Star Trek: Is Brent Spiner Secretly Playing Lore in the Picard Finale?
The ninth episode of Star Trek: Picard, "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1," featured the surprise return of Star Trek: The Next Generation star Brent Spiner. Spiner appeared earlier in the season as his Next Generation character Commander Data in Jean-Luc Picard's dreams. This time he's playing a new character, Alton Inigo Soong, the son of Data's creator, Dr. Noonien Soong. Noonien never mentioned having a biological son, instead priding himself on his android child, Data. But Data wasn't an only child. He had an identical older brother, Lore. Lore has been conspicuously absent from a series focused on Data's family and legacy. Could he be hiding in plain sight in the guise of Alton Soong?
Star Trek: The Next Generation established that Noonien Soong created Lore before Data. Lore had more emotion than Data, but having been created wholesale he lacked the maturity and wisdom to control and act on those emotions appropriately. This is why Soong chose to leave emotions out of Data's programming. Lore developed an evil streak and eventually contacted a crystalline entity that destroyed the colony where he and Data were created.
Lore laid dormant on the planet where that colony was located until the USS Enterprise-D rediscovered and reactivated him. His malevolent streak soon resurfaced and he tried to contact the Crystalline Entity again. He was stopped, but later Dr. Soong reemerged and brought his two sons together. Lore killed Soong and left with the emotion chip intended for Data.
He later came upon a colony of freed Borg led by Hugh. He took control of this colony and used the emotion chip to manipulate Data. The Enterprise crew eventually freed Data from Lore's control. Data then deactivated Lore and took the emotion chip for himself.
But what happened to lore after that? It is said that he was disassembled, but what happened to his parts? Earlier in Star Trek: Picard, we saw that Data and Lore's prototype brother B-4 had been dissembled and studied in an attempt to resurrect Data through the memories he had downloaded into the inferior android prior to sacrificing himself to save Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. The attempts failed — B-4 wasn't advanced enough to handle most of what Data tried to download into him — and he remains shelved in a drawer in the nearly defunct artificial intelligence department of the Daystrom Institute.
If B-4 was sent to the Daystrom Institute, is it safe to assume that Lore would have been sent to the same place? Dr. Bruce Maddox was eager to disassemble and study Data in the Next Generation episode "The Measure of a Man." Having been denied that opportunity, one would imagine he'd be eager to get his hands on Lore instead. Having Lore to study may explain how he was able to make the sudden progress he's made in replicating and improving on Soong's work.
But what happened to Lore after the Federation's ban on synthetic life? If he was in the Daystrom Insitute, then it is possible that Starfleet would have wanted his body destroyed when the ban went into effect. When Maddox left the institute, he may have taken Lore's body with him to continue his work. B-4, being an inferior model, would have been useless to his work and safe from destruction. It would be strange for Dr. Jurati to not mention Lore gong missing to Picard, but it is possible she believed Lore was destroyed when the ban went into effect.
Extending the theory, Maddox could have used Lore as the basis for his new androids. He may even have reactivated Lore in a fit of hubris or loneliness. Lore may have found himself at home among Maddox and his androids, but Soong programmed his androids to age. Lore may not be fond of that.
At some point, Maddox leaves with Soji and Dahj. Maybe Lore takes it upon himself to alter his physical appearance to be more human, as Maddox did with Soji and Dahj. In doing so he is able to impersonate a Soong — Dr. Soong modeled his creations after himself, so it would make sense for his son to resemble the androids — and manipulate the androids and Jurati into helping him transfer his conscience into this golem he's created; a more advanced, ageless android body.
Alton's behavior resembles Lore's. The way he plays on Jurati's guilt over killing Maddox to get her to cooperate is in line with Lore's charismatic and manipulative personality. The way he undercuts Picard's pleas to the synths on Coppelius is also reminiscent of how he took over the Borg community in "Descent." It is even possible that Maddox applied the same process he used to create Soji and Dahj from Data's neurons to Lore. If Lore is Sutra's forebear, then that could explain her manipulations. That Alton Soong and Sutra are both there when Saga's murdered body is "discovered" suggests they could be working together to manipulate the synths into summoning the coalition that created the Admonition.
It's an interesting theory, but it is a theory only. It is possible that Spiner is playing a human descendant of Noonien Soong. Picard showrunner Michael Chabon suggests as much. He's been answering questions about Alton Soong on his Instagram, including why they brought Spiner back to play the role and why he would follow in his father's footsteps as a scientist despite having conflicting emotions toward Noonien. Chabon also poses the question of why Alton would need the golem if he was an android himself.
Of course, Chabon could be keeping a straight face not to spoil the surprise. Fans won't have long to wait to find out. The season finale of Star Trek: Picard debuts Thursday on CBS All Access.
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