The Offspring (StarTrek:TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 16) Data Experiences Fatherhood

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

Data builds an android derived from his own positronic neural pathways, and intends to raise it as his child — a prospect that invokes Picard’s iconic facepalm.

Picard (to admiral conjured up by writers who needed an antagonist): “There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders. You acknowledge their (Data’s and Lal’s) sentience, but you ignore their personal liberties and freedom.” Chills!

The last time I saw this episode, I wasn’t a father, so I shrugged off the montage where Lal learns to smile, play catch, etc. But this time, when Data reaches out with a napkin, and Lal puts up a “stop” finger and wipes her mouth herself, I gasped. Such feels!

Since we know Lal isn’t a recurring character, it’s pretty obvious where the episode is going, but during the careful set up and payoff for a gag with Riker, first I grinned, then I groaned, then I laughed out loud for at least half a minute.

I also found myself talking to the screen, urging Beverly to push back against something Data said, urging children to stop shunning Lal for being different. A bit with hand-holding, Lal calling her father wise, and her last monologue were all sweet and wrenching.