The Rewatch 141: The Offspring

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 3.16 The Offspring (03-12-1990)
Rating:  5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/.5/22

Notable Guest Stars:

Halie Todd- Lal.  She was Jo McGuire on Lizzie McGuire, but she also writes, directs and teaches.  She also happens to be the daughter of Ann Gilbert.
Nicolas Coster –
Admiral Anthony Haflel.  He was on several soap operas but might be most known for being in The Facts of Life

Review:

Data, after attending a cybernetics convention, decides to build an Android after his own image, allowing it to choose its gender and appearance.   It becomes Lal, a daughter, and starts to learn to adapt to its human living environment.  She eventually surpasses her father in her abilities, but unfortunately that fact spells her doom.

Meanwhile Starfleet is pretty much eager to have Lal come to a space station to be developed as a being there.

This episode deals with several themes.  It continues the theme that Data is a sentient being capable of his own life and decisions.  It has the theme of technological advances, and how we deal with them.  It also deals with humanity and the idea of parenting.  Overall the episode is a good one, and it develops several elements of canon lore, including inclusiveness.  Gender is not forced on Lal (who chooses to be female human), and there is an implication of same-sex relationships being commonplace and just as background as heterosexual ones, though no outright shots of any.

This episode is also important for Data’s storyline. I do recall hearing that this continues in the series Picard so I’ll have to keep this episode in mind when I finally get to that series (only 500 episodes in the way…)

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Rene Echevarria, a new writer to the team.
  • Directed by Jonathan Frakes.  This is the first episode that Frakes directed but very much not the last. This was his first time directing a television show, as well as the first time a cast member directed an episode of the TV series (previous directions were all films).  Frakes has directed episodes in most of the live action series, and two of the films.
  • There was an intent to have a same-sex couple in the background of Guinian and Lal’s conversation about relationships, but it was nixed by the Production team.  Still, Whoopi Goldberg’s suggestion to make her statement gender neutral was kept in the final script. Go Whoopi!

Pros:

  • Data development
  • This episode also develops on the ideas set forth in The Measure of a Man.  If Data is a sentient being, how does this effect his ability to have a family?  Haflel doesn’t see it as a child till the end of the episode, almost as if he finally recognized the father in Data when he was working at saving Lal.

Cons:

  • The Admiral is a bit annoying, but his last scene sort of makes up for it.  Sort of.
  • I know it was played up for laughs, but Lal grabbing Riker and kissing him was something that maybe should have been addressed.

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