ST:TNG Treadmill Review #9: Pen Pals

Pen Pals
Season 2 Episode 14
Original airdate: April 29, 1989

Netflix Synopsis

Upon arriving at a newly identified planetary group, the crew finds that the entire region is unstable.

IMDb Synopsis

Data befriends an alien girl in distress, breaking the Prime Directive, while Wesley commands his first team.

My Brief Review

I’m posting both the Netflix and IMDb synopses here because they’re so extremely different. In many cases, the two have almost word-for-word identical synopses, but in this case there’s a huge difference between the two. And if I had checked IMDb before watching this episode, I would have remembered exactly which episode it was before I started watching.

(As an aside: I’ve noticed that when Netflix doesn’t almost exactly replicate IMDb, its synopsis tends to mainly describe just what happens in the cold open, before the opening credits. Which leads me to believe that whoever Netflix hired to write their synopses is incredibly lazy; when they’re not just watching the first minute of the show, they’re straight-up plagiarizing!)

Star Trek episodes tend to fall into a few different categories. This one is a bit of a grab bag of all of them: mysterious space phenomena, interpersonal drama, philosophical/metaphysical struggles, and even the Holodeck.

Overall it is not an amazing episode, but it is pretty solid, and Sarjenka, the orange, long-fingered alien child Data befriends via radio transmitter, is a memorable character.

Memorable Moment

Data beaming down to Sarjenka’s home, finding her, and beaming back to the ship with her, massively violating the Prime Directive, certainly stands out. Picard spits at Riker, “He has brought a child onto my ship. Onto my bridge!” (If there’s one thing Picard hates, it’s having children on the bridge.)

Crew Rando

Ensign Davies, the geologist Wesley Crusher picks for his survey team, who challenges the young Wesley’s authority initially, but when Wesley, after consulting Riker, grows a spine, he immediately and joyfully complies with Wesley’s order to conduct a time-consuming scan. (Which, of course, is pivotal to saving Sarjenka’s planet.)

Distance Rating: 5K

IMDb score: 6.8/10