Love. Once again we explore what it means to love and have feelings for others, but this time we find Data is the subject of this emotion. Can an Android have a relationship when he can not feel? We’ll find out on the episode that originally aired on June 3, 1991. This is In Theory.
Stardate 44932.3 In Theory
As Data continues his pursuit of humanity, he becomes involved in a romantic relationship with a fellow crewman named Jenna D’Sora. However, as the Enterprise passes through a Nebula, strange things start to occur throughout the ship, threatening the crew’s well-being.
There are two main stories in this one, one concerning Data and his relationship with Creman D’Sora, the other dealing with an Anomaly. To keep it simple, we will start with Data’s part.
Story A: Data Dates:
Data is spending a lot of time with Lt Jenna D’Sora. They works several of the same shifts but it seems that they have developed a kinship. D’Sora tells Data all of her problems with her recent breakup and uses him for advice on her life. After a while D’Sora realizes that she is infatuated with Data and, after spending time with the O’briens one evening, she gives him a passionate kiss before completing her shift. Confused, and somewhat distracted by the situation, Data goes to Guinan for assistance. She advises him to follow his own thoughts and heart, although he claims he can not ‘love’. Soon, Data goes to various crew members for advice. Geordi pushes off any advice being a bit of a loser himself (sorry Geordi), Troi suggests approaching with caution, Worf tells Data that if D’Sora is hurt Worf would be disappointed, Riker tells Data to go for it, Picard refuses to assist quite abruptly. (He never asks Crusher but then again, who would.) Data ultimately decided to pursue a relationship and brings D’Sora flowers. After a little it of an awkward start, they begin their relationship.
Data and D’Sora continue their relationship and it becomes apparent that Data has much to learn. Data returns ‘home’ and begins to act strange as it is apparent that he has been studying romantic examples to mimic. He starts to clean her quarters, fix food, and more but soon starts to act out various parts of ‘interpersonal dynamics’ that he has studies making D’Sora very uncomfortable. He makes it clear that he has no experience or real life reference to go by. She is concerned that all she is to Data is just another program although he does not see it that way. It is soon clear that dating an Android like Data is more than D’Sora believed it would be.
D’Sora and Data have a final date and, she indicates that she can not continue their relationship. She cares for him, but realizes that she was using Data as a rebound relationship. She feels that she can not fulfill Data’s needs in any way as she can not make him happy or connect with him emotionally. He agrees and they end their relationship as a couple. In the end, this relationship was indeed, just another program to Data. There is a glimmer of hope however, as he exhibits affection for his pet cat, Spot, in the last few seconds…
Story B: Anomalies
As Data dates, the Enterprise begins investigating a class M planet in a mysterious Nebula. Strange things begin to occur on board the ship, items are falling from shelves with no provocation and spot, Data’s Cat, escaped Data’s quarters although there was no way for it to get out, even all of Picard’s desk accoutrement are found on the floor below his desk. He takes note of it but, dismisses it as an odd occurrence and moves on. However, things are not as simple as they would appear. Upon arriving at the M Class planet, they find it to be missing and suddenly the computer notifies them of a decompression in the observation lounge. After investigating, they find that something is seriously wrong, but they can not tell what it is.
Before long they realize that the Enterprise is being affected by dark matter that is disrupting the fabric of normal space. This begins to create hole in the ship and soon claims the life of a crewman. Data begins to formulate a plan and they soon decide to use a shuttlecraft as a guide to prevent the Enterprise from hitting any further pockets. Picard tells Riker that he will be piloting the shuttle despite Riker’s protests. Picard feels that it is his duty to protect the ship, even if he himself is put in danger.
Picard begins his job as guide and soon encounters problems with the dark matter. After guiding the Enterprise through a large part of the Nebula, Picard loses control of the shuttle and is beamed back aboard the Enterprise prior to the shuttles loss.
They escape the Nebula and continue their journey.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This really is a solid entry with two intriguing stories that overlay fairly well for the most part although the anomaly story could have been better fleshed out as its own episode.
For Data’s story it is really about his continuing journey to become more human. To him, this isn’t just about another experiment, he genuinely wants to learn about the intricacies of humanity. it is unfortunate, however, that in his search for understanding and his inability to feel, he winds up hurting those he cares about.
I believe this is a key moment in his experience that causes him to pursue the emotion chip (that Lore stole) later in his story. We are getting a little ahead of ourselves here, but it is important to note that we are beginning to see Data’s limitations when it comes to his desire to ‘be more human’. These limitations become even more apparent to Data himself further down the line which leads him to go ahead with using the emotion chip he ends up fearing will change him as it does Lore.
As for the secondary story, the dark matter disrupting reality was interesting, but seemed a little forced so that the episode would fill a full hour. In many ways this could have been an episode of its own with more exploration on the missing M Class Planet and the reason why Picard decided to go out on his own to guide the Enterprise to safety. The latter part seemed very out-of-place and almost felt as if there was a major part of Picard’s story missing. Come to think of it, if the primary story had been about Picard doubting himself culminating with him leading the ship to safety, that would probably have made more sense.
All that being said, it was a solid episode that really pushed Data’s story further and it sets up some much-needed pieces for later his development.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Picard references having a Poltergeist when finding his items on the floor, this implies that ghosts and the paranormal are still studied and of interest in the future.
We see more of Keiko and Miles in this one really setting up more of their dynamic that will be further explored on Deep Space Nine.
This is Patrick Stewart’s directorial debut so that may explain the awkwardness of Picard in this one. It would not be easy to direct oneself.
We never see or hear about the nebula or the vanishing M class planet again, I hope they put out a warning beacon for future explorers.
We also never see or hear from D’Sora either although she would be Data’s first real attempt at a romantic relationship (not forgetting Tasha Yar).
There is a great moment in Ten-Forward that will be revisited in the first STNG motion Picture Generations. Guinan asks Data his opinion on a drink and doesn’t get the feedback she needs. The next time she asks a similar question (in the film), he certainly gives some feedback…
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Redemption
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Late To The Game 1/26/2020 (Originally published 8/15/18)
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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