Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, January 23, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Four "The Outrageous Okona"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Four "The Outrageous Okona"
Production Order: 30
Air Order: 30
Stardate: 42402.7
Original Air Date: January 9, 1989


Picard's Log 42402.7: "Just some random crap about where we traveling, and how the planets in this system were colonized by one group which kind of don't like each other but live under a peace treaty."

The E comes up on a busted freighter moving between the two planets in the system, and they waste a few minutes of air time determining that the freighter is empty, that there is one humanoid on board, and what his problem is.
"Eh, let's go get him," suggests Riker.
"Cool," Picard agrees.

They open hailing frequencies, and when the captain of the good ship Erstwhile introduces himself, he's turned around and digging through a box of parts or something, possibly to give the E bridge crew ample time to check out his ass.
Check it out you guys. It's the Rocketeer!
Okona makes a joke about being "alone and empty" and how that's pretty unusual. Basically, he's just a dude with a flat tire, sitting by the roadside and wishing he had AAA membership. Harmless.
Just to be sure, though, Picard mutes the viewscreen to ask Troi about him.
"He's a rogue," she replies, amused.
Data questions this choice of words, then accesses his databanks and begins listing off synonyms.
"Cool, we get it," says Troi.
They turn the sound back on, then tell Okona if he'll turn his engines off, they'll tractor his ship and beam him over, so they can fix his flat tire.
Worf recommends limiting dude's access to the E, and Picard agrees. That's a pretty rude thing to say in front of a stranger. Unless he can't hear them?
Picard over comm: "Transporter room, beam that guy over here, okay?"
Female transporter chief who is not O'Brien: "Okey-doke."
Okona: "Wait, was that a chick?"
Oh, look at that. He totally hears them planning to not let him in certain parts of the ship because he's possibly not trustworthy. That's kind of a douchey thing to say in front of someone, even if it is a reasonable precaution to take.
Anyway, Picard is now annoyed that Okona just made a maybe-sexist comment about one of his crew members, and he tells Okona to hurry up and get his ass over there:

Picard: "Please follow the commander's instructions so we can get back to our normal routine."
Riker: (smiling)
Picard to Riker: "Something funny?"
Riker Sassy Moment: "Well, the unexpected is our normal routine."
Playful music! Commercial break!

Riker brings Data, Worf and Wes to meet Okona in the transporter room. The transporter chief beams him over. Worf pretty much pats him down like 24th century TSA, and takes his weapons. Okona has what is presumably the busted part of his ship, and he requests to help fix it when they do the repairs. Riker agrees and tells him to give the part to the Lt Commander. Okona hands the parts to Wes, who is flattered. He then thoroughly hits on the transporter chief, and hey, it's Teri Hatcher, y'all!

She doesn't buy his bullshit lines at first, but then ends up smiling in appreciation.
Riker seems to be caught between mild amusement and irritation.
"Go fix your thing," he tells Okona, and he and Worf leave.
Okona exits the transporter room with Data and Wes in tow. Wes is still holding the busted park, but he's hugging it to his chest like a lovesick schoolgirl hugging her binder. Clearly, Wes thinks Okona is the shit.
Then Okona says, "Now that's sex appeal," and Wes nods, like Okona just doled out some wisdom, and Wes agrees out of experience.
Seriously? Is Wes getting some while his mother is away?
Data replies with, "I wouldn't know. I'm an android. That's not in my programming."
Subtle, Data.
So Okona answers with a terrible Dad joke.

Wes thinks this is hilarious, probably because Jack Crusher wasn't there to tell him any Dad jokes.

Data is confused. Okona explains that it's a joke, and that it's funny. After a pause, Data replies, "Of course it is," and laughs that creepy fake-ass laugh that makes you think of murderous dolls. 

Okona shares some laughs with Wes and Geordi while Geordi explains the repairs he made. Geordi tells Okona that he replaced one part on his busted machinery with something more sophisticated, and Okona asks how he's supposed to replace said new part if it breaks down, as that part is not available in their star system.
Which makes me wonder: Okona is aware of this tech, but does not have access to it. Could he leave the system to find more? It's kind of moot, as Geordi says he shouldn't have to replace it ever, but is this a light breach of the PD? I think no, but it goes unexplained, leaving it a grey area.

So now we see Okona and Data in the corridor again, this time sans Wes. Okona starts asking Data if he's ever experienced certain things, like being hot or cold.
Dude... of course not.
"...not from alcohol," replies Data, referring to The Naked Now, where that illness affected him as well.
"Have you ever experienced love?"
"The act or the emotion?"
And again, Data is forced to ask for clarification, because in his case, the answers are yes, and no.
Okona says they're the same.
"I think you're full of shit," says Data thoughtfully.

(Aside: Okona's wardrobe of puffy shirt with vest, and pants tucked into tall boots, accessorized with belts and weapons is supposed to make us think of air pirates, I guess? Though he's not as cool as these air pirates. No one is as cool as these air pirates.)

Okona then compares life to hauling a cargo of canaries that exceeds the weight restriction on your spaceship. (Does that even science? Surely a ship that never enters the atmosphere of any planet and only exists in space wouldn't have weight restrictions...?) Anyway, Data once again tells him that he's full of shit, and Okona tells him that it's a joke.
"Don't you know what a joke is?"
"Yes." He then starts listing synonyms again, and Okona has to politely tell him to STFU. He insists that Data doesn't understand humor, and why do I get the impression that this is also thinly-veiled robophobia?
Then Okona asks where certain crew quarters are, and Data says they're behind him.
"You probs wouldn't understand that, either," he says cheerfully, though we know this to be crap, because again, The Naked Now.
The door opens, and that transporter-chief-who-is-Teri-Hatcher is there in some red nightie with attached arm warmers...?
Anyway, he's gonna bang her, but you pretty much knew that already.

There's a brief scene where Riker asks Geordi how the repairs are going, and he and Wes discuss Okona's character, but they pretty much just end up talking about how Okona plays by his own rules. Again, we pretty much knew that already.

We switch over to Data and Guinan in Ten Forward. They're talking about humor and Data's struggle to get Okona's jokes. She asks if he laughs.
"When the situation calls for that function." he replies.
Data does another list, and Guinan tells him to stop.
"Why are we here talking about this?" she asks. "Because you're a 'droid, and I'm a 'noid."
"Why are you annoyed?"
She repeats the phrase, emphasizing the words and pointing to each of them in turn.
"Oh. Humanoid. You told a joke."
It was a bad joke.
"I am not laughing."
"Maybe the joke was not funny," he suggests.
It wasn't.
"No, the joke was funny," Guinan insists.
No, it wasn't.
"Maybe it is me then."

Data decides to go to the holodeck based on Guinan's suggestion to "seek a smarter computer."
Is the Enterprise smarter than Data, or just different? I'm actually kind of interested in knowing which is considered "smarter" here.
Data tells the holodeck computer panel that he wants a program that will tell him what is funny, and he asks who is considered the funniest. Majel tells him that a comedian in the 23rd century who made jokes about quantum physics is considered funniest.
Sigh. Really, Star Trek?
Instead, he selects some kind of Catskills stand-up comic named Ronald B Moore.
He enters, and the comic is Joe Piscopo.
And this is where you nope away from this episode, because from here on out, this episode compares acutely to passing a kidney stone. That is to say, it's not funny, and downright painful to experience.

"Show me what is funny," says Data. "I want to learn."
"Okay!" says Joe. He hops out of his chair. "I'll do Jerry Lewis!"
He pulls Data onstage and they put in fake teeth and make weird noises and, as Data puts it, "jump around like an idiot."

When they determine that this is not funny and actually totally SUCKS, Joe says he will tell Data how to tell some jokes. Being an android, he speeds up the "tutorial."
Later, he goes to Ten Forward to test his new skills.
In front of Guinan, he pumps his arms back and forth, cigar in hand, and affects when I guess is an accent you could call "Stereotypical Twentieth Century Stand-Up Comic."
He tells what is an okay joke, but he completely fucks up the timing. Guinan doesn't laugh.
"You screwed it up. Your timing was off."
"My timing is digital," he protests, and this time she laughs.
He attempts a second joke, but is paged to the bridge instead.

Up on the bridge, sensors are reporting an unidentified vessel approaching. Data says it's a little interplanetary ship.
"Um, they locked lasers on us?" says Worf.
You can tell they'd like to make "oooh, scary!" jokes. Picard points out that lasers wouldn't even make it through their shields.
"Regulation says we're supposed to go to yellow alert," remarks Riker.
"World's oldest regulation," muses Picard. "Okay, go to yellow alert, I guess. And drop the shields."
"In case we decide to surrender to them."

Worf makes a growly noise, because I guess he doesn't have a sense of humor.

Music of indeterminate mood! Commercial break!

They are hailed by the other ship, and the guy in grey calls the "Federation vessel," so it looks like these guys aren't in the Federation.
"Why are you here?" the guy asks.

"I am Debin of Planet Atlec and I am ordering you to heave to and prepare to be boarded."
Sassy Riker Moment:

"Meh, we're in their space, let's find out what they want," suggests Picard. "Debin, what's good?" he asks
"You're towing the ship of a criminal," replies Debin, who seems to be trying to make himself seem imposing but is only coming off as flustered. "Give me Okona. He committed crimes on my planet."
Picard is surprised. "We were just helping a dude stranded by the side of the... space."
"Another ship coming to this crap-tacular party," announces Worf.
"Like the Altec ship, but with different markings," reads off Data.
They decide to put Debin on hold and check out this new ship, which is identified as a security ship from Straleb, the other planet in this system.
The security ship hails them.
"I am Secretary Kushell from Straleb. I already know who you are, and that Debin wants Okona, because I Big Brothered both your asses," says the d-bag on screen.

"You're gonna give Okona to me instead of Debin."
Picard has Worf mute the convo.
"Are you kidding me with this shit?"
He pages Okona to the bridge.
What's really catching my eye here is that kid to Kushell's left. He simultaneously looks uncomfortable with the situation, and is giving Kushell hella side-eye throughout this whole encounter. At one point, Kushell tells Picard that he only has to comply with "one demand," and Picard makes note of the word "demand." 
"It is a word I have chosen," replies Kushell in a defiant matter, and I swear that kid rolls his eyes so hard I'd thought he hurt himself.

Kushell then goes on to talk about honor, and how he'll die or let others be killed in order to get what he wants. The kid seems alarmed by this, and Picard says he doesn't want that happening. He says he'll talk to some people, and hangs up on Kushell.
"Where the fuck is Okona?"
Worf reports that Okona hasn't responded, but has been reported as having been in three different crew quarters. He leaves the bridge to fetch Okona personally.

I have two questions here:
One - three crew members have fallen for Okona's bullshit lines in the few hours he's been on board? Seriously? Damn, Starfleet. I thought you picked 'em smarter than that.
Two - is the computer really tracking your movements like that? I mean, yes that makes sense, because you can ask the computer the whereabouts of any person on board, and it will tell you where to find them. But it never occurred to me how invasive that was. It means potentially nothing is a secret, because your whereabouts could be broadcast to anyone who asks, as well as anyone in the vicinity who happens to overhear it.
"Computer, where is Commander Riker located?"
"Commander Riker is in the crew quarters of Counselor Deanna Troi."
And now everyone who heard that is once again wondering if Riker and Troi are an item again, and the rumor mill chugs away, and Riker and Troi start getting weird looks from people, because the Enterprise holds fewer people than your average hospital, and news travels fast.
Really, if you were nosy, you could just sit in your quarters all day and ask the computer where certain people were. You could track their movements across the ship, and stalk people from the comfort of your own quarters.
Much like Worf is doing to Okona right now. With scary music being played.

Then, when he gets to the quarters, the door just opens for him. I know the doors have chimes, and I know that security can override the locks, but he couldn't have just tried the chimes first? Called through the door that there's a security matter at hand? Like, if I was about to hook up with a dude and Worf just busted in unceremoniously, I'd've been pissed.
"Get your ass to the bridge!" barks Worf.

Wait... is that different vest?
It is!
Why the hell is he wearing two vests?

Anyway, he stares Worf down like he's challenging him, but Worf just growls that he'd like to fight, but can't because he's on duty.
Okona turns and gives the red-head a line (one of many, I assume): "Look what it took to drag me from your arms."
Ugh. Shut up, dude. I bet you've got all the space-STIs.

Worf escorts Okona to the bridge.
"Okay," says Picard right off the bat. "I got two ships here with two dudes - Debin and Kushell - telling me that I need to hand you over to them. They say you're a criminal, and that they'll attack my ship if I don't hand you over. What are your crimes?"
"Hell if I know," replies Okona.
"Fine!" snaps Picard.
He barks at Worf to turn on the viewscreen, and there's a snicker moment when Worf asks "Which ship?" and Picard has to remember that many, small annoying ships are threatening to dent his fenders.
He turns on the screen to Debin. 
"I have Okona," says Picard. "What is his crime?"
"None of your beeswax," snaps Debin.
"Then I'm not turning him over to you."
Picard doesn't want to start some intergalactic incident, but he knows that he's in deep shit if he gives Okona to either of these guys and it turns out that he owes them five bucks, and they're going to shoot him in the head.
Debin gives in and drags his very pregnant daughter onto the viewscreen, then he starts yelling about dishonor and bastard children. The daughter seems embarrassed to be related to him.
Okona also rolls his eyes.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Rehash of what you just watched, providing you were in the room before the commercial break."

Picard decides to talk to Troi on the bridge about this, and what's interesting here is that Star Trek is being pretty forward about the fact that Okona being forced into a shotgun marriage is considered to be kind of outdated. They use terms like "ancient" and "arcane," and I wonder if they figure that by the time the 24th century rolls around, having children and marriage will no longer be tied together. Were they predicting for then what is starting to become a social norm now? They also had the same reaction when the whole ship found out that Troi was involved in an arranged marriage.
Troi tells Picard that Debin is totally serious about his honor being at stake and he doesn't care who has to die to set this right.

Okona thinks Troi's assessment is right on the money.
"Why does Kushell want you?" Picard asks.
Okona shrugs.
Picard decides to do a split-screen conference call thingy so everyone can yell at each other.
Turns out Kushell is missing some kind of fancy jewel, "a national treasure," which he believes Okona took after befriending his son Benzan, the kid who has been giving him side-eye. Kushell and Debin yell at each other for a bit, each claiming that his claim is more important than the other's, and Picard finally mutes the screen so they can continue to yell at one another without Picard being forced to listen. He finally shuts it off completely and pulls Okona into the ready room.

"This sucks," says Okona once the door shuts. "No matter what happens, someone will get hurt. I'm sorry you're involved. I didn't want that."
"I have a problem," says Picard, "because they both figure they have a valid claim to you, but if I give you to one of them, the other will declare war."
"Can you just fix my ship and let me go?"
"Your ship is not as fast as theirs are," Picard points out. "But Starfleet regulations would agree that that's what I should do."
"For what it's worth, I didn't take that jewel." Okona pauses. "Also, that other stuff is between me and Yanar."
(Yanar probably being the preggo girl.)

Okona goes down to Engineering while Geordi works on the broken part.
Wes grills him about leaving, and he gives Okona the teenage boy version of the "I'm so disappointed in you" speech that moms give to destroy their kids. They talk about Okona moving from place to place, alone. Okona looks a bit wistful. When Geordi says the part is finally ready, Okona says that maybe he will stick around for a bit.

Okona goes back to the bridge.
"So instead of leaving, I'm gonna surrender," he tells Picard cheerfully.
Picard opens hailing frequencies and invites Debin and Kushell to beam aboard the E to settle the matter. They readily agree to come aboard weaponless.
So they do, and everyone meets up in a meeting room. Right away, Debin and Kushell start arguing about who gets to take him.

"Okay, so y'all are talking about me, but not to me," interrupts Okona. "And with the options of punishment as a thief, or marrying Yanar, I'll take Yanar."
"No fucking way!" yells Benzan, the kid with the side-eye.
"Yeah! He can't be allowed to get away with it!" shouts Debin.
"Everybody shut up!" yells Yanar. "You all think Okona is the dad, then fine. I'll marry him."
"The hell you will!" says Benzan. "Nobody stole that stupid jewel. I was going to give it to Yanar. That's my baby. I was going to give her the jewel to pledge marriage."
"WTF?" Debin demands of Yanar. "You told me the kid belonged to Okona!"
"Okay, let's say I tell you the kid is Benzan's," suggests Yanar. "You would have declared war on Kushell. So I told you it belonged to Okona, because that was easier."
"Yeah," Benzan says to Kushell. "And you'd have done the same if I told you I was giving the jewel to Yanar."
"Everybody threw me under the space-bus," Okona cheerfully tells Picard.

"Why the hell did you say it was Okona?" Kushell asks Benzan.
"I knew you couldn't catch him," shrugs Benzan. "And once she got the jewel, then we would have been married."
Okona admits that he still has the jewel because his ship broke down before he could deliver it.
"Fuck this anyway," says Yanar. "I'm not marrying anyone."

Data and Guinan go back to the holodeck. Data pulls up the comic program again, and dear god, please no more more fucking Jerry Lewis.
Data and Guinan explain to the comic that Data tried to tell a joke and bombed.
The comic suggests trying out jokes in front of an audience instead, and Guinan agrees.

Back in the meeting room, Okona talks to Yanar, reminding her that she loves him, and yeah, the timing sucks, but she probs wants to marry him, and she super should, even though their fathers are complete douche-bags. She agrees and Okona gives the jewel back to Benzan to give to her.

Of course, Kushell and Debin then start arguing about which planets the couple will live on to raise their baby.

Meanwhile, an audience has been assembled in the holodeck, and Data has changed into a tux. The comic introduces Data, and the audience claps. Data does his arm-pumping thing with the cigar, and the audience laughs. He swings a fake golf club, the audience laughs. He tells a quick joke, audience laughs. But then he starts to notice that they laugh at fucking everything. Thumbs up, laughter. Raising his hand, laughter.  Data looks confused and mildly sad. Guinan looks sad for him.

He turns off the audience, then the comic.
"They were programmed to laugh at everything," he tells Guinan.
"Laughter, and being funny, is not all there is to being human," she tells him.
"But there is nothing more human," he argues (which is not quite true, because some apes laugh).

Time for Okona to leave. He's on his own ship and they're ready to turn off the tractor beam. Everyone is exchanging pleasantries via the viewscreen.
"Say goodbye, Data," urges Wes.
"Goodbye, Data," replies the android.
Everyone chuckles.
He's surprised, and accesses his databanks to figure out where that joke came from. He then tries out a few more, much to his own amusement... or whatever Data has that's similar to amusement.
Worf leans over the partition, impatient to leave this crap behind. "Ready to go when you are, sir."
"Take my Worf... please," replies Data.

This episode, you guys.
This episode... is painful.
Now, normally I'm down a good old-fashioned "Data explores______" storyline, because those often pan out and lead to some good moments. But this one was just awful. He's inspired by a stranger coming on board and cracking a bunch of jokes... definitely the kind of class clown that goes nowhere fast. So then data does what data does best - he looks for more information In this case, he conjures Joe Piscopo, who doesn't really teach him much of anything. The "Data learns to be funny" scenes feel tedious and long, and I feel bad for Guinan, having to sit through that crap. It's just... explaining a joke ruins it, so in explaining how or why something is funny, makes it unfunny. Have you ever read Sigmund Freud's writings on humor? They're drier than a toaster oven full of day-old French bread in the Sahara. Watching those Data scenes is like reading those Freud essays, while eating the aforementioned bread. In other words, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Then there's Okona. he's not a terrible character per se, but his lines were so old and cheesy that I thought for sure that no woman on board the flagship of the fucking Federation would fall for that crap. Yet he managed to bed like three women in the few hours he was there.
I'm absolutely not going to say anything about the fact that they meet this guy and immediately sleep with him, because it's totally their right to fuck whomever they like. Hell, even Picard agrees on that point: Okona asks if he's in trouble for screwing round with the crew, Picard waves him off and tells Okona that those are grown-ass women who can do as they please. Naw, my complaint lies in their selection. Dude has been circling the block like a tom, looking for cat strange. Is he clean? Does he carry protection? And most of all, does he say things that are more intelligent than, "You have the majestic carriage and loveliness that could surely be traced back to the noblest of families"? That's a cheeseball line in every century, ladies.

So let's talk about this A-plot that becomes C-plot, the thing with the opposing fathers. (A-plot is the fact that Okona comes on board and shakes things up. B-plot is Data's thing.) The episode does quite a bit to convince us that Okona is bad news bears, but also charmingly amusing: he hits it and quits it, gives data funny life advice; ect. Then we start adding in that he's a deadbeat dad and a thief. But it's okay! He's actually a rogue with a heart of gold. He sleeps around, sure, but he also shuttles young lovers back and forth, supporting their trysts and carrying their jewelry. Okona is space Benvolio - so sweet!

Apparently, I'm not the only one that didn't like this episode - fandom critique site "The Agony Booth" thought that this episode largely followed the awful formula of "colorful character shakes up the Enterprise and changes the actions of those around him," which, to be honest, is a Mary Sue move. Frankly, I have to agree. We never find out who's "behind" the character of Okona, but it certainly feels very Mary Sue-ish to me.

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:

Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 2
To date: 4
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
To date: 5
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date:3
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 3
To date: 9
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 3
To date:7
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 5
To date: 6

Sleepy Bueller


  1. A ship could exceed its mass limit, in the sense that its engines wouldn't be able to accelerate it very well. I think Okona's joke would also work if you think of it that way. (Not that it's a very good joke.) Anyway, I assume that Okona's ship does land when it reaches its destination.

    I wonder if Whoopi Goldberg grimaced a little reading her part in the script.

    1. Ah, but how many coconut-laden European swallows could Okona's ship carry?

      I was kind of feeling for Whoopi after having to watch this episode so many times, but I imagine that during the filming, the crap presented here was probably tempered with outtakes and flubbed lines, so presumably, they got a better laugh from it than we did. I can't figure out if that's comforting, or just kind of pisses me off. Bonus points: I never have to watch this episode again! :D

  2. Is the Enterprise computer smarter than Data? Well, just last week it created a sentient artificial life form in moments, something Data will only accomplish imperfectly, after much more work. On the other hand, this week it decided that Joe Piscopo is funny. So I guess it's a wash.

  3. Ooh, TaleSpin reference! I had a crush on Rebecca Cunningham.

    I wouldn't mind seeing a fan edit of this episode that removes Data's plot.

    1. Rebecca Cunnigham had the flyest hair ever. I would kill for that hair, but it wouldn't look as cute on me because I don't have furry bear ears.

      I also wouldn't mind seeing this episode minus the B-plot. The A-plot got tiresome at points (the lines... so cheesy), but the little C-Plot wasn't overly obnoxious.

    2. "Higher for Hire - We have the flyest hair ever!"

      I was surprised to learn Sally Struthers voiced B.C.; I saw her on "All in the Family" and "Gilmore Girls", but "TaleSpin" was apparently my first exposure to her.

      I fan-edit movies and shows as a hobby (albeit at a slow pace), and I'd totally edit this episode, but my sole Star Trek home media purchase thus far has been the BoBB Blu-ray movie edition.

  4. Thank for your very good article.! i always enjoy & read the post you are sharing!