Jan 18 2013 4:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Phantasms”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms“Phantasms”
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by Patrick Stewart
Season 7, Episode 6
Production episode 40276-258
Original air date: October 25, 1993
Stardate: 47225.7

Captain’s Log: Data walks down an empty Enterprise corridor. The use of fisheye lenses suggests something odd. He meets La Forge, who is just standing randomly against a bulkhead. They talk about the installation of a new warp core, but La Forge never moves, and there’s an odd echo to his voice.

When Data reaches an intersection, he hears a phone ringing and sees three guys who look like 19th century railroad workers using pickaxes and sledgehammers to dismantle a bulkhead and a warp plasma conduit.

The phone keeps ringing.

Data tells them to stop, but they ignore him. Then he opens his mouth and emits a really irritating high-pitched noise. Then, the workers react, telling him to be quiet and ripping off his left arm, his right leg, and finally his head.

Then Data wakes up.

The Enterprise pootles away from a starbase, having just installed a new warp core that they’re about to test. Meanwhile, Picard has been invited to the Starfleet Admirals’ Banquet, to which Riker gravely replies, “My condolences.” He’s managed to get out of it for each of the past six years, and he’s run out of excuses. He’s gonna have to go.

In engineering, as La Forge and Data do final checks on the new warp core, Data queries La Forge on the subject of nightmares. He’s dreamt 111 times since discovering the dream program back in “Birthright, Part I,” but this is the first time he’s encountered such disturbing, unpleasant imagery. La Forge figures he’s just found a new level to the program.

Meanwhile, La Forge has troubles of his own, as there’s a new ensign in engineering named Tyler who’s totally crushing on him. It’s making La Forge very uncomfortable (though some would argue that it’s no less than he deserves).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

After getting a nudzh from Picard on the bridge, La Forge initializes the new core. Picard orders warp drive—

—and the ship doesn’t move. La Forge realigns a warp plasma conduit, but then activating warp drive drains power from the ship. Data fixes that problem, but it’ll take a couple of hours to fix the warp engines.

Troi drops in on Data, who is observing Spot asleep, and wondering what the cat dreams about. Data is considering whether or not to reactivate his dream program, and Troi encourages him to do so.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

In this dream, Data is in Ten-Forward. Worf is eating a piece of what he describes as cellular peptide cake with mint frosting. The phone starts ringing again. Crusher is at the bar with Riker. She’s sipping from a straw that’s stuck in Riker’s right temple, presumably sucking his brains out (assuming she can find them, anyhow). Riker, while having his brains sucked out by a doctor (which I repeat only because that never gets old), encourages Data to answer the phone.

He follows the ringing to the railroad workmen again, who are standing around a cake shaped like a torso wearing a blue Starfleet uniform. Troi’s head is atop the cake, begging Data not to hurt her.

The workmen hand Data a knife, and he cuts into Troi’s “shoulder.” Troi screams at Data some more—and then it turns out it’s Troi really calling his name in Data’s cabin, with La Forge and Worf by her side. Data’s dream program was supposed to deactivate 35 minutes earlier, but it failed to do so. When he didn’t report to engineering, La Forge grew understandably concerned and called Worf and Troi.

La Forge looks him over, but everything checks out. Data decides to re-create Sigmund Freud on the holodeck. Freud’s interpretation of the dream is that it’s a clash of id and superego, a classic “dismantlement” dream (an android’s variant on a dismemberment dream), and that the Troi cake is him wanting to devour his own mother. (Data’s comment that he doesn’t have a mother doesn’t even slow Freud down.) Once he gets into Data’s sexual desires and alleged impotence (Freud obviously didn’t get the “fully functional” memo), Data realizes that this is a waste of time and deactivates the holodeck.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

While waiting not-very-patiently for the warp core to come back online, Picard gets a call from Admiral Nakamura, who wants to know why Picard hasn’t shown up for the banquet yet. Picard assures the admiral that he’s really looking forward to the banquet, honest, and that they’ll have warp drive back really soon. Nakamura does not sound even a little bit convinced as he signs off.

This time the ship almost goes into warp, but then the warp field collapses, with the power converters blowing, and wiping out impulse engines, too.

In engineering, La Forge hands Data a brace coil that looks just like the knife he used to cut the Troi cake in his dream. He then sees a small mouth open on the back of La Forge’s neck and hears the phone ring again. Riker appears in engineering, with the straw still sticking out of his temple, telling him to answer it. The phone turns out to be inside Data’s torso. He answers it to Freud’s voice urging him to kill them.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

La Forge then puts a hand on Data’s shoulder, and he’s back in engineering for real, holding the brace coil to his ear. Data immediately goes to Troi, who would normally say he was having a waking dream. But that would appear to be impossible for Data. Troi thinks that Data may be developing a neurosis, and she wants to start having regular counseling sessions. She also wants him to turn off the dream program until their next session.

After getting a very cranky communiqué from Nakamura, Picard goes down to engineering and starts hovering and making everyone crazy. Tyler then endears herself to La Forge by giving Picard some busywork that gets him out of their hair. La Forge then turns to ask Data something—but he’s gone.

Troi walks through the corridors of the ship, apprehensive as hell. Then Data shows up in the turbolift and starts stabbing Troi in the shoulder (the same spot on the Troi cake that he cut) with the brace coil.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

Data—who is now surrounded by Worf and two other security guards—explains that he had another waking dream. He saw a mouth on Troi’s shoulder, similar to the one he saw on La Forge’s neck, and was overcome with the need to destroy it. Picard relieves Data of duty and confines him to quarters.

In sickbay, Crusher heals Troi’s wound, but she finds a rash where the wound was. A scan reveals cellular degradation and an interphasic signature of some kind. Using an interphasic scanner, Crusher finds a tiny creature living on Troi’s shoulder. She found another on her own arm, and a scan of Riker and Picard reveals one on the former’s temple (right where the straw was in Data’s dream) and the latter’s neck. They’re parasites that feed on cellular peptides. The crew quickly realizes that there are several links between Data’s dreams and these interphasic creatures, and they may explain his odd behavior.

La Forge links Data’s neural net to the ship’s computer so that his dreams will play out on the holodeck. Picard and La Forge follow Data as he walks down a corridor toward Ten-Forward. The phone rings. Data offers Picard a piece of cellular peptide cake (with, Worf quickly adds with his mouth full, mint frosting). The phone keeps ringing, and Riker, with Crusher still sucking his brains through a straw (seriously, that never gets old!), again urges someone to answer the damn thing. Picard answers the phone in Data’s chest, where Freud again urges “Kill them!” The scene changes to Freud’s office. The phone rings again, and then the three workmen show up, shooting Freud and then ripping apart a part of the wall, which exposes the plasma conduit they installed with the new warp core. The workmen try to destroy it. Data makes the high-pitched noise again, and it hurts the workmen.

Data says he understands, and the dream program ends. Data has La Forge alter his subprocessors so he emits an interphasic pulse. This makes the creatures go away. It turns out that the creatures were in the new plasma conduit that came with the warp core, which used a new interphasic process that attracted the creatures. They lay dormant until the warp core activated. They’ll need to fashion a new plasma conduit, which will take six hours, forcing Picard to completely miss the banquet. He is, of course, totally devastated by this. Really.

Meanwhile, Troi turns the tables on Data by bringing him a Data-shaped cake that they share.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Interphasic creatures can only be detected by an interphasic scanner. Regular tricorders and sensors don’t pick them up. Which kinda sucks when they’re leeching away your cellular peptides.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi, in addition to doing an impersonation of Alice in Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” music video, tells Data that he’s the first patient she’s ever had who was excited about the possibility of a new neurosis.

If I Only Had a Brain...: When activating his dream program, Data “sleeps” in a bed with covers on—but is still in full uniform, down to his boots. He also pretends to yawn and smacks his lips before going to bed.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf is not at all happy that Riker has gotten Alexander interested in jazz, which he describes as “screeching, pounding dissonance.”

Worf also, to his regret, agrees to take care of Spot while Data is confined to quarters. Data asks him to feed him, provide him with a sandbox, and talk to him, telling him he’s a pretty cat. In response, Worf glares at Data and says, “I will feed him.” Seeing the expression on Worf’s face, Data agrees that that will be sufficient.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: Despite having a full-time shrink on the bridge, Data decides to have a session with Sigmund Freud on the holodeck. It’s more of a caricature of Freud than any kind of accurate representation, with simplistic references to Oedipal complexes, constant use of “classic” to define notions that were brand-new when Freud was practicing, and generally portraying Freud as an egotistical schmuck more interested in writing papers than helping patients.

Later, the holodeck is again used for research, as Data’s dream program is hooked up to it, enabling Picard and La Forge to observe the android’s dream. (At no point are there any electric sheep...)

In the Driver’s Seat: Ensign Gates is the pilot once again, and she gets named in this episode (though she still doesn’t have any dialogue).

I Believe I Said That: “Dreams are the royal road to the knowledge of the mind.”

Troi, quoting Sigmund Freud, which is about the only useful thing Freud provides in the episode.

Welcome Aboard: Clyde Kusatsu reprises his role of Admiral Nakamura from “The Measure of a Man”; he’ll be back in the finale “All Good Things...” Gina Ravarra (Tyler) and Bernard Kates (Freud) compete for the distinction of who is the most annoying guest star in the episode.

Trivial Matters: This episode is the first time Data’s dream program has been referenced since it was activated in “Birthright, Part I,” which Data says was nine months earlier.

Data only thinks he has no mother—four episodes hence, in “Inheritance,” he’ll learn that he does have one.

Your humble rewatcher will establish that Alexander’s love of jazz will continue on into adulthood in A Time for War, a Time for Peace.

Obviously, Riker’s right temple is not a safe place—it gets a parasite and a straw sticking out of it this episode, and it was fairly well abused in “Frame of Mind” (also a Brannon Braga script) as well.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Phantasms

When this episode aired on the BBC in the United Kingdom, the scene of Data stabbing Troi was trimmed.

Make it So: “Sometimes a cake is just a cake.” I am second to no one in my admiration of Sir Patrick Stewart as an actor. He is brilliant, subtle, complex, magnificent in front of a camera—or, as I discovered when seeing his one-person A Christmas Carol, and again when he did The Tempest on Broadway, on stage.

But man, is he a lousy director.

While he doesn’t do quite as poorly with this episode as his previous directorial endeavors (the mediocre “In Theory,” the lifeless “Hero Worship,” the nigh-embarrassing “A Fistful of Datas”), it’s still a shadow of what it could’ve been. Then again, that’s also true of the script. Brannon Braga has trod this territory before, but where Winrich Kolbe really went the extra mile in making Data’s dreamscape surreal in “Birthright, Part I,” and James L. Conway amped up the mind-frell in “Frame of Mind,” this episode is, like Stewart’s other turns behind the camera, flat and lifeless.

The episode has its moments, but most of them are unrelated to what passes for the plot. The subplot of the Admirals’ Banquet is kinda fun (it’s the sort of bureaucratic self-congratulatory nonsense that people in charge of large organizations love to torture the people below them with), it’s nice to see La Forge be on the receiving end of someone’s creepy attentions for a change (and unlike La Forge, Tyler actually redeems herself by getting a mother-henning Picard off of La Forge’s hands), and I love that Riker has decided to torture Worf by getting Alexander into jazz. Plus, you gotta admire an episode that calls back to a Tom Petty music video.

But overall, it’s kinda dumb. Putting Sigmund Freud in there adds nothing to the story and just makes Data look stupid—seriously, what possible use could the advice of a 19th-century psychoanalyst be to a 24th-century android?—made worse by it being a particularly stereotypical, clichéd version of Dr. Freud. And for the second time in recent memory (after “Descent”), Troi has some seriously interesting psychological conversations with Data, only to have it be totally undercut by technobabble nonsense. Indeed that applies to the entire episode, as everything that’s fascinating about the plot is cut off at the knees by it being nonsense aliens buried in the made-up technology that’s solved by some more made-up technology.

On the other hand, the episode did give us the first ever android smart phone. So there’s that.


Warp factor rating: 4

Keith R.A. DeCandido is at Arisia 2013 this weekend in Boston. Check out his schedule here.

Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
Not a brilliant episode, but I found it kind of fun, a nice revisit of the Data dream program thing. It's kind of Braga's attempt to play in Joe Menosky's sandbox, dealing with symbols and metaphors and such, though he doesn't do it as well.

Was there a point to including Ensign Tyler in the episode at all? Were they trying to set up a recurring character and just gave up after one episode?
2. Natenanimous
I actually liked this episode quite a bit. Maybe it only stood out compared to some of the other season seven offerings, but aside from Freud, who I agree serves little purpose, I found it quite fun. I enjoyed the dream logic and how it worked into the problems on the ship. I loved Data and Worf with Spot. And the scene where Data comes after Troi went full on cliche horror movie, which was delightful to see in Star Trek. I was actually surprised when they had Data stab Troi, and it's not often that Star Trek surprises me. I thought that Data using his dreams to subconsciously put together information he was noticing on the ship was interesting, because people do that too sometimes; I found it roughly as interesting as I would have found it if Data had actually been going crazy. That would have been fun, butI'm not sure how they would have adequately resolved it in one episode if he had been. But TNG's loose grasp of ongoing character continuity is something I take for granted by now, even though it's unfortunate.
Mike Kelmachter
3. MikeKelm
Once again we encounter an alien race who didn't mean any harm but probably would have blown up any other ship that didn't have Data on board... good thing he was there to have a dream program. As has been said before, Data saves the ship- like alot. Bottom line is it's a technobabble problem with a technobabble solution... and that doesn't really draw me in. Also it had really, really bad special effects with the Data phone and Troi cake.

As a trivial note, Spot was inherited by Worf upon Data's death, who took a liking to the feline (I believe the exact line was "Her claws are sharp"). At last note he was 17 as of Cold Equations and expected to be the mighty Klingon's pet cat for at least another decade.

By the way, does the very first android smart phone come with a data plan?
Joseph Newton
4. crzydroid
@3: Click the link, and you'll see that it comes with unlimited Data.

I actually like this episode quite a bit. In addition to the obvious funny parts ("With mint frosting", Data/Worf/Spot), I love Data's dream interpretation of Geordi. "This oughta be a lot of fuuuUUn..."
5. rowanblaze
I'll always remember this as the Troi-cake episode. and saw the Tom Petty video reference instantly. I wouldn't have minded taking a bite out of her myself. ;)
6. TBonz
Eh. Lousy episode. There was a decline in quality in this last season.
Kristen Templet
7. SF_Fangirl
cellular peptide cake ... with mint frosting I can't forget that nonsense line for some reason; although, I remember little else about this episode. As soon as I saw the Troi cake in the top photo, though, I knew it was coming.
8. Nicholas Winter
Mike, you say that 'Spot was inherited by Worf upon Data's death.' I must admit that I don't remember Data dying in the series...
treebee72 _
9. treebee72
I've done such a good job of being in denial about Nemesis, I'm always 'wah?' when I see references to Data's death.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
10. Lisamarie
Mint frosting!

Perhaps my bad taste is showing, but I loved this episode. I think it's one of my favorites. I am not disagreeing with you about Freud or the technobabbly-ness, or the contrivance of it being yet another alien creature inadvertantly causing harm to the ship, but for whatever reason I loved all the weird imagery and especially the mint frosting line. My husband and I keep repeating that to each other now whenever we have dessert. That and the 'lot of fuuuun' line.

Also, the scene with Data, Worf and Spot was lovely. He is a pretty cat!

I also have to say that, I love Data, I really do but HE NEEDS TO BE DEACTIVATED NOW. I mean, seriously! The effect of him dreaming and working things out in his 'subconscious' is him going crazy, being unable to dinstinguish dreams from reality, and stabbing a crew member? I found that whole scene truly terrifying and it actually unsettled me for a number of days. I certainly would not have been able to be in the same room with him, much less joking about a cake, if I were Troi.

Well, good thing the next episode is a Lwxana episode, which surely means it will be fun and light hearted, right? HAHAHAHA.
Christopher Bennett
11. ChristopherLBennett
@10: Data is hardly the only character who's acted dangerously when subject to mental invasion or exotic phenomena. Nobody proposed deactivating Geordi after "The Mind's Eye" or Deanna after "Power Play."
Mike Kelmachter
12. MikeKelm
Come to think of it Chris, almost every single character in the primary cast has either A) been kidnapped and tortured/brainwashed or B) been body jacked by a malevolent entity. The two exceptions are Word, and all that happened to him was becoming the central player in a Multi-empire power struggle and being exiled by his own people and Beverly, who got caught in a shrinking warp bubble where everyone she cared for vanished. Makes you wonder if every ship is like this or if it just the enterprise and how many psychologists are onboard, because I think you'd need a platoon of them
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
13. Lisamarie
It's a joke :) Although I was also remembering the episode where he ends up taking over the Enterprise and is able to lock everybody out. One could argue that Data is a bit more dangerous (although in all seriousness, it would still be unethical to deactivate him based on his greater potential). Still, considering it came from his very own programming and that's how he reacts to it...jeesh!

As for Worf, there is the implication he rips apart one of the redshirts when he is 'devolved' in Genesis (at least I assumed it was Worf). I'm guessing that guy didn't get better when they cured the virus.
14. Earl Rogers
They sure did dip into the "Data malfunctions in a zany but spooky way" well a lot in the latter years of the show, didn't they?
Lee VanDyke
15. Cloric
This is one of the few episodes I don't think I've seen since it originally aired, and all I remembered about it was Troi being a something peptide cake with mint frosting. I found I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I found Freud amusing, but it seems like the holodeck program accessed other people's idea of him, rather than the man himself. Taylor I thought might be part of the danger of the week plot or that maybe Data was still dreaming (I had totally forgotten what actually happened), but here's another reason why I liked the less episodic nature of the later shows. There was potential conflict or romance there, and it just got left on the table after a single hour.
16. Ashcom
I rather like the idea of how dreams work in Data's positronic brain. We use them to solve mostly psychological or social problems in our subconscious minds. Data's brain uses them to solve an actual real life problem that his conscious mind cannot see. That seems an appropriately "androidy" way to behave. Although this is the second time this season, and I don't know how many in previous seasons, that his programming has caused him to attack other members of the crew. I'm going to say that in future they should always have people with big guns standing by ready to surround him at the first sign of weirdness.

But mostly I'm just commenting here because after chasing these rewatches along for a couple of months, I've finally caught up.
Christopher Bennett
17. ChristopherLBennett
@16: From what I understand, dreams aren't really a problem-solving tool. They're just a side effect of the brain's memory maintenance protocol, as it restimulates memory pathways to strengthen the neural connections and solidify the memories -- kind of like going back over a pencil sketch to darken the lines. When people are deprived of dreams for long enough, it impairs their ability to form and retain long-term memories. If dreams do reflect the issues we're dealing with in our real lives, that's just because they're reflecting the events and experiences in our lives in general, jumbled up as our memory pathways are restimulated in a nonlinear sequence, and because our memories aren't stored in discrete bundles anyway but as webs of associations and interconnections.

I've certainly never found my dreams to be useful for problem-solving. If anything, every time I try to solve a problem in a dream, like the recurring dream category where I'm trying to find my way back home or to a destination, it just gets exponentially more insoluble as the dream continues. And I don't recall having dreams about literally addressing some problem I'm having in real life at the time. They're usually more random and free-associative than that.
Nicole Lowery
18. hestia
I love this episode; just watched it again with my kids, and we all enjoyed it. (Which probably speaks to how juvenile my sense of humor is.)

I'm with the posters above in that I don't acknowledge Nemesis as part of the show. Don't know what that was, but it sure wasn't the Next Generation I enjoyed for seven years.
19. Ashcom
@17 - There is no definitive explanation of dreams, just many theories. But certainly if one listens to Jung, one of his theories was that dreams were the unconscious mind dealing with problems that the conscious mind had left for it during the day. He also believed that much of the imagery in dreams were the subconscious attempting to help us to identify and then resolve or understand our emotional or psychological problems.

Which is what I was talking about here. I never suggested dreams were a useful tool in problem-solving in a practical way, but rather as Jung suggests that they are helping us identify and solve emotional problems we don't necessarily even know we have. And that was my point, that in the case of the android, his positronic brain was doing the same thing but in a more logical way, by identifying and solving an actual problem on the ship that nobody on the ship, including Data, knew they had.
Christopher Bennett
20. ChristopherLBennett
@19: Jung was just hypothesizing. I prefer ideas rooted in actual neurology, studies of the physical structure and activity of the brain. Hard data trumps belief any day of the week.

Besides, doesn't it strike you that it's in the best interest of psychotherapists like Jung to argue that dreams are a means for the brain to send us important messages that we need to pay a psychotherapist to decipher for us? I mean, really, how does that make sense from an evolutionary perspective? If the brain needed a mechanism to send us important messages, where's the survival benefit in encoding them in vague symbols so we can't even understand what those messages are? I mean, why do they need to be encrypted? Who's going to intercept a message from the brain to itself?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
21. Lisamarie
99% of my dreams are nonsense and I don't give them much credence for anything (I am not going to start navel gazing about the state of my marriage if I have a dream about kissing a man other than my husband, for example), but I definitely have had dreams that relate to things going on in my life and have even helped me 'work things out' (usually more emotional issues or trying to get over something or come to terms with it or get closure as opposed to solving some kind of puzzle or conundrum, or representing something I was unable to face or think about while awake).

But I do often dream about things going on in my life or that I am preoccupied with, but they are usually random fragments of things. One of the exceptions is bed bugs. One of the minor traumas in my life was a bed bug infestation we had about five years ago. To this day, I have nightmares about bed bugs, especially when I am stressed out about something - I dream about being covered in bites, bugs crawling on me, etc.

It's a pretty fascinating field though.
22. RobinM
This is a really strange episode but since it's about dreams I just go with it. To be honest I just remeber the stabbing of Troi and lots of cake with mint frosting.
23. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan

I loved that line because it was so out of character for him to get excited about it.
24. Ashcom
@20 - Of course Jung was just hypothesising. We're all just hypothesising. I happen to be very much in the Jungian camp on this particular issue, but on the other hand I think dream interpretation is mumbo jumbo. I don't believe we need to understand the imagery of dreams, or that it is necessarily common across individuals. Our brains are creating the imagery, therefore our brains understand it. During the day, whether we are aware of it or not, our conscious minds are facing all kinds of problems, both real and imagined, physical, emotional and psychological. When we sleep, we switch off our conscious minds, and our subconscious gets to work on those problems. Dreams, to me, are simply a symptom of that, our minds showing their working if you like. That's why we rarely remember very much of them, or remember them for very long. They are not something the mind needs to commit to long term memory. Those dreams that we remember vividly and for a long time, those are the ones I think we need to pay attention to, because that is our subconscious alerting us to something important.

However, once again this is not my point. It doesn't matter what I believe, or what you believe. This is a scripted TV show, and Jungian psychology is a widely studied field and therefore there is no reason to believe that Brannon Braga, who after all writes for a living (as do I, as I believe do you) is not familiar with the concepts. I personally try to read as widely as possible in order to give myself the best possible base of knowledge and ideas to draw on.

So, therefore, I was saying that it interested me that this seemed (to me) where the inspiration for this episode was coming from, taking those concepts and figuring out how they would work in a positronic brain that was deliberatly constructed, that worked on logic circuits and programming, and how that would differ from the way dreams work in an organic brain.
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@24: But that's my point -- it's not just hypothesizing anymore. We have concrete science now, studies of the physical activity of the brain that have increased our understanding vastly beyond what people like Freud and Jung were able to figure out. We're not just guessing how the brain works, we can actually look inside it and watch what happens on a physical level. We can get actual answers instead of just speculating in the dark.

"Our brains are creating the imagery, therefore our brains understand it."

Not at all. It's not that intentional. The part of the brain that has that kind of intent and deliberation to it is just one facet of the larger mechanism. There's a part of the brain that's responsible for taking the sensory input we receive from the world and attempting to make sense of it, to organize it into a coherent narrative about the world around us and how it works. For instance, if we catch a series of glimpses of an animal in different poses and distances, it puts those glimpses together and reasons that they're the same continuous animal moving toward us, and that's something we should react to. As long as the inputs it's receiving actually do represent some logical progression of events, then it helps us understand those events.

But when we're dreaming, nothing is deciding to "create" those images, at least not at the fundamental level. As I said, it's a side effect of the hippocampus restimulating our memory pathways as part of its nightly maintenance. This is how a neural network functions: restimulating a pathway strenghtens its connections, so in order to solidify a piece of knowledge or a memory, repetition is important. This is why study and rehearsal help us to learn things. So the brain needs to review its memories in order to ensure they're not forgotten, needs to restimulate the pathways. The best time to do this kind of maintenance is when the brain is in "standby" mode, i.e. during sleep. However, it doesn't do so in any linear order. There's no chronological sequence or rational structure to it, since it's below the level of conscious thought. The hippocampus doesn't "understand" the content of the pathways it's triggering, any more than your computer's utility software understands the contents of the files on your hard drive when you defragment it. But the firing of these pathways sparks a cascade of random images and sensations, and the rational, interpretive part of the brain that I was talking about before tries to take these random stimuli from within and assemble them into a narrative, the same way it does with our sensory input when we're awake. And that best-guess narrative it assembles from random or stream-of-consciousness stimuli is a dream -- a Mad Libs-like story that goes in crazy directions because there is no underlying rhyme or reason to the stimuli that create it, just an attempt to impose some semblance of structure on a random and ever-shifting set of elements.

By coincidence (or perhaps not), last night I had another dream of the type I mentioned before, where I was trying to get somewhere and couldn't. This time I was in a hotel where other members of my family were staying, and I heard their voices as they were heading down to get breakfast, and I was trying to follow their voices and find a way to get downstairs to meet with them, but I kept running into stairways closed for repairs or corridors that took me farther away.
26. Ashcom
@25 - Firstly, yes it is. I believe you are talking about the AIM model, which, while widely accepted, is still a hypothesis.

However, while the AIM model does describe very well most (not all) of the physical activity that occurs within the brain during the dreaming state, it is on a lot shakier ground when it comes to the mental imagery. The idea you put forward, that random images are arranged into a narrative by our conscious mind in an attempt to make sense of them, as put forward by Allan Hobson, be even he has sometimes tied himself in knots trying to explain things that don't fit into the theory, such as lucid dreams. And if you take any ten papers that agree with the AIM model, you will most likely find that nine of them don't agree with that part of the theory, or at least state that more research needs to be done before it can be accepted.

The truth is, we don't, and can't, know what the images associated with the physical actions of the brain are. Not short of building one of those dream imaging devices so beloved of science fiction writers everywhere. Sadly, we can't do that, and so the only way to tie an image to a physical process is to wake the person up and ask them, which is imperfect, especially as, if Hobson is right, then their conscious mind will already have converted the images into their narrative storyline by that point.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
Well, maybe it's not proven. But it makes a lot more sense than the idea that our brains evolved a system to deliver important messages in a pointlessly encrypted and byzantine form that we couldn't even understand without paying psychoanalysts to decipher them for us. That just doesn't make any sense at all. A hypothesis doesn't have to be proven beyond doubt in order to be clearly more probable than an alternative one.
Joseph Newton
28. crzydroid
Very interesting discussion, and I feel like chiming in here.

First of all, Ashcom, I understand what you mean about the Jungian theory being a possible source of inspiration or interpretation for the theme of the episode whether or not the theory is true; I got the impression that was what you were originally trying to convey before you came out and said it.

I have to say, though, that I'm more on board with CLB's arguments. There is a valid point that both points of view are still theories--I don't think we fully understand what dreaming is--but as he stated, some theories fit more of the facts better. Even without the advances in physical neuroscience, we ought to be able to weigh the ideas put forth (such as solving problems at night) against our collective knowledge of what seems to be going on in dreams. One flaw I perceive in the Jungian theory as you describe it is that you say the subconcious is solving problems for us at night. This implies that the subconcious possesses rational thought. However, that type of reasoning capability seems to me to be one of the hallmarks of our conciousness. There does seem to be this idea of "your subconcious is trying to tell you something," but it's almost taken to the point of having two concious minds, one of which we're not aware. I don't think this is the case.

There may be a certain about of interaction between the concious and the subconcious though, rather than the two being completely independent (which I think is sometimes also assumed). After all, they are part of the same brain. This interaction can happen while awake, such as in the case of going down a thought spiral caused by some knee-jerk emotional reaction, or while asleep during dreams. So it's quite possible that while dreams are primarily an artifact of the subconcious strengthening memories, maybe the conciousness gives some input from time to time. Or maybe even that's a simplistic way of looking at it...the "subconcious," in reactivating areas of the brain used by the "concious," could be stimulating rational thought from time or time, or indeed every night when it comes to the construction of a unique narrative that was never expressly experienced while awake.

And yes, sometimes our fears and whatever seep in there of my recurring nightmares is that the neighborhood I grew up in gets developed with new streets and stoplights and stores and dozens of new houses, and one time even a monorail.

I am also theorizing, of course, but I guess my point is that while neither theory is entirely correct, and while both may have grains of truth, I lean away from a theory that proposes that our brain uses dreams primarily as a means to solve problems.

On the interaction between the concious and subconcious issue, I think it's extremely weird being in that state halfway between awake and dreaming (which Tinkerbell would call Neverland, I suppose). I recall a particular instance of "sleep walking" (if you could call it that, since I was kind of "awake" and I recall everything, though my brain wasn't functioning with my normal rational thought, but more like my dream brain). Anyway, I had fallen asleep on the couch during the day, and my last instance of dream before I "woke up" was something like an image of a LEGO battle droid with a vacuum cleaner bag for a torso, or something equally dreamlike. So I walked into the bedroom and started asking my wife after this. She was naturally very confused. I repeated myself a few times, and I remember becoming very frustrated that she couldn't understand my simple question (though in reality it was a nonsense question). I think she finally asked what was wrong with me, and a made a very frustrated harrumphing noise and stormed out of the room, and I think I ended up back on the couch. Later, when I had fully woken up for real, I asked her if I had come into the room earlier...

It's actually a little scary that things like that can happen, when you think about it. I just hope I never go Data and see a mouth on someone's shoulder in that state...
Theresa Wymer
29. Tekalynn
"Wif mint frosting!" I remember very little about this episode, but I do remember that. Dorn's delivery is hilarious.
30. Ashcom
@28 - That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Instances like that, where a dream intersects with what is happening in the real world, or lucid dreaming where we are able to influence what is happening within the dream, or instances where you are sleeptalking, and when you recount your dream to your sleeping partner it tallies exactly with what they heard you saying. None of these fit in with the concept of dreams being a meaningless, random pattern of images.

Mr Bennett seems caught up with this idea of paying psychoanalysts to interpret dreams, which I already categorically stated I consider nothing more than mumbo-jumbo. I don't think dreams are something we need to pay attention to, they are a by-product of a process going on in the brain. If it needs us to know anything as a result of that process, we will know it and not in a cryptic way. That's why we so often wake in the morning with a solution to something that's been bugging us for days. There's even a very common expression in the English language to describe this phenomenon. "Sleep on it."

Regarding my original point, and how this all relates to the episode itself, I was coincidentally last night watching an episode of DS9 called "The Passenger". In this episode Dr Bashir comes out with the "fact" that humans only utilise less than 10% of their brains, a hoary old clunker of an idea that was dispensed with many years ago and so should certainly not be any part of the thinking of a 24th Century medical professional. Yet this "fact", of course turns out to be vital to the logic of the episode (alien hides his consciousness within the unused portion). So I don't see that you can dismiss that a well known concept may have been the basis for an episode just because it does not fit with the current thinking.
Christopher Bennett
31. ChristopherLBennett
@30: I was never talking about whether it was an inspiration for the episode. I was just clarifying what current science says about the issue in real life. However, I never got the sense that Braga intended Data's dream program to be intentionally designed as a problem-solving tool -- just that Data subliminally noticed something his conscious mind didn't register, and evidence of that showed up in his dreams.

See, I don't deny that studying dreams can potentially reveal things about our mental state. After all, they do reflect our recent experiences and mental activity, so evaluating them can provide useful data about our state of mind -- just as evaluating our waking behavior can do so. You can often learn a lot about a thing by studying its side effects or peripheral consequences -- for instance, an astronomer can learn what a star is made of by taking a spectrum of the light it gives off, a mechanic can diagnose a problem with a car engine by the sounds it makes, a biologist can learn about an animal's dietary behavior by studying its droppings, and a criminologist can determine who committed a crime by analyzing the prints and hairs they left behind.

But none of that means those mechanisms were specifically designed to be diagnostic systems. I don't dispute that we can learn things from studying dreams, but I don't accept the assumption that dreams actually evolved for the purpose of solving problems or delivering important messages. A common mistake people make when considering evolution is assuming that there was some kind of guiding will or foresight behind it, that if a given anatomical or behavioral feature is useful for a certain purpose, that means it was evolved specifically to serve that purpose. Evolution is generally a lot more trial-and-error than that.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
32. Lisamarie
Argh, that is one of my big sciencey pet peeves - when people try to attribute a 'will' to evolution, or some kind of driving purpose behind it. And then try to come up with all sorts of cocakamamie evolutionary psychology theories. I mean, I suppose there is a little blurring between those lines if you also believe in some kind of deity but evolution itself is just a random process.

As for dreams, I agree that we have to look at whatever the data shows, and it is likely (given what we know now) that the dreams themselves are just random images generated by the memory pathways (and they may involve things we happen to be preoccupied with, or were particularly vivid, such as my apparent association in my brain that stress=bed bugs). But that being said, there probably is something to be gleaned in how we interpret those images, kind of like how two people interpret the same work of art can tell you something about those two people. So if I get something out of a dream, it doesn't necessarily mean my brain was 'trying' to tell me something, although maybe it would be inadvertantly cluing me into something I was noticing or preoccupied with without realizing it directly.

Just curious, does anybody have any experience with reading in dreams? I remember reading in some fantasy book (a Stackpole book) that you supposedly can't read in dreams (and that's how some character knew they weren't dreaming) and I swear, right after that I had multiple dreams where I was clearly reading just to prove the idea wrong - in fact, I remember even thinking that I just proved it wrong in the dream ;) I've also heard multiple people refer to dreaming in color as if that were some weird thing. I've never NOT dreamt in color as far as I can recall. Do people typically have black and white dreams?
Christopher Bennett
33. ChristopherLBennett
@32: The issue of reading in dreams just came up recently in another thread, the review of Batman: The Animated Series's "Perchance to Dream," where the supposed "impossibility" of reading in dreams is a key plot point. As for myself, I can definitely read in dreams, and in fact bookstore-browsing dreams are one of my main recurring dream categories. But what I read is about as stream-of-consciousness and illogical as anything else in a dream, and if I go back to reread it, it's completely different.
Joseph Newton
34. crzydroid
@33: Dude, I saw that same Batman episode when it first aired, and then I also had all these "prove it wrong" reading dreams. I've even read in Greek in dreams (I think it was English with Greek letters, as I don't know actual Greek...though it may have been one or two of the few Greek words I do know). Though usually when I read in dreams, it's not consistent, like you say, and it's hard to do in the same sense that other things are hard to do in dreams...using the phone or a calculator, etc. I just can't quite grasp what I need to. But I've definitely done it before.

@32: I don't really pay attention to the color of my dreams, but I don't think I've ever dreamt in black-and-white. But there have definitely been times when I have remembered specific colors from my dreams.

Also, on a related note, people talk about lucid dreaming like it's this rare golden prize to be obtained, but then it was explained to me as realizing you're dreaming and controlling it. I've had dreams where I've realized I was dreaming for a long time. I even remember once or twice as a kid (less than 12) realizing I was dreaming during a nightmare and going to sleep in the dream so I would wake up in real life. But control is sometimes hard in dreams. And coming back to my "dream self" that I mentioned earlier, when I realize I'm dreaming, I don't react in the same way as I would if I were operating with my full conciousness. It's like my thoughts and actions are just part of the dream too. So it's kind of circular: the dream is controlling me controlling the dream. Maybe lucid dreaming is actually more than just that, I don't know.
35. Veronica S
I don't know anything about dreams or why we dream. But a question for those of you who do . . . if dreams result from random firing of neurons, why do so many people have the same kinds of dreams? I know dreaming that your teeth are falling out, for example, is very common.
Christopher Bennett
36. ChristopherLBennett
@35: Well, it's not entirely random, because it's a reinforcement of the existing memory pathways in the brain. Thus it reflects how we think and how we store and associate memories, and it reflects our experiences and emotional responses. So naturally there are certain commonalities because there are basic commonalities to the way all people think and feel, and when we're part of a common culture, we're exposed to the same ideas and beliefs and memes and anxieties and the like.

By analogy, say you collected a hundred people's diaries and picked pages from each one in random order. You wouldn't get a coherent linear narrative that way, but you would find certain common ideas and emotions and fears and hopes being expressed, and you'd find a lot of similar experiences with things like work and dating and movies and driving cars and common life experiences like that. So the selection of content is random, but it's a selection from a particular set of content that was not randomly assembled, and thus has recurring patterns to it.

Although "random" isn't really a good word anyway, since it's more a string of associations. The brain stores ideas through a web of connections to related concepts or sensory perceptions. Case in point: I remember once having a dream where I saw someone using a lawnmower, and then a few moments later the lawnmower had become a toy helicopter. My brain (or anyone else's) doesn't store "lawnmower" as a single discrete concept, but as a constellation of sensory and conceptual elements that are shared with other concepts -- in this case, elements that included "buzzing motor sound" and "whirling blades," which are also part of the network of concepts by which my brain stores the concept of "helicopter." So my dream just followed the web of associations, and what was a lawnmower one moment was a helicopter the next. But since the lawnmower was also associated with a certain size category in my brain, it turned into a small helicopter, an RC toy. And I didn't notice it transforming -- I thought of them at the time as the same continuous thing, because of the process I mentioned before, the interpretive part of the brain taking different sensory inputs and constructing the perception of a continuous whole out of them.

So there is a logic to the progression of events in a dream, a set of associative links that lead from one concept to another, but it's not the kind of cause-and-effect logic that applies in real life. It's pure stream-of-consciousness.
37. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
This discussion reminds me of the "evolution is just a theory!" argument that right-wing activists try to push to justify teaching creationism in science classes. While evolution is indeed a theory, it is also a fact. A theory is a way facts are reasonably explained, not simply a guess.

I liked how the episode depicted Freud, because, while is considered an important figure in psychology, his ideas are considered extremely sexist and homophobic by current western standards.
Joseph Newton
38. crzydroid
@35: I also second the idea that "random" is not a good word to describe any human thought processes. And maybe since we've all had the experience of losing our baby teeth, that is somehow the common element there. Also, I want to reinforce that the theories put forth here are maybe not developed enough at this point to be all encompassing. There is certainly merit to having parsimonious models and theories, but I think sometimes people have a tendency to want overly simplistic explanations for things. Something like dreaming is really complex, so it takes a little more clarification than saying something like, "It's a random process." But I just want to say that I have the loose tooth dream a lot too!

@37: It's actually wrong to say that evolution is also a fact. I think you mean that evolution is a theory that fits many of the facts. A theory itself is not a "fact," but I think you are trying to convey that this particular theory is probably true.
Christopher Bennett
39. ChristopherLBennett
@38: First off, that is not a valid characterization of what I said about dreams. It's an oversimplification to the point of being a straw-man argument. But I won't debate it, since what I actually did say is on the record and easily confirmed just by re-reading the above comments.

Second: Evolution is an observed phenomenon. We have literally seen it happen, every time a disease organism evolves resistance to antibiotics or an HIV infection evolves forms that the immune system can't deal with. So yes, it is essentially a fact, in that it is an observed phenomenon. A theory is a model that codifies observed phenomena and posits their underlying mechanisms and causes. For instance, gravity is an observed phenomenon, something that is undeniably real, while theories of gravitation like Newton's and Einstein's have been models of the underlying rules that produced the gravitational effects we observed, rules that could be used to predict results in other circumstances not yet observed and thereby allow both testing the theory's own validity and making new discoveries by using its predictive power.

So saying "gravity is just a theory" would be not only wrong, but an incompetently formulated sentence. The assertion that gravity exists is not a theory, but an axiom, an acknowledgment of observed data. A theory of gravitation is a model explaining how and why that observed phenomenon happens. Ditto with evolution. The existence of evolution is axiomatic; we know that species change over time, as surely as we know that planets orbit the Sun. The theory of evolution is the model of the underlying processes and causes of evolution. It's not about whether evolution happens, simply about how and why it happens.
Joseph Newton
40. crzydroid
@39: I don't recall trying to characterize anything you said about dreams in my particular comment in 38. The only thing I borrowed from you in that comment is that "random" is not a good word to use. The rest of what follows are my own thoughts. If you are interpreting my sentence, "...more clarification than saying something like, 'It's a random process.'" to mean that I was accusing your previous posts of being this simplistic, then I apologize. That's not what I was saying. The simple phrase was more in response to the simplification put forth in 35. I actually do think you did a good job of providing other clarifications of the type I mention throughout your other posts.

As for the discussion of evolution, that's exactly the thing that I was trying to articulate, but I suppose it depends on how you are using the word "Evolution." Here, I was making the assumption that "Evolution" was being used to refer to that theory that describes the changes in animals over time. I was not using evolution as a word to refer to those individual facts, such as similarities between creatures, or observing bacteria evolve. Though I suppose that if you use "evolution" to refer to the observed change itself, then you could call "evolution" a fact. Again, I was using "Evolution" as the theory, and attempting to make a semantic clarification.
Steve Nicholson
41. SSteve
Sorry to interrupt the discussion about dreams, but I just have to say that this is one of my very favorite episodes. I haven't seen it in years and all my TNG DVDs are in storage at the moment so I'm only experiencing the rewatch through my memory. But, bad directing and technobabble notwithstanding, I remember enjoying the heck out of Phantasms. Just reading Keith's recap really cracked me up.
42. Ginomo
There should have been a random electric sheep walking around.

If there was ever a TNG shark-jumping moment, it would be when Troi becomes an actual cake instead of just eating them.

The only redeemable moment in this episode is with Worf and Spot.
Christopher Bennett
43. ChristopherLBennett
@40: But my point is that it's a common mistake to think that the word "evolution" is the name of a theory. In fact, it's outdated to think of evolution as being described by a single theory. Darwin's theory of natural selection (along with the work of Wallace and others) was the beginning of the process, but it's come so very far since then. There is an entire science of evolutionary biology now, with a variety of different theories and laws dealing with various aspects of the science, from the molecular level to the ecosystem level and everything in between. Far from being one single theory, evolutionary biology is a far-reaching scientific discipline that grows ever more complex and ever more important to scientific and medical progress.
Joseph Newton
44. crzydroid
@43: All true. But it seems that when people use the term "Evolution" in common parlance, they ARE referring to the whole set of theories you mention, or it at least seems that they are maybe referring to natural selection in particular. Most people don't have an in depth understanding of all the facets of evolutionary biology, and thus use "Evolution" to refer to this nebulous overarching concept having to do with macro evolution, and not as a term for a sepecific observed phenomenon, such as what occurs during micro evolution, for example. So this was the assumption about the usage that I was making, and in relating that to the idea of "theories" and "facts" as a reference to the scientific process, the usage of "Evolution" would relate more to the "theory" part rather than the "facts" or "data" part.
Christopher Bennett
45. ChristopherLBennett
@44: Yes, I know that's the common assumption. My point is that the common assumption is in error and needs to be corrected.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
46. Lisamarie
Well, I just can't wait for Genesis if we want to talk about evolution misconceptions ;)

I think given the context (I think the comment that started this had to do with creationists saying evolution is a theory, as if something being a theory means it is not valid to teach it as a reasonable explanation) he did specifically mean the idea of the emergence of new species, specifically humans, from previous species. I don't think creationists dispute microevolution. But your point is taken :)
Rob Rater
47. Quasarmodo
I've dreamed a couple of times that I have super powers and am fighting an army of vampires.
Joseph Newton
48. crzydroid
@45: Well, hopefully now the readers of this post will at least be corrected.
49. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I believe there has been evidence found of macroevolution in both plants and animals. Biologists have looked at fossilised records of various organisms for the past few decades and have documented how their structures changed over millions of years and eventually became more like later organisms. I remember seeing fossilized evidence of dinosaurs and the biologists were able to show how certain species of dinosaurs differentiated from others and became quite bird-like. Birds are actually evolved from dinosaurs based on fossilised evidence.

Here is a good article I found describing macroevolution observed.
Rhagoletis pomonella is a fly that is native to North America. Its normal host is the hawthorn tree. Sometime during the nineteenth century it began to infest apple trees. Since then it has begun to infest cherries, roses, pears and possibly other members of the rosaceae. Quite a bit of work has been done on the differences between flies infesting hawthorn and flies infesting apple. There appear to be differences in host preferences among populations. Offspring of females collected from on of these two hosts are more likely to select that host for oviposition (Prokopy et al. 1988). Genetic differences between flies on these two hosts have been found at 6 out of 13 allozyme loci (Feder et al. 1988, see also McPheron et al. 1988). Laboratory studies have shown an asynchrony in emergence time of adults between these two host races (Smith 1988). Flies from apple trees take about 40 days to mature, whereas flies from hawthorn trees take 54-60 days to mature. This makes sense when we consider that hawthorn fruit tends to mature later in the season that apples. Hybridization studies show that host preferences are inherited, but give no evidence of barriers to mating. This is a very exciting case. It may represent the early stages of a sympatric speciation event (considering the dispersal of R. pomonella to other plants it may even represent the beginning of an adaptive radiation). It is important to note that some of the leading researchers on this question are urging caution in interpreting it. Feder and Bush (1989) stated:
"Hawthorn and apple "host races" of R. pomonella may therefore represent incipient species. However, it remains to be seen whether host-associated traits can evolve into effective enough barriers to gene flow to result eventually in the complete reproductive isolation of R. pomonella populations."
50. NullNix
ChristopherLBennett, the 'cannot read in dreams' thing is, roughly, true, but what happens is what you describe: you read it, you read it again, it's changed. (This is actually a standard way of verifying that you are in a lucid dream.)

On the 'work in dreams' front -- I normally never remember my dreams. But if I've been concentrating intently on a problem all day and haven't solved it, I often remember the last dream before waking (the only dream one ever remembers) and it is almost always both relevant and provides crucial insights. Heck, I've debugged programs in my dreams, correctly, though I'm glad a real debugger does not involve me physically falling through the program's control flow until I hit the bit that's crashing and then wake up terrified. But it did work. :)

As for the neurology, well, it's all still quite up in the air. It is clear the hippocampus and frontal cortex do *something* significant during both REM sleep and non-REM sleep, particularly the former -- but then it is clear that the whole brain is doing something significant in that time period. It is also clear that whatever that thing is, at the very least every tetrapod does it -- smaller animals need more sleep than larger ones, so humans don't need all that much. So it clearly isn't a factor of something parochially human like intelligence. (But, of course, all these animals need to consolidate memories.)

One thing that *is* clear is that every recall of a memory 'liquifies' it, and it is then amenable to change for six hours or so, just as if it had just been remembered. I would not be at all surprised to find that whatever the hippocampus is doing during REM sleep is related to this in some sense, perhaps 'resolidifying' the liquified memories. (It is clear that this 'solidification' process involves protein synthesis, but it is not clear when it happens. At least, not as far as I know. Anyone more up to date with research in this area?)
Joseph Newton
51. crzydroid
@50: That's very interesting about liquifying memories. Is that one hypothesis as to why they find that people don't actually remember their old memories that well, or have false memories?
Rowan Blaze
52. rowanblaze
@32, I recall an article that basically said there was a period of history and culture where people dreamt predominantly in black and white, and it corresponded with the period that popular entertainment (movies and especially TV) was also in black and white. With the advent of color movies and television, people of succeeding generations tend to dream in color.

I finally registered with TOR. This is my first post in the rewatch since. I wish I could claim all those other comments of mine. :)
53. Stargazer4
So let me get this straight: We finally found a woman who is actually into Geordi "Fleshlight" La Forge... but not only is he indifferent towards her but actually annoyed by her?


Anyway, about the episode. I think that it stands out, in the sense that it's absolutely surreal (via Data's dreaming sequences) and it gives the viewer a feeling of weirdness in a way that few (if any) other TNG episodes do.

Also, the scene with Worf, Data and Spot is priceless, one of the funniest ever imo. Overall, althouth the episode isn't exactly brilliant, I always enjoy rewatching it.

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