Star Trek 206: In Theory

206. In Theory

FORMULA: This Side of Paradise - All Our Yesterdays + Booby Trap

WHY WE LIKE IT: It's damn funny.

WHY WE DON'T: Picard just HAS to be play the hero in the much duller B-plot.

REVIEW: It's Data's turn to get a romance, and in his case, it really can only be a comedy episode. Character-driven comedies in Star Trek work much better than attempts at silliness, and Data's study of dating is full of laughs. Data being either stiff or naive or creepy (he'd call it suave), starting a lover's quarrel, listing everything he was thinking during a kiss... Even when I thought we were in trouble when Keiko started nagging, it turned to comedy as Jenna hung on Data like a lovesick schoolgirl. (I would have loved to see O'Brien's reaction just then.)

Speaking of reactions, those of the crew provided some of the episode's best moments. Riker all a-titter, Geordi really not the guy to ask first, Troi having some serious misgivings, Guinan's sage non-advice, Worf acting the older brother, and Picard's quick escape. Very amusing, but you're still very involved when the relationship degenerates. Hey, Data's fine. He can't be hurt. But the break-up is still a little bit wrenching, isn't it? Still, one could say they were both running an experiment to its natural conclusion.

In a way, it's too bad the story had to be saddled with a B-plot about a nebula littered with obstacles that make walls phase in and out of reality. I do like how the darkness and mystery of the environment act as backdrop to Data's own inexperience. And that shot of the crew woman stuck in the floor is a powerful one. However, the climax involves Picard (or Patrick Stewart?) insisting on piloting a shuttle through the anomalies and guide the Enterprise out of trouble. Not only is there no real need for it, it's a little boring besides. Its only redeeming feature: Picard utters the words "Now would be a good time" to a transporter chief, not unlike Kirk in The Doomsday Weapon.

LESSON: It's hard being a rebound.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Despite the B-plot on autopilot, you don't have to be a fan of Data's to enjoy his dating adventures. Plenty of set pieces to enjoy.

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