Star Trek Best Trek

The Outrageous Okona

In case you skip it...

This episodes spends a lot of time on the idea that Data does not understand humor. The only good part of it is the line, “Take my Worf… please!”

Data practicing physical comedy

The early seasons of The Next Generation are liberally doused in a “humans are special” attitude, and Data’s characterization often suffers for it. You may recall that in his introductory scene, Data literally says, “I am superior, sir, in many ways. But I would gladly give it up to be human.” And it is often implied that because he does not have many emotions (he’s described as having none but he clearly possesses curiosity, aspiration, altruism, and a capacity for friendship) he cannot hope to understand them. In this episode, the fact that he has no sense of humor prevents him from understanding it in others.

I just want to warn you that this sort of thing will happen again, despite the fact that Data could simply read through the literature on psychology and become an expert, just as he has with other sciences. It’s not consistent - like with the Prime Directive, some writers get it and others don’t.