ‘Datalore’, ‘Brothers’ and ‘Descent: Part 1 and 2’

A beautifully sculpted goatee made us all know that Spock’s psychotic twin from the Mirror Universe was bad news. But when Data’s own evil twin, Lore, appears aboard the USS Enterprise-D, the signs—namely a face twitch and the ability to use contractions in her speech—are not so obvious. (Despite having a planet-sized brain, Data has always struggled to say “I can’t”, “I won’t” and “no”.)

Spiner clearly enjoyed the chance to play this morally questionable reflection of Data. Lore is the more sophisticated older “brother” whose fully functioning emotions and unbridled ego transform him into the kind of android supremacist monster he once called a friend who would happily incite the massacre of an entire human colony.

With a criminal record that includes betraying her brother, murdering her father, and corrupting a branch of the Borg Collective that developed Quirk, Lore is the exact antithesis of her idealistic brother. In fact, very few tears are shed when permanently crippled.

B-4

Star Trek: Enemy

(Image credit: Paramount)

As you can see: Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek: Picard season 1 (boxed)

Before creating Lore and Data, Dr. When Noonian Soong names a prototype android B-4, he plunges into one of the most brazen puns in history. Unfortunately, the wordplay is as forgettable as the character is pathetic, as Spiner’s Trek’s repertoire expands to invade Adam Sandler’s self-created disturbing territory in The Waterboy.

Data is clearly excited to meet another family member, but the B-4 is a decoy, a McGuffin, and a combination of an unwitting spy, a scapegoat strategically unleashed by Shinzon, Picard’s fugitive clone, to take over the Enterprise.

The B-4s were also set up as a tool to bring Data back from the dead – just as the planet Genesis resurrected Spock – but he can’t even do that properly. Later, it is revealed that the neural network lacks the complexity to reduce Data’s consciousness. “In the end, it didn’t look much like B-4 Data,” explains Dr. Agnes Jurati – as if we haven’t figured it out yet.

Dr. Noon Soong

Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount)

As you can see: Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ‘Brothers’, ‘Birthright: Part 1’, ‘Inheritance’

Spiner, Data, Lore and the ‘father’ of B-4, Dr. Noon Soong. This pioneer of super-advanced neural networks – who purposely made Data less complicated than Lore after complaints from other colonists on Omicron Theta – also had a god complex that chose to build android offspring in his own image. Younger incarnations of the character would also appear in the holodeck and as part of Data’s subconscious, suggesting that androids don’t dream about electric sheep as much as they do about parents without parents.

Dr. Arik Soong

Star Trek: Company

(Image credit: Paramount)

As you can see: Star Trek: Enterprise episodes ‘Borderland’, ‘Cold Station 12’, ‘The Augments’

While Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager occupy similar space Star Trek timelineIn the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise, familiar faces were a little harder to spot. The fourth season of the failed spin-off tackled this particular issue by portraying Spiner as Noonian’s ancestor Arik (without the usual extensive make-up work). Bu Soong was a rogue geneticist who was jailed as punishment for his work with prohibition Augmentation technology that created the notorious tyrant Khan Noonien Singh in the late 20th century. workspace for the creation of an artificial life form. “I doubt I’ll finish the job myself,” she admits. “It may take a generation or two…”

Dr. Altan Inigo Soong

Star Trek: Corporate

(Image credit: Paramount)

As you can see: Star Trek: Picard season 1 episodes ‘Et In Arcadia Ego, parts 1 and 2’

Noonian Soong’s biological son continues his father’s business and Dr. Bruce Maddox – the cyberneticist trying to prove that Data was once Starfleet property and not a sentient being – to build a new type of organic synthetic based on Neural Datapaths. An exact twin to his father and siblings, this self-proclaimed “mad scientist” lives an idyllic life on the planet Coppelius – he even inevitably made himself an android cat named Spot II – and builds the golem that is Jean-Luc O. Picard’s new synthetic body. A similar technology is then used to sculpt Gray’s bodily form. Star Trek: Discovery season 4.

Dr. Adam Soong

Star Trek: Picard season 2 episode 5

(Image credit: Paramount)

As you can see: Star Trek: Picard season 2

Spiner may have stopped playing Data, but there’s still room for him in season two of Picard. Episode five, ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, reveals that the Soongs have been dealing with science for centuries, while stubborn geneticist Adam is working to save his daughter, Kore. lots As the future ‘daughters’ of Data Dahj, Soji, Jana and Sutra from a rare and deadly genetic condition.

Bu Soong doesn’t let ethics get in the way, gaining a reputation by experimenting with veterans and telling Q, “If I think you’re a threat, I’ll kill you”. It is also clear that the alternative timeline has a key role to play in the formation of the totalitarian Confederation; here immortalized as a hologram of fascist bullshit like “a safe galaxy is a human galaxy”.


For more science fiction material, check out our guide to the best science fiction movies of all time.


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Beyond Data: Brent Spiner’s many roles in the Star Trek series

In 1991, Brent Spiner released an album of pop standards called Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back. As well as being his love letter to the songs of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, the title was an acknowledgement that the star was now synonymous with Star Trek: The Next Generation’s much-loved android officer, Data. 
Spiner’s association with the Star Trek universe stretches way beyond the late Lieutenant Commander, however, with his latest role in Star Trek: Picard (as Dr. Adam Soong) becoming his seventh distinct character in the franchise. 
Here, we run down the androids, genius inventors. and distant relatives Spiner has brought to life – both artificial and organic – on screen.
Lieutenant Commander Data

(Image credit: CBS)
As seen in: Star Trek: The Next Generation (every episode except ‘Family’), Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek: Picard (season 1)
Brent Spiner guaranteed himself sci-fi immortality when he signed up to play the first android ever to enroll in Starfleet – and, as far as we’re aware, the only serving officer with a built-in on/off switch. 
As strong as a Marvel superhero and powered by a superfast, prototype positronic brain, Data’s logical outlook and ability to “remember every fact I’m exposed to” made the 137-year-old Dr. McCoy wonder if he was actually a Vulcan. Although Data fulfills a similar function to Spock’s in the original series, however, the character’s aspirations to become more human also make him a 24th century Pinocchio, and – alongside Captain Jean-Luc Picard – the emotional heart of the show. 
While synthetic beings aren’t traditionally known for their cultural hinterland, Data spends his spare time – which is plentiful, seeing as he has no need for sleep – learning the violin, cosplaying as Sherlock Holmes, and looking after his pet cat, Spot. He also has at least one sexual encounter during his time on the Enterprise, and the late Lt Yar subsequently holds a special place in his heart – or whichever collection of circuits and relays perform a similar function in android anatomy.
In the movies, he goes on to gain emotions, thanks to an upgrade chip designed by his creator, Dr. Noonian Soong. While his newfound feelings initially exist purely for comic relief – he just loves scanning for lifeforms – they eventually become the source of dramatic tension. Indeed, when the Borg Queen attempts to seduce him in First Contact, he’s tempted for approximately 0.68 seconds, which – as Data duly notes – is “nearly an eternity” for an android.
Perhaps appropriately for a character who started out as a Spock substitute, Data gets a similar moment of heroic sacrifice, when he gives his life to save the crew in the mostly forgettable Star Trek: Nemesis. Even so, the explosion on Romulan vessel the Scimitar didn’t quite put a full stop on Spiner’s association with the role, as some de-aging CG allowed him to return nearly two decades later in Star Trek: Picard – first as visions in Jean-Luc’s mind, then as part of a sophisticated “quantum simulation”. 
Now that said simulation has been turned off at Data’s request, however – and Spiner has admitted that he “wouldn’t really entertain the idea of doing [Data] again because I just don’t think it would be realistic“ – it looks like we’ve truly seen the last of the Enterprise’s synthetic hero. Unless you count his being immortalized as a bottle of bubble bath in Lower Decks.
Lore

(Image credit: Paramount)
As seen in: Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ‘Datalore’, ‘Brothers’ and ‘Descent: Parts 1 and 2′
A beautifully sculpted goatee made sure we all knew that Spock’s psychotic doppelganger from the Mirror Universe was bad news. But when Data’s own evil twin, Lore, shows up on the USS Enterprise-D, the tells – namely, a facial twitch and the ability to use contractions in his speech – aren’t quite so obvious. (Despite having a brain the size of a planet, Data always struggled to say “can’t”, “won’t”, and “isn’t”.)
Spiner clearly relished the chance to play this morally questionable reflection of Data. Lore is the more sophisticated older ‘brother’, whose fully functioning emotions and rampant ego turn him into the sort of android-supremacist monster who’d quite happily instigate the massacre of an entire colony of humans he’d once called friends.
With a rap sheet that also includes betraying his brother, killing his father, and corrupting an offshoot of the Borg Collective who’d developed individuality, Lore is the total antithesis of his idealistic little bro. Indeed, few tears are shed when he winds up permanently deactivated.
B-4

(Image credit: Paramount)
As seen in: Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek: Picard season 1 (boxed)
Before he built Lore and Data, Dr. Noonian Soong indulged in one of the most shameless puns in history when he named a prototype android B-4. Unfortunately, the character’s as forgettable as the wordplay is lamentable, as Spiner’s Trek repertoire expands to occupy the annoying manchild territory Adam Sandler made his own in The Waterboy.
Data’s clearly excited to meet another member of the family, but B-4’s a trap, a McGuffin, and an unwitting spy rolled into one, a patsy strategically unleashed by renegade Picard clone Shinzon to ensnare the Enterprise. 
B-4’s also set up as a tool to bring Data back from the dead – much as the Genesis planet resurrected Spock – but he’s not even capable of doing that properly. It’s later revealed that his neural net lacks the sophistication to download Data’s consciousness. “Ultimately B-4 wasn’t much like Data at all,” explains Dr Agnes Jurati – as if we hadn’t already worked that out.
Dr. Noonian Soong

(Image credit: Paramount)
As seen in: Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes ‘Brothers’, ‘Birthright: Part 1’, ‘Inheritance’
Spiner found himself buried beneath lots and lots of latex to play the aged version of Data, Lore, and B-4’s ‘father’, Dr. Noonian Soong. This pioneer of super-advanced neural networks – he purposefully made Data less sophisticated than Lore after fellow colonists on Omicron Theta complained – also had something of a god complex, choosing to build his android offspring in his own image. Younger incarnations of the character would also appear on the holodeck and as part of Data’s subconscious, suggesting that androids don’t dream of electric sheep so much as absent parents.
Dr. Arik Soong

(Image credit: Paramount)
As seen in: Star Trek: Enterprise episodes ‘Borderland’, ‘Cold Station 12’, ‘The Augments’
While The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager occupied similar space in the Star Trek timeline, it was a little harder for familiar faces to pop up in prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise. The floundering spin-off’s fourth season overcame that particular problem by having Spiner turn up (without the usual extensive make-up job) as Noonian’s ancestor, Arik. This Soong was a rogue geneticist who’d been thrown in prison as punishment for his work with the outlawed Augment technology that had created infamous tyrant Khan Noonien Singh in the late 20th century. At the end of his third and final appearance, Arik shifts his area of study towards creating an artificial life form. “I doubt I’ll finish the work myself,” he admits. “Might take a generation or two…”
Dr. Altan Inigo Soong

(Image credit: Paramount)
As seen in: Star Trek: Picard season 1 episodes ‘Et In Arcadia Ego, parts 1 and 2’
It turns out Noonian Soong’s biological son continued his father’s work, teaming up with Dr. Bruce Maddox – the cyberneticist who once tried to prove that Data was the property of Starfleet rather than a sentient being – to build a new race of organic synthetics based on Data’s neural pathways. Yet another total doppelganger of his dad and brothers, this self-proclaimed “mad scientist” lives an idyllic life on the planet Coppelius – he’s even built himself an android cat called, inevitably, Spot II – and constructs the golem that becomes Jean-Luc Picard’s new synthetic body. Similar technology is later used to give Gray corporeal form in Star Trek: Discovery season 4. 
Dr. Adam Soong

(Image credit: Paramount)
As seen in: Star Trek: Picard season 2
Spiner may have quit playing Data, but there’s still a space for him in the Picard season 2 cast. The fifth episode ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ reveals that the Soongs have been doing science for centuries, as single-minded geneticist Adam works to save his daughter Kore – who looks a lot like Data’s future ‘daughters’ Dahj, Soji, Jana, and Sutra – from a rare and lethal genetic condition. 
This Soong doesn’t let ethics stand in his way, gaining a reputation for experimenting on ex-soldiers, and assuring Q that “I’ll kill you if I think you’re a threat.” It’s also clear he has a pivotal role to play in the formation of the totalitarian, alternative timeline Confederation, where he’s been immortalized as a hologram spouting fascist nonsense like “a safe galaxy is a human galaxy.”
For more sci-fi goodness, check out our guide to the best sci-fi movies of all time.

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