Synopsis: The Federation steps back four-hundred years and puts Data’s civil rights on trial.
Memory Alpha Summary: And we meet another scorned woman from Picard’s past.
Review: Um…so Data voluntarily joined Star Fleet, but now he can’t voluntarily leave it? I’m surprised Picard didn’t just yell this at the top of his lungs. Also, the whole “Riker has to prosecute Data” because the JAG office has no staff is an enormous contrivance that is hard to excuse. Having either of Data’s superior officers be involved in his trial is an enormous conflict of interest and is really unnecessary. If the JAG office is understaffed, why don’t they just delay the trial in order to get some staff?
And since I’m on a roll complaining about one of the most beloved TNG episodes, our JAG tells us that Data is property after reviewing The Acts of Cumberland in the 21st century. Hold on there power-trip lady. Are you telling me a 300 year old-law that was made before androids even existed applies today? It reeks of the current justice system’s ineptitude when it comes to evaluating technology.
Picking nits aside, this episode is simply incredible. The exploration of the rights of an android is done so well it’s hard not to be moved. When Picard voices that Riker’s testimony against Data was devastating, it was not hyperbole. And then Picard launches into an incredibly moving speech that is not only convincing but a tearjerker on top of it. Add to that Data’s moving comments to Riker at episode’s end and we have an out-of-nowhere episode here in season two that set a new standard for excellence.
We also get our first poker game, and for one of the few times someone (Pulaski) wants to play something besides five-card draw or five-card stud. But I have to ask, what’s the money for? Purchasing goods on non-Federation planets? Buying sexy dresses from Tasha Yar’s old wardrobe?