ST:TNG 2.15 Pen Pals ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with a Prime Directive tension in....

Pen Pals
Season 2, Episode 15
  • Wesley is given a leadership opportunity leading a team to a geological study of a mostly unexplored area of space where Data has been communicating with a girl on a planet that appears to be in danger of destruction.
Character Focus:
  • Data is a focus here, as we was the one who reached out to the transmission and set in motion all the Prime Directive chatter.
  • Sarjenka, the alien Data speaks to with the planet in trouble.
  • Wesley is also a strong focus here, more so than I remembered, as not only is it is first go in a leadership position (with the exception of 1.17 When the Bough Breaks which he did lead the kids through passive aggressive standoff when they are abducted), and it's his insistence to keep looking into the geological study which leads to what helps save Sarjenka's planet.
What I remembered about this episode:
  • I remember this episode from the title alone as a 'Data makes a friend!' episode, although I forgot a lot about it, including all the Wesley stuff.
What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
  • The whole Wesley part of this episode was incredibly important, especially as they had a whole meeting about the direction of his study and discussed if it was too soon to have the burden of power, and this growth as a crew member.  I can't beleive I didn't remember it at all!
What feels different now, than then:
  • I'm literally shocked that Data would respond to the transmission, it is such a clear break of Prime Directive, I do wonder if he's actually do that.
  • The Data/Sarjenka friendship reminded me of the new Doctor Who Season 5 and The Doctor/Amy Pond character story, especially with how Data leaves her with a singing rock.
  • The huge tension you can feel in the discussion on whether to help/interfere in the planet that Sarjenka is on, everyone had different opinions and it was a cyclical discussion with no clear answers.
What remained the same:
  • I totally flipped out then, and now, that they had the ability to and actually erased Sarjenka's memory.  That seemed a HUGE leap of science/medicine and was shocked there was no discussion of the moral implications or that it wasn't harder to do.  That seemed to come out of no where - that with an alien race they just encountered they could isolate their specific memories of Data (spanning 8 weeks) and all the memories of The Enterprise.
What I see differently:
  • Everything.  I thought it was interesting to see the senior crew discuss Wesley's direction and also see his challenges, and successes, with leadership and I thought it was crazy that Data would continue to reach out to Sarjenka when it was clear it was in conflict with the Prime Directive.
  • I thought it was hilarious, and so true, that after stressing and second guessing a choice about directing his team, that when Wesley finally *did* ask them to do something that was a big undertaking, they just said "Okay" and did it. That felt so real.
Great Quotes:
  • "Eight weeks ago, I received a transmission. A simple four word message. "Is anybody out there?" I answered it." - Data
  • "It seems that some creatures have the capacity to fill spaces you never knew were empty." - Picard
  • "This is geology, not malevolence. These planets live fast and die hard. The question is, why?" - Riker
  • "No, I prefer a mode of transportation that doesn't have a mind of its own." - Troi
Left off at:
The Enterprise decides to save the planet Sarjenka is on with the research cultivated from Wesley's team, and Data returns her to the planet with her memory erased.

Images Source: TrekCore


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