Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 3 Episode 16

The Offspring

Aired Unknown Mar 12, 1990 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • Definitely a contridictory episode

    @powerdog5000 in season 2 episode 9 the issue that seems to come up here was supposed to have been solved or at least I thought it was. Once more I draw on the Trivia and quotes of this very episode first "In "Measure Of A Man," it is established that Data has the right to make his own decisions as much as any other sentient being. If this is the case, and Lal is the same form of life as Data, where in the world does the Admiral get the idea that he can dictate what Lal does?" but this just begins to put the point that starfleet seems OK WITH ignoring it's own regulations when it suits it purposes. To me this says something very frightening first that the has been established HOWEVER it is APPLIED on a case by case this right?aren't ALL of the species of android entitled to be protected under this law?but even more so something else that scares me is the rule of law so flexible? as Phillpa Louvois said We have rule of law in this Federation. You ca not simply seize people and experiment with them to prove your pet theories. Admiral Haftel's theory is that he and the staff of Galor Four can raise Lal BETTER than her with this Law and Starfleet not being an organization HOPEFULLY that doesn't ignore regulations on a regular basis even though here it seems to so there are some very very very dark undertones to this episode. Attitudes and prejudices should NOT override the if they do then as i have said the undertones of this episode are very very YES A CONTRADICTORY episode.
  • Not a contradictory episode

    @silverfoxy2872 - this episode isn't contradictory. "Measure of a Man" made a law defining Data's rights, but simply creating a law doesn't change attitudes and remove prejudice overnight. Things aren't always that simple, especially when it comes to dealing with prejudice and discrimination. Yes, the Admiral acknowledged Data's rights, but that doesn't mean that he truly viewed Data as a 'person' in the same way that he would view Picard, for example. Lal even makes reference to this when she says that he's speaking about her father disrespectfully. Although he follows the laws established in "Measure of a Man" during his interactions with Data (and may even have good (if misplaced) intentions about 'caring' for Lal), it's clear that the Admiral didn't truly acknowledge Data and Lal's relationship like he would with a biological father and daughter - until the final scene, that is.

    Furthermore, we see towards the start of the episode that even Picard has trouble accepting that Data has created a child, and is initially angry about the fact that he wasn't informed. This despite that fact that Picard himself was the one to argue for Data's rights as a free sentient being. This is a realistic response - Picard is used to the idea of Data being a 'man', but him being a father and raising a child is something else entirely. Of course, Picard quickly comes round and sees sense and so does the Admiral in the end, but the point is that humans aren't perfect and an initial hostility and lack of understanding towards things that are new and different to us is just part of that. Data may be legally defined as an equal, but that doesn't mean that he (and his offspring) are always going to be treated like one. And that's part of what makes this episode so effective.
  • Not as impressed as other fans....

    Season 3's "The Offspring" seems to hold a strong place in the hearts of many Star Trek: TNG fans. Although I found it to be good overall with many elements to enjoy, "The Offspring" did not leave as strong an impression on me as it seems to have done for others.

    The story goes as follows: Data creates an android in his image with his programing, named Lal; basically his offspring. Starfleet salivates at the android's possibilities and wants to take her (as it ends up choosing to be a "her") away from Data and the Enterprise. Captain Picard has to deal with Starfleet's lack of respect for this new life and tries to find a way to keep Lal with Data. Meanwhile, the basic task of raising Lal proves difficult for Data - as it does for all parents.

    Where "The Offspring" goes right is the way that it depicts the trials of parenting. Lal's development is faster than most human children (mostly because she receives regimented updates of Data's programming, but also because it's only a 45-minute episode) but all the steps are there: motor skill development, social skill development, asking life's little questions, asking life's big questions, gaining an identity and becoming self-sufficient. If "The Offspring" affected me in any way it was reminding me of my own children and how much raising them has been a blessing in my life. Of course, Brent Spiner gives an especially great performance of Data in the episode as well. What really makes this performance stand out is the way that Spiner has to portray an emotionless Data going through things that make an ordinary person very emotional.

    The other way that "The Offspring" works as a good Star Trek: TNG episode is Captain Picard's role in all of this. Picard is put in the difficult, unique situation in having a new android on board with extraordinary abilities put into his care as ship's captain and defending his friend's right to care for that child against the greedy hands of the Federation. Patrick Stewart rises to the occasion and really impresses on screen.

    Unfortunately, I also think that "The Offspring" does not work well as a great episode of Star Trek: TNG. The main reason is how Lal is portrayed. Hallie Todd had the difficult task of portraying Lal but cannot quite make the grade. It takes a great, unique talent to not come off completely awkward as an android - Spiner is great as Data, making the audience like him immediately in just about every scenario. However, Lal comes off as awkward - and not endearingly so. Lal is a very creepy being - I found little to like about watching her; and if you cannot make the most emotional part of the episode work, which I think "The Offspring" does not, it's hard for the episode to be great.

    The other problem with "The Offspring" is the casting of Nicolas Coster as Admiral Haftel. Coster is horrible in the role - overacting completely in every scene. His moments in the final scenes are especially awful. Not only is his scene, describing Data's final acts of love towards Lal, poorly constructed on-screen, Coster garners laughs instead of tears as he describes the depressing scene.

    Overall, "The Offspring" is a good episode because of Spiner, Stewart and some good execution of some of the story points and themes - however, there are too many crucial flaws for me to consider this one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Apparently cybernetic females are just as complex to figure out as real ones.


    This bottle episode is superbly directed by Jonathan Frakes, and features four especially strong performances: Brent Spiner (Data) teams with guest star Hallie Todd (Lal), and Patrick Stewart (Picard) shares most of his scenes with Nicolas Coster (Admiral Haftel). Each twosome has chemistry and brings something unique to the table, making this "parenthood" story fresh, funny, and bitter sweet. Spiner, in particular, shines in a role that demands he be unemotional on the outside while going through a rollercoaster of emotions on the inside. Frakes, in his directorial debut, is only seen briefly as Riker, but he sets up the funniest line of the episode: "Commander, I must ask what your intentions are towards my daughter."

  • One of the best episodes in the entire series. Funny, touching and ultimately heartbreaking.

    "The Offspring" is, appropriately enough, the offspring of two season 2 episodes – "The Measure of a Man" (in which Data's rights as individual were questions and established) and "Pen Pals" (in which Data befriended a young girl).

    Data was a fan favorite, and this kind of episode shows why. The character meshed really well with child actors, probably due to the fact that Data himself possessed a certain wide-eyed, childish innocence. There's a sequence in this episode where the android informs Dr. Crusher he is unable to feel love or any other emotion, and the good doctor replies that she has a hard time believing him. So do we, because Spiner's performance here, while understated, is incredibly emotional.

    However, this episode is at least as much about Data's offspring Lal. It's hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe Hailie Todd's performance; she matches her "father" in giving an extremely poignant performance. It's hard to believe that the same actress is playing the robotic Lal of the beginning and the all-too-human Lal of the conclusion. The moments featuring father and daughter alone are among the most intimate of the entire series.

    There are also nice supporting performances by Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and Marina Sirtis.

    In addition, both the writers and the director should be acknowledged. This episode covers an enormous range of emotional ground – while much of it is lighthearted, it is also often thought-provoking (particularly in Data and Picard's conversations) and eventually tragic. And Jonathan Frakes does a superb job in his directorial debut – it's amazing how many subtleties he manages to sneak in, particularly with the Lal character.

    Highly recommended viewing, even for non-Star Trek fans.
  • For those who like thought-provoking, emotional episodes, you sure will not be disappointed.

    In this episode we get a closer look at the character of Data, one of TNG's fan favorites. We get to see a completely different angle of his pursuit to become human as he creates a "child". But this "child", of course is made of wires and microchips. The battle over control of the new life form, between Starfleet and Capt. Picard adds to an episode that is already filled with plenty of drama. The beauty in the writing of the script is enhanced by a plot building towards a tragic finish. The ending I will not spoil, as it may even bring a tear to you eye.
  • Data creates a android. The newly formed android calls Data “father”. Data considers the android his child. Data names his child Lal. A Starfleet Admiral demands the “Lal” be released into his custody. Like Picard says “What right does a governing body ha

    Data creates a android. The newly formed android calls Data “father”. Data considers the android his child. Data names his child Lal. A Starfleet Admiral demands the “Lal” be released into his custody. Like Picard says “What right does a governing body have to demand someone give their child up to them?” I would have to agree with Picard on this one. Data did a good job creating Lal. Lal is further advanced than Data. She can use contraction’s. She begins to feel emotions. I am going to rate this episode a 8.3 for Data greatest achievement.
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