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In Theory (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"In Theory"
TNG, Episode 4x25
Production number: 40274-199
First aired: 3 June 1991
98th of 176 produced in TNG
98th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
205th of 728 released in all
You are not my mother
Written By
Joe Menosky and Ronald D. Moore

Directed By
Patrick Stewart
44932.3 (2367)
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In his latest attempt to understand Humanity, Data starts dating a fellow officer, Jenna D'Sora. In the meantime, a nebula the Enterprise is passing through is causing strange things to happen on the ship.

Summary

Galaxy class torpedo bay

Data and Jenna work in the Torpedo bay to prepare a probe

Teaser

"Captain's Log, stardate 44932.3. The Enterprise is preparing to enter the Mar Oscura, an unexplored dark matter nebula. Commander Data is modifying several of our photon torpedoes for an experiment designed to elicit more information about this unusual phenomenon."
Jenna D'Sora

Jenna talks with Data about her relationship with Arton

Jenna D'Sora, who had recently broken up with her boyfriend, Jeff Arton, is working with Data on a probe. When Data notices that she is subdued, she mentions that she saw Jeff earlier, and that he had asked her to dinner. Responding to a request Jenna had made of him, Data recites a litany of reasons why she had chosen to break up with him. Data tells her that "As your friend, it is my responsibility to be supportive in times of need." - a behavior she finds sweet. Meanwhile, the USS Enterprise-D launches the now-completed probe into the nebula, producing a beautiful display.

Act One

D'Sora and Data play in a chamber concert, along with Keiko O'Brien. After the performance, D'Sora criticizes her own playing, but Data argues that there were no major technical errors in her music. She insists, and Data responds by offering to practice with her, but assuring her that the audience didn't notice any problems and enjoyed themselves. She appreciates his making the effort, and later, as D'Sora and Data have a drink with Keiko and Miles O'Brien, Data successfully entertains the table by making lovers' small talk with Jenna. On the bridge, Data is analyzing the readings from their probe. The nebula has a greater density of dark matter than other similar formations. He hypothesizes that life in this region may have developed in hitherto unseen ways. It is decided that the Enterprise will travel to a planet within the region, to see if Data's theory is correct.

In sickbay, Dr. Crusher hears a hypospray fall on the floor as she walks by, but thinks nothing of it.

In the torpedo tube, Data is working on another probe, while Jenna talks to him. Before she leaves, Jenna kisses Data, first on the cheek, and then on the lips, leaving the android somewhat puzzled.

Act Two

Data immediately starts seeking advice from his colleagues on romantic love in general and on what he should do, since Jenna apparently shows serious interest in him. Data tells Guinan, "Lieutenant D'Sora just gave me what could be considered a very passionate kiss in the torpedo bay." Guinan advises him that this will be an entirely new experience for him. Geordi La Forge warns him about pursuing a woman on the rebound, but then corrects himself, suspecting she might be over the rebound, and finally admits he has no advice to give. Deanna Troi worries that Jenna may be in a vulnerable position but stops short of discouraging him from romancing Jenna. Will Riker encourages him to go for it. Worf informs him that Klingons do not pursue romances; they conquer what they desire. He adds in a menacing whisper that, as her superior officer, he would be very displeased if Lt. D'Sora were mistreated. Captain Picard refuses to comment, stating that he would be happy to pass along any advice about understanding women, as soon as he has any.

Crystilia

A bouquet for Jenna

"Second Officer's personal log, stardate 44935.6. After conferring with my colleagues regarding the nature of romantic love in general, and my own situation in particular, I have reached a decision."

Data goes to D'Sora's quarters, with a bouquet of flowers that Jenna finds lovely. The flowers are a variety of crystilia from Telemarius IV which Riker recommended to Data. When Jenna asks how many people he discussed her with, he replies that it was less than 1% of the ship's crew. Data tells Jenna that he has created a special program devoted to romantic relationships. When Data informs her that he has "devoted a considerable share" of his internal resources to the development of a subroutine within this program, specifically for her, she tells him that's the nicest thing anybody had ever said to her.

Act Three

On the bridge, the Enterprise is approaching a Class M planet within the nebula. The captain goes to his ready room, only to discover that the items usually located atop his desk are lying on the floor. Picard summons Worf, asking him to bring a tricorder with him. They discover that there is no evidence that anyone other than the captain had been in contact with the items, but there is no obvious explanation for the displacement. Worf is suspicious, but Picard feels the situation, while perplexing, is not serious.

Data is confused by the strange concept of love and how he must continually show this to Jenna D'Sora. For example, D'Sora arrives unexpectedly in his quarters with a gift, as he is painting, but tells him to go back to his painting. He does so, and then is perplexed when Jenna reveals that she had actually wanted him to stop his painting and give her his full attention. As she leaves, a section of the wall in the corridor seems to disappear briefly. The anomalies have now moved past the point of what Picard initially laughed off as "poltergeist" phenomena, and as the ship arrives at the coordinates of the planet, it is nowhere to be found.

Act Four

After ruling out a sensor malfunction, the planet suddenly reappears in front of them. The computer informs the bridge crew that there has been a decompression in the observation lounge. When life support is restored to that room, the crew investigates, and discovers all the furniture in the room piled up near one of the windows. Data scans the window, and notices an unexplained anomaly in the readings. Picard orders further investigation.

When his shift ends, Data goes to D'Sora's quarters. At first, Jenna enjoys the relationship. Ironically, it is Data's most perfect performance as an attentive lover that causes Jenna to lose her love for him. He welcomes her with cocktails and a soothing, Barry White attitude, but this fails to set her at ease; he begins to straighten up her quarters, but she doesn't want him to do this. Confused, he bolts from his place beside her and begins shouting at her. Jenna is shocked by this, and tells Data to leave. He asks, "You do not wish to continue our 'lovers' quarrel'?", thus revealing that he is still running through his database to find an appropriate response for her. Jenna is both touched and saddened to hear this.

Van Mayter dead

Lt. Van Mayter embedded in the floor

It is now clear that the Enterprise must maneuver away from the Mar Oscura Nebula. Picard orders the crew to move out of the nebula at warp speed, which immediately leads to a sudden rush of deformations, nearly killing one of La Forge's engineers. Picard orders the helm to stop the ship, and La Forge, along with two of his engineers, goes to check things out. While investigating, Lt. Van Mayter is killed when the matter/space anomaly melts her into the deck of the ship.

Act Five

"Captain's Log, supplemental. This series of unexplained events has now resulted in the death of a crewman, but it appears that Mr. Data may have an explanation."

Data informs the assembled staff that the dark matter in the region is causing deformations in space. La Forge explains how the spatial deformations are affecting the ship: "... when we hit one of them, part of the ship momentarily phases out of normal space.". Data reveals that the ship's sensors cannot detect the deformations in time to avoid them; the detection range is too short. Worf proposes using a much more maneuverable shuttle to lead the Enterprise out of danger. Picard agrees to the plan, and insists that he pilot the shuttle. Using the shuttle's small computer screen, Picard steers through a crowded minefield of deformations, but eventually loses control as deformations impact and damage the shuttle. Fortunately, O'Brien manages to beam the captain out of the shuttle just before it explodes. By this time the Enterprise is close enough to risk a rush to the edge of the nebula. The Enterprise soon escapes into the safety of normal space.

Jenna has realized that the android does not really feel any emotions for her, nor does he really care for her. What is most hurtful is the realization that nothing she says or does can have any effect on him, that she has broken up with an unemotional man only to fall for a man who is completely incapable of emotions. She reveals this to Data before a dinner date in his quarters. Data realizes he is being dumped but shows no emotion and simply notes that he will delete the appropriate program (the one he'd written for their relationship), just as D'Sora expected he would do. Sitting alone in his quarters, Data greets his cat Spot with a chipper greeting. He scratches the cat's chin and Data leans over to blow out the dinner candles.

Memorable Quotes

"Honey, I'm home."

- Data, to Jenna


"I require advice."
(laughs) "Don't look at me."
(Data turns his head and looks away from her)

- Data and Guinan


"Well, what do you think of her, Data?"
"I find her to be a competent officer. Highly motivated, though somewhat lacking in her understanding of the theory underlying the dilithium matrix application."
"I meant personally."

- Guinan and Data


"The cat's out of the bag."
(looks around) "Spot?"

- Jenna and Data


"Klingons do not pursue relationships. They conquer that which they desire."

- Worf


"Captain. I am seeking advice in how to..."
"Yes, I've heard Data. And I would be delighted to offer any advice I can on understanding women. When I have some I'll let you know."

- Data and Captain Picard


"Darling, you remain as aesthetically pleasing as the first day we met. I believe I am the most fortunate sentient in this sector of the Galaxy!"

- Data to Jenna


"Are we no longer... a couple?"
"No, we're not."
"Then I will delete the appropriate program."

- Data and Jenna


"Hello, Spot."

- Data

Background information

Production

Stewart directing in theory

Patrick Stewart directing Spiner and Scarabelli

Spiner, Stewart, Goldberg - In Theory

Rehearsing with Spiner and Whoopi Goldberg

  • This is the first episode to be directed by Patrick Stewart. For advice, Stewart turned to Jonathan Frakes. Frakes recalled, "We had a couple of conversations. He was fabulous and took to it beautifully. He's a very sensitive man and he did a great job. He was also lucky that he got a Data show as his first. Brent [Spiner] really is an incredible actor with unbelievable range and technique, and certainly the most popular character, so it's a real plus to get that combination." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages) Stewart also spent much time talking to the show's original cinematographer, Edward R. Brown about his directorial debut. ("Departmental Briefing Year Four - Production", TNG Season 4 DVD special feature)
  • Stewart recalled, "I was a virgin then. Those seven days that I worked on 'In Theory' were seven of the most exciting days of my career. They were so intense." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Noting that the series assigned directors by lot, Stewart added, "I was very lucky to get a simple little love story to direct. I was lucky to have Brent Spiner as my leading man and indeed Brent was to be my leading man in the first three of the five episodes I directed. I had a fabulous guest star performance by Michele Scarabelli. I had no big sets or Klingon Great Halls or shoot 'em ups; there were no epic scenes. I had to simply concentrate on the basics of camera movement and structure and, more than anything else, work with the actors on the scenes." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • "In Theory" was filmed between Monday 1 April 1991 and Tuesday 9 April 1991 on Paramount Stage 8 and 9. A note on the call sheet of Monday 8 April 1991 reminded the cast and crew about the time change and to set the clocks forward one hour. Second unit and insert shots were filmed on Thursday 18 April 1991 on Paramount Stage 8 and 9.
  • First UK airdate: 7 December 1994

Continuity

  • While having a "lovers' quarrel", Data says angrily "You're not my mother", using a contraction. When Jenna questions him, he explains calmly "You are not my mother." This might indicate that the initial phrase was specifically programmed with the contraction, but the repeat without a contraction is a unique form of the "no contractions" contradiction. Data also says "Honey, I'm home!" when he enters Jenna's quarters, and "I'll join you", when asking Jenna which drink she would prefer. These may also have been programmed phrases.
  • This is the last episode featuring Data's cat, Spot, as an Angora. After this episode, the Angora was replaced by an orange short-hair tabby.
  • After the observation room's brief exposure to space, Data makes note of changes in the transparent aluminum alloy (the windows), giving reference to the same alloy Montgomery Scott introduced as a bargaining chip in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • The nebula appears to be a recolored version of the Mutara Nebula from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • This is the only episode with scenes inside one of the torpedo bays of Enterprise-D.

Reception

Music

  • At the beginning of Act 2, the piece played by the woodwind quintet in which Data performed was Reicha's Wind Quintet No. 2.
  • In Act 4, when Data is cleaning up the quarters, he sings. Although the lyrics are probably of a fictitious language, the melody is from the opera "La Bohème" of Giacomo Puccini, particularly Rodolfo's aria from first act.
  • Composer Jay Chattaway remembers, "The most demanding requirement for that episode was coming up with a musical device that would work for an android. I don't know whether or not Data has emotional feelings, but he was depicted in the show as feeling - in his own android way - an emotional relationship with someone. I used an EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) to produce Data's musical voice. A musician actually blows into the instrument like any non-electric wind instrument, so it's able to capture all the same emotional nuances, yet it drives a battery of synthesizers. What comes out is this eerie, spacey marriage of man and machine. The end result is as unique as Data - not quite alive, but not totally articial. I thought Brent Spiner pulled it off well. He's a very musical person, and in that episode, he actually sings an opera aria. Also, his album [Ol' Yellow Eyes is Back] is quite good." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 18, p. 35)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

And

Special guest star

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

Stand-ins

References

Arton, Jeff; Boleyn, Anne; "Book of Love"; Calaman sherry; Che Gelida Manina; cleaning processor; cryogenic control conduit; crystilia; dark matter; dark matter nebula; Denevian mead; deuterium; Dickens, Charles; dilithium matrix; EM scanner; fireworks; fructose; glucose; Henry VIII; inertial dampening; interpersonal dynamics; intimacy; kiss; Klingon; light hour; love; lovers' quarrel; M class; Mar Oscura Nebula; matter/antimatter containment pod; microfusion thruster; monosaccharide; painting; photon torpedo; poltergeist; Prakal II; Prakal II mixed drink; red alert; sarium krellide; Saurian brandy; socks; soup; Spot; Starbase 260; subspace distortion; subspace field; spatial deformation; survey probe; Targ milk (Targ milk); Telemarius IV; torpedo bay; transparent aluminum; tricorder; turbolift; Tyrinean; Tyrinean blade carving; Voltaire; warp field


Previous episode:
"The Mind's Eye"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4
Next episode:
"Redemption"

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