Star Trek: Insurrection gave Lt. Commander Data an odd ability that was thankfully forgotten quickly afterward.
- Star Trek: Insurrection introduces a new ability for Lt. Commander Data – he can act as a flotation device.
- Data’s emotion chip, a significant part of his character in Star Trek Generations, is mostly dismissed in Insurrection.
- The TNG movie sequels shift focus away from Data’s emotional journey, with Insurrection ignoring his emotion chip altogether.
Star Trek: Insurrection gave Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) a weird new ability that Star Trek wisely forgot. After Data became one of the most beloved characters to emerge from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the TNG films leaned into that, with Data spotlight in a main storyline of each movie. After nearly being seduced by the Borg Queen (Alice Krige) in Star Trek: First Contact, Data begiss Insurrection on an undercover mission observing the Ba’ku people. After Data malfunctions, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) brings the USS Enterprise-E and its crew in to retrieve the android and investigate his mission.
As Captain Picard and the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew get to know the Ba’ku people, they uncover a conspiracy by Starfleet to relocate the Ba’ku without their knowledge. Because of the rejuvenating properties of the Briar Patch, the region of space the Baku planet is located in, Starfleet Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe) allied with the enemies of the Ba’ku, the Son’a, in order to gain access to the healing properties of the Briar Patch. As Picard, Data, and Ba’ku villager Anij (Donna Murphy) are investigating, they find a Federation ship submerged in a lake on the planet. The ship has been equipped with a holographic recreation of the Ba’ku village.
Data Can Be Used As A Floatation Device In Star Trek: Insurrection
Data Is Fully Functional In A Different Way.
Before Picard, Data, and Anij can investigate the holodeck ship further, a member of the Son’a begins shooting at them. To avoid the blasts, Anij jumps into the lake despite the fact that she can’t swim. Picard and Data then jump in after her, and Data reveals that he has a new safety feature. After emerging from the lake, Data says: “In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to serve as a floatation device.” While the line is just meant as a fun little gag, a floatation device is ridiculous and reduces Data to cheap comic relief.
As he felt he was aging out of the role, Brent Spiner requested for Data to be killed off in Insurrection, but he wouldn’t get his wish until the next film, Star Trek: Nemesis.
In TNG season 7, episode 1, “Descent, Part II,” Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) reminisces with Data about a time when they went sailing on Devala Lake. Data apparently decided to go for a swim, but he sank straight to the bottom of the lake. He then had to walk along the bottom to get back to shore, and it apparently took nearly two weeks to get all of the water out of Data’s servos. While it’s certainly possible that Data upgraded this particular shortcoming and added a floatation device, Star Trek: Insurrection does not address this at all. Thankfully, Data’s ability to serve as a floatation device is never mentioned again.
Data Had One More Thing Star Trek: Insurrection Ignored
The Star Trek: TNG Movie Sequels Dropped Data’s Emotion Chip.
In Star Trek Generations, Data’s emotion chip became a major element of his character, but Insurrection dismisses it with one throwaway line. The emotion chip was introduced in TNG season 4, episode 3, “Brothers,” when Data and his brother Lore were both called to the laboratory of their creator, Dr. Noonian Soong (Brent Spiner). Not knowing that Lore had been reactivated, Soong created a chip for Data that would allow him to experience human emotions. Although Soong wished to install the chip into Data’s positronic brain, Lore impersonated his brother and took the emotion chip for himself. After Lore was deactivated in “Descent, Part II,” Data kept the emotion chip, but did not install it.
Data asks Geordi to help him install the emotion chip in Star Trek Generations, but what should be a monumental occasion for Data is yet again played mostly for comedy. Data had achieved his own sort of humanity over the course of TNG’s seven seasons, and the way Generations used the emotion chip undermined that. Both First Contact and Insurrection shifted the focus away from Data’s emotional journey, thankfully making the emotion chip a thing of the past. Although Data sacrificed himself in Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek: Picard resurrected the android with a new body and more realistic, organic emotions, finally giving a satisfying conclusion to Data’s Star Trek story.