Enlightenment > Star Trek > TNG
TNG 2-09

TNG 2x09
"The Measure of a Man"

Original airdate: 2/13/1989
Rewatch date: 9/4/2011


When a Starfleet scientist proposes dismantling Data for research, it is up to Captain Picard to define and defend the android's rights.

Spoiler-free notes:

It seems strange to invite Data to a poker game. Sure, he's a pigeon to be plucked, as O'Brien puts it, but he learns quickly and can't help but be the most efficient card counter and calculator of probabilities. Over a short period of time, Data should be virtually unbeatable, even though he lacks a human instinct.

Picard and Louvois definitely got it on at some point. There's no other explanation for why Picard would tolerate how she talks to him. I love how their dialogue with each other is dripping with subtext.

"Call me. You can buy me dinner." There's so many things wrong with somebody in Star Trek saying those two lines, I hardly know where to start. They don't use telephones; there's no money; and I don't imagine men still court women by "buying" dinner. I think the appropriate 24th Century response would be, "What?"

There's a nice teaser dropped by the admiral when he mentions "disturbing news on both sides of the zone," which is referencing the mystery of what happened to all those bases along the Romulan/Federation Neutral Zone, as seen in Season 1's finale, "The Neutral Zone." It's good to know they haven't forgotten about it.

"You didn't call him 'it.'" I kinda wish she hadn't pointed that out. I think it would have been more poignant had it been left to the audience to notice.

This is such an amazing episode. The question of how we will treat artificial intelligence once it reaches the point of possible sentience isn't one that is discussed much in sci-fi (when artificial intelligence reaches that point in other sci-fi, it usually decides to wipe out mankind), and before this, I'm not sure it had ever really been considered. On top of that, there's some incredible acting going on from Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and Brent Spiner, as well as some very well-written dialogue. This episode also comes along at just the right moment, when Data's status as a sentient being needs to be addressed (though it seems strange to me that the one main character on the show who questions it--Dr. Pulaski--is conspicuously absent). The writers and the actors went above and beyond for this character piece, and it shows a level of maturity and intelligence that was mostly missing before this point.



Spoiler section:

It's neat that Data continues a correspondence with Maddox, as we will see in "Data's Day."





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