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The Schizoid Man

Review

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 2
Disc No : 2.2 Episode : 31
First Aired : 23 Jan 1989 Stardate : 42437.5
Director : Les Landau Year : 2365
Writers : Hans Beimler, Richard Manning Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Barbara Alyn Woods as Kareen Brianon
Diana Muldaur as Dr. Katherine Pulaski
Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
Suzie Plakson as Dr. Selar
W. Morgan Sheppard as Dr. Ira Graves
Moral :
Mortality : Everything has it's time, and everything dies. No exceptions.
YATI : The whole concept of the long range, near warp transport is an odd one. Is the situation on the Constantinople really that desperate that the Enterprise can't afford to drop out of warp within normal transporter range and do a proper transport? Bear in mind that the former would add mere milliseconds to their journey, the latter five or ten seconds at most. Yet in order to save this few seconds, they risked beaming the away team into a wall!
Great Moment : Data (secretly Graves) mouthing off to Picard on the bridge.
Body Count : One - Graves.
Factoid : This episode was intended as a homage to the British series "The Prisoner", which had an episode of the same name. Patrick McGoohan, who played the lead in that series, was considered for the part of Graves.
Quote : "No being is so important that he can usurp the rights of another." - Picard to Data and Graves; on Data

Plotline

The Enterprise-D proceeds to Graves' World, home of the noted Federation scientist Dr. Ira Graves, in response to a distress call. However, the Starship Constantinople is also in need of urgent assistance, so the ship drops out of warp at the planet for meremoments, conducting a near-warp transport to beam the crew down in the minimum possible time. The procedure is somewhat dangerous, as it greatly increases the odds of beaming down inside a wall or other object. However, the trick works fine and the ship proceeds on course to the Constantinople.

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 i shorrified 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 impolications 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.

Analysis

A reasonably good episode with some silly parts that let it down a bit. First off, as mentioned in the YATI the near warp transport is obviously a pretty pointless way to generate a bit of danger and tension early in the episode. I just can't accept that five or ten seconds is sufficiently important to risk the lives of the entire Away Team like that.

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. 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.

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?


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 4,972 Last updated : 24 Nov 2014