Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Schizoid Man"

**1/2

Air date: 1/23/1989
Teleplay by Tracy Torme
Story by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise comes to the aid of terminally ill scientist Dr. Ira Graves (W. Morgan Sheppard), in the hopes of documenting his as-yet-unrevealed scientific discoveries before he dies. Graves, however, takes a very specific interest in Data and spends his final hours with the android. Data subsequently begins exhibiting strange behavior, the most amusing of which is the delivery of a ridiculous and indulgent eulogy for the recently departed Graves ("To know him was to love him, and to love him was to know him").

The plot is obvious to us, but not to the Enterprise crew: Graves, utilizing his own scientific breakthrough of combining the human brain and computer data storage, has transferred his consciousness and knowledge into Data and is vying for total control of Data's mind. The crew slowly begins to realize that Graves has somehow hijacked Data's personality. One major clue might be Graves'/Data's verbally expressed jealousy concerning Graves' assistant Kareen (Barbara Alyn Woods), and the ever-increasing size of Data's ego, which, by definition, should be nonexistent. I was amused by much of the Data/Picard interaction: Watching Data's sly insubordination and condescension toward Picard is a source of much of the episode's fun.

The episode's Serious Human Theme is whether this man Graves can retain his humanity now that he has superior android strength and mental abilities. And can he plausibly love Kareen, whom he previously admired without revealing his feelings on the account of their age difference? The other question is about Data's rights as a person, which Graves has usurped by hijacking his body. I like that the episode ends with a battle of reasoning between Graves and Picard, and that Graves proves Picard's point and is smart enough to fully realize that what he's doing won't work. But overall this is sort of an obvious storyline, and one that doesn't exploit its themes for what they're worth.

Previous episode: Loud as a Whisper
Next episode: Unnatural Selection

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6 comments on this review

Rachel - Wed, Jul 4, 2012 - 3:24pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed this episode, though I am watching TNG again inbetween Voyager and DS9. DS9 I have to say has become my fave of the three, with TNG looking rather dated now. This was still a fun episode. In fact, anything that focusses on Data is fun. I do find it odd that a machine as sophisticated as Data would not have some kind of security lock out to stop anyone - even a genius like Graves, tampering with him. I am finding re-watches of TNG so-so, which is a shame, because pre-DS9 and Voyager, I thought it was the best SF show I had seen. I guess the crew makes TNG what it is, and for that, I am forever grateful to Mr Roddenberry.
Rikko - Fri, Dec 21, 2012 - 10:34am (USA Central)
The best part of the episode is the aforementioned Data's Eulogy. When he says "Those that knew him, loved him; and those that didn't know him...also loved him, from afar." I just had to stop the video and laugh to my heart's content.

The rest of the show was just the way you described it Jammer: Obvious.

@ Rachel: Yeah, characters are probably the best of TNG. Being episodic doesn't help the grand-plot and its own age doesn't help the Fx either, but we'll always have the lovable crew.
Landon - Thu, Jan 24, 2013 - 9:00pm (USA Central)
@ Rikko Give credit where its due, there were indeed arcs and revisited story threads in TNG. Case in point: Worfs descommendation and ensuing klingon civil war and the tasha yar dauhter tie-in and the romulan-unifaction-spock tie in and the picard-borg story and Q and the nice bookend of the start and finish of the series....and I could go on...TNG is timeless IMHO {I love ds9 and VOY too}
William B - Tue, Mar 26, 2013 - 6:57pm (USA Central)
As Rikko said, I think the best line in the episode is the "those who did not know him...loved him from afar" is an absolute classic. That is some quality humourous scriptwriting of the kind that we don't often get.

I enjoy this episode a lot; I find Graves a compelling character, especially as played by Spiner. I'm really impressed by the way Spiner makes Graves arrogant and condescending without ever (to me) repeating any of the same notes he hits on with his performance of Lore, who is *also* arrogant and condescending. The difference, I think, is that despite Graves' bitterness he does not have nearly as deep a well of anger at rejection that Lore has, and is capable of and genuinely feels a love that we know Lore does not. As with Jammer I like very much that Graves turns himself in after Picard talks to him (and he sees the effect of having an android body).

I have been trying to figure out why this episode works better for me, ultimately, than another random body-swap plot (ala, say, Voyager's "Vis a Vis"). Some of it, I think, is that Graves does have a personal connection to Data, as his "grandfather," and while that connection is a little more tenuous (and Graves has his own reasons for pushing Data to calling him grampa -- to get Data to trust him!), there is something touching in seeing Data hijacked by the person who inspired his own creator, and in a creator taking over someone who is in some senses his own creation. I wouldn't actually trade "Brothers" for this, but *this* episode would be better, on this level, if it were *actually* about Soong rather than a guy *like* Soong, because the personal element of a guy wanting to end up in the android body *he* created, and his realization that that cannot be, is probably the thing that makes this episode work emotionally for me, and it would work a lot better if it were a guy who *actually* created Data.

Finally, the episode probably cheats a bit by having Graves accept that he has to give up his body because Data is too strong and will cause a bunch of accidents. That is an important issue, but before he started hurting Kareen's hand in the last act that wasn't really even on the table. The central questions here are about (im)mortality and whether people have a right to use their own creations (offspring?) to further their own identity. That is mostly what Picard is arguing -- that Data is a person and that he shouldn't have his identity erased. For the episode to work thematically on a higher level, I think Graves would have to accept that Data is his own person and not just a machine, rather than just that the robot body is too strong for Graves to handle. On the other hand, I can understand why the episode didn't go there -- since Graves, as written before the last act, doesn't strike me as the type to readily accept Data's right to existence. There is still a bit of a characterization gap (for me) in Graves accepting that he has to give up Data's body to prevent more accidents from piling up -- couldn't he have just reduced Data's strength, or something? -- but mostly the characterization feels right, which is to the episode's credit, even if it means that the episode feels unsatisfying thematically.

So, in other words, there are enough things that *almost* work in this episode that make me imagine it could have been genuinely great. But they don't quite connect, and what we're left with is an engaging and entertaining hour with a great performance by Spiner at its centre. Not a bad showing, but a missed opportunity. 2.5 stars sounds about right.
SkepticalMI - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 10:09pm (USA Central)
Good, but not great. Still, it's one of the top two episodes of the season so far (with Elementary, which coincidentally is the other big Data episode). I don't have much in the way of criticism. Unfortunately, this is yet another episode with the guest star immediately hitting on one of the Enterprise's wimminfolk; counting Moriarty's graceful hospitality towards Pulaski this is four in a row. And the ending is slightly contrived (I'll get to that). But on the plus side:

- More Data humor. The eulogy was a classic. The beard at the beginning was pretty good too (and worked as an in-universe way to reduce suspicions about Data's erratic behavior). And Data's question to Geordi after coming back to normal is a third area.

- Brent Spiner's great acting, as others have mentioned. He really sold the idea of being Graves.

- It sort of felt like a Season 1 episode, but well executed. Introducing the long-distance transporter, for example, worked to add a greater feeling of depth to the Star Trek universe, adding a new application of an existing technology. The plot was a high-concept, engaging sci-fi plot, but one that the writers knew how to deal with. The episode didn't really feel dragging to me, and plotted out well. For example, they didn't bother to make much of a mystery of Data's weirdness; we knew from the beginning that it was Graves. And Picard et al's responses were far more realistic here than in Datalore.

- Picard's arguing with DataGraves. We got a sneak preview of Measure of a Man, just without the legalese. Seeing Picard's passionate defense of Data here makes the later episode even better.

- Graves, despite being the antagonist, was not a cartoon villain like Lore was. He willingly gave up his control of Data, and never really meant any harm to anyone.

As for the ending, I agree somewhat with William that it was too contrived around the "accidents" aspect. The somewhat comes from the fact that they showed other reasons as well, even if it wasn't overtly mentioned. The love interest already rejected him, and Graves was clearly depressed when Picard went to talk with him. He was also showing the same mental instability he had when he was human, which he may not have enjoyed. And, of course, there was Picard's passionate arguing for Data's rights (again, Graves is not an evil person), which may have gnawed at him. So I can see Graves volunteering to give up Data's body for multiple reasons; unfortunately the accidents aspect is only one of them.
Adam - Fri, Mar 21, 2014 - 6:32am (USA Central)
I enjoyed this episode. W Morgan Sheppard is always a welcome addition to any Star Trek outing. The twist might be obvious to us, but not to the crew. Brent Spiner is as always excellent, and is a great amount of fun in this episode. The eulogy in particular is a hoot. His questions to Geordi when he is revived at the end are amusing too.

I liked Picard defending Data's rights as a sentient life form, too, a subtle little piece of continuity that will be picked up again soon in the episode 'The Measure of A Man'

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