Ugh. This episode is a disaster for two reasons. One, little flying computer guys never look good. Ask Dr. Who. Indeed, this whole episode reeks of Dr. Who-ness, and that isn’t a good thing. Also – I question the philosophy of this episode. Data disobeys direct orders and nearly kills LaForge and Picard. And he doesn’t get punished. WTF? Even if Picard ultimately agrees with him at the end, there must be SOME sort of reprecussion, otherwise what is to stop everyone from disobeying orders? Just what kind of ship is he running?
Data’s reasoning isn’t even sound. He discovers these little computers are alive (much like Number 5) and therefore will not allow them to be harmed or exploited. They show a desire for self-preservation, but so do animals – and while most of the food on the Enterprise is replicated I know for a fact they break out the real steaks every once in a while. Data didn’t freak out over that.