2/8/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Outrageous Okona"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S02E04
Air Date: December 12, 1988
Written by: Burton Armus, Les Menchen, Lance Dickson, David Landsberg, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Directed by: Robert Becker

Premise
The Enterprise rescues a swarthy space pirate who ends up being in the center of a two-sided scandal.

Review
IN THIS CORNER: Weighing in at Class M, floating in the Omega Sagitta system, Altec! AND IN THIS CORNER: Also weighing in at Class M, and also floating in the Omega Sagitta system, Altec's mortal enemy, Straleb! Well, okay, so they are seeing some modicum of peace lately after having signed a peace treaty, but they still don't like each other very much. But we'll get to that later because right now, the Enterprise is encountering a ship with a faulty guidance system and a captain that has no idea what he's doing.

Contacting the ship, they find Captain Thadiun Okona, the dashing rogue that all the ladies love. That's all the ladies, including Lt. Teri Hatcher. The Desperate Housewife takes the con in the transporter room when Picard decides to bring Okona on board and help him out with his ship. She and Okona immediately make sparks. And in the meantime, Okona attempts to teach Data about humor, but utterly fails. Data, however, is intrigued. He wants to research this further. This will turn out to have been a terrible idea.
Staring into your soul.
Data first consults the one and only real comedian on the ship, Whoopi Goldberg. Well, okay, Guinan. Guinan tells him that maybe in order to understand humor he has to consult a bigger computer; the ship's computer. So Data goes down to the holodeck and conjures a fake comedian that doesn't even have a name. The first in a long tradition of holograms not having names aside from their title. The comedian tells a few terrible jokes and then tries to instruct Data on how to be funny. First there's physical "comedy" (an over-the-top impression of Jerry Lewis), then there's story-telling comedy. Data doesn't do either particularly well. Neither does the comedian.

Meanwhile, Altec and Straleb come back in the scene. The leader of Altec and a dude from Straleb warp into the area and demand to see Okona. The Altec dude says Okona stole a jewel, the Straleb dude says Okona deflowered and impregnated his daughter. Picard tries to make a three-way call with them, but that only ends in chaos as they bicker over family feud type stuff. So, instead, Picard brings Okona to the bridge to try and settle things. Once Okona hears the charges made about him, it doesn't phase his roguishness in the least bit.
Okona is having none of this.
Picard and Okona decide the only way to decide who takes who and for what reason is for the other guys to beam over to the ship so they can talk it over face-to-face. The Straleb guy brings his daughter and, curiously, the Altec guy brings along his son. Okona announces that in order to solve all their problems he's going to do the right thing and marry the daughter. The son cries out "no!" See, the son was in love with the daughter and, with the help of Okona, was going to steal the jewel to use as a sort of engagement ring. The son was going to marry her because he was the one who deflowered and impregnated the daughter. Well, the two fathers agree to the marriage and all the details have now officially become an internal matter, so, invoking the Prime Directive, Picard makes a hasty exit with Okona.

Meanwhile, Data's still trying to learn comedy. He tries is jokes out on Guinan who only laughs when a joke wasn't told. Data still doesn't get it, so Guinan returns with him to the holodeck. Guinan and the comedian then watch Data perform a stand-up routine to a packed crowd who laughs at everything he says or does. Literally everything. Like, he just raises his hand and they laugh. Data calculates that he is discouraged by such a reaction, and Guinan assures him that "being able to make people laugh, or being able to laugh, is not the end all and be all of being human."
BUT IT'S STILL PRETTY GREAT, AM I RIGHT?
In the end, Okona, his ship having been fixed, goes along his way and Wesley turns to Data and says "Say goodbye, Data." And Data says, "Goodbye, Data." The crew bursts out in laughter, and Data, trying to figure out what he did to make them laugh, traces his mistaken speech to a Vaudeville act and then goes on to recite lines from the same act, thus ruining the joke. And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about sex being funny.

Overall Thoughts
This is a pretty charming episode if it wasn't so painful to see the comedian at work. It's kind of another Data episode although Okona gets the title. Space pirates are the best kinds of pirates, and I really wish we could have seen more Okona as a returning character, but, alas, this was not his path. And, of course, Data is everyone's favorite android.