Series: The Next Generation
Air Date: June 3, 1991
Written by: Joe Menosky and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Patrick Stewart
Fresh off a breakup from an emotionless snob, Ensign Jenna D'Sora finds herself a coin-operated boy.
The Enterprise is coming up on the Mar Oscura, an unexplored dark matter nebula. In order to make it visible, Data and Ensign Jenna D'Sora are working together on a probe made out of a photon torpedo that'll light it up using science! As they work together, Jenna says that her ex had invited her to dinner. And, as she had previously requested, Data reminded her of all the reasons that was a bad idea. They launch the probe which sparks luminescence in the nebula to examine the deep, unknowable void of dark matter, while something else sparks an infatuation in Jenna to examine the deep, unknowable void of Data's emotions.
Later, Data and Jenna play together with Keiko O'Brien in a chamber orchestra. Jenna doesn't think she did so well, but Data supports her. Afterward, the two of them meet up with Keiko and Miles for drinks and Jenna gets very affectionate with Data there. On the bridge, Data surmises that because of the thick density of dark matter in the area, life may have evolved in different ways. Picard orders the crew to take the ship to a nearby planet to check out that theory, and Data goes back to the torpedoes to make another probe with Jenna. But after this probe-making session, Jenna leans in and gives Data a kiss on the cheek, and then passionately on the lips. Data's reaction is one of curiosity. So, obviously, he asks advice from everyone on the ship.
|Processing... processing... processing... processing...|
He makes a program specifically for romantic relationships and devotes a "considerable share" of resources to Jenna's subroutine within that program. The sad part is that when he tells her this, it turns out to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to her. The program takes a lot of work to get right. Jenna unexpectedly comes to his quarters while he's painting and offers him a gift. She says he can keep painting if he wants, but then tells him that when a girlfriend says you can keep doing something, you should usually stop doing it and pay attention to her. Later, Data acts like a "perfect" boyfriend, according to his baseline knowledge of romance in classical literature. But Jenna isn't feeling it. They get into a "lovers quarrel," and Data actually yells at her, which is so out of character that he even uses contractions!
|You don't control me!! Don't... "Don't"... hmm.. sounds wierd.|
With the plan set, Picard insists he be the one to pilot the shuttle. He does a good job at first, but the deformations just keep coming on the small sensor screen on the shuttle. After a while, he can't avoid them. The shuttle is destroyed, but O'Brien is able to beam Picard back just in time. Luckily, the Enterprise was just close enough to the edge of the nebula to get out on its own from there.
|He's either making a hard turn away from a spacial deformation, or watching 2 girls 1 cup.|
Data's journey into humanity will be endlessly fascinating to me, but Jenna's character is also really fascinating. She knows that Data has no emotions, but she jumps on him anyway, just because he's programmed to be polite and friendly. I wish I could say I don't know a few people like this, but it's tragic just how common it is. Luckily, it's not something that can hurt Data, but there are people who have been hurt because they misunderstood exactly what they wanted out of a relationship. For Data, this whole episode is another experiment. For Jenna, she's just flapping in the wind after a breakup and looking for someone to hold her down. This episode gets a thumbs up as not only a great examination of dating relationships, but also Patrick Stewart's debut as a director! Way to go, cap'n!