Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data's Day   Rewatch 
January 21, 2021 5:11 AM - Season 4, Episode 11 - Subscribe

"Dear Dr. Maddox, As I write this, I am very sad. Our beloved transporter chief has been stood up at the altar— BY THE BENEVOLENT KEIKO. ALL HAIL KEIKO AND HER GLORIOUS ARBORETUM! Sincerely, Robot Man."

It is fortunate that Memory Alpha is able to perform its duties without emotional distractions:

• The running narration of this episode is a log entry recorded by Data for Commander Bruce Maddox, who wished to disassemble Data in a risky procedure to experiment on him in TNG: "The Measure Of A Man". After the trial on his right to choose, Data remained open to future collaboration, told Maddox to continue his work and said that he found some of what he proposed "intriguing." His reference to Maddox's "most recent letter" suggests that he and Data have had a continuing correspondence.

• The idea of doing a "day in the life" plot was first pitched by Harold Apter during the third season. Various viewpoints were considered, including Picard's and that of the ship itself. According to Ronald D. Moore, Data's viewpoint was finally chosen, "because he's the only one who's up 24 hours a day". However, Rick Berman insisted that at least one plot arc should run through the story, and the Romulan spy intrigue was created. Michael Piller explained, "Rick believed that you cannot have a show that has no jeopardy or drama on Star Trek. I agreed with him, otherwise all you're doing is a scrapbook."

• The writing staff had considered a shipboard marriage for some time before the development of this episode. Michael Piller had at one point suggested marrying Picard. Another idea was to marry O'Brien to the female conn officer intended to replace Wesley. Regarding the latter, Piller explained, "I was against that because I felt that O'Brien was too good a character and potential benefit to the show to make him another star's supporting character. I felt he would always sort of be a sounding board for someone else to talk to and I didn't want to waste him on that. So we never did get around to replacing Wesley and O'Brien emerged on his own."

• Moore was assigned to rewrite Apter's teleplay. According to Moore, "In Apter's version, there was a scene on the holodeck where Data literally does John Travolta's big disco number from Saturday Night Fever. Complete with the white suit. It was hysterical! Everybody knew we were never going to do that, but the idea of including some dancing was then in the air."

• Gates McFadden and Brent Spiner did their own dancing in this episode, except for the overhead shots where Spiner requested a double, as he did not feel confident enough to pull it off. McFadden did the choreography, as she was a well-known Hollywood choreographer long before Next Generation. According to director Robert Wiemer, McFadden and Spiner also developed the lines in the scene, which were later accepted by the scriptwriters.

• Before being cast as Keiko in this episode, Rosalind Chao originally auditioned and was considered for the role of Natasha Yar, according to a 1987 studio memo. While the character of Keiko is a Japanese national, the actress Chao is Chinese-American. Chao appeared in eight episodes of Next Generation and nineteen episodes of Deep Space Nine.

• In 2016, Chao appeared in an episode of Hawaii Five-0 (developed by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), portraying another character named Keiko, Hawaii governor Keiko Mahoe.

• Chao has remained friends with Colm Meaney and attended his wedding in Beverly Hills on March 15, 2007. At Grand Slam XV, Meaney said "It was lovely having my TV wife at my wedding".

• V'Sal, the barber, first appeared in this episode. As his name was not stated in dialogue, the Star Trek Encyclopedia assumed that he, and another Bolian barber featured in later episodes, Mr. Mot, were in fact the same person.

• As an homage, Picard's wedding remarks are almost the same as those which Kirk uses in the teaser for the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror", an episode also involving the Romulans.

• The appearance of the pads on the transporter platform is inconsistent throughout this episode. In some scenes, the border lines around each pad are more pronounced than they are during others. This is because the set was being redressed for use in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The thicker black border lines seen in that film were kept in for the rest of the series.

• Ronald D. Moore was satisfied by the final result, calling it a "great, fun episode."

• Rick Berman commented, "I ended up being pleasantly surprised, but it was an off-episode."

• Michael Chabon watched this episode twice while writing for the first season of Star Trek: Picard.

"Have you ever been an actual participant in a Human wedding?"
"You would not consider it an honor?"
"An honor perhaps, but Human bonding rituals often involve a great deal of talking, and dancing, and… crying."
- Data and Worf

"There are still many Human emotions I do not comprehend: anger, hatred, revenge, but I am not mystified by the desire to be loved or the need for friendship. These are things I do understand."
- Data, in his personal log to Bruce Maddox

Poster's Log:
We are in for a run of some dang, dang good episodes. TNG's risk-taking this season seems to work out quite well, and this is a good example (and a bit of a precursor to "Lower Decks" (the episode "Lower Decks," I mean (though of course IT is a precursor to the series))). I'm not sure a TNG has made me laugh this much so far on this rewatch. I wish they'd done more episodes like this…not many more, which could have grown cloying, but a few more.

We get some good and memorable insights into Data's character here, but as much as I like this episode, I do have to wonder what the version from the ship's POV would've been like.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is my favorite TNG episode ever. We get Data's POV. We get Romulans, and first-rate Romulan treachery! First appearance by Rosalind Chao. We get the return of Yar, sort of. This is really the launching point for Data's unique friendship with LaForge. We get to see Gates McFadden show her talents!

Also, regarding my earlier thesis that Data does feel emotions, there's another scene in support of that here. When he wishes for what humans call "intuition", he is doubting Ambassador Tapel. He knows something is up - he has intuition, but hasn't learned to trust it.

I love how the A plot and B plot dance around each other with Data as the bridge between them, and we also get just a slightly different angle on some of the characters. The scene with Worf is *kisses fingers*. The conversation with Troi is also an excellent revelation of both characters' perspectives and the blind spots each brings to their relationship (though I could certainly do without that leering camera pan over the cleavage. Come on). The end of the cold open when LaForge says "Maybe next time I should deliver the good news" - that delivery is exhibit A in my argument that LeVar Burton acts the shit out of the part with just his eyebrows. When Dr. Crusher first refuses to teach Data, but then brings him close for that sort of conspiratorial conversation - such a great character moment.

I have so many favorite moments here.

"The Juarez child."

"Well played, Captain. Well played... It was a maneuver worthy of a Romulan... I suggest we both leave the Neutral Zone, before there is another... accident."
posted by rocketman at 5:59 AM on January 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

We get the return of Yar, sort of.

Wait, did I miss something?
posted by skewed at 6:44 AM on January 21, 2021

Wait, did I miss something?

Look closer at the "dance partner" the holodeck creates for Data.
posted by rocketman at 6:50 AM on January 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is another one that I don't remember watching the first time through, although its events (in particular, the O'Briens' wedding) have been referenced a number of times. I think that I may have been irritated at what I assumed was some sort of holiday associated with Data, not understanding the meaning of the title. (I wasn't a big fan of Data at the time; that doesn't mean that I disliked the character, just that I didn't appreciate the character as much as I do on this rewatch.) As it is, the premise is an interesting one, since not only does Data continue to stay in touch with Bruce Maddox after the events of "The Measure of a Man", but also his conveyance of his feelings (and, yes, he does have them, whether or not they're defined as such) to Maddox lessens the probability that the latter will continue to see him merely as an object of study. (I am also amused that Michael Chabon made something of a study of this episode, since not only will he revisit Maddox in PIC, but also do his own version of a particular plot point.)

Also agreed about many of the other characters getting their turns to shine. I especially liked the dance lesson scene, both for McFadden getting to literally strut her stuff and also for Data instantly mastering the movements, but not the intention behind them. (And his disturbing rictus when he attempts to smile gets mirrored by a certain Austrian cyborg in Terminator 2.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:41 AM on January 21, 2021

This is definitely one of my favorite TNG episodes. It's one of the few times Trek ever really acknowledges the mundane routine of life on a starship, along with "Below Decks". Plus, Spot the Cat's debut episode! I want to know about all the puppers and kittles who live on the Big E!
posted by briank at 11:00 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I forgot that I also wanted to call out the great line reads of Alan Scarfe (Mendak), who we will see again as a different Romulan (and he gets more scenes!) in season 6's "Birthright, Part II."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:50 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also wanted to call out the great line reads of Alan Scarfe (Mendak)

Yeah, he's definitely one of the reasons I love this episode so much. I know Andreas Katsulas gets a lot of love for his work as Tomalak, there's something supremely menacing about Alan Scarfe. He just nails a subdued hostility that tickles my fancy.

Episode MVP: Sierra Pecheur's headwear.
posted by rocketman at 11:55 AM on January 21, 2021

Making Data the Officer of the Deck during the mid shift makes a lot of sense, since he doesn't sleep. On big ships like the Enterprise most folks keep a normal sleep schedule with the exception of standing watches (performing actual hands-on duties of operating the ship). This is a pain for folks who have to stay up extra late or wake up extra early to cover nighttime shifts.

On smaller ships like submarines, your daily schedule is more closely tied to the watches you stand. My boat had a three shift rotation, with each shift lasting 8 hours. You spend 8 hours on watch, 8 hours performing secondary duties, and 8 hours sleeping, relaxing, and performing personal business. As I recall there's an episode later where Picard is away getting asked about lights and his replacement Captain Jellico orders Riker to switch the ship to a 4 section rotation from the previous 3 section. Having watch sections like that at all on such a big ship seems weird to me, it seems like the Enterprise can't possibly have that many places where people NEED to stand watch. Is there a Warp Core Operator that has to stare at a status panel for hours at a time? Is there a Engineering Lower Level that has to, I dunno, take logs on the deuterium feed pumps? The only watches that I ever see explicitly shown are the folks on the bridge.

Big ships have varying watch rotations depending on how many stations there are and how many people there are to stand them. Depending on what you're qualified to stand watch on you may only have to do a 6 hour watch once every 36 hours, with the rest of your working time spent doing maintenance and other tasks you're explicitly not allowed to do while on watch.

Still, all that said, Data doesn't need to sleep, so he can do a normal daily shift and also stay up all night to take every overnight Officer of the Deck watch, freeing up the rest of the senior staff from having to wake up early or stay up late. That part makes total sense to me.

P.S. on ships Officer of the Deck tends to be stood by junior officers, since the senior officers are generally way too busy with administration to take the time to stand actual watches more often than is necessary to maintain proficiency. They tend to be around to yell at the junior officers whenever they screw up, though.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:15 PM on January 21, 2021 [13 favorites]

Cards from the episode in the Star Trek CCG:

From Premiere, there's Mendak, a crappy two skill rare, and Selok, 'mission specialist' of Treachery. At least Mendak's ship Devoras offers one more range and one more stat point over the generic version.

In Q-Continuum, the 3rd set, we got Keiko who's two skills are at least better than Mendak's, and she can be a 9-9-5 stat-wise if Miles is there. Eh.

And then there's Barber Pole, a joke card that does nothing. It finally got a purpose in the final First Edition set, with In For A Trim.

In Second Edition, the cards we got are spread across a few sets, the 2nd set included Picking Up the Basics, a fairly ok skill sharing event for your[TNG] crew. Selok, Deep Cover Operative has the rare, handy Intelligence skill and a special skill much more flavorful than useful- if she dies, you can't do your [Fed] missions anymore. Maybe not a good chance to take! On the plus side, she's complimented by the foil Mendak, Duplicitous Admiral with similar strengths and weaknesses. Finally, the 2E Devoras provides a nice benefit for hanging out at your opponent's missions bothering them, like a good Romulan player should.
posted by StarkRoads at 6:34 PM on January 21, 2021

Another episode that is good but I've seen it too many times. This could have been a much more forgettable episode had they switched the A and B plots as would be what we'd more typically expect.

Between Keiko's sudden arrival as O'Brien's fiance and spot's appearance as chief cat, they're really working hard to make it seem like the Enterprise is a place where people live.
posted by skewed at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Being much more familiar with DS9, I was very surprised that this episode was the introduction of Keiko - I assumed we'd meet her at least once before the wedding episode! And I do really wonder what brought them together. I like Keiko a lot but having her first appearance be "actually maybe I don't want to marry Miles" really put their relationship off on a weird footing.

But more importantly, holy goddamn shit that wedding outfit!! Is that the single most absurd piece of costuming we've seen on this show yet? It's objectively horrid but I kind of love it for just that reason.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

Keiko's wedding outfit, along with the decorations in her quarters, are in keeping with Star Trek's entirely bizarre tradition of showboating how integrated and tolerant we'll be in the future by using national stereotypes whenever possible. (Look, a Scotsman and a Russian getting along; the future is amazing!) I'm impressed that they showed sufficient restraint to keep O'Brien out of a kilt.

I'm super mad about how Keiko makes a completely reasonable decision not to marry O'Brien and not a single man on the ship takes her seriously. Not one, not even for a second! They're all immediately jumping into their "cold feet" and "she'll come around" bullshit, instead of having a moment of awareness that maybe a smart and competent woman might be having second thoughts about marrying a dude who is so stunningly clumsy that he manages to regularly injure himself while kayaking on the holodeck. But no, it must be lady who is wrong. Ugh.

A lot of stuff just appears out of thin air in this episode. I'm still kind of blindsided by the cat. I knew that at some point, Data gets a cat, but I figured there would be backstory? We've seen Data's quarters plenty and there's been no evidence of a cat. How do you suddenly just get a cat on the Enterprise? They can't just have a pet shop on board. Do you... do you get it from the replicator? Did he replicate a cat? Data, did you just fucking replicate a cat? On brand, but fucked up.

But I want to talk about what I loved about this episode, which is Picard getting owned. And it's not just because I love to see smug Starfleet officers shown up-- I mean I do, my love for smug Starfleet officers getting shown up has not dimished one jot-- but because Patrick Stewart just fucking sells it this time. Check out how uncomfortable he is when he first commits to entering the Neutral Zone! It's not your usual grimly decisive Picard. It's a Picard who feels like he's out of his depth, and hey, he's right! Man, check out how he just stews when the Romulans finally explain how badly he's been suckered and show him the door. I don't think we've previously seen Picard so badly beaten by his own incompetence before. When he's visiting the baby towards the end, Stewart really brings across that Picard's trying to calm his own nerves. It's incredibly effective acting, and it's also great to give the crew a chance to react to abject failure. I liked that a lot.

(Also out of thin air: is this the first time we've seen the lights on the Enterprise dim for "night mode"? And if you're going to do that, fine, but why would you do it on the bridge, where presumably the night shift has to stay alert and awake at all times?)
posted by phooky at 11:52 AM on January 22, 2021 [9 favorites]

I loooove how when they turn the lights down, there is the diminishing whir of a generator, like they are powering down a reactor.
posted by skewed at 12:39 PM on January 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

How do you suddenly just get a cat on the Enterprise? They can't just have a pet shop on board. Do you... do you get it from the replicator? Did he replicate a cat? Data, did you just fucking replicate a cat?

Android cat! Positronic cat brain!

(How did Tendi make The Dog in LD?)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:45 PM on January 22, 2021

Oh no is the cat going to die the minute it experiences a Genuine Cat Emotion
posted by phooky at 4:50 PM on January 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

It turns out the first-generation emotion chip just makes you want to go through doors
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:23 PM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I suspect if this episode were in an earlier season Roddenberry would've complained that in the future people have progressed beyond the need for cold feet.
posted by ckape at 8:16 PM on January 31, 2021

Oh Keiko, never change.
posted by Kyol at 6:16 PM on February 9, 2021

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