**** (4 stars out of 5)
During a liberty on Ogus II, tweenager Jake Potts, bored of laser tag, used red dye to fake his death for a joke on his nine-year-old brother. While hiding in the woods, terrified Willie Potts picked up infectious parasites. Enterprise is rushing for Starbase 416 to save his life.
Data suddenly changes the course, increases speed, and shuts down bridge life support. In Picard's voice Data takes full control of the ship and leaves everyone scrambling. The boy in the bubble is dying while Data beams down to the secluded jungle laboratory of a cackling old madman.
"I always loved that face," the oldster says. No wonder: he's the spitting image of Data left in the sun too long. Like a century too long.
It's Dr. Noonien Soong. He fled the giant snowflake somehow! He's a little potty, and disappointed Data went into Starfleet instead of cybernetics.
"Why did you create me?" Data asks.
"Why does a painter paint? Why does a boxer box?" Soong's need was no different than Michaelangelo's need to sculpt.
Soong speaks of a Noophian visiting Earth: he would want to tear down the ancient structures in favour of the new and efficient. But to a human, ancient things are shrines.
"What's so important about the past? People got sick, they needed money, why tie yourself to that?"
Continuity gives a mortal life meaning, and procreation gives a sense of immortality. And that is why Soong created Data. Oh, yeah. And he created someone else, too...
Evil Twin Lore was accidentally summoned also. Soong ignores Data's pleas and warnings not to reactivate the maniac. Soong is certain Lore will obey him as he always did.
Lore drifted in space for two years until he encountered some Pakleds. (I have a hard time believing Lore got his new sweater for Pakled Channukah.) That said, Lore's reaction when Soong tells them he's dying is just as hurt as a human.
Soong's take on the backstory Lore gave has a different perspective. The colonists were not envious of Lore's perfect humanity, they were afraid of his instability. Nor was Data a "less perfect version" of Lore. The brothers are virtually identical with slight differences in programming.
Among Soong's many regrets is not getting around to fixing Lore. How did his emotions get so twisted with ambition? But Soong didn't know Lore was out there, so he spent his last years solving a different regret...
He built a chip to give Data feelings.
Sadly, Soong takes a little nap that many will come to regret. When Noonien installs the emotion chip, his beloved android starts singing, babbling, and making up rhymes like Albino Flava Flav.
"Often-Wrong's got a broken heart. Can't even tell his boys apart."
Like the biblical Jacob, Lore has stolen the birthright, and if possible it's making him even crazier. He smashes Soong and heads for the hills.
Soong breathes his last. "Everybody dies, Data. Well, almost everybody."
Data comforts his creator. "It is all right for you to die, because I will remain alive."
Data gave Soong's toy dinosaurs to the healing Potts brothers and observes their reconciliation. "They're brothers, Data," Bev explains. "Brothers forgive."
"Brothers" continues the season's family drama with the triple bonus of a family made up entirely of Brent Spiner! It's frickin' brilliant! Robert, Jake, Lore... what's with all the older brother bullies and their ill-considered choices?
And poor Data. 'My brother slew my father and all I got was this lousy Pakled Sweater.'