Levar Burton And Brent Spiner Just Gave Star Trek One Of Its Most Emotional Moments Ever

This article contains spoilers for season 3, episode 7 of "Star Trek: Picard." 

The best thing about the third season of "Star Trek: Picard" is getting to see all of our old friends (and foes) from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" again. Some fans had a difficult time with the first two seasons of the series (myself included), but season 3 has been like the "Next Generation" movie we always wanted, giving us some truly satisfying interactions between some of the franchise's most beloved characters. Occasionally the fanservice gets a bit overdone, but the simple joy of seeing the cast perform together overrides it all. After rescuing the Data/Lore human hybrid (Brent Spiner) from the basement of Daystrom, his former crewmates might have hoped to just boot him up and talk to Data, but things are never that simple. Geordi (LeVar Burton) explains that Data and his evil brother, Lore, are entwined within the same mind, and Lore's personality is just too strong. Booting them up could very easily mean Lore taking over and deleting Data, something Geordi says he simply couldn't bear. 

"Star Trek: Picard" has dealt with some pretty heavy problems that we encounter as we age, including inflicting generational trauma, the power of legacy, and how grief shapes us. Geordi's grief over the first death of Data has made him more protective over his daughters and more cautious in his own life, and it changed him as a man. Burton and Spiner get the chance to dig into that pain, and it's one incredibly emotional moment. 

Life rarely gives you second chances

When the situation on the U.S.S. Titan becomes dire as the villainous Vadic (Amanda Plummer) and her goons board, Geordi and his daughter Alandra (Mica Burton) hook DataLore into the ship's computers in hopes of defeating Vadic. Unfortunately, Lore does what Lore does best, and he unleashes chaos on the starship by assisting Vadic wherever he can. He also taunts poor Geordi while he does it, knowing full well that his other daughter, Sidney (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), is in grave danger. Geordi breaks down and starts appealing to Data, trying to get him to fight his way past Lore. He also seems to confess things that he's always wanted to say but never had the chance, and it's heartbreaking. He tells Data:

"Life rarely gives you second chances to say what you should. You made me better. You made me a better man, a better father, a better friend. And when you died, it broke me."

He goes on to explain how the memory of Data was the thing that kept him going even in his toughest moments, and Burton's voice cracks with grief. It's a stellar performance, and while Spiner has to give him almost nothing back because he's Lore, he does give brief moments of Data's recognition before the kinder, gentler mind is able to take over. It's a deeply nuanced performance that works perfectly counter to Burton's bigger, more emotive one, and the two play off of one another beautifully. 

'The memory of you'

Almost everyone on "The Next Generation" had some kind of personal relationship with Data, because he served as sort of the heart of the ship. He was like the Enterprise's tin man, forever looking for a heart despite the fact that he really had a huge heart all along. Geordi was one of the more reserved members of the crew and could be rather shy, especially compared to the boisterous Riker (Jonathan Frakes) or the theatrical Picard (Patrick Stewart), but Data could bring out his fun side. The two had an innocent and funny friendship that countered all of the seriousness of the series, and thinking of the loss Geordi must have felt when Data died the first time is devastating. 

Almost anyone who's ever lost someone has regrets or things they wish they could have said. The things that went unsaid are a huge part of grief, and when Geordi gets the chance to maybe tell Data those things, it's a healing moment for him. Data manages to pull himself out of the void and override Lore because of his love for Geordi, and it's powerful without being overbearing. Geordi's line about "the memory of you" is an all-timer and has the same kind of weight as Kirk and Spock's goodbyes at the end of "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan." "Star Trek: Picard" has had an emotionally resonant season 3 with lots of great moments, but Geordi and Data's heartfelt and heartbreaking reunion is one of the best.

New episodes of "Star Trek: Picard" premiere Thursdays on Paramount+.