The distress call proves to have been sent by Kareen Brianon, Graves' much younger companion. She has been increasingly worried about his health, and sent the message without his knowledge. Graves is less than pleased with her actions, but has no choice but to accept the presence of the Away Team. Doctor Selar examines Graves and finds that he is suffering from Darnay's disease, an incurable and fatal condition.
Graves was a mentor to Doctor Soong, whom he jokingly refers to by the nickname "often-wrong". Graves and Data hit it off, and discuss life and death for a while. Graves reveals that he is working on a way to transfer a human consciousness into a computer system, allowing the personality to survive death. When Data reveals that he can experience death of a sort via his off switch, graves ponders where Soong might have located such a thing on the android's body...
A short time later Data returns to the rest of the Away Team and informs them that Graves has died. When the Enterprise-D returns the team beam up with the body, and it is prepared for burial in space. Data starts to act peculiarly, changing his use of language to the point where he is actually rude to people, including Captain Picard. At the funeral he delivers a rambling monologue about how wonderful Graves was, until Picard finally cuts him short. Later, as Picard gives Kareen a tour of the bridge, Data angrily accuses him of making advances to the young woman. Picard asks the android to carry out a systems check, and when Data replies that he has done so and there is no problem Picard responds that for the very first time since they met, he does not believe him. A system's check by Geordi reveals no physical problems, but Doctor Pulaski performs mental tests and discovers two distinct personalities in Data. The new, negative personality is growing in dominance, and will eventually overwhelm the original. Picard assigns a security team to follow Data; in ten forward the android approaches Kareen and announces that he is in fact Graves - he immobilised Data with the off switch and transferred his consciousness into the android. Kareen is horrified when graves announces his intention to build an android body for her as well, so they can live together forever. Angry with her rebuttal, Graves storms out.
Picard, realising what must have happened, locates Data/graves in engineering and heads down to confront him. He finds Geordi unconscious on the floor. Picard confronts graves, forcing him to realise the moral implications of his actions and arguing that he is harming those around him - including Kareen, who was hurt in the confrontation in ten forward. As Picard goads him Graves lashes out, knocking him unconscious. The action makes graves realise what he has become, and he reluctantly transfers himself into a normal computer, leaving Data's body. However, the consciousness is lost in the transition and only the bare memories retained. With normality returned, the ship continues on its way.
The idea of "transporter shock" is an interesting one, too. We have been told several times that use of a transporter has no ill effect on a body; in "The Masterpiece Society" Geordi dismisses the idea of transporters affecting DNA out of hand, saying it won't affect her "at all". Certainly nobody ever emerges from a transport dizzy, gasping for breath, tired, or anything else that looks remotely like it's had an effect on them - even people on the point of death, like Picard in "Tapestry", go through a transporter with no apparent ill effects whatsoever. None of that really rules out the idea of transporter shock as such... I just find it a bit irritating that transport is shown and discussed as being harmless, then suddenly becomes a little dangerous when the plot demands it in this episode, then is never treated as dangerous again.
Graves is well played, and it's great fun to watch Spiner play him in Data's body. It's a bit daft that the crew take so long to work it all out - Data is so obviously not the Data we know, it's hard to accept that everybody doesn't just jump straight to that conclusion off the bat.
I have to say, if Federation science is anywhere even remotely near being able to transfer consciousnesses into a computer/android combination, then the implications are rather massive. Essentially, it's immortality for everybody. Now it's true that this seems to depend on two giant thinkers who are well ahead of their time - graves' transfer method and Soong's positronic brain seem to be required in combination for it to work. We know that nobody has recreated Soong's work, and can presume that nobody has recreated Graves'... but really, how far ahead of the pack can these two men be? If we're sensible about it, both technologies should be easily available within a century or so at the very most, and more likely within half that. Makes you wonder what the future holds for the Federation, doesn't it?
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