Commander Data was one of my favorite characters growing up and Brent Spiner one of my favorite actors. So when we have a Data-centric episode that allows Brent to really do what he does best, I am all in. Airing on January 23, 1989, I present The Schizoid Man.
Stardate 42437.5 The Schizoid Man
The Enterprise receives a distress call from one of the galaxies most renowned scientists, one Doctor Ira Graves who has an interest in and a history with Commander Data.
Enroute to reply to Doctor Graves, the Enterprise receives a second distress call from a starship, the USS Constantinople (not Istanbul). Picard chooses to do a near warp transport of an away team to assist Graves while the rest of the crew heads off to assist the The Constantinople (Not Istanbul). Data, Troi, Worf and Doctor Selar, are beamed down to assist Doctor Graves and, upon meeting him, they find him to be of a unique personality.
Graves is a gruff old man and doesn’t care for the assistance but Doctor Selar secretly scans him to reveal that he is dying of a disease known as Darnay’s Disease and will not recover. As he talks to Data he notes that Data must be Doctor Soongs work (which he is correct) and that he, Graves, was the mentor to Soong himself making Graves Data’s Grandfather in a way.
Graves soon reveals that he has plans to transfer his intellect into a computer so that he would live forever. In conversation, Data reveals his off button to Doctor Graves and Graves is intrigued.
Data emerges, telling the away team that Ira Graves has died and insists they follow Grave’s last request. He asks for Graves’ body be transported into space and soon starts to act strange among the crew. His friends on board the ship, including Picard, notice the off behavior and they soon find that Graves has transferred his mind into Data, completely taking over Data’s mind in the process.
Graves’ interest in his young assistant, Brianon, is what gives him away as he verbally assaults Picard resulting in Troi feeling emotions directly from Data, something that should not be able to occur. Troi runs a mental test on Data and discovers some disturbing information. Surprise! There are now two separate identities in Data’s mind and they are fighting for dominance.
Graves eventually realizes that he would never make it long in Data’s body because he keep hurting people as the android, including the woman he loves. He then downloads his mind into the ship’s computer and Data is freed.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I wish I could say it was. It has all the trappings of a fantastic episode but it just falls flat. I think the problem is that it drags the story on a little too long and tries to really hammer home how different Data (with Ira Graves inside) is acting. I think in this case, less is more would have been a good lesson.
The thing that makes the episode worth watching is the actor Brent Spiner. Spiner really gets to show his acting chops in this episode and is incredibly amazing. His portrayal of Data-Graves is awesome. You can tell that he used a little of Graves in his future portrayal of Lore (oh spoilers, Lore comes back) and it only makes that character better. You eventually forget that he isn’t Data playing Graves, he actually becomes an entirely different person. It is really sad that Spiner has not been fully recognized for his abilities. Yeah, he’s done a few things but never quite at the length he portrayed Data on TNG.
Character development wise there isn’t a ton but here is what we do get. Data starts to show some insecurities and grows a beard…briefly. We do learn that Ira Graves was the mentor to Doctor Noonian Soong. Picard refers to Geordi as Data’s best friend and we get to see more of Picard in action defending his crewman.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Later, in addition to Lore, Spinder will play Doctor Noonian Soong. So in a way Spiner will have played the Son, Brother, Father and the Grandfather of the same family!
At the end, Graves puts himself into the ship’s computer but we never see or hear from him again.
We meet Doctor Selar in this episode and we see/hear from her several more times. She is also played by one of the few actors (Susan Plaksin) who has portrayed a different character in three separate Star Trek series.
Data ‘grows’ a beard. its pretty funny.
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Late To The Game 6/8/2019 (originally published 3/12/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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