Star Trek The Next Generation: Hero Worship

“His world is gone, Data. We’re going to have to help him build a new one.”

When a badly damaged research vessel is found, Data and the crew search for survivors and find a lone boy. This is mostly the boy’s story, but the Enterprise might also find itself in great danger as well.

Poor Timothy, he just lost his parents and the life that he knew. Luckily, Data was there to save him from his vessel — seconds before a giant metal beam would have skewered him. I do like the scenes of Timothy and Data as they are bonding in this episode. Timothy won’t even let go of Data’s hand when he is recovering in Dr. Crusher’s sick bay. We also get some cute scenes of Data brushing Timothy’s hair and the two of them hanging out with each other. Is this terrifically compelling? No, but it is more interesting when I try to see things from Timothy’s perspective.

It isn’t long before Timothy starts copying Data and tells everyone that he is now an android, too. It’s not hard to see that Timothy has had a great shock and that he is trying to suppress his pain by becoming more like Data. Emotions hurt, so Timothy is just not going have them, anymore. If we should miss some of the deeper psychological messages, never fear because we have Counselor Troi to enlighten us. She does have a solid plan, I think. Arguing with Timothy is not going to help. Her method suggests that Timothy should be encouraged to be an android, to give him time to cope with his great loss. It is a good idea — letting Timothy have time to process his situation, while at the same time making sure that Data highlights the human pleasures that he might be missing. Data is a good guide, because he can let Timothy know the things that an android cannot enjoy.

AMC's Humans had a similar plotline. The youngest daughter of the family really loved her Synth. When the Synth had to leave them, the little girl coped with her loss by becoming a Synthie. That means a Human who acts like a robot because they think that being a Synth will be easier than coping with human pain. There are many people who do that, in their future world; to make things easier for themselves in some ways. I love how Dr. Berger put it into words in Ordinary People: “Feelings are scary, and sometimes they're painful… and if you can't feel pain, then you're not going to feel anything else, either.”

Just when we are getting slightly bored watching Timothy build a pavilion with little plastic thingies in his really lame school class, (where are the high-tech gadgets that beam everything they need to learn right into their little noggins?) there is imminent danger facing the Enterprise, itself. Now, it really does get more dramatic. Little Tim is feeling such guilt because he thought that he was responsible for his vessel's destruction.  He gets reassured that he didn't do anything wrong, but now dread is building — Timothy tells the bridge crew that the same shock waves hit his ship and his crew said the things that they are now saying: “More shields” and “Warp power to the shields.” Thirty seconds before doom, Data and Picard listen to Timothy and disaster is averted. That was a really good sequence; it brought some much needed tension to this story.

By the end, Timothy decides to become a real boy again and is forced to listen to the other children sing a song that I learned in preschool. Really? This is the future of education? That’s worrisome.

Bits and Pieces:

Just to throw in more randomly related info: The Humans is a novel by Matt Haig. I highly recommend it — it features an alien coming to earth to assimilate and possibly annihilate. It’s fabulous.

Gene Roddenberry died during the filming of this episode. The whole crew was told the sad news and they were very upset, naturally.

I think that this was the first time that I had noticed this: After Picard and Riker talked to Tim and Data on the bridge after the crisis was over, they turned around and sat down in perfect unison. It made me laugh because their heads disappeared from view at the exact same pace.

Quotes:

Picard: “Data, I would like you to make Timothy the best android he can possibly be.”

Data: “I would gladly risk feeling bad at times, if it also meant that I could taste my dessert.”

Dr. Crusher: “Transfer circuits are functioning normally.”
Timothy: “Within established parameters?”
Dr. Crusher: “Absolutely: input processing, pattern recognition — all within established parameters.”
Data and Timothy: “Thank You, Doctor.” They did that in unison, but of course.

Final Analysis:

Not an episode to be classified as one of their bests, but it did have some good moments. I really felt for Timothy when he was feeling so guilty and afraid during the scenes where the same nightmare scenario was happening to him all over again. The boy playing Timothy seemed younger or older at different times. My husband and daughter came into the room when I was viewing this, and I asked them how old they thought the boy was. My daughter guessed ten and my husband guessed twelve. I believe the boy was acting about eight or nine, tops. He did look older, especially when his hair was brushed back. It doesn’t really matter, though. I still enjoyed the story.

Three out of five Doctors of Psychology.

Mallena loves Data, but wouldn't enjoy being an android.

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