Star Trek’s Brent Spiner Has Clues on His New ‘Picard’ Character
In the second season of Star Trek: Picard, alumnus Brent Spiner will return to the franchise, albeit not in the nostalgic Data role.
He recently told Inverse.com, “I can tell you I’m not Data. I know they haven’t revealed much about me being in the show. I can tell you I’m a member of the Soong family. And, that I’m not playing a character I’ve ever played before.”
Spiner played Data for all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as all four feature films. As well as portraying Commander Data, Brent Spiner also portrayed Data’s evil brother Lore, and their enigmatic creator, Dr. Noonien Soong in two appearances, first as an elderly man (under a lot of makeup), and later as a younger man in a dream sequence.
Data was an interesting character. While most Sci-Fi tends to approach artificial intelligence with caution and fear, Star Trek opted to take a more optimistic approach. Data was a machine with perfect logic and no emotion, but he had been programmed to learn, experience, and grow — he wished to become more human; to understand emotions. In this way, he was an antithesis to Spock, who sought discipline and logic, wishing to be more like a machine.
In the final Next Generation film, Data completes his journey to becoming more human by dying. In the first season of Star Trek: Picard, however, we learn that a piece of his conciseness still remains, and indeed there are other androids that have a strong connection to Data. Spiner reprises his role as Data in a dream-like sequence, aided by CGI, as Data, the android, should not have aged, and yet Brent Spiner clearly has.
In the same season, we also learn that Noonien Soong had a son, Altan Inigo Soong (again, played by Spiner), who has secretly carried on his father’s work in creating artificial intelligence to be more human. It would have been logical to assume that Spiner would be reprising his role from Picard’s first season, but he has kept tight-lipped about his role, only saying that he is playing a new role that is also a member of the Soong family.
The Soong family has always been a bit of a mystery in Star Trek. Doctor Noonien Soong is first mentioned in the episode Datalore in TNG’s first season as the cyberneticist who created Data. He is presumed dead in this episode. His knowledge of cybernetics far surpasses anything else created by humans in the Star Trek universe, making Data wholly unique in Star Fleet. In Star Trek’s second season, a Starfleet scientist named Bruce Maddox wants to study Data in order to create many more like him.
Later, he is revealed to still be alive but is killed shortly thereafter by Lore, his first android creation. Beyond Data and Lore, it is also disclosed he created a replica of his deceased wife, as well several prototypes, including B-4, an android featured in the film Star Trek: Nemesis. Star Trek: Enterprise introduced us to Arik Soong, an ancestor of Noonien, who created genetically engineered humans.
As for Doctor Soong himself, in his first real appearance, he seemed like an eccentric old bachelor. And yet, more and more Soongs keep coming out of the woodwork, and they all look suspiciously like Spine — who will we get to meet next?
Maybe we’ll meet an android designed to age and die? A “Bicentennial Man,” perhaps?
Star Trek: Picard is theorized to hit Paramount’s streaming service in February 2022. The first season fetched a commendable ’76’ rating from Metacritic.com.