Were Data and Jean-Luc Picard such good friends?

Jean-Luc Picard and Data’s relationship was certainly unique. Though, it did develop over time, so today I’m quickly exploring that development.

Data: “I’m confused… Why have I not been assigned to command a ship in the fleet, sir? I believe that after 26 years serving as a Starfleet officer qualifies me for such a post. However, if you feel that the time hasn’t arrived for an android to command a starship, perhaps I should address myself to improving…”

Captain Picard: “Commander, I believe the starship Sutherland will need a captain.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation, S5E1 “Redemption

Truth is…

Truth is they weren’t close and clearly Data was not in Picard’s mind when he had to choose the best officers among his ranks. On the other hand, Data’s words are poignant as he makes clear that he thinks he has left aside for being considered an android only capable of dealing with scientific data.

By the time Picard would address his second in command as Will, he would address Data as Mr. Data or Commander Data. Seven years later, Picard and Data’s relationship is almost the same. 

Data with his crew-mates aboard the USS Enterprise-E (Star Trek: Nemesis)

Picard was often exasperated with Data

Data was not accepted as a sentient being for his Starfleet superior. And, actually, Picard is technically right: Data is an artificial life form. Even if Picard fought with all his might for Data’s rights in the classic “Measure of a Man”.

The key moments that redefined Picard’s relationship with Data happened in Star Trek: First Contact. Picard and Data teamed up to kill the Borg Queen, Jean-Luc then risked his life to stop Data from going rogue at the start of Star Trek Insurrection. Finally, Picard hand-picked Data to be his new Number One when Captain Riker left to take command of the U.S.S. Titan.

All ended in Star Trek: Nemesis when Data sacrificed his life to save Picard from Shinzon. Clearly, in the very last second, before Data transported Picard to safety in Nemesis, in that very last long look they exchanged, Picard found that Data’s ultimate sacrifice did suffice for all the previous years of respectful distance between the two. 

Brent Spiner as Data, aboard the USS Enterprise-E (Star Trek: Nemesis)

Jean-Luc Picard Is Now A Different Man

One would say this modern version of Picard is no longer recognizable for long time fans, considering that old age does not change the essence and the character of a man so much. However, when it comes to Data, we see that Picard cares for him very deeply. To the extent that he still mourns the death of his dear friend in 2399.

When a mysterious woman named Dahj comes to Picard for help, it spirals into a larger story. Data is kind of at the core of this new mystery that propels Picard back into action and once again into the final frontier. It’s clear to us, that part of Picard’s new sense of adventure is driven by Data.

The relationship between Jean-Luc Picard and Data has changed since they both first appeared on our screens. Did it change for the better? absolutely!
Hopefully, for us Trekkies, we might see more of Brent Spiner in Star Trek: Picard, time will tell.

Brent Spiner as Data in Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access / Amazon Prime Video)

Star Trek: Picard airs weekly on Thursdays via CBS All Access and CTV Sci-Fi. International viewers can watch 24hrs later via Amazon Prime Video.
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