**** (4 stars out of 5)
While exploring the dark matter nebula Mar Oscura, torpedo specialist Jenna D'Sora dumps Jeff Arton and pursues a rebound relationship with her emotionless friend, music teacher, and superior officer Data. A good idea, 'In Theory'. Who doesn't love Data, after all? I can see where she's coming from.
Keiko complains about picking up Miles' dirty socks when the pile is two weeks old. Data is doing the same with Jenna's mess as she has "an aversion to orderliness". (I do to. I think I need an android or a botanist to pick up after me.)
The android confides to Guinan: "Lt. D'Sora has just given me what could be considered a very passionate kiss in the torpedo bay."
Whoa! Right in the torpedo bay? That sort of thing is still illegal in the southern Federation, isn't it?
BFF Geordi is forced to admit he doesn't have any romantic advice. Riker seems vicariously aroused and eggs Data on. Picard's response is still my favourite: "I will be delighted to offer any advice I can on understanding women. When I have some, I'll let you know."
Data writes a program for romance, devoting a considerable portion of his mind to the Jenna Subroutine. Explained THAT way, Jenna STILL thinks that's the "nicest thing anybody's ever said" to her.
Really? This Jeff must be a massive douche nozzle.
Meanwhile, stuff is falling through tables and Data's cat Spot gets out through a door with no cat flap. If only Picard hadn't made Worf take a cautious approach. Worf's paranoid instincts might have found the problem before the horrible, hideous death...
The invisible dark matter globules interact with matter by making temporary gaps in it. One nearly blows all the furniture out of the observation lounge, and one bisects poor Lt. Van Mayter. It's a grotesque and undignified fatality, right out of Looney Tunes with an ACME portable hole. At least it's quick.
Data's 'romance voice' is too much like Lore's. I guess it's a good thing Jenna never met Lore.
Data's decision to intentionally start a 'lover's quarrel' in the hopes of strengthening their connection is a big mistake. The last straw is an honest breakdown of exactly HOW MUCH is happening in Data's mind during a kiss, only part of which is how much pressure he can safely apply to her lips.
"In Theory" written by Menosky & Moore, with Patrick Stewart directing is still a personal favorite. Star Trek magazine gives it a TERRIBLE rating. Calls the romance 'mawkish and disturbing'. The sad part is: I relate to it very, very well. Deeply cut off from my own feelings, socially isolated and maladapted, my teen years were, let's call them, unfortunate. I'm not seeking sympathy, things are almost infinitely better nowadays. (In the romantic partner department!) But the inability to make romantic connections is not a problem unique to androids. It's a quirky love story that, yes, fails tragically. It does not fail to move me, however.