Pulaski's log kicks off the show (which is a first), the Enterprise picked up a distress signal requesting emergency medical aid for genius Ira Graves. His (unspecified) work is vital, so Starfleet decrees that his welfare is top priority. Meanwhile Data asks Troi and Geordi to visit him so he can show them his new beard. The hilarity is more than Troi can stand, and no one can blame her. The Enterprise receives a patchy distress signal from a stricken ship. Pulaski wants to help the distressed crew, rather than concentrating on one man. Picard agrees, sends a small team to Graves, and takes the Enterprise on a rescue mission.
Worf is told to watch 'Data' and finds him in the bar harassing Kareen. Graves-as-Data reveals his true identity, Kareen hadn't realised (nor had anyone else). He offers her immortality in an android body, she is freaked out and he hurts her by squeezing her hand too hard, so she flees. Worf reports this to Picard, who says he'll deal with it.
When Picard wakes he and several crewmembers find Data lying on the floor. When he wakes he asks oddly literal questions, meaning it could only be Data. Kareen thinks Grave's put himself into the ship's Computer (do they not have a firewall?). Picard's concluding log states that Graves's knowledge went into the ship, but wthout the 'human element'.
Oh Captain My Captain
At Graves's funeral Picard stops the boastful speech Graves-as-Data makes. Speeches are his superpower, so badly done ones are painful to Picard's ears. Even though it takes him a while to understand what's going on with Data it's clear Picard is concerned; he holds 5 separate staff meetings about it.
When Picard finally figures out what Graves has done (a whole staff meeting later than I thought he had) he decides to deal with it himself. He tells Worf to stand down, then sits and muses on the implications of what Graves has done. While transhumanism is amazingly paradigm-shifting, and raises a lot to think about, Graves-as-Data does knock out 2 crew members before Picard decides to go after him.
The confrontation by the engine has much speeching back and forth, which is to be expected from two men who enjoy talking. Troi already realised that Graves hated Picard specifically, and authority figures in general, so it's not surprising that he has a resistance to the Captain's speech. After Graves-as-Data (unintentionally?) knocks Picard out he seems to suddenly realise the error of his ways and goes to set everything right. Speeching says the day again.
Does Not Compute
Data is neither leered at nor insulted by Graves, and since he can't feel offence the rest of the away team leaves him to entertain the old man.
'Grandpa' hums ancient tune, If I Only Had a Heart, and briefly explains the context. Data believes a story of a mechanical man getting his wish is a happy ending, but Graves points out it's just a story. The scientist is curious about Data and questions him on pain, desire, envy and death as part of the inevitable 'so what makes life?' conversation. At one point Data confesses that he'll probably never know what desire is actually like (poor Tasha). It's clear that Graves' wish for Data to call him Grandpa is more egotistical than affectionate. In fact Graves calls Data pathetic towards the end of episode and literally treats him as a vessel.
It could be a bit disappointing (if Data feels disappointment) that his friends don't realise what's happened to him sooner. Obviously they're confused by his behaviour after the funeral, but they just assume the android doing his next odd/wacky thing. Even though what's happened is clearly unprecedented, it still seems as though everyone is being a bit slow on the uptake; Graves is naturally irrepressible so he doesn't hide his personality at all. Of course Data would normally be the one to figure this sort of thing out.
Troi's reaction to Data's beard is perfectly understandable. He looks ridiculous.
As ever she is very calm, even accepting, of how strange men react to her and single her out. On the one hand I get that this is part of the show's dynamic (and therefore part of the character), but it feels unrealistic and part of me thinks it sends a bad message.
Troi tells Graves's assistant Kareen that Graves was attracted to her, which could be a desperately awkward thing to tell a person. I don't know what it accomplishes at that point. Kareen knew and almost feels as though she could have reciprocated if it weren't for the age difference. The planet is clearly devoid of decent men and poor Kareen no little idea what a respectful relationship looks like.
When 'Data' acts out Troi says she can sense strong feelings from him, which she's never been able to do before. This makes her suspicious, though she doesn't figure out the truth. At least she's able to use her professional expertise to diagnose the problem. Still you'd have thought she might have noticed the similarity between Graves and the personality infesting Data.
Even boy-wonder Wesley Crusher doesn't twig what's going on, despite 'Data' acting like an patronising old coot towards him (he doesn't actually say whipper-snapper, but it was coming). It's amusing to see Wesley's bewilderment. It's also great when Wesley responds to "When you get to be my age you will understand." by pointing out that actually Data's not that much older than him.
While we might expect more suspicion or insight from the kid who figured out the Lore impersonation last series, I have to say I think Wesley is being handled much better this series. He's not been a smug know-it-all so far, and we haven't yet been bashed over the head by his brilliance. He's mostly just been around getting on with things. While I still think his position on the ship is unfair on all the real Ensigns (and not just the ones currently on the Enterprise, but all the Academy-trained ones who aspire to command positions), at least it seems to have calmed him down. Which may mean Picard is much better at managing people than I give him credit for.
Staff Meetings: 5
1. Picard and Riker question Data about Graves's death and why he didn't fetch Dr. Selar. Data asks that Graves be honoured.
2. Picard speaks to Data after the funeral. He suggests Data is trying too hard to be human and should just be himself.
3. Picard reprimands Data for his behaviour on the Bridge, Data continues to be rude. Picard wants to send him down to Engineering for a diagnostic. Data claims to run a self diagnostic and says he's fine, for the first time Picard thinks he's lying.
4. Picard asks Geordi, as Data's best friend, what he thinks is going on. The Engineer reckons that Data gets confused when trying to act human. Troi bursts in and announces that her tests reveal Data is hosting two personalities. The stronger, more erratic one is growing and will soon destroy Data as they know him.
5. Picard asks Troi and Dr Selar about how long Data spent with Graves. Their description of Graves sounds very familiar (he's finally got it). After Worf reports that 'Data' has left TenForward Picard says he'll deal with it, but takes a few moments to muse.
There could have been an interesting exploration of transhumanism, but there isn't.
There's no explanation for why only Graves's knowledge, and not his personality, is uploaded into the Computer. Presumably it was the usual reason, that having set up the situation there was under 10 minutes of airtime left, meaning everything had to be returned to normal and summed up in Picard's concluding log. Any more time spent on plot would eat into the end-of-episode joke.
I can't help wondering what would've happened if Graves had actually inhabited the ship. Much though I detested the character, having him exist in an entirely non-human form would've been interesting (and perhaps just what he deserved). It would also have created an odd dynamic for the crew. Though I suspect the ship would've become a rather unpleasant environment for female crewmembers.
Data describes his fake beard as "fine, full [and] dignified". He seems to think it "commands respect and projects thoughtfulness and dignity".
As an android full of facts you'd think Data would know that facial hair is simply hair that grows from the face. It neither has nor bestows properties on an individual. In fact Trek canon would seem to suggest that beard = evil.
|Mirror universe Data?|
Data tells Wesley that he can't remember anything from while he was possessed, and hopes his behaviour wasn't "unbecoming". Riker makes a comment about wrestling a Klingon targ, and Data asks if he won.
I'm assuming Riker is making a joke, and it's funny because Data doesn't know that. However I get the sneaking feeling that it could be a reference to an unused scene, it's a bit too random to be particularly amusing.
* Just so we're clear, at this point I hate Graves. As the episode progresses I do not feel better about the character. I wish I could say his attitude feels outdated because the episode was made in 1988, sadly society is still hung up on stuff like this.
I hate the idea that people are fundamentally different because of gender, it's not something I've ever really believed. Science has now proved it's just not true. It's mostly a societal construct, and a damaging one at that.