I don't know why the writers felt the Data story was not strong enough to carry out the entire episode; though it's nothing earth-shattering by this point, it's a nice story that exploits Brent Spiner's chemistry with child actors. The irony that Data (or rather his actions) are responsible for killing the villages does nothing to spoil the story.
The other tale - Troi's promotion - is not worthless, but it's more than a little implausible. As numerous people have asked, is it really so easy to be promoted on the Enterprise - even after throwing a tantrum in front of the first officer?
There are weaker episodes, but the show was clearly well past its prime here.