here to read about Data's role in Star Trek: Generations.
Star Trek: Insurrection
The timing of my watching this movie seemed most appropriate. On the very same day, I remarked that as much as I like the character of Data, I did question why he was permitted to remain aboard the Enterprise. Yes, there are certainly times when it comes in handy that he's an android: when, for example, a virus sickens all humanoid crew members, Data is unaffected or when addressing a situation requires exposure to radiation or another equally dangerous environment, Data can pass through unharmed.
However, there are also times when Data himself malfunctions and when that happens, it's a pretty big problem as Data is smarter and stronger than everyone else on the ship. When he goes rogue, for whatever reason, the crew is basically at his mercy until he is able to correct the malfunctioning program.
Pretty scary, if you ask me.
So when we popped in the blu ray of Star Trek: Insurrection over Christmas, it seemed rather ironic that one of the first scenes is Data shooting his phaser and wildly running through the peaceful Ba'ku village, after having removed his cloaking helmet and making the Federation's presence on the planet known. Admiral Dougherty, who is in charge of the Federation's joint mission with the Son'a, requests that Picard assist them in capturing Data lest he further compromise the mission.
Ultimately Data steals a shuttle craft and makes his escape, but Picard manages to disarm him by singing excepts from the Gilbert and Sullivan show HMS Pinafore, which Data had been rehearsing prior to the mission. Picard encourages Worf to sing along and eventually Data, who's memory is triggered by the familiarity of the song, joins in.
Luckily, Picard is successful in stopping Data from causing any more damage and after a full diagnostic, he's allowed to resume his duties aboard the Enterprise.
(As an aside, I recently discovered that in his spare time Brent Spiner, who plays Data, released a CD titled Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back and on which his Star Trek co-stars Patrick Stewart (Picard), Michael Dorn (Worf), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), and LeVar Burton (La Forge) sing background vocals. Click here to listen and pay special attention to Picard...erm Stewart's monologue midsong. WTF?)
Artim first is reluctant to befriend Data, but becomes more willing after Data assists the Ba'ku in finding a safe haven when they are under attack. At this point, Artim attempts to teach Data how to "play" resulting in a completely adorable line at the end of the movie where Data tells Artim that he "has to go home now."
But I digress.
So we're back to my initial point: Data is clearly well intentioned. And in this case, it turns out that there was a logical and justified explanation to his behavior at the beginning of the movie, but it still seems concerning that all it takes is one nasty computer virus and he goes off the deep end.
I guess in the end, it becomes a balancing test: with the benefits of having Data on board, also come some potential risks. Ultimately even when he does malfunction, he manages to course correct before causing too much damage. And, in fact, there are times, when he turns out to be pretending and it turns out that he was really helping the Enterprise all along (more on that in Parts III and IV).
I could seriously write about this for another thirty paragraphs but I'm interested to hear what others have to say: is Data an asset or a liability aboard the Enterprise? Or a mixture of both?
Thanks for humoring me and this line of posts! As thanks and in recognition of my one year blog-aversary, stay tuned tomorrow for a new giveaway!