The human mind. How far can it go before it becomes broken? We find out how far Riker’s can go in the episode that originally aired on May 3, 1993. This is Frame of Mind.
Stardate 46778.1 Frame of Mind
Riker begins to doubt his sanity when he begins shifting between an alien hospital and the Enterprise.
Riker is rehearsing a play about a man who is captive and losing his sanity. After practice, he runs into an alien on board who doesn’t seem to belong.
Riker begins preparing for a clandestine mission on Tilonus IV where he will need to rescue a Federation research team. As he prepares, Worf accidentally wounds him with a blade. Riker reports to sickbay and, after being helped, suddenly rushes off after seeing another wounded man come in. Riker is concerned and talks to Troi about the situation. She thinks he is internalizing the character of the play he is rehearsing and suggests he allow himself to explore the darker side of his psyche.
During the performance he sees the strange alien again and soon finds himself in a real jail cell. The Alien introduces himself as Rikers Doctor, Syrus, and that Riker is in a hospital. Riker soon realizes that he does not remember where or even who he is. The Doctor indicates that they had even contacted StarFleet about Riker and no one knew who he was. After Syrus leaves, Riker is taken to the common area where encounters others that are also mentally ill, but none of them are human, all of them look like the same species.
After sitting down, a woman introduces herself as a member of the USS Yorktown. She indicates that there are others of her crew there and she is in contact with her vessel. When Riker begins to buy into her story, she begins talking into her spoon. The guard forces her to leave and, after taunting Riker, Riker attacks him. Just as Riker is subdued, he awakes back in his room.
Riker explains his experience to Crusher. She indicates that she didn’t realize just how stressful the play was on him. They are back, earlier in the evening just before the play. That night, as the play commences, the visions begin again and Riker strikes out at the same alien that he saw before. This time however, it appears that the alien is indeed a member of the crew and Riker is taken to sickbay. Soon he begins to hallucinate again as he wanders the ship seeing strange things. He rushes to his room only to find himself back in his prison cell.
He confides in his Doctor that he isn’t well, that he needs help. He doesn’t want to be back on the ship and wants to learn why he has been jailed. The Doctor tells him that they need to clear up his situation soon as they are the only hospital on Tylonis IV. He will either need to get better using reflection therapy or they will have to wipe his brain to fix the problem. Riker chooses reflection therapy and they begin the process.
They begin the process and Doctor Syrus shows Riker aspects of his mind. The aspects present themselves as Riker’s fellow crew members, Worf, Troi and Picard, each representing Riker’s emotions. The visions of his friends tell him that he is still on the Enterprise but Riker breaks down, not believing them any longer.
Crusher visits Riker in the Hospital and she informs him that he is still undercover on Tilonus IV. She tells him that they are planning on a rescue and to sit tight. He is unsure if they are real or not. When Data and Worf arrive to save him, Riker resists thinking that they are not real. Yelling out, he nearly disrupts the rescue only to be beamed back to the Enterprise. Crusher indicates that he was kidnapped on the planet during his mission. He is safe now but he doesn’t believe it. Riker realizes that he is not really being rescued and kills himself with a phaser. Shooting himself he disrupts the experience. The alien doctors tell him that he is in the hospital and that he needs to have his brain wiped. Riker realizes again that none of what he is seeing is real and uses the phaser to destroy his surrounding. He then slams himself against a wall and awakes on an operating table.
Jumping off the table he grabs his communicator and gets himself beamed back on-board the ship. It turns out he had been abducted during his mission and was being tortured to extract information from his brain.
He returns to the set of the play and begins dismantling it so that he can sleep, knowing that it was all in his head.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
One Part Star Trek, One Part The Prisoner with a touch of Inception, this is a strange little entry that really doesn’t fit but is also intriguing as well. I would normally categorize this as a filler or ‘throw-away’ episode but really it is an interesting exploration of Riker and his psyche.
In the story there are layers and layers of false realities that both Riker and the viewer have to work through. From the start you are not sure what is real and what isn’t. It would seem that we are never on the real Enterprise until Riker is beamed aboard at the end of the episode and for that, it’s actually pretty cool.
Frakes himself does a marvelous job depicting a version of Riker we have yet to see, a broken and insane man who doubts his very existence.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
It would seem Riker isn’t the best person to go undercover. He has a tendency to get caught…
We never find out what the people of Tilonus IV were looking for either…hmmm
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Late To The Game 7/12/2020 (Originally published 12/5/2018)
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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