SPOILERS - Star Trek: Picard season 1 has reached its end, and the season 1 finale offered an extra special treats for longtime fans of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. That treat came in the form of another surprise cameo by Brent Spiner as Data; the dead android appeared in a digital limbo that Picard was stuck in, after his body died and his mind was being transferred into a new android body. Picard and Data got to have a true meeting of the souls as their final goodbye - and it seems it will be the last time Brent Spiner plays Data.
In an interview with TV Guide, Brent Spiner first expressed that he was as surprised as anyone, that Data's ending in Star Trek: Nemesis didn't sit well with fans. It's why he was grateful for the scene that Michael Chabon wrote for the Picard finale, which gave Data a much better send-off:
"...It was an unbelievably beautifully written scene — [showrunner] Michael Chabon at his finest. Both Patrick and I were both like, "This is fantastic," and we were both really moved by it. It was just wonderfully written, and I think the intent was to soften the blow of Nemesis and give Data a gentler exit than he had in that film... When he blew up in Nemesis, I never expected to get the backlash [the show got] from so many fans over that. I thought, "Well, that's a great, big emotional ending, and he's sacrificing himself for his friends" and that was just. But it didn't seem to sit that well with too many people."
Now that Data has gotten the much better ending that Star Trek fans have been waiting for, Spiner makes it clear that it truly is the end for him:
"I mean, there was just a finite amount of time that I can actually play Data, no matter what anyone says... I think we did it in such brief sequences that it was fine to do it, and I felt good about it. But I wouldn't really entertain the idea of doing it again because I just don't think it would be realistic. So it seemed right to me to give him this more gentle sendoff, and it seemed right to me in the context of the entire season of Picard and what Picard himself had been experiencing because of the loss of Data. I think it allows him to feel okay about it too. So it seemed like the right thing to do."
Even if Spiner only appeared briefly as Data, Star Trek: Picard was very much centered around the character and his legacy. The show has found a way for Spiner to continue in Star Trek, now playing Dr. Noonian Soong's son, Altan, who has pioneered a whole new generation of synthetic beings, based on his "brother," Data. It's about as big of a win-win that any Star Trek fan could hope for.
Star Trek: Picard is now streaming for free on CBS Access (for limited time).