“Who Is Bruce Maddox? Star Trek: Picard’s Surprise TNG Returning Character”
Bruce Maddox, a minor character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, appears to be a major part of Jean-Luc Picard’s new mission in Star Trek: Picard. Maddox (played by Brian Brophy) appeared in exactly one episode of TNG, the second season classic “The Measure of a Man.” In the episode, Data’s refusal to take part in research that would have effectively ended his life led to a trial in which Data’s rights as a sentient, living being were on the docket. Data was defended in that case by Captain Picard, and after a fiery closing statement that set the tone for Star Trek’s attitudes toward artificial life for the duration of TNG, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, Data was deemed a living being.
In “The Measure of a Man,” Maddox was Starfleet’s resident expert on cybernetics with plans to use Data as a template for a new race of androids that would essentially serve as Starfleet property. Maddox’s plans involved disassembling the android in order to study his construction, effectively killing him. Data, understandably, refused; however, Maddox did not recognize Data as a sentient being, and therefore did not see his actions as murder, nor did he recognize Data’s right to decline participation in the experiment, even though it could have done serious damage to the beloved Enterprise operations officer. By the end of the episode, Maddox seems to have been convinced that Data is alive, and is pleasantly surprised that Data harbors no ill will.
Maddox’s name reappeared several times throughout The Next Generations‘ run. Data decided he would stay in contact with Maddox, finding some of his work intriguing, much to Maddox’s surprise and delight. Data would occasionally deliver messages to Maddox, such as in the classic episode “Data’s Day.” Maddox was also referenced as an expert in cybernetics by Data’s best friend Geordi La Forge in the episode “Contagion.” Although his name continued to be mentioned on the show, Maddox was never actually seen again in The Next Generation.
Over thirty years later, Maddox’s name has once again been brought up on a Star Trek property. In the premiere episode of Picard, the retired admiral discovers a woman who would seem to somehow be Data’s android daughter. He ends up at the Daystrom Institute, Starfleet’s premiere research facility, where he encounters Agnes Jurati, a scientist and former colleague of Maddox. Jurati and Picard eventually surmise that the late Dahj, and her twin sister, were created using Maddox’s work. However, following the Federation’s ban on synthetic beings — a reaction to the cataclysmic attack on Mars by a group of rogue terrorists synthetics — Maddox disappeared. Picard now must find both Maddox and Soji in an effort to save her and preserve Data’s legacy.
The invocation of “The Measure of a Man” is a pretty clear signal of what kind of show Star Trek: Picard intends on being. That episode was the first time The Next Generation fully engaged with the empathetic, measured moral code that would come to define the show, as well as its captain. There were flashes of that same empathy and understanding when Picard first encountered Dahj, believing her improbable story and offering her safe refuge. The upcoming appearances of reformed Borg drones Hugh and Seven of Nine suggest the show will once again explore what it means to be an artificial life form. Picard was unable to save Dahj, but if he can manage to track down Bruce Maddox, he may discover the key to saving Soji.
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