[TNG] Season 2, Episode 9 (Netflix: S2 E9): The Measure of a Man
This is the quintessential episode dealing with the nature of Data. It’s also a decent episode in terms of a Star Trek “trial” episode, in that the arguments against who we’re rooting for really seem devastating, and the arguments for our side are expertly delivered, making for a satisfying conclusion. It would earn a higher score if not for the implausible circumstances that set the plot into motion.
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The first game of Poker! Riker wins.
Picard reconnects with a woman from his past. They have a gross relationship, bouncing between harsh insults and disturbing sexual advances.
When Riker shouts out “admiral on the bridge” I guess it’s just an fyi, because no one really acknowledges him.
This guy wants to take apart Data to see if he can recreate him. He even had a transfer approved, putting Data under his command.
Data says screw that crap, I’m resigning (paraphrasing).
They determine that Data is a machine that is property of the Federation and he can’t resign. You’d think this kind of thing would have been resolved back when Data entered Starfleet…
They have to hold a hearing on whether Data is property or a person. Because of some regulation that doesn’t make any sense and is just a bad attempt by the writers to add tension, Riker has to represent the position against Picard and Data.
Riker nails Data with questions about what he’s made of. He also asks him to bend a pipe, probably just because he thinks it’s cool. If I knew Data I’d have him bend pipes pretty much every day.
Riker’s initial points seem really good for his side, but then it just seems like he’s messing around. He takes off Data’s hand. So what? People can have removable hands.
When it’s Picard’s turn, he goes through Data’s personal belongings, making the point that it means something to him even though it’s a bunch of junk.
Picard gets Data to reveal that he was “intimate” with Tasha Yar. That might not convince them that he’s a person. It might just remind them of how terrible The Naked Now was.
Picard’s ending points are really well stated. He argues that sentience is basically impossible to prove, and that this decision can tell people how we are to treat androids on the eventuality of an entire race of them existing.
The lady ends up ruling that Data should have choice. Does that mean he isn’t considered property and should be allowed to resign? Will we ever see Data again?? She also agrees to dinner with Picard. Gross.
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