May 18 2012 3:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “In Theory”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory“In Theory”
Written by Joe Menosky & Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Patrick Stewart
Season 4, Episode 25
Production episode 40274-199
Original air date: June 3, 1991
Stardate: 44932.3

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is exploring a dark-matter nebula. Data is supervising the modification of a bunch of photon torpedoes that will help reveal more about the nebula by illuminating it.

One of the people with whom Data is working is Jenna D’Sora, a member of Worf’s security team, who is also apparently a friend of many months’ standing. She tells Data that she bumped into her ex-boyfriend, Jeff Arton, and when he asked her to dinner, she said she’d think about it. Data immediately informs her that, per her instructions, he will now remind her of why she and Jeff broke up — and this is the third time he’s had to refresh her memory.

Data has also made a study of human romantic relationships, which he undertook after Jenna and Jeff broke up, in order to help be supportive of Jenna in her time of need. They then test the torpedo, successfully.

Later, in Ten-Forward, Data, Jenna, Keiko, and two other crewmembers play a concert, performing Reicha’s Wind Quintet #2. Data is playing the oboe, Jenna the flute. Jenna and Data talk, and Jenna starts to rip into her own performance, citing numerous things she did wrong — Data points out that he saw no severe technical issues with her performances, and the audience was oblivious to such nuances. (As a musician myself, I totally get where Jenna’s coming from, and often have to remind myself, as Data does her, that nobody else noticed or cared what I screwed up, as it was so minor as to be noticeable only by me.)

Afterward, they share a drink with the O’Briens, with Keiko complaining about Miles’s inability to put socks away, and Jenna starting to act surprisingly flirty toward Data.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

On the bridge, Data examines the nebula, discovering that the density of dark matter is greater than expected. There are some Class M planets in the vicinity, and Picard orders a course change to check one of them out.

In sickbay, Crusher puts an instrument down on the table, and it falls to the floor. She assumes she just missed the table and puts it back, not giving it another thought. But, since they went to the trouble of showing it, it’s obviously important.

Cut to the torpedo bay, where Data’s modifying another torpedo. Jenna’s sitting nearby, reminiscing about her childhood. She tells Data how much she enjoys his company, and how good a friend he’s been. And then she kisses him before leaving the torpedo bay.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

Thrown for a bit of a loop, Data goes to Guinan for advice. He has no experience in such matters, and he has no clue how to proceed. Guinan, however, refuses to give him advice, as this is a path best pursued on one’s own.

Upon returning to his quarters, Data is greeted by La Forge, who is carrying Spot. The cat got out of his cabin and wandered two sections away. But the computer shows no indication of having let anyone in or out.

Data then proceeds to do the exact same thing Wes did in “The Dauphin,” to wit, ask everyone in the credits for their advice. La Forge pretty much throws his hands up and tells him to go to Troi. (Given La Forge’s own romantic history, this is probably wise.) The counselor preaches extreme caution, as this is far more intense than anything he’s ever tried before. Worf also demurs, saying that Klingons don’t have relationships, they conquer what they want. (He also reminds Data that Jenna serves under his command, and if she is mistreated, he will be upset.) Riker, of course, is all-in — he thinks Data should totally go for it. Picard says he’ll be happy to provide Data with advice about understanding women as soon as he has some.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

Data brings flowers to Jenna’s quarters and makes a move — in a hilariously stilted but actually kinda sweet manner.

Picard goes to his ready room, to discover that everything that had been on his desk is now on the floor under the desk. He requests Worf’s presence, but he detects no biotraces other than Picard’s. “You did not — ” “No, I did not.”

Jenna comes to Data’s quarters and gives him a sculpture to help brighten up his cabin. He makes several mistakes in how he should respond — a critical analysis of the sculpture, rather than just thanking her for it, is but one example — but at least he’s making an effort to get things right, which Jenna appreciates.

The Enterprise arrives at the Class-M planet, but it’s not there — at first. Suddenly, it reappears. Before they can examine it, the computer registers explosive decompression in the observation lounge — but Worf reads no hull breach. When Data declares the atmosphere restored, they enter the lounge to find all the furniture bunched up against one wall.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

Data walks into Jenna’s quarters, and declares, “Honey, I’m home,” with a contraction and everything. He then turns into a Stepford husband, talking like a 1950s lothario, fetching her a drink, and just generally acting kinda weird. He then starts to straighten up her quarters, but she doesn’t want him to do that. Concerned that he’s not paying enough attention to her, he tries to be more solicitous, but she thinks he’s acting very strange. He then manufactures a lover’s quarrel (complete with using more contractions), but the very artificial nature of it makes it pretty ridiculous, and Jenna says it’s not working. Then she tells him to kiss her. Afterward, she makes the spectacular tactical error of asking him what he was thinking, and he proceeds to supply the entire (lengthy) list.

The incidents are increasing, but there’s no indication as to what’s causing it. So far, nobody’s been hurt, but Riker suggests they continue the investigation outside the nebula. But as soon as the ship goes to warp, consoles start futzing out, there’s more explosive decompression, and things just escalate until Picard orders a full stop.

La Forge takes Van Mayter and Thorne to check out the structural damage between decks. After Van Mayter goes off in one direction, La Forge starts to give instructions to Thorne, when a horrible scream pierces the air. Running back, La Forge and Thorne find Van Mayter halfway in the floor. The floor disappeared, she fell through, and then it reformed around her, bisecting her and killing her instantly (and, based on the scream, painfully).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

Data at last has a theory: there are pockets of dark matter in the nebula that cause matter to go out of phase when they collide. The deformations are also moving, so it’s difficult to navigate out. Data can only tune the sensors to detect the dark matter at very close range. Worf suggests using a shuttle, which is more maneuverable, to play stalking horse, finding the dark matter (and getting more easily out of its way) and leading the Enterprise through it.

For absolutely no good reason, Picard insists on piloting the shuttle himself, overriding Riker (who’s more qualified). Picard gets them past a few dark matter pockets, but one damages the shuttle, and they lose the link. Picard tries to guide them verbally, but then another pocket appears and wipes the shuttles engines. O’Brien beams the captain away before the shuttle explodes. At this point, they’re less than two million kilometers from the perimeter, and McKnight is able to navigate out of the nebula.

Data has prepared dinner for Jenna in his quarters, but she wants to talk before they eat. Jenna realizes that she’s been making the same mistake over and over. She broke up with an unemotional man, and dove into a relationship with someone who can’t feel emotions at all. Data’s kindness and attentiveness isn’t enough, because she knows that, deep down, she doesn’t matter to him because he has no emotions.

When Data asks, “Are we no longer a couple?” Jenna say that in fact, they are not. “Then I will delete the appropriate program.”

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Dark matter can apparently make bits of the ship phase out of reality for a moment. Who knew?

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi is concerned that Data is treating his relationship with Jenna like an experiment, and reminds him that, while he has no feelings that can be hurt, she does.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data has expanded his musical repertoire to include the oboe. His friendship with Jenna goes back many months, and she made the literal-minded android promise to remind her why she broke up with Jeff if she ever considered getting back together with him again.

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf is the one who saves the day here, suggesting the shuttlecraft be used to lead the Enterprise on. Riker and La Forge jump all over him, but it was his idea. Dammit!

Syntheholics Anonymous: Guinan feels that everyone should experience their first love affair on their own. When Data reminds her that he has no feelings and therefore can’t love, she just smiles and says that that means it’ll be a very unique experience. (Sadly, the rest of the episode proves her wrong.)

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: It is unclear whether or not Jenna and Data went beyond kissing. But we do know that he’s fully functional...

In the Driver’s Seat: Ensign McKnight returns, and she does a fine job of coordinating with Picard in the shuttle, and then is left to pilot the last million kilometers or so on her own.

I Believe I Said That: “Perhaps we have a poltergeist.”


“A mischevious spirit.”


“Perhaps not.”

Picard proposing an outlandish theory, and Worf refusing to play along.

Welcome Aboard: Rosalind Chao is back as Keiko, and we discover that she also plays the clarinet (and also hates picking up O’Brien’s dirty socks). Pamela Winslow makes a second appearance as McKnight (following “Clues”). And Michelle Scarabelli — probably best known in genre circles as Susan Francisco in FOX’s Alien Nation TV series, as well as the followup movies — is quite charming as Jenna D’Sora.

Trivial Matters: This is Sir Patrick Stewart’s first time in the director’s chair, to which he’ll return four times. Amusingly, four of the five episodes he directed were Data-focused.

This is the last time that Spot will be seen as an Angora. The cat’s subsequent appearances will be as an orange tabby.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

Van Mayter gets a first name (Helga) and personality in your humble rewatcher’s Starfleet Corps of Engineers eBook Many Splendors (printed in the collection What’s Past).

Make it So: “Darling, you remain as aesthetically pleasing as the first day we met.” What a clunker of an episode. It’s never a good thing when a show starts repeating itself, and it’s compounded by the truly dreadful choice in episodes to rehash. Really, who thought it was a good idea to re-do “The Dauphin,” only without the gravitas?

Some of the go-to-each-of-the-crew-for-advice bits work better here than they did in “The Dauphin” (Riker’s was better here, certainly, and Picard’s line to Data was a classic), but it still is ground that’s already been covered.

And the relationship is just awful. Of course, that’s part of the point, that getting romantically involved was a bad idea for both of them. But that doesn’t make it any fun to watch — and it was such a nice friendship prior to that. And watching Data stumble through bad 1950s “romantic” clichés is just painful to watch.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on In Theory

The dark-matter B-plot isn’t much of an improvement. Twenty years later, we still don’t know much about dark matter, so I guess maybe it could do what the episode says it does. Kinda.

To Moore and Menosky’s credit, the minute the stakes are raised — when Van Mayter is killed (and brutally so; the image of half her body sticking up out of the floor was one that stuck with me for weeks after watching the episode) — the silly romance plot is abandoned until the ship is out of danger. Though that part of it has its moments of ridiculousness, not the least being Picard insisting on piloting the shuttle. This is a ship with a thousand people on board, they must have dozens of qualified pilots. In what universe does it make sense for the captain — who by his own admission way back in “11001001” hadn’t taken the conn in years — to be the one to do the incredibly risky piloting? (To make matters worse, he half-asses the job, and gets the shuttle destroyed. Imagine what might have happened with a good pilot.)

Ultimately, it’s a rehash of a Wesley Crusher episode. A really really bad Wesley Crusher episode.


Warp factor rating: 2

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest novel, Goblin Precinct, is now available. A high fantasy police procedural (think Law & Order meets The Lord of the Rings), it’s the sequel to Dragon Precinct and Unicorn Precinct, and is available from Dark Quest Books. Go to Keith’s web site for info on how to get the book, whether an eBook or print book from an online dealer, or an autographed copy of the trade paperback directly from Keith.

Michael Burstein
1. mabfan
One thing bothered me a lot about this episode, which you allude to but don't make explicit. It is evident from previous episodes that Data and Tasha Yar weren't just going through the motions, but that Data had some sort of feelings for her (no matter that he supposedly doesn't have feelings). It always bugged me that this episode ignored that previous relationship entriely.

-- Michael A. Burstein
Earl Rogers
2. Earl Rogers
Angora? I could have sworn Original!Spot was an Abyssinian.

The episode goes downhill once Data actually decides to try and experiment with romance. I just can't see anyone agreeing to go along with something so strange and cruel to a woman in obvious need of something better.
Alan Courchene
3. Majicou
I'd always thought (and read) that the original Spot, played by "Monster," was a Somali cat, not an Angora.

I remember liking this episode back when, but now I can't exactly remember why. I guess I found the romance parts to be charmingly goofy rather than thuddingly bad, but not having seen this episode in a long while, I don't know whether it would hold up.
Alyssa Tuma
4. AlyssaT
Your comparison to The Dauphin in this review helped me nail down the biggest reason why I do not like In Theory at all. While The Dauphin is flawed and clichéd, I believe there is something inherently charming about watching a young person fumbling with love for the first time. And goodness knows Wheaton’s performance and general “barefoot boy with cheeks of tan” physical bearing served him well in that context – he was every bit the inexperienced/excited/confused teen. It rang true and had a sweetness that transcended, somewhat, the general lameness of the plot.

Here, I found myself marveling at the fact that Jenna appeared to indeed be a grown-ass woman. Cringe-inducing flirting is a given with an adolescent; with an adult who has had prior romantic involvement it makes one wonder if she has taken her meds. Who the hell flirts by diving on in with corny domestic comments? Every time I expect the camera to pan back and show Keiko and Miles exchanging disconcerted glances at this bizarre display, but they seem to think it’s just totally normal that their pal Jenna is suddenly doing a Debra Barone "oh these crazy hubbies of ours" impression. Of course, Keiko and Miles are no strangers to irritatingly childlike behavior when it comes to matters of the heart, considering they forced Data to act as go-between when their wedding almost collapsed. Nothing says 6th grade like “tell my fiance that the wedding is off.”
Earl Rogers
5. atom
"Data has also made a study of human romantic relationships, which he
undertook after Jenna and Jeff broke up, in order to help be supportive
of Jenna in her time of need. They then test the torpedo, successfully."

Wink wink, nudge nudge. Say no more...
Earl Rogers
6. Christopher L. Bennett
@1: Michael, you've hit upon the key retcon made to Data's character around the time Michael Piller came aboard. In the first couple of seasons, Data had the capacity for emotion; it was just underdeveloped and subdued. But from the start of season 3 onward, this was simplified into a complete lack of emotion. And I feel this episode shows why that was a bad idea. It's hard to sympathize with Data here when he's portrayed as simply not caring about anything that happens, not affected or changed by these events in any way.

And it never really made sense either. Data obviously had motivations, preferences, desires, dislikes, affinities, etc. It was always ethnocentric to say he had no emotions just because he didn't employ human forms of expression like laughter or tears. Not to mention that there are people in real life who are brain-damaged in a way that leaves them emotionless -- and they can't even recognize emotion in other people, can't even tell when it's being expressed. (Although maybe that does make sense in Data's case, since he's had over a quarter-century to learn how to recognize humanoid emotional responses and he's probably written a bunch of subroutines to tell him "That expression is a smile, connoting positive feeling" and the like, but still struggles with recognizing things like humor or sarcasm.)

Another little thing that bugged me was the use of the term "dark matter." That's just a placeholder term, something we call it because we don't know what it really is, like "terra incognita." Once we identify its true nature, we'll probably stop calling it dark matter.
Earl Rogers
7. Philippe13
Once again, Keith, ... on the nose!
Thank you for drawing the parallels with the Wesley episode: I totally forgot it!
I would have liked her to use Data as rebound droid; now that would have been fun to watch!
As for Picard piloting the shuttle...there must have been some sort of internal show politics where even though x character makes more sense in y situation (e.g. in this case Riker or any of the dozens of qualified pilots on board piloting the shuttle), the character who ends up in the situation was put there because the actor or someone influential on the show wanted that character to be put in that situation…either because they wanted more air time or just because they had never had Picard do it before, or because of some “show quota” à la Beverly doing the metaphasic shields episode instead of Geordi.
Jack Flynn
8. JackofMidworld
In Picard's defense, he did fly the Enterprise quite handily in Booby Trap ( so there's at least some continuity with him and his awesome piloting skills.
Rob Rater
9. Quasarmodo
I loved the last line of the episode, and wished I could simply "delete the appropriate program" after a relationship had ended.
Earl Rogers
10. Zenspinner
Christopher L. Bennett, thanks for bringing up Data's retcon. I never bothered to look up the circumstances behind this, but I knew somewhere along the line their idea of Data changed and I hated it. Hated the stupid "emotion chip," hated all of it. It was obvious the original conception of Data was someone who had some basic personality programming but had to learn the rest, and *was* learning, until they came along and said no, he wasn't capable of learning until he was programmed from outside. That was a horrible idea. I wish we could retroactively fix it.

Although, if I'm remembering the episode correctly (because I haven't seen it since it first aired) Data's greeting of Spot after Jenna leaves kind of gives the lie to this whole retconned concept. I think.
Shelly wb
11. shellywb
I always felt like this show was a reaction to fangirls who insist on falling for characters like Data (and Spock) and writing bad stories about it. Jenna certainly acts like a self-insertion character in a bad fan fic.
Alan Courchene
12. Majicou
At least Picard didn't fly the Enterprise with an off-the-shelf joystick. That at least can be said in this episode's defense.
Earl Rogers
13. Seryddwr
Not a good episode at all; easily the worst of what was otherwise an exceedingly strong season. It does have one redeeming feature, though - the final scene. Data's last line is delivered so dispassionately, and the final shot - him, in a room dimmed for romance but which now looks bleak in the twilight, holding Spot and looking on - was so completely desolate. It was not an emotion I ever associated with TNG, which can be so cloying at times.
Melanie S
14. starryharlequin
The dark-matter B-plot isn’t much of an improvement. Twenty years later, we still don’t know much about dark matter, so I guess maybe it could do what the episode says it does. Kinda.
Not really, although I'm not up on my history enough to be able to tell you if this would've been known at the time. But one of the defining features of dark matter is that it hardly ever or never* interacts with the kind of matter we interact with every day (photons, protons, neutrons, electrons, etc).

More generally I'd say that "we don't know much" is a little incomplete as a description of the state of the field. We don't know what it is yet, but we've ruled out a rather large number of things it could have been!

*where "hardly ever" is orders of magnitude less than neutrinos--the scaling I know is credited to John Bahcall, who said 100 billion neutrinos go through just your thumbnail every second, and in your entire life, your body might actually interact with one. This is also why the photon torpedo thing is funny: dark matter is transparent, as far as light is concerned.
Earl Rogers
15. Phonos
Data- "She kissed me passionately in the torpedo bay"

Surely that line should be in "I believe I said that" - or perhaps I just have a dirty mind.
Chin Bawambi
16. bawambi
I unfortunately get to re-watch this more often than most of you but the thing that stands out on multiple rewatches is Jenna's behavior not Data's. Her behavior is cringe-worthy but is interesting as well as Data's ret-conning - what makes this episode terrible for me is all the crew's behavior. Picard takes such a supportive role in Data's development but answers the one person guaranteed not to be judgemental about his behavior with cliche? Troi is usually so involved in Data's emotional development and chooses now for professional detachment? We talk about retconning Data but in this episode the whole crew is retconned :). I would have probably ranked this episode midrange but thanks to keith i will for ever after associate this with the Dauphin - the horror...
Earl Rogers
17. Mike Kelm
@ CLB...

You brought up a good point and something that always bothered me with the retconned Data... in the first couple seasons he seems like he's experienced things, but from Season 3 onwards, its like he's never done anything at all. Data is 28 years old (sorta) by the time he's assigned to the Enterprise, a Lt. Commander who has served on other starships, and an Academy Graduate. Are you telling me he's never had a relationship? Not once? It's like suddenly he's a completely blank slate prior to being on the Enterprise. Brent Spiner himself says that most of the fanmail he got was from women wanting to have a relationship with Data, and that's fictional. So inside that fictional universe, not one woman has said, "Data's a little pale, but he doesn't forget to pick up his socks, is always polite, and can lift heavy objects?"

To me this is just lazy writing. All the other main characters have some form of prior experience/backstory. Riker and Troi have a backstory (thanks Peter David and Imzadi) and both have acknowledged service aboard other starships. Picard has a backstory as commanding officer of the Stargazer. Worf has a backstory as the first Klingon in Starfleet and a survivor of the Khitomer massacre. Geordi doesn't have much of a backstory, but given that he's a very junior officer at the start of the series, that's understandable. Heck, even O'Brien who isn't a regular has a backstory with Setlik III.

Each of these characters come on board with some element of past experiences that affect them once they're on board, but really doesn't. The Crystalline Entity and Lore are things that happened to Data as circumstance, not things he participated in. I get that Data is supposed to be the ultimate outsider observing humans, but on the other hand, he's been at this a while. Making him seem this naive is just plain dumb.
Keith DeCandido
18. krad
Mike: Riker and Troi's backstory was established in the pilot episode, so the person you want to thank is Gene Roddenberry (who lifted the backstory for those two lock, stock, and funny accent from Decker and Ilia's backstory in Phase II/The Motion Picture), not Peter David. Peter did flesh it out in the novel Imzadi, true, but it all came out of what was established in "Encounter at Farpoint."

Oh, and La Forge served on other ships prior to the Big E, including the Victory, as seen in "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Identity Crisis."

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Earl Rogers
19. Edgar Governo
Another little thing that bugged me was the use of the term "dark
matter." That's just a placeholder term, something we call it because
we don't know what it really is, like "terra incognita." Once we
identify its true nature, we'll probably stop calling it dark matter.

You mean, like "black hole?"
Joseph Newton
20. crzydroid
I'm a little late to the party but I wanted to comment on the retcon anyway. I kind of felt that even though the "no emotion" idea has been present for a while up to this point, there still seemed to be all these hints that this was not really the case. In "Legacy," Data is holding that rock or whatever that Ishara Yar gave him, and seems to display some emotion and to genuinely be bothered and affected by that whole thing. In "Data's Day" we see him tapping his fingers nervously after saying that someone with emotions would be unsettled. He is also "highly motivated" to solve the mystery in "Identity Crisis" because of Geordi. And all of these episodes were from THIS season. So it seems like when they got to this episode, they just dropped the ball and just didn't get it. He goes from saying that he is probably not as close to being human as he aspires right to asking if they should start dinner. And at the end he is just stroking spot in a way reminiscent of B-4. And obviously he cares for Spot! Even the fact that he has a pet shows how important being human is to having a relationship like this and going through his first break up should actually be a pretty big deal to him and a big part of his development. But then he just sweeps it under the rug like it was nothing.

Otherwise, I remember liking this episode the first time I saw it. I thought at the time that Data's cliched attempts at romance worked as a joke and his purposeful lover's quarrel was funny. You also can't forget Guinan's line, "Don't look at me," which prompts Data to turn away from her physically.

And nitpicking here--Data was playing the oboe, not the clarinet.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
21. Lisamarie
Also a little late to the game (still trying to get the move finished!) but I also felt they mishandled Data's character here. I have also noticed the trend to overly simplify his character even though there are many past episodes that do indicate he had some capacity for emotion, caring, etc. Even if they aren't 'feelings' in the human sense - maybe he just programs the appropriate happy/sad response - sometimes I feel like that's all I'm doing at times too! I don't always 'feel' everything.

As for the relationship, it really, really bugged me. I actually felt Jenna was this awful stereotype of the needy, over emotional woman. I might perhaps be the wrong person to give my thoughts on this, since I have been told multiple times that I am not a 'typical' woman, and in fact, I have sometimes suspected I'm a high functioning Aspergers (although I actually have no problem detecting emotions in others, which seems to be one of the main traits, so I might just be weird).

But...gaaah. She irritated the heck out of me. I think it IS possible for somebody to have a relationship with Data (assuming that you didn't have hang ups over the android-ness), but it would be somebody who did not need emotional gratification to be happy, but rather would just want the pleasant companionship. I feel like that about myself a lot. I know that 'happy' is considered an emotion to but to me it is the state that occurs when I know, intellectually, that things are the way they are supposed to be. It's not that I am completely emotionless - I certainly feel surges of happiness, sadness, excitement, affection, humor from time to time. I just think it's a lot less often than the average person, and it doesn't bother me that I don't always 'feel' happy.

I actually can't stand the message that relationships are supposed to involve games (ie, Data wasn't REALLY supposed to go back to his painting, even though she said to) and dishonesty. I actually found all of Data's responses, including his 'what are you thinking' response, interesting and refreshing and honest and the kind of things I would want my husband to say. I don't have a need to be the total center of a person's universe.

I also hate clutter, so I kind of cringed at her trying to junk up his quarters, and then he couldn't even put the thing where it would look the best!

Granted, this is all under the assumption that, despite what this episode is trying to say, Data IS capable of caring for somebody and expressing that in his own way and isn't just some programmable companion. There might be others who wouldn't mind that, but I think even I would want a little more than that.

And also, for the record, I AM happily married ;)
Keith DeCandido
22. krad
crzydroid: Whoops! Thanks for the instrument correction. It's been fixed....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Justin Devlin
23. EnsignJayburd
Brent Spiner did his best with some pretty awful dialogue. His performance is really the only thing that makes this episode watchable.
Earl Rogers
24. Etherbeard
I think you're being a bit hard on this epsiode. The scene where Data conjures up a lover's quarrel was mostly awful, but the ending of that scene when Jenna asks Data what he was thinking during their kiss was a nice touch. Other than the majority of that one scene, I thought the rest of the depiction of the romance worked.

Calling it a retread of The Dauphin is unfair. The very idea of Data attempting a romantic relationship is so completely different than Wesley (or any other character) doing the same that the comparison makes little sense. The only similarity I see is that both Wesley and Data went to the other main characters for advice.
Earl Rogers
25. jelsilk
I know this is a bad episode but it's one of very few that actually make me laugh out loud. Data's reaction to Guinan saying "don't look at me" is brilliant, and Picard's reply to him is great.

If you ignore all of Data's previous emotional development I think he is good in this episode. Brent Spiner is in great form playing the emotionless android who doesn't understand humans. If this episde had been in season one I think it would have been great.
Earl Rogers
26. Stargazer4
I guess I am the exception here, but I liked the episode. Sure, the fact that they make Data appear "more emotionless" than in previous episodes is a misfire, as is Picard navigating the shuttle, but overall I liked it. Spiner is awesome as usual, I found Jenna charming and sweet and the scene with the dead crew member is one of the most chilling ones in TNG history. And no, Data attempting to have a romantic relationship is nothing like Wes in The Dauphin. Also, the last scene with Data and Spot is brilliant
Earl Rogers
27. uv
Loved this episode! Watching Data try to be a good boyfriend was touching and funny, even though he was so awkward at it, but his intentions were so pure. And I really empathized with Jenna's struggles. I found this episode to be funny, sad, and sweet.

I agree Data does actually seem to have some low-level emotion, but it's so mild it still makes sense that he'd be acting so bafoonishly when trying out a romantic relationship for the first time.

And I don't see why it gets compared to The Dauphin. I like what Etherbeard said in regards to this:
Calling it a retread of The Dauphin is unfair. The very idea of Data attempting a romantic relationship is so completely different than Wesley (or any other character) doing the same that the comparison makes little sense. The only similarity I see is that both Wesley and Data
went to the other main characters for advice.

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