For seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation and four movies, Brent Spiner portrayed the android that had become like a brother to the entire crew
Lt. Commander Data’s death in Star Trek: Nemesis gutted fans who left the theaters wondering why the android had to die. Let’s face it, there are always other options to death, and not one of us was ready to say goodbye to Data. Star Trek: Picard did us all a favor by bringing him back to the screen and giving us a chance to, once again, see Data as we knew and loved him. And it also gave us a chance to say a final goodbye since we didn’t have the shock factor Star Trek: Nemesis had given us.
Brent Spiner felt the same way. Though he felt he and Patrick Stewart had closure of a sort for their characters in Nemesis, the closure on Picard was a different kind, and he called it “a wonderful gift,” when he and Stewart discussed the reunion at a 2020 Comic-Con panel. And while Spiner doesn’t specify what kind of closure it was for him, Stewart explained in his usual eloquent way.
Data had always wanted to be human, and part of being human means facing death. So in order for Data to have the full experience, his own life would have to end. As Stewart says, “Learning from Data that his desire to be human had to include the knowledge and certainty that life was terminal, that it would end, and it was the fact that it will end that makes living so important and living well and properly and appropriately for society as much as for yourself.”
Data did live his life to improve society, and he was dedicated to helping other species as much as the ones he worked alongside which is yet another important point of humanity. The final scene between Stewart and Spiner showcased the phenomenal connection both men shared as actors and friends, and as painful as it might have been for fans to watch, it was a scene that we needed. The ultimate closure of a door that told us Lt. Commander Data as we knew him was really gone. But as it is with humans, his memory will live behind in the people who knew and loved him. Including us fans. It’s a different landscape without him.