Friday, 7 February 2014

The Lure of Lore

Cut the cake and let's celebrate!

So this week saw Brent Spiner celebrating one more year and the internet will be awash with glowing reminiscences of how AMAZING he was as Data and that the character should never have been killed off in Nemesis and he was like, well, like the most AMAZING character ever in Star Trek. Dude - he was The Next Generation's Spock!

Cool. Yeah he was pretty good but let's not tread that path again. I want to talk, instead, about the other one. If you read the title it's fairly obvious - Lore. Quick stat-down for newcomers; he's Data's bro, uses contractions, bit mental, appears in four episodes (just) and introduces us to the Crystalline Entity. Y'see and we didn't even break the golden Thou Shalt Not Plot Synopsize rule. Tick that box.

So what about Lore? Well I like the guy if we cast aside that hideous Power Ranger costume the Borg made him wear in Descent. If Data had a family car, Lore would be tearing up the dust in a Ferrari with the law in hot pursuit. He's on the edge, sneaky; the Loki to Thor if you will. It's not that Lore is evil, he's a bit unhinged and it's not really his fault is it if we think back to his origins.

I suppose it's the classic evil twin story regurgitated to begin with but Lore is more than that - it's an unforgiving programming element, the seduction of emotion and just that little bit more human essence than his successive, less perfect brother. Indeed, Data's self-sacrifice in Nemesis is the final marker against his brother. While Data is willing to die for others, Lore remains a survivor, looking for another way out of a fix, the resourceful one of the pair (or three if you count B-4). It's Soong's desire for that perfect synthetic child which draws out the worst in Lore, creating a monster from the dream of android perfection. Indeed, Data could hardly be seen as perfection and maybe that's the point - perfection is impossible.

Maybe that's what marks him out as a more natural leader. He is willing to experiment, attempt new things that are a little bit dubious but help him personally. Ok, he's pretty selfish in that respect especially when it comes to his mutilation of the Borg in Descent, Part II however Data is far more neat and childlike in his investigations - comedy, beards, comedy beards, sneezing, Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare are all taken in as though through the eye and the understanding of an infant grasping them for the first time.

That might be more true in the earlier seasons and +Alex Boag-Munroe said the other day to me that it really ground just how much Data smiled in the first two years. Lore however always had that opportunity. What he lacked was the family and the fall-back. There was only ever himself he had to look out for and essentially it was down to Soong's programming he was a bit, well, psycho wasn't it?

Datalore introduced us to the "evil twin" and while it's not a classic we do get the understanding of what went "wrong" with the first model. Lore is the angry teenager of the Soong family, cast aside by his father and takes advantage of the less developed, younger sibling - but yet he's the exciting one, living on the edge and taking risks and doing deals. He thinks nothing of the safety of others to fulfil a goal and this seems to be a common factor if we look at the typical evil twin story that numerous TV series have done in the past. Hey, let's even give a nod to The Enemy Within and the twin Kirks.

Brothers on the other hand layered the Lore character nicely, showing him as even more slimy and deceitful than before. Not only does this absolutely showcase the brilliance of Spiner playing a trio of roles, mainly in the same scenes, but where he truly marks out the differences in Data and Lore. The darker twin has not necessarily evolved rather he's survived, clawed through existence to this moment.

Lore is the injured son (or plays as such for a short while) but there's always another motive, something he's calculating at the back of his mind that makes you just a little uneasy - and why the heck is everyone apart from Data always so happy to see him?! Lore himself mind is always happy, gaining another tactical edge over his brother with the theft of that shiny little emotion chip. While Data has no emotional (!) attachment to the item it's another moment that gets logged but you have to give credit to Lore and maybe in turn to Soong for creating a being that can deal with the range of human emotion and motivations so effortlessly. 

While it's not the best installment of the show, the seventh season opener Descent, Part II does bring finality to the loose Lore trilogy. Here that self-importance and singular determination to spread his wonderousness to others is truly fulfilled. He has followers, he has emotions and he has ultimate control over his lesser, more controllable brother. He is the true cult leader and when the story completes it is as though he has completed a journey as he is deactivated once more. Data's journey might be to become more human and finally grasp emotions however Lore's in this area should be to understand the emotions and gifts he has but his jealousy and selfish nature are always there, chiseling away to overrule him.

The role of Lore certainly lets Spiner open up the acting wings a little more and display just what he's capable of when given the chance. Data was perhaps the role for which he will more prominently be remembered but as excitement and intrigue go, Lore is the much more multi-faceted. He's the Equinox to Janeway's Voyager if you will and certainly for Spiner an opportunity to chew some scenery - and himself along the way. 

So yes, hope you had a great day there, Mr Spiner and let's not forget that Data wasn't all you brought to the Star Trek universe. 

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