Elementary, Dear Data
The A-Story: Data and Geordi’s cosplay nearly destroys the Enterprise.
By the beginning of the second season, we had only had one other (in what would become an almost genre unto itself) holodeck-gone-wrong episode. TNG would do more, so would DS9 and Voyager. Some of those later episodes would stand out (love the Casino heist of DS9 or Voyager’s Worst Case Scenario), but in my opinion it would become a tiresome trope. Listen Starfleet, maybe design the holodeck where there is no possibility of the safety features being disabled.
But by this point, it hadn’t become a trope. And TNG was able to use the holodeck like how TOS used every planet they came upon somehow being influenced by 19th/20th Century earth; as a way to set the story in a recognizable setting despite being thousands of light years away from home. And there isn’t much more that is recognizable than Sherlock Holmes. Data had shown a natural interest in the Holmesian methods of deduction back in season 1’s “Lonely Among Us”, and it just makes sense to have Data gravitate towards Holmes. Of course it all goes to hell because Data knows every Holmes story, so Geordi asks the computer to create an adversary worthy of Data:
No, but that would have been really cool.
With that line we get Holmes’ Moriarty, or more accurately, Data’s Moriarty, played by the real star of the episode, the wonderful Daniel Davis. Davis does a great job of both being Moriarty as designed by Doyle, but also a new character and lifeform trying to define who they are. You never lose a sense that Davis is not dangerous, but his menace comes not from the writings of Doyle, but from someone who is trying to understand their very existence. Davis is able to pull off both menace and sympathy for his plight so well.
The other gift of this episode is that it sets up the idea of a holodeck character becoming sentient, which will be given much more time to really delve into those possibilities with the Doctor on Voyager
My major fault with the episode is that the ending drags. While I love Davis, the scenes between him an Pulaski, who I like more than most, become boring. Side note about Pulaski: she’s pretty dismissive of Data through most of the episode, something in which she would do throughout her time on the Enterprise. But my defense of her is that she actually grows to be more understanding of Data by the end of the season. She actually has some sort of character growth which ,with the exception of Worf, can’t be said for almost any other character on TNG.
The other fault I have is that Moriarty isn’t really Data’s adversary to defeat, but Picard’s. Of course I love seeing both Stewart and Davis play off each other, but it always felt a bit of a cheat to me that Data, who theoretically the episode centers around, gets sidelined for the big guns.
Then again because of that we do get to see this fine specimen:
And this too, so…:
PICARD: You are not alive. As I said before, you are only
MORIARTY: A holographic image, I know. But are you sure?
PICARD: Oh yes.
MORIARTY: Does he have life? He’s a machine. But is that all he is?
PICARD: No. He is more.
MORIARTY: Exactly. Is the definition of life cogito ergo sum? I think, therefore I am.
PICARD: Yes, that is one possible definition.
MORIARTY: It is the most important one, and for me the only one that matters. You or someone asked your computer to program a nefarious fictional character from nineteenth century London and that is how I arrived. But I am no longer that creation. I am no longer that evil character, I have changed. I am alive, and I am aware of my own consciousness.
You must be logged in to post a comment.