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Reflecting on Father's Day - Data and Picard

I've been thinking a lot about Data lately.

The last few months I've re-watched both STAR TREK: Picard, and The Next Generation, and I've started to see the relationship between Jean-Luc and Data as that of a Father & Son.

When we first meet Data in "Encounter At Farpoint'' he's clearly an adult, but immature.

Not that he's childish at all, but he is child-like. He possesses a kid's sense of wonder for not only the wide galaxy around him but for the people he serves with aboard the Enterprise-D. It doesn't take long before Data finds a new guide in his journey to become more fully "Human", and that guide winds up being Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

How many times over the course of Next Gen's story did we see Data & Picard sitting in the Ready Room discussing one philosophical idea or another? Picard was always the compassionate teacher of his android friend. In moments of confusion, or existential conflict Data always knew who to turn to for guidance. 

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Data had a "real" Father of course in Dr. Noonian Soong, but as we've all learned at one time or another - a "Father" is one thing. A "Dad" can be something else entirely.

Jean-Luc Picard was in a very tangible way, Data's Dad.

Picard guided Data through some of the most difficult circumstances. From the moment he defended Data's civil right to exist, to the very end of Data's life Picard nurtured and cared for his friend in the way any Dad would for a child. That relationship is especially affirmed in the first season of PICARD.

When that series opens we find a Jean-Luc Picard that's very different from the one we last saw in NEMESIS. Life hasn't necessarily been fair to our good Captain. But, of all the wounds he carries the one that propels the story forward is the loss of his friend, Data. In many ways we see a haunted man in that version of Picard, and you get the sense that he lost more than an officer or even a friend when Data died. He's more like a grieving father. His motivation in the first season of the latest STAR TREK series is to do whatever it is that he can do for Data. He owes Data his life, that’s true, but his motivating need is greater even than fulfilling an obligation. He does the things that he must in pursuit of his goals out of love for who Data was.

It's ironic in a way. Picard said at the beginning of TNG that he was uncomfortable around children - despite the fact that nearly every time we saw him with kids he was really very caring. Yet, of all the father/son & surrogate father/son relationships we see play out over the course of the Star Trek franchise - the purest of those might just be between a man and an android. 

In the end, Picard did everything he could do for his only "true" son, Data.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley June 21, 2020 0 tags (show)