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Data’s Double: Revisiting Lore From ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’

Two silvery white androids face each other mid conversation, one is confused and other is making a devious face

If you’re even a little familiar with Old Trek, then you’ll know about Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), the android officer who served under Picard on the Enterprise. But what about his brother, Lore (also Brent Spiner)? Data was supposed to be the only one of his kind, so the arrival of a secret brother came as a surprise, and though Lore was in comparatively few episodes, his impact on the Star Trek universe was significant. Here’s everything you need to know about the character some consider to be Data’s evil twin.

Who is Lore?

Like Data, Lore was created by Doctors Noonian and Juliana Soong at the Omicron Theta Colony. The fourth of their android children, Lore was the first to have a fully functional positronic brain and function with greater-than-human intelligence. However, unlike Data, Lore was created with the ability to feel the full range of human emotions—something that turned out to be a disaster. Possessed of superhuman abilities but with none of the empathy, ethics, and emotional regulation that organic beings develop over their childhood, Lore was the equivalent of a super-powered toddler, and convinced of his own superiority to all other beings.

The destruction of the colony

Considering him a threat, the other colonists pressured Soong into shutting Lore down. Knowing what was coming, Lore managed to summon the Crystalline Entity, a being that consumes all organic life it encounters, hoping it would arrive and wipe out the colony before Soong capitulated—and content that if it didn’t, then at least he would have his revenge on the community that murdered him. Soong did have enough time to dismantle Lore and put him into storage with the hope of being able to fix him later, as well as finish constructing Data before the entity arrived—leaving the brothers alone and offline on an empty world.

Lore’s discovery

Data was found by the initial Federation team investigating the destruction of the colony because he was laid out in the open and ready to be switched on, but Lore was overlooked because his body had been left in storage. It was only when the Enterprise returned to the colony years later that Lore was discovered by Data and reawakened by the ship’s Chief Engineer, Lt. Commander Argyle, and Dr. Crusher. This only served to increase Lore’s resentment; not only had his father created a replacement, but that replacement had been rescued while he’d been left to languish in a box on an empty world.

Antagonistic relationship with the federation

After a failed attempt at passing himself off as another benign, human-positive android, Lore first tried to steal Data’s identity, and when that didn’t work, he summoned the Crystalline Entity again in an attempt to kill the crew of the Enterprise. While this failed and left Lore stranded and floating in space for several years, it marked the beginning of a hostile relationship with the Federation and a complicated one with his brother.

The emotion chip

Lore’s reappearance (and the reveal that he was no longer trapped in the vacuum of space) came about when Dr. Soong, who had escaped the destruction of the colony and set up on Terlina III, attempted to summon Data via a homing beacon. The beacon was also visible to Lore, and he arrived along with Data to discover their father dying. Though distraught by this news, Lore’s anger took over once again when he learned that Soong had only intended to summon Data—because he’d decided Data was ready to experience emotions without turning out like Lore, and had designed an emotions chip to enable him to do so. Furious that their father was once again favoring Data, Lore stole the chip and killed Soong, only for his mental state to deteriorate further after installing it because it wasn’t designed for his brain.

Later, Lore was able to use the chip to remotely project emotions into Data after somehow switching off his ethical subroutines—the aspects of his programming that would have prevented him from becoming like Lore once given the ability to feel emotions. Filling him with anger and hatred, Lore’s plan briefly worked, and the two of them joined forces before the Enterprise was able to reverse what he’d done.

The Borg

Lore was able to take over a rogue Borg cell that had broken away from the hive. First encouraging their newfound individuality, he began conducting experiments on their brains, replacing organic sections with positronic parts and making them more violent in the process. Then he began pointing them at the Federation, trying to provoke a confrontation with the Enterprise so he could get his hands on Data, and causing a lot of death and destruction in the process.

His relationship with data

All of this might make it seem like Lore hated Data, but their relationship was more complicated than that. Initially feeling anger and resentment towards him, seeing him as their father’s golden child and the being who would replace him, Lore began to long for a brotherly relationship with Data—or perhaps he had all along. The purpose behind everything Lore did with the Borg and the emotion chip wasn’t for revenge against Data; it was to have Data by his side as his brother, transformed into a person who could understand him, and who he was finally able to understand in return. Even after Data finally shot Lore, shutting him down permanently, Lore’s final words before he went offline were, “I love you, brother.”

(featured image: Paramount)

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Siobhan Ball is a historian, an archivist, and loves Star Wars so much her English teacher once staged an intervention with her family to try and get her to read other books. She decided to go on and write about it for a living instead.