Thu
Sep 1 2011 1:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Schizoid Man”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

“The Schizoid Man”
Written by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler and Tracy Tormé
Directed by Les Landau
Season 2, Episode 6
Production episode 40272-131
Original air date: January 23, 1989
Stardate: 42437.5

Captain’s Log: Ira Graves is a renowned cyberneticist who is apparently ill. The Enterprise responds to a distress call made by Graves’s assistant, Kareen Brianon. The ship receives another distress call, this from the Constantinople, a ship that is ferrying two thousand settlers. The Enterprise must give aid to the Constantinople, so Data leads an away team including Lieutenant Selar, one of Pulaski’s staff, as well as Worf and Troi, to help Graves.

Graves is irritable, sexist, cranky, cantankerous, and insults and/or patronizes every member of the away team. Especially amusing is when he looks at Data and declares him to have no aesthetic value whatsoever, and also recognizes him as the work of Noonien Soong, who was Graves’s protégé. (Given that we later learn in “Brothers” that Data is a lookalike for Soong, the “no aesthetic value” line is even funnier.)

Selar confirms that Graves is dying of Darnay’s disease, which has no cure. While the away team awaits the Enterprise’s return, Data spends time talking to Graves. After whistling “If I Only Had a Heart” from The Wizard of Oz, Graves reveals that he has found a way to download his consciousness into a computer. Data then tells him about his off switch.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

When the Enterprise returns, Data announces that Graves has died in his arms. They bring the body to the ship, where Picard leads a memorial service. At the service, Data waxes histrionic on the subject of Graves, and he also tells Kareen how strong Graves’s feelings were for her.

If the viewer has any doubts that Graves has downloaded himself into Data’s body, they are eliminated when Data checks out a passing female officer’s ass and then starts whistling “If I Only Had a Heart.”

Graves-as-Data starts falling out of character more and more, patronizing Wes and getting jealous of Picard when he gives Kareen a tour of the bridge. After snapping at Picard and insulting him, the captain sends him to engineering so La Forge can run a full systems check on him, but he finds nothing.

Since he’s physically fine, Troi administers something called a “psychotronic stability examination” to Data, where she shows him a series of images, and the computer registers his response to them. Troi’s diagnosis is there are two disparate personalities within him, dominant and recessive. The dominant persona is getting stronger — it’s arrogant, disdainful of authority, and unstable. Picard realizes that this is Graves, confirmed by Selar when she describes what Graves was like.

Meanwhile, Graves reveals to Kareen that he downloaded his personality into Data before he died. He is looking forward to everything he can accomplish over the next thousand years — and he promises to make an android body for Kareen. However, she does not wish to be put in a machine. This angers Graves, and he nearly crushes Kareen’s hand.

Picard confronts Graves in engineering. Picard pleads for Data, but Graves dismisses his concerns — “I am man, he is machine. There is no question who must live and what must die.” Graves also insists he is not a violent man, but Picard then finds La Forge and another engineer unconscious on the deck. Graves insists it was an accident; then Picard calls Pulaski who reports that Kareen’s hand is fractured in two places.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

Picard insists that Data is a unique lifeform whose existence should not be sacrificed to prolong Graves’s life. Graves’s reaction is to hit Picard very hard — which devastates Graves, as he realizes that he simply cannot handle Data’s strength. Picard and La Forge find Data lying down in his quarters, himself again — with Graves having downloaded himself into the Enterprise computer. His personality has been lost, only his knowledge remains.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi senses jealousy coming off of Graves-as-Data in waves.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data opens the episode by trying out a beard—apparently the actors and writers taking their own little dig at Jonathan Frakes’s decision to grow one, especially since it’s the same shape and color as his co-star’s — and then meets his “grandfather.” He mentions that he’s had great difficulty understanding what humor is, calling back in particular to “The Outrageous Okona,” and he also tells Graves about his off-switch, first revealed in “Datalore.”

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Graves has had the hots for Kareen, which is only slightly creepy, and he’s convinced that being in an android body means he can be with her in a way that he couldn’t when he was an old, dying man. Hey, we do know that Data’s body is fully functional

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled. When Kareen — who has apparently led a sheltered life — asks if Worf is a Romulan, he gets very insulted, more so when Graves explains that, while Klingons and Romulans don’t look alike, they do act alike.

I’m a Doctor, Not an Escalator: Pulaski is very concerned about Graves’s health until the Constantinople distress call arrives, at which point, she sends another doctor. It’s actually a nice move that shows that there really are a thousand people on the ship, not just the handful who are in the opening credits. (We’ll see more of this over the course of the season.)

Welcome Aboard: W. Morgan Sheppard is stupendous as always as Ira Graves, who creates a magnificent impression in only a couple of short scenes — so much so that it gives Brent Spiner a lot of material to work with when impersonating him throughout the rest of the episode. Barbara Alyn Woods is mostly blonde as Graves’s assistant/object of desire.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

But the big story is Suzie Plakson, who plays the first of four roles she would play on Trek as Lieutenant Selar, a Vulcan doctor. The wonderful Plakson returns to TNG twice as the half-human/half-Klingon K’Ehleyr (the first time later this season), and also appears on Voyager as a Q and Enterprise as an Andorian named Tarah.

I Believe I Said that: “Those who knew him, loved him. And those who didn’t know him, loved him from afar.”

“Data!”

“I am almost finished, sir.”

“You are finished, Data.”

Graves-as-Data delivering his own eulogy, more’s the pity, and Picard cutting him off at the pass, and not a moment too soon.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

Trivial Matters: Selar is never seen again onscreen, but the character is referenced several times throughout TNG, and also appears in several novels and comic books, among them the novels The Eyes of the Beholders by A.C. Crispin and Catalyst of Sorrows by Margaret Wander Bonanno, the comic Perchance to Dream by your humble rewatcher, and, most extensively, as a regular in the novels-only series New Frontier, written by Peter David, where Selar serves as the chief medical officer on the U.S.S. Excalibur under Captain Mackenzie Calhoun.

We see younger versions of both Graves and Data’s creator Noonien Soong in Jeffrey Lang’s novel Immortal Coil.

The episode takes its title from an episode of The Prisoner. The producers originally wanted that show’s star Patrick McGoohan to play Graves.

Picard’s arguments to Graves about Data’s value will be repeated, after a fashion, in “The Measure of a Man.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Schizoid Man”

Make It So: “Call me ’grandpa’.” A delightful episode that gives Brent Spiner a chance to shine, provides a fantastic showcase for guest stars W. Morgan Sheppard and Suzie Plakson, and a morality play that recalls The Wizard of Oz, The Prisoner, and Frankenstein, not to mention Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet, which Picard quotes.

Truly this is Spiner’s episode, starting out as Data (his monotone “Grandpa” is particularly hilarious), then with bits of Sheppard’s performance starting to eke through before finally coming completely to the fore. It’s a performance that, like so much of Spiner’s work, manages to be both obvious and subtle at the same time.

What is particularly appealing about this episode as written is that ultimately it’s Graves himself who makes the choice to sacrifice himself. There’s no technobabble solution (which would’ve been an easy out, have the tech go wrong), and it isn’t Picard’s speechifying that saves the day, either — though it helps. For all that he’s a pompous ass, Graves is not an idiot, and he truly isn’t a violent man. Realizing that he’s hurt people is too much for him to bear, and allows the character to go out on a heroic note.

 

Warp factor rating: 8


Keith R.A. DeCandido’s first ever published Star Trek fiction was the TNG comic book Perchance to Dream, which featured Selar in a supporting role. He went on to write a metric buttload of Trek fiction in both prose and comics form, and he’s also contributed quite a bit to Star Trek Magazine over the years, most recently writing the TNG movie portion of the Star Trek Ultimate Guide appearing in issue #37 of the magazine. For more about Keith, go to his web site, from which you can order his latest books, and check out his blog, his Facebook page, and his Twitter feed, not to mention his twice-monthly podcast Dead Kitchen Radio.

 

16 comments
Mike S.
1. Mike S.
Yes this is a good one, underrated, IMO. Good performance by Spiner. For a time, in the middle there, I thought he was hamming it up too much, a little too Shatner-like, if I might say. But, Troi's explanation of how Graves slowly takes over makes the actions seem natural.

Also, yes it was good that Pulaski devoted herself to the passengers of the other ship, but you know, in her heart of hearts, that she wanted NO part of that long-range transport whatsoever.
Ryan Britt
2. ryancbritt
@Keith
Wait. Selar was only in this one episode? This is rocking my world. I could have sworn she was around more!
Mike S.
3. don3comp
“Those who knew him, loved him. And those who didn’t know him, loved him from afar.”

That memorial scene is one of the funniest comic bits in Trek, and IMHO ranks with the wedding scene in "Sixteen Candles" as one of the funniest "ceremony gone wrong" sequences ever! I also enjoy the exchange between Data and Wes:

"When you get as old as I, you'll understand."

"As old as you? Chronologically, Data, you're not much older than I am."

One review complained that the audience figures out what's going on "three commercial breaks ahead of the crew," but even if that's true, the ride more than makes up for that.

@2. Ryancbritt: apprently, the actress was around more, even if the character wasn't. She does look very familiar.
Mike S.
4. Seryddwr
Not a bad episode, though I always find the final Ten Forward scene rather awkward. This is a scene, remembere, where Data breaks (not bruises, not dislocates, but breaks, as in splits in two) two bones in Kareen's hand, and all she says is: 'Ira, you're hurting me!' That's one stoic lady! If that was me, I think I'd probably give it a good, old-fashioned 'Arrgghh!' followed by a couple of swear words at the very least.
Mike S.
5. John R. Ellis
I would listen to William Morgan Sheppard read the phone book. He makes this episode for me.
Bob Weld
6. WaitingShadows
This now seems like a better episode reading this commentary than I thought it was. I was always annoyed by Graves-Data's absolute arrogance. I bought it from Graves because he was a newly introduced character so I didn't have any preconceived notions about how he should act. But when Data got taken over by Graves, I hated how he acted. Until I read this, I never considered that it was because we immediately get a strong implication of exactly what happened while the Enterprise crew has to work it out for themselves. Then again, I am watching it again, and it is so screamingly obvious even to the crew. They see extremely unusual behavior from Data on the Bridge that gets everyone's attention but they take him to Engineering and check his circuits instead of at least looking up what Graves did and figuring out what he did to Data. They say he's a brilliant mind, and even if they didn't know he was a cyberneticist or computer scientist or whatever, they seem to take a long time to connect the dots.

They finally admit to knowing all along, and Picard confronts him personally, but I don't know why they didn't consider that possibility before letting him on the Bridge let alone letting him wander around even after Troi found out there is another personality inside him.

All in all, I never realized the acting was so good in this, especially by Brent Spiner. I only think its good acting now because it makes me want to scream at the TV.
j p
7. sps49
If Dr. Pulaski ha a date on the Constantinople, will he be waiting on the Istanbul?
Bill Bácsi
8. billbacsi
@sps49 You have made my morning!
Why did the Constantinople get the works, anyway?
Mike S.
9. JasonD
@#8
That's nobody's business but the Turks.

But seriously, this episode is just superb. Spiner is always great, Shepherd rules everything he does (#2 on my list of great voices behind Tony Jay), but the line I remember the most goes to Wes, just for the delivery and the look on his face: "'To know him, is to love him, is to know him'?!?" Priceless.
Mike S.
10. Tesh
@9 Shades of the future snarky Wil Wheaton in that Wes, hm?
Keith DeCandido
11. krad
Ryan: I know, hard to believe, but we never saw Selar on screen again. She was referenced any number of times ("Remember Me," "Tapestry," "Suspicions," "Sub-Rosa," "Genesis," and in the alternate timeline of "Yesterday's Enterprise"), and of course there's the novels and comics I cited, which is probably why you think we saw more of her.
Mike S.
12. C. Wildeman
"When I stroke the beard - thusly - do I not appear more... intellectual?"

The Beard Scene is easily one of my favourite Data bits. It cracks me up every time. Also, any time an aquaintance grows a new beard.
Justin Devlin
13. EnsignJayburd
There's an interesting story behind how Ira Graves' planet got its name. It used to be called Cemetery Planet, but it would eventually (and somewhat ironically) be renamed Gravesworld after Ira.

You see, back when Ira Graves was a younger man he actually had a career in Starfleet. During a famous battle when he was a rear admiral, the then strategically situated Cemetery Planet had been taken by Romulans. Starfleet had won the day, taken most of the disputed system, and beaten the Romulans back on their heels. But somehow the crucial world ended up in enemy hands without so much as a skirmish.

Admiral Graves was furious over the obvious blunder of allowing the Romulans to regroup and reinforce their position and he blamed it on his superior, Admiral Ewell. Highly agitated and overwrought, he gave a report to Fleet Admiral Lee, and it went something like this:
That bloody damned planet was bare as his bloody damned head! We all saw it, as God is my witness! We were all there. I said to him, "Admiral Ewell, we have got to take that planet." Admiral Kirk would not have stopped like this, with the pointy-eareds on the run and a planet like that empty! Well, God help us, I... I don't know wh... I don't know why I...
After regaining his composure, Ira continued...
I said to him, Admiral Ewell, these words. I said to him, "Sir, give me one starship and I will take that planet." And he said nothing. He just stood there, he stared at me.

I said, "Admiral Ewell, give me one frigate and I will take that planet." I was becoming disturbed, sir. And Admiral Ewell put his arms behind him and blinked.

So I said, Admiral, give me one shuttlecraft and I will take that planet." And he said nothing! He just stood there! I threw down my phaser, down on the deckplates in front of him!

We... we could've done it, sir. An Aenar should've seen it. Now they're working down there. You can see the Romulan Warbirds in orbit. And so in the morning... many a good boy will die... taking that planet.
Mike S.
14. PJB
Okay, I'm crazy late to this party, but:

I couldn't help but snicker at Picard's line:
"We've said good-bye to Karen Briannon with the hopeful feeling that her future will be a bright one."
Mike S.
15. Electone
One of my favourite 2nd season episodes mostly due to Spiner's performance. When he's snickering under his breath while Picard shows Briannon the bridge, I burst out laughing several times. This is the point when the crew should have realized that Data was no longer Data. Did anyone else notice when Data/Ira strikes Picard in the engine room, Patrick Steward spins the wrong way?

Great episode, and superb acting from Spiner. To know him was to love him....
Mike S.
16. JoleneAlaska
Love, love, love the final bit with Data on the flo0r. As the audience (this is still early 2nd season, after all) WE know it's Data as soon as he opens his mouth. Picard might as well have said, with rolling eyes, "Get up, Data."

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