In the teaser, a hot mess goldshirt who just ended a relationship compares a Space Thing to fireworks and then looks meaningfuly at Data.
When Keiko tells a story about her home life with O’Brien, D’Sora chimes in with a story about when Data “said the funniest thing.” We see Data performing all the functions of friendship, which D’Sora finds appealing.
After D’Sora makes the first move, Data consults Guinan, LaForge, Troi, Worf, Riker, and finally Picard. (Picard’s full response: “I would be delighted to offer any advice I can on understanding women. When I have some, I’ll let you know.”)
As Data interacts with his pet cat Spot and experiments with gifts, reading between the lines, charm, attentiveness, and even lovers’ spats, we see quite a lot of off-duty Data.
The Space Thing subplot, which involves a visit to a dark matter nebula, begins with random objects falling through tables as crew members go about their routine duties, and escalates into perhaps the most gruesome random goldshirt death. (While watching this episode for the first time 30 years ago, one of my friends quipped, “She got decked!”)
Dealing with the Space Things provides plenty of bridge action (ho hum) and an opportunity for Picard to save the ship by heroically piloting a shuttle; however, all that is completely incidental to to the “Data gets boyrfriendzoned” main plot.
A final scene, in which Data nonchalantly blows out a candle, emphasizes his lack of feelings, but the presence of Spot, showing Data in a caregiving role, softens the blow.