‘Inheritance’ (TNG) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is a really good ‘Star Trek: TNG’ episode for Data’s character where he gets to meet his mother. I like how the episode unravels itself in Data getting to know who his mother is and unveiling backstory.

The episode begins with the Enterprise visiting the planet Altrea IV. They meet two scientists, William Lithgow as Pran Tainer and his wife, Fionnula Flanagan as Juliana Tainer, who happens to be a human.

Altrea IV apparently has a core that is cooling and solidifying which means trouble. Pran and Juliana Tainer inform the Enterprise crew about the problem and Geordi and Data come with a great solution.

They suggest that they inject plasma into the core of the planet in order to restore it to its molten state. Picard, Pran and Juliana agree to this recommendation and the crew soon gets to working on it.

After the meeting, Juliana meets up with Data, saying she know who he is. She eventually reveals herself to be the former wife of Data’s creator, Dr. Noonien Soong. So essentially, Juliana is his mother.

Yeah apparently Juliana was once Juliana O’Donnell before she became Juliana Soong and later Juliana Tainer. It was intriguing to hear the history of her marriage to Dr. Soong and how Data’s involved in it.

By the way, Fionnula Flanagan did a ‘Star Trek: DS9’ episode before this and would later go on to appear in an ‘Enterprise’ episode apparently. I really enjoyed her performance as Data’s mother here.

As Data gets to know more about Juliana and her married life to his creator, Dr. Soong, he’s rather dubious in her claims at first. This is due to the fact that Data has no memories of her at an earlier age.

But gradually, Data grows to accept Juliana as his mother and I found it sweet how they interacted with each other and got to know each other. However, Data soon learns Juliana is not all as she seems.

Anyway, the plasma infusion commences and it seems to be going very well so far. I found it funny when Juliana shared the story with Geordi about Data preferring to walk naked when he was ‘younger’.

Just imagining Data walking about with no clothes on back on the Omicron Theta colony puts a smile on my face. Later on, Data gets to show his various interests to his mother, including playing the violin.

Juliana is impressed with Data’s violin-playing abilities and even offers to play with him using a viola to which he accepts. She even gets to see his paintings, including one painting of Data’s daughter, Lal.

For those of you who don’t remember, Lal was created by Data in the Season 3 episode, ‘The Offspring’. Sadly Lal died in that episode due to a malfunction. Juliana is overcome with emotion here.

After a violin/viola practice in Ten Forward where it’s empty, Juliana talks more to Data about Lal and the consideration of creating new children. She advises Data to be careful should he consider it again.

Juliana eventually admits to Data that she was against him being created by Dr. Soong. This was due to the problems she and Soong had when creating Lore. It was intriguing to hear her perspective on that.

What’s even more interesting is that Juliana mentions that there were more androids created like Data and it’s implied they’ve scattered across the galaxy. Data would later meet one in ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’.

As the episode progresses, Data notices something about Juliana, including a time when they do a violin/viola duet together. After jumping from a cliff on Altrea IV, Data learns the truth regarding Juliana.

Juliana is knocked out unconscious and she turns out to be an android when one of her arms is detached from her torso. Data and the Enterprise crew discover this and find a chip in her positronic brain.

Using the chip in the holodeck, Data sees an image of his father, Dr. Soong, who he interacts with. It was nice to see Brent Spiner playing Dr. Soong again and he’s between ‘Birthright’ and ‘Brothers’ in age terms.

I liked how Dr. Soong in holographic form revealed to Data what happened when he made an android copy of his wife. I also liked how Data handled the situation on whether to tell Julian that she’s an android.

‘Inheritance’ is a wonderful episode of character development for Data meeting his mother. I enjoyed the performances of Brent Spiner and Fionnula Flanagan and this is truly one of my favourite episodes.

‘Inheritance’ (TNG) rating – 9/10

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