‘The Offspring’ (TNG) (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is a special ‘TNG’ episode as it’s the first to be directed by Jonathan Frakes, who plays Commander Riker in the series. This is before he did ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ and the 2004 ‘Thunderbirds’ film.

As a directorial debut for Jonathan Frakes, ‘The Offspring’ is very good and one of my favourites from the series. It’s an episode that focuses on Data as he builds a ‘child’ named Lal and tries to raise her.

At the beginning of the episode, Data invites Deanna, Wesley and Geordi to his lab and introduces them to Lal, who is a featureless humanoid android at first. Basically Lal is disfigured and unclothed.

Deanna, Wesley and Geordi are surprised when they hear that Lal is Data’s child. Captain Picard is displeased upon hearing the news, since Data never told him and it can cause trouble with Starfleet.

But Data seems determined to pursue his parenting on Lal, despite Picard’s concerns on the matter. The scene where Data explains his reasons to Picard about raising Lal is really mesmerising to watch.

Soon Data and Troi help Lal to decide what gender and appearance it would like to have. I like the four options that Lal chooses, including an Andorian female and a Klingon male (“a friend for Worf”).

In the end however, Lal selects the appearance of a young female human. This ends up being Hallie Todd as Lal. I like Hallie’s performance as Lal. She gets the android aspects of her character spot on.

I like how Lal ‘grows up’ with Data guiding her as her father. She learns things slowly at first but picks up quickly later on. Lal also asks her father a lot of questions and this increases her own awareness.

Lal also interacts with other members of the crew to learn how to socialise. Wesley suggests to Data that he should take Lal to school aboard the Enterprise. This however does not go according to plan.

When Lal is at school, the children there are intimidated by her and laugh at her. It was interesting to see Lal’s reaction when Data explains why the children were laughing at her and she’s not ‘happy’.

One of my favourite scenes in the episode is when Data visits Beverly in sick bay to ask for some parenting advice. It’s a lovely scene and this strengthens the relationship between Data and Beverly.

I found it interesting how Beverly treats Data’s situation as a father and compares how she found her experience with Wesley growing up at school. Beverly doesn’t ridicule Data on anything he does.

I know it’s not going to apply in the same manner, but imagine that scene with Data and Beverly being switched with Spock and Bones in ‘The Original Series’. Would this be played in the same way?

Data soon takes Lal to Ten Forward where he gets to serve as a waitress under Whoopi Goldberg as Gunian’s care. This is to enhance Lal’s experience of social behaviour when she interacts with others.

It’s funny when Lal and Gunian observe a couple flirting and kissing each other. Lal misunderstands the concepts going on and Guinan does her best to explain the situation to her, which is well-played.

Eventually, Commander Riker enters Ten Forward. By the way, Riker is mostly absent in this episode, since Captain Picard explains at the beginning of the TV episode that he was away on personal leave.

Ha! ‘Personal leave’ my foot! Riker was away directing this episode, wasn’t he?! 😀 Anyway, Riker meets Lal in Ten Forward before she’s suddenly kissed by her after her witnessing of a couple flirting.

It was amusing when Data walks in and sees this and asks Riker, “What are your intentions towards my daughter?” I like that scene between Lal and Data where they discuss human emotions and love.

I find this episode explores more of Data’s character as much as his daughter Lal. It allows him to experience humanity on a different level, especially when he tries to parent his daughter in the tale.

Sadly however, Lal only appears in one episode as Nicolas Coster as Admiral Haftel’s attempts to take her away from the Enterprise cause her to panic and be afraid. She tragically ‘dies’ in the story.

I’m sure I had tears in my eyes when I saw the farewell scene between Lal and Data where she tells him that she loves him. ‘The Offspring’ is a great Data story that is well-directed by Jonathan Frakes.

‘The Offspring’ rating – 9/10

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