Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2, Episode 15

Pen Pals (29 Apr. 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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On arriving at a newly identified planetary group, the crew finds that the entire system is unstable. As the person in charge of Wesley Crusher's training and education, Commander Riker ... See full summary »



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Title: Pen Pals (29 Apr 1989)

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Episode cast overview:
Nicholas Cascone ...
Ensign Davies
Ann Gillespie ...
Ensign Hildebrant (as Ann H. Gillespie)
Whitney Rydbeck ...


On arriving at a newly identified planetary group, the crew finds that the entire system is unstable. As the person in charge of Wesley Crusher's training and education, Commander Riker wants to put him in charge of the planetary mineral survey, the results of which should explain why the system has become so unstable. He has to command a team for the first time, all of whom are older than himself. Data meanwhile has a pen pal of sorts when he establishes radio contact with Sarjenka, a young girl from a nearby planet. They exchange information for several weeks when Data finally realizes that Sarjenka's world isn't aware of extra-terrestrial life and as a result, he has broken the Prime Directive. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

29 April 1989 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This takes place in 2365. See more »


Worf's attitude when talking to Data about his personal project on the bridge is inappropriate. Data outranks Worf. See more »


[Data is about to beam down to the planet]
Commander William T. Riker: O'Brien, take a nap, you didn't see any of this, you're not involved.
Chief Miles O'Brien: Right, sir, I'll just be standing over here dozing off.
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Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Family (1990) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation End Credits
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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Picard's Dilemma
12 August 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Once again the prime directive gets put to the test. Because of the subjectivity of this directive, it is often up to the captain to be the interpreter. When Data makes contact with a young alien on a dying planet (due to geological issues) he makes a plea to Picard to save her and her family or even the whole planet. This puts the Enterprise in the position of playing god. Still, she is a child and pulls at our heartstrings. Coincidentally, Wesley is given his first significant position on the ship, leading a geological team in analyzing the planet's surface. He is torn between his given authority and the ages of those under him (he is, of course, wet behind the ears). So his issue with commanding others is his issue. The two plots eventually will come together. While I think it's sort of contrived and a little too easy for things to work out, it's a decent episode. Data's programming seems to contain a fair amount of humanity. His desires and his altruism must have been there from the start or we wouldn't have episodes like this.

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