Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 99 (In Theory)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

The Original Series had a Vulcan named Spock as the outsider looking in at humanity, denying that part of himself. The Next Generation had an android named Data as an outsider looking in at humanity wondering if he could ever achieve that. “In Theory” is Data’s attempt at romance.

He and Lieutenant Jenna D’Sora are working on illuminating a dark-matter nebula. Lt. D’Sora is just out of a bad relationship and appreciates Data’s help in keeping her from going back. It isn’t long before the two are start to think of themselves as a couple. Meanwhile, strange things start happening. Data’s cat Spot gets out of his quarters and things fall through tables. It becomes a problem when someone falls through a floor and is killed when they become stuck between decks. (For some, this might prove to be a gross-out moment.)

Data figures out that the dark matter is causing ‘normal’ matter to phase in and out. This was the good part of the episode. The trouble with the episode is that it isn’t as easy for Data to figure out romance. The relationship didn’t really work for several reasons. First, Data wasn’t really trying to get into a relationship; he was being himself and Lt. D’Sora couldn’t get enough of it. She was misreading his behavior as interest. Also, Data very often incorrectly read the situation, himself. He would start yelling at Lt. D’Sora, thinking they were having a lover’s quarrel. (This was a particularly painful scene; I think it was too far out of character for Data.) It was ultimately a rebound relationship on Lt. D’Sora’s part and, as a result, wasn’t likely to work out anyway. The whole thing didn’t seem like a real relationship. It was more like it was a way for Data to be involved in a human activity.

Although there were several times that Data spoke of the possibility of a relationship, this is his only actual attempt at one. (There was that incident with Lt. Yar, but that’s another story.) I think the aspect of Data in a relationship could have been handled much better. This episode wouldn’t have been so bad if Data had at least tried it again and gotten better, but the entire story like is so out of place and mishandled that I really can’t give this episode more than two stars.

It isn’t even the acting. The episode was well acted and well directed, but was poorly written. Not even the other story line can bring it up past that. Don’t buy this episode. If it comes on TV or if you get the season on DVD, watch it, but it’s not worth paying $3 for the rental.

IMDb page

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