In Theory

Ensign Jenna D'Sora, "on the rebound" after breaking up with her boyfriend, suddenly begins relating to her friend Data as something more than a friend. After the young woman kisses him passionately on the lips, the confused android asks his friends for advice on what to do, and decides to pursue the relationship.

Since he has no real emotions or feelings, Data creates a special program to guide him through the intricacies of love. However, as his relationship with Jenna progresses, he discovers that in romance, the logical course is not always the most appropriate. With this in mind, he picks a fight with Jenna, later explaining that he did it because his study of interpersonal dynamics suggested that conflict often strengthens the bond between two people. When Jenna points out that there is something artificial about his behavior, he concurs, reminding her that all of his behavior is based on a program and is therefore artificial.

Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise explores a nebula whose properties have never before been encountered. In order to investigate what effects those properties may have had on life in the region, the crew sets course for a nearby planet. As they travel toward their destination, random objects throughout the starship begin mysteriously dropping to the floor, but no one suggests any correlation between the strange occurrences and the nebula.

When the U.S.S. Enterprise arrives at the coordinates of the planet, the crew discovers only empty space, suggesting that the planet has disappeared. Moments later, however, the planet shimmers into view. Data's research suggests the nebula may be causing small gaps in the fabric of the immediate space, which cause the deformation of any matter that comes in contact with them. When parts of the starship begin disappearing, Picard realizes the ship is in grave danger and orders the immediate evacuation of the region. However, Data points out to him that the Enterprise is too large to maneuver through the sea of gaps, and Picard takes on the dangerous task of piloting a shuttlecraft through the nebula and guiding the ship to safety.

Following the ordeal, Jenna arrives at Data's quarters for a date and tells him that she cannot see him anymore. She recognizes that her previous boyfriend was unemotional, and feels that her choice of Data, a man completely incapable of emotion, indicates a pattern. Data sees the validity of her point and agrees to discontinue his program without a second thought.