Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “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:

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:

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:

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:

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.”


“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:

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:

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.



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