Star Trek: Picard Brings Back [SPOILER] As Child Of TNG Character
Star Trek: Picard has once again brought back Brent Spiner - this time as the son of Dr. Noonian Soong, the cyberneticist who created Data. After outrunning the Romulans to Coppelius - Soji's android home world - Picard and the crew of La Sirena were stunned to find Alton Soong, the aging offspring of Data's creator, living among a society of advanced androids he'd created with Bruce Maddox. Before Maddox was killed, he mentioned that he and Soong had both achieved their goals, though viewers were led to believe he meant he was carrying on Noonian's work, not collaborating with a heretofore unseen son of the man.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
Spiner played Data for seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation and starred in the four subsequent TNG films. He also originated the role of Soong - through thick old man makeup - in the classic TNG episode "Brothers", in which he also played Data's evil brother, Lore. Spiner played yet another member of the Soong family, the scheming Arik Soong, in three episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise's fourth and final season. So it's wholly appropriate that Spiner would take another turn as a Soong, since his scenes as Data in Star Trek: Picard have been understandably rare.
But who is this new member of the Soong family, and what does he want from Soji and Picard? There are still more questions than answers but we do know a bit about the Star Trek: Picard character, Alton Soong.
Noonian Soong In Star Trek Explained
Dr. Noonian Soong, whose face was identical to Data's and Lore's when he was a young man, was the premier cyberneticist in the galaxy, developing synthetic life that was more sophisticated than what humanity had ever seen. After a couple of false starts with B-4 and Lore, Soong created Data, his masterwork. However, before Data was fully programmed and socialized by his creator, a giant, destructive alien known as the Crystalline Entity wiped out Soong's colony, seemingly killing Data's creator. Soong, however, escaped before the colony's destruction, and proudly observed Data's progress from afar.
The two would finally meet in "Brothers," when the elderly Soong activated a recall function in Data so that he could gift him with an emotion chip that would allow him to fully process his feelings, bringing him that much closer to humanity. However, to Soong's surprise, the recall function was also activated in Lore; he stole the emotion chip for himself and killed Soong, who died in Data's arms.
Despite his death, Soong would continue to play a role in The Next Generation. Late in the show's run, Data managed to access a hidden program in his neural net which allowed him to dream. His father appeared to him and explained that if he'd reached the point where he could access that program, he had progressed farther than Soong could have hoped for, and he expressed his love for Data before the android woke up. Soong would also make an appearance when a woman claiming to be Data's mother showed up on the Enterprise. Julianna O'Donnell was indeed the wife of Noonian Soong, but after an accident it became apparent the woman claiming to be Julianna was a sophisticated android Soong crafted after the real Julianna's death. Data reactivated the android and decided not to tell her she was synthetic, which would've destroyed her reality, making himself all the more alone in the process. Soong wasn't exactly a perfect parent, but he managed to help Data in his journey toward humanity well after his death, and that's not nothing.
Who Is Star Trek: Picard's Alton Soong?
Alton Soong is the newest addition to the Soong family, and perhaps the most dangerous. After the ban on synthetic life, he left the Federation behind for the remote planet he now calls Coppelius. With help from Bruce Maddox, Soong was able to massively expand on his father's work, making an entire race of androids who were just as sophisticated as Data, if not more so in some ways. Despite its existence outside the bounds of the Federation, Coppelius is an idyllic paradise for its inhabitants - though an oncoming Romulan attack could change that in a hurry.
Alton Soong is not a young man, however, and he's desperately trying to find ways to cheat mortality before his time is up. Soong and his android offspring get a glimpse of the admonition's prophecy of synthetic life-fueled doom from a mind-meld with Agnes Jurati and interpret it as a call to arms against organic life. Soong may have found a willing helper in Agnes, who sees Coppelius as the fruits of her work with Maddox, and finds her loyalty to Picard tested when Soong and the androids eventually take Picard and his crew prisoner. So far, Agnes is siding with Soong, though she was reluctant to betray Picard yet again. Soong's ultimate plan isn't clear yet, but it seems unlikely he's planned for a full-on Romulan attack, and will likely be forced to turn to Picard and La Sirena's crew for help.
The Soong legacy is a complicated one. Noonian Soong was a largely benevolent mad scientist who dedicated so much of himself to creating synthetics that he largely forgot how to live a normal life himself. And Arik Soong was a criminal who broke the laws around the development of genetic engineering after the planet-devastating Eugenics Wars. The jury is still out on Alton Soong, who at the moment is genuinely torn between Picard and protecting what are, for all intents and purposes, his children.
If nothing else, his latest stint on Star Trek: Picard is a reminder that Spiner is an excellent actor; he's not wearing any old man makeup - at 70 years old he doesn't really need any these days - but he's able to once again create a fully realized, wholly separate character from not only Data and Lore, but the other Soongs as well. Seeing Spiner and Patrick Stewart act against each other in a very different context than Picard/Data scenes is a treat; the two old friends volleying back and forth like it's still 1993. Alton Soong may not be the most benevolent character, but he's got a face that's always nice to see in Star Trek.