Is recasting Data for Star Trek: Picard a good idea?


With former crew mates sure to pop up on Star Trek: Picard, recasting Data could solve some problems and breathe new life into the character.

Even if you are the most casual of Star Trek fans, there is little doubt that you are familiar with Lieutenant Commander Data. The character was the breakout star of the early seasons of Star Trek: the Next Generation and continued to play a prominent role in the series throughout its run.

Played to perfection by Brent Spiner, Data also starred in all four Next Generation films, including a tour de force in Star Trek: Generations when the android finally gained real human emotions. To the chagrin of many, the character was seemingly killed off at the end of Star Trek: Nemesis while saving the life of Captan Picard.

Of course, if Star Trek has taught us anything, it’s that death is, at best, only temporary.

Spock was famously killed off in Wrath of Khan only to return hale and hearty in Search for Spock. Kirk sacrificed himself at the end of Into Darkness and then resurrected thanks to the biggest MacGuffin in the history of science-fiction. Tasha Yar was killed and then brought back only to be killed again, but not before giving birth to a daughter named Sela.

In Nemesis, Data transfers his memories into B-4, another Soong-Type Android found at the beginning of the film. This has kept the possibility alive among fans that Data could return at some point down the road.

Now with Star Trek: Picard about to begin production, that possibility has become ever so real.

It is a given that some prior cast member of The Next Generation will show up in Picard. Part of the appeal of the series is to see what the command crew of the Enterprise have been up to since the events of Nemesis. But in the case of Data, that could prove problematic.

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Since Data is an android, he obviously shouldn’t age. However, that hasn’t stopped Spiner, who is now 69, from getting older as all regular humans do. Plus the actor has said on numerous occasions that he has no interest in playing the character anymore since to him, Data should always be youthful.

But since so many people would love to see Data again, there is another, albeit likely unpopular possibility. For Star Trek: Picard, the producers could always recast the role.

Would most Trek fans consider that blasphemy? Probably. But it could also solve a number of issues with the character.

First, it would be a great way to bring Data back from the dead. Simply say that robotics has grown a great deal since Nemesis and that engineers were able to transfer Data’s engrams out of B-4 and into a new body. One that is younger and coincidentally looks nothing like Brent Spiner. Second, by bringing a new actor into the role, one who may want to continue playing Data beyond a guest appearance on Picard, it could lead to another spinoff show starring the android.

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Finally, while I lover Spiner’s depiction of Data, a new actor could give the character a whole new outlook and way of being. I mean, we’re dealing with the future and science-fiction. Whose to say a new Data would necessarily have to be played by a man? Something to think about.

Star Trek: Picard arrives on CBS All Access sometime late in 2019.