Data’s journey is one that started from the very first episode when Riker referred to him as Pinocchio. You see, Data wants to be a real boy and this path is one that is played out throughout the entire series and even into the movies afterward. This episode, in addition to the main story of Okona, is really about Data and his continuing quest to be human. His attempt this time, humor. Originally airing on December 12, 1988, I present The Outrageous Okona.
Stardate 42402.7 : The Outrageous Okona
The Enterprise rescues a young rogue freighter captain whose ship is malfunctioning. While repairing his ship, Captain Okona ends up bringing the crew of the Enterprise into an interplanetary feud.
The Enterprise is traveling between two planets that have a rocky treaty between them when they encounter the cargo ship, the Erstwhile. The Erstwhile is broken down and, being the good samaritans they are, Picard offers the freighter captain assistance.
Immediately upon arrival, Captain Okona flirts with the transporter chief, Lt. Robinson (played by a young Teri Hatcher) to Riker’s amusement. Okona goes to Engineering to observe Chief Engineer LaForge repair his engine part. After the initial repairs, Okona accompanies Data and questions him about his abilities and his sense of humor. He soon leaves Data to meet up with Lt Robinson in her private quarters.
After his experience with Okona, Data visits Guinan in Ten-Forward to discuss the merits of humor. He is concerned that he does not understand humor and she points out that he needs to learn to laugh. He then proceeds to question the computer system about humor and visits the holodeck to meet with a holographic standup comic by the name of Ronald B. Moore (played by Joe Piscopo). After learning what he can from the program he attempts his learnings on Guinan resulting in not much success. It is apparent that Data has a lot to learn.
Soon the Enterprise encounters another vessel whose Captain informs them that they are entering their territory and that Okona is a criminal he wants turned into him immediately. Soon a second ship arrives, from the opposing planet, demanding the very same thing.
It is soon discovered that Okona is accused of impregnating the daughter of the first ships captain, Yanar, and is being accused of stealing a national treasure, The Jewel of Thesia, from the second ships planet. Both parties claim that they are willing to go to war if the other ship gets custody of Captain Okona. Neither ship is a match to the Enterprise but if Picard can not find an amicable solution, he could be indirectly responsible for a war between the two peoples.
After much discussion it is discovered that the son of the opposing ship, Benzan, had actually impregnated Yanar and had asked Okona to present Yanar with The Jewel of Thesia as an engagement gift. This revelation eases the tension between the two warring factions and Picard, siting the Prime Directive, makes an excuse to leave the parties to determine their own fates.
Meanwhile, Data and Guinan team up on the Holodeck in front of an audience but when Data learns that the audience is programed to laugh at all his jokes he is heartbroken (or as heartbroken as an Android can be.) She tells him that ‘making people laugh’ isn’t necessary in his pursuit to be human, although Data disagrees.
At the end, as Okona leaves, Data tells a joke that makes the whole bridge crew laugh only to ruin it by following up with one bad joke after another.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
It’s not bad. It has some great character development for Data and his pursuit to become more human. There are a few inconsistencies in the story, which I will mention below, but overall it’s a average episode when it comes to the grand scheme of things.
Okona has shades of Harry Mudd from the Original Series and I wouldn’t have been surprised that he was meant to be just that. We rarely get to see the ‘common folk’ of the galaxy and this one gives us a chance to see how other space faring people live in this universe.
Data’s journey is one that I followed diligently through the entire series. I looked forward to each and every episode that he was featured on and felt deeply when he finally neared his goal by the end of the series and beyond.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Data mentions that he has never been inebriated to Okona and yet in the second episode, The Naked Now, he experiences the sensation. So, either he had one hell of a hangover or just flatout lied about not having been drunk.
This episode shows the first 3-way hail in the series.
Unfortunately we never see Captain Okona again, although he would have made a terrific recurring character.
Terri Hatcher, although she had a speaking role, went uncredited in this episode.
Lt Robinson is identified as the Transporter Chief, so I guess this is a shift position as Transporter Chief O’brien makes a comeback in the very next episode. Or maybe Miles was on vacation? I don’t know.
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Late To The Game 3/7/2018
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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